Boone

Today is my husband’s birthday. His presence in this world is a gift to me. I wanted to honor him today because I do not do it nearly enough. He will be the first to say it’s not needed, and that is just one of the hundreds of ways he amazes me. So many of the traits and qualities he has show humility and putting others first.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;” Philippians‬ ‭2:3‬ ‭NASB‬.

My husband doesn’t believe in the Bible, yet he acts out and lives out what scripture says in many ways. That is a grace gift from God. God’s common grace poured out onto my husband. I believe my husband was made in the image of God and that truth doesn’t require him to believe in the God that created him. He bears his image because he is His! He is loved by God just as I am. Just as we all are. I pray that one day these many attributes my husband displays will truly be reflections of the Light of Christ in him. He is not going to want any of this recognition but I write about my life and what God is teaching me and this man is a big part of that and I believe it is okay to publicly show appreciation to him and thank God for him today.

Back to this sweet man and the many ways he loves me and our girls so well. We are in an unequally yoked marriage. But my husband didn’t bail. He didn’t say “okay that’s enough you crazy holy roller, I’m out”. He doesn’t try to change my views. He engages me in conversation to try to help me see what he believes and asks me to ponder, research, and consider but he doesn’t do that in a way that is a detriment to our relationship. He supports me and my beliefs in many different ways because he loves me. He loves every part of me. Even the part he doesn’t understand or agree with. That is commitment. That is unconditional love. He came to my baptism and  he gifted me with a cross necklace that day. He has gotten to know my “church” friends and continues to be open to meeting them and being around them. He has even become friends with some of them and serves them and gives his time to them when a need arises. When we first started dating I remember one thing I noticed about him was that he wasn’t just kind to me, he was kind to my friends and family as well. That continues to this day. On random Saturday mornings he will go to Kristy Kreme with SG and get a few 6 packs of donuts and deliver them to various homes. Some of the people he delivers them to are my friends from church. He loves “my people” as he calls them because he loves me! It brings tears to my eyes just typing that.

He works so hard. His work ethic is strong and he enjoys his labor throughout the day. He feels the need to provide for his family and does that beyond what is required. He is passionate about his work and that drives him to be involved in so many areas and parts of his work community. He wants to contribute and do above and beyond what he is asked for the betterment of his colleagues and students and community. Valentines of 2016 he gave me an amazing gift. Even though he doesn’t completely understand I think, my desire to stay home with my children full time, he came to a place where he wanted to honor me and let me stay home. I was staying home with them during the day but was working nights and weekends. He saw the value of me being home at night and on the weekend and what working those hours was doing to me physically. So he made a way for me to stay home full time. Which meant he worked more. He picked up extra classes and continues to work diligently for his family. On top of that, he shows me grace when I haven’t always done my best to help keep us on a tight budget to help with this transition. The Lord is working on that in me, showing me ways I can help him out more and honor this gift he has given me.

He is compassionate and wants to see the viewpoint of others even if he doesn’t agree or understand. He has opened my eyes to areas I have been judgmental and haven’t seen things from others’ viewpoints. He is passionate about social injustices that have happened in our history and continue to affect and shape our view today. He has pushed himself to see that his status and privilege in life isn’t the reality for everyone. He continues to learn and educate and support the efforts to make available opportunities for everyone.

He loves our girls. So perfectly. He is calm with them. He plays and make them laugh and laugh. Daddy is the fun one. He is protective of them. And I know he will love them in the same way he does me in regards to whatever their beliefs become. Our oldest already has conversations with her daddy about his views on God and he is patient and understanding and doesn’t take offense or get frustrated. He pushes her and questions her but in a way that gets her to think, not trying to sway her one way or another. He loved our youngest MK from the moment he set eyes on her and never sees her as his “adopted” daughter. He never tells anyone that part of her story unless it comes up naturally or is someone that was there with us from the beginning. There are several events in the community that reach out to and support parents licensed with our local DSS, one of them is a baseball day. We went this past year with some friends but when we were told to go to the booth and get a free gift that was for all foster/adoptive families he declined. He said we don’t receive “prizes” for having our oldest daughter so he doesn’t want to be rewarded for having MK as a daughter just because she is adopted. He knows she is his daughter, not for praise or special treatment, but his prize is his beautiful child that shares his birthday. I believe support and help is absolutely okay in the foster/adoptive community but I do love my husband’s view on the issue and appreciate his love for her that transcends how she physically came to be with us. His heart continues to be opened to future adoptions, seeing the need, and putting aside selfishness. Again our reasons come from two different starting points but I am so thankful he shares in (and sometimes is even more open to it!) my desire to take care of orphans.

My husband has to live with three women. Enough said right?? On top of that I have a worldview different from his. On top of that I struggle with control and not keeping my mouth shut enough. On top of that I write about our life and share it with others and minister to other women in unequally yoked marriages. On top of that I am very involved with my church and have bible studies I’m in and Lifegroup and other ways I serve. On top of that, I messed up in a lot of ways in the beginning of our marriage before I was saved. Through all of it he forgives me, loves me, supports me, encourages me, showers me, makes me feel adored, grows with me, is dedicated to me, challenges me, and demonstrates love as an action not just a word. I am amazed and blessed and cannot believe he is the husband I get. Some of you reading this know him and love him for his tie-dye and Boone Dip and silly words, and Clemson orange pride, and his crazy math tricks, and his generosity and his Jagerbombs and his happy head-butts, and his bald head, and his musical talents on the drums and his karaoke skills. Others of you only know him because you know me and you know about our situation and marriage because of what I write and you know how much he loves me and how much our marriage is a testament to restoration and redemption and a sovereign God with a sovereign plan. All of you I hope will celebrate this man with me today and thank God for who he is in my life. Besides my salvation, he is the greatest gift in my life. You are loved Mr. Boone and I am so privileged to be your bride. Happy Birthday!

