Be Paul

 

 

 

 

 

Thinking of my own zeal, a zeal that I sometimes could turn down a notch, I can see Paul and his mission better. Inspiration whirls through my soul and my hope is that it can whirl through yours as well…

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV) Those words reawakened my faith as an adult. It was an ‘aha’ moment where all my questions and all the things that didn’t quite make sense took flight––never to be seen again. That was the moment I was brought back to the true Gospel.

When I think of Paul coming from the background of being a Pharisee, it makes sense. Although, Ephesians 2:8-9 are not the main verses weighing on me, they tie together my point and show how strongly I can relate to Paul. I feel the power in his words and can imagine how he felt as he wrote them. I see him writing those words and then pausing for a moment to bask in the peace those words bring.

Galatians 1 was the focus for bible study last week. I opened my bible and instead of listening as I should have been, I saw the underlined words I felt were important to remember at some point in my life. Those words carried me into my own mind.

“Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” (Galatians 1:1) I don’t remember why or when I wanted to remember that verse, but it somehow brings more depth not knowing. Sent not by man are good words to remember and they bring me a strength I cannot hold on my own.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7) I had this part highlighted. It is clear that we live in a world where the gospel is confused, twisted, and denied in different ways. I realize we are sinners and never will be perfect. The things is, the gospel is the core of christianity. There are too many that simply get it wrong. They forget about grace to the point they are diminishing the power of the cross. They are instead (and maybe not intentionally) trying to carry the power in their own pockets. 

“…my immediate response was not to consult any human being.” (Galatians 1:16) My uneven blue inked line told me I had quickly wanted to remember those words. Maybe it was because I was engrossed in the words that followed, but knew I wanted to remember those as well. We need to hear this every day of our lives. When we feel the Holy Spirit is leading us to do something, how many times do we immediately do it? How many times do we seek validation from man instead of God?

Galatians 1 is packed full of insight, obviously. More than that, it shows our present world and our present struggle as Christians. Christians are being divided and christianity is under a a microscope. I think if we are honest, we can see that in some ways it should be. Many have strayed. Many are bound by the chains of losing sight of the truth. Be a Paul in someone’s life and point them back to the true meaning of the Gospel. Bring them back to freedom.

Under the Tree

I meet you at the foot of the tree,

where you can lean your weary soul.

Feel the power of the shade it provides.

And, strength of the hope it gives.

The tree will never fail or fall.

No matter how the strong winds blow.

There are woodlands of other enticing trees.

There implies, in My tree lies a dreadful desert.

I tell you, they’re nothing but wrong.

Here in this humble tree,

lies all the pasture you’ll ever need.

Please, come sit back down with Me.

Hold dear––you are under My wing,

of the tree where I shed my blood for thee.

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Easy like Sunday Morning

bible-1031288_1920I’m easy like Sunday morning…

That song popped up in my head this morning. I guess it goes to show how much sarcasm is simply wired in my brain. Oh boy, at least I make myself laugh. ‘Cause let me tell you, this lovely Sunday morning started out as anything but easy.

My youngest had a hard time staying in his Sunday school class. We eventually bribed him. Mom of the year award, right? He eventually walked in the classroom and plopped on the floor with his arms crossed. Just as sarcasm flows through my veins, stubbornness flows through Oliver’s. At least he isn’t crying, I thought and off I went to meet Matt to head to our bible class. After I checked on him a couple more times, that is.

After dealing with that, we weren’t eager to get to class. We went, of course. It took a few minutes and a few deep breaths to be able to focus. The subject was on slowing down, something I actually just blogged on recently. Gotta love the way God reinforces things for us. There is something about slowing down that sometimes leads us to feel guilty. We shouldn’t, but it’s as though we feel we can’t say no. We feel like we are being lazy if our calendars aren’t filled to the brim. Anyway, the leader even had all of us stop and sit silently for a full minute. Powerful to think of a room full of adults in complete silence.

