If God isn’t Sovereign…….

An article hit the news stands last week producing a firestorm of responses from every possible world view and belief system. I have been thinking about the article and the various replies and felt compelled to respond with an observation missing from many of the “Religious” who criticized or rallied to support the declaration made during the interview of a professing Christian singer and songwriter.

 

rgue

 

With that being said, I want to clarify that my response is directed towards Christians. I draw this line because I believe it is futile to argue morality with a person who does not believe in the God who has Saved and redeemed my life. It is foolish to argue with anyone who does not believe in His Sovereign right to proclaim what is sin and what is holiness. I think it is silly for a Christian to expect a professing atheist to adhere to a set of moral standards and way of life when they do not acknowledge or serve the God who decreed them.

 

So, here we go….

 

First off, I can’t begin to fathom the pain, struggle, depression ect. that Vicky has gone through. My observations are not an attempt to downplay or write off her story or her years of suppressed pain. I am not declaring her struggle to be unworthy of consideration and response from the church and individual believers. My response is not a pro or anti-homosexuality statement but rather a statement regarding the error in which professing Christians are viewing God, in both her situation (homosexual struggle) and all others struggles that we find ourselves in.

 

I have never struggled with same-sex attraction. I have no idea what it is like to have affections for someone the same gender as myself after having been taught those affections if given into are sinful. Yet for the thousands of Christians like Vicky Beeching out there, there are thousands more like me who have known and experienced different darkness’s, and our pain is equally unfathomable to the Vicky’s out there. We live in a fallen world, and because sin resides in the heart of every man, woman, and child. Pain, destruction, and darkness hits everyone in many different ways and throughout all seasons of life.

 

Many years ago, my world was crushed and turned upside down. Someone I loved betrayed my love and trust, and in the aftermath, my heart wasdep ground into so many pieces, I believed it impossible to ever be made whole again. I was so broken, I despised my life. I hurt so badly, I just wanted to disappear into a dark hole and never come out again. As a result of the wounds I suffered, I became incapacitated with fear and had emotional and physical panic attacks on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. My seemingly perfect life was replaced with a living hell I could not escape. Not a day passed by that I did not feel the pain and disappointment of my wounds. I had been robbed of so many things and I would never get them back. I did not choose to be hurt nor did I deserve to be hurt, but it had happened, and all I could do was look at the pieces of my broken and bleeding heart and weep.

 

In California, a dear sweet woman I know is battling for her life. Her body is riddled with a monstrous disease that not only robs her of her health, but also the ordinary every day moments and pleasures we all take for granted. She has 3 beautiful children and a loving husband. As she struggles through pain, rounds of chemo, depression, and fear, her mind is racked with anxiety over her family’s future. Every day she is given is a gift, but each day leaves her wondering how much time she has left to enjoy, love, and live life. She was not a bad person before cancer. She does not deserve this pain or this burden, but it is hers to carry.

 

I have a  friend, who had her childhood dream of love, marriage, and family crumble before her eyes. Just weeks into her fairy tale marriage, the man, who had appeared to everyone to be the epitome of godliness, love, and strength, revealed himself to be a verbally abusive, controlling monster. My friend had been a wonderful example to me. She loved the Lord and had faithfully served Him with all her heart during her single years. She had waited and saved herself for her husband. She is a “good woman” and in the world’s eyes, she does not deserve to wake up every day in a living hell married yet lonely and unloved, but this reality is her life

 

There is a godly, humble, loving couple who had their lives turned upside down and their plans drastically altered. A few years ago their 18-year-old son was involved in a car accident that left him mentally and physically handicapped for life. This young man loved and served the Lord with passion and zeal. He was looking forward to college, establishing his ministry, becoming a husband and father. He was an accomplished artist and musician but now he is fed, clothed, and his diapers changed by family and friends. His parents were looking forward to a new season of life as “empty nesters.” After faithfully raising their children, it was almost time for them to enter the season of life when they could fill their days focusing on each other. No more school bills, cooking for boys with bottomless pits for bellies. They were done with sleepless night worrying and praying for their kids as they made the transition from children to adulthood. In a moment, that dream was snatched from them and tragically replaced with one demanding even more sacrifice, heartache, and time. Instead of retirement and trips alone across the world, their situation now demands more time and energy than the first 18 years of all their children’s lives combined. Now they are bound to their home and devoted to the 24 hour daily care of their wheelchair bound son who may never walk, talk, or ever verbally recognize them again. They did not deserve to have their lives and dreams wrecked, but that dream was ripped away and a different one placed in their laps.

