Simple Gospel


John 3:17– “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
And yet–

We constantly see judgement coming from those of us who claim we belong to Him.

We have redefined judgement as love, giving ourselves excuses to do exactly what God did not send Jesus into the earth to do.

God alone is judge. We are not equal to Him, we serve Him. If He made it clear in His preserved Word for us that He didn’t send His Son here to judge the world– why do we believe that’s what He’s calling us to do? 

God has bound Himself to His Word. His Word tells us to love one another.

Love does not include our well-meaning criticism. It does not look like what we define it to be, at all.

Love endures all things.

Love looks past what we opine as being flaws.

Love encourages.

Love is gentle.

Love is kind.

Love leaves evidence of Grace everywhere it touches.

Love gives.

Love forgives.

Love is impossible without God. 

I believe we can often be so focused on the speck in someone’s eye, we miss the log in our own.

Though we are individuals in Christ, God is unchanging. Just as He is bound to His Word, we are also bound to His Word– Jesus is the Word, and we have been given the written Word to help keep us grounded in Him firmly. There is a danger when we stop measuring everything against what is found in Scripture.

God has chosen love as the vehicle to give us Hope, He has chosen Jesus, His nonjudgemental Son, as the Savior of the world.

He has called us to be wise as serpents, yet gentle as doves, as we wear the sandals of peace to spread the Good News.

He has called us to fast for Him to remove unbelief. 

He has told us through His Word that the battle belongs to Him, that vengeance belongs to Him. We must be so careful to make sure our actions and words are lined-up accurately with His written Word.

He speaks to His people, today. But He never strays from His written Word.

Who are we listening to? 

The more complicated we make things, the more exhausted we become. 

The Gospel message is simple. Always.

Luke 2:11″For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes upon Him shall have everlasting life.”

Just Stop–

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Daily busyness mutes His voice.

So many things clutter our lives, clutter our hearts– clutter our churches. So many good things. So many good intentions. So many ideas to please God, programs to help people, traditions we’ve convinced ourselves we need.

Abel understood the very heart of God. It was more than just hearing and obeying God. It was more than the best of what he could come up with, within himself. Cain gave of his best efforts, his strength, his creativity, but it wasn’t the same as Abel. Not because it wasn’t the exact same offering. Cain did what was required, and he lacked the understanding or caring of why.

Mary sat with Jesus. She was bold and brave, in a culture when women did not sit with men, she sat with Him. She listened intently with her heart. She understood and openly sought the heart of God– despite what anyone else would say or think. We might, in our culture and time, think Mary was being lazy and trying to get out of work. She sought Jesus while He might be found. Martha was steeped in her culture and the burden of what had to be done. She prepared the meal, and she openly complained to Mary about her not helping. Martha did what was required of her in her culture’s role for her. She lacked understanding of why Mary did not. Maybe Martha had a bitter root planted in jealousy, as well as offense that it looked bad. There was Mary– sitting down with the men– listening and being taught, but not pulling her own weight in the work of serving.

For many of us, we try to do the minimum requirement when tasked. We have a mental checklist, and at the end of that checklist is what we would rather be doing– if we’re honest. Our heart’s are not in it. Like Martha, we look at someone else not doing what we think they should be doing, and we get jealous. We complain. We give in to frustration and allow bitterness to plant a root.

Cain had a jealous and bitter root, which produced the murder of his own brother. Like his parents with God, he tried to hide it.

What does God require of us? Is it perfection? Maybe exhaustion? The best programs? The most outward sacrifice? Praying the most profound prayers? Knowing the most and best Scriptures?

There is a plan layed-out through Scripture that highlights what He requires.

Come as you are.

Trust in the Lord your God.

Fear not.

Rest in Him.

Beloved– He requires us. Everything that we are.

He inhabits the praise of His people– not our works or sacrifice.

Take a deep breath… just stop– worship Him, meditate on Who He is, thank Him for all He has given, all that He is, and that He will do and has done.

When He Walks Into The Room   https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r50EGH7x2nw&feature=youtu.be

The works will happen as we regain our focus. Not our works– His work through us. We will be more in tune with Him, He will lead us to be about His business– not our busyness.

When was the last time our heart started to burn for His Will, or the darkness trembled at the Light of God breaking through our lives?

That’s when the miracles will happen. When His Spirit will pour out on all flesh, sickness will be healed, mountains will be moved.

