Friday, March 28, 2014

The One Where It's Not About Merit

I didn't study for my blog this week. I commented on the SRT devotional, these are my comments; I decided to share them here.

Wednesday: Jonah Chapter 3: 5-10, 1 Timothy 1: 15-16
I'm a little late to the Jonah study. It's been an interesting few weeks. But sisters I'm here to tell you. GOD IS FAITHFUL!! School situation: worked out smoothly. Work situation. Well, working out, but I received confirmation yesterday that I'm right where I'm supposed to be. God is good! 

By the looks of my bible I haven't studies Jonah all that much. I have two notes. I've watched veggie tales more than I've spent time in these four chapters. But what I do have is awesome. 

Grace: an unobligated giver giving something remarkable to the undeserving. 

I know this is chapter 3. But my notes on 2:7-9 says God uses the defeated to do great things!  (This is something I need to hear, often.  Because I feel so defeated and unqualified). 

I love how chapter 3 begins with... Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time..... Doesn't it always?  A 2nd time, a 20th time, a 245th time, a 2,764th time, or Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes times a year! 

Thank you Rebecca, I have new notes in my bible. :) repentance is about what God is doing, NOT about merit

Because I've begged to differ with our brother Paul on who's the chiefest, I feel often times that I have more feathers in my headdress than he does.  I like Paul, understood rules, and followed them (mostly).  I like Paul, have held cloaks while bludgeoning others with "the gospel rules"  Thinking of myself much higher and mightier because I'm a Christian, look at me, I go to church, I read by bible, I listen to only Christian music loudly so others can hear it, I follow rules.

I don't know how to say this other than to say it. I've felt the nudging to confess something to y'all for a while. Not because I need to confess it, but because someone needs to hear it. Because repentance isn't about merit. It isn't about earning your way into grace. No matter what you've done or what you will do, if you are in Christ there is therefore no condemnation. 

If we think gouging eyes out is bad, well then I'm going straight to hell. And I used to believe that, all day, every day, begging for Gods forgiveness. I'd read my bible. I'd try to be a good church lady, you know the kind that are so full of The Lord that they practically float instead of walk, I prayed for hours, I went to church, I watched church on television. I listened to church on the radio. Because I desperately wanted grace and mercy.  I wanted to live in the Freedom that others talked about. Even if that means I sit in the corner and wear the dunce hat in heaven. Maybe if I was good enough I'd get to touch the hem of His robe? Or like Moses (my fellow murderer) I'd get glimpse of His back? 

My former life can be described like this: 


Sex, drugs, rock n roll and 2 abortions later. 
Yeah. I said the A word out loud. And I've spent years idolizing condemnation because I didn't believe that forgiveness, that grace or mercy was for me. Then I took a class called Forgiven and Set Free, then I taught it for several years. And The Light started to come on.  (a new study is out now called Surrender The Secret and a video about it is here and if that weren't enough the phone number is 1-866-482-LIFE)
I encourage you to surrender the secret today, to someone, freedom is yours! I promise! Email me, or call the number above, find a study near you. 
Sisters, I say sisters because the statistic is 1 in 4 women have had an abortion, all women, not "those women" all women in North America, yes "church women" too. There's more than 4 of us here, I can't be the only one!

Sisters, do not wait years or another moment in the corner with the dunce hat on!! First off, that's my corner! J/K I'll share it! I welcome the company of the Forgiven and Set Free! Forgiveness is for You! Today! Right Now! Walk in the Freedom Christ died to give you! It Is For Freedom Christ Set You Free! 

It's not about your merit. It's not about what you can do or what you have done. It's not about how far you can run.  It's about His Grace! Receive it today!

