Let’s talk about LOVE, baby.

When did men stop pursuing?

Maybe I grew up in an old-school mentality. My father raised me to believe that women were a precious jewel to be treasured. He told/tells me that a man will see your worth and fight for you. This is coming from a man who pursued my mom until she couldn’t say no, and 35 years later they are still in love. I want the secret to their success.

So what happened to this persistent pursuit? Ephesians 5:25 says that a husband is suppose to love his wife the way Christ loves the church. To fully understand this I think we have to understand the way He loves the church. Christ loves the church in a relentless, unconditional loving quest. He doesn’t receive our love and then stop pursing. My God pursues me DAILY. He didn’t quit once I entrusted my heart to Him. He forgives me when I repent. He loves me in spite of me.  On top of all of this, He laid down His life for me. Talk about literally giving your life for another. That’s a pretty big deal. I believe it takes a God fearing, courageous, brave man to put his emotions on the line to pursue a woman of value. I have had multiple men chase me diligently, tell me all the “right” things that I want to hear, feed me promises of unrestricted pursuit, only to literally fall off the face of my world without even a 2 week notice. So why?

One answer: The female race. We don’t make men work.  Why do I think men have stopped pursuing women? Because we have let them. This might not sit well with some women but I am willing to take the criticism, here it goes. Women have been put on a pedestal for a long time. We were a gift from God to Adam. So why now do we not get treated as much? Well maybe since we placed ourselves in the same category as men. We aren’t letting men do their “jobs” because we have decided to take them over. We have become the heads of the households, we have told men to, contrary to the Bible, to submit to us. We have places ourselves as leaders and in charge. We have let men use us for sexual satisfaction. We have given into temporary gratifications of emotional affirmation, only to verify that it was a fleeting feeling. We don’t let men chase us anymore because we are too busy chasing them. We have dropped our standards in men so we can settle on the feeling of being accepted by someone, quite frankly, anyone.

Lets not beat around the bush here, this has been going on since the beginning of mankind, literally. In Genesis 2:21 God put Adam to sleep to take a rib from the man, in 22 it says “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib and HE BROUGHT HER TO THE MAN.” But verse 23 has to be my favorite, “AT LAST” the man exclaimed. God listened to what Adam ached for, a companion. Women were literally created to be mans other half.  But check this out. Eve wasn’t even AROUND when God warned Adam about eating of the fruit. It was in verse 16 that He warned he could eat of any tree, EXCEPT the tree of knowledge. Sure, Eve was the first one to take the bite BUT Adam was the one who was warned, he was the one who was suppose to lead Eve in not doing this. Not only was he the one warned, but in Genesis 3:6 when Eve did eat of the fruit it says “She took the fruit and ate it. THEN she gave some to her husband, WHO WAS WITH HER” bomb, dropped.  Adams job as a man was to stand up to his woman and tell her NO. To lead her in the way God was leading him. This is how mankind was established; God was leading Adam, and Adam was to then turn and lead Eve. Instead we messed it up right away. Eve starting making decisions that should have been Adam’s, and he was letting her.

So how do we reverse the roles once again?

Men, prepare your heart. Be the God fearing man God has called you to be. You are not able to lead a woman closer to Christ if you aren’t established yourself. Ask God to reveal where you are lacking in your life so He can help grow you into the man you are meant to be. Set standards in dating before you pursue a woman. Know the standards you have set for the woman you want to pursue. When you narrow your focus on a woman who stands out to you, slowly but intentionally make her feel safe, secure, and pursued. Learn what her desires are, what she thinks is romantic. If its flowers, give her flowers. If its quality time, give her quality time. If its reassurance, giver her reassurance. I promise, we are easier to please then we like to come off as being when a man is genuinely trying. Be content with her. Don’t take a good woman for granted. There will always be someone prettier, smarter, nicer, more laid back, funnier, whatever it may be, but there won’t be another her or what you have. Christ will provide the woman you need in your life, treat her as the blessing she is. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, the grass is greener when its cover in fertilizer (soak that one in) Appreciate her support, her love, her thoughtfulness, her patience and her encouragement. Loyalty is rare, hold onto it. Believe and protect her. Women want to feel secure in the relationship. Make your intentions clear. Be her consistent in an ever-changing world. Treat her with the same worth Christ sees in her and she will return that with love and respect. Love isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice. Make the decision everyday to love with all you have. Don’t be scared, for perfect love casts out fear. Most importantly, STAND UP. I promise what a God fearing woman wants, is a yearning for a man to stand up and lead her. The worst thing a man can be in the eyes of a Proverbs 31 woman is a coward, and we find too many now days.  Don’t run from hard work because I promise it won’t always be easy, love is not for the weak. The right woman will want you to be brave and courageous, to fight the fight and finish the race.

