ENOUGH.

The enemy likes to play this game with me: he chases me with legalism until I rebel and throw myself into the arms of permissiveness; and then he uses guilt to chase me back into legalism. Back and forth, like a poor little ping-pong ball.

Today, God said, “Enough.”

No matter where I am mentally and emotionally, Jesus is Enough.

No matter which side of the Should Fence I’m on, legalism or permissiveness, Jesus is Enough.

No matter how many flaws a sister-in-Christ has lovingly pointed out to me, Jesus is Enough.

No matter how oblivious I am to God’s Kingdom today because I’m too distracted by own agenda, Jesus is Enough.

It’s true that Christ’s death on the cross gives us the power to overcome sin and the flesh. But all too often, we forget that’s not all. That’s not all Jesus accomplished; how could it be? It wouldn’t be enough, since we continue to sin anyway.

No, Jesus’ sacrifice in taking all our sins upon Himself was not just about giving us the power to break away from them; it was also about giving us the freedom to fall.

I can fall down because of Jesus…and I can get up and go forward because of Him, too.

When I am walking upright, I am walking in the power of His death and resurrection—but especially His resurrection.

When I fall, I fall on the power of His death and resurrection—but especially His death.

Jesus is Enough.

The world will surround us with Shoulds when Jesus has poured out Enough. Embrace Him back today; His love is true and will be sweet to your soul.

Happy Valentine’s Day. ♥

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An Awful Lot of Scandal: Part II

via Google Image Search

via Google Image Search

I promised here that I would soon post some things that came to mind when I pondered on why God would use “scandalous people” to bring His Son into the world. A fellow blogger noted that it wasn’t possible for God to use anyone BUT scandalous people, given our sinful nature. And she’s right – we’re all scandalous because of the sin nature. But it still baffled me that God wouldn’t at least use “the best of the worst”, so to speak. There are people in the Bible who are mentioned specifically for their righteousness, like Enoch, who walked so closely with God that when he died, he was simply “taken by God”, with no physical remains!

In thinking about this over the last two weeks, lots of things have come to mind but two of them have stuck with me:

  • 1. In using people with scandalous pasts (as opposed to using the Enochs in the world), God paved the way for us to have faith that He can indeed use us, regardless of where — or what — we’ve come from.
  • 2. In declining to exclusively use moral and upright people in Christ’s lineage, God is showing us pretty clearly that our actions are irrelevant; He does not use us because we are “more worthy” than others! He uses us because is all-powerful and He simply CAN. Additionally, He uses us because He LOVES us and He WANTS TO BLESS US by allowing us to be instruments of His power! What love!

The second one was particularly freeing this week, as I realized that God doesn’t NEED me to do ANYTHING for Him — there is no burden on my shoulders to save the world, to bring people to Christ. Rather, these are all good works that God has prepared for me ahead of time and it’s up to me whether or not I will step up and reap the blessing of being used by Him. I am storing up treasure in Heaven by doing the good works God prepared for me; certainly there will be works I did not step up to and I’m sure I will learn of them at some point, whether in the hindsight of later years or in Heaven. While it makes me sad to think I’ve missed out on some awesome opportunities, at the same time it’s a relief to know that “the future of the world” does not depend on me or my “worth”.

All that is required of me is to believe in the Son of God and surrender my own agenda so that it can be replaced with His. Scandal or no, God loves me, and He doesn’t just love me, He LIKES me. He WANTS to include me in His masterful, intricate plan! It makes me giddy just thinking about it. :)

If you are like me and come from a scandalous past, or you just FEEL scandalous and worthless some days, I’m here to tell you that that’s not the case; you are very worthful to my Heavenly Father, even if you don’t believe in His existence yet. And I would encourage you, believer and non-believer alike, to get out there and discover Him. He’s everywhere. If you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions:
1. I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek (book version or Kindle version)
2. YouTube videos like this one and this one that demonstrate the remarkable skill of God’s hands in the way He created human beings. He is amazing in His creation!
3. Testimonies like this one: text version or video version.
4. Take a walk in the woods and pay attention to things like leaves and trees and bugs and how intricate everything is. We have a Creator and He has not been subtle. ;)
5. Ask me about Jesus. I love to talk about Him and I have lots of real life experiences of Him that I would love to share with you.

May you grow to know Him and love Him even deeper than I have (and come back to tell me about it!).

An Awful Lot of Scandal: Part Ib

Jesus with meHis footsteps come on the heels of those whose hands are dipped in blood, in lies, in adultery and prostitution. HIS hands are clean, untainted by any kind of evil whatsoever. But does He strut? Does He take this opportunity, handed to Him on the silver platter of centuries, to rub it in the faces of those less righteous than He?

