Is the middle ground really an option?

“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! (Revelation 3:15, 16 NLT)

 

Walking our corgi is like being hauled by a small short legged ox. She is stout and strong. We harness her, put a leash on her, pretending we are in control, but in reality we know Bella runs the show. Wherever she wants to walk, we walk.

I’ve been thinking about this in reference to our culture. I see so may friends pulled and swayed by whatever is popular in media or modern culture. What was once clearly wrong is now right? Or is it?

And I’ve thought about what I choose to hold into. What am I harnessing up and allowing to lead me around? Because either I will hold to and be drug around by what the world tells me….or I will hold to and choose to follow what God’s Word tells me. But I can’t choose to hold onto both. If I do, I get pulled in two different directions and end up going no where and rendering myself ineffective.

I know it’s popular right now to stand the middle ground. To say what’s right and what’s wrong is all relative to your belief system. But is it really? Or is this a lie? If we really believe God’s Word as sovereign truth, and truth does not change, then are these issues really that grey? Or are we still lost, trying to decide what we want to hold onto?

I want to challenge you today to remember that whatever you harness up and take out for a walk, you will be led by it, even if you are under the illusion that you are in control. God’s Truth. Or cultural sways – the world. And unless we want to be totally ineffective, the middle ground is not an option.

Three things you can easily accomplish while blow drying your hair…

imageApparently when God made me, He anointed me with a little extra oil because it shows up in my hair…every day. And not just a little oil. You could run a small slip and slide down my scalp by the end of the day. And I know it’s not the healthiest option for my hair, but I have to wash and blow dry it EVERY morning.

I figure I may as well make good use of the time. So I’ve devised a few ways of making the morning blow-dry a bit more interesting.

1.  I’ve taken up oil pulling. When I first heard of oil pulling I thought they had to be talking about a new method of refinishing furniture. Bit that’s not it at all. I you Google oil pulling there is an infinite amount of information, but supposedly small miracles will happen in my mouth and body when I swish coconut oil for 20 minutes. And what better time to do it than while held captive to the blow-dryer.

2. I dry my hair in sections with around brush. It takes a while, but it cuts down time with the flat iron, so it’s worth it. For each section I dry, I use that time to pray for a different person. Different people every day: friends, family, leaders, clients from work, basically whoever God puts on my heart. By the time I’m done I’ve prayed for at least 4 people.

3.  I meditate on scripture. As I’m praying I keep in mind the verse of the day from my Bible app. I think and pray about what it might mean to them and what it means to me. I also think about how I might put His Word into action throughout my day.

So there you have it. Three things that make my blow-dry time productive and way more enjoyable! Try one, two, or all three of them next time you dry your hair.
Love, hugs, and happy hair drying to all!

Child-of-God self…

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The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten. (John 1:9-13 MSG)

Not blood begotten. Not flesh begotten. Not sex begotten. But God-begotten. I love how Eugene Peterson translates this passage.

There are days when I feel anything but God-begotten. There are also times when I wonder if my children might be alien begotten or begotten in the wild animal kingdom and somehow transplanted into my life. They can burp loud enough to rattle the walls and suddenly don deaf ears when I ask them to do something, but regardless of their behavior, I know they are begotten of Kevin and myself, and I love them dearly.

Maybe that’s why I love John 1:9-13. Even when I imagine God saying, “seriously, that cannot be my child”, I know all He really cares about is that I choose Him. That I had at least one moment of God given lucid awareness where I said, “yep Jesus, I choose you to be my King, my answer, my grace, and I want to follow you.”

And because I want Him. He makes me into my true self. The self He designed me to be. Not the fleshy mess you see in front of you, rather a self completely cleansed and perfected by the blood of Jesus. My “child of God” self. He has made me more than I can be on my own and less I of a mess than I actually am. He sees me. All of me. Yet the lens is shifted by the reflection of the cross so that all is made new. Brokenness is now blessing, love casts out fear, and I am God-begotten. Born again out of the flesh and into new life.

So what does this mean? I don’t have to walk in shame and neither do you. If you want Him – If you choose Him – You are made over by the power of His blood and no longer your self but your child-of-God self. Moved out of the dark and into the light. Isn’t that glorious!?!?

 

All of me cannot contain all that is Him…

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

It’s difficult for me to accept. But it’s there. In front of me. Ripe for the taking. This delight in the Lord.