Women, guard your heart. When two souls are colliding and you are hearing everything you’ve always wanted to hear from a man to feel love, appreciated and accepted it is easy to fall into the trap of temptation, so set limitations. Beware of “Wolves in Sheeps clothing” (Matthew 7:15) One of my exes literally admitted to playing “the Jesus card” on me, to pretend He had a deeper relationship with God to woo me. Examine his intentions. Stop blaming a good man in your life for things that men in the past have done to you. Not all men are the same, and God is molding a man for you. Forgive when he asks for forgiveness, as we have been forgiven, that means not bringing it up again.. I know this is hard but don’t just forgive, forget. Stop competing with the man. We were made for different purposes, with different roles. Embrace being a woman and appreciate him being a bold, courageous man. Refuse to dishonor or degrade him. Men need to feel respected. Encourage him in his dreams, in his decisions. Challenge him to be a better man. Make him feel appreciated and cherished. Don’t overthink, let God’s will be done. Stop using mind games and manipulation to make him do things from you. When a man is in love, and if he is a godly man, He will show you love with an overflow of the heart, not a guilt trip. Stop expecting a perfect man, he may be courageous, strong, and fearless, but he is still just a man.  Stop looking to him to make you happy. The only one who can fulfill your needs is Christ. A relationship is not a fairy tale you’ve always been told it will be. Your man will annoy you and on certain days drive you absolutely crazy but you must place your joy and identity in Christ and you will never be broken. Last but not least, let him be the leader he was designed to be. I know this may be hard as in many cases we have had to take over a mans role simply because we are used to men not stepping up to do it, but in order for that role to reverse again we must take a stand and let men be men again.

Remember we weren’t meant to be alone. God made Eve from Adam. Two are better than one, but more importantly, three is the best of all, for then it can not be broken. Place him at the center and no man can separate it.

“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:

If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ephesians 4:9-12

 Until God provides the one for you, be ok with being single. This just means God wants to keep you to Himself a little bit longer!

 

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The relentless pursuit; loving beyond reason.

Lately I have been battling the idea of unconditional love in my mind. Its obviously been something that has been stirring inside of me for some time but it’s suddenly consuming my thoughts. What is this love that is so pure? So perfect and how can we come to understand the depth of this? John 13:34 Christ calls us to “love others like He loves” This isn’t an easy task.  I always think of when He was literally being hung upon the cross, He cried out to God to intercede on behalf of His own murderers for forgiveness. How can a love like that be explained, or captured, and now we are suppose to love to that extent? I think because His version of love is so great, it is hard for us to relate. This is quite a tall order considering He loves us perfectly. So to try and understand how deep we sincerely need to love, God opened my heart to the story of Hosea.

Hosea was told by God to marry a woman who he knew in advance would be unfaithful to him. He knew that he was called to love a woman who didn’t deserve his love. He had to love, without condition, a woman that would hurt him to no avail.

See here’s what I have found from this story. You can’t have an unconditional love, that has conditions. Love can be messy. But does God call us to love when its convenient? Does God call us to love when we are happy or in a good place or getting along? Is that the way He loves us? Absolutely not. God uses this example of Hosea to say, GO, Go find your prostitute of a wife and love her. Do you think this pursuit for Hosea was easy? It was filled with pain, with wonder. He was a man of God, what was he doing pursing this known whore?  Wondering the streets in neighborhoods he had no place being, searching for a used woman. This woman who had disgraced his name with shame. We think because he is a man of God he should let her go, to let her continue in her evil selfish ways, yet God said because He is a man of God, to go, go find and rescue his wife. To take her back in his arms as his promised bride.