Thursday:  Jonah Chapter 4: 1-11

I like the notes in my bible. I like it that someone said to me recently that my bible is the biggest bible they've ever seen. Ha! I think they must be a young person.... Bless them. ;) 

It's an ESV study bible. The notes on Jonah are so good. The theme of Jonah it says is: The Lord is a God of boundless compassion not just for "us" (Jonah and the Israelites) bur also for "them" (the pagan sailors and Ninevites). Pierced. (My words not the theme) 

I've been such an "us" and "them" Christian for so long. Not because I want to keep others out. It's that like Jonah, I've been prideful of my "status" wondering why God has mercy on "them" I mean really, why isn't "Nineveh" burning down yet? 

Ugh. God forgive me!!! 

I think for a while, although I was prideful, I was also ashamed of the gospel, because I do have compassion for others to the point of weeping. But I don't want them to see that. That makes me a cry baby for Jesus without any real substance of why I believe.

So I take the hard core theological route, well that makes me a lunatic. And if I were just real and authentic, people might see that I have chinks in the armor, it might expose my soft underbelly and I could be hurt. And I've been hurting for a long time.

Then I realized the kind of "hurt" God is calling me to isn't the kind I'd experienced in the past. He promises to take care of these things when I live authentically. 

At the IF:Gathering. Jen Hatmaker said something that stuck with me. 

Clue #1 that your life is off mission. It is costing you NOTHING! 

For a long time it's cost me nothing. Serving safe people and blessing blessed people. It's time to make the three day journey to Nineveh! Amen!!

I hope that the only thing burning is my desire for God and that it causes flames to erupt everywhere I go!  Not because of me but become of Him!

Repentance is about what God is doing, Not about Merit!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The One Where I Still Give Thirty-Five Dollars and I Don't Care

Brace yourself, here are my random thoughts that I posted on Jamie, The Very Worst Missionaries Blog regarding the World Vision controversy.

I don't care.

There I said it. Out loud. I don't care. If any kind if "sexuals" get married or are partners or aren't. I think sexuality is the least of our concerns lately (read should be). I mean has anyone seen the news lately? Jesus is coming (look busy)! ;)

What I do care about is grace and that I give it (more than ever) to those who don't deserve it, because! And to those who do (deserve it), because!

And I'm still giving $35.00 per month, and sending birthday cards and writing letters, and receiving them*, even if WV hires a one eyed one horned flying purple people eater, but only the ones with the stones in there hands. Ya know, the people eater would needs boundaries, otherwise it would eat the children in need, or the people who still care about the children in need. But he's purple, so there's that.... he might be discriminated against like the sexuals** and then WV would have to make an HR announcement about him too! Round and round we go!

*I thought only Paul talked like this.... "Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ...." Yea, that's how my letters begin from Tushar. He likes Jesus songs and stories and wants me to pray for his family.

I'm praying Tushar. I'm praying.

I'm praying for you and for this nation to... well not this nation (and that's a whole other blog)... for this generation InterWeb of Christians; The ones where Jesus didn't apparently didn't say IT is finished. IT. All of IT. The sin, the sacrificing, the stone throwing, the waiting for grace....

The Kingdom came. Somewhere along with way it went out the window. Maybe Tushar knows where it is, particularly with his greetings! :)

**I'm using the term "sexuals" to describe all people, hetero or otherwise, because sin abounds in us all. Married, single, partnered, civil union. And guess what, I still don't care.

To continue my thoughts.... There are some times God just doesn't need that kind of mouth piece.  In fact, He speaks for Himself perfectly!  Have you looked around lately? Seen a sunset? A puppy? The seasons change? A life changed?

In the words of  Jen Hatmaker at the IF:Gathering

When church becomes an enterprise, faith becomes something to prove and defend, people become commodities, Christianity becomes a contest and the world is bludgeoned.  Stop backing up around the gospel, guns blazing, to defend it! 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The One Where I Run To Tarshish

Lately I don't know which end is up.  I'm working a new job that I really like but also feel very inadequate at.  It's part time and although I'm five weeks in, I've only worked about 70 hours. I feel as though I should already know everything and be proficient at it and I'm not.  I'm constantly having conversations with my boss about the small things that are going wrong.

