death

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.

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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?

A to Z: Z is for Zenith

Zenith

The point of culmination; the peak

My heart is so full right now. I have tried to sit down and write this final post and I simply can’t do it without tears and a heart ready to burst. Last night we sang a song, that beautifully describes the Zenith of the believers life, the culmination of our fight to finish well, to walk worthy, to not bend under the trials, sorrows, and hardships of life . If you were to ask me “why Jody, why do you fight to overcome? Why do you live for the “Forever“, for the intangible and unseen? This is my answer.

My Atonement, Belief, Confession, Death, Eternity, Forever, Grace…….all these culminate and will merge in one glorious moment, the day I will rise, when he calls my name!

Please worship and glory with me as you listen to this song by Chris Tomlin. Revel in these words from Revelation. Allow these lyrics  to refresh your heart with truth, glory and hope. He is the Zenith of life, and the day I see Him face to face I will proclaim “It was worth it all, for Worthy is the Lamb!”

Revelation 22:1-5 (Esv)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of he street of the city;also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

There’s a peace I’ve come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There’s an anchor for my soul
I can say “It is well

Jesus has overcome 
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain 
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise 

There’s a day that’s drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome 
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain 
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
“Worthy is the Lamb”
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
“Worthy is the Lamb”
[x2]

[Chorus:]
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain 
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

A to Z: V is for Victory!

Victory

1. Defeat of an enemy or opponent.
2. Success in a struggle against difficulties or an obstacle.
3. The state of having triumphed.

I Cor 15:42-45, 50-58

42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

43It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit……

50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

“Death is swallowed up…..Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory”

Are there any other words as sweet and liberating as these? Over the last few weeks, I have blogged about the atonement of Christ that gave me freedom from the condemnation of sin. I spoke about the liberating power of faith, truth, grace and God’s love. What a great way to wind down this challenge, by speaking about the ultimate fruit and reward of our battle to Overcome and to walk worth of the amazing gift we have been given.

The truth is alive within my heart. Grace has been poured out upon my life. God’s love has transformed me from a condemned sinner to an adopted daughter and joint heir of Christ. I am His and He is mine. My death was swallowed up when Jesus rose from the dead. He bore the sting of death on the tree fulfilling the law of the Righteous and True, the Only Wise God.

Because He is, I have Overcome!

Thank you Father the the Victory that is mine through you!

A to Z: Overcoming Noise

Noise

A sound, esp. one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance:

I do not like noise. My ears are sensitive to misplaced, unnecessary, intruding sounds that rudely interrupt and distract from what I’m trying to concentrate upon. As much as I detest audible noise, this is not the enemy I speak of. I am referring to the silent noises of life.

Noise doesn’t have to be audible. It can come in small voiceless accusations. It is failure ripping relentlessly upon raw hearts and vulnerable emotions. It is silent reproach “You have messed up again,” “you are a horrible mother, wife, friend,” “You call yourself a Christian, you are not better than they are.”

Noise can be a look, a cold shoulder, or indifference. It is a fractured relationship that drowns spirits. Noise strains emotions like a great storm rolling across a plain, devouring everything within the reach of its icy fingers.

Noise can arrive without invitation. It steals wordlessly into living rooms, bedrooms, and even Church auditoriums. It lashes out with silent tongues of discontent, strife, anger, greed, and jealousy. Noise invades relationships, making what was once natural, effortless, and cherished morph into something awkward, unbearable, and tormenting.

Noise is the silent anguish of a grieving mother who has buried her child. It is the suffocating feeling of failure that burns deep inside the soul of the husband who has lost his job and has no idea how he will care for his family. Noise is the guilt of a teen who has given into pressure and had their innocence stolen. Noise is condemnation, heartbreak, anger, hopelessness. Noise is absence of peace.

In a world filled with so much mind numbing and heart deafening noise, how do we find the strength, grace and power to overcome?

Overcoming Noise!

Athletes provide a great example of how to overcome noise. They stand on the free throw line, the game riding upon their shoulders. Every spectator is on their feet screaming, yelling, chanting, praying, taunting, begging. The noise is mind numbing, yet that athlete can silence every voice, becoming deaf and blind to the presence of every human in the arena. It is just him and the net. There is silence in his heart and mind.

