Purpose – Redemption

I’m not Catholic or Orthodox, and typically not a part of a church body that participates in Lent. However, as a personal practice, more years than not in the last 10 years, I have participated in Lent (in a personal manner).

Recent life events have left me with some questions and some heartbreaking thoughts that I know God will use this Lent season to teach and grow me.

Tonight, in that vein, I am participating in the 5 minute friday tradition (last week, I actually did my 5 minute Friday post on my Tiny house blog)…I know it’s Sunday, but unfortunately, I find myself late many weeks.

This week’s theme:

PURPOSE…

“You didn’t want heaven without us, so Jesus you brought heaven down”
-Hillsong ‘What a Beautiful Name’

This song has me wrecked recently, especially this line… He didn’t want heaven without us…

This goes with my reading tonight.
Tonight, I spent time in 2nd Peter.

He has a lot to say in the 2&3 chapters about evil days: false prophets & teachers, evil doers, fleshly desires, condemnation, and more… I won’t take the time to break it all down – honestly, it’s a lot.

But, I want to focus on one specific section:

“But, do not forget this one thing dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief…”

  • 2 Peter 3:8-10

So, what’s this all about?

It’s about purpose.
And, that purpose? Redemption.

Recently, I’ve had to come face to face with my belief: sin, death, mortality.
Do I really believe some perish?

Unfortunately, I do. And, honestly, the question of someone’s eternity is HEARTBREAKING.
But, Jesus has been working in my heart – if it’s that heartbreaking for me, how much more heartbreaking is it for Him to have Creation reject Him?

So, what’s it all about?
Purpose – redemption. Human souls. Love.

He created a way – desiring that no one would perish, knowing some would anyway. Giving His people the knowledge, tools, and compassion to reach as many as possible, and then commissioning us to do so.

This is a tough, heartbreaking topic to write about. I hate the thought of spending eternity without some of the people I care about – even spending eternity without my “enemies”. But, the reality is, it’s likely to happen.

And, if it hurts so much for me – how much more for Him, after creating and offering restoration?

So, that leaves me – in the gap. Attempting to live out the great commission in my life. In the tension between here & now and eternity.
A part of the Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven, trying to be a light of love to as many people as I can.

So, what’s this all about?
Purpose – human souls. Love.
Redemption.

“I knew about you, but…”

My most traumatic life experience has nothing to do with the abuse I’ve lived through, the amount of death that I have been surrounded by, or near death experiences I’ve had.
My most traumatic experience came in the form of a church play…

When I was younger (like, little kid young), my church did a show a couple of times called “Heaven’s Gates, and Hell’s Flames”.

When I was about 7, we did the play and my mom played a young mom who dies with her baby & faces judgement after having lived a “good” life, but not really committed to the gospel. My little sister played the baby.
Let me set a scene for you that has haunted me to this day.
One of my biggest fears, and actually quite a bit more traumatic for me than I ever realized:

A young woman and her baby are killed. She stands before the judgement seat & begins to think over her life. She knows of God & His Son, she has been a good person, but she’s never really sold out to Christ. Never been dedicated to the relationship or expansion of the Kingdom. Her name is not in the book of life. But, her baby has yet to be marred by the world & unable to make any decisions for herself.

So, the woman’s baby is taken from her to heaven; Then she cries, as she realizes where she’s going, and as she is dragged off to eternal damnation, she screams “I knew about you, but I never really knew you!”

– Reality Outreach Ministries, Inc.

This was my mom, and to this day, there are certain times when I still picture my baby sister being removed from her hands, her being dragged away, & her blood curdling scream comes into my head: I knew about you, but I never really knew you.

Just like the Pastor in the Left Behind movie who screams at God, “I stood right there!” pointing at the pulpit. Lamenting on how he had spoken the word of God each week but it hadn’t penetrated his heart.

Since I was 7 years old (there is a reason they recommend offering a place for kids 9 and under during the performance) and watched my sister be taken from my mom’s arms & my mom dragged away to the pit of hell – this has been one of my biggest fears.
For myself, for my family.

That we would know about Him, but not really know Him.

We know all the lingo, the words to the songs, we raise our hands in Worship.
But, it’s not enough…

Our hearts have to be filled with faith & our lives filled with action (James 1:14-26).
Lip service, pious tweets, & pretty Instagram pictures aren’t enough.

And, just like the young mom in the play; just like the pastor in Left Behind; God’s word says some people will look like they have it all together, like they are on their way to Heaven, but they will be turned away:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons  and perform miracles?’  Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!'”

– Matthew 7:21-22

One of the biggest criticisms I’ve found online for this play (which still tours), is that it scares people into repentance; and it’s not true repentance. Along with this scare tactic people have complained about comes a lot of people who balk at a doctrine of hell, and eternal separation from God, calling it “unbiblical”
…Unfortunately they are wrong.