But first, we need to stop and get reaquainted with Him and remember our first Love.

Me, Myself And My Husband– One Flesh

My husband doesn’t do things the way that I do. He doesn’t say things the way I say them. He doesn’t look at things the way I see them.

He doesn’t have the same Political views that I have…

When we married, we were taught through God’s Word that his body is my body, and my body is his body. In some ways that has become a kind of joke for us throughout the years.

“Honey, we have some things to do.” “Do I have to?” “Well, since your body is my body– yes.” Or, the silliness of doing something impossible– like using the restroom, lol.

Since my body is my husband’s, and vice-versa, does that mean his mind is also mine and mine is his?

Could you imagine if this were the case? If I had the ability to get him to think like me, and if I thought as he does, misunderstandings would become nonexistent!

But, the mind is such a complicated thing. The closest we could get to that is doing our best to consistently work at clear communication. Practicing listening. Sharing openly. Discussing differences.

Body ownership has been defined for us in Scripture– we become one-flesh, two halves of a whole. But our minds? As Christians, they should belong to the Lord. They have the unique ability to multi-task. While doing one thing like talking with people, we can pray, remember Scripture, Praise and Worship God at the same time.

The Bible exhorts us to pray without ceasing, because we can. We are able to do that. It takes practice, reminders, and at first a lot of attention and time. But then it becomes a habit. It happens naturally.

Our minds were made to interact with our Creator continuously.

That’s why there is so much competition for it with the world, people, even within ourselves.

We have a choice in who or what we give our minds to.

Everyday I want to choose God. Many times I fail somewhat, some days completely.

Every day is a new chance.

Fighting An Invisible Enemy

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I have an invisible enemy. I’ve fought against it for as long as I can remember. This enemy does not fight fair. It hides in the shadows. I have exhausted myself many times throughout my lifetime trying to fight back, but it dodges every retaliatory jab.

My enemy catches me off-guard, though less often now. It strikes with the intention of crippling my efforts. It dismantles my credibility. Mocks my accomplishments, experience and concerns, rendering them invaluable– useless. It attempts to define me as “too emotional”, “uneducated”, “ridiculous” or “ignorant”. It laughs at me, or rolls its eyes with a sarcastic dismissal of my importance.

It steals my confidence– tries to steal my joy.

I’ve learned to stand back and just observe how this enemy attacks and come to recognize that part of its victory over me has been through the use of decoys. It’s as though I am blindfolded, and I think I know its location through a sound or a movement. But, when I attempt to retaliate, I punch through thin air, exhausting– even injuring– myself in the process.

It’s impossible to fight this enemy.

In an effort of self-protection, I surround myself with people who have proven their trustworthiness to me over time. People who value me and don’t laugh at my creativity, experience, or blow off my concerns. Sometimes those people disappoint me.

I have begun to realize, the best way to defeat this enemy is to guard myself during its assailment and then assess the damage.

The damage hardest to overcome or heal from is the friendly fire. I know my visible enemies will not care about or recognize the truth over their opinion of me, so their words no longer hurt me. But, those closest to me– their opinion becomes the fiery darts my enemy uses to go straight to my heart.

When I remember to hide in the shadow of God’s wings, the damage is minimal, often non-existent.  Psalm 63:7 reminds me: “For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy”. Hosea 14:7 encourages me that:  “Those who live in his shadow Will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon”.

Then I know, the only thing that ever matters is God. He sees all, knows all, and He’s with me every step of the way, guiding me with the light of His Word, working through me regardless of how useless or unimportant any person believes me to be.

God is my strength, and He helps me defeat my invisible enemy. Every time.

The Spiritual Damage Of Anorexia

I’m a former anorexic and bulimic, reformed through Christ. This post has been a long time coming.

To look at me now you can’t tell I was near death at one point from practicing anorexia.

The Spiritual consequence is what I want to get into with this post. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about that before.

Fasting is an important part of our growing relationship with God. When we fast unto God, we deny our flesh to set aside our physical wants and needs temporarily to focus on seeking God. We fast to repent, seek God, grow in our faith and understanding, and to actively put Him completely first. The focus is God, not our body, not the avoidance of food.