 

str w mt

 

Personal stories like these are endless. The stories of almost every “Hero of the faith” include periods, if not a lifetime, of great personal tragedy and conflict. As believers, our lives are filled with pain, disappointment, sorrow, and grief. It should not surprise us because Jesus himself told us “In the world you will have much tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”

 

 

There is an Author and Finisher of each story above, including my story, your story, and Vicky’s story. No mistakes have been made in any of these people’s lives. God was not out to lunch when Vicky was created, nor was he taking a nap when the young man’s truck was t-boned at the intersection of his home town. The Creator was not distracted with other overwhelming issues when my friend said “I do” to her husband. The presence of death doesn’t signify the absence of God nor does it declare His indifference. My friend who battles cancer isn’t proof God does not exist or that if He does exist He  is a heartless and impersonal God. Suffering does not prove His impotence, lack of judgment, character, or ability, but rather it proclaims with fierceness how greatly He is needed in our lives. If God were not aware, not in charge, not in control, or not sovereign for even a fraction of a second, He would not be God!

 

If we confess and proclaim to serve the Sovereign and powerful Creator of the Universe, we must accept and glory in that Sovereignty during every season of life, including the times of deep sorrow, pain and loss. What we so often forget is, that the Sovereign and Glorious Lord of Creation has the right to choose who, and how, and when He will be exalted, honored, and glorified.  He may choose to bless a man with great talent and riches, allowing that man to glorify him with his excess and prosperous life. Throughout history, the Savior of our souls often chooses a different path for His children, confounding the “wise” as he not only allows, but rather calls His own to suffer. On Sunday, we worship and praise the Savior who sacrificed all on the cross, but so often struggle to understand His call to suffer when we are thrust in the middle of a chapter filled with pain and sorrow.

 

Vicky’s struggle with homosexuality, my broken heart, my friend’s broken body, broken and discarded dreams aren’t a mistake by God, garnering a green light to respond in any way that makes that pain and sorrow a little easier to bear, including sin. If our pain is too heavy to bear or our sorrow too grievous to carry, we do not get to say, it’s too much. We can’t call a press conference and declare God made a mistake in our situation, therefore what he has said to be right and true no longer applies to our life. If God’s Holiness, His Righteousness, His character, (that dividing gulf between himself and man) changes for just one moment in time, for one life, in one situation, He is no longer True, Just Righteous, Holy or God! (Any time the world, who has declared God to not exist, agrees with the declaration that God has made a mistake and changed His mind, we have great cause to pause and consider that view!)

 

Vicky’s life is indeed a grueling battle and her struggle painful, but such is the life of EVERY believer.

 

YET there is something greater than the pain and suffering of all the Vicky’s of the world and it is the Grace of the Savior of the Universe poured out abundantly upon the lives of all He has chosen to allow to suffer

SO THAT He might be glorified.

And so, some suffer for a season, and some most of their lives,

yet He Is LORD!

 

Sadly, right now Vicky can not know or experience that grace, nor can she glory or glorify Him because she has chosen not to trust, obey, and submission to His purpose. Her declaration to herself and the world, that her response to her particular trial is ok will not bring her peace! The great news is that it is not too late for that miracle in her life or ours. By miracle, I do not mean the removal of Vicky’s homosexual desires or the instrument of pain in my life, but rather the astounding, other worldly, God Glorifying testimony of how He has graced her/me/us with the power and ability to say no to the flesh and yes to life a that is fulfilled and victorious despite the ever-present struggle with same-sex attraction/the daily battle to say no to our flesh.

 

Vicky is one of millions who suffer with burdens they never asked to carry,

and burdens the Lord has decided not to remove while they walk this earth.

 

For years I sinned in my heart and mind and with my actions towards the person who had so grievously hurt me. I believed my pain could never go away until they changed and their life was radically altered. Because they did not change, and my hurts remained, I felt justified to do whatever it took to deaden and appease my hurting heart. I begged God to take me out of the situation, I begged God to remove the fear, anxiety, panic attacks, and depression but it remained. My life did not get better by giving into my impulses, rather if got darker and more unsettled. Was God’s refusal to miraculously heal my heart to 100% wholeness, or His failure to change the heart of the person who hurt me proof I didn’t need to change? Was God’s silence a sign I had been left on my own to deal with my pain in any way I could manage? No!!!

 

You see my problem is also Vicky’s problem. It is the problem of all who struggle to obediently submit to the call to carry a burden to heavy for their own shoulders,

 

In the midst of great pain and sorrow, our situation doesn’t change because our hearts haven’t changed, and our hearts haven’t changed because often times, we seek the wrong solution our hearts fixed on the results of sin instead of the sinner itself..

 

prsInstead of asking God to get rid of the “thing” that makes our lives hard, we need to ask Him for grace to accept the trial He has chosen to place in our lives. In death is life, in weakness He is strong. This may seem trite, but there are millions who have suffered unjustly, grievously, and with patience and boldly proclaimed during the storm and after the storm, “It is well with my soul.”

 

This submission involves a transformation of our heart- as our affections are reoriented upon the right person. My life is no longer consumed with and frustrated by the pursuit of self-love and pleasure because HE matters more!

 

This involves transformation of our eyes- as our focus is drawn away from our own lives and struggles, where instead we daily gaze with rapture upon the Savior who Redeemed and ransomed our life from hell.