It’s clear from this passage, and others, that though God’s will is that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9; John 3:16-17; Ezekiel 33:11), some still will due to His loving design of free-will (Ezekiel 18:21-32; John 3:18; Romans 6:23; Revelation 20-21; 2 Thes 1:9).

So, I’ve been terrified at different points of my life…
how do I really know I’m saved…

Lucky for me, His word outlines that, as well:

  • I am saved if I: confess Jesus as Lord; believe in my heart that He has been raised up by God. Justified by belief in my heart & professed of faith with my mouth – Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10,13) (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32)
  • If I am saved, my life will look different, and it will be evidenced by my love for others (1 John 4:7-21); it will be evidenced by the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-24)

It’s about the heart. The changes made, dying to myself each day & following him (Luke 9:23, Matt 16:24, Mark 8:34).

I know I can’t actually see into the hearts of those around me, but I can be sure of my own salvation. I can be pretty sure of the salvation of those in my life based on the above evidence.

And, I can recognize the tool of the devil to try to confuse & scare me, as he is prone to do (1 Peter 5:8).
When I hear that scream in my head & I get worried or confused, I can come back with the Word of God knowing that fear and confusion isn’t of Him (2 Tim 1:7).

I have faith on the other side of that fear that instead of me crying out “I knew of you, but never knew you”; Instead, my name will be in the book & I will hear “Well done, good and faithful one”.


Let me know what you think, below. Let me know how I can pray for you 🙂

Imagine That…

It has been quite the long week. Many moments had me questioning why I was even doing what I’m doing…

I guess God knows we need days like today to remind us that even when things aren’t so, let say glorious, that we are exactly where we need to be.

Why was it a tougher week?

Well, for starters, I’m still not used to this whole “morning” thing…like, isn’t 6 only a number seen when the sun is fading? I guess not…

But, being real for a moment, I work in the Mental Health field with children.

And, we live in a world where the reality is: elementary schoolers as young as kindergarten are threatening to kill their teachers and classmates (and, for anyone who is ready to open a gun discussion here, at that age, the weapon of choice is usually a knife, so, what’s the real issue here…?)

We live in a world where 8 year olds can recite Scarface, complete with fake gun.

We live in a world where kids are being passed around from one relative to another as if they are an inconvenience, or aren’t worth as much as a parent’s next fix, or because parents have been taken off this earth too soon. Older relatives are faced with child-rearing responsibilities they were never expecting to have again, and even the most well-intentioned (and believe me, there are plenty that aren’t) are simply ill-equipped for the challenge.

We live in a world where teenagers are starving themselves, harming each other, and living inside technology boxes simply because they crave attention that is being misplaced by mostly narcissistic parents.

Yes, we live in a crazy world: natural disasters, famine, genocide, homicide, suicide. Religion against religion. Hate breeding more hate. Cruelty leading to more cruelty, teaching our kids that some lives are worth more than others. Bombs, guns, knives, tear gas, pepper spray. Human trafficking, sexual abuse, slavery.

It. Is. All. Still. Happening.

But, Imagine….

Imagine how the world would be if we all prayed when we “#Prayfor…”. I mean, if we actually prayed when we: tweeted, posted, blogged, snapped, etc. If we prayed for: Paris. Japan. Mexico. Children. Veterans. (and on and on the list goes)

Imagine if we prayed for *Gasp*: terrorists. mass shooters. politicians.

And, imagine if we started praying like we meant it. Like we believe it.
Like we serve a God who wants to see His Kingdom here on Earth.

Imagine if we spent as much time praying as we do worrying.
As much time in His presence as we do on our earthly “entertainment”.
As much time on the things of Heaven as we do the things of this world.

And, imagine what would happen if we took the time to care for others the way we care for ourselves?
Or, if we took the time to take care of ourselves the way we care for others?

Imagine what that world would look like.

Imagine that…


“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven…
For Your’s is the kingdom and power and glory forever…”
– Matthew 6:10 & 13

 

Redeemer, Provider, Sustainer…Everything

“With [man] it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”
– Matt 19:26 & Mark 10:27

Home – a place to be vulnerable.

And, this blog is my home on the web, one of my little corners of the online universe, so please, allow me to be vulnerable.

This passage is often used – and gives a great picture of our limitations that clearly don’t apply to God.

Now, so as not to take this verse out of context: when Jesus speaks here, He speaks of salvation. Something we cannot have on our own, but something we have by the Grace of God: sola gratia.

In this passage, Christ points out one of the biggest barriers to salvation: wealth – a lack of need, a presence of comfort. If you think you’re all set, you don’t need Christ. If you are comfortable where you are, you will be less likely to move.

This is what Paul addresses in Philippians 4:13, another verse often taken from context:

“I can do all [this] through Christ who gives me strength”

I like this version, because the “all things” we often quote, has less to do with being able to do whatever we want, and has more to do with learning how to rely on Christ at all times. Paul has just finished describing that he has lived through wealth and poverty, sickness and health. Good times. Bad times. Yet, because of Christ, he has been able to be content in all situations. Not on his own, but because God made it possible.