He didn’t even know if Gomer would take him back. He wasn’t good enough for her before, why would she love him now again? But did it matter? No. We love because we are called to love. Not because its easy. Not because we are told we wont ever get hurt in the process. Not because it will always be accepted. We love relentlessly because we are called to love like Christ and that’s what He does.

So now he comes to the marketplace to find that his wife is there. She is his. They made a commitment. Yet he couldn’t just walk up and take her. She wasn’t free to be his. She was in chains. She had to be bought at a price in the sex slave industry. Imagine, a man of God approaching this auction, standing up saying “She is mine, I want her” Gomer at this point is used up, dirty according to the ways she has lived her life in this world yet Hosea digs deep and says “how much?” Do you honestly think Hosea was so overcome with feeling for his wife that he ran to her? To be honest, I don’t know. I would assume that it wasn’t an emotion but a choice. Love isn’t a feeling. It’s a decision, a daily choice to love that person, no matter what condition, no matter how we feel.

I try to put myself in Gomers shoes. How did she feel. How did it feel to know that a man you had abandoned came back for you, not because she owed him anything, not because he was angry, but because HE LOVED HER, despite of her sins. I imagine the tears rolling down her face knowing she was forgiven. Her heart racing thinking “this man loves me enough that even though I have betrayed him, he is here, paying for the something that is already his, to show me love and forgiveness”  she probably ran to him and appreciated all he did. Respected him as a godly man and served him as a wife for the rest of her days, I know that’s what I would do if shown this ultimate act of forgiveness.  His kindness and compassion has won her back over as the story evolves into the ultimate romance, fairy tale, if you may.

In spite of her sins, in spite of her doings, in spite of her running away. He loves her. He buys back what is already his.

750 years after Hosea pursued and won back his wife,  Christ reveals His love story to us. We, like Gomer, were his. We ran away, he pursued. We pushed, he pulled. We left, we became criminals, we entered into a sinful life. Yet He came looking for us. He searched our hearts. He broke down walls, He lowered himself to mere mortality. He took the emotional and physical beatings. He hung on a cross, and He died. He bought us back. Our Hosea has come. Our salvation has come. As Hosea searched for his wife, Jesus came searching for the salvation of humanity. Like Gomer we were in chains, naked, sinful and our gracious God simply asked “How much?” Then paid the price for what is rightfully His. This is how we are suppose to love. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.John 13:34. It’s a commandment from God, which to me, means not to be taken lightly. Love like Hosea loved Gomer. Love like Christ loves us.

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Why do I do what I do?

To say that I have been rocked to my core this week would be an understatement. I have been humbled under my own sin. Writing this is not going to be easy on my pride but I am praying it will be healing for my soul.

Most of you who know me know I am overall a God-fearing woman. I was fortunately raised with parents that kept me in Church, prayers before bed and reminders to open up my Bible. For the most part I was a pretty good kid/teenager. Stayed away from sex, drugs and rock n roll. What I didn’t realize was that sin isn’t always so apparent. I thought that if I made my appearances look nice and neat and steered clear of the obvious sins then I would be all right. Then God smacked me over the head (in a loving way, of course) I am at the moment dealing with some of the worst pain I have ever felt, and have no one to blame but myself. I held something in from the most important person in my life, afraid to hurt them and myself. For so long I thought “what you don’t know won’t kill you” mentality. Until God tore the veil from my eyes and reminded me sin doesn’t always have to be so blatant. I am sharing this with you understanding that some of you will share in the struggle, knowing that none of us can fight sin on our own power, only under the authority of Jesus Christ.

Often when we think of characters in the Bible that were of sinful nature, Saul can be one of them, but Saul isn’t my focus, Paul, the reformed sinner is. Paul became one of the greatest warriors for Christ, proclaiming His name across nations, along with multiple imprisonments for Christ, one of the greatest leaders of our foundation. Yet, he struggled with sin just as I do.

Romans 7:14 “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.”