SWOOSH, VICTORY, TRIUMPH!

FOCUS!

The only way I overcome the mind deafening, crushing noise of life is through focusing on that which truly matters and the only thing that gives purpose and makes sense of life. Eternity, Forever, Hope, Healing, Heaven, my Lord and Savior. He is present through all the noise. His will is just, loving, and with purpose. Heaven and Earth will pass away, the noise will stop, and He will be there. My life is fleeting, my trials passing. All that matters is the only thing that will last. I will endure and can endure because I know the “Ending.” It is glorious, powerful, and satisfying. Eternity makes the here and now bearable, endurable, even acceptable. The only way I can overcome the noise it to

Look to the Master and Creator.

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The Lord s your keeper;
the
Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The Lord willkeep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The Lord will keep
your
going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Practical Advice:

  1. Preach to yourself don’t listen to yourself

    When that accusing voice starts whispering lies & accusations, interrupt that voice with a good ol sermon of your own. Counter each lie, accusation and hurt with truth.

  2. Claim a “mantra”

    Not an in the mystic sense of the word, but a phrase or verse of truth that specifically counters the noise. When I was single and struggle with lies like : I was missing out, forgotten, cheated… Psalm 84:11-12 was the mantra I clung to. When I felt overwhelmed by a trial, it was the Psalm “You caused men to ride over our heads, we went through fire and water but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. ” I set my gaze ahead, and as I broke, fell, cried, and rose up to keep press on, I was a looking for that promised wealthy place.

  3. Meditate on truth

    It doesn’t work to try to just out noise the noise. You have to know, believe, and purpose to let truth and peace reign instead of the noise, lies…. I didn’t just recite Pslam 84, I meditated on it and I told myself why I wasn’t missing out, cheated, left behind.

  4. Accountability!

    If you struggle in an area find a trusted friend who will challenge you, encourage you, and kick you in the butt when you need it. (Do not ask a person struggling with the same thing)

    How do you overcome Noise?

A to Z: Overcoming Through Love


Love

Love is not an emotion.

Love is consciously choosing what emotions

I    allow    to   rule   my   heart,   soul,   spirit,   &   body.

Love  is not  given because  the  other  is  worthy,

Love is poured out because it was given to me

When I wasn’t worthy.

This is love

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,

I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love,

I am nothing.

3 If I give away all I have,

and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love,

I gain nothing.

4Love is

patient and kind;

love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant 5 or rude.

It does not insist on its own way;

it is not irritable or resentful;

6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends…

I Cor 13:1-8a (ESV)

It is easy to display love, when others love you in return, but what happens when your heart is wrenched from your chest, ripped in two, and dropped at your feet? When you have been betrayed, crushed, rejected, insert your hurt here, how can you be expected to endure, believe, hope, and bear your pain while dishing out love in return?

I found myself struggling with this thought a few years ago when someone I loved hurt me in a way I never thought possible. In my stunned pain, sorrow, and grief, I never stopped caring, but my hurt made believing that the pain could ever stop long enough for the damaged pieces of my heart heal, seem impossible? I would never have dreamed of walking away from this relationship, but how was I supposed to bear the burden of my pain without insisting they feel, carry, or pay for what they had done? How was I to hope for healing and restitution when it seemed I was doing everything to make things right, while they went on with life, as if nothing had ever happened? How was I supposed to endure through my sorrow while they remained oblivious to how broken and hurt I was? Was my love really expected to never falter or fail?

I still loved this person, but it wasn’t a healthy, vibrant, enduring love. I went through motions, said the right things, declared I had forgiven, but for all my actions, I gained nothing. Our relationship was not repaired, my heart was still broken, and I was dying within. On the outside everything looked normal, but inwardly I was nothing loveable. I was angry, fearful, suspicious, and proud! I went through the motions and actions so no one thought less of me, but my actions were meaningless. I was not demonstrating true love. I was a loud, clanky, noisy, FAKE cymbal!