Garland of Grace

“Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. “She will place on your head a garland of grace; She will present you with a crown of beauty.”Proverbs‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬

During my HOUR of uninterrupted quiet time at a retreat I went to recently, (what a gift to a mom of two littles!),  I found myself in front of the verse above. I couldn’t get away from it and continued to search it more and more. As a mom, as a wife, as a human being, doesn’t that sound enticing?? This garland of grace.

God gives us a garland of grace which is His wisdom. Wisdom found when we fill our hearts with His Word.

He gives grace to answer the hard questions. He gives grace to get up when we fail. He gives us grace to teach, instruct, and encourage our children and those around us we influence.

His garland of grace gives me wisdom in those moments when I’m not sure what to do when navigating parenting with my husband who is not a believer. Our world views are different. That can make it tricky BUT not impossible when parenting. So how does that work? It works by God’s grace. It works by seeking God’s wisdom. It works by being convicted from His Word and repenting when I totally let my pride and selfishness take over. It works by filling my head and heart with the Word of God, which became flesh, and revealed to us the magnificence and glory of our Creator. I can breath in the breath of life with each verse I read, with each truth I believe, and with each step forward in my faith as I trust Him and act on it. The “what would Jesus do” bracelets don’t quite get to the heart of what I need in those moment. Instead of what would Jesus do I need to remind myself who Jesus is. The way. The truth. The life. My redeemer who made a way for me to go to God and beg Him for understanding. His crown of thorns enabled, produced, secured, and guaranteed my garland of grace.

What ever it is you are struggling with, and can we admit, we are ALL struggling with something. Whatever it is… are you a single mom, do you not have a spiritual leader in your home, do you have a child who has turned away, do you have a difficult relationship to navigate, are you not sure how to disciple another women? Whatever it is, hold on to the garland of grace we are given as we look to His Word for our answer. Our answer isn’t a 3 step process, it isn’t a checklist, it isn’t bullet points on a page, it isn’t a detailed outline of how to exactly handle every situation. Our answer is searching the active and alive Word of God to seek His wisdom, His person, His nature, His characteristics, His grace, His mercy, His truths, so that the Holy Spirit can move in our hearts to CHANGE US in those moments when it’s hard. To GROW US in those moments when we hit a wall. To ENCOURAGE US when we feel we don’t have the strength to do this. This garland of grace is walking with God, washing our hearts and our minds in His Word, in such a way that our decisions we make are aligned with His will of humble service. This wisdom we are to be searching for like gold, we will find those nuggets and they’ll stay with us so in those moments when we don’t know what to do this garland of grace will help us. What we have discovered in His Word, what we have meditated on in our hearts, what we have let change us and shape us and mold us, that is what is going to help. Not just an article on “10 ways to be a better Mom…”. Not a checklist of do’s and don’ts. It’s knowing what to do because it is the Lord’s will.

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”Proverbs‬ ‭4:18‬ ‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Just as we are continually being sanctified, this wisdom grows in us until we will be FULLY glorified, in the presence of and worshipping our Savior. As He leads us on this path of righteousness and we search and live out His Word, it becomes more and more of who we are and how our heart responds to those around us.

That’s the kind of wisdom I want and that’s the kind of wisdom I need. Proverbs tells us that when we treat her like a treasure, when we treat her like a precision gift, we will receive her. The death and resurrection of Jesus for our sins is what enables us to go anywhere near this. We are able to be in God’s presence, we are able to hold His Word, to read it and to understand it and to see His love for us and have our love for him grow. That crown of thorns allowed for this to happen and that crown of thorns has led to us to be able to wear this sweet beautiful, powerful, helpful, needed, life changing, garland of grace given by His wisdom.

Christ gives His bride this crown of beauty to wear, as our lives bear fruit of the gospel, and as we live out His story through our testimonies and our sanctification.

“My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”Proverbs‬ ‭2:1-6‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Proverbs 2 tells us to receive it, treasure it, be attentive, cry for it, seek it, search for it, and we WILL discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God for the Lord gives wisdom.

Father we are crying out to you asking us to open up your Word in a mighty way. Help us to see in each moment of our day how we can be your humble servant, how we can pursue wisdom and righteousness by dying to ourselves and letting your wisdom and love take hold of each situation we face. Let us never take for granted how the cross enabled us to receive this garland of grace so that we can follow you, lay our lives down at your feet, and live out our salvation in such a way that is worthy of the calling you have set before us. Your grace is the only way we can do that. Help us to recall your Word, to receive and believe your love and mercy, and to walk in obedience throughout our day. Lord help us to keep our perspective and our gaze on you, not on us, not on our inconveniences, not on our story but on YOUR story and YOUR work and YOUR plan and YOUR sovereignty that we can trust. Help us to receive it, treasure it, be attentive to it, cry for it, seek it and search for it. In Jesus name we pray, AMEN.

The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. “Prize her, and she will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her.”Proverbs‬ ‭4:7-8‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Lifted Up

I had many preconceived notions before I began reading and studying the Old Testament. Ideas and opinions I had heard from others. That it was the difficult and hard to understand section of the Bible. That is was for more historical knowledge. That it had parts of it that were okay to skim right over (lists of names, lists of places, the non-“spiritual” stuff). That this is the part of the Bible where it is okay to pull out a motivational verse even if you don’t understand the  surrounding content. I’ve had several conversations with people the past few years where they have said they feel this is the section where God is “mean”, this is the part of the Bible that theologians need to study but not everyone has to. All of these false and deceptive influences on my mind kept me from the Old Testament. Until God showed me that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16-17‬)‬‬.