After class and before worship started, Matt whispered how he was glad we went to class this morning. I nodded and added how funny it is that Satan works hard on those Sunday mornings when you really need to hear something. Satan sure is a jerk!

Like I have said before. Don’t just turn to God. Turn away to God. Turn away from the busyness, the distractions, and all the other noise of this world. When we don’t stop and sit at the feet of Jesus––when we don’t stop and study His word––just think of what we are really missing. His still small voice is what we are missing and that is what we need more than anything in this crazy world.

Freedom

rain.jpgScattered heavy raindrops began to fall from the sky as I played in a nearby tennis court with my friends during our brothers baseball game. Slowly, the sporadic rain turned into a steady rainfall. My friends and I lifted our arms high and tilted our heads back as we allowed the rain to land in our open mouths. I remember the laughter that flowed from us and the glances that bonded us in that moment. Time slowed and we were nothing else but free.

Sitting here thinking of that moment, I can almost feel the same freedom I felt that day. I believe if it were to start raining right now I would want to run outside and try to relive it. I wouldn’t actually do it though. Well, unless my kids were with me. I would feel like an idiot standing in the rain by myself.

We all yearn for freedom. Look at the world around you. People are always seeking and fighting for it. Or, they’re in pain because they can’t find it or simply don’t have the strength to fight for it. What I see are people clinging to the the wrong kind of freedom or things that are not freedom at all. They just think or hope it is. Because those freedoms are always in exchange for something else. I wonder if deep down they feel a void knowing it isn’t what they really need to be seeking. Those freedoms are only temporary, they are shallow puddles that will soon dry.

Like me standing in the rain. That free feeling ceased. My friends and I became bored and cold. I remember having no towel in the car and I couldn’t wait to get home to change into dry clothes. Dry socks never felt so good. The rain was a fleeting childhood freedom. Some of my best memories surround such freedoms. Childhood freedoms, although innocent and pure, will never give us what we need.

There is only one real freedom in this life and that is freedom in Christ. Many of us “adult” christians know this already. Yet, we hesitate like I do when the thought of playing in the rain crosses my mind. Why can’t we fully embrace this freedom? We’re all sinners, duh. I wonder though…what would happen if we started running and clinging to Him like a child, regardless of what sin was standing in the way? Childlike faith, I believe it’s called (wink wink).

Would we better sway people away from the false freedoms they are rooted in if they saw us clinging more to the truth our hearts hold so dear? I think about my kids and the type of faith I want them to carry throughout their lives. I picture them standing in the rain with their arms up high and heads tilted back because they know freedom, real freedom, never will cease.

Floating

IMG_0474One of the things I have taken from my life changing moments, the big and the small, is the realization of how tiny I am in the big picture. Yes, I know my tiny self can make a huge impact. I like to compare it to being a piece of the puzzle. One piece can close gaps and bring fulfillment. The thing is, until I see the other pieces being important as well, I cannot truly fit. I must be able to see beyond myself.

Sometimes, I try to wriggle my way in to find I don’t fit. I need to see that I may be trying to fit in the wrong puzzle. I want to fit where I want to fit. I see the place that makes the most sense. I see the place that is easy and comfortable. Maybe at one time I did fit in a particular puzzle, but something changed. I grew or simply changed…or the other pieces around me changed. I could go on forever with the possibilities.

Let me just face it. I am not carved piece of cardboard. The puzzle is simply a metaphor, a weak one if that. I don’t just belong to one puzzle. I am moldable and so is everyone else. Isn’t that beautiful? Inspiring? Scary? Yes, yes, and definitely yes.

For someone like myself, the transition from one place to the next is terrifying. It can feel as though I am floating around frantically looking for my safe place to land. I like having my place. Not just in the physical sense, of course. Even in friendships or other relationships, I need my place. I’m not thinking of any friendship or such right now, though. My point is that I seek purpose in all aspects of my life. Is it good or bad? Maybe it is both.

