Sunday, June 12, 2016

Love > Fear

There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

"Fear is a liar." I saw an image of this statement spray painted on a wall in a Google search. It spoke so loudly to me. Fear is a liar. It does not know how to speak life to my soul. It seeks to imprison my hope. It seeks to destroy my destiny. It tends to make so much sense that many times I allow it to have its way in my life. But love.....

Oh, Love. Love has nothing to do with fear. In fact, they are enemies. 

Guess who is stronger. 

There is no fear in love. In fact, perfect love has this amazing capacity to drive out, cast out, eradicate and obliterate fear. How does it do that? I'm so glad you asked. 

First, John explains that fear involves punishment. "If I do A, I will reap B." Herein lies the gospel. Religion says, "If you do bad, you get bad. If you do good, you get good." Pretty much any religion you come across has this at its foundation. I would submit to you that this is what John was referring to in this verse. It is referencing the Old Covenant Law that says you must do x,y,z to be pleasing to God. And, consequently, if you do a,b,c you are an abomination and cut off. This is, unfortunately, where much of the world, including the church, still abides. But Love....

Jesus came to show us the Father. He said, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father," and "I only do what I see my Father doing." The goal of Jesus was to show us that we were never meant to live under religion. We were created for relationship. Even the Mosaic Law, itself, was meant to show us that we can never be "good enough" to impress an omnipotent God. Seriously. How could little me expect to get everything right all the time? Jesus came to say, "That's not the point!" The point is that God loves you simply because you're you. Jesus came to fulfill AND put an end to the Law. He did that by becoming the perfect sacrifice on behalf of humanity. 

Here's where 1 John 4:18 becomes important. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that He who knew no sin, became sin on our behalf so that, IN Him, we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus took the punishment for sin. (Many believe differently than I do on this but I happen to be of the belief that the one doing the punishing was not the Father, but religion, through the hands of men.) The emphasis here is on the word "took." Some might say "paid." The point is that it's in the past tense. It. Is. Finished. Done. Over. There is nothing that you or I could add to the perfection that is what Christ accomplished on our behalf. 

Pay attention to this. Fear says that what He did might not be enough. Fear is a liar. 

Fear asks, "What if it's too good to be true? You should really pay close attention to how you do x,y,z because it might not be good enough. God is a holy God, you know, and you're just a peon who is so far from perfect. There's no way you could deserve His love. In fact, you don't deserve love at all. Love is a lie anyway. You always get hurt. You can't trust anyone. I bet everyone you see is fake. You should keep them all at a distance, especially God." Do you see how that slippery slope begins? 

Sometimes fear says, "Just go to church, sing the right songs, say the right prayers and hope that it's good enough to squeeze you in to heaven. At least you're not doing a,b,c like those other people who are going straight to hell. You should probably stay away from them until they grovel before the Lord, say a sinners prayer, get baptized into the right denomination, fast and pray, and repent every Sunday like you did." Fear says that God is out to get you. But Love....

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is not jealous
Love does not brag  
Love is not arrogant
Love does not act unbecomingly 
Love does not seek its own
Love is not provoked
Love does not take into account a wrong suffered 
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth
Love bears all things
Love believes all things
Love hopes all things
Love endures all things
Love. Never. Fails. 

If God is love, then this is a description of His character. This is where I'm pitching my tent. This is solid ground beneath my feet. This is love. The one who fears punishment has not been perfected in love. The goal of my life is to live in, basque in, swim in love. 

If He said, "It is finished," then I believe Him. If He said that I am righteous simply because HE made me right, then I believe Him. And if I believe that the door to the Father's heart is wide open for me then I have to believe that the door is wide open to the world. Whether you realize it or not; whether you choose to believe it or not, you are loved perfectly by the One who created you. There is nothing separating you from His heart. He calls you son. He calls you daughter. He calls you His. He declared your worth at the cross. You were worth the blood of His Son. The very best He had to give, He freely gave for you. In fact, the Bible says that before the creation of the world, Jesus knew He would go to the cross for us. He decided you were worth it. 

The kicker is, if you were worth it, so was the person standing next to you. That person might have completely different beliefs but they were no less worth His sacrifice. I know that makes us uncomfortable at times. But I fully believe that the only way to peace on earth is to understand this truth. We must allow perfect love to drive out fear. May it begin with me. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Secret To Happiness?

