Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mercy Triumphs Over Justice

The crown of thorns doesn’t fit him. It just doesn’t belong. How could they not see? He was and is the one TRUE king.

Beaten, bruised and bloody. That was Jesus on that hill at Golgotha. He had been mocked, insulted, and falsely accused.

The human flesh he was in had to be crying out for justice against these people who were tearing him apart. Instead what do we hear from him? “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  Luke 23:34

There is a huge lump in my throat as I read those words. Letting them seep down into my heart. Trying to grasp the reality of what Jesus was living through at that moment.

How could he possibly extend mercy to these people? They were casting lots for his very garments as he hung there on that wooden tree. The tree that was meant for the guilty. A means of serving justice.
Yet there he hung full of mercy even still. I honestly struggle to wrap my mind around it.

My own human flesh wants to deal out justice on a daily basis. Most often for those I love that I feel have been hurt, but just as often for myself and offenses that come against my pride.

Didn’t those people on Calvary Hill deserve justice? Don’t the people who hurt me and mine deserve it? My spirit longs to be able to cry out to my Father and say “forgive them” but my flesh is often so weak.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7 (NIV)

Jesus’ life on earth was an example for us of how to live our lives here on earth. He experienced the temptations, struggles and injustices we will face and then some! He has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell in and help fight back our flesh.

Plain and simple, we can't show true mercy on our own. It's only possible because of the gift of the Holy Spirit in us. 

The reality is that we have all been shown so much mercy by our Savior. Let's share that mercy with others.

Today, let mercy triumph over justice!

Linking up with #livefreeThursdayWoman to Woman Word Filled Wednesday

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Worry Pit

In a recent post we talked about how sports are great for helping us learn how to deal with winning as well as losing and doing both with dignity.

Wow, God’s timing (or maybe it was His sense of humor) is amazing. It was less than an hour after I finished that piece that I got a pretty good kick to the gut. My son didn’t get the full ride scholarship we’d been claiming in prayer for him.

I had claimed every scripture I could find on our authority in Christ. My son and I asked the Lord if this was the right school for him. We felt the Holy Spirit leading him there.

So why did he not get the scholarship? I wish I knew. Weren’t expecting that, huh? I really don’t know. I’m still wrestling with the answer. I wish I could say I handled the loss with as much dignity as my son did but it took me a little bit to get back to that point. My son actually handled it SO much better than I did. He kept reminding me that this was the direction he felt led and it would all work out.

The mama worry started to creep in big time though. I wanted to figure out a way to force the pieces of the puzzle together. Even though I couldn’t see all of the puzzle.

My mind was swirling with the fact that my son had decided on a private, Christian school that is very expensive. How could we possibly make it all happen?

Wow! I can’t believe I was right back in that very familiar pit of worry. That slimy, nasty pit had become like a second home for me as my boys grew into men. The sickening feeling in my stomach and the never ending swirling in my head were all too familiar.

      Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

Leaning on my ways is what led me back to that pit. I wish I could say I fought the slide down a little harder but unfortunately I just jumped right in with both feet! The brokenness of my understanding of God’s ways caused me to fall yet again.

Thankfully the Lord is making me much more sensitive to worry as I mature in my walk with Him. He’s helped me see the worry pit for what it truly is, separation from Him.

Reach up out of that nasty mire of the worry pit and grab a hold of God’s hand. He’s ready and willing to take our worries.

     Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:27 & 34 (NIV)

I know I can trust God with my son’s future. He’ll handle it. I’m not sure what His plan is when it comes to the finances for college, but I will trust Him with it. When the enemy creeps in and tries to stir up worry in me about my son’s future; I will remind him that God is in control.

God sees the big picture and knows what is best for us. Today, I’m going to choose to kick worry to the curb and trust God!

Linking up with Live Free Thursday and Tell His Story.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Free From Shame

Why is it whenever we try to work on teaching someone else, we usually end up being the one doing most of the learning?

I work with our church’s youth group. It is mostly junior high and high school students. I love it! I really didn’t feel equipped to teach these kids when God called me and to be honest I still don’t.

I have been known to procrastinate from time to time and this last week was no different. It would be really wise to prepare my youth group lesson a week or so ahead of time, but alas that seldom happens.

So this past Wednesday I found myself in a bit of a pickle. I had blocked off the time to work on the lesson but so many things kept creeping into that block of time. Distractions! Mostly of my own doing but a couple of other people were bumping into my schedule as well.

