Nothing to prove

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It’s hard to get the noise out of my head sometimes. Well, a lot of times.

God asks us to be still but I keep trying to prove myself to Him and to others. I keep trying to be something, but God is everything, and the only thing that is worth boasting about is Him.

It’s remarkable that though we are in fact unworthy of enjoying God’s presence forever, God loved us enough to send Jesus to die for us. We are unworthy of God, but God thought it was worth letting His own Son die in order to change that. In His sight, we are worthy of being in a relationship with Him, because Jesus’ righteousness now covers all who believe in Him.

But the whole idea of “worthiness” should be set aside, because our value isn’t even something to boast about, but to praise God about.

Our value has nothing to do with us. It is only because of Jesus that we are worthy to enter communion with our Heavenly Father. Our identity is in Christ, but it is not our own capabilities that influence that perfect, beautiful identity. It’s all Him.

In other words, we have nothing to prove to God. Nothing at all. And we can actually find peace in that.

We can stand before Him in simple, childlike awe. We don’t have to do anything, and He already loves us. He already loves us!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Repent and believe! Settle in your mind that the Lord is taking care of you. Be still.

It’s ok to not think about the details of life. It’s ok not to worry. It’s ok not to be able to smile sometimes. We’re not supposed to have everything figured out or fake anything, but to let God’s Spirit work in us as we humble ourselves before Him. In His timing, we will be exalted.

He is faithful.

He is faithful no matter how small our faith is. He is faithful to liberate us from sin and all that hinders us. He is faithful to work in us to will and to act according to His good purpose. Think of that–we can’t even desire God perfectly on our own, we need to ask Him to change our desires! In the end, the Lord is in complete control, and if we admit to Him that we’re not, He’ll prove to us that He is.

This song “My Heart Burns For You” contains only five repeated words in the lyrics, but it’s pure worship. And what the guy talks about at the beginning really moved me.

“Nothing to gain. Nothing to lose. Nothing to show. Nothing to prove.”

Let these words linger in your mind. Get the noise out of your head and quiet yourself before Him. He sees, knows, and loves you right in this moment.

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A Message to The Hurting

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I want to address you, my dearest friends
The ones who hurt in ways beyond what I could ever understand.
You have experienced so much,
Wounds deeper than canyons,
Rejection shattering your trust,
Dreams left to waste.
Dignity stripped away; identity swallowed by shame.
Questions left unanswered.
Hearts that repeatedly break.

I don’t understand it all
And I can’t pretend to,
But I ache with you more than you know.
And there is One who aches for you far more than I do.
Dear friend, you are not alone.

Deep in the night when you cry,
When you stay up with your heart laid bare,
Broken,
Bleeding,
I could never be there for you in that moment;
But there is One who is and always will be
Reaching out to You.
He pleads for you, He beckons you
To come into His open arms.

This isn’t even that great of a poem but I’m just concerned right now with speaking from the depths of my heart.
All I really want is for you to know without a doubt that
He cares.
He cares for you, Beloved.
He cares about you, your pain, and your brokenness beyond your wildest dreams.
He’s an ocean of grace
So don’t be afraid to jump into it.
Receive the embrace He longs to give you.
Receive.
Release.
Rejoice.

He longs to hold you tenderly and sing over you;                                    To heal you completely, to forgive you regardless of this or that, to love you intensely.

My heart goes out to you tonight, whoever you are;
Don’t be ashamed!
God wants you to know you are His Beloved.
Your identity isn’t in what you do, but in His love for you.
Your identity isn’t in what’s been done to you,
But in His love for you.

Never say “but…”
Because He doesn’t see this or that.
He doesn’t see things the way you do.
Because of what Jesus did for you on that cross
Now He covers you.

The Lord
Completely covers you from head to foot with
Purity
Righteousness
Love
Grace
—That’s the bigger picture!

As soon as you realize You need Him
He doesn’t say “Oh, I forgot about you.”
He says, “I got you.”