 

This involves a transformation of our mind- as our spirits are renewed and reoriented to fulfilling no other purpose other than obedience to the call and will of the Father….which is to glorify Him though our lives …..no matter the cost….

No Matter HOW He decides to do this.

For we are called to be HOLY and Joyful, not happy, gratified.

And yet in yielding Joy replaces weeping, beauty springs up from the ashes.

 

 

My prayer is that Vicky, and all Christians presently suffering through their own darkness and pain, will recognize it is not our struggle and our response that is to define and shape us, but rather the Lord of the Universe who ordained both the suffering and the gift of grace to not just endure but also triumph. It is He who defines and shapes our lives, through our struggles and pain.

 

For His purpose not ours,

Through His Ways not ours

For His glory not our own.

 

If you struggle like millions of other believers, take heart, He is Sovereign and in control. He has a plan that will accomplish His will, in His way, for His glory. Liberation of your heart, soul, and mind does not come through submission to the sin, but through submission to the plan and truth of the Savior who loves you enough to let you suffer. Suffering is not a sign God is absent, but rather that He is at work in your life with an amazing purpose in mind, He is going to bring glory to himself through your life. Be less concerned with the removal of the trial and more concerned with the removal of yourself. Get true biblical counseling from Godly,  Biblicaly sound counselors! You were never meant to struggle on your own. The body is there to lift up and edify. If you don’t come, “the Body” can’t help and both you and your brothers and sisters are being robbed of the blessing of Spiritual community. No sin, struggle, hurt or pain is beyond His ability and Grace. The cross was enough!

 

Next time: How God transformed and is transforming my life with Grace.

The Back Story

In writing, there is a term called the “Back-story.” The back-story is simply “background information about a real person or thing that wrtpromotes fuller understanding of it.”

 

As believers, our back-story, in many cases, becomes the cornerstone of our testimony.  Our back story begins with who we were before Christ- lost, blinded, desperate, needy, and dying. Added to that is the defining and life changing moment in time when we experienced merciful and gracious intervention. The day the Healer of our souls opened our eyes and heart  to our desperate need of a Savior. Our back story is the moment He allowed us to see we stood wanton and condemned before the awful and awesome Holy God of Eternity. Our back story was when Glory intervened among depraved humanity, revealing. condemning, ransoming, delivering, and Saving us so we could be who we were created, called, and  destined to become.

 

Unlike fictional work, our back-story is unique in that it is ongoing and will never be complete until Christ returns. At the end of every day, we have actively lived and experienced countless moments that bare witness of a faithful and glorious God actively at work among us. Our back story builds and swells ever moment of our lives, paving the way for the next.

 

Lamentation 3:19-27 says:

19I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

 

What an eloquent summary of the back-story of every believer!

 

At night, when my head hits the pillow, I can and must reflect upon the back-story of the day. It is during these quiet periods of reflection that I am able to see quite possibly what my physical eyes missed during the chaotic moments of the day. For, every second I drew a breath, He was miraculously and glorious present in my life.

 

buildEvery moment of Divine intervention, grace, strength, joy, sorrow, suffering, and Victory, yet another row of “faith” bricks are laid. Each day’s faith bricks building upon the last, and not one line of my story takes place without His presence. He is there holding my life, my back-story, and my life story together. Within the Divine mortar that affirms, confirms, and establishes my life, the King and glorious Creator of the universe takes pleasure in weaving His presence and glory into my meager story, making it His own!

 

This amazing Montage of the Divine intertwined among raw, needy humanity shines more brilliant than the most beautiful of sunsets. Daily, and faithfully He builds, what human eyes can not fathom. Day by day He builds what makes the unseen heart soar and rise above circumstance and sorrow. Brick upon brick, story upon story, faithfulness that binds, grace that transforms, lives consumed by the glory of His love.

 

And from among the ash and the chaos of life His glorious church is built. The many become one. A mysterious and unified body. A million voices crying out in perfect, haunting harmony. Each back story confirming and testifying with the next. A unanimous, faithful, consistent symphony, building upon the every note that swells from hearts overflowing with Divine Grace. No one story rising above another’s, for every story proclaims equally and  gloriously the Sovereign Reign of a Holy God.  And as our voices join with those “Graced” in the past, we beckon and testify to those who struggle tomorrow that He Is, He Was and He will forever be. Those who “know” and have experienced, call out to those yet suffering among the ashes of sorrow, pain, heartache and failure. To these we cry “Lift up your head, He lives, He breathes, and He is here among you. He sits with you among the ashes, He understands your fear, He feels your pain, and He has an answer to the questions you falter to ask”  Our back-story becomes the hiding place for those so broken, battered, and weary they can’t see him though their pain.

 

What is my back-story, you might ask?