Anorexia is a tool the devil uses to corrupt that. Fasting not only becomes an obsessive practice of focus on ourselves. Opportunities open for the demonic to gain footholds in our lives, choices, beliefs, vision, perspective and practices. The devil sells us the idea we can obtain perfection.

When Jesus is our Lord and Savior, God sees us as perfect because Christ is in us.

Through the practice of Anorexia, the devil causes deformity within our spirits and our understanding. The devil clouds our vision, and converts our perception to a distorted view and belief system– the belief that our body is the enemy we need to fight against.

The Bible is clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds, new creations through Christ Jesus.

Striving for perfection, we work hard for acceptance and approval of the world. But like a small kid in a game of Keep Away, or Monkey In The Middle, we never lay hold of it. The constant effort steals focus, energy, confidence– reality. The bar gets raised higher. It’s always just… out of…

Reach

God accepts and approves of us because of Jesus. We don’t have to prove our worth to Him because Jesus showed us how much He values us by dying on the cross, and rising up again. We are wanted, welcomed by God.

Jesus made it possible to have acceptance from our Creator. We can have a relationship with Perfection Himself, and He is working to make us the best version of ourselves– for His glory.

We have a choice: We can work really hard for a distorted version of perfection that’s never within reach. Or we can rest in God’s approval and meet Him in the changes He makes as He perfects us His way.

I have experienced both. I prefer God’s way.

Scars– Survivor’s Thick Skin

I have scars.

Some are easily seen. Like the one on my hand where I got stitches from grabbing a knife out of a distressed friend’s hand. He was threatening self-harm.

Tonka The Mountain Lion

Some are hidden. I have scars in my scalp from an attack by a playful young mountain lion my aunt kept and adopted from a hunting trip. When my fingers locate the indented bite marks my hair now hides, it seems as though the scars remember the trauma– the pain. All that blood… I can still almost taste the metallic flavor as it as  gushed out of the fresh wounds, covering my face. The rush of fear– I had no idea how to get away from Tonka cougar’s implanted teeth in my scalp. The tears. The shock as my aunt just stood there, watching, with what I remember as being a curious and possibly slightly amused look on her face. Her husband grabbed a towel and somehow got my head out of Tonka’s clenched jaw. I don’t remember being separated from my new “friend’s” grasp. I vaguely remember being in the ER, having my head bandaged. The rest is hidden in my memory, deep beneath those still sensitive-to-touch scars.

There is a Proverb that says– “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” (Proverbs 27:6) I’m not sure I can apply this one to what happened with Tonka.

Then there are inner scars that no one person see. The ones that form over our emotions. The ones that guard our hearts. They cover our memories, stretching over wounds as a protective layer. They remind us to avoid people and situations that cause us pain. They encourage research into preventative measures. They might even be what makes us want to build up protective walls– to keep similar pain out.

Maybe they are the walls…

I have hidden scars. From an abusive childhood. From people who called themselves my friends, but never really followed through. From a devastating first marriage.

I have other scars I call regrets. Wow did I do stupid things! I had no self worth. I was beat down by the words of my dad on a regular basis, convinced what he said about me was how everyone saw me. Worthless. Good for nothing. In the way. Why was I even born?

I am thankful that God swooped down and rescued me the times I almost gave in and gave up.

He was my Comforter. He was my  Rescuer. My Protector. In later years He also became my Shield.

He brought people, one at a time, into my life. He worked through them to help me. He helped me find the path to trust and healing.

My list of traumatic life experiences is longer than many people’s. I hate that so much! Not because I would ever want anyone to experience more. Because each situation where the scars have sealed-off painful memories, is horrible.

I have fought a tremendous uphill battle just to be normal. I fought to have a healthy mind. I’m fighting to have a healthy body.

I have hated my life for most of my existence. Except where God made the changes that delivered me from being bitter, hate-filled and angry. I love that He has healed and transformed me to the me I am now. Believe me– I was beyond  repair. Consumed by anger for my dad. Filled with hatred for my neglectful, abusive, rapist-coward of an ex-husband.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is real. I look at who I was before I allowed Him to walk with me, and I feel a sense of shock that He didn’t just have me removed from the face of the earth.

He healed me. He revealed a deeper love for me than anyone had ever shown to me.

All I ever really wanted was to be loved, to be welcomed– to be wanted.

God has given that to me.

The scars remind me.