The bigger picture is that
He loves you anyway.
He loves you.
Anyway.
Regardless.
Even though.
Nevertheless.

God isn’t who you think He is!
He sees that You are hurting.
He knows and sees you.
You don’t have to hide or fake that you’re all right.
He knows you’re not.
But if you release your control
And let Him hold you in His arms,
He promises you that
Everything will be all right.

He’s with you,
Even when you feel too broken to lift your face.
He’s there
Through even the ugliest, messiest moments
Loving you like you’re a beautiful treasure
Worth dying for.

And if this poem that isn’t much of a poem means anything at all to you,
Then when you’re finished with it
Talk to God about it.
About you.
About what’s really going on.

Lay your broken pieces honestly before Him,
And receive His love that
knows you fully
and cares for you
regardless of this or that.
He sees the bigger picture–
He sees you.

My dearest friends, He wants to heal you.
He is no stranger to pain.
He understands you far more than you understand yourself.
Lay it all before Him, and I promise–He will never fail you.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV)

P.S while this poem is addressed to those who hurt in especially deep ways, we all hurt at some level or another. the world is full of hurting no matter where you turn, and we are all desperately in need of healing–whether from sin, shame, guilt, fear, despair, anxiety, depression, or loss of trust. we all need to hear the simple words “I love you” and we all need Jesus to fill in where we are weak. let your pain, your needs, and your hunger be satisfied at the foot of the cross. have a blessed day, friends! ❤

NP10: Chapter 10 of The Healer of Istagun – A King

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This is the tenth and FINAL chapter in my ten-chapter fantasy novella. I hope you enjoy!  Chapters: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

My singed feet tingled as Andrea bound them tightly with white clean bandages. Tarquin lay on a pallet right across from me, with Tiana tending to him. My father and Hollis sat unharmed on cushions nearby, waiting patiently for me to heal. Before I was brought here, Hollis had come to me in tears, and we had reunited joyfully. Soon after, I had introduced her to our father.

“How are you feeling?” Andrea asked me, looking steadily into my eyes.

“Cold. Never imagined this was Winter was like.” I clutched the warm blankets that came up to my chin, balling my fists so my fingers wouldn’t go numb.

“It’s better to be cold than on fire.” She smiled ruefully, but then leaned in to whisper in my ear. “You know your sister is crazy.”

I raised a brow, but before I could speak, she continued. “She has just sat there without a word for hours. Are you sure she’s alive?”

It was true. When she’d ran to me, she had barely spoken to me, only embraced me and cried. Even now, she was chillingly silent.

Andrea bit her lip. “I don’t know what’s going on, but it scares me.”

It scared me too. How had Hollis managed to speak so eloquently moments ago to the queen, and now she could not speak more than one word?

My sister came over and sat quietly on a stool beside me. She laid a hand on my arm. “Gesu.”

At her touch, I felt a sudden peace wash over me. Gesu had given her the power to speak to the queen, and now that power was gone from her. She no longer needed it. Somehow the plague and death she had endured had made her almost mute, yet what did I have to complain about? She was alive, and that was all that mattered.

“I still don’t believe it.” Andrea gritted her teeth. “It was only a powerful spell that brought you all back to life, that’s all. Don’t believe in the ridiculous Gesu.” She hugged Hollis gently. “Please just admit it—it was nothing more than a spell.”

Determination filled Hollis’ eyes as she hugged Andrea back and whispered, “No.”

Andrea glanced at me, baffled, but I refused to reflect her confusion. “You must understand, Andrea. Gesu has power beyond Hazina.”

“Speaking of the queen, where is she?” Tarquin sat up, as if hit with sudden inspiration.

“Restoring the world to how it should be,” Andrea said simply.

“No.” Tarquin’s eyes shot across the room at everyone. “We can’t let her. The only way the island can be restored is by her death.”

“But Tarquin,” I said, “she is good now. Her heart has changed.”