 

broken heart He loved me enough to expose the hidden sins of my heart. He cared about the things others couldn’t see, seizing the opportunity sin meant to use for my destruction and instead  used it as an opportunity to lavish upon me His glorious grace.  When I was wounded by the sinful hearts of others, He whispered I am here, I am in control, and it is your heart I will make new. Though I did not understand it then, I see now that He smote me, not to destroy, but to restore. He broke me beyond what man could repair and then He repaired my spirit, soul, and heart in a way only the God of the Universe could. He replaced ashes with Beauty, sorrow for Joy, turmoil with Peace, Anger with Gentleness. Though I was blind, now I see, and what was dead, He brought back to life. Oh look at my life and you will see Him there. Oh to be able to adequately convey what He has put to death in my heart and life.  If only you could see the ugliness and depravity His Spirit works diligently and skillfully to cut away.  He has gloriously replaced a hopeless future, with His glorious Hope!

 

This is my back-story and this is His glory!

 

What is your back-story?

“Pay it Forward”: The forgotten story

I stumbled across an emotional feel-good video today while scrolling through morning Facebook updates : ) In this particular clip, friends and gftfcomplete strangers join forces to create the “Perfect day of work” for a “deserving” woman. Their targeted beneficiary was a young, hard working waitress, who had overcome much adversity and hardship. Chelsea’s day began with a thousand dollar tip, which she initially tried to refuse. Next up were tickets to Hawaii, and then an offer for employment in a field of work she loved. The “perfect day of work” ended with a brand new car and a visit from her best friend.

 

I am not ashamed to confess that as the gifts rolled in a smile grew across my face and I might have shed a few tears. It was a cool story! Every co-worker and friend that was interviewed repeated the same message “If any body deserves this, it’s Chelsea.” This young woman had faced adversity, and not only did she overcome it, she spent her free time channeling all her energy and resources towards helping others like herself. Even more amazing was the fact that she did so on the salary of an overworked and underpaid waitress.

 

Weary and straining under the emotional and physical stresses of life, unexpected and unsolicited intervention flooded in and swept her up and into a real life, happily ever after fairytale. I don’t think there is a single person who has watched or read about a story like this who hasn’t had the thought,” I wish something like that would happen to me.” To receive needed resources and even a few luxuries would be such an encouragement, not to mention the mental boost of having my life, work, and talents affirmed by those I know, love, and work with.

 

Then it struck me, I have my own story, but it is so much better than all the “pay it forward” stories flying around on Facebook and Youtube.

 

While Chelsea’s friends professed her deservedness of the perfectly planned gifts that poured in, I couldn’t help but think of how differently my life story has played out.

 

Romans 5:1-8

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith,

wehave peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace

in which we now stand.

And weboast in the hope of the glory of God.

 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings,

 because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

perseverance, character; and character, hope.

And hope does not put us to shame,

because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts

through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless,

Christ died for the ungodly.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person,

though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.

 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:

While we were still sinners,

Christ died for us.

What a list! Did you catch all of them? Justified, peace, access, grace, standing, hope, glory, perseverance, character, more hope, no shame, God’s love . All of this abundant goodness with one slight difference, I deserved nothing!

rejoiceDo you see me in those verse above? Do you see yourself? Jody was powerless, ungodly, a sinner, yet grace  came down and has been poured out upon her life.

I closed facebook and turned off my phone and sat back to replay the video of another life that has been blessed. This record wasn’t documented on the internet, it was etched deeply and lovingly upon the innermost parts of my heart and mind.

My story is both appalling and beautiful. I was the source of all that was ghastly, tainted, and spoiled. One day my eyes were opened and I was reminded, I was not the author of my life story, nor the lead role. So often I have the cameras on the wrong person! Life is not in fact about me and what I deserved and have earned but rather about Him and all He has given. Still a sinner, still powerless, still undeserving, grace came down!

Within that tiny five letter word, infinite and unfathomable gifts reside and flow. They are not temporal and will never be taken away. They will never spoil, rust or corrupt. With every tick of the clock grace flows. My perfect day will not end when camera crews go home and the internet is switched off. My life story will not fade and be replaced when a new and more sensational story comes along. My perfect day will not temporarily remove me from the harsh reality of life the and sorrows and struggles each day can bring. My perfect day involves a person who gives what I need so I can be sustained as He carries me through them. My perfect day is not orchestrated by well meaning friends with limited resources and a company that will use me as an advertisement gimmick in order to make money. The vast and mysterious heavens are the footstool of the author of my story. His power and resources have no end. His motivation is Pure, Holy, and Righteous. All He gives is only for my good and what He chooses to bestow never comes with sorrow or regret. His gifts don’t merely enable me to cope and survive until my circumstances change.  His gifts transform, renew, and empower my heart, mind, will, and emotions to overcome regardless of my surroundings and circumstances.

Today, my heart cries out “I deserved none of this” and He replies “THIS is my joy.” I am overwhelmed by the grace that has flooded, floods, and has yet to flood into my life. A grace, that if measured, could not be contained. My “perfect day” began long before the first beat of my heart and the labored heaving of my tiny premature lungs.  Chosen before the foundations of the world, I have been wooed, hedged, and shepherded through endless “perfect days.”

