Let God Be True

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

 (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

                I was pondering this verse today.  I have heard it before but I had never really studied it or given it thought.  It was one of those verses that I passed by, going “Yep, that’s true.”  And I never gave it a second glance.  So today it was odd that I looked at this verse and studied it.  I know this is a verse, now, that I will not forget.  I will know right where it is.  Today, as I sat out in the sun in my yard, with my Bible in hand, and a pad of paper, I had an Ah-ha moment.  And it came in a way I didn’t expect it to.

                I have spent so much of my life steeped in false religions.  I was a practicing pagan.  I fully embraced eastern religions and ideas.  I had well over $2000 in books about Druidism, Wicca, Tarot Cards, Hinduism, Buddhist Philosophy, and witchcraft.  I had spent many such days, out in the sun, worshipping the sun for its heat, praying to the wind that caressed my face, and sitting in the stew of the earth, the tree spirits, and the dirt beneath my feet.  But today was different.  And the reason it was different was because of 2 Timothy 3:16-17.  In all those books, all those ideas, all those blended faiths, I only ever had the vaguest grip of truth.  All those truths could be blended, edited, or mixed together like some cocktail.  But those two verses really changed things for me today.

                Today I felt capital T Truth.  This Bible is His work, His creation.  And as the first chapter in the book of Roman’s points out I had spent all that time worshiping created things rather than my Creator.  In my old life I needed all those books.  Now I only need this one book.  The LORD said He created the sun so as I enjoyed it’s heat I did so in fellowship, being created myself, knowing that the Lord was there with me, enjoying the heat.  His hand guided the wind across my shoulder.  His mouth brought into being the tree to my side and the dirt beneath my toes.  These are His gifts to me, to us.  Those moments today aren’t there to be worshipped, they are there to be enjoyed.  And they all glorify Him.  And if all these things I used to worship glorify God …. Shouldn’t I, who was made above and apart from all of it (according to Genesis) glorify God as well?  So why am I not?

                I looked back at these verses again and read the list.  The next thing that struck me is the words that are not there.  The Bible isn’t for condemnation, criticism, accusation, or guilt.  The Bible is a love letter, which I have heard before.  But today it really sort of hit me that this a letter written by my Abba, Father …to me His eternal daughter.  He is telling me all about Himself, and explaining why this creation ….this creation that I chose over Him before ….is all broken.  Why the world doesn’t work the way He designed it for me.  So I should pay attention.  I should hold it and know it as I hope my child would if I never got to see them….and all they had of me was this love letter.  And His wisdom, His counsel, is so much more perfect than mine could ever be.  So why do I treat it differently?  Why don’t I listen?  And I felt convicted.

                Then, immediately my mind burst open with the Holy Spirit.  God wrote this book through human authors.  Those human authors were not perfect.  They were sinful men, just like me.  They struggled through life, just like me.  But they had moments in time where the Holy Spirit just filled them.  Where the LORD used their talents, and gifts, to glorify Him.  Just as the sun glorifies Him.  Just as Jesus glorified Him.  These men had moments where the Holy Spirit filled them.  It didn’t happen all the time, and it won’t happen all the time with me.  But God used those men who He knew would listen, and knew they could find the words to say exactly what God wanted them to say.  He uses people who yield to His strength and His power and His mind.  All to glorify Him.  So why am I not doing that?  Why am I just content to be impressed with how much He uses others?  Why do I resist, or disbelieve?  He told me in this letter, this letter written by Him, that He would use me for His good works.  Sure, it won’t be the Bible, but it will still glorify Him.  And that is enough, or it should be.

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My Struggle

There are 17 days left until I walk down an aisle and vow before the LORD and all my friends and family that Jeremy is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with.  We just recently got our Engagement Photos back.  They are beautifully done.  Steve does amazing work.  I would love them completely if I weren’t in them.  I can’t stand to look at myself.  And I knew this was becoming a problem as I debated on simply starving myself for the next 17 days, or eating and just throwing it all up.  I have never done either before, and it shocked me that I considered doing it now.

There are many reasons for this.  And every last one of them is Fear of Man issues.  The people who are around me all the time already know what I look like.  But there are going to be people at the wedding who have never met me before.  There are people on Facebook who I know decades ago, and that I haven’t seen since.  I fear the judgment.  I am embarrassed by the common assumptions.  And to be perfectly honest I completely hate how I look.  I am ashamed of it, even though I know Jesus took that shame away from me.