“I must,” Tarquin said in a low voice, staring at me intently. “She is the cause of all our pain. I must put an end to her.”

My father stood up. “Young man, don’t even think of it.”

“I must!” he exclaimed.

Gritting his teeth and averting his eyes from us, Tarquin grabbed some crutches Tiana had ready and hobbled out the door with his bandaged feet and a sword in his hand.

“We need to stop him!” I burst out.

But the room was silent. Hazina had saved many of them from death, and she now vowed to set the humans. Could her acts of kindness restore people’s trust in her?

Andrea frowned at me. “This time I agree with that miner boy. Hazina deserves death, Dahlia. You know that.”

“No, Andrea,” I said hoarsely. “You don’t understand. Didn’t you see it in her eyes? The pain, the regret? We have to give her a second chance.”

“Is that what Gesu teaches? Being kind to the most awful people?”

“Yes, Andrea.” My voice was steady. “That’s exactly what he teaches. Forgiveness. Healing. Love. We can’t let Tarquin ruin our chance to show Hazina that Gesu can give her new life, regardless of what she has done in the past.”

As a pinprick of a tear dripped down Hollis’ cheek, she squeezed my hand and smiled sadly.

My father narrowed his eyes. “I’ll stop that boy.”

With that, he dashed out of the room.

I had yet to tell my father that I was in love with that man. I couldn’t deny it any longer. Tarquin was always in my thoughts; he was always strong, always… caring. I trusted him, for the most part. But what was I supposed to think of him now?

 

Someone knocked at the door. Tiana opened it, cautiously. To my astonishment, Kari dragged in Prima who lay on a sled.

I gaped. She lay there, pale, with broken wings, her eyelids closed and the Winter frost encasing her.

The boy ran up to me and hugged me. “I brought Prima back!” he said proudly. “It took me ages to drag her here. I had to borrow the sled from a white-haired person. I didn’t know people had white hair! Maybe the snow makes it like that. Anyway, I brought her here, and she’ll get warmed up and be okay soon, right?”

His innocence broke my heart. I wished I had thought to find Prima before Andrea, Tiana, and my father took Tarquin and me here. I stared pleadingly at Tiana as she examined Prima.

The old woman spoke in a low voice. “She is still alive, but she needs serious attention.”

She laid Prima out on the bed Tarquin had recently left, wrapping her delicate body in cloth.

“She will be okay?” I whispered.

Tiana nodded. “Though she looks very frail, she is a fairy; the magic makes her stronger and able to endure more than humans.”

“You should be a doctor,” I said with a half smile.

Tiana chuckled. “I’ve always wanted to, but never was able to, being a human and all. Perhaps now I’ll have that chance, without any mandatory duties to attend to.”

She had a chance… because of Hazina’s changed heart. Determination to stop Tarquin returned to me. I grabbed the crutches that awaited me on the side of the bed and began hobbling out of the room. “I can’t let Tarquin do this—”

“Wait.” It was Hollis’ soft voice. Her blue eyes sparkled as she held out a necklace with a small cherry pit on it. I had made it for her long ago in Spring. On the pit I had carved the letters “D & H.” Smiling, I put it around my neck.

“Forever,” Hollis said.

Andrea was glaring at me from across the room. She did not believe in Gesu’s power. She hated Hazina. I hoped her fierce opinions wouldn’t destroy our friendship.

I placed my hand over the cherry pit, over my heart, gazing into my dear sister’s eyes. “Yes, Hollis. Forever.”

Then I picked myself up with the crutches and hobbled out of the room.

 

When I reached the shore, I stopped in my tracks. There, a good distance away, Tarquin stood, raising his sword above the queen, ready to strike her.

Desperation gripped me as I rushed forward, crying, “Stop!”

But it was too late.

As Tarquin stabbed her in the chest, she shrieked, a hollow deathly wail into the frosty air.