This is my life story:

grc

I deserved nothing yet He has given everything!

Will you take a moment to replay and praise Him for your “Perfect day?”

A letter of counsel and concern to Recovering Grace

A Concern and Challenge For “Recovering Grace”

prs

As the firestorm around Bill Gothard and the IBLP erupts, I find I feel many mixed emotions. I wasn’t one of the “victims.” I was not preyed upon or abused by any member of leadership, and while many decisions my family made were misguided and in error, my parents were godly, loving and sensible people. My life was greatly impacted by sincere, godly, loving leaders at ALERT and Excel. I learned and grew much during involvement with ATI. I forged lifelong friendships and memories I will always look back upon with fondness.

As I stepped away from the IBLP ministry, I did so in phases. Ignorance and blindness was eventually replaced by anger and shock. I was not the “perfect Christian” they led me to believe I could become by following prescribed “Biblical” rules and laws. I dressed the part, listened to the right music, courted, avoided things on the “naughty” list, yet I never had true freedom or peace. Not only was I odious to myself, I was odious to the rest of the world.

In just the past 3 years the Lord has begun the process of ripping away the spiritual blindness, calluses, and more importantly the hypocrisy that kept me in a prison of frustration, guilt, fear, and anxiety. After leaving IBLP, the Lord took me through some gut wrenching trials. The problem was, when they came I had no true Biblical truth or foundation to stand upon. Years of rules, and “Prosperity gospel” laden false teaching smothered any attempt to make sense out of what I was going through and why.

Then came GRACE! The realization that I could not add a measure more of God’s love, mercy or power to my life by “works,” rocked my world. Even greater than this was the truth I could not compel Him to withdraw ANY measure of His love and mercy in my life by sin, failures, or weakness. I had it “ALL” already! It wasn’t about me anymore, it was all about HIM.overcome

No more list to check off! No more putrid hypocrisy to paint me white and clean on the outside, when in fact I was struggling and broken inside. I was covered and bathed in the “Amazing Grace” of God. He loved me in spite of who I was or what I had done and this love would never change or waiver.

How liberating it is to be driven in my heart by a passion for Him, because “He loved me first.”

How meaningful time in the word becomes, when a true desire to seek and know Him is the motivation rather than fear that if I don’t the hammer will drop and judgment will come.

The law opens our eyes for a need of a Savior. It revels and bears testimony that man’s heart is truly deceitful and desperately wicked. The law exposes our need for redemption, but there is no power or freedom found in that law. The law condemns! If you stop with the law, your life becomes a knotted and gnarled ball of guilt, pride, shame, arrogance, hopelessness, and frustration.

Then comes Grace! Freedom from chains we forged in an attempt to measure up, add to, and earn His favor.

Love and His grace cover a multitude of sins and brings freedom, but there is more. With eyes opened to the truth of His grace and Mercy, my life is lived out as an act of love to Him. I live each day striving to “be Holy as He is Holy” not in order to earn something, but because I am so overcome by His love for me I want to do everything to please Him and nothing to grieve Him. I desire each day to show Him that within my limited knowledge, I understand what He has done for me, Given me, rescued me from!

rejoice

So as articles fly across the internet and facebook feeds, here is my concern and challenge to Recovering Grace.

Your website “Recovering Grace” advertises a powerful and much needed ministry to thousands of people around the world, including those who have never darkened the doorway of IBLP or ATI. You have shed light on abuses and scandals that have resulted in damage untold and left countless victims reeling, angry, hurting, and questioning the Gospel, salvation, and even God himself.

There was a time I stopped visiting your site because I did not find “Grace” that could help me as I worked through my struggles and questions. Many times, all I found were painful stories and narratives/responses filled with unbelievable pain, anger, hate, and animosity. These accounts left me disgusted, angry, and so frustrated, but very few offered a glimmer of hope, peace and an active and living example of grace that heals.

I am not saying the anger, animosity, frustration is wrong, I am just saying, now that the firestorm has hit and exposure has been accomplished, so much more is needed than stories exposing the ministry, its leaders, and grotesque false teaching.

This site will receive so much traffic by the hurting, abused, seekers, God haters, and those simply curious about the newest religious scandal to hit the news waves.

While all the abused and wounded need to be able to tell their story and begin the process of healing, I encourage those at Recovering Grace to be wise and discerning as they wade through the thousands of e-mails, stories, claims, comments and offerings from those of us negatively and even positively impacted by the IBLP ministry.

Fill your web site with GRACE. Fill it with the amazing stories of healing, recovery, and the truth of God’s word. Let it ooze with hope for those who need it more than anything else in. Let your site be a miraculous testimony of of “Beauty from Ashes.” May what satan intended for evil, be a used for good and a demonstration of God’s grace and strength.