I was never the skinny girl growing up.  But neither was I fat.  I simply had curves.  I generally fit into a size 12 or 14 as I grew up.  Then once I was out of school I actually got into the best shape I had ever been in and fit into a size 8.  I was a size 8 when I met Jay.  I can’t tell you if I felt healthier than ever or more beautiful, because I honestly don’t remember.

I ran in to some of the girls from my swim team a short time into what happened to me.  I had put on a good amount of weight by then.  I remember the looks I got.  I know what looks I get now.  I don’t like those looks.  And I really hate the assumptions people make when they see anyone over weight.  I am not trying to justify how I look.  I am trying to work through it.  And hopefully, maybe, somewhere along this path I might give comfort to someone else who knows what this feels like.  Even if it isn’t the same situation; the end resulting feelings are the same.

What I am about to talk about is very honest, raw, and might make some people uncomfortable.  So I will write it in italics, so if you are unable to read it all…you can scroll down to find the place where I stop talking about what happened to me.

In 2001 I was with a man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with.  He was sweet, caring, and understood me, even my hard to understand parts.  That year my appendix ruptured, and I spent several days in the hospital.  When they released me they advised me against having sex for a week due to the surgery, and the fact that I had a lot of my innards moved around.  Jay lasted three days; he was used to us having sex one, sometimes two, times a day.  He begged me to at least try, that I wouldn’t know if it would actually hurt until I tried.  That if I truly loved him I would try.  He promised he would stop if I told him it hurt.  I believed him.  So we tried to have sex.  I told him to stop because it hurt.  He didn’t.  I begged him to stop; he said it wouldn’t take much longer.  He raped me that night, rolled over, and went to sleep.  I cried most of that night, lying on my side.  In the morning he apologized, and promised nothing like that would happen again.  I believed him; after all I wasn’t planning on having any more abdomen surgery so this wouldn’t be an issue again.

That Sunday I was a passenger in my mom’s car when she came to visit.  She made a left turn and a car plowed into my side of the car.  I was the only one injured.  My kneecap was crushed, and I pinched three nerves in my lower back.  I couldn’t walk.  I was in so much pain.  I didn’t want to move at all.  Needless to say the last thing I wanted to do was have sex.  Not only was I not in the mood from being so physically injured, the pain that sex would cause was undeniable.  Jay, again, lasted only 3 days.  I can’t tell you how many times he raped me.  I can’t tell you how many times I was sexually assaulted in various ways.  He made me cyber with guys on the computer to ‘help get me in the mood’.

It lasted for six months.  For six months I was raped, abused, tormented, and tortured.  All by the man who helped me bathe because I couldn’t do it myself.  By the man who took me to all my doctors appointments because I had no one else.  The man who picked up my prescriptions.  My physical therapist couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting better.  It took me six months before I was strong enough to tell him to stop.

A month in I knew it wouldn’t stop.  So I did the only thing I could, I gained weight.  Food was the only aspect of my life I had control over.  He had to help me with everything else.  So I ate.  I was unable to walk or move so gaining weight was easy.  I thought if I made myself big enough, unattractive enough, he would leave me alone.  It also helped me look on the outside as I felt on the inside.  Worthless, ugly, disgusting, and completely unlovable.  If I couldn’t stand to look at me, how could he?

After I escaped that relationship I was completely broken.  I was a robot, void of soul and emotions.  I did what I was supposed to to pay rent.  I went through the motions, but I wasn’t at all in my body for five years.  In those five years I didn’t want anyone near me.  I didn’t want anyone touching me. I didn’t want anyone close to me.  The weight seemed to do that.  People looked at me differently.  They kept their distance.  So I didn’t try to correct this problem, I made it worse.  If I couldn’t stand to be in my own skin, how could anyone else stand to be near my skin?

Five years later I was brutally woken up when a strange man touched me.  I had a complete melt down that involved scratching most of the skin off my arm where I was touched.  I finally had to tell someone what had happened to me.  No one knew.  Not my mother.  Not my father.  Not my best friend.  Granted I lost most of my friends due to the fact for the last six years I secluded myself away into my own little world where people on the outside simply didn’t exist.

I saw a rape counselor.  I went to group sessions.  I learned that I would always feel broken.  That my soul would always be shredded.  That he stole something from me that I would never get back.  I believed all of this because that is exactly how I felt.  Despite trying to get better mentally and emotionally … I kept the weight on.  Despite having a membership to a gym and access to a pool.  I didn’t want to lose the weight.  By that time it was my security blanket.  It kept people at bay.  No one could hurt me again; no man would rape me again, as long as I continued to look as I looked.  I was safe.  No one would get close to someone who looked like me.