The world became black in instant. Gesu had forgiven the evil fairy, but Tarquin had not forgiven her.

To my amazement, light flashed, and suddenly the snow melted beneath my feet.

Warmth surrounded me, as I stepped forward, my feet crunching the leaves. Sunlight exuded over the mountain that rose from the center of Istagun. The mud walls collapsed before our eyes. Winter was no longer Winter… it was Summer. Everywhere, it was Summer. Snow melted off the pine trees and the green of the world glowed brilliantly for all to see.

People shed their heavy coats and danced around in the grassy field.

Hazina lay on the earth, and many fairies began to prepare to take her to Midfuna Island.

But other fairies and humans cheered, “Long live King Tarquin! Long live the King!”

They placed a crown upon his head, as thousands gathered around him and applauded for the one who had saved them from Queen Hazina. No one remembered her change of heart, that she had saved many of our lives and resolved to put an end to her evil ways.

Tarquin said in a loud voice, “This is a new kingdom, ruled under the guidance of the great healer, Gesu! The pattern of this world has returned; this summer will turn to autumn, which will turn to winter, and then to spring. It is a beautiful pattern of life and death, pain and healing, youth and old age. We all will enjoy this life together—with mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, living with one another at last, enjoying the fruits of their labor.”

And everyone cheered all the louder.

I only watched in silence, in bewilderment. He never saw me among the many humans, fairies, and joyful Treelanders whom Hazina had freed from the mind-bending spell.

Sadness crept into me, overwhelming me. The queen could have been good, if she’d been given a chance. Tarquin didn’t understand, he didn’t—

How could I trust him?

“And my dear Treelanders,” he declared, “I will return you soon to your home across the seas.”

The people applauded.

As Tarquin sat on a makeshift throne the Treelanders had quickly created from wood and leaves, my father leaned in and spoke with him. Tarquin shot words back at him, angrily.

As they argued back and forth, I hobbled around to the back of the throne, to listen to them without them noticing.

“You’re a fool, boy. Can’t you see when a person’s decided to change? My daughters were so hopeful in Hazina’s new beginning.”

“You don’t know who your daughters are,” Tarquin replied. “You only met them today! Dahlia is strong, and she understands that it is my destiny to be King. It is the will of Gesu.”

My father lowered his voice. “You know my daughter, eh?”

“Yes,” Tarquin said earnestly, his eyes lighting up as he spoke. “And she is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. I plan to marry her one day, if you ever concede to it.”

My father raised a brow. “I will never let her marry a man like you! For all we know, Hazina would have allowed you to take the throne, knowing the people would put much more trust in a human than the fairy who had so long oppressed them. You had no right to kill her!”

I was shaken, unable to move from that spot, burdened with thoughts running back and forth through my mind. Who was Tarquin, anyway? Did I truly know him?

I felt a hand on my shoulder, and turned, gasping. Hollis smiled. “Remember when you came to Winter and found Tarquin holding me in his arms?”

I rolled my eyes. “Hollis, I can’t think of that right now. He… he killed Hazina.” I pointed to the dead fairy as she was laid on a mat and taken in a slow procession to a boat.

“He tried to keep me alive for as long as he could.” Hollis’ voice was so faint, like the soft drop of snow on one’s cheek.

I didn’t look at her. “Our father hates him, so I will too.”

Hollis’ blue eyes filled with tears. “You know what he told me, Dahlia? You know what he said to me as I lay in his arms, hopeless and frozen?”

I shrugged and looked away, not wanting to think of the man who had brutally murdered a fairy who had changed her heart.

“He said to me, ‘You know, Hollis? Gesu may have told me Dahlia needed me, but I think it’s also true that I need her.’ Don’t you see, Dahlia? Tarquin isn’t perfect. He isn’t, but…”

But he held my little sister in his arms to keep her warm, he built a boat to sail across the sea, he helped me find Hollis, he convinced me that Gesu was real, he showed a love that surpassed anything I’d ever known before.