It’s mine to have. Available. Just pick it up and take it from Him. No need to feel guilty because He has more. There is more and more delight in Him. More than I could ever possibly take or understand. It’s there. Ready.

Unlike things I might take from others, there is no payment needed.

I’m not one who easily accepts gifts. Not because I don’t like them, but because I feel unworthy. If I take this from them, how will I ever repay? It’s wrong unless I can give it back ten-fold. But not with Jesus. A gift ripe for the taking but one that will never be repaid.

How do I quite take possession of that? What does it really look like to hold the fullness of my salvation, of His resurrection, completely in my hands. How can I even begin to accept a gift of this magnitude?

And the desires of my heart. I have wanted so many things. Throughout the years there have been boys, and affections, things that have vied for my time and respect. Things that demand my energy. Yet they pale in comparison to this mercy He gives. The gift that literally never stops giving.

All of Him is fully available to all of me.

Fully available, overabundant love and blessing on my life…right here, right now.

I take His delight. He gives me more. The desires of my heart…Lord let me not cease to linger with you. This is my hearts desire.

I pick up delight, you pick up where my humanity fails. You are what makes me alive.

Crushing…

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As the file cabinet came crashing down in my office yesterday, I wasn’t crushed. At first I tried to hold it up, but then I knew I just needed to get out of the way and let it fall. The weight was just too much. Four large drawers filled to the brim with files. Heavy thick files. My weak arms simply could not bear the weight. And after it fell, I just stood there and cried. Could anything else go wrong today?

My coworkers helped me push the cabinet back up and into place. Everything inside the drawers was fine. It seemed the only damage done was to my ego. All I could do was cry, and then laugh at the craziness of it all.

But as the day went on I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The image was burned into my head. Three drawers of files open. I had shifted too much of the weight. And over it went. How did I not know this would happen?

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

I barely got my foot out of the way. If I had moved even a split second slower and I would likely be in the hospital with a crushed foot. But I wasn’t. And the contents of those drawers. Files filled with stories of human brokenness. The weight of it all was so symbolic I could not deny that even in this ridiculous display of my own clumsiness Christ made a way to show me His love for us. All of us. Drawers of problems, pain, homelessness, filled to the brim and overflowing. Humanity comes crashing to the ground. The weight of it all is crushing. And yet He moved all of us who choose to allow Him to take our place out of the way while He was crushed, fully crushed, under the weight of it all. That we might be set free. And by His wounds, we are healed.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV

He became our sin and death that we might have life. My own heavy drawers of sin wiped clean in Him. And I wish He would wipe clean the drawers in my office. The drawers of hurt and pain that seem to much for any human being to bear. But I trust and know that He will. The trials and suffering are only temporary, and I pray He allows me to be a light for others. The weight is crushing. But Jesus is alive.

Pajamas…

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Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

As I sit here sipping warm milk in my jammies, things couldn’t be better. Sure it’s been a stressful day. I just now got my workout in. The house is a mess and things are in disarray, but none of that matters in this moment. Because right now I am making the choice to sit down in my warm home, on my cozy couch, and relax.

Pajamas. They don’t seem like much. They aren’t going to solve the worlds problems…and neither am I. But tonight, on my heart, are pajamas.

Specifically pajamas the homeless women I work with do without. Even if they had a few extra dollars, they couldn’t buy pajamas, because they have to many other things requiring their precious, often minuscule, income. How often do we put them on without even realizing pajamas are a privilege!

So…I’m looking to start a ministry. Doing what you ask? Collecting pajamas, not for homeless kids, though they desperately need them too, but for homeless women living in shelters. Women who usually arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Pajamas aren’t going to solve their problems. But pajamas that are prayed over, and handed to a woman in the name of Jesus, just might point her in the right direction…

So I’m trying to figure it out…how to do this whole non profit/ministry thing…and do it the right way. Will you join me in prayer as I choose to believe God is going to go big with this dream He has given me?

It’s simple. It’s pajamas. For women who might have lost everything else that brings them comfort…but just maybe a small love offering might lead her to the hands of the Savior.

Nothing less…

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“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

I heard her say, “If you still feel just a little bit broken, even a tiny bit, stand up, God has healing for you.” In that moment the small shards of glass left in my heart began to swirl and work their way to the top. I knew something amazing was about to happen. As I stood up and began to praise God, a tremendous weight was lifted.