Thankfulness. It seems so simple. Like such a small thing. Like, "Yeah, sure, I'm thankful." And some days, "Yeah, sure, I'm thankful...but..." But there's plenty of things in life that, let's be honest, just suck. Right this moment, every person reading this is having life throw something at them; something hard, something hurtful, perhaps something downright heart wrenching. And sometimes it's hard to see the good. I get it. I do. 

I'm a mom of three littles, ages nine, seven and five. They are the hardest, most amazing blessings in my life. Some days I feel like I can give myself a high five for my SuperMom skills. Other days I want to crawl in a hole and pray for someone, anyone else, to take over. Right now, one of the hardest things to navigate is their relationships with other kids. What do you do when your child's heart hurts because of rejection? So. Hard. 

I was having a heart to heart with my nine year old daughter tonight. Sophia has one of the sweetest hearts I've ever encountered. She genuinely cares about people's feelings. She loves to make friends and for everyone to get along. God saw fit to give her to me: a compassion-hearted, non confrontational, "can't we all get along" kinda momma. It's not been easy to teach her how to navigate the waters of loving people and loving yourself; valuing people and valuing yourself. So, when one of her playmates says to her, "I'm playing with so-and-so right now and we don't want to play with you," or another says, "My mom says I can't play with you," and she comes to me in tears, my momma heart goes into battle mode. The momma bear part of me wants to smack those people upside the head for hurting my girl's heart. The more sane part of me realizes that this is one of those opportunities to speak some wisdom that will help to mold her little heart for the future. 

Tonight, we talked about the importance of thankfulness. I assured her that, although she doesn't always get it right (because who does), she is an amazing friend. I reminded her that she has a beautiful heart that wants to bring people together, but that sometimes people choose to separate themselves and it's hard to understand the why behind their choices. I explained to her that it's their loss. They are missing out on her friendship. And I know that she feels like she's missing out as well but there's one thing that can help heal the hurt and bring the happiness back and that's thankfulness. I encouraged her to be thankful for all the many friends that she has in her life, for the few that she has common interests with, for the ones who love her. Be thankful. 

I explained to my baby girl that, unfortunately, even when she's an adult people will choose to separate themselves. I reminded her of a very close friend who, just a few years ago, decided she didn't want to be my friend anymore. To this day, I still don't know why. She very abruptly left my life and the hurt was just so hard to get through. I still cry sometimes. But that was her choice and I refuse to take responsibility for her choice. I still love her and continue to pray for reconciliation but guess what got me through the grieving? You got it: thankfulness. God placed a new friend in my life. At first, I had no clue how important she would become to me, but as I focused on my thankfulness for her, our bond became even stronger. 

There is power in focusing on what is right in your life instead of focusing on what is wrong. Don't hear what I'm not saying. I understand that there is a time for grieving. Of course, there is. But thankfulness is what will carry you through it. I also understand the seriousness of clinical depression. I have lived through depression. I have lived through being ready to end it all. I do not take those things lightly. Thankfulness is a powerful offensive weapon in the face of depression. 

Thankfulness, for me, has become so much easier since I've understood the grace of God and have believed in His unconditional love for me. The more I focused on the fact that He is focused on the good in me, the more I began to see it as well. I found myself unconsciously speaking thankfulness in spite of circumstances. For example, I used to compare my possessions to what others had and it made me feel like I was missing out. All I could see was lack. I am now constantly thanking God for blessings that I have that might seem insignificant to some, like my bed, my kitchen, my washer and dryer, my van, my piles of laundry. Are any of those things the absolute best quality? Nope. Do I care anymore? Nope. I'm highly aware that, compared to much of the world, I am a wealthy person. I'm also highly aware that things and even people are not the source of my joy. God is the source of my joy. I do not have to have the latest and greatest to be happy. I'm thankful for what I have and, I believe, that opens my heart to receive even more. Thankfulness also helps me to have "open hands" when it comes to money and possessions. It frees me to give as well as receive. 

Tonight, as I sat on Sophia's bed, before we said our nightly prayers, I was honored to encourage her and myself to focus on the good; the good in life, the good in others, the good in herself. 

I would encourage you to challenge yourself to change your focus to thankfulness. Is the traffic bad? Thank God that you have a car. Are your dishes piling up? Thank God that you had food to put on those dishes. When you begin with the small things, the bigger things become easier. 

What are some good things that you can focus on today? What are you thankful for?