No.

His pace is meek, His dignity unassuming and humble. He is preceded by men with tarnished reputations and He is surrounded by them as well, but He taunts no one. He does not make a noisy celebration of His own exemplary example. He does not say, “See, this is what you should be like and I am better than you for being so.”

No.

Rather, He does the most astounding thing. He does a thing that the most righteous of human beings have never even contemplated. He takes His exemplary example, His righteous reputation, His flawless life and He walks up to me and says…

“Let’s trade.”

…What?

“You are drowning in regret, swathed in a past that is rife with wrong, more so than with right. But I have come, and walked upright and righteous — see? No stains. So come, let us trade.”

You mean to say…You’ve done all that work of righteousness, not to illuminate and chastise my own unrighteousness, but to trade….righteousness for unrighteousness?

Yes.

His footsteps come on the heels of those whose hands are dipped in blood, in lies, in adultery and prostitution. HIS hands are clean, untainted by any kind of evil whatsoever…

Some would say it’s the greatest scandal, that this King would give up His reputation in exchange for one like mine.

I say it is The Most Beautiful Scandal Of All.

An Awful Lot Of Scandal: Part I

Heartbroken by NanFe

Heartbroken by NanFe

I have a past that includes promiscuity and adultery. I believe this fact is one of the things that drives me to love Jesus so vehemently. Like He said to Simon the Pharisee, one who is forgiven much, loves much but one who is forgiven little, loves little.

Lately, though, my past has been driving me in another direction: performance-based faith. I’ve been subconsciously trying to “earn” God’s love or “pay Him back” for His gift of Jesus’ life, with my actions. All the while, in the back of my mind, is the belief that I’ll never be pleasing to God because of my past; I’ll never be worthy of His love; He’ll never be able to use me powerfully because I haven’t been able to walk the straight and narrow (like Joseph…or Daniel…). This has been a pretty crippling issue lately; it keeps me from reaching out to the people around me. It also keeps me from fully using the gifts and talents He’s given me to reflect His glory; I figure I’m not worthy, so why bother?

Well. Yesterday, I learned a very, very interesting thing about Jesus’ past.

You know how the Bible calls Him the Lion of Judah? He’s called that because He was a descendant of the tribe of Judah. Do you know who Judah was? I didn’t. I mean, I’d read about Judah before but I never made the connection that 1.) he was Joseph’s brother and 2.) he’s the man that God chose to continue Christ’s lineage. So let me tell you about Judah.

1. He participated in the plan to murder his brother Joseph. (Genesis 37:18-28) Reuben suggested they spare him by throwing him into a pit, rather than killing him. Apparently, Reuben intended to return Joseph to his father later. It’s noted in my Bible’s commentary that Reuben may have been trying to get back in his father’s good graces after having slept with one of his father’s concubines. It seems that at some point, while Reuben was not around, Judah suggested they sell Joseph because “what is our gain if we kill him and cover his blood?” So Judah was the brain behind selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver. (That’s only ten pieces less than the price that Jesus was sold to the guards for, by Judas.)

2. Judah’s firstborn son was evil. In fact, he was so evil that God put him to death! (Genesis 38:7)

3. He was not a man of his word. It’s a long story, so I’ll let you read it for yourself, if you like (Genesis 38), but the short version is, he promised his daughter-in-law something and didn’t deliver.

4. He apparently visited the local prostitutes rather frequently; this is how his daughter-in-law was able to deceive him and manipulate him into keeping his word — which also resulted in illegitimate twins!

The Bible is very clear about God’s sovereignty; He does what He wants when He wants through whomever He wants. He is not bound by man’s choices. Knowing all of that, don’t you find it interesting that He *chose* to go through Judah’s line in order to bring Jesus into the world? And get this: not only did He choose to go through Judah, He chose to go through one of the illegitimate twins birthed between him and his daughter-in-law!

If you take a closer look at the lineage of Jesus, there are some other noteworthy characters:

1. “The wife of Uriah” – Bathsheba, the one that David committed adultery with.

2. David himself, an adulterer AND a murderer.

3. Guess who else? That’s right, Solomon, the son of Bathsheba and David!

God, despite being sovereign, did not choose to keep the lineage of Jesus free from scandal. Why is that? Since God is holy and righteous, and since He despises sin, wouldn’t it stand to reason that He would use the most moral and righteous people to bring His Son into the world?? People like Joseph, who despite being sold into slavery by his brothers, did not hold it against them? Why would God CHOOSE to use people like Judah, Bathsheba, Tamar, and David? People with pasts and pretty scandalous ones, at that.