Can I get an amen? I wonder how often I do things that I do and wonder “WHY” I know this is wrong, I know I need to step out on faith instead of fall into the ways of the world, but constantly find myself in this battle. Amazing to think that Paul, one of the greatest leaders in our faith struggled with sin the way we do. Being born again takes the step of faith, but becoming Christ like is a continuous process. So, what has gone wrong? Paul’s explanation is, “It is no longer I who do it; it is sin living in me.” Strange? There is a division within here. There is the “I” that wants to do what God wants, and there is the sin which dwells in “me,” which is different than the “I.” We as humans are extremely complicated. We have within us a spirit, a soul, and a body. These are distinct, one from the other. What Paul is suggesting here is that the redeemed spirit never wants to do what God has prohibited and agrees the Law that it is good. And yet there is an foreign power, a force that he calls sin, a great beast that is lying still within us (literally crouching at the door, waiting to take us over, Genesis 4:7)  that springs to life, and we do what we do not want to do.

I think so often we underestimate the power of sin, Satan and what the world tells us is ok. I have tried for so long to fight against that with my own strength, which only gives me an amazing ability to cover up with excuses. Instead of trying to overcome sin with our own control, we must take hold of Gods provision for victory over sin. He has already overcome, He has already conquered. (John 16:33) Why do I always try and fight a battle that has already been won?

I want that freedom from fear, self-centeredness, bitterness, anxiety, and that freedom can only be found in Christ. We think we have got life under control — and we are fooled. All sin is waiting for is the right occasion when, like a powerful idling engine, it roars into life and takes over at the touch of the accelerator and we find ourselves helplessly under its control.

It’s time to take dramatic action against the power of sin within me. Jesus himself says, “If your right hand offends you, cut it off,” (Matthew 5:30). and I don’t think He meant that you should literally chop off your hand, What he means is that we should take drastic action because we are up against a serious problem. He indicates that there is a battle within us between our sinful nature and the Spirit that runs our members, that gives orders to our hands and our feet and our eyes and our tongue and our brain, and controls them.. That is the way man is made. Our will power is never enough; sin will win, and we will do the evil that we swore not to do.

You want to do right and determine to do right, knowing what it is and swearing to do it, only to find that under certain circumstances all that determination melts away and you do not do what is right. You do exactly what you did not want to do. So you come away angry with yourself. “What’s wrong with me? Why do I always mess up? Why  can’t I do right? Why am I so weak?” This is right where we live, isn’t it? This is what we all struggle with. The cry of the heart at that moment is “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

One answer: Christ. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 5:3). Blessed is the man who comes to the end of himself. Blessed is the man who has arrived at spiritual bankruptcy. Because this is the point — the only point — where God’s help is given.

If we think that we have got something in ourselves that we can work out our problems with, if we think that our wills are strong enough, our desires motivated enough, that we can control evil in our lives by simply determining to do so, then we have not come to the end of ourselves yet. And the Spirit of God waits patiently and lets us go ahead and try it on that basis. And we fail, and fail miserably — until, at last, out of our failures, we cry, “O wretched man that I am!” Sin has deceived us, and the Law, as our friend, has come in and exposed sin for what it is. When we see how wretched it makes us, then we are ready for the answer, which comes immediately, the only answer there is.. Christ.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry a heavy burden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, let me teach you because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your sould. For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light” Jesus is the only one that can free us from all the burdens. He promises love, healing and peace with God.

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My verdict: Not Guilty.

So many times I underestimate the power of Satan and his demons. To say I have been under “attack” lately would be a major understatement. Nothing seems to be going my way. I have been under this microscope for so many people who want to talk about the negative things in my life. I am not blaming any others; I am merely blaming the one who has control over this world. He thrives off of this, pushing me, pushing Christians to the lowest of lows. To feel ashamed, to feel unworthy of Saviors grace.

There are many different ways we can let him get to us. The worst one for me is the long-standing hypocrisy. I can honestly say that I feel like I am running after God at a rate I never have before. This makes me want to share the gospel, to tell others about what He is doing in my life, to boast in His strength He is living out in me. Yet the battle only begins there.  This is when the combat fires up. The flesh strikes back.  When I am most fired up in Christ, the devil is lighting the most fire under my feet. Sure, there have been times it was easier for me. Like when I sat back and lived the mundane Christian lifestyle. I believed. I was saved. I went to church on Sunday. I even picked up my Bible every now and then. I prayed when I was hurting. I prayed when I was bored. I even prayed when someone else needed help. Satan had one upped me. See this is the exact time of Christian he desires us to be. He knows he won’t win every soul, every battle. So he was content in letting me sit behind the scenes and let life pass me by. This is exactly the kind of soul he was willing to lose, because I was just one, affecting only myself.