This was my experience at a conference I attended last weekend. As I got in my car to begin the drive home, I felt changed. But there was more I needed to understand. Where had that last bit of brokenness had been hiding and why my heart had refused to give it up until this moment?

A few days later I came across a blog post that answered my question. The writer approached Jesus and His all sufficiency with fresh perspective. He used the specific term “100 percent.” Jesus became 100 percent of the world’s sin in one inconceivable moment.

The idea of Jesus covering all sin was not new to me, but seeing it written as a percentage shifted my thought process. I understood the fullness of His sacrifice from the standpoint of my own sin, but the thought of Jesus having become ALL sin, even the horrible act of date-rape that happened against me when I was 15, took me aback.

I don’t know if the man who hurt me knows Jesus or not. He may have experienced the divine power of forgiveness, or He may still be living in bondage. But what I cannot deny is that Jesus became all sinners, all of us, in that moment. I wasn’t sure how to process this truth, but after some time I have realized what this means to me.
It means not one single second of that night was hidden from Christ. He saw it all. He experienced it all. His sufficiency covered both of us completely. Jesus died to provide Him with forgiveness, me with the capacity to forgive, and healing for both of us that would have been impossible without Him.

Up to this point, my heart and mind secretly held to the idea that Christ was awesome, but He might not be enough to free me from my past. Sure, I talked like He was enough. I desperately wanted Him to be enough, I just wasn’t completely sure.

2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” His forgiveness and redemption power is not only limitless, but also complete. It is not coming soon. We don’t have to wait on it. It’s already here. Therefore, I do not have to wait around and see if He might be enough or if He might set me free, because He already has.

In the moment I stood up, God showed me His power. He has indeed set me free. It was me who needed to let go. To decide I would fully accept what He has to offer. And this freedom is not just for me. It’s for all of us!

Maybe it’s time you stand up, wherever you are, and receive the fullness of His healing, grace, redemption, and forgiveness. God did not send His son that you might experience 99.9% freedom in your life. He died for the 100%. Total coverage of you and anyone who has sinned against you so that you might not only be 100% forgiven, but 100% free.

God, we are asking for the fullness of your promise, nothing less. The fullness of Jesus and His sacrifice to come alive, 100%, in our hearts and minds. Complete freedom and total forgiveness. On the cross, You said, “It is finished.” It is already done. Lord Jesus, bring us into the fullness of all you have for us. We were meant for nothing less. In Jesus Name We Pray, Amen.

An invitation to humility…

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Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

We’ve all heard it…James 4:10. A highly quoted and noted verse. As is the case with many well known verses, we skim over them thinking our spirits have already soaked up every ounce of God breathed wisdom they can offer. But I can’t get the verse out of my mind, so much so it has haunted me for the better part of a year.

I tell God that I get it…be humble. But do I really get it? Do I really get humility? Or am I confusing it with self-abasement and false humility. Maybe I don’t confuse it, but I dismiss it as nothing more than a word, denying the power of a humble servant heart and the impact it could have on my relationship with the Lord.

When you look at James Chapter 4 in its entirety there really is much more to it than just verse 10. Verses 1-10 reveal a story, a revelation even. The chapter opens discussing conflict. Why we engage in conflict and how it can be related to wanting what other people have.

I didn’t have this problem…right? I am happy with my car, house, and such…but it seems my jealousy existed on a higher plane. At times I grew jealous of others relationships with God – why did it seem stronger than mine? I even found myself jealous about the spiritual gifts they had or the opportunities God gave them.

I didn’t physically wage war with them, but mentally I start pulling hair and dragging them to the ground. And what was the consequence? They didn’t suffer…but I sure did.

I love what James 4:4 says, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

Does it get any worse than likening an obsession with what others have to adultery? Cheating on God himself with thoughts of what we want and what we think we need – bashing Him for what He hasn’t given to us and refusing to realize there is a reason.

James 4:2 tells us we have not because we ask not, but other times we have not because we ask with wrong motives…

So what do we do when we ask for what someone else has, He says no, and we are consumed with frustration and jealousy? We readily accept His invitation to humility.