This is the question I went to bed chewing on last night. And God gave me a few insights. But I’m not going to share them with you today because it’s a question worth chewing on and I want you to have a chance to see what God would have you discover through that question. For some of you, the insights seem obvious. I will tell you, there were obvious insights to me too, but God nudged me last night to go deeper and doing so eventually brought tears to my eyes. So I would encourage you not to settle for the obvious. Sit down with God and take it a little deeper.

Mind you, there is not ONE right insight. And you may or may not come up with the same ones that I did. But I *do* think you’ll come up with More Than The Obvious if you give God a chance to speak to you, and I’m positive it will be a joyful experience.

Later this week, I’ll share what I gleaned from chewing on this particular question. I think I’ll even take the opportunity to chew on it some more.

Feel free to comment on this post or send me a message sharing the insights that God gives you. (And let me know if you’d be okay with me sharing them in my next post.)

For now, I will leave you to your chewing. ;)

 

I am broken. Always.

Broken Flame by Thien Bao

I remember attending a meeting at a church several years back and woman there making the comment, “We are all broken!” And in my heart, I rebelled against that statement. We are not broken, I thought. Jesus has healed us!  I was right in my thinking; but I found out this week that I was also wrong.

Jesus has healed us. But we are broken. Always. On this planet, in this flesh, we are broken.

It’s been a very long and difficult week. God, in His Sovereignty brought me face-to-face with the fact that being saved by His Son’s blood does not mean I can walk upright without falling. Yes, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me, but do you know what I learned this week? There is always a little bit of something in me that is resistant to relying on Christ’s strength. Whether it’s a Rebellious Something, which wants to have its own way or a Proud Something, which wants to prove its ability or a Doubting Something, which thinks I’ve fallen on grace one too many times…

I am a broken gal this week. While I recognize (now) that I am forever in need of Christ’s rescuing from sin on this earth, the Proud Something in me is still kicking and screaming. But I WANT to be capable of pleasing You on my own! I can’t face You if I NEED You!!! It sounds silly to you, probably? It sounds silly to me. But so true, at the same time. I am not just painting a picture of a silly, rebellious child here; I am that child.

So why am I here today? What am I trying to say? This is definitely one of my lesser-prepared posts — okay, completely unprepared. A stream of consciousness, if you will.

I suppose I’m here today to let myself off the hook — and to let you off the hook too. I’m not perfect; I don’t have it all together; I love Jesus with all my heart but I still want to sin sometimes. A lot of the time. Several times a day, I want to sin. And I can not take ANY credit for the times I successfully resist sin, because even though I may be choosing to rely on Christ’s strength, I would FALL if He weren’t there. And I can claim no part whatsoever in ensuring that He is there for me; that is all Him.

So. Those of you who keep your distance because I paint too pretty a picture of myself, come closer. I am dirtier than you think, and quite possibly dirtier than you. If I have, in any way, led you to believe that there are trophies to achieve on this walk or leveling up to be done or successes to strive for, I apologize from the deepest depths of my heart. There is only one Trophy and that is Jesus. There is only one level you have to “pass” and that is embracing Him. There is only one success to be had, and it belongs to God. He successfully reconciled us to Him through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

If you don’t believe that I am all that dirty, I will humbly muddy up a private message for you. But it’s not about me, so be prepared for a diligent mopping up with the gospel of Jesus Christ and how He has forgiven me.

*sigh* I’m still sad, inside, at just how…incapable I am of doing the right thing every time. However, I’m also thankful and filled with peace. My Deliverer is coming, and until then, He is standing by. My Jesus is mine and I am His.

The Cure for Anxiety – Part I

“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  (Matthew 6:25-34 HCSB)

You don’t have to be a follower of Jesus to benefit from the last part of this passage:

“Don’t worry about tomorrow…Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

If you are a follower of Jesus, there is even more benefit in this passage: Jesus tells us that our Father God takes care of sparrows and GRASS — how much more will He take care of us, in spite of our “little faith”, because we are worth more than many sparrows?

It is an incredible encouragement — one I’ve held onto tenaciously these last ten months, and one that has even been proven by God’s provision in our lives these last ten months.

Nevertheless, I want to focus on verse 34 today. There is something for everyone, in this verse,  and perhaps even enough that one who is not yet familiar with the friendship of God might be spurred forward toward it.

“Don’t worry about tomorrow…Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

If one were to treat this as a pill, prescribed by a well-known and trusted physician, how might it change one’s life?