All scripture. So with this conviction to read and dig into the Old Testament I began a slow and eye opening journey into God’s Word that is yielding an overwhelming understanding of God’s love for me. I’ve heard some say the New Testament is where we read the gospel and as long as you get that and understand the gospel and the work of Jesus, then you are good. Yet without the Old Testament we can’t see the fuel behind this great act of sacrifice. The gospel fire blazes in the New Testament, it spreads like wildfire but the fuel behind it is God’s immense, never-ending, relentless, love and pursuit of His people. The Old Testament shows us from the first word that Christ was there! In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1) and we know from John that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John‬ ‭1:1-3‬)‬‬. The Old Testament shows us God’s plan to save us from the moment sin entered our flesh and our hearts. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Genesis‬ ‭3:15‬ ‬‬) Christ fulfilled this victory over Satan. As I read the Old Testament I see so much of the gospel story. More and more examples and glimpses of the gospel emerge. God is preparing His people and our hearts as we read it for the coming fulfillment of it all! I was reminded in a Bible study this month of one of my favorite passages in the Old Testament that showed us the coming of Christ as our Savior.

“From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.”(Numbers‬ ‭21:4-9‬)‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

When I first read this I remember crying. I was “getting” it finally. God was showing me the beautiful plan and story He was sharing with us in the Old Testament. Since the fall of man, we have been bitten by the fangs of sin, dripping with the venomous promise of comfort, fun, ease, and exaltation of self. This has made us slaves to pride and ego, making humility and trust foreign and unattainable, as the Israelites in this passage displayed. The bitten flesh leaves us with holes filling up with the poison of the world. But God made a way. Any part of us that is sick, ill, lacking or diseased (all of our heart!) can only be healed by the clean, pure, righteous blood of Christ. His blood replaces the poison running through our veins. His blood which was spilled when He was lifted high on the cross is the antidote to the lies and deception and lust and pride our flesh cries out for. We WANT the bite. We want to taste the rancid poison disguised in sweet treats and temporary fulfillment of our desires. Just like the Israelites in this passage though, God brings us to the point of repentance, admitting our sin, kneeling before the Lord asking for the way… The answer… Look to the Savior. When you see Him you will live. It’s that simple. We don’t have to write a dissertation on the cross. We look to Him and follow Him. We don’t have to memorize the Old Testament law. We trust Christ to fulfill it. We don’t have to strive and try our way into the grace of God. He gave us Christ. The free gift we are to simply trust as our Savior. Trust Him to get us out of the pit of sin laden serpents biting at our heels, tempting us to look away and trust our own desires and the world’s answers. Christ defeated our sin when He was lifted up on the cross!! We can be tempted but not slaves to it. We can be disobedient but not condemned when we know Christ as our Savior and God WILL complete the work He started in us. He will show us our sin, bring us to repentance, and lift our eyes back up to the one lifted up for us as we await His return and our eternity with Him.

The Old Testament has been a sweet time with my God. I am doing other Bible studies but when I get back to where I left off in the Old Testament Word I am always excited to see what I am going to learn about my Father. It has created an excitement in me, an anticipation. All of God’s Word should do that for us and it can! No matter where you are reading, it is the living Word of God!! If you ask Him, He will show you His splendor, His power, His place of safety, His character, His will, His wisdom and His love that is big enough for all the world, and intimate enough for you to personally know it. Let our mind and heart be filled with the whole of God’s Word so we can “let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statues and to keep His commandments…” (1Kings 8:61).

Hope

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬‬

I continue to see ways God is leading me and “making my paths straight” as I discern how to live as a Christian with my unbelieving husband and how to raise our daughter with different beliefs guiding us. It truly has been amazing seeing prayers being answered and seeing the truth of God’s Word unfold before my very eyes. It helps me to BELIEVE and grow my trust because God is showing me how His Word is always the answer. That prayer is always the way when I am lost in the middle of a struggle or temptation. That Jesus Christ is not just my example but my Savior and always where my gaze should be as the Holy Spirit sanctifies my heart through this perfect Word of God.

A lot I said there in theory, now let me share with you specifics because this is so good and I pray it helps you see God working in your own life, every day with every thing He IS working. I often times hear people say “that’s a God thing” or after a specific “good” blessing I’ll hear “God is working”. Those are true but God is ALWAYS working. Not getting what you thought you wanted is God working. Being in the middle of a heart wrenching trial is God working. Yes, the blessings and sweet times are God working also but I believe He is always working because He is sovereign and He is omnipresent and so He can’t be separated out of the events of our lives in any way.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” Romans‬ ‭11:36‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

Our hope is in Christ, who never changes and never goes away. So no matter the circumstance we are always in the middle of a blessing because God is always with us. He is always working it out for our good, we just might not see it yet in our terms and our limited viewpoint.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” Romans‬ ‭8:28-29‬ ‭NASB‬‬‬

Okay, back to specifics. I have continually prayed for God to grow my desire for Him through His Word. That He would help me to understand and grow in love and knowledge. The fruit of that being so I would get to know my God and love Him more but also that when asked by my husband I would be able to articulate the gospel and the surrounding narrative of the Old Testament. ‭

“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;”1 Peter‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God has delivered and given me an appetite for the Old Testament starting last year and I LOVE seeing Jesus Christ all throughout the Old Testament and the immense love God has for us. Recently my husband thought it would be fun to give me a quiz that came up on his Facebook about Biblical knowledge. He wanted to see what I know. It was so fun! He read all 40 questions to me and as I was answering each one, a lot pertaining to the Old Testament, I was realizing this sweet gift. My husband was surprised at what I knew. He said “wow, you really know this stuff”. Now the point of that isn’t head knowledge, please don’t look at it that way, the point is that my husband was seeing that my belief and faith comes from my own belief not what someone else told me. He thinks most Christians only believe what they are told by their parents or what others tell them. He was seeing that I have read the Bible, studied it, and found great value and truth in it that helps reinforce my belief and my relationship with my Savior because it is THE Word of God. That is an answered prayer. My husband is an atheist yet he spent 30+ minutes asking questions from this quiz, reading parts of God’s Word in the questions, hearing the answers and learning things he didn’t know, and it was his idea (actually God’s idea!). Sometimes I don’t know when and how and how much to speak to my husband about the Bible and my relationship with God. This time it was handed to me on a silver platter. God continues to deliver moments like this.