This lasted a year before I went to Massage School.  I wanted to learn how to touch people again, and to be touched again.  It was impossibly hard for me to go through.  I never told anyone at the school how I wanted to vomit every time someone touched me.  I don’t think anyone could understand how it made me feel powerful that I could touch something and elicit a response … even if it was simply relaxing … and not have to give any response of my own.  I learned how not to engage in touch, how to keep my bubble up.  Massage School taught me how to be a wonderful massage therapist…but I warped some of that teaching into how to further keep me emotionally separated from my body.

I told myself, then, that I was ready to lose weight. I was ready to shed this shell of protection.  But the truth is … I wasn’t.  I didn’t want intimacy. I didn’t want people close to me.  I used their judgments and their looks as weapons, reasons, to keep myself locked away from all the hurt people cause.  I wanted physical touch, but I didn’t want to feel anything about it. I didn’t want it to mean anything.  And I found a comfortable way, a known way, to do that.  My lifestyle fit my needs perfectly.

Then along came a man who turned my world upside down.  Somehow he managed to become more important than my fears, more important than my doubts, and more important than my self-loathing.  My desire to know Jeremy came with a twist I didn’t expect.  Jeremy introduced me to Jesus.  Everything changed.  Everything is still changing.  Some things I still struggle with.  My weight is one of them.

For the first time I wanted to connect with someone on an emotional, intimate level.  I began to earnestly want to lose weight.  Life has a way of interrupting that.  I got cancer.  Then after I got cancer I injured myself at work in a way that left me unable to walk for 2 years.  An injury I am still dealing with and one that has left me with only the pool to work out in.  Needless to say up until recently I haven’t been able to lose weight.  I did have a lot of time to get to know the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Now Jeremy and I are getting married, and I haven’t lost the weight I wanted to.  I am nowhere near the size 8 I was before what happened.  I still can’t stand to look at myself.  I am terrified of what people will think.  I am embarrassed by the judgmental looks I get when we go out.  I hate my body.  Steve took beautiful pictures of us.  Pictures of my future husband and myself; and I can’t even stand to look at myself.  I want to stab the part with me, scratch out my face, and just keep the part with Jeremy.

I am struggling, bad, with seeing myself as God sees me, as His daughter.  My wedding dress is beautiful, but I cry because of the size.  I cry because people will see the fat shape I morphed myself into to keep me safe.  How can anyone see me, when I can’t even see myself in my reflection?

I know this is my own pride and vanity.  I know it is my own sin.  I am praying and begging the Holy Spirit for help in this.  Because I know I can’t change how I see myself on my own.  I try to repent by telling myself how God sees me.  But I only feel stupid in saying it.  I feel like I am lying to myself, which I know is a lie.  But this doesn’t make it any easier.  I want to be able to look at those beautiful pictures and not want to cry.  I want to be able to look at my wedding photos and not feel horrific shame at how I look.  I want to feel only love and excitement over those pictures.  But I don’t know how to get there.

I need help.  I need prayer.  I am not sure if anyone around me realizes how deeply this goes.  How strongly it affects me.  It is a big deal to me.  I don’t want to get an eating disorder.  I don’t want to break every mirror I come across.  I don’t want to burn my beautiful engagement photos or my wedding photos.  I am struggling, bad.  And I hate writing all of this.  I want to be able to say I am comfortable and confident in my skin.  But I am not.  I am disgusted and ashamed.

I know I am going to the pool, and I am losing weight.  I know it will happen eventually.  But I don’t want my self-image to depend on my weight.  I don’t want to teach that to my children.  I don’t want to feel like this between now and then.  And I don’t want to hate my wedding day because everyone is looking at me … seeing me … and all my fat.

So please, pray for me, over these next 17 days.  I really need help for the Holy Spirit to really dig out these lies, to pluck out my own eyes so I can see myself with God’s eyes.  I know it will probably take more than 17 days; but maybe it will be a little less severe.  Our LORD can do miracles.  I just … I need a lot of help, encouragement, and support.  And rather than hiding this as I normally do … I am taking the chance of exposing myself.  May it help you, as much as it will help me.  I know all women have body image issues.

LORD, Abba Father, Brother Jesus, Holy Ghost … please help me.

My Mircale

[Jesus said] “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:31-34 NIV).

            This passage has really hit me this week.  Two weeks ago the LORD gifted me with a healing miracle.  I had a very nasty eye disease that would take a long while to clear up.  During the weeks or months of trying to get this condition under control I could develop scarring inside my eyes that could lead to blindness and/or glaucoma.  In the first week alone that I had this condition my eyes got worse and I had an intensely unpleasant migraine because of my eyes.  My doctor was concerned.  I was scared.  The Pastors at Mars Hill Church prayed over me that Sunday, and then my Community Group prayed over me on Thursday.  The following morning I went in to see the doctor.  Much to her surprise, and my own, she found absolutely no traces of the disease in my eyes.  She said she expected them to be worse, not to be completely healed.  I just laughed.  She said the medicine must have really worked with my body.  I told her I was pretty sure it was Jesus.