Offer links, books, and other sound resources that can provide Biblical counsel and truth that can enlighten, expose, heal and strengthen.

My prayers go out to all who are hurting and seeking peace, hope, and grace. It is there for you! Don’t give up!

Sincerely,

Jody Biddle-Watkins

A Little Taste of Heaven

Sunday evening I was treated to a small taste of heaven on earth. I sat quietly in handsmy chair surrounded by the family I cherish. We were related by blood, but not the physical liquid that courses through artery and vein. We were bound by something so much more precious, priceless, and powerful than gene and chromosome.

We were a family united and gathered together because we had been adopted into the family of God. We were covered with the precious blood of the Lamb that was Slain. We had been saved by the blood of the Son of God, the Creator of the universe. Our eyes had been opened to the awful reality of sin and the just condemnation we deserved because of it. We had been wooed, pursued, and graciously delivered from an eternal separation from the presence of God and a physical anguish that would never end.

One by one voices called out. Most were simple three or four word phrases, but hidden deep within each syllable was a personal testimony, a unique story. Each tongue that proclaimed the Glory of the Lord, bore witness that there was a God, and that He delighted in intervening in the affairs of man. Perhaps for a brief moment in time the heavens paused, and the galaxies took a breath as man took a turn singing the very song they had been singing since the day their creator flung flung them far  into the expanses of the skies. One by one, voices were raised, declaring the glory of God, giving testimony to His Majestic Holiness.

A brother would call out, sharing a moment of Divine intervention and all sk ldaround the auditorium heads would nod in knowing affirmation. Smiles crept to our mouths because while our experiences might be different, the God he spoke about was excitedly familiar.

“He is slow to anger!” someone announced and immediately my heart leaped within my chest. I wanted stand up and cry out Yes and Amen, I know and have experienced this God!!! “He abounds with mercy!” Oh glory I mouthed silently. I have met the God who has filled my days with mercy!

He pursues us with relentless love quips another. I choke back a sob as I think back to my teen years when I questioned and chided him in a foolish attempt to provoke His wrath” He did not strike me dead like I deserved, instead he patiently hounded me with His grace. He loved me when I walked astray, hedged my path from destruction and wooed me to Himself.

Sunday evening was a treat, a small glimpse of that moment in time when we will meet and see with our eyes, the God we have experienced here on earth. On that day we are told that every knee will bow and every tongue confess the truth, “That Jesus is Lord.”

Revelation 5:13 

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

dlr

On that day my voice might possibly join with the birds of the air, the trees of the field, and the fish of the sea in proclaiming His glory and might. On that day my heart will leap as never before, when I finally gaze upon the one who drew me out of the pit and set my feet on dry ground. I will see the God who chose me, the Savior who died for me, and the Spirit who sealed me. I will meet the Father who adopted the unlovely and destitute. I will fall before the Son of God who bore my sins on the cross. I will stand, not in abject fear, but delight as the Spirit bears witness that I am indeed a daughter of Christ!

I will not only proclaim he is Holy, Just, Righteous, Loving, faithful, True and Merciful, I will fully know and understand this. I will taste and see in a way I can not fathom that “He is good” and I will cry out “Most blessed am I because he chose to seek and save me!”

Have you joined the heavens in declaring the goodness of God? Is your life a living testimony of a faith rooted and grounded in the reality that the very God of the Universe delights in you? Do the rocks around you groan to declare what you have failed to proclaim. Do you exude the hope and exuberance of a prisoner set free? Will you join me today, raise your voice, and delight in a little taste of heaven on earth?

Photo Credits: Hands at  http://juganue.deviantart.com/art/together-holding-hands-153965261

On the edge of that glad surrender (RVSD 1/13)

On the Water’s edge…..

Free Image of a Boy Fishing on the Beach. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.comI stand on the shoreline with my son, who wiggles about more violently than the worm I just skewered with a fishing hook.  As I attempt to remove slimy worm deposits from my fingers, my boy impatiently scans the lake before him, looking for signs of the hungry fish he has come to catch.  I smile at the energetic five-year old, dancing about beside me. He looks like he is about to pop out of his skin from  excitement.  I hand him the freshly loaded pole, but before I can launch into a “fish hook safety” lecture, a worm whizzes past my cheek plopping into the murky water that laps at out bare feet. Ripples race across the surface of the water like sonar, alerting the unsuspecting fish to our presence. Before the last expanding circles have had time to disappear, my son eagerly begins to reel in his line.

Hold on there Owen, I admonish. You have to leave it out there a while and wait for the fish to bite. He looks at me with a mixture of frustration and disbelief. He does not understand why nothing has happened. He has endured the waiting game for five grueling seconds, and in his opinion, countless fish should be floundering at our feet.

I Peter 5: 6-7 ESV

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God

So that at the proper time he may exalt you.

Casting ALL your anxiety on him

because he cares for you.

The Happy Exchange, that Glad Surrender….