As I sat on the couch one morning, in desperation, I cried out to the Lord for mercy. I needed Divine intervention and power to break free from the bondage that was slowly sucking away my life. The Lord heard my cry and He broke my heart. It was not a merciless destruction, but rather a tender, and loving fracturing of a sick heart by a Master who understood exactly what had to be broken before it could be healed.

One image He brought to my mind was the picture His Son hanging broken, bloody, forsaken, and unrecognizable on the cross. When did I love you Jody, He asked? You loved me before I was knit together inside my mother’s womb Father. How much goodness, righteousness, and holiness existed inside you when my Son hung on the cross for you Jody? None Father, I was entirely sinful and lost with nothing inside me worthy of your love or regard. Did I require perfect love from you before I demonstrated and gave my perfect love to you my proud child? I choked back sobs as I thought through I Corinthians 13 and the vivid picture of His love in action on the cross. He bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, and endured all things as he hung on that wretched tree. His Love NEVER failed. He never wavered, never hesitated, He never considered getting down, weighting his actions against my worthiness.

He was not asking me to do something new, He was asking me to give the exact same gift that had been given to me, Love Without Fail. I could heal, forgive, bear up, endure, believe, and hope by loving as He had loved me.

Unconditionally, Selflessly, Completely, Sacrifically!

I had been given a choice and an ability to deny feelings of anger, fear, suspicion, hurt, and bitterness. I was empowered with the ability to choose to overcom with real, true, genuine love! Not the hollywood, 50/50, until you hurt me, until it stops working, unless the fuzzies go away, unless someone better comes along, kind of love! He was asking for the selfless, bloody, bruised, broken, glorious kind of love that breathes life into every being it comes into contact with.

With His stripes I was healed.

For His love covered a multitude of my sins.

Through His love I have earned to overcome and love.

A to Z: Overcoming Through Forever


Forever

1. For everlasting time; eternally
2. At all times; incessantly
Long before this challenge began, I knew what “F” would be. I am reading a book that is amazing, challenging, life changing….. It’s title is, yes you guessed it, Forever. Were I to attempt to summarize my thoughts on this book so far, my blogging challenge would come to an abrupt end due to the fact I wouldn’t be able to get past this word. Paul Tripp summarizes ‘the importance and power found in his book,  Forever: Why you can’t live without it, far better than I could so below I will just include his intro and links to his site where he has an introductory video on the power and importance of forever. My prayer is that you will experience the purpose and power “Forever” grants us to Overcome.
You May Be Suffering from Eternity Amnesia … The Bible assures us that God has placed eternity in our hearts. It tells us we are created for pleasure, wired for joy—all with God at the center. But in a world that is broken and suffering, it’s easy to forget this, living instead with a pack-it-all-in mentality, loading up the here and now with expectations that will only be fulfilled in eternity. Fortunately we don’t have to live frustrating, disappointing lives. Instead, we can take heart, realizing that life doesn’t feel right because it isn’t right. It’s not meant to be—not yet anyway. Paul Tripp points out that having an eternity perspective will enable us to live for something bigger than ourselves and larger than this moment. No longer trapped in the shrunken kingdom of “right here, right now,” we will be able to lead lives of greater significance and peace.Through stories, examples, and biblical teaching, Tripp rehabilitates the notion of an afterlife, not as some vague, ethereal place in which we will someday reside, but as a living, robust reality that Scripture promises.

 

“I have said these things to you,
that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart;
I have overcome the world.” John 16:33(ESV)

A to Z: Overcoming Through Death

Death

a : a permanent cessation of all vital functions : the end of life b : the cause or occasion of loss of life

c : a cause of ruin
d: the state of being dead
: the passing or destruction of something inanimate

To say one can overcome through death appears to be the ultimate of oxymorons.  Death implies an end of power,  intellect, ability, and opportunity. When life leaves our soul, the opportunity to overcome exits with it, or does it?

Because I have been cleansed through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, I believe death is but the beginning of truly living and the ultimate act of overcoming. The day I confessed that Jesus Christ was Lord, yielding my life to Him, I died and yet the same instant I was reborn.