Was he worthy for me to marry him, now that children could stay with their parents, and all was as it should be?

I didn’t know. Maybe one day I would know. What mattered now, was that he was the king, determined to rule under Gesu’s guidance and with his power, to bring justice and kindness to a broken nation. And I was determined to help him.

“Dahlia?” Tarquin stepped down from his throne and hobbled over to me on his crutches, his gentleness warming my heart as it so often had. “Are you all right?” He held my hands, gazing sincerely into my eyes.

I nodded vaguely, overcome with emotions swirling inside me.

“Will you sail with me across the sea?”

I sighed. “All right—anything to get the Treelanders back to where they belong.”

“That boat of mine has come to some use, I guess.” He laughed, a deep barrel of a laugh that resonated in my soul.

A smile tugged at my lips. “Long live the king.”

He chuckled, wrapping an arm around me. “And maybe some day I can say to you, ‘Long live the queen’?”

I rolled my eyes, but I was relieved that he understood I was not ready for his proposal.

We would set the Treelanders free at long last. And no matter what happened, Gesu would always be with us. For whatever the season, night always came, with the stars shining brightly, declaring Gesu’s love amidst the blackest points in my life.

The Gospel, The Light: 6 Things God Has Done For Humanity

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(Photo by Samantha Lynch on Unsplash)

I blind myself to the truth, do you? Am I the only one who runs from the Light, preferring the safety of darkness? 

When the Light pierces through the darkness, it hurts. It hurts when I see I’ve been trying to fill the void inside me with my passions, dreams, ego, or self-pity. It hurts to see that me, you, and the whole human race sin every day without realizing it.

Or maybe we do realize our weakness, but we’re too afraid to do anything about it.

Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?” – Isaiah 29:15

Without this Light, I feel so empty. I’m in constant pain, letting insecurity rule and darkness overshadow any good that’s left in me.

I’m blind to my own weakness.

Why are we like this? It’s my fault. It’s yours. It’s Adam and Eve’s fault for eating that fruit in the garden. Their sin began a chain reaction that spread to every generation of humans who have lived since.

Doubts come: Come on, I’m good enough. God wouldn’t send a nice person like me to hell. I’ve done enough good things to outweigh the bad.

But God doesn’t weigh the good versus the bad; no, He measures us up to a stick, and we have to reach the top to enter heaven—He requires us to be 100 % perfect.

And we’re not.

And God is truly sad about that: “[God] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

So, how did God provide a way for us to escape hell and to enter His heavenly presence, now and forever?

1. He sent a perfect man.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to live on this earth perfectly following God’s laws, like no human ever had before. He was the one person in history’s existence who actually deserved heaven.

Only God is 100% perfect all the time. And that’s exactly who Jesus was, and still is to this very day.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” – Hebrews 1:3

Jesus is the one perfect Light, the one true fulfiller of our souls. He spoke out against lies and injustice; He uplifted the outsiders in society. He was filled with deep compassion for people, healing the sick and preaching about the Kingdom of God, a place where hearts are free, a place their souls had been longing to hear about.

2. He sacrificed this man, His Only Son, for us.

What’s terribly ironic, is that the One person who deserved heaven went to hell in place of everyone else who deserved hell. Jesus was nailed to a cross to purify us from our sins, dying in our place so we wouldn’t have to eternally bleed.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” – John 3:16-21

3. He, in the form of a man, came back to life.

But it doesn’t end at the cross. Three days later, Jesus Christ rose from the tomb, alive and well, and witnessed by hundreds of astonished people. He went up to heaven where He now sits at the right hand of the throne of God.

4. He saves us not by any goodness in ourselves, but by His amazing grace.

This is the most crucial point I have, even though it’s number four (number 4 is a good number, right? ;)) So pay attention here.