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Gospel According to 'Tangled'

The first time I saw the movie Tangled was at the theater with my daughter. I loved every minute of it. However, as I was sitting there in the dark, staring at the big screen, I was certain that I was watching a very different movie than my fellow theater goers. In my personal life, I had been going through a heart revolution. God had been teaching me about grace; about what He really accomplished at the cross. I was getting free from some wrong beliefs that had held me hostage for many years. One by one, He would cut the strings that seemed to entangle me and I was finally in a place where I felt safe calling God my Father.

I grew up in the church. My father was a minister (an excellent one at that and I would later realize that he had a better grasp on grace than I realized). I believe that both of my parents had a gift of compassion that I could clearly see in my own life. I am so very thankful for that. However, I had also latched on to many beliefs that were prevalent in our denomination: the wrath and judgement of God on people, living according to the ten commandments (the law), and the fear of being left behind, just to name a few. I basically viewed the Father as a judge who was pointing His ginormous finger at me from the clouds, eagerly awaiting His chance to zap me because I just couldn’t stop screwing up. And, of course, Jesus was interceding on my behalf, begging the Father to give me a little more time and to not kill me.

Okay, so I can hear some of your brains going crazy right now, trying to decide whether I’m a heretic or just a loon. That’s totally cool. I’m pretty secure in my identity now and it’s because of the truth that Holy Spirit shared with my heart about how the Father sees me. If you’ll stick with me, I’ll show you what I mean by using the movie, ‘Tangled’, as a picture of the gospel.

In ‘Tangled’, we meet a girl named Rapunzel. She is full of life, is a great friend, and even has a killer voice (I already like her). There’s just one tiny problem. She’s stuck. She has a great view of the world around her. She has dreams of experiencing the freedom that is out there. But she is confined, limited, restricted, stuck. And why is that? Because she’s been lied to. Mother Gothel has spun a tale of fear to keep her trapped, unable to recognize who she really is. (Are you starting to see where I’m going with this?) Her whole life she’s been locked away in the tower, held back by fear, and she was a princess all the while. Question. How do you think she would have lived had she known who she truly was?

So, along comes the dashing Flynn Rider, who helps her to see a way out. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when they are in the forest after she’s made her escape and she is having an argument with herself over her choice. She hides her face in her hands one moment, declaring, “I am a despicable human being”, and swings from the tree by her hair the next, screaming, “Best day ever!” As I sat in the theater that day surrounded by little faces, I realized that I was witnessing the struggle between living under the law and living under grace. 

I had been where Rapunzel was, scared to death to let go of the law as my parent for fear that the bottom was going to drop out at any moment and I was going to find out that the good news was not as good as I thought. My first mentor in grace, Gina, who was a saint when it came to patience, poured into me for an entire year before I finally let go and put all my eggs in God’s grace basket. I kept holding on to the law as a “just in case”; just in case He actually turned out to be the big finger and not the Good Good Father I was coming to know Him as.

So, here I am witnessing the struggle for freedom in high definition and I am blown away by the good news of the gospel. Even now, as I write this, thinking back on the beauty of that truth, I am in tears. See, Rapunzel had someone who was searching for her; who knew her true identity and who longed for her to see it for herself. Every year, the royal family along with all the people in the kingdom would light lanterns and float them up into the sky in the hopes that the princess would see it and find her way home. Matthew 5:14 says, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

So, Rapunzel’s dream comes true. She had always seen the "lights" from a distance and now she saw them close up. She actually experienced the kingdom and still ended up back with Mother Gothel (I've sooo been there). But watch what happens when her eyes are opened to what was inside her all along! She sees her true identity! She realizes that she has a family! She belongs! She is loved! She has power! She is royalty!

My absolute favorite scene in the movie that makes me bawl like a baby to this day is when the soldier bursts into the room to give the king and queen the good news that their daughter had been found. Seeing their faces, seeing them run to her, seeing them wrap her in their arms. It reminds me a story in the Bible of a father running to his son who had been lost but was found; who was ‘dead’ but was ‘alive’ again. In case you haven’t caught on, this is OUR story.