Another time when this happened was during a struggle; this was a hard one. Our daughter was being disobedient in an area that we are just stuck in, bedtime. It seemed we were over this hurdle and now it is back. Praise God it is! Because in this struggle one particular night I was coming undone. I had to walk away and tears were flowing. My husband came in and sat down and closed the door so it was just the two of us. We began a conversation discussing how to handle her and discipline her. I just wanted to be on the same page and really wanted my husband to tell me what to do. In the middle of our conversation I said “Fathers (or mothers in my case) do not provoke your children to anger”. Then I just kept saying more “ train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”. I said a few more “be anxious for nothing…” I was opening my mouth and God’s Word was coming out. My husband said, “that sounds like pretty good advice, where are you getting those from?” I told him the Bible. He asked which men wrote those and I told him Solomon wrote Proverbs 22:6 and I am in the middle of reading 1 Samuel and started talking to him about what I was learning about Solomon and his wisdom. Since we were talking about discipline he started asking where in the Bible it says parents should “hit” their kids. I talked about the passages about the “rod” and others. This led to him asking me about “stoning” and isn’t that what the Old Testament was full of. Now here is where it gets good…I was able to talk to him about the Old Testament law and the purpose of it to show us that we can’t obey and that Christ came to fulfill perfectly the law for us since we cannot. He took every “stoning” or other punishment we deserved for the sins and disobedience we displayed. Now two years ago I would not have been able to speak to my husband about the correlations of the Old Testament and the New Testament but this night I was able to. I was able to speak with conviction because God has shown me as I have studied His Word. Also in speaking this to Boone it spoke to my heart as well. When I said the words “We can’t obey, it isn’t possible for our flesh to perfectly obey” Boone’s eyebrow raised and he got an “I told you so” look on his face. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew. YES! I need to remember this in the middle of Sophie struggling with her obedience. Why do I forget that??!! It was just so cool to have my husband there with me in that moment, as he was able to see something God was doing in my own heart to minister to me in that moment which was delivered by a conversation with my husband about Old Testament law. God is making a way for my husband to see what I need from God’s Word to help me in those moments when I am tempted to be anxious. I just can’t tell you how thankful I am for my daughter’s tantrum now!!!!! I pray I remember in every hard and uncomfortable moment that God is working. I may not always see the fruit of it as quickly as I did that night but that shouldn’t change my belief that it is all working together for my good.

One of the biggest struggles in an unequally yoked marriage is not being able to share with your spouse THE most important thing in your life. The excitement of understanding and studying God’s Word, the sanctification of your heart, the personal and life giving relationship with Jesus Christ, the HOPE and PEACE that surpasses ALL comprehension, and not being able to know they are your brother or sister in Christ. But all of that being said, can you see how God is giving me and showing me that the limitation in this is mine. He doesn’t put limits on my marriage. He made a way for my husband to talk with me about God’s Word. He made a way for me to speak to my husband about how God is working in my heart. He made it possible for us to use scripture when discussing a parenting issue with our daughter. Praise God that He is so much greater than I, that He is sovereign and in control, that He is continuing to turn my marriage into a miracle, a fruit bearing testament to the TRUTH and POWER of God’s Word. Christ died for this. He died so that I would come alive through Him. He died so that I could abide in Him and He in me so that there would be fruit that would GLORIFY GOD. I think about His death on the cross for my sin in that moment with my daughter. My anger and frustration and anxiousness rising. But then He rose from that death, from that grave, so that I could be made new and no longer a slave to that sin. All of this happening with my husband by my side, not separate from me.

My husband doesn’t believe Jesus did that powerful work. He doesn’t believe God exists. He doesn’t believe God’s Word is true and perfect and infallible. My hope isn’t in my husband’s belief. My hope is in Jesus Christ who made a way for me to have these moments, these gifts from God. My hope is in eternity where I will be surrounded by God’s glory in a way that eclipes the glimpses of it I get to see in my marriage and makes them pale in comparison. My hope is in a God who loves me and will and has done EVERYTHING for my good. All of this lets me rest. God knows the desire of my heart, because it is His desire as well, that my husband would be saved. My marriage is a reminder to me that NOTHING is impossible and God will work and do things I can’t even imagine or see coming to bring about His perfect will and His purposes.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” Philippians‬ ‭4:4-5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Let us REJOICE in everything and always be in a posture of thanksgiving for the joy we have in knowing Him, our Abba Father. The Lord is near! In whatever you are in the middle of He is there. His Word is there to teach you and train you and encourage you in the difficult moments and so that others can hear of this hope you have!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter‬ ‭1:3-5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Nourishment

A friend sent me an email about the 8 Days of God Speaking event from godspeaking.com and asked if I wanted to do it. I didn’t sign up when she sent it but I remembered today, the first day of it, and signed up. Which resulted in an email I got around dinner time with the first passages. It is designed to be broken up into a morning reading and an evening reading but since I signed up late I listened to the whole 60 minute reading of Genesis 1-15. The timing was perfect. I decided I would listen as I started to make dinner for SG and I, since Boone was working late. We had a gathering at our house yesterday and have lots of leftover hamburgers so that was the plan for dinner (along with cheese dip and leftover cupcakes…). As I’m listening to the reading of God’s Word, I heard seven words that took me to my knees in repentance.  The seven words are “The serpent deceived me and I ate”  Genesis 3:13. Tears filled my eyes and those seven words kept playing over and over in my head.

Earlier this morning, after feeling the affects of my health, and weight, and tiredness I prayed for God to take this burden. I cannot do this in my own strength but the power of Christ lives in me and I knew God could give me the perspective I need and the willingness to obey and the discipline to do it. None of these things I can achieve on my own. I have tried and strived but this morning I needed to give this 100% over to God. He has been bringing me to this place for a while, I make a good effort and then something trips me up. A few days missed of exercise turns into a few weeks. One splurge meal turns into a sugar addiction gone wild. This morning I prayed those words that Paul understood as well about our sin nature. Our flesh. “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” Romans‬ ‭7:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬. And more importantly Christ understood this and warned his disciples and gave them these words of great wisdom “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Matthew‬ ‭26:41‬ ‭NASB‬‬. The key in this verse to me is the praying. There is so much that happens in consistent, humble, fervent prayer. Praise, thankfulness, answers, and fellowship with God is what happens. I have not been putting on the full armor of God and it is affecting me in this area of my food idol.