Humility chooses to trust He knows best withholds no good thing from His children. Humility chooses to believe He keeps His promises. Humility trusts His timing-His seasons and humility chooses to let go of what we want and trade it for what we already have…a God who is jealous for us. Who wants all of us.

Perhaps James 4:7-10 MSG version says it best…”So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.”

And there it is…your open invitation from Him into the beauty of true humility…

Out of demands hands…

isaiah 64“Father God I am clay in your hands…help me to stay that way through all life’s demands…” ~Toby Mac Lose My Soul

I’ve heard this song hundreds of times, but for some reason the lyrics struck me…

Lord, am I clay in your hands?

Or am I allowing the demands of life ~ circumstances and life experiences ~ to shape who I am and what I will become.

My work demands…

My family demands…

Society demands…

Not to mention the demands I put upon myself…the blind expectations I never notice until I  shame myself for not meeting them.

But how do we live as clay when everything around us constantly dictates a mold?

The perfect wife. The perfect mom. The perfect boss. The perfect worker. The perfect Bible study leader. The perfect participant. The hands of demands are infinite.

They squeeze and mold us, push and pull us, in a thousand different directions. Maybe that’s the beauty of the clay and the potter.

We can rest in the Lord’s hands, knowing He would rather mold us into His majesty than force us into expectations we will never live up to.

In my work, my home, my everything, I want to step out of the hands of demands and into the hands of the potter. In those hands there are no expectations and I know all movements are driven by love of a potter who wants nothing but the best for me. Such beautiful hands …completely void of any and all demands.

Temptation can have purpose…

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Sometimes it’s easier to start something than stop something.

Working out five days a week is do-able. I like to exercise and the only thing I really miss out on is a few minutes of extra sleep or time watching TV. I like the good feeling exercise gives me, so when it comes to healthy habits, a good work out is my friend.

However, diet is a different story. I like what I eat. I like sweets, carbs, and Mexican food. So telling me to stop feels like a serious infringement on my freedom. Sugar, for me, resembles the apple for Eve. I know it’s bad for me, hence I want it all the more.

I have cursed this love of sugar. I have called it everything but lovely. And I must admit somewhere deeply hidden in my heart was anger at God for creating me in a way that thinks I need all things bread and sugar.

I must admit that when I began the Made to Crave Online Bible Study it was more out of obligation. I am on the Online Bible Study leadership team, so I should do the study, right? I decided I would step up my workouts, re-read the book, and even answer the study questions, but I wasn’t even going to worry about the food. I resigned myself to the thought that this is a hopeless battle.

And because I am doing two Bible studies at one time, I am also studying Wendy Blight’s new book “Living So That”.

I didn’t expect much correlation between the two studies, but it seems God had other plans. When I read this out of Wendy’s study, it shook me to the core…

God didn’t give us the law to set us up for failure; rather, He gave us the law to protect us from failure. God’s standards would exist whether or not we ever knew about them. But in His mercy God informed us of His law and has shown us the only way to fulfill it—through faith in Jesus Christ. ~ Wendy Blight, Living So That

Could it be that God didn’t set me up for failure by allowing me to overindulge in and develop a love relationship with all things sugar? Maybe, just maybe, He knew this relationship, although idolatrous and sinful, would eventually be the catalyst for an even deeper relationship with Him.

I guess I viewed sin, all sin, as screw ups that just happened. I didn’t really understand why we had to struggle with sin. I heard people say, and have even said myself, that sin could push us closer to God – but honestly I thought of it as a bunch of Christian-ease trying to explain away our struggles and battles with evil.

But reading the verses from Wendy’s study and her words changed things for me.

God really is sovereign.

He really does have a plan.

A plan that is so much more than a rescue effort to pull us out of hell and into heaven. It’s a plan that involves allowing sin at times because if it wasn’t for sin in the world how else would we have the motivation to seek a relationship with Him? Not a robotic forced relationship, but a real – chosen – relationship.

I don’t have to resent my love for sugar allowing it to put distance between me and Jesus.

Instead I can choose to move deeper into my unhealthy relationship with sweets or closer into a relationship with Jesus. And although a relationship with the chocolate cupcake in my kitchen may be enticing, Jesus offers so much more.

I can choose Him.

I can STOP doing things that push me away from Him.

Not because He is my back up plan, but because with Him temptations can have purpose. Purpose that propels my heart and mind in His direction. And that is reason enough for me to choose to TRY and make a change.