I am not unlike my impatient son. I stand at the water’s edge, my hands filled with the “things” I desperately need to cast from weary shoulders.  I have come with burdens and the need for direction and assurance. I am impatient to rid my flesh of the “old way of life”. My spirit is eager to make a very lopsided exchange with the Father who cares deeply for me.  My son understands a fish is so much better than the slimy worm dangling  helplessly from his pole. I recognize that what He asks for and offers in exchange is so much better than the “things” that collect both spiritually and physically in my cluttered life. As I stand at the water’s edge, hands grimy with the things of this earth, my soul cries out “Father I believe, help my unbelief!”

I am humbled by the fact He is willing to take the little I have to offer and in exchange give what is His in abundance to pour out. Refreshing currents of hope lap at my tired feet as I recall similar visits to this  shore. I recount vivid moments in time when the healing waters of his grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness washed away the black ashes of pain, discouragement, and weariness. Beauty has always emerged from beneath the ashes.My mourning always turned to dancing. Exuberant songs of praise lifted high, the fruit of prayers offered up as sacrafice from a needy heart.

I stand on the shoreline with my Father, impatient for those needed moments of spiritual exchange. He looks deep within my heart, gently admonishing me to let go of the “things” that smother life and energy from my breast.  Some burdens are relinquished with the childlike eagerness of my impatient son. Others are harder to cast away, for I am ever reluctant to relinquish control. Then there are the “things” I have no clue how to sever from my life. The weakness of humanity can be so very frustrating! How easily I forget that I don’t have to be strong. How often I chaff over my inability to conquer on my own.

The ripples of his grace faithfully pull at the sand beneath my weary feet. The foundation I once clung to yields to the faithfulness of His steadfast love and without effort, I find myself drawn one step closer to He who is Peace. The Sweet relief of His unfathomable mercy pours over my parched heart as The Comforter gently whispers, “Remember my daughter, weakness is not a curse, but a window that invites humility as its sacred guest.”  I smile as I Peter 5:6-7 echoes in my mind….. Humility ushers us into that grand arena of opportunity, where room is made for the mighty Hand of God, and where the needy is exalted.

Today, I will unfold my chair and settle comfortably at the water’s edge. I am not sure how long my prayers will dance across marcandangelthe surface. His gift, that sweet exchange between earth and heaven might take place before the ripples have time to fade. Then again the echoes of my longing heart might disappear beneath the surface of His faithfulness, long before I receive His answers. I am here for the long haul. I have no idea if I will receive deliverance from my weaknesses, answers to my questions, or direction in my wanderings. Perhaps today my catch will not be answers, but rather grace sufficient to endure. The moon might rise before I reel in my line, heavy with His Divine exchange. The stars might keep diligent watch with me throughout the night, but one thing I know, I will not walk away from His presence disappointed. I will cast my line into the vast ocean of His abundant grace and mercy and I will wait for that happy exchange, that glad surrender! Worms for fish…grace for the redeemed.

Psalm 39:7 KJV

And now, Lord, What wait I for? 

My hope is in thee.


Covered in Grace

The amazing sunset photo used with permission via: http://www.marcandangel.com/2009/02/25/how-to-make-all-the-difference-in-the-world/
Other Photos used w/ permission:  http://www.clipartguide.com/_pages/0512-0705-1013-3712.html

And the winner is…….

Congratulations to Tabitha and Our Crowded Heart. You have won a copy of

“Give the Grace: Dazzling your kids with the Love of Jesus.”

Thank you to all who stopped by “Give them Grace” and entered the drawing! If you did not win, please don’t let that stop you from reading this life changing book! If you are having a hard time getting a copy please drop me a line and I will help you out!

Blessing, Jody

Give them Grace!

Give Them Grace: Dazzle Your Kids 

with the Love of Jesus

Sarah Markley over at The Best Days of My Life posted a wonderful story about how we are called to respond to our children For the Times We Don’t Have Any Idea What We Are Doing.  If you are a parent, this is a must read blog.

From her story and insight I would swear she was a fly on my wall just last week. I have a wonderful daughter who is approaching the teen years, and as emotions and hormones clash with immaturity, the resulting product has been some rather significant altercations between the two of us. Last week, I called my husband in desperation, frustration, and fear and exclaimed “I don’t know what else to do with her.”

The very questions I was asking last week, Sarah addressed in her blog. As parents, how do we deal with a child who still sees life “darkly” and through the veil of inexperience and immaturity? How do we get them to make wise decisions, weighing the consequences of their choices versus the effect it will have in their life long-term? I appreciated Sarah’s challenge to respond in the following way  “When we don’t know what to do, forgive. When we don’t know how to move forward, love. When we don’t know how to fix it, seek to reconcile and redeem.”

The Lord is amazing and He also led me to a book titled Give Them Grace: Dazzling your kids with the love of Jesus. This book was recommended to me by over half a dozen godly, veteran parents. My book arrived yesterday, and I dung into it today and my spirit was encouraged. I was blown away by the wisdom and truth found in just the “foreword.”