This is discouraging.  

I don't think I've ever had this many conversations in my entire working career about how many things aren't going well in less than two weeks of work.  But because I've been there five weeks, it seems as though I should be rolling along okay.

I've made two major mistakes.  I don't know how to handle them.  I want to quit.  I want to give up.  Maybe you can't teach old dogs new tricks.

The She Reads Truth gals are in Jonah right now.  This is what I wrote on their comments yesterday:

First an update: The school situation is better, I hope. The meeting went well. Thank you to this community for encouraging me. 

Second: fix one leak in the dam another place springs a leak. My job is just all kinds of crazy, I feel inadequate. I had many reservations about taking this job and now I feel like all those reservations were correct. I don't know how to handle it. There are several things that have come up that I honestly don't want to handle and like Jonah… 

I. Want. To. Run. Please God let me run. Let me say all of my excuses and run. I don't want to do this, I don't want to face this. I want to run. It's not about mercy, it's about fear right now. I'm scared I can't do this and I can't do it well. I'm worried about the relationships this affects. I got the job through my sister who is a client of my boss…. I just want to run. 

I'm not angry with her and God knows she could use a witness to tell her about God's Mercy. She deserves it. I have no qualms about that… I'm not asking for hellfire and brimstone on her….. But oh how I want to run from this. I don't feel peace about staying and I have less peace about quitting. I'm also not too interested in being swallowed up by a whale…. but running seems like a good option right now. 

Lord Jesus…. help me through this! I'm definitely sinking in the sand, on the waves, too far from the shore where it's not safe. 

Maybe I will rue the day I said: 
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders 
Let me walk upon the waters 
Where ever you would call me 
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander 
And my faith will be made stronger 
In the presence of my Savior. 

So I will call upon your name…

My word for the year is Trust.  I don't know how to do that right now.  I'm not sure what that looks like right now.  I have notes in my bible that say:  The definition of love is to know someone's needs and meet them.  So how do you love God?  Trust.

I definitely feel as though my trust is without borders right now.  My calling is silent.  To fearful to go forward, to embarrassed to go back.   Questioning, do I really want stronger faith?  But I'm sinking.

I. am. sinking 
I realize this isn't a devotional or a teaching on Jonah.  But this is how I've felt lately.  I wrote this yesterday while I was in the throws of feeling like I couldn't face the day.  I had a few things happen yesterday that tells me God Is Still Faithful.  As if I had doubts about it.   But don't we I?

Today I'm still shaky and trying to get my sea legs, but I think it's probably not the best idea to "flee from the presence of the Lord".  Maybe I should get comfortable in the belly of the whale; the storm is coming, or rather I'm experiencing it.  I'm in it.  Do I throw myself into the sea?  Do I trust that God has "prepared a great fish" for me?  (the girl with the dunce hat on?)

It doesn't have to be a great fish, I only need to know that God Is Prepared!  

Friday, March 14, 2014

The One Where I Love Mercy {#shesharestruth}

2 Samuel 24: A Test of David.

So, God is angry with Israel.  He tests David.  And you'd think that David fails, but there's a bigger story here.

David says let's count the people (my army).  His commander says, I dunno David, that doesn't seem like a good idea.  David insists.  They count.  Ten months later, David says I have sinned greatly in what I've done.  But now Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done "very foolishly"

Isn't this the case?  We have this brilliant idea and we fight tooth and nail to bring it about and then we feel it, we feel the distance, the parched soul, the pierced heart, the anguish.

Psalm 38 A Psalm of Remembrance.

The depths of despair.  I've been there. For what I've done, what others have done, for circumstances seemingly out of my control, proceeded by that silent cry, that gut wrenching, doubled over, so ugly there's no sound crying to God.  There is no soundness in my flesh.

God gives David three choices:
Three years of famine
Three months of enemies pursuing him
Three days of pestilence in the land

David says:  I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great, but let me now fall into the hand of man.