The thing is, Jesus did NOT die so we would follow rules, He died so we would place our faith in Him and come to know Him. It is only by faith in Christ that we are saved.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9

Christianity is NOT a religion. It is a beautiful, everlasting, soul-fulfilling relationship with Jesus Christ.

5. He shines His Light into our everyday lives.

Today, in the 21st century, Jesus offers this hope as we battle against anxiety, depression, temptations, grief, and feelings of emptiness: He is the Light.

Let those words sink in for a minute.

After Jesus left this earth, His Holy Spirit came to convict this world of sin.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

Wow! What an amazing truth that is. Throughout our Christian lives, we must bring our dark deeds into God’s glorious light, so that He may completely and totally outshine this darkness within us. His forgiveness is real, and He is waiting for you to simply cry out to Him with a repentant heart.

Once we believe in Jesus’ power to overcome death and sin on the cross, the Holy Spirit illuminates through our pitch black souls and guides us into more and more victories over our sin and failures, and more and more into the love and peace of walking in His ways.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” – John 14:16

6. He fills us with joy—now and forever.

With God’s Light inside of me, I’ve found the absolute freedom of His grace. I am no longer empty. I am truly, definitely, totally forgiven, as far as the east is from the west. When I place my surrendered trust in Jesus, my heart bursts with this Light.

As Christians, we face hardship. But through it all, our joy is made complete through Christ.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalm 16:11

I am free.

I am not floundering in darkness, but I am running out into the open arms of my Father, whose eyes ignite with unspeakable joy when He sees me. Without Jesus, I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know how I’d bear the fires of this raw, miserable life.

But with Him, the sword of truth has attacked my old self. Now I am new like a polished ring, waiting like a Bride for her Groom, until the day He returns.

Please, when He comes back, don’t let it be your first time to bow.

“[Jesus], being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:6-11

(All Scripture taken from NIV.)

 

Ripples of Life

Water—
awake, alive
Tremulous, shining like the sun.

Vast—
Empty, yet full
Breathing, living redemption.

A lake that blazes;
Hopeful, joyful, beckoning
You to drink
Or to swim
Or to wade.

Freedom—
Broken, soaking the dryness,
Floating—everything;
Everything floating.

Unending grace,
A face of opportunity,
Little waves—changing, yet unchanging,
Always the same.

Ripples of life—
Stillness,
The quiet energy of water
Saving and saving,
The openness of mercy;
Don’t wait.

The lake calls out—
Raging, breaking silence,
Peace and wholeness
Washing over the stains
Of your iron shards of hate.

The lake awaits;
A shimmering dance—an endless expanse
Don’t wait—
It’s your last chance.

Jesus, the Ark

Sometimes when I study the Old Testament, I’ll ask myself, “What does Jesus have to do with this?” Whenever I do that, the Bible stories can suddenly relate to my own life more directly.

I realized today that the well-known story of Noah and the ark also reveals the truth and redeeming power of Jesus. The fact that Noah built the ark is a testament to his faith—a faith that trusted in a God that does the impossible.

“It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

Without Noah’s faith, God would not have saved Noah’s life and the lives of his family. Without our faith in Jesus, God will not save our lives.

Faith—the key. Jesus—the keyhole. We need both to unlock the door that leads to God’s presence, His love, and His will that sets our lives into a place of eternal security.

Noah worked on the ark for many long, laborious years, believing a flood would come when everyone around him mocked him for it. Are we willing to spend our lives doing God’s will despite what others may think of us?

I know it’s impossible for me to please Him. I can’t do anything beautiful or perfect when inside I’m weak. I’m sinful. The only way we can accomplish anything worthy of praise is by trusting in the power of the One who is above all praise. He is the Son of God, the Savior of the world, Jesus, who is mighty to rescue us from the great floods of bitterness and pride we’ve poured into our lives. Without His death on the cross, our selfishness would cling to us like dirty rags. Without His life we would live in ignorance or misery, and either way we’d end up eternally condemned. But thanks to God, with Jesus’ death on the cross we can put to death our selfish desires! With His resurrection we can truly live free in the knowledge that the God of the universe cleanses us from every ugly thing we’ve said or done or thought.