When the king and queen looked at Rapunzel, what did they see? They saw themselves. Genesis 1:27 says that we were made in the image of God. See, we’ve been lied to by religion. We’ve been told that we have to fit in this box and adhere to all the rules of said box in order to have value to God. One by one, the strings of the law have wrapped around us and maybe we’ve even felt like they kept us safe. But along comes Grace. And Grace reveals to us that we’ve been tangled in lies and that we’ve been royalty all along. Here’s the difference between having the law parent us versus having grace parent us. The law says you must do x,y,z in order to become a child of God. Grace says you are a child of God, and x,y,z follows that revelation. Woah! The freedom! And, yeah, it’s scary letting grace cut those strings. We feel like we’ll fall. But the truth is, it frees us to be who we always were to begin with. And, sure, we probably will fall at some point but grace is there to catch our fall and point us back to truth.

I believe that Grace is a person. His name is Jesus. Jesus came, lived in an earth suit, fulfilled the law, carried the weight of sin on the cross, and broke the power of sin (noun, not verb) when He was raised from the dead. Why did He do that? So that the Father could have someone to beat up instead of taking all His anger out on you? If I killed one of my children in order to stop myself from killing the others you would send my butt straight to jail (and rightly so). Are we better parents than God? Hmmm, I’m going to venture a big nope. People killed Jesus. The Father judged sin. It has been dealt with. It is finished.

Ephesians 2:4-9 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.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.”

Jesus came to reveal the Father and to restore us to His heart. You have been royalty all along. Grace has come to point you to that truth and to give you the power to live like it.

I would encourage you to ask Holy Spirit to reveal any strings that have been holding you down. What has been keeping you tangled? Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.” Ask God to show you the truth about that string and the truth about who you are in Him. Listen, there is a difference between doing something good (ie. going to church, reading your Bible, singing a worship song) because that’s what you’re “supposed to do as a Christian”, and having those good things flow out of a revelation of who you are in Jesus. It’s the age old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg. I can assure you that God said He loved you and chose you before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4) His love most definitely came first. (John 3:16-17)

Hopefully, the next time you watch ‘Tangled’ you will be reminded that you are loved. You are valuable. You are royalty.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sound Of A Melody

"'Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness, who seek the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain: when he was but one I called him, then I blessed him and multiplied him.' Indeed, the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and sound of a melody." Isaiah 51:1-3

Are you in need of comfort? Do you feel like there are places in your life that are barren or dry? Places void of hope? I have experienced those places. At different points in my life I face these dry places; these places where I cannot see hope on the horizon, only dust as far as the eye can see. 

I visited The Return last Friday night, at His House in Spring Hill, TN. It is a time of worship, prayer and waiting. It was just what I needed. I have been in an odd place the last couple of weeks. In some respects I am still there. It is a place that is hard to explain. I'm confident of the love of God for me, as much as I can be. I am not hopeless. That is to say, I am not completely devoid of hope. However, I see an area in my life that needs water. It really needs an oasis. 

Okay, it needs a tidal wave. 

This is what brought me to The Return. I love the name! It's just what I needed. It's one thing to live each day knowing you are loved by God. That is wonderful, truly. But it is an entirely different thing to live each day hearing straight from His lips that He loves you. It would be like my kids living each day in my house but we never talk, and they hear from other people that I love them but they never come to me and let me tell them to their face. After a while, they might start to wonder if that love was really true. I don't know how long they would be able to go without hearing that from me. Maybe they could, but they certainly would not walk in confidence. Anyway, that is what I was missing: my time with Him. I'm not talking about a religious duty of (insert deep dramatic voice here) "spending time in the word". I'm talking about having a conversation with the One who loves me and knows me perfectly; letting Him wash over me with His words of grace and encouragement. I had a little bit here and there but not enough. I just needed some time with my Love. 

So, I went and had a wonderful time of just resting in His presence and letting Him speak the words that I desperately needed to hear. I worshiped and sang. I danced. I prayed. I waited...It seemed to be a night where God was speaking healing and restoration through each song; through each prayer. I closed my eyes and saw Isaiah 51. I had no idea what it was so I turned to it and began to read.


What a promise. What encouragement.

There are a couple of things that struck me. One thing is that He called Abraham when he was but one, and He blessed him and multiplied him. This is what He wants us to look at. He is the One that brings the increase. Listen, Abraham did what he could do (many times throughout their marriage, I sure) but what he could do was not good enough. It took God to bring the increase. If you are trusting in what you can do to produce what you are hoping for, you will most likely be very disappointed and certainly tired. I am here to tell you that God WANTS to bless you. He is eager to give you every good thing. Trust me, we are not better parents than Him. It gives me great joy to bless my children with things they need and with things they want. It makes me ecstatic. How much more the Father of the universe who gave what was most important to Him? If He didn't withhold His own Son, He will not withhold the money, job, relationship, healing, that you need. Look to what He has already done and know that He's not tired. He is still multiplying! If you have a hard time trusting and believing that it is His will to bless you with that thing, go back and ask Him to tell you the truth. Go to Him and ask Him to tell you how much He loves you in that area one more time. He is so willing.