Following this miracle healing I had to tell everyone, naturally.  I felt so completely giddy inside.  I wish I could say I now have a better understanding of how the woman in this passage must have felt; but I doubt it would be accurate.  I had this eye problem for all of two weeks.  The woman in this passage had been bleeding for twelve years.  For twelve years she suffered.  She was an outcast.  She spent everything she had on trying to fix this problem.  Then in an instant, when she was bold enough to reach out to Jesus … to touch Him … she was healed.  Completely healed.  She was freed from her suffering.

While this is one of my favorite stories in the Bible it wasn’t until yesterday that I was struck sorta dumb by it.  When I first read this verse of Scripture I immediately thought of my eyes.  I did a mental jig with the Holy Ghost, and wiggled in my seat.  Then as I continued to read the “Girlfriends in God” devotional I was struck by my lack of understanding and faith.  I had no doubt in my heart that God could heal my eyes.  But I do have … maybe not doubt … more like a lack of understanding when it comes to a ‘condition’ I have been living with for twelve years.  What surprised me is I had never looked at this wonderful story and applied it to my condition.

For about twelve years now I have been doing everything I can to deal with my condition.  I poured out all my money into going to school to help me better deal with aspects of my condition.  I have kept myself an outcast, refusing to get close to people.  Twelve years ago the man I was in love with, engaged to, decided to do me harm.  I had been in a car accident.  I pinched three nerves in my lower back and crushed my kneecap.  I was in so much pain.  He didn’t want to hear about how sex hurt.  Not even when I begged him to stop.  So for six months he raped, abused, and tormented me every day and night.  The physical therapists couldn’t understand why I wasn’t getting better.  He was the only one there to help me.  So my abuser would assault me, then help me shower to get cleaned up, then take me to the doctor or to physical therapy, and then he would take me home to assault me again.

This destroyed a good decade of my life.  No one around us knew what was going on.  I had completely checked out.  It took me about seven years before I would check back in.  By that time it was too late to press charges.  And it took several more years for me to really understand it wasn’t my fault.  Sometimes I still slip into that lie.  But because of that abuse I put on a lot of weight.  I thought if I had gained weight he would no longer find me attractive and so he would leave me alone.  After we broke up I kept the weight on because I wanted to keep everyone away from me.  I felt so disgusting and horrible on the inside, it felt appropriate to look it on the outside.  It hasn’t been until this past year that I have been in a good enough place spiritually that I can finally start to work on my weight.  I hadn’t felt good enough inside until Christ.

Now I had become a Christian almost four years ago, but I was dealing with so many other issues that I hadn’t really immediately invited Jesus into this part of me.  I had always assumed I would always be completely broken inside.  My soul is like thousands of tiny shards of glass scattered across the ground.  Jesus and I are just starting to mend those pieces back together.  I went to Redemption Group at Mars Hill.  It was really good, but I fear I might need to go again.  I know I am just scratching the surface of all the ick I have locked away.  I know Jesus has taken away the sins done against me.  I know He takes away my shame.  I know these things, but my heart doesn’t always understand them.

So considering this is one of my favorite stories in the Gospels you can imagine my dumbfounded surprise when I read this devotional by “Girlfriends in God”.  I am freed from my suffering.  My faith healed my eyes.  I know I need to pray for the faith to heal these much deeper wounds.  The wounds that have spread into every aspect of my life.  Reading that verse over and over again my head knows all I have to do is reach out my hand to Jesus.  It is really that simple.  I can’t really explain to you why my heart thumps in my chest dimwittedly.  I don’t know why this concept is so hard to put into action.  I love Jesus.  I want Him in every part of my life.  But I am not entirely sure how to give this to Him.

It’s not like I don’t want to. I just don’t know how to.  This has been mine for so long, and I have been trying everything I can to simply function around people in a normal way as possible.  Most people are completely oblivious to how often I simply want to run, hide, scream, or freak out.  People have no idea how hard it is for me not to scratch the skin right off my hands sometimes.  It is getting better, so much better.  My PTSD is improving.  Since having giving my life to Jesus I haven’t had a single night terror where as I used to have them once a week.  I still haven’t had a good night’s sleep, however, in twelve years.  It is an improvement, but I know I am stuck.