When I find myself floating around I must remember He is molding me or molding those around me. My safe place is not always in the purpose of today or where I fit into the puzzle, but it in the purpose of the days to come and where I may soon fit. It is in trusting His lead that my faith is strengthened. It is in the floating into the unknown that His power is shown.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

 

 

 

The Judgement Files-Exposed

Picture yourself standing in front of a crowd of people. They are your friends, family, and acquaintances. The lights dim and a spotlight begins to shine on you. A screen behind you begins to list every bad deed you have ever committed. It lists every bad thought and every bad word you have ever said about anyone. You are exposed.

Someone you’ve known your entire life stands up and says, “I can no longer be your friend.” She leaves. Others stand and leave with her.

Someone else says, “I will be your friend, but I will never look at you the same.” He sits back down.

The next person says, “You will have to prove your worth to me before I can forgive you.” He leaves. Others stand and leave with him.

One more person stands. She begins to walk down the aisle toward you. Once she is near, she reaches out for your hand. She yells out to the remaining people, “I have done just as many wrong things in my life. The only difference is that my sins…your sins have not been exposed. They are not on display for all to see.” She looks at you and says, “I love you. I forgive you. Now let’s go grab a bite to eat.”  You two leave and a few others follow.

THE END.

P.S. Which person do you want to be like?

What exactly is the good?

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As I sat waiting for Luke’s game to begin, I played with blades of grass at my feet. My mind was as calm as a glassy lake; there was not a wave nor a ripple in sight. But then my phone rang. It was my dad. He never calls me on the weekend, I thought as I answered my phone.

In one second my frame of mind shifted. The pain of this world, oh the pain. I wasn’t surprised by the news, yet each word stung. Sometimes it is the unsurprising news that hurts the most. I always hope people will respond or do differently than what I see coming. I much rather the stories of people overcoming life. The bad in life, that is. I love when people prevail.

It is a strength and a weakness that I strive to find the good in all things. The problem arises when the pain of this world is deeper than the seemingly good it can bring. I hate to see people give up on life. They throw in the towel and don’t look back, and they don’t look forward either. They remain stuck unable to move. Maybe that is why I need Romans 8:28, we all need Romans 8:28.

Wait.

What exactly does that even mean? I just talked about pain and giving up on life. Now I am encouraging a bible verse that talks about “in all things God works for the good”? Yes, I just said that and that.

Yesterday, after I wrote my blog post about this verse, I walked into my kitchen and there on my table were mason jars full of carnations. They’ve been sitting there for almost a week, but I saw them as if they just magically appeared.image I focused in on the pink ones. Romans 8:28 reminds me of my grandparents, it reminds me of my grandma’s death. Since the verse keeps popping up I have been thinking of her. Pink carnations were her favorite. They’ve been here in my house and yet it slipped my mind until that moment. As if that were not enough, I went to sit on my couch. My phone was in my hand because I was getting ready to clean and was going to put music on. (Who likes to clean without music?) I sat, thought about my grandma, pulled myself together, and then put Pandora on. I began to stand up when the song Homesick came on. It was the song they played at her funeral.

The tears flowed, I pictured my grandma’s face, and then peace came. My grandma was touched by the pain of this world, just like us all. Her pain is no more, though. She’s home. It got me thinking. That’s it, I’m homesick. We are all homesick. That is why it hurts so bad. We know we don’t belong here.

We are touched by our bad choices, other people’s bad choices, unexpected news, disease, death, and etc. We must remember our hope and truth lie in the fact that sin or anything that happens as a result cannot ruin God’s plan. His mind is set on our eternal salvation. His mind is set on bringing us home. That is why He sent His son Jesus to die for our sins. Stop and brew on that for a minute. That is powerful stuff. Nothing can stop His plan and nothing can stop His purpose of eternity.

The challenge lies not in my knowing this. It lies in my sharing this. It lies in you sharing this. How can we show people the good in God’s purpose? How can we show them that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not prevail?