The other thing that stuck out to me was the fact that He turns our wilderness into a garden like Eden. Eden was full of life. Everything they needed was there; no lack. In that garden, they ate from the Tree of Life. This was what sustained them. It's the reason that God had to have angels stand guard at the entrance when He kicked them out. If they had access to the Tree of Life, they would have lived forever. Today we have access to that Tree. His name is Jesus. When He comes in to our wilderness, He brings life. Verse three says that in that place we will find joy, gladness, thanksgiving and sound of a melody. 

Sound of a melody. 

I'm listening.

If you need hope; if you need comfort, look to the Tree of Life. Listen for His melody. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Me In A Nutshell

Hi friends! Sorry that it's been a while since I've posted on here. I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you a little about me (assuming you don't know me from Adam, lol). I am a wifey of one, Dave Nelson. Someday I'll tell you our story. He is my knight in shining armor. My BFF. The most amazing Daddy to our kiddos. And a really good kisser. ;) I am also a mommie to three beautiful babies. Sophie is 5, Micah is 3 and Noah is almost 17 months. They never cease to amaze me.

I am not a supermom. There are many things I need to work on and I don't hide that fact. You will hear nothing but the realness on this blog. For example, I don't enjoy cleaning, and therefore I rarely do it. If you come to my house, you will experience this. LOL. There are days that I really enjoy staying at home with my tribe and other days I'm pulling my hair out desperate to fly away on a magic cloud that takes me anywhere but here. Writing a blog like this should probably take less than an hour but it will probably take me the rest of the day because in between sentences I am pulled away for, "I need some juice", "Mommie, let's do a fun craft", "Whaaaaa!!! Hold you!!!" (That one is happening right now, actually.) But even with all the lack of sleep, the puffy eyes, the "mom hair" (you know what I'm talking about), and the, "Mom! Micah hit me!", I love being a mommie to my little people.

I have many hats that I wear. I think women do that often. I am a singer, an actor, and a freelance makeup and hair artist. It has been a while since I have been able to use my acting skills but I will always love and appreciate that art. I try to help out my favorite theater company, the Tennessee Women's Theater Project, when I can. I started doing freelance makeup and hair for weddings and photoshoots about three years ago, though I've been a makeup artist for about 12 years now. It has been a wonderful way to get out of the house and be creative and make a little money as well; a true blessing from the Lord. If I had to choose one creative outlet to focus on for the rest of my life, it would have to be music. I don't claim to know everything about music. I'm only just learning to play the guitar. I can read music but very very slowly. I love to write songs but I can only write them in my head and then pray that an instrumentalist can hear my vision when I sing it for them. But I love to sing. Singing is like breathing for me. It comes naturally. And I am fully aware that it is a gift from God. I will be forever grateful. I'm not sure what the Lord wants to do with my voice in the long run but right now I use it to bless Him by leading worship at my church and I just finished my first EP. The greatest joy for me would be to worship with angels in Heaven. Oh, what a glory; what a song!

I grew up in the church. My dad was a pastor. I'm learning to change the way I speak about that. It is too easy to say, "Yeah, I was a PK. We're the worst, you know. That's why I was so rebellious." And maybe that's true, but what is also true is that I got wonderful teaching about the Bible and about Jesus and that teaching ignited a love for the Lord and a longing to know more about Him. I have a wealth of the Word in my spirit and the Lord used my father to put it there. I am so thankful for that.