I am working on a journal to walk through what happened to me with the LORD.  I am not enjoying that journaling.  Most of the time I avoid it for as long as I can.  I just don’t want to go there.  I am being stubborn about it, I know.  But I want more of this peace I am already tasting.  I want to be freed of my suffering.  I know a major part of my problem is I cling to the chains.  The chains are all I know for the last 12 years.  I have only known Jesus for almost four years.  I know Jesus is trustworthy, and yet I don’t know why I struggle with it.  I know part of it is shame, and fear, despite the fact I know Jesus took my shame and tells me to not fear.  It is a battle of wills and I want mine to lose.  I pray mine will lose.  I want my faith to heal me.  I want to be bold enough to reach out my hand to touch the hem of His robe.

It was so easy to do when it was my eyes.  It was so easy to trust the LORD with my health through cancer.  I even found it easier to sink into the love of my Savior with the crippling of my ankle/leg.  It is simple for me to trust with physical things.  The deeper things go, the more I clam up, and the more distant I become.  I don’t want that sort of relationship with Christ.  I know He doesn’t want that sort of relationship with me.  The deeper sides to me are no more complex to the LORD than my eyes.  He is fully capable of perfectly mending my soul.  It doesn’t make sense to doubt Him.  I know deep inside I don’t.  I am trying to figure out why these shallower and medium levels hesitate and resist.

Abba, Father I believe, please help me with my unbelief.  Turn this fear filled heart of stone to the trusting beating heart of flesh.  Build in me the trust for my deeper understanding of you.  Help me break  down these walls of fear and years of building.  I know I can’t do it on my own.  Only Your mighty hand, and Your great mercy can safe me from my self.  You are powerful enough to mend our broken bodies.  You are gracious enough to soothe our tortured souls.  You only are worthy of praise, worship, and unfailing trust.  And yet I fail to give you all those so often.  Please help us LORD to be better worshipers of Your glory.  Holy Spirit please soak me in love for Christ, drench us all in love to be the abject slaves of our Savior.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Flipped around Repentance

Oh my soul

Oh my Jesus

Judas sold You for thirty

I’d have done it for less

Oh my soul

Oh my savior

Peter denied You three times

I have denied You more

As the nails went in

I was standing right there

As you breathed Your last

I shook my head and I cried

Oh my God, What have we done?

We’ve destroyed Your Son

Oh my God, What have we done?

We’ve destroyed Your Son

Oh my soul

Oh my Jesus

Judas sold You thirty

I’d have done it for less

Oh my soul

Oh my Savior

Peter denied You three times

I have denied You more

And the blood ran down

I was standing right there

And the water poured

I shook my head and I cried

Oh my God, What have we done?

We’ve destroyed Your Son

Oh my God, What have we done?

We’ve destroyed Your Son

Oh my God, What have we done?

We have destroyed Your Son

Oh my God, What have we done?

We have destroyed Your Son

As the nails went in

I was standing right there

And You breathed Your last

–          Lyrics to “What have we done?”

This is one of my most favorite songs I have ever heard.  It is one of the most difficult and convicting songs I have ever heard.  Several of the bands at Mars Hill church sing this song.  And when I hear it being sung by so many voices around me … I am overwhelmed by this bitter sweet loving pain.  Because I don’t know if I would have been one of the women following Jesus, carrying His cross, and weeping.  Or would I be a scoffer?  Or in passive defiance of the Perfect Lamb by merely watching what was being done to Him?  I do know I wouldn’t have understood the cup of wrath I have been pouring into my entire life … was about to be drunk to the very last drop by Jesus.

And Jesus didn’t just drink my cup.  If every single sin that will ever be committed was but a single drop into that cup … I can’t even begin to fathom how huge that cup had to be.  Jesus drank every last drop.  He endured the wrath of God.  He did it for me.  He did it for You.  He did it for everyone.  Every last single person that has ever existed and will ever exist.  It is mind blowing.  It is completely scandalous!  The Holy Father, the Holy Son, and the Holy Ghost did all of this out of a love I won’t ever really understanding until I am standing in the presence of the LORD.

I recently listened to a sermon preached by Pastor Paris Reidhead, and he said that through the cross and the blood of Christ is the only way God could get glory out of a human being.  I wanted to argue with him but the stink of my pride in that argument shut me up pretty quickly.  His statement is bothersomely true; which is why my heart cringes and aches each time I sing “I was standing right there”.  It is why I am continually baffled by the love the LORD continues to pour out on me in spite of the fact that we have destroyed His Son.