When I was buried with Christ, the chains of sin were broken, and the grip of death and damnation defeated. I am a new creation no longer bound by the law that both mandated my ruin but also guaranteed it. “Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies” wasn’t just an unrealistic command, it was a gift and ability won for me at great expense.

Because of His death and my death, I can go to bed every evening, and reflect upon my day, my actions, my failures, and my successes and be filled with hope instead of depression. Each day is an opportunity to overcome. I may stumble along the way, and fail in an area I am striving to master, but with my eyes to heaven I know I am being transformed every day into his likeness.

I look forward to the day heaven and earth pass away, bringing with it the final death-blow to imperfect and corrupted flesh. On that day the need to overcome will come to an end, for I shall see Him face to face and be righteous even as He is Righteous.

   What shall we say then?

Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus

were baptized into his death?

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,

in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead

by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:1-4 (ESV)

Christianity is the Cause of Immorality and Destruction He Declares….

Christianity is the Cause of Immorality and Destruction He Declares….

Should Christians weigh in? 

I was preparing to make the next post in our series on overcoming pain when I got into a discussion with some people concerning a news report. What started as a “How did a couple get convicted for murder by a mere suggested hypothetical cause of death (The body was never found and they are now free and seeking restitution of their name) turned into a “Man deserves this because we took land that belonged to the animals” debate.

I love animals, but I get particularly irritated by this logic and argument so I added my two cents. Below is the conversation that ensued. As Believers, our world view stands in stark contrast to the world. Often times I hesitate to say anything because I fear I will be made a fool or fail in my attempt to share the truth.

They Have A Faulty World View but We Hesitate To Share!

It bothers me to see so many false accusations against Christ go unchallenged. Those deluded and blinded by sin clamor loudly, professing lies to a dying world and so often they go unchallenged. What keeps you from sharing? How do you know when to stand and share and when to refrain from “Casting your pearls before swine?”

We are told not to rebuke a scorner but we are told to correct the simple and they will learn. So what do you do when a scorner is speaking and the simple are listening? We do not have enough time and energy to refute every lie, but I don’t believe we can simply let the wicked speak without ever challenging them.

How would you share with a person who holds the views quoted below? Especially the one who equates “Christians” & God with the wars and oppression that grow each passing day?

I guess as I chatted with Bigevermo, I wasn’t so much trying to reach him, I was thinking about others who would read his claims and accept them as truth.

We are told to be ready to share about the Hope that empowers us. When do you share, and when do you knock the dust from your shoes and leave?

I am c******k, the others are the two I am chatting with:

@c*******k, I would say that we are not doing well with the ‘what sets us apart’ part. Humans have caused more death and destruction and permanent damage to this amazing planet than any plant or animal, native or not. We are the ones that need to be controlled – my opinion of course.

@ C*******k… Hence war, murder, abuse, neglect, oppression….. those have all been done by religious people with a “higher authority” moral code… it is a logical fallacy to say that man would have no moral code if it were not for a higher authority. MANY religious wars, Inquisitions, and other atrocities have been done in the name of God!!

just sayin… and to the OP… i cant believe these people were convicted with such circumstantial evidence…i hope they get their names cleared… at least as far as the court goes… i wonder if they will ever lose the reputation as killers of the own child…good luck people!

B********o @C*******k

Hey C*******k..it YOUR religion of which i speak!!   you wrote:so He sent His Son,
so that means you are a Christian… never heard of the Holy Wars/, the Inquizition and other wars based on religious views? …….. so you see it is Religion and basic resources that is the cause of most if not all wars sir… the higher moral authoruty allows some people to think that they have a moral code that is “higher” than people without religion…point being… there are people without religion that have just as good or better moral codes than religious people… I know that this concept will be hard to wrap your brain around… but it is truth to me. 🙂

So, when do you share? When do you keep silent? What if you are not an expert, can you do more harm by standing up for the truth than if you just stay silent? I ended my discussion with B*******o by simply presenting the gospel and then I excused myself from the conversation.

Originally I posted my replies to the responses, but that made for long reading with little value to my point. What would you say to these people? Would you say anything? Why? Why not?