God loves us beyond measure and offers us true forgiveness through Christ. True peace. Hope—forever and ever.

Jesus is the ark, who protects us from the waves and holds us above the deep waters. Too many people refuse to get in the ark because they don’t believe the flood of God’s wrath could ever destroy them, or they don’t believe the ark is mighty enough to keep them safe. On the other side, too many people actually do step into the ark, only later to jump back in the water, preferring to hitch a ride on a whale instead. But the whale doesn’t care about you and will only swim deep in the water to drown you.

Inside the ark you can still feel the rage of the sea about you. It’s not because of God’s wrath that you are beaten, yet not destroyed. You are beaten because of the sin of the people around you, who are drowning every day. Yet you are not destroyed because the ark keeps you eternally safe.

The old story of Noah has everything to do with Jesus. Without the faith to step into the ark, you’ll end up drowning. But if you take that leap of faith into the ark, one day the waters will recede, and you’ll hit dry ground again.

Hurt vs. (Godly) Regret

Hurt

Caressed by a faint little breeze

that mocks the heart of me.

Ravaged by a hurt that

takes me and

breaks me and

makes me

defenseless. At my

wit’s end, the end of me

wins me and

woos me and tries to

subdue me.

I am mocked by the breeze.

I am weak.

 

Regret

Thrown by a hurricane

that shakes the core of me.

Captured by a regret that

takes me and

breaks me and

makes me

reach for a defense. At my

wit’s end, true Strength

awakens me and

woos me to

lose me and

keep Him.

I am shaken into release.

I am free.

 

“The sorrow that God uses makes people sorry for their sin and leads them to turn from sin so they can be saved from the punishment of sin. We should be happy for that kind of sorrow, but the sorrow of this world brings death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NLV)

God’s Kind of Romance

A man is walking on the beach. The beach represents his life. There are two sets of footprints on the beach: one is God’s, and the other the man’s.  Occasionally there is only one set of footprints. “Why was there only one set of footprints during that time?” the man asked at the end of his life. God answered, “The two sets of footprints are the times I walked beside you through life. The one set of footprints are the harder times in your life, when I carried you.”

When my cousin told me that story, I exclaimed, “God is sooo romantic!” And we both laughed.

And as I thought about it more, I realized how true my whimsical statement was.

Romance doesn’t have to mean the mushy gushy falling in love with the opposite gender. In Anne of Green Gables, Anne used romance to describe nature and friendship. I think of romance as cuddled up in blankets on a winter night drinking hot cocoa, and I also think of it as God chasing after us, beckoning us to choose Him, to accept His gift of Jesus to take away our sins.

“[He] wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Timothy 2:4

God surely carries us in the harder time in our lives, if we choose to trust in Him. He surely walks with us if we choose to walk with Him. He longs to take the most unworthy people and transform them. He loves to show love to the unlovable.

“I will plant her for myself in the land;
    I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.
I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘You are my people’;
    and they will say, ‘You are my God.’” Hosea 2:23

The story Emma by Jane Austen is fresh in my mind after watching one of the movies last night. Emma is the story of a middle class young English lady in the 1800’s. She completely misunderstands everyone, and even purposely is prejudice against people (yes, very similar to Pride and Prejudice, in those respects). Mr. Knightley ends up being right about practically everything she was wrong about. Emma responds to this discovery with deep regret, realizing how much she loves him. In return, Mr. Knightley forgives her, and loves her all the more. This gives a picture of how God loves us.

Ultimately, repentance wins God’s heart. He loved us before, but whenever we show we love Him, too, and we understand He is right about everything we were wrong about–well, the angels rejoice wildly with their instruments up in heaven. Jesus intercedes on our behalf, allowing us to have a relationship with our Creator. And His Spirit comes to dwell in us, so we may have power to will and to act according to His good purpose.