It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t there myself.  I destroyed His Son with each sin I have committed and will commit.  I drove those nails in every time I deny Jesus because of fear of man issues that honestly mean nothing in eternity.  Every lash of the scourge that tore through His flesh I brought down on Him by willingly walking into and toward as many temptations as I could find.  And, yes, I do know I have been forgiven all of these things and a good deal more.  I know that right now I am hid in Christ before God, spotless and blameless.  I know I am cherished, loved, and a treasured daughter of the LORD.  These are all truths spoken to me from pages of the Bible.  But these heart felt facts don’t change what I have done, or what I still do.

Pastor Paris Reidhead spoke of repentance as well.  He said that most people’s idea of repentance is nothing more than Gospel glossed humanism.  That most people don’t understand the enormity of their sin, the depth of their guilt by a Holy and Righteous God; and, that they only repent and tremble in fear of God because their skin is about to be singed from the fires of hell.  He put it plainly when he said that repentance isn’t about a good person dealing with the punishments of a bad God.  It is about a bad person standing before a Holy, Righteous, and Good God.  That we all deserve hell, because we are sinners and we love our sin.  Every time we sin we have added another drop in that cup of wrath that Jesus drank.

Sure, He already drank it.  But I had never viewed my sin like that.  The LORD knows everything.  He knew how much I would sin.  He knew how much you would sin.  That cup of wrath is precise.  This doesn’t give me free license to carry on as if it is all taken care of.  If I truly love Jesus I can’t.  I don’t want to add any more to that cup.  I want my drops to decrease and not increase.  I am just sitting here so dumb at not having seen something this simple.  The LORD knows what I will do already, but now I am aware of this on a level I simply wasn’t before.  I know I have, but I don’t want to destroy Jesus.  He is my Savior.  I love Him.

Which is why I am really grateful for this song.  I can’t truly repent with all that I am unless I fully understand the weight of my sin.  I need to understand what my sin has completely done to my Holy God.  I know that only being thoroughly wrecked by my sin and failures can I then be picked up by the Holy Ghost to unimaginable heights of freedom in Christ, and drenched in the love of the LORD.  I can’t just take the gift of salvation without lovingly meditating on what this gift cost.  I want to savor every last drop of grace the LORD has given to me.  I don’t want to take it for granted.  I don’t want to see it as something casual or non-spectacular.  God’s grace is scandalous.  And I am thankful for that.

The last thing Reidhead touched on was how we love Jesus.  Do we approach the throne of God with the cross as a bargaining chip?  You know, I’ll take Jesus in exchange for heaven.  Jesus isn’t a bartering chip.  Jesus didn’t die on the cross for my eternal happiness as His prime product.  It is a by-product but it wasn’t the point.  Which is a real slap in the face because I think I have seen Jesus like that before in my life.  Pastor Reidhead then spoke a truth that woke me up, and made me truly examine how I feel about the LORD.  He said that those who truly love Jesus and worship Jesus, and obey Jesus … in their hearts say, “LORD I will love you, obey you, and worship you even if at the end of all things I end up in hell.  If that is where you want me to go.  Because YOU alone are worthy of my love, obedience, and worship.  Because YOU deserve all of me.  Hell isn’t a deciding factor.  YOU LORD are the only factor I see or care about.”

And I had never looked at my faith that way.  Would I still love Jesus, worship the LORD, and obey His laws … if I knew I was going to hell?  Would that change how I feel?  Would His holiness, His goodness, His righteousness … be enough for me to devote myself in abject adoration to the LORD simply because He deserves it?  I would have to say in past times of my life I shamefully say no.  Right now I think I give, and live out, an uncomfortable yes.  I know each day my yes becomes stronger and more comfortable bit by bit.  But this is definitely a lifetime of sanctification to get it there.  It just flips everything around.

I’m not a Christian because of anything I did.  I am saved by the Blood of Christ because I am His reward for His suffering.  He deserves me for the price He paid.  He deserves so much better than I give Him.  God willing, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, I am starting to change that.  Thank you LORD.  Thank you God.  Thank you Jesus.  Thank you Holy Ghost.  I am so blessed.  Undeservedly showered by Your grace.  Thank you.  And please continue to grow in me this vine of You and Your values.  For I am nothing without You and I can do nothing without You.  Amen.

Heavenly Father and earthly father

In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” (Matthew 6:9)

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:” (John 1:12)

                Talking to my earthly father is awkward at best.  We don’t have a bad relationship, but we don’t have a very good relationship.  I am trying to work on it, and I believe my father is too in his own way.  It is just that our ‘ways’ are so completely different.  It’s hard, and sometimes I get frustrated in sadness.  I want our relationship to be so great.  I want it to be like the relationship I hear my Pastor talk about having with his daughters.  But it’s not.  I am beginning to understand this yearning I feel for a wonderful relationship with my father is a fraction of the yearning my Heavenly Father must feel for me.