Then the Holy Spirit got a hold of me, and I fell hard. It wasn’t love at first sight, it was a process. He has come in and started to take over every aspect of my life.  This wasn’t by anything I had done. No, this was by GRACE and love alone. I was tired, I was weary and I wanted to surrender. Little did I know, that comes with a war. Because I chose to take a stance for Christ I am tempted, ridiculed, critiqued, and sought after daily. Fleshly desires, worldly cravings, appealing lies creep into my mind. Satan now is ready to put up a fight. This is the Christian lifestyle he despises. This is whom he fights. The problem is, I don’t win every confrontation.  No there are so many times I fail. Time and time again. I let myself pick up the sword, instead of standing behind the shield Christ has held up for me. Satan wins, again and again. I let my desires and weaknesses take over. This makes me an easy target. This magnifies my shortcomings. I am claiming to strive to be like Christ, yet I fall short. This makes me a hypocrite. This allows others to look at me to justify their own sin. Sometimes, we become Satan for each other.  We bring up old sins and hold them against each other.  We bring accusations against those who are no longer accountable for their crimes. I think it’s important that we try to become more like God in learning to forgive and forget.  If God forgets our sins, we should forget the sins that others commit.  We should not allow ourselves to become “personal Satans” for those who are covered in Christ’s blood. What I want to tell you right now is I pray so humbly that no one looks to me. I pray no one sees me as good. I pray no one wants to be like me, because I am a dirty, nasty sinner. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersof whom I am the worstBut for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” 1 Timothy 1:15-17

This is one of my favorite verses. I pray that no one looks to me as an example of who I am, but as an example of what Christ can do through unjustified sinners.

One of Satan’s favorite weapons is condemnation and accusation (Revelation 12:10). To remind us that we aren’t good enough to receive Christ blessings. He is seen as a sort of evil prosecutor who brings railing accusations against us, but Christ as our defense attorney steps in and pleads our case Isn’t’ that just it!! Here is Paul, a previous killer of Christians, who surely fought with guilt daily, but knew that he was one of the reasons Christ came to die. For him and his dirty, filthy mistakes and because of that he would ALWAYS be covered by grace.

That is why I want to embrace my weakness so that no one can look to me as the example. I don’t want to hide my past, present or future mistakes. Satan can keep throwing them in my face because at the end of the day I can look to him and say, HIS GRACE REALLY IS SUFFICENT. His mercy shines through our darkness. The dirtier the stain, the more mercy He shines upon us. He can clean up any mess. In those moments, He is most glorified. Satan wants us to be ashamed, to feel guilty as if we aren’t good enough to keep talking about Christ, to keep claiming His name. He will put people in your life that want to keep bringing up your past, your faults. He will test your loyalty to Gods mercy.

I don’t follow Christ because it is a “feel-good” religion. To be honest, its not. The easiest way to live in this world is to be like the world. To strive for fame, attention, lust and greed. To follow Satan’s charm & charisma. I follow Christ because this world & myself will never be enough. Many times I try, but miss. I am off target. I fail miserably over and over. God doesn’t have a double jeopardy in his court system. Our sins have been forgiven. Christ won the case for us. We can’t be convicted of the same crime. Our only judge has sentenced me to eternal life.

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The Great Exchange.

I am so tired of this “sin scale” that we have seemed to justifiably placed. Who are we and how do we think that we are suddenly the ones who can place ranks on sin? Sure, some sin seem “bigger” or worse then others because of the obvious reasons, murder, adultery, stealing. This is a huge deal. Lock them in hell, throw away the key. Wait, says who exactly? Cause I can tell you one thing right now, the “little” sins such as lying & disobedience should get us hell too. We all deserve to be thrown into the pit, and to be cut off from the Heavenly Father. They all separate us from the One who can’t look upon sin.

Ever notice how easy it can be to become angry about someone else’s sin? Someone does us wrong and we get so heated, so mad, so bitter. What’s ironic is when we look closer and examine ourselves; we are usually committing the same sins. Maybe not in an obvious manner or maybe even in a way that is socially more “acceptable” but where is the “sin scale” in the Bible? We judge others who have murdered physically, yet look further. Has there ever been a time in your life you have kept the message of Jesus Christ and His salvation from someone when you felt called to share?  Where then, lies the difference in physical and spiritual murder? What if that was the only opportunity that person had to hear about Christ? Eye opener. Can we so easily judge and gossip about someone committing adultery yet in Matthew 5:27-28 says  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Uh Oh..