In the last year the Lord has blessed me beyond words with revelation of His love and acceptance. The Holy Spirit has done what only He can do and that is to unveil the loveliness of Jesus and His finished work on the cross. I'm living in the truth of grace; in His abounding love. It has changed everything (and continues to change me). The more I look at Jesus, the more I see myself like Him. In this blog you will hopefully read words that are filtered through grace: the unmerited favor of God through Jesus and His finished work. I have been set free from the law and I no longer wish to return. My prayer for the one who reads this blog is that you would be filled with all wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of Christ and that you would truly know how high, how deep and how wide is the love of God for you. Thank you for taking this journey with me. The ride might be bumpy at times but it will be fun!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Speak The Truth In Love

"Speaking the truth in love is NOT telling someone their shortcomings as nicely as possible. It may be true but it's not the truth. The truth is that they're dead, in Christ, and all that bad stuff is done away with!"~ Graham Cooke

I just had to share this quote with you that I saw on facebook by one of my favorite pastors, Graham Cooke. The reason I love it so much is because I have been living in this reality for almost a year now....Well, I say I've been living in this reality but maybe it would be more accurate to say that I've been learning this reality. It is a learning process; a constant state of allowing God to renew my mind to think as He does. 

To see as He does....WOW, what a vision.

If we could only see ourselves as He sees us. The beauty that He sees. How differently would we live our lives? If we lived in the reality of Heaven (where we are seated, by the way) how would we walk this earth? 

Here is food for thought. You become like what you behold. When you look in the mirror, do you see Jesus? I used to hear people ask this and I would think, "No, I don't see Jesus. I see someone who's really messed up. I guess I need to get those things fixed before I'll be able to see Jesus in me, let alone for anyone else to see Jesus in me." 

I now understand that Jesus was there inside me all along, but I was focusing on my shortcomings instead of Him. If you become like what you behold and all you ever see is your crap, it's all you will ever continue to see. Try focusing on the truth. Jesus said He will never leave you and He will never forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He's not going anywhere. Start looking at Him. The truth is that if you have trusted Jesus to take away your sin and give you everlasting life in Him, then His Spirit abides in you.  You are now dead to that sin. D.E.A.D. Romans 6:11 says to reckon yourself DEAD to sin and ALIVE to God in Christ Jesus....No really, reckon yourself that way! See yourself that way! It is the truth. 

Start seeing Him in you and you in Him. The more you behold His goodness, His faithfulness, His mercy, His grace, His strength, His glory, His righteousness, His           , the more you will see yourself looking like Him.

What do you see when you look at your sister/brother in Christ? Do you see their failings? Do you see their faults? Is that how you are going to define them? Is that the "truth" you are going to speak over them? What if God says that's not who they are in Christ? Well, Lord, who are they in You?

In You they are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). In You, they do not struggle with that sin because in You there is no sin. In You, they are an heir of the kingdom (James 2:5). In You, they have everything they need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). What would the church look like if we chose to tell each other the truth of who we are in Christ? If we started calling out the life instead of focusing on the death that has already been dealt with at the cross? 

But Brittany, they really are struggling with this sin. Really? Is that what they're struggling with? Or are they struggling to see who they really are in Christ and what He accomplished for them? I would submit to you that every issue that you are facing right now, be it anger, pride, addiction, you name it, is simply an area where you need more of a revelation of the love of the Father. It is an area where you need His perspective on who you really are in Him. 

I have some friends who have modeled this in my life. I would come to them and say, "I'm seeing this in my life," and they would respond with who I really am in Christ. Then they would pray and ask God to give me a revelation of His love and acceptance in that area and to share His truth and freedom with me. It truly is for freedom that He has set us free, Beloved. You are free. But you will only manifest that freedom to the degree that you believe it.

Another pastor whom I love dearly put it this way. If I owe my friend, Suzy, $100,000 and there is no way I'm going to be able to pay it, I would probably spend my life avoiding her because of the shame. But let's say one day Jane went to the bank and paid $1,000,000 into Suzy's account to cover my debt. And then let's say that I didn't know about it, or maybe someone told me that but it seemed too good to be true so I didn't believe it. My debt would be cleared but I would still be avoiding Suzy and living in shame. The truth is, Beloved of God, that your sin debt has been OVER paid by Christ. For you to try and continue to pay for your sin or for you to continue to point out someone else's sin, is to say that what He did was not enough. And if what He did was not enough then there is no hope for humanity. 

Let's choose to spend our days telling people that their debt has been paid. Let's choose to point them to freedom; to all they are in Christ. Let's choose to tell them the truth in love! (Ephesians 4:15)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Issues: Party of One!

Psalm 62:8 "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."

I waited quietly for Him Friday night in the floor of my hotel room. Well, to be more specific, I was in the little "hallway" between the closet and the sink in my hotel room. It was midnight, after all, and my husband was getting some much needed rest in the other side of the room. It was the night before The Pearl Event II, the women's event that I was to lead worship for (and that my husband was videoing). Two hundred and fifty women all looking at me to lead them in worship. I knew I could not do it without Him. I also knew I had not decided on how much to sell my little album that I had worked so hard to put together for the conference. I was waiting on Him but I could not seem to get a clear answer.

