Monthly Archives: April 2013

What are you looking at?…

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Have you ever noticed a group of people looking up and it made you look up too, to see what they were seeing?  As Christians, we can be that group of people looking up, instead of at other people, places, & things.

Psalm 121 says, “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where will my help come?  My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”

How powerful!  The Psalmist says there is only one place he can receive true help–from the Lord.  Then, he describes to us the power of the help, “Maker of heaven and earth.”

Do you have a problem?  Are you in despair?  Is your heart hurting? Are you beginning a new job?  Looking for a job?  Do you have a broken relationship?  Are you longing to walk with God daily?  Are you a weary mom?

Our tendency is to look to ourselves or others for help.  Or sometimes to our idols, our “functional gods.”  Today, choose to look to the mountains, look unto the Lord.  Set your eyes on Jesus.  Talk to Him about every need, struggle, failure, hope and desire.

Mark 5:1-20 tells of a shackled man who was filled with many demons.  Verse 6 says, “And SEEING JESUS, from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him.”  Jesus sent the demons out of the man and made him whole again.  This man went to his neighbors and told them about Jesus and they MARVELED.  All because he saw Jesus.

As you SEE JESUS, you will be changed.  Those around you will begin to look up too and ask, “What are you looking at?”  And at the truth, they too will marvel.

Hex on you…

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This morning as I was reading from The Message, by Eugene Petterson, I came to Galatians 3 and loved how Petterson penned the exhortation of verses 1-4:

You crazy Galatians!  Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses?  Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives.  His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.  Let me put this question to you:  How did your new life begin?  Was it by working your heads off to please God?  Or was it by responding to God’s message to you?  Are you going to continue this craziness?  For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God.  If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it?  Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing?  It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!”

Ya know, sometimes we just need someone to say to us, “You crazy Jill!  Did someone put a hex on you?????

Uh, yep, yep they did….the flesh, the world, & Satan are my personal “hexers.”  They are yours too.

So, the next time you feel guilty and want to beat yourself up when you:

-yell at your 2 year old b/c she spread her diaper contents everywhere,

-fight with your husband over finances,

-don’t have a quiet time, hold on to your time selfishly, look for comfort in all the wrong places, mentally unkindly judge another, long for others’ respect, admiration or recognition,

Use Galatians 3:1 to startle you back into God’s reality of “It is finished!”  Say out loud, “You crazy girl!!  Don’t walk in the path of those lies.  Run to Him: the author AND perfecter (finisher) of our faith!! Go and live in your forgiveness and love that was bought at such an enormous price and in such a unimaginable way…God on a cross.

Be careful what you pray for….

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My dad was my hero.

He was an accountant–I don’t really “get” accountants.  In his early years, he had a short temper–few things make me madder.  He wasn’t romantic at all and seldom treated my mom like the treasure she is–such a treasure.  He messed up.  Still, besides my husband, there is no man I admire more.

He was humble.  He cried at every thought of Jesus.  He knew He had been redeemed at a great cost.  I prayed I would “get it” like he did.  I was young, zealous, eager and had no idea what I was praying for.

Sitting beside daddy at church when we sang the great old hymn, I Surrender All, he cried.  Every time.  I sang it with pride, because I knew I would surrender all for Jesus.  (Of course at 12, I had a diary and a dog, so the cost was not crippling).  Daddy had family.  Daddy was Abraham.  He had great loves and when he sang “I Surrender All,” he knew he couldn’t, not on his own, ever, surrender it all, or even part of it.

I want to take my prayer back.  It’s too late.  My eternal father has heard it and even if never uttered, He knows He has put it in my heart.  I didn’t know it would cost my reputation, security, comfort, happiness (instead of joy).  I didn’t know.  I prayed to “get the gospel like my Daddy.”

I think I finally am.  I wish he was here so I could tell him.  But, I think he knows.  I think He and Jesus smile and laugh at my lessons and my future.

Be careful what you pray for….you might just get it.