Here are just a few nuggets from the beginning of the book:

“It may come as a surprise to you, but God wants much more for your children (obedient life, polite, no vulgar language, no addiction to porn, good job, great marriage, not caught up in really bad stuff) and you should too. God wants them to get the gospel. And this means that parents are responsible to teach them about the drastic, uncontrollable nature of amazing grace.”

“The irony of gospel-based sanctification is that those who end up obeying more are those who increasingly realize that their standing with God is not based on their obedience but in Christ’s.

“The law of God shows us what God commands, which of course, is good but the law of God does not posses the power to enable us to do what it says….the law guides but it does not give. The law shows us what a sanctified life looks like but it does not have sanctifying power…The power to obey, in other words, comes from being moved and motivated by the completed work of Jesus. So while the law directs, only the gospel can drive us.

If that wasn’t a bucket load of truth to feast on, I don’t know what is!!! In a world where 60%-88% of young adults are walking away from the church, and God, the call to Dazzle Our Kids With the Love of Jesus isn’t just a quaint suggestion, it is our calling and duty.

I would like to present what I think is one of the most important giveaways I have ever offered. I will be giving away 2 copies of this book. You can receive multiple entries by sharing this blog via any social media outlets you frequent (I have FB, Twitter, Digg, and a few others listed below) and by visiting Sarah’s blog and reading her sage advice on this topic. Just return once and in the comment field let me know what ways you shared.

As a parent, my children’s lives and spiritual health are a great burden to me. I would lay down my life for them if I could, but “no man can give a ransom for the life of another, for it is precious in the sight of God” and His alone to save. We would jump in front to take a bullet in the chest to save their lives, but so often neglect the gritty, day-in-and-day-out duties and sacrifices needed to protect them from the spiritual bullets satan is hurling at them. Often it is because we are lazy, selfish, or spiritually not where we should be either. Would you join me and  take up the challenge to “Dazzle your kids?”

Drawing will be held Friday, July 13th, so stay tuned

Learning to live with a heart that is broken but a life is not.

Living with a Heart that is Broken, but a life that is not!

Beth Moore at Living Proof Ministries is hosting her women’s summer Bible study. I signed up at Women’s Bible Cafe to join over 600 women who will participate in this study via online and community small groups. We are studying the book of Nehemiah and using Kelly Minter’s book Nehemiah: A heart that can break. 

There is still time to join over 600 dear, like-minded, passionate “Siestas” in Christ. You can follow along personally, join a virtual small group (what I am doing), or hook up with a group in your area. Check out any of the above links for information.

Brokenness isn’t an activity your normal human being would sign up to experience. Everything about the word screams run, but when we are straining to “see the unseen”, and to live for the “Eternal” versus the temporal, brokenness should become our hearts desire and aim.

Over the next few weeks I will post thoughts and insights gleaned from this study. My heart has all ready been blessed as I have joined in prayer with women I have never met, yet feel great love and compassion for. What a powerful image six-hundred women, on their faces before the Lord, crying out for brokenness, evokes!

To ask the Lord to break my heart with the things that break His, is a daring prayer. It is not a self-seeking desire to suffer for the purpose of winning the praise and accolades of man, nor is it an attempt to obtain righteousness through works. The desire to have a heart, broken by God, is a desire to see and feel as He sees and feels. It is a prayer to have myself moved out-of-the-way so I can see and be moved by the pain, suffering, need, and hopelessness of man. A heart, broken by the Spirit of the Living God, is to posses a heart that mourns over the destruction that sin is wreaking in the hearts of fallen man.

 

Today, as we studied the prayer and heart of Nehemiah found in chapter 1:1-5, A verse kept coming to mind:

Psalm 17:15

15 As for me,

I will behold thy face in righteousness:

I shall be satisfied,

when I awake, with thy likeness.

I believe this desire should be the heart and sum of all we strive to do and be as children of God. A broken and contrite heart He will not turn away! Would you be daring enough to embrace the cry, “Lord break my heart?” Can you utter with me. in Your brokenness, let me become Your likeness, and in Your likeness there let me dwell satisfied?

The truth and reality of the fallen world we live in is  that everyone we will be broken.  The question we must ask ourselves is what will we allow to break us, sin or a Savior?

 

Matthew 21:44

And whosoever shall fall on this stone

shall be broken:

but on whomsoever it shall fall,

it will grind him to powder.

The world will crush and break us ruthlessly, our Heavenly Father breaks us with love, compassion and a divine, God glorifying purpose.

Only One can promise fulfillment with abandonment, and bring beauty from ashes. Only one Master can satisfy and fulfill the desires and yearning of the yielded and broken heart.

Lord God Almighty, posses and reign my heart and life. Make is soft so that it weeps when you weep, delights when you
delight, and breaks at what breaks yours. O Father, I shall be satisfied only when I awake with your likeness, when there is less of me for the world to see. Amen