When our hearts are set on Him, anything is possible. Don’t give up, your bridegroom loves you. He calls us on the adventure of a lifetime, and in the hard times, He will carry us. In the good times, He will walk by our side.

“As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” -Isaiah 62:5

“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” – Exodus 15:13

 

It’s Here

Regardless of my name, I don’t fully understand the gift of grace You gave me, that I don’t deserve. Help me to realize more and more who You are and who I am–the death You conquered on that cross and the life you offered to me when You lived again. Amaze me. Redeem me. Fill me with wonder–anything to pull me out of my false assumption of You as a cruel master into Your loving arms as a wise Father. Help me not to doubt Your power, not to be foolish enough to squish You into a human-sized box where my lack of faith tells me You can’t forgive me. Thank You that Your forgiveness is God-sized and therefore perpetual, on and on. Thank you for Your grace, Jesus, even though I don’t fully understand it.

All I know for sure is it’s here.

“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Romans 7:24-25a

Duty Meets Delight

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“Are you allowed to party after you become a Christian?”

One time I heard that question on the Christian radio. I realized that the person was asking the wrong question. Now that we have a new heart and a new spirit living in us thanks to the grace of our Lord, our question ought not be, “How far is too far?” it ought to be, “What can I do to bring glory to God today?”

Sometimes Christians have an unbiblical idea that God will forgive them if they don’t say they’re sorry, since they already accepted Jesus in their heart. But the Bible says we have to confess our sins. And what an amazing promise God gives us for when we do!

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

Truly confessing is feeling sorrow over our sins and turning away from them, making an effort to not sin in those ways again. We still slip and fall sometimes, but rather than it being a lifestyle, our new lifestyle is chasing after Jesus, as his devoted disciples.

God has given us the most precious gift of not only His Son’s death, but also His life. And His life is the fullest life, rich in goodness and love, completely different from the world’s, set-apart, and more lovely in God’s sight than jewels. We are to proclaim the truth with exhilaration, and love others deeply, and pray for them consistently. God has given us the honor as Christians to deliver the greatest news of all (the angels actually envy us for this honor): Christ came to free everyone from all unrighteousness. We can be free of sin’s shame, guilt, and ultimately it fierce separation of us from God. We now can live day-to-day conversing with our King, in a glorious relationship with Him.

Many people either say we must do things for God in order to go to heaven, or they say Jesus has paid it all so we now can party for the rest of our lives. Neither of these views even come close to the triumphant existence our Lord desires for us to have.

God and the world have been in a battle with one another for a long time. It’s our choice which side we’re on, and if we don’t fight, we’re just letting both sides confuse us, and ultimately we stumble onto the world’s side albeit unknowingly. God has given us weapons to fight the temptations, the evil, and the confusion of the world. If we don’t use them, the world will ensnare us. The amazing thing about God is that even though He doesn’t need us, He uses us anyway. If we follow His lead, He gives us the sword to fight in the battles, but He gives us the strength to wield it. God sends us like little toddlers on daddy’s mission, and we our delighted to obey.

I sometimes get caught in the doing things for God, thinking of how I can honor God today, but not realizing that I can’t honor Him on my own, in my own strength. I have to rely on His strength. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “We are not sent to do battles for God, but to be used by God in His battles.”

We are nothing, but God in His loving-kindness makes us useful for His eternal glory. If we do God’s will grudgingly, we are not exactly doing His will, for part of His will is that we should delight to obey Him.

So no, Christians shouldn’t party, that is, if it’s getting you drunk and causing you to sin. We have a light and we’ve got to let it shine, instead of acting like there’s no hope like everybody else. Let us stand up and fight on the Lord’s side, delighting in His will with all our hearts. For though we are nothing, our Lord Jesus satisfies us in the morning with His love and strengthens us for every battle we face the rest of the day.

“Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.” – Isaiah 40:27-31(NIV)