How easy it becomes to be a Pharisee. To get caught up in the logistics. To rate our sin according to the scale we have made up. It is often stated if Jesus hadn’t eaten with sinners, He would have eaten alone. It is so true. From Pharisee to prostitute, no one “deserves” heaven. We were sinful at birth (Psalm 51:5)

Until the One who came to BECOME sin, took it on for us.  When He died, He was still sinless yet He became it. May not make sense in our minds but He literally took the nails, the crown, the piercings, the insults and cheers for us. The sinless Sin-bearer. At the very end of his crucifixion, he cried out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” That means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I honestly believe this means that God turned his back and couldn’t look at Jesus because of the sin he bore. Can you imagine the extreme pain of that separation when the veil was torn as He took on the ultimate sacrifice?

When we are placing sin on a holiness scale we are ultimately saying that His blood isn’t sufficient enough for one sin over the other.  We are disregarding the cross, the grace that was shown to all of us. Not one sin over the other. Its time we stop being Pharisees and look past sin to the person. Stop downplaying or underestimating the power of the cross. It’s time we take up our own & love like Him.

His grace guides and directs you . . . 
”I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye,” (Psalm 32:8).

His grace hears your cry and carries your burdens and sorrows . . .
”The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth,” (Psalm 145:18). “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,” (Isaiah 55:4).

His grace provides for all your needs . . . 
”But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19).

His grace keeps you going . . .
”. . . but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day,” (II Corinthians 4:16).

His grace never leaves you alone . . . 
”My presence will go with thee, and I will give thee rest,” (Exodus 33:14).

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Trust issues..

I have trust issues.

That’s a fact. There have been events in my life that has left me to trust very few people. Abandonment issues that make me want to keep others at an arms distance so that no one can get close enough to make me feel pain again. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know who to believe or what makes sense and what doesn’t.  Scariest of all, sometimes I feel like I don’t trust myself.

So I run. I run away from the “problems” I try and throw myself into busy work. I keep a smile on my face to show to everyone that I am okay. I busy myself with “prayer time” “quite time” “bible study” so that I can “erase” my shame, my mistakes, my guilt that creeps and nests in my mind.

These trust issues ripple over into my relationship with the only One that is true. My trust issues with others affect my trust with Christ. I have gotten so used to getting hurt, by living in this world of a “conditional” love that I push away the ONLY One who can truly promise to love me without condition or repair.  He promises that I CAN trust Him. Deuteronomy 7:9  “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is faithful, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations”

Which leads me to even feeling good enough in myself to trust His promises. I am so worthless, how could He promise me all these things, and really mean them?

I try and earn God’s blessings by doing all the things I have been told to do, to pray hard, to read every day, to share with others. Here’s the deal breaker.. God can’t love me anymore than He does now. Those things won’t make Him love me more than He does. His love ISNT conditional. It’s not based on the number of sermons I attend, how many times I volunteer for nursery or teach Sunday school. His love isn’t dependent on the number of hours I spend on quite time, or in prayer. Those things are acts of obedience, and shown out of love. Bart Miller of Mercy Me put it this way “I don’t buy my wife flowers to make her love me, I buy her flowers because I am so in love with her and adore her so much, I want to see her happy” wow.. Are we treating Jesus like that? Do we give Him time because it’s what we are supposed to do? Or because our love for Him is so genuine, we cant help but show Him we adore Him through actions & words.

Francis Chan spoke of this at Passion and I will paraphrase what He spoke on. In 2 Timothy 2:11-13 it says

“Here is a TRUSTWORTHY saying:

If we died with Him, we will also live with Him;

If we endure, we will also reign with Him.

If we disown Him, He will also disown us.

If we are faithless, HE REMAINS FAITHFUL, for HE CANNOT disown Himself.”