I am a pretty crappy daughter to my Heavenly Father.  Again, His ways and my ways are completely different.  He is holy and righteous and pure love … and I … well I rebel against Him, defy Him, and continually break His heart with my sin.  I cringe with this truth as I sit pretty on the thought that I am a pretty good daughter to my earthly father.  God hasn’t lied to me or about me.  God hasn’t betrayed me.  God has never hurt me.  God has never given up on me.  God always wants me around Him.  I am sitting here typing this out and I am completely at a loss why I don’t show as much devotion to the LORD as I do for my father who has done all those things.

I know it is easier to have a ‘good’ relationship with a father I am passingly involved with.  There is no real intimacy between my dad and me.  I seek intimacy with God.  As surreal as this sounds I actually think I know God better than my father; which isn’t saying a lot I know.  So I would like to ‘comfort’ myself with the idea that this somehow excuses all my failures.  It’s not true.  I know that.  I have a lot of sin when it comes to having God be Abba, Father.  And just sitting here now writing this I have to shamefully admit I actually have a lot of sin when it comes to my earthly father as well.

As confusing and frustrating as this all sounds to me I can take true comfort in one fact.  As a child of my father, and as a child of God, this will never change.  I will always be the daughter of my father, and the daughter of my God.  And, at least, in the relationship between Abba and myself He is perfect and not going to mess anything up.  My dad and I are good at that in our relationship.  I know I really need to try harder, and put more effort into our relationship.  Into both my relationships.  It is just so easy to be lazy with a dad who is equally lazy; and lazy with a Father who won’t ever leave, give up, or stop loving me.  And I really hate that I have to admit that.  But it is true.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’” (John 20:17)

 “(16) And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.  As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’

(17) Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.’  (18) ‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.’” (2 Corinthians 6: 16-18)

                Jesus is the only  One who can redeem both of my relationships.  For God could not receive me as I was: I was unclean.  Through the blood of Christ I am made clean.  Because of the blood of Christ I am a living temple that the Holy Spirit can live within.  Thus Abba, Father will always draw me near.  I can be separate from the world on my life journey of sanctification.  Since Jesus has ascended I can cling to Him.  I need to cling to Him.  I need to bury myself so deep inside of Him so that I can do a better job of reflecting the glory of God.  This is perfect hope for an imperfect sinner.

With my earthly father things aren’t so much like that.  He will hurt me.  I will hurt him.  He will ignore me.  I will ignore him.  We will skirt around each other in a dance of acquaintances.  I don’t want that.  I don’t think he wants that.  Jesus is the only way to get closer to my dad.  Learning about Christ, how He related to God as His Father, will help mold me a path to follow to my dad.  Learning to love and forgive like Christ can continue to change me into a new creation so that I can better love and forgive my father.  I just can’t be lazy.  I don’t want to be lazy.  I really need to be in continually prayer for the Holy Spirit to take away this laziness.

Loved by God; Loving God

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” (Leviticus 26:12)

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. ‘“ (Revelation 21:3)

                I heard this verse today listening to a CD by Ghost Ship, a Christian band.  It stuck with me and I began to think about all the times God has spoken these words.  You will be MY people.  I will be your God.  I have heard this saying often enough so I assumed I fully understood its meaning.  I mean of course God will be our God.  He is the only God, so it naturally makes sense.  So instead I always pondered on what it means to be His people.  I have made up lists in my head of all the things I should be doing as a possession of God.  But it wasn’t until today that I was sort of struck dumb by the second half of that statement.  God will be my God.

What does that mean?  And how super huge is that meaning?  When I was a pagan I chose my god.  Since I chose my god it was more of a bartering relationship.  I would pray/worship to my god in return for blessings, protection, healing, strength, love, knowledge, foresight … “fill in the blank”.  Then there was the whole other aspect that this god was lucky enough for me to allow him/her into the story of my life.  I decided their worth and importance.  Yahweh, however, is not like that.  My relationship with the LORD is completely different.  I knew this on the surface, but the Holy Spirit really struck me with a deeper understanding of what this means.