I am a mom to three beautiful kiddos. Sophie is five, Micah is three and Noah is one. And mommy is busy. I'm sure I'm the only one in the world with this problem but I just have a hard time nailing down that one-on-one time with my Jesus. Oh sure, we have our moments. They usually happen when I'm in the shower or when I'm carting my children somewhere in my van; those times when you're on auto-pilot and you can spare some brain cells to pray and perhaps hear an "I love you" from the Father. I hang on those moments. I'm starting to get better at listening for His voice throughout the day; waiting on His leading before I head in a certain direction. But when it comes down to making a big decision, I've got to hear Him...really hear Him. And, I don't know about you, but I find it hard to hear clearly when the thing I'm asking about is at the forefront of my mind.

Take my pricing dilemma. I know it might seem trivial to some but this was huge to me. Not only is it my first EP so every part of making it is new to me, but also I had to decide how much it was worth; how much I was worth. I had decided on a certain number in the beginning but had a few friends tell me it was way too low. Then I talked to my good friend, Suzy. She came up with the craziest idea. Get ready for this. She suggested I ask Jesus how much to sell it for. What?? Shouldn't I ask some experts or do a poll to see how much people would want to pay? You mean the God of the universe actually cares about how much I sell this little CD for? Yes, He does. He cares about every area of our lives. You see, this wasn't just about putting worth on a CD. It was about Him saying, "I'm going to supply all of your needs according to MY riches in glory." He was reminding me that I'm worth a lot to Him.

So, I really wanted to know what His opinion was but every time I would pray about it I kept getting mixed messages, going back and forth between a price that one person suggested or another price that a different person suggested, and I could never get peace about a certain number. Really, any of them would have been just fine with me but I knew that He wanted to speak to me about this and I really, really, really wanted to know what He had to say. Here's what I'm learning about hearing God's voice clearly. If the issue that you're asking about is bigger in your mind than He is, you are probably not going to hear clearly because His voice has to come through the filter of your issue. I hope I'm making sense here. You see, the issue of how much to sell my CD for had become so big in my mind that when I was asking God about it, I had to wade through the thought of my issue in order to get to God. I just needed that alone time with Him; to focus on all that He is; to gaze upon the loveliness of Jesus; to hear Him reassure me that He has me in the palm of His hand.

So, there I was in the room of the hotel where the event was taking place and I was finally alone with Him. No kiddos. No dishes to clean. No distractions. I took out my journal and wrote a little prayer then I waited. All of a sudden, in my mind I saw "Psalm 62:8". I did not recognize this Psalm so I turned to it and I started reading from the beginning (just because I love the Psalms). The first two verses read, "My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken." Wow. I felt such a confirmation that I was indeed in the right place. Then I read verse 8. "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." What a promise. What a truth to hold on to. He is trustworthy. He cares about what we care about. He is a refuge, a safe place. Then I went back to my journal and wrote down everything I heard Him speak to me. None of it was about the CD price but I didn't care. I knew He was back in the place where He belonged: first. I knew He loved me and cared for me and that He was in control.

I went to bed that night with such a beautiful peace. I got some much needed sleep. Heavenly uninterrupted sleep. When I woke up the next morning, before I even opened my eyes, the first picture I saw in my mind was Jesus. He was holding my CD in his hands and He was hugging it dearly showing me that He loved it so much. Then He turned it around and showed me the front. On it was written a price. I had my answer.

God is so good. He really does care about every single moment in your life. There is not one thing that goes unnoticed. There is not one thing that He sees as trivial. If it's important to you, it's important to Him. If you are willing, He can give you an amazing perspective on your situation. But in order to see or hear clearly, I would encourage you to let Him wash over you with the truth of who He is and how much He loves you. It will put Him in first place above every thing you face, whether it be a decision you need to make or a disease that is threatening your body or a bill you don't know how you're going to pay. He really does know what to do about it and He really does care. Let Jesus speak to you today about your situation. Find a moment to get quiet before Him. Focus on all that He is. Tune into the spontaneous thoughts and pictures that come to mind. Start writing them down and more will flow.

Blessings on your journey with Him today. Grace to you!