This evening, I was looking back over old pictures, and thinking about times in high school & college. Old insecurities began to flood me – magnified by current unrest in my life. I felt the old hatred I had for myself & the depression try to creep in. Negative thoughts about my appearance, personality, choices. That, I’ll just be this way forever…but I refused to give in to those thoughts, because,

Here’s what I know for my own life, by looking at these verses:

Right now, I have about $100 left to my name after this month’s bills, unless I find a job soon. But, even if that is my reality,  history indicates that God will sustain me through it.
Right now, my dream of home is having to shift & change. I don’t have what I thought I’d have by now – single, no apartment or house of my (our) own. But, God is teaching me that home is Him. That, I carry it with me wherever I go.
Right now, I am still in that Chronically Single phase of life. But, so much beauty has been/is being created in this stage of life. He is teaching me more & more each day to make Him my focus.
My life was once a disaster. Depression followed me anywhere. I had no idea how to get out, and at a point, death seemed like it might be an option. But God –God brought me out. He has turned it all to  beauty. And, even though it’s not what I thought I wanted, not the comfort, wealth, and everything I thought I wanted, it’s an amazing life. He has redeemed me to Himself. My future is in Him.

See, it’s about God’s redemption.

Without God, none of it happens. Without God, I have no life. Literally, my life would have been over.

But, even now, in tough times, He is still my provider, my sustainer, my redeemer, my everything.

And, if there was any question, Paul addresses this further in Philippians 4;19

“My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

Do I think this means God will make me rich? Of course not.

But, it means that God will take care of me in His way and His time, I need only be still and rely on Him, knowing He is God.

So, what does this have to do with Home? Honestly, for me, I’m still learning. For you, I’ll let you connect the dots where you need them.

Just remember, He is the redeemer, the provider, the sustainer…He is everything.

He is home.

tRUTH @ 10

  • I spend a lot of time acting like I have it all together & am able to get up each day and push forward…

But, the TRUTH is, I’m always exhausted.  

  • I like to act like I can do everything on my own.

But, the TRUTH is, any energy I have comes from Him, because I stretch myself too thin & refuse to ask for help until I almost break. I tell people God is who is helping me, but not as often as it comes up. Not in a way that says,

“I’d likely have run myself to death like a hamster trapped on a wheel if God’s divine hand wasn’t on me…”

  • I like to display my artwork & writing to encourage/touch others.

But, the TRUTH is, though I do genuinely want to encourage/touch others, I also really like the pats on the back from putting myself out there.

The other truth? I feel a bit let down when no one takes notice.

  • I like to act like I work as hard as I can in school, so that I can get frustrated when things don’t go my way.

But, the TRUTH is, there is a little more I could give; I just want everyone (including myself) to think I am extremely intelligent, because, much of my identity comes from academia.

  • I waited a while to break up with The Airman, believing that maybe I would change my mind; because he is an amazing & sweet guy; not wanting to give up the first real relationship I ever had; fearing I may not get another.

But, the TRUTH was, our lives were not moving in the same direction & more than that, He was not ready to lead spiritually & I wasn’t in a place to follow him. 

  • I said I was heart broken over the decision.

And, the TRUTH is, sometimes, I still ache a little bit. But, it was the best choice to make, for me & him. Those closest to me know it was a tough decision to end things in my short-lived relationship. But, I don’t share that I get sad sometimes because I miss him. I don’t let them know the fear that is there that maybe no one else will want me, especially not one who is passionately in pursuit of Christ.

  • I think the biggest reason I got into the field of psychology is because I want to help people & take care of others.

But, the TRUTH is, I don’t know how not to take care of others.

As I sit here tonight, I think about what I am reading today in my devotional time: RUTH.

She is a woman in the Bible many people have compared me to: Loyal, hard working, honest, dedicated, faithful, & motivated. All words others have used to describe me.

But, the TRUTH is, unlike Ruth, my motives are often extremely selfish. 

Ruth’s desire was to help her mother-in-law, to get to know the God of her mother-in-law, and to follow the laws laid out in that land.

My desire is, oh so often, to make the world think the best of me. Knowing I may not be the best to look at, but still have a lot to offer, and trying to polish that up to give the world something to look at.

Far too often, I am my own idol. I don’t need foreign gods, a golden calf, or baal on a mountain. I need look no further than my mirror to find the idol I have spent much of my life worshiping.

This is something I have to work on daily. Something I have to put off in the flesh, in order to live a life worthy of the Spirit.

“And God spoke these words… ‘you shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourselves an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them: for I , the Lord your God, am a jealous God…” -Exodus 20:1,2-5


How about you? Do you have any idols that need to be put down daily, in order to walk in the Spirit?

Also, head over the the Tuesday @ 10 link up & see what others have to say about Truth.