First off, I didn’t chose the Great “I AM”.  I did not hunt down the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.  The LORD chose me.  The Almighty God hunted me down.  And I can promise you it was a long hunt.   This very simple statement completely blows my mind.  I mean who am I that the Creator of the heavens and the earth would diligently and personally seek me out?  The God of the Bible wanted me.  He desired me and loved me before I was ever born.  Even though He knew of everything I would do against Him, and in spite of my efforts to defy Him, He didn’t give up on me.  I was chosen to be His daughter.  I am pretty sure the old me would have viewed this all with a great deal of pride.  But now, knowing I deserve wrath, hell, and damnation, I am struck to my heart with bewildered awe.  I feel so deeply humbled by His grace.

That grace is limitless and all consuming.  The LORD doesn’t barter; the LORD loves.  He told me He would be my God.  He told He would be my Father.  There is so much responsibility wrapped up in those two words.  I don’t have kids; I only have cats, and so that is all I can knowingly compare it too.  I get to feed my pets, shelter them, and care for them when they are sick.  I also get to play with my pets.  I get to spoil them with loving affection.  I get to hold them, snuggle them, and shower them with kisses.  The concept that God gets to do all these things with me is mind blowing.  And He loves me in a much more fantastically perfect way.  Sure there are times when my cats need to be squirted with water, or given a light swat; but just because I do either of these things doesn’t mean I love them any less.  Which means God doesn’t love me any less.  My cats are my babies, my treasures.  And I feel uncomfortably undeserving to know and better understand that I am a better, more important treasure to my Heavenly Father.

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37)

I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world.  They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.” (John 17:6)

                God gave me as a gift to Jesus.  As Pastor Dave Bruskus said, “I am God’s gift to God.”  Which is pretty WOW.  I know I have never really looked at myself as anyone’s gift to anyone.  God, however, has deemed me so important to Him.  Not only was I a gift to Jesus, Jesus promises to never cast me out.  I will never be put in a garage sell, re-gifted, or taken back to the store.  Jesus is going to keep me.  I am that important to Him.  I am that loved by Him.  The LORD has consumed the story of my life into His story.  Being held by Jesus completely drenches me in His plans and purposes.  If I couple that with the responsibility God has already taken for me I come to realize how much He already engulfed me if I just let Him carry me along.  Saying all this, typing this all out, it baffles me why I resist my LORD so stubbornly and continually.  It’s not my life any more.  I have been purchased, and given as a gift, to Christ by the blood of Christ.  Again, WOW!

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.’” (John 14:23)

                I am just so amazed right now.  I am completely in love with the LORD.  To be loved so thoroughly, cherished so deeply, treasured so fully, and esteemed so highly by the very Creator of well everything … it is just … UGH!  So wonderfully much blissfully heaven!  I don’t know how to put it into words.  And when someone understands this about the LORD, gets that this is how our Almighty Father feels about each of His children … how can you not fall completely in love with Him?  How can I not worship Him?  This makes my heart ache so deliciously.  I love God the Father.  I love God the Son.  I love God the Holy Spirit.

God loves me so much He wants to live in me.  God the Holy Spirit has taken root in me.  I am never forgotten nor abandoned nor forsaken because the LORD lives in me.  He is always with me.  They say home is where the heart is, and the LORD has told me His home will be with me.  His heart is in me, with me.  I understand a little better now when the Bible speaks of the believer living in Christ.  Because Christ is my home; Jesus is where my heart is.  So being a daughter in the people of God actually has nothing to do with the lists I make up in my head.  It is about a loving, covenantal  relationship with my God.  I knew that before, but I understand it a little deeper now.  Thank you, LORD, for sharing Yourself with me!

My LORD, my Master

I’ve sold myself to people – men and women – for a fleshly price

I’ve sold myself to ideas – for the cost of acceptance

I’ve sold myself for pleasure; I’ve sold myself for pain

I set my purchase price, I picked my owners, I determined the time

I sought, I found, I decided

But not with You

You thought of me before I existed

You sought me – the first time that’s ever happened for me

You bought me two thousand years ago

When You suffered I was in Your heart

From the first drop of blood You branded me YOUR possession

I am not Your convert, I am not Your servant

You purchased me with Your suffering

Just as Paul is, just as James is, I am Your slave

You are my Master

I get that now

You alone are worthy of my worship, and abject adoration

I am on my knees, fall on my face, because You bought me with Your love through Your blood

I don’t worship You for heaven

If hell must be my head – I will still worship You

Because YOU alone are worthy my LORD0

And my heart aches with Your awesomeness and glory

My mind reels with the purchased price

I am Your reward, Your treasure, because YOU wanted me

In You I can stand, but because of You I am on my knees

I love You seems so pale and faded, but YOU can make it great bright and brilliant

My LORD, my Savior, My God

Never cease seeking me, I beg of you, and I will try not to stray

Just call my knee, and give me the strength I plead to always answer

“Here I am”

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