One of my scars is sadness. You can’t walk through all I have and not still be affected in some ways by it all. God healing me does not erase those circumstances or all of the emotions still attached. I was still robbed of a healthy relationship with my dad. I remember the horrible words he said to me, how he hurt me in so many ways– physically, emotionally, mentally, even spiritually.

It all still happened.

It all no longer defines who I am.

Jesus has scars. Crucified on a cross. Nails the size of small railroad stakes pounded into His wrists and feet. Scars on His scalp from the crown of thorns. Scars on His back as His flesh was ripped apart by a whip called the “cat of nine tails.” He endured that for me. His scars remind me that His love and compassion are so deep, He willingly went through everything He did for me. I couldn’t have done that. I wouldn’t have been able to look at my abusers and say to God the Father, “Father. Forgive them, for they know not what they have done.”
Jesus did that.

His scars remind me.

Why My Defensiveness Is A Reflex Reaction For Me With Some

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Last night, I had the most wonderful time having dinner, talking, then just listening to a dear friend. I learned so much about her, things I never would have guessed! It’s even easier to see why she is such a beautiful, loving, sincerely kind woman of God.

As is the usual case with me, it’s also hard to not also see that deep contrast between her life and my own.

Again I come face-to-face with why I have often felt a type of rejection from some I’ve hoped to get to know. I’m no Miss Congeniality or Miss Anything.

Often in my lifetime I’ve been left feeling as though I’m not worth people’s time. Some of that is cultural, sure. Some of it is personality-clash. I can be abrasive. I’ve even been described as a “bull in a China shop”.

There aren’t many “boxes” I allow myself to be put in. I tend to fail under heavy-handed expectations. I am as God designed me, also molded from my unique life experiences, which also at times have borne the weight of heavy-handed expectations.

I have learned that not everyone is alike, not everyone does things the same, or reacts to expectation the same way.

I probably will never meet any human’s expectation.

I can only try to meet God’s. And, I fail… All. The. Time.

One of the toughest things to put into practice is listening when it feels like you are not heard by others– that’s where my reaction of defensiveness tries to overtake me.

My life is full of many amazing, even some miraculous testimonies of God’s work.

It’s easy to focus on things that happened because God was not in the circumstances. It’s best to focus on contrasts caused by God’s healing, intervention, love, kindness, miracles and His Mercy.

While the contrast between our lives is somewhat vast, my friend and I have one very important thing that is similar– the knowledge of Who God Is in contrast to who we are and how amazing it is that He loves us.

Why I Am This Way, And How It Applies To My Dating Daughter

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I grew up a fighter. At a time when women were belittled, not taken seriously while treated in harassing ways– I decided not to just accept that, but to push past it. I have dealt with that issue head-on for many years now. From a grandpa who refused to call me by my given name because it was a “boys” name, to being treated as an emotional idiot, I have learned how to stand my ground and not ever just take what someone has dished out.

I’ve fought for jobs that “girls aren’t hired for”, and won. The pizza place that refused to hire me to work in the kitchen because “girls only work as cashiers and hostesses”– I worked in the kitchen. The Air Force recruiter who thought I should enlist to be a cook– I became a plumber. The plumbing shop owner who laughed at this female Veteran AirForce  plumber– because “girls don’t get hired as plumbers”– I was hired by someone to help with their in-house plumbing problems. (Nevermind that I had mostly worked on Japanese plumbing, and as a side-effort, I tried to help my aunt in her older house. Let’s just say, I screwed that up REALLY bad! Had to call for a cousin to help me. If he were still talking to me now, I’m positive he’d make sure I never lived that one down, lol. Maybe him not talking to me is for my own good!)

Anyway–I rabbit-trailed.

I drove a back-hoe, a front loader and a dump truck in Korea when women still didn’t drive there. I drove a Humvee in the middle-east where women aren’t allowed to drive.

When I am backed into a corner and told I can’t do something just because I’m a girl– watch me do just that.

I don’t deal with that so much anymore, as a military spouse and stay at home mom.

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Now, I’m dealing with a new kind of thing– I’m now the teen girlfriend’s mom. Oh yes. So far her boyfriend has referred to me as not knowing what I’m talking about, and childish. This 18 year old boy that I am allowing my 16 year old daughter to date– with getting-stricter monitoring.

He has some nerve! I am struggling to not take my “childish” attitude and sever his relationship with my daughter!