Rather than hypothesize, I will tell you how it has changed mine.

The other night, I was sitting in a home school meeting, listening to the mothers discuss — what seemed like at the time — HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of things that their children had to do in order to finish high school. I began to feel overwhelmed…and then I began to feel anxious.

“I will never get all of this done!”  I thought. “It’s impossible! It’s too much! I must quit home schooling now!  (I’d only been doing it for three days, mind you.) Oh, but I  can’t quit! I am positive that God has told me to school my children at home! Whatever shall I do?!”

It is a true wonder that I did not throw myself to the floor with wails of despair. God is merciful in His sovereign interventions, is He not?

It must have been in just the moment I might have considered throwing myself to the ground with wails of despair that God spoke in my spirit.

“Fae,” He said, gentle and deep — He almost sounded amused. “Is all of this happening today?”

The wailing and spazzing in my brain immediately paused. “Well…no…”

“Then you don’t need to be thinking about it, do you?”

I gave a little laugh (internally, mind you). He was right. (He’s always right.) But just in case I had inclinations to doubt or disregard Him, He brought to mind Verse Thirty-Four.

Truthfully, that is not the first time we’ve had that conversation — and it undoubtedly will not be the last.

But it works. It nips anxiety in the bum and anxiety scurries off yipping every time.

As I said in the beginning of this post, you don’t have to be friends with Jesus (also known as The Great Physician) to benefit from His prescription. I like to call it Verse Thirty-Four.

And perhaps, when you’ve experienced His remedy for this particular malady in your own life, perhaps you might just be curious enough to find out more about this Man and what He wants with you.

Curiosity inevitably breeds bravery, and bravery will serve you well — for, as C. S. Lewis taught us through the “person” of Aslan,

The Great Physician is not safe –
but He is good.

God WILL Give You More Than You Can Handle!

I see variations of this often:

“God never gives us more than we can handle!” (So chin up, be encouraged! This disaster you’re facing isn’t as disastrous as you think it is so YAY!)

The problem is, this is an untruth, and the spreading of it is actually resulting in deeper discouragment, feelings of failure and a debilitating sense of inadequacy for a lot of people.

The only verse in the Bible that even remotely comes close to the aforementioned sentiment is this one:

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

It says He will not let you be TEMPTED beyond what you can bear (and, to further clarify, the writer is speaking to people who believe Jesus is their Savior).

As far as disaster is concerned, there are tons of scriptures referring to it in various ways, but they all underscore a very important point: GOD is our Rock, our Shelter, our Refuge and our Strength.

Philippians 4:13 says that we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us. Would we really need Christ if God never gave us more than we could handle on our own? No, we wouldn’t.

The fact is, we DO need Christ and God DOES give us heavier burdens than we can handle often. He does this because He wants us to lean on Him; He wants to show us His power and He wants to show His love for us by being there for us!

Romans 8:28 says that God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him. There are some very important qualifiers in this verse:

1) All things: That means ‘everything’, from the job loss to the cold virus to the unpleasantness of changing poopy diapers several times a day. ALL things.

2) Good: This one is tricky, because we like to define ‘good’ as ‘pleasant, comfortable, easy’. But in reality, ‘good’ means

Adjective: To be desired or approved of.

Noun: That which is morally right; righteousness.

God is working all things for the good—toward an end result that is desired and approved of by Him. That end result (also according to scripture) is our righteousness, our being like Him. This sounds kind of boring and unappealing to most people but that’s because we forget that God is the creator of joy—and He sent Jesus so that our joy may be full! So the ultimate end result is our fullness of joy, and THIS, my friends, is good indeed.

3) Those who love Him: This is the most important part of this verse. If someone doesn’t love God, they will not have the same comfort that someone who *does* love God will have, during a trial or disaster. His benefits are for His followers. This is why it is so important for those of us who know Him to point others to Him, so they can experience the same comfort and strength that we do. The ‘comfort’ that the world offers is so empty…

So let’s summarize:
God WILL give us more than we can handle but He has GOOD INTENTIONS toward us, and being perfect like He is, His good intentions always bear good fruit. If you love God, He’s got your back. Life might be uncomfortable, unpleasant and hard, but the end result WILL be fullness of joy (and we get to experience a lot of joy even before the end result!).

So be encouraged! But be encouraged with Truth! The world’s version sounds good and even feels good, but when it doesn’t pan out as anticipated, you’ll end up even more discouraged than you were when the chips first fell. God’s Truth always pans out. Believe it so you can experience it.