So all that to say, when I heard the words “the serpent deceived me and I ate”, it just reached my core and was an answer to my prayer.  Satan, the enemy, wants to deceive me and my flesh wants to listen. The enemy wants me overweight, he wants me tired, he wants me cranky, he wants me moody, he wants me weighed down, he wants my body run down,  which are all things that eating incorrectly and not exercising makes me feel. After a good couple of years of running consistently, eating well and feeling GREAT, I have come to a place where I am in the worst health I’ve ever been. The enemy wants me to give up and give in and say “I can’t stop, I can’t put it down, I can’t resist, it’s in my house, I am too weak.” God’s truth repels all those lies. Satan wants me to be in the world, he wants me to indulge my eyes, my wallet and my mouth in the things of this world. The sugary indulgences that make me sick, the fatted idol that I carry in my gut, the poison that tastes good for a moment. He wants this so I will doubt, so I will be ineffective, so I will not be energized to use the gifts God has given me. He wants this as a foothold to get to me. What does God want? “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

“If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans‬ ‭8:10-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.”1 Timothy‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NASB.‬‬
I AM a new creature, in Christ. God HAS raised me from my death in sin, to life in His righteousness. I CAN be nourished on His Words and the faith of the truth of the gospel and that IS enough. I was deceived and I ate, but God heard my prayer and prepared my heart to hear His Word. That reminded me that He knew back when Eve first sinned and ate the forbidden fruit that she was going to do it and He already had a plan in place that led to Christ, redemption, and salvation. He knows my struggles and He made a way. He is knocking my idols down one by one. Food is up to bat. He wants me to be free from striving and to believe that what He has for me, what Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection is enough. When I compare that to a donut, it is just insane!! But He knows and there is no condemnation, there is only a hand reaching down to me, there is only love, there is only a way that leads to Him as I put on my armor that I already have and put on the strength that I already have in Him.

I love how God delivered this to me, through an email and an invitation from a friend to listen to 8 days of God’s Word being read. I know she didn’t know about my prayer this morning what it would lead me to on the very first day but God’s Word and the Holy Spirit has no limits, no boundaries, and reaches us exactly when and exactly how we need it. And she does know that. My God is more powerful than Satan, His truth is more powerful than the enemy’s lies. Christ overcame. It has already happened. The Holy Spirit brings that power to overcome in us. Praise God!

Lord Jesus, I pray in Your powerful name that the spirit of striving would be broken off every one of us. We declare we are free of all striving, set free by the blood of Jesus, and made and kept free by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Holy Spirit, we give You permission to overwhelm us with Your presence and remind us anytime we begin to strive that we have nothing to prove or gain as we already have everything in our identity and inheritance in Jesus Christ. Thank You, Abba Father, that we belong to You. That we are in Christ and He is in You. In the name of Jesus, amen! -Dineen Miller. (spirituallyunequalmarriage.com).

A friend prayed this prayer on her blog last week and I read it today for the first time. It was so fitting, because I don’t want this to be about striving. I just want it to be about yielding to what I already have in Christ and who I am because of Him. Nothing to prove or gain. Oh what an amazing Father we have! Thank you God for your goodness and message of mercy and grace and truth you rain down on me as I look into your Word and cry out your name.

-FYI, I had a salad for dinner 🙂

 

My God

I’ve been studying the Old Testament for a while now. I am making my way through slowly. As I am progressing chronologically, something is happening.  I am learning more and more the point of WHY I am drawn to His Word; because I am getting to know Him. As I am reading and studying a shift is happening. There is less “oh wow, that is similar to my situation”, or “I see how I can apply that to my life” and there is now more of this– “Wow, that is MY God. Praise YOU, what a ______God I serve!” There are so many attributes and characteristics of God we can fill in the blank with. THAT is what I can apply to my life. THAT is what cultivates a trust and a faith which produces joy and peace.  I can see my sin in David’s choices, yes. I can see my sin in the Israelite’s continued idolatry, yes. But I can see Christ’s redemption of my sin and I can see God’s plan of forgiveness of my sin through this study of the Old Testament that points only to a loving and merciful God.

Several sets of verses in 2 Samuel have really struck me this week and sunk into me and shown me who He is. The first one is this-

 “and after that God was moved by prayer for the land.” 2 Samuel‬ ‭21:14‬b

and again in the last verse of 2 Samuel “David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.” 2 Samuel‬ ‭24:25‬.

God is moved by our prayers. Read that slowly. We know this. We know we are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  But do we know to the point of urgency? I was overwhelmed by this fact because I read it on the same day that I kept getting messages and emails from people about their loved ones who are lost, unbelievers turning their back to God. It is more than I can bear at times, thinking of those I love who aren’t saved (in my own home, my husband doesn’t believe in God) and then now having a growing list from friends who have family members they want prayer for that are lost. There is a whole world of people we don’t even know who aren’t saved. This should move us to tears. It is more than we can bear, but it is not too much for Christ to bear. This should move us to our knees, on our face, crying out to God for these souls. In all of this though we can be comforted. Even if we don’t understand how it all works and even if we don’t know the answer to our prayers. We can be comforted because we know who we are praying to! We can be comforted because God is moved by prayer for the land. That is my God. I trust.

In Chapter 24 we come to the census and the second set of verses I learned from.  David commands Joab to take a census.

“…Go, number Israel and Judah.” The king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Go about now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and register the people, that I may know the number of the people.” 2 Samuel‬ ‭24:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

Once David got his magic number, he was convicted of what he had done. A census isn’t sin, but his motive was. His sin of pride and disbelief. Assurance that his mighty army was there in case he needed them, assurance of the great empire he had amassed, assured that he was secure and had an army to rely on. He was relying on “man” power, not God. Quickly though, you can see David realized his error and repented.

“Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”” 2 Samuel‬ ‭24:10‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

I can learn from this in many ways. What do I “count” in my life to help me feel secure. For some it is money, for some it is knowledge, for others it can be how many friends they have, how well your kids are doing, etc…Or I can see this scenario and praise God that He can quickly bring us to repentance as He did David when we are walking closely with Him. The stronger my relationship is, the greater my humility before the Lord, the quicker and more abundantly I see my sin and can repent from it. That is God’s mercy! Yet, that still isn’t my favorite part of this census lesson. My favorite part is that when given a choice by God, of the consequence David would suffer for His census sin, David chose the one that would come directly from the hand of the Lord, not man.

“Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 2 Samuel‬ ‭24:14‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

WHY did David choose that?? Because he knew His God. He knew his God was more merciful than man. So I can know that I can go to Him with anything, repent, and I am already forgiven, my sin removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  He lavishes me with mercy, even in my consequences. THAT is my God. I trust.

I’ve heard and listened to teaching about studying God’s Word more comprehensively and less like a “seek and find” book.  It is so true. I know this concept and the more I do it and practice it the more I can get it from my head to my heart. The Old Testament, especially to a new believer, can seem overwhelming, daunting, not applicable, confusing, but oh friends, it doesn’t have to be!! “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭NASB‬‬. ALL scripture. Not just red letters, not just New Testament, ALL scripture. If you ask God to open your eyes and your heart to His Word, He will. Believe me He will. The only way I have any desire to commit to reading His Word, understanding it, getting to know Him through it, is because I begged Him to show me. I still have to do that. It is not a chore, it is not a checklist, it doesn’t make your salvation more secure, it shouldn’t produce guilt or pride. It is about getting to know the God who sacrificed everything for you.

Please Lord, help me thirst for You!

He WILL answer you and He will continue to show you and you will see new things everyday. Whether you have been reading the Bible for 40 years or 4 days, He will show you and grow you as you see Him more and more. I am fairly new to studying His Word, and I am so excited for the next day I have, God willing, to do it again. Get in there, just start. Go slowly, not just searching for how it can be applied to you or a specific situation (which there are times it can!) but read it to get to know your God. THAT will change you, THAT can be applied everyday, THAT can assure you when times are hard, THAT can help you persevere. Let Him overwhelm you with the truths of who He is. Let Him draw you in to the amazing relationship He wants with you as you take one more step towards Him. As you get to know your God you will see His love, His plan, His Son, His sacrifice, His redemption, and His glory!

Open It

“On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?””
‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:35-41‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve read this passage in the Bible, loved this passage, quoted this passage, memorized part of it, but recently saw it in a whole new light. I love that aspect of the Holy Spirit, that He illuminates His Word which reaches us on a deeper level and sheds light in a new way to our understanding of Christ and our relationship with Him.

At first, the main part of this I zeroed in on was “Peace, Be still!” or another translation “Hush, be still.” Knowing the powerful and mighty attribute of Jesus that allows Him to command the sea was my focus. If He can do that He can do anything! Knowing I need to believe that He can calm anything raging in me or in the world. Knowing that if Christ is in my boat, I will be okay. Yet, I didn’t look past what happened after the sea calmed.

But NOW I have a new favorite part of this verse that has made me get this knowledge from my head to my heart in a much deeper and meaningful way….verse 35 says, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” That seemingly simply statement from Christ jolted my heart in a whole new way when I read it. It is not simply that Jesus can calm a sea, it isn’t simply that we should have faith He can do that, it isn’t simply that we should be comforted and at peace when Jesus is in our boat, it is that when Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior of our lives says He is going to do something, all aspects of our faith should rest in that.

If He says we are going to the other side then we are going.

If anything comes to us in the middle of the sea, that shouldn’t change our faith on the fixed goal of what Christ said He will do. It is another example of why we should be studying and reading God’s Word as a whole and in context, not just pulling out verse 39, ‘Peace, be still!”. There is great power in verse 39 and there is a wonderful picture of who Christ is in verse 39, but for me that knowledge goes deeper when in context of verse 35 at the beginning of this scene and after the storm. Mark 5:1,  “They came to the other side of the sea… ” – They arrived!

Do you see? Do you see why it is important to open the Bible, to study it, to read it, as a whole. Yes there are times that just knowing Christ can calm anything that rages around us is a comfort to me, the Holy Spirit can use that verse for sure in my life. But I rejoice greatly that the Holy Spirit grows my knowledge and understanding by illuminating another layer to this well known miracle. That leads to a stronger view of who Christ is which leads to a growing relationship with Him which leads to a deeper faith which leads to movement in sanctification, ALL by His grace ALL leading to the glory of God on display!

The application of this verse is now much more significant for me as well. Do you live in a spiritually unequal marriage? Do you impatiently tell God that you’ve had enough and want to jump out of the boat and swim to the shore by yourself? Or do you stand firm in the middle of it praising God for Jesus in the boat with you. The shore is coming. Do you struggle with parenting your children? Are you trying to stick your weak, feeble arms out of the boat and paddle your children to the shore yourself? Or can you rest in the fact that the only one who can save them is Christ, not you. The shore is coming. Do you suffer from anxiety and fear because you cannot control the _____ (insert the trial you are going through here)  and that scares you? Do you try to hold an umbrella up over yourself and cower and tremble in the storm? Or do you see your hope is in Christ alone who has asked you to step out into the light and trust Him. The shore is coming. NOTHING will stop what Christ is going to do in our lives. NOTHING can separate you from the glory and eternity that is coming. He simply asks us to trust that.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬.

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬
This miracle in Mark can hold the weight of these other verses. The shore is coming, we are getting to the other side because Jesus says we are. So we can believe He will complete it, we can believe nothing can separate us, and we can believe the peace of God will guard us.