Grace and panic…

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 Grace generates panic because it wrestles both control and glory out of our hands.–Tullian Tchividjian

A few years ago I read the book, Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, by Tullian Tchividjian, Billy Graham’s grandson and pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.  I bought it because I longed for insight and hope for a son who, at the time, was rebelling in certain areas.  As I began reading however, I thought, “Oh, bummer.”  I realized I am the rebel.  Don’t you hate it when that happens….Like when you sit in church listening to the sermon thinking how great it is that your husband, son, daughter, or friend is there because that person REALLY needs to hear it, and then the preacher gives a specific example that is straight out of your diary.  Immediately, all the words and truth are  finally  & unequivocally determined to be for you.  Yeah, bummer.

We see our sins as stars in the sky, definitely present, but not really clear without the use of a telescope (and who has a telescope these days???), and certainly non-intrusive in everyday life.  We see others’ sin under the microscope of judgement, ourselves as the God-type scientist.  Things are always upside down, inside out, confused and backwards without the truth of God’s word inserted in every thought.

Tchividjian says, “I’ll never forget hearing Dr. Doug Kelly (one of my theology professors in seminary) saying in class, ‘If you want to make people mad, preach law. If you want to make them really, really mad preach grace.’ I didn’t know what he meant then. But I do now.  The law offends us because it tells us what to do–and we hate anyone telling us what to do, most of the time. But, ironically, grace offends us even more because it tells us that there’s nothing we can do, that everything has already been done. And if there’s something we hate more than being told what to do, it’s being told that we can’t do anything, that we can’t earn anything–that we’re helpless, weak, and needy.”

Cooperating with grace makes sin a stepping stone. Do we sin more for more stepping stones???  NO.  Do we sin?  YES.  Every day?  Yes.  Do our flesh, the world, and the powers of evil want to use that against us?  Do they want to emphasize law when grace seems too insufficient for this particular sin/failure/loss/struggle?  Yes.  

God’s grace is never insufficient, no matter how great our sin.  (2 Cor. 12:9)

Are you a rebel?  Do you occasionally rebel?  Or do you love a rebel?  Rebellion brings fear, hate, condemnation, guilt, insecurity, confusion, selfishness & hopelessness.  How incredible that in Romans 7:24, as Paul writes about his inability to be sin-free (his tendency to be a rebel), he does not ask “What?,” but he asks, “WHO?,” “Who will set me free from the body of this death.”  Who, indeed.  The God of all grace, the God who makes grace abound,  He whose grace is sufficient, the Father who hung His son on the cross because of grace.

–William R. Newell (1868-1956) is remembered fondly as a pastor, evangelist, Bible teacher, author, & conference speaker. And he is remembered as a humble man who recognized that it was only by the grace of God that he was able to accomplish so many good things. William was a very troubled and wayward teenager. In desperation, his father wrote to the president of Moody Bible Institute, and begged him to allow the enrollment of his son. Since the college was open to serious Bible students, the president was at first resistant, but finally agreed that Newell would be enrolled with the proviso that he would meet with the president daily, and would take his studies seriously.  A father’s prayers, a college president’s commitment, and the three steps forward, two steps back efforts of Newell (I can relate…can you?)  eventually resulted in the young man not only graduating, but several years later returning to Moody Bible Institute as a teacher.  Eventually he penned this as part of his testimony, in the hymn, At Calvary:

“Oh the love that drew salvation’s plan; Oh the grace that brought it down to man; Oh the mighty gulf that God did span…

At Calvary.”

At Calvary the ground is level.  I thought I was reading that book for my rebellious son (the one I viewed through a microscope) and God showed me it was for His rebellious daughter ( me, who thought my sins were so far removed I needed a telescope…& like I said, who has one of those???).  I thought I would teach and instruct; Instead I was taught and was instructed.  Today, when guilt overcomes you or when you find yourself wielding judgement, run to Jesus, run to grace.  Find freedom & find a new amazing desire to please God.  Do not ignore or be offended by grace.  Repent and find it’s power.  Romans 7-8

 

Coming Soon…beautiful things God is teaching me through Psalm 51….Real Faith, true confession without shame, God’s outlook instead of our in-look, the power of God in a prisoner’s life, Freedom,Freedom, Freedom (for those who like things in 3’s-B fam), utter depravity-utmost hope…come along with me and learn of Him!  It’s so amazing…