WOW. Check out the condition there in the last sentence, THERE IS NONE!!! There isn’t if we are faithless, so will He be.. Because NO HE can not be unfaithful.. it is WHO HE is.. There is an ultimate TRUTH in who HE is. No matter what we do, how far we have fallen, the shame and guilt we endure, HE REMAINS FAITHFUL. Our actions do not change Him, and His love for us does not change. We aren’t our shame, We are not our guilt. We are HIS.

To sum it up, yes I am a dirty sinner.. but to be completely honest, I am tired of talking about that. Do I think we should stay humble? Of course. We need to remember how great grace is to cover the magnitude of our sin. But in retrospect, I am tired of the guilt weighing me down. Jesus Christ left His throne, to be born into poverty, ridiculed, teased, tortured, but none of that would have mattered if it weren’t for the end.. which became the beginning. His death on the cross, and resurrection of the new covenant. The veil was TORN. There is nothing separating us from the Father. So yes, I am a wretched sinner, but when Christ, in His last breath, said “It is Finished” He meant it. That was it. In that single act, the grace He has given to me has made me pure. I am in white in His eyes. He sees me as clean and blameless. I am tired of not feeling good enough to accept the TRUTH in His promises. It’s time we realize that even when we feel we have no one in the world to trust, He is on our side. His promises are true, and we can TRUST in Him.

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Excuse me mister, is that a plank in your eye?

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5

I think a general “problem” within the Christian society is the judgment of others. Let me back this up a step further and say that the reason I can say this is because I have been on both sides of the fence. I was born and raised in a loving Christian home which meant I was not one to do much “wrong” as a child and even a teenager. I didn’t understand how someone could mess up so bad when Christ was sent down to die for their sins. This didn’t make sense to me. That was, until I entered the “real world”

I look back on things in my “past” whether it be 5 years ago or last week and feel convictions. These are personal guilt ridden feelings that are placed in my heart because of the bloodshed that my Savior spilt for me. I am blessed to know He cares enough to give me a discerning heart of my sins in order to repent, forgive & move on. Key words here, forgiven & move on.

So what do others have to do with the sins of my past? Or visa versa? Who am I to look into someone’s past and judge them for what they have done when I cant see out of my own sin-filled life? Or again, visa versa.

This has been heavy on my heart for a while now as I have gone through some things that make me realize that life isn’t always as it seems. Assumptions might be easier for others when it is fun to talk about or gossip with. What can we do to change this attitude? Most of the time these assumptions are made to take the pressure off one person and place on another. How much easier is it to “compare” your life to someone who might look like they are a “better person”?! I know I am guilty of it, are you?

Imagine someone following your every move with a camera. They carefully monitor everything you do, talk about, act upon.  Would you act differently? Speak nicer towards people? Make others look worse so that you could look better? Now imagine if they could get inside your head and hear what you genuinely think, assume or “judge” others. Scary?

“And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the Law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?””This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him.””But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.””And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.””When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?””She said, No man, Lord.””And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” John 8:2-11

The “let he who is without sin, cast the first stone” incident is one of the most well-known lessons of the Bible. A woman, who had been caught in the act of adultery was brought to Jesus Christ by the scribes and Pharisees as a test to see if the Messiah was a liberal in matters of the Law of God. In response to their deceitful query, He didn’t condemn the woman, not because He was a liberal, not because He condoned her sin, but because the men who brought the woman to Him were hypocrites. He was the only person there that day who was free of sin, the only one who had the right to “cast the first stone.” He didn’t stone her (or her accusers), but instead forgave her and told her to “sin no more.” Otherwise, the day is coming when she, if she didn’t thereafter repent, won’t be stoned, but will be burned – along with the hypocrites who brought her to Him that day, if they didn’t thereafter repent of their sin.

How can we allow ourselves and others to grow spiritually if we are constantly judging things that, as Christians, have already been forgiven in the eyes of Christ? Who are we to go on and on, to feel guilt ridden in our own sin when Christ fought with such passion and love to erase that. In Hebrews 8:12 the Lord says “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” How can we move on, grow, and learn to be more Christ-like if we let sin be the barrier between He and ourselves? God cannot look upon sin. When He sees us, He sees beautiful sons and daughters, saints. It’s time we take the plank out of our own eye, stop searching for stones to throw at others and love ourselves and those with a Christ-like, forgiven, pure love.

For hours our Savior hung on the cross as if He was beneath sin. As Christians, we have no right to act as if we are above it. 

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