The more this happens in His Word the more work God is doing in my heart. So I MUST open His Word, we must! Do you see why? Do you see the work He can do when we study the living, breathing Word of God? Do you see how it is active and alive and the Holy Spirit works mighty wonders when we fix our eyes and our minds on these glorious words? The more the Holy Spirit illuminates scripture for me, like what happened in Mark, the more my appetite will grow, the more the Word will conform me, the more I will fall in love with my Savior, again ALL by the grace of God. This book is about God. This book shows us who He is, how much He loves us and the hope we can have in our Savior. This book is the most incredible gift anyone can receive. Open it, tear it wide open with more anticipation than Christmas morning or any other pretty thing wrapped in a bow. Take refuge in Him by opening and studying the gift He has given us.

“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭30:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Perspective

I have been struggling with SG. Big time. It has been ugly. I have been ugly, she has dug in her heels. I have grown weary, overwhelmed, and have sobbed heavily two nights this past week. Crying to my husband, crying out to God, I JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. Well as I was seeing my sin in this and asking God to change me, to show me how to love her like He does, being honest that I CANNOT love her like Christ without having the strength of Christ in me. All of this led to some amazing answers from God. I was reading Psalms 105 last night and wrote down some things I CAN do when I feel like I don’t know what to do. I CAN…

Give thanks
Call upon Him
Make known His deeds
Sing praises
Speak of His wonders
Seek His face
Remember His wonders and His words

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬ ‭

I realized I was getting caught into the trap of speaking about it a lot (to my husband and a friend on the phone, and at a play date) instead of trusting God in the middle of this. I was presenting a defeated attitude. I was wanting concrete examples of exactly what to do in the middle of a tantrum or testing or battle of wills. I realized every child is different, what one parent says may not work for mine and every parent has their own sin issues in the middle of their parenting. So a specific example from another parent may not take into account my sin in the situation. Psalms 73 is a good example of what God says I can do. He has been bringing me back to this word so often this year; PERSPECTIVE.

“If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.”Psalms‬ ‭73:15-17‬.

This speaks of how the wicked seem to be winning and prospering, until the godly man goes into the temple and remembers the end God has for wicked ways. The flaming arrows of doubt thrown at me, the hopeless feeling the enemy wants me to have, the idea that this will NEVER end, the thought that I will always be losing this battle of parenting are all rooted in the wrong perspective; it seemed to me a wearisome task, UNTIL I went to God, THEN I discerned. I was “speaking thus” more than I was going “into the sanctuary”. I can focus too much on the evil and wicked of the situation which produces worry and fear. He has already overcome evil, it is finished! By renewing my faith, by going into the temple, praying, seeking God and repenting of my sin in the situation, then my perspective is changed and corrected by God’s promises. PERSPECTIVE.

I realized also when I was speaking to her, instructing her, disciplining her, I was preaching back to myself. Every time I would say “it’s not obedience if you don’t do it the first time.” “Your heart is being selfish right now, let’s pray for God to change that.” “My job is to keep you safe and teach you what the best choice is”. Those things were haunting my head and I was feeling the weight of them, as God wants those things for me as well. I was not being obedient in two areas.I kept making excuses and going back to them.

The main one being Facebook. It is so silly but it was causing me to sin. Staying off of Facebook always resulted in an abundance of positive things but then I would get sucked back in, being deceived that is was good and I had good reasons for being on it. Since the word obedience comes out of my mouth daily to my daughter I felt the weight of my disobedience and decided the next right thing to do was to hear what God was showing me, over and over and over again. Ah so stubborn (ME not her). So this morning I deactivated my account. Can I just tell you when that thought first entered my mind I was fearful. Anxious. No, not that! What about all my pictures and memories? What about my blog, how will I share it? What about people on there that I only communicate with through Facebook? What about information I will miss out on? Quickly, God replaced those fears with the truth. What about your obedience to Me? What about your children and your role as mom? What about getting back to sending people cards and calling them and really connecting? What about you trusting me with your writing and how I want to use it? What about your sanctification?

So this morning I am free.

“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.”Mark‬ ‭9:43

I‬ ‭cut off that hand that consumed me. It feels good. God is connecting some dots for me. Yesterday was an amazing day with SG. We only had one little incident when leaving a play date where she ran away and disobeyed. That’s okay. I don’t want her to feel pressured to be perfect. I want her to be His! I don’t want her have all the answers about her behavior, I want her to know the One who does. I don’t want her to get “better and better” at doing and being good, I want her to know that apart from Christ she can do nothing. I don’t want her to hear the word obedience more than she sees the word love in action.   HIS love. That is my job, to show her and tell her about Christ’s love for us. Today I know will be another great day. Not because it will be perfect, but because God is in control, He always has been and He always will be and He has lifted my eyes to where my help comes from! He has reminded me of His grace and that SG will learn that as well through her mistakes, not through her perfection. I have written about this before, and I will probably write about it again, as God continues to confront me and HELP me as He is glorified in it all.

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:58‬ ‭

The next mom you come across that has kids still in the home, give her a big hug and a sweet whisper that her labor is not in vain, she needs it.

(Feel free to share. My name isn’t on FB anymore but I am fine with the blog being shared there).

Enough

The title of my blog is Grace Rains Down. God knew I would title it that. He also knew that I would really have no idea what grace means when I chose that title. I thought I knew. I thought I understood. God knew that He would truly shower me with His grace in the showing me of His grace so I could better understand the title of my very own blog. Isn’t He just so loving, so amazing, to do what we need, when we need it?! To give us the right perspective in His right and perfect timing. His timing had my lesson in grace to be AFTER I used grace in the title. His timing was to tell me, “sweet daughter, if you only knew…let me show you.”

Grace is the free and benevolent influence of a holy God operating sovereignly in the lives of undeserving sinners. (John MacArthur).