I read a book on this called The Holy Wild by Mark Buchanan.  I have nothing much to say about Psalm 38/2 Sam 24 than what he writes:

David knew where to rest.  He would run to God every time.  David knew that in God's hands, he might be crushed, but he'd be safer there than anywhere.  In God's hands, the breaking of the bone and the mending of it, the making of the wound and the healing of it, come joined.  God's mercy might be severe.


Always, let me fall into The Hands Of God!  To LOVE MERCY.  God Himself loves it.

A. W. Tozer said, put a lock on His wrath, but a hairy trigger on His mercy.

You've heard me talk about my heavenly dunce hat.  That's the hat I wear when I forget about mercy.  When I remember, like David, the things I've done, the pain I've experienced.  It's the one where I sit like a two year old in time out with my head down but my eyes scanning the room for a glimpse of Parental mercy.  You know the look.

I know the mercy is there, why don't I remember where to rest? Why don't I run to God every time? Why do I run ahead? Count the people (build an idol)? Am left with choices.

1) continue running ahead
2) wear the dunce hat
3) Love Mercy

Let me pull the hairy trigger of Mercy!!  BANG!   Let it penetrate my heart.  Let it be the lifter of my head that says "Let me fall into the Hand of God, for His mercy is great! 


Friday, March 7, 2014

The One Where I Am With Him, I Am Heard {Psalm 130}

So the other day on She Reads Truth, they invited the readers to write a blog about the passage of the day.   Last year I read Psalms of Ascent with them and I have lots of notes about it.  Last year was somewhat of a profound time in my life and this year there are lots of changes.  It feels as though these days, like David, I cling to His Word.

Psalm 130

Out of the depths…. I have been there, more times than I care to count.  When I was first saved and many other times in my life.  There have been days, nights, weeks, go by where I'm on my knees, not able to utter words.  From my own depravity, out of circumstances of life, things out of my control, waiting on another for forgiveness.

Depths.  I've seen them.  I've been in the ocean and in caverns.  On lakes and in valleys.

And David makes this turn (if you will) rather than being bent down, he's standing. This question.  Who shall stand?  It's not asking who shall stand, it's telling you he's standing.  Why? Because with God is forgiveness. And he knows this. He knows it, sure as the sun will rise.   As sure as Goliath is slain, as sure as battles fought and won, as sure as he danced with the Ark.  He.Knows.It.

And he waits.  He waits with certainty.  With more certainty than night watchmen in his army, who serve the King dutifully.   Now he waits, dutifully.  Too often I don't have that kind of certainty.  Too often, I'm sure I'll wear the dunce hat in the corner of heaven, sure I'm saved but I'm not always so sure of this sanctification.  Too often I'm found with thoughts of "whosoever" doesn't include me.  Too often I don't have that kind of patience, or faith.  O ye…. Anyone else who feels this is their given name?

Over the years I've learned this O ye of little faith, still implies faith!  Though it's not large, it's not moving mountains, it's steady.  Everyday I place my trust in The Lord. And if I'm a smidgen like David I'll have the sense to call out God (Jehovah) and God (Adonai) in so few words.   Seven times in eight verses.

Then he says Israel, hope in the Lord!  For with the Lord is steadfast love, with him there is plentiful redemption.  He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Israel, is us.  It's you and me.  It's the "whosoevers" of the world.  And I comforted that I am with Him. Although I know he could crush me in His hand, it's the safest place to be.  With Him.

The study guide in my bible say this:

This is an individual lament, expressing penitence and trust in God's mercy.  The penitential element is geared toward helping worshippers see themselves as forgiven people, who's only right to enter God's presence lies in His mercy.

I like Matthew Henry, one day I will read his entire commentary, although it feels over the years I have.   I like what he says about this Psalm:

Whatever condition we are in , though ever so deplorable, to continue calling upon God.  The best of men may sometimes be in the depths.  But in the great depths, it is our privilege that we may cry unto God and be heard.