How do I get it across to my daughter that how he treats me and his own mother will be how he treats her, once they move past all the hormonal ushy-gushy crap?

I am angry that he has the nerve to say things like that about me.

I am concerned that he does not have a relationship with Jesus at all. I want to put a stop to them dating, but at the same time, she is not going to learn important life lessons if I do that.

I am uncomfortable with my daughter dating him at all. Very uncomfortable.

So, the fighter in me has taken to prayer and sobering interaction.

I am accountable to God for my daughter. I will not take that lightly, but I’m not going to give into the temptation to “fight” with her boyfriend. I’m gonna let God fight that battle for me.

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God Loves Divorcées

I get it. God hates divorce.

Divorced people also hate divorce. It’s ugly. It’s destructive. It tears apart what God put together. It turns a peaceful union into a war zone.

Moses gave permission for divorce because mens hearts had hardened against their wives. A hardened heart makes way for cruelty and abuse. Moses was protecting the wives by allowing it.

As one who went through a Scriptural divorce– it sucks! It hurt!

Divorce rips apart lives, hearts and families. It destroys reputations, confidence and dreams.

Divorce is Hell on earth. It separates two people who were once bonded together by love and agreement.

Every divorce is different, it happens for different reasons. It’s a deeply personal experience that cuts through the one-flesh union down into the marrow of our spirit. If you have ever had to have a bone marrow biopsy done, then you know how much that cutting hurts the spirit of those split apart by divorce.

Divorce is more destructive and devastating than losing of a loved one to death. It’s cancer to marriage.

Going through a divorce is pain-filled dying yet still living. 

Can we as the Church, the Body of Christ, just stop? Stop judging our wounded family. Stop throwing stones. Stop rejecting. Stop pouring on our salt… Just stop.

Can we just love one another?

Can we just reach out and encourage each other, especially those in our church memberships that we haven’t taken the time to really get to know?

Let’s trade rejecting for compassion. Hatefulness for love. “Tough love” for gentleness, kindness. Anger for patient listening. Judgment for hugs and healing words.

We can do this. We need to do this. We’ve got to stop wounding our wounded.

I hope to see more teaching to couples and congregations about the difficulties of marriage and the solutions God provides through His Word and through praying together. I hope to see less rejecting of divorcées, and more kind and gentle ministries offered compassionately towards them.

Come on, Church. We are better than this ugly, hate-filled rejection of those who are hurting and struggling to get the pieces of their lives together, alone.

What Would Jesus Do? What does He expect us to do in His Name?

Comfortable In My Faith

Do you find yourself being a reactionary or responsive Christian?

I want to be responsive, but I have reactive tendencies far too often. My reflex at feeling attacked, questioned, put on the spot or called names like hypocrite used to be to jump into action and find Scripture to back up my actions, words and belief.

I fell into the false belief that my job as a Christian is to be on the defensive, to fight back with words, to defend my faith, my belief, my Savior from attacks. I thought that was what being a Christian looked like, what it meant.

I was wrong.

My job has never been to convert anyone to my beliefs.

My job is to live out my faith, while living at peace with others as much as is possible.

And, it’s not actually my job. It’s who I am.

Christian is what defines me.

Not my appearance.

Christ within me.

I am comfortable in my faith, because I am able to rest in God. I am able to trust God. Everything I am now, in this moment, is because of changes God made in me, because I am His. And He is mine.

He is Worthy to hand my complete trust to. He is Worthy to give over my plans and decisions to. He is Worthy to live for. He is Worthy to represent.

This past week I have been reminded where He has Saved me from. I remember who I was. Because of a nightmare and a school friend’s recent death, I’ve been taken back to where I’ve come from.

I needed to be reminded.

I have the loveliest peace resting in my heart, because I am comfortable in my faith.

I don’t pounce on those who say things to make me feel defensive. I don’t jump on people who mock us, hate us, and live in ways we don’t agree with. Because that doesn’t reach hearts or change minds.

I live to be a heart changer, to have God’s healing work through me. Defensive fighting doesn’t heal or help others see Who God really is.

I understand God expects me to reach up towards Him through prayer and demonstrate His higher ways. That is a tall order from God, but to whom much is given, much is expected. I have been given much experience, much forgiveness, many, many chances. Should I not give those to others, as well, where it’s appropriate?