I felt like I understood God’s grace that saved me 6 years ago. I felt like I understood God’s grace that turned my marriage around and allows for my spiritually unequal marriage to thrive. I felt like I understood God’s grace that redeemed my PAST sins, my PAST mistakes, (the “before I was saved” sins). and can even use them for His good. So all of these things that I can now look back on and see the good He is using them for, my life He has redeemed for His good pleasure, so I can share my testimony with others, these were the things I felt I was being showered with. This grace that turns my past “bad” into His present “good”. What I have realized now BY GOD’S GRACE is that I wasn’t letting my day to day life be showered by grace. I was self-condemning, I was judging myself and others, I was bordering on and fighting with a works based thinking. I have written about current struggles, current lessons, current ways God was growing my faith but then after those events expecting to be “better”. And when something would come back up I would think “You hypocrite!” You just wrote about this great lesson God gave you in patience and then today you were impatient, how could you??”

I was confusing repentance with penance. I was confusing sanctification with perfection. Oh BUT GOD!!! He has opened my eyes to what I was covering up. Because I wanted to show only my guarded weakness, meaning “I’ll show you my weak areas that I don’t think you will judge that much. I’ll share with my Lifegroup and my friends the watered down version of my sin so it doesn’t seem so bad.” I was justifying. I was exalting. On occasions I would show the “real” me but in general, I was so scared to seem “less than”, a mess, not worthy to minister to others, a bad mom, a bad wife, a “not good enough Christian”. This is the opposite of the gospel. These are all true apart from Christ. But I am IN Christ and Christ IN me. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John‬ ‭15:3-5‬ ‭NASB‬‬.

There is no need to hide, but I did. Guess where that hiding started? In the garden. The fall of man, the history of Adam and Eve, shows our human tendency to cover, to hide. We try to hide from others all the things that we can never hide from God. When I am trying to cover up my weakness I am covering up my need for Christ. When I put on a fig leaf of self-righteousness I am covering up the very thing God can use to bring glory to Himself, to reach another lost sinner, and to make disciples for His kingdom.

The gospel. It all comes down to believing the gospel. Not just knowing the gospel, not just being able to share the gospel, not just being moved by the gospel, but BELIEVING the gospel. If I believe the gospel then I am free! I don’t have to try to set myself free by trying and striving and then failing and condemning. If I believe the gospel I can tell you anything about my past without my heart racing and shame creeping in. If I believe the gospel then I can confess to you that just yesterday I yelled at my daughter (where I normally would say “I lost my patience with her”, doesn’t that sound nicer?) If I believe the gospel then I can believe He loves me. That is the hard one. HOW CAN HE LOVE ME?? How can he love me THAT much?? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans‬ ‭5:8-11‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The gospel says I am saved from the wrath of God so who am I to try to pour a false wrath back on myself by self-condemning.

The gospel says I have been reconciled with God so who am I to try to show Jesus ways He should try to turn His back on me by living in shame.

The gospel says I have been set free so who am I to try to climb back into the chains and shackle myself to sin again by hiding and covering and not being transparent ALL the time.

God has shown me this month that my trust in the gospel has room to grow. “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”2 Peter‬ ‭3:17-18‬ ‭NASB‬‬. God has shown me that I only believed a glimpse of the gospel. He has shown me so much more.

I see my sin yet more and more. As it should be. Instead of being bogged down by it God can bring me to repentance quickly, and show me the gospel again. The more I look at Christ and stop looking at the flesh that is “I”, the more I can see and believe what God sees and why He loves me. His grace! It saves but it also SUSTAINS! His grace isn’t a one time event. It is a million times a day influence on my life. His grace isn’t just to cover the “big” sins, it is what transforms us into Christ’s likeness by rooting out the hidden sins of fear and pride and anger and impatience. His grace brings me to the cross every day as I lay it down for Christ to pick up.

I don’t know if I can ever stop talking about the gospel and talking about God’s endless grace. I feel like it will be a part of everything I write. I know He has only shown me a portion of what He has waiting. I couldn’t possibly take it all in at once. It is already overwhelming. I believe it should overwhelm us everyday.
CHRIST IS ALL WE NEED AT ALL TIMES FOR ALL THINGS. The cross is enough. How could it not be enough? Lord I pray that I would never treat the cross as not enough again by condemning, shaming, and working to achieve what you did, by GRACE! “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Waves

T-minus 2 days until our beach trip! Since beach is on my mind I am posting what I wrote last year at the beach. Looking forward to another beautiful message from the Lord this year.

Oh how I love trips to the beach. I always see God’s goodness and beauty. Last year it was in the moon’s reflection on the water going straight to my feet, reminding me of God being omnipresent but at the same time so near and personal. This year it was the waves. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Psalms‬ ‭19:1‬ ‭NASB‬‬
My sin is swallowed up in the ocean of God’s loving kindness. The waves of grace keep coming; wave upon wave, never-ending grace upon grace.

I write my sin in the sand, confession of pride, laying it at the foot of Christ, repentance that comes from knowing God’s righteousness and love. The waves wash it away, waves of grace cover my sin, God’s mercy on me washes it away.

Christ’s perfect life and substitutionary death started this tidal wave of mercy that results in wave upon never-ending wave, grace upon never-ending grace.

The deeper I get the more rooted I am in this ocean of goodness, God’s love, believing it, trusting it. Going deeper into it the calmer I am; a quiet confidence of faith, knowing that the waves are all around me, the more I wade into His love, the calmer the waves get, not having to crash as hard against my sin to get me to believe, that YES, they will cover even THAT sin. I trust not being able to touch the bottom because I have a solid rock my faith is built on. I don’t need the shifting sand.

Wave upon wave, grace upon grace. All my sin swallowed up and carried away, erased, clean. A righteous, perfect, Holy God loving me. Never ending love everywhere I turn all around me; nothing else I see but His love. Know it, believe it, trust it and respond. Lord I want to love you with all my heart. I have come through a time of doubt and confusion, of judgement and law being on my mind. Forgive me Lord. Forgive me for daring to forget wave upon wave of your grace in my life. Thank you for reminding me of your grace that saved me and your grace that continues to sustain me. Your creation revealing your glory, thank you!!!
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:7-8‬ ‭NASB‬‬