The final straw was when my husband came in and asked me to get lunch ready for a fencing crew I didn’t know anything about. By the way, could I have it ready in 30 minutes too?

Wow, that ran smack into me at my breaking point. You guessed it, I didn’t handle it well at all.

I snapped at my husband and told him how busy I was and not in words but that it was far more important than him. I stewed and fumed for quite a while over it to boot.

Then a funny feeling snuck in. I felt bad for my actions. I was convicted of my sin right there in the middle of my youth group lesson planning.

So I walked to the freezer to get some meat out and come up with something that I could put together on short notice. Right there, with my head in the freezer, guilt turned to shame. I started to beat myself up and even out loud said what a horrible person I am.

Notice an important part here. I had moved past the fact that the sin I had committed was bad and very quickly turned it to myself and how bad I was.

In the past I would have wallowed in that pit of shame for days. Letting that wound fester and grow and maybe even scab over to try and cover up my shame.

You see, when you’re in a relationship with God, shame has a tendency to cause you to hide from the Lord. A good example is Adam and Eve after they ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. They heard God coming and hid from him.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

I don’t want to hide my sin from God. I want to bring it to Him and we can work it out together.

God wants an abundant life for us. The John 10:10 life. He doesn’t want us to walk around with our head hanging down ashamed.

Our sins will make us feel guilty because of our righteousness in God. As we mature in our walk with the Lord we will come to feel that more quickly. We’re reminded that guilt says “My sin is bad” and shame says, “I am bad”.

Shame causes us to hide from God. Guilt causes us to run back to God.

So when shame tries to grab a hold of you and pull you away from Christ, stand firm in God’s truth. So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NLT)

Lord, help us to recognize quickly when we have sinned. Make us sensitive to the prick of guilt so we will turn back to you quickly. Please help us to see shame for what it is and never try to hide from You. In Jesus mighty name, Amen.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Come Now and Gather

We are made for fellowship, in good times and bad. It's built into us to need relationship. Both with God and other people.  For  me I have to admit, animals come in a very close third too.

We often sing a song in church before communion. The very first verse reminds us that the table is ready and we are welcome to come and gather.

Jesus always knew when he needed to withdraw and be alone with the Lord. He also enjoyed fellowship with people.

When the festival of the Unleavened Bread arrived shortly before Jesus' crucifixion Jesus had the disciples prepare the Passover meal. Jesus said, "I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering beings." Luke 22:15 (NLT)

Did you see he said he was eager to eat with them? He wanted to spend time with them. He knew much suffering was coming.

A meal with friends wasn't going to take that away. But just maybe it can help us prepare for and deal with our sufferings. When we have real relationships with fellow believers they help build us up.

"For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them."
Matthew 18:20 (NLT)

We can trust that the Holy Spirit is right there where we gather! We just need to remember.

Linking up with #LiveFreeThursday and Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Little Piece of My Heart

Sometimes I have grand ideas of what I should share in print. Other times I just stare at the blank screen and am completely baffled. Most of the time, I start typing and God fills in the important parts.

Writing is a process of learning for me. I type and God reaches in and shines a light on the areas of my life that need illuminating.

This last weekend was chalk full of lessons for me! I’m sure it will take me awhile to absorb them all.

I was at my son’s state wrestling tournament. He is a senior in high school. He’s going to play football in college but wrestling is now officially over. This was the last time I would ever get to see him wrestle after 13 years in the sport. Gosh, it’s even hard to type that!

I have hauled that boy to countless practices. I have sat in the practice room waiting patiently for several hours, many times a week for what felt like endless years at the time. Now it simply feels like I blinked and the years flew by. I went to so many tournaments over the years that my butt is completely flat from so many hours in bleachers.

I complained about 10 hour days at these tournaments just to watch my own kid wrestle 4-5 times in that time frame. My back ached, my nerves were raw and the emotional roller coaster aged me I’m quite sure.

Wow, I’m going to miss it more than I can explain!

I watched my little boy grow into a man and learn important life lessons along the way. Stuff that one match, on one certain day, can’t possibly measure. The character displayed by these young men in both victory and defeat has made a lasting impression on me. Far more than stats or any win or loss.

There is a lot of debate over high school sports. I realize it can and is abused at times. Just as with anything in life though, it’s what you make of it that matters.

These kids go out on the mat and give every ounce of heart and energy they have in them. They come out battered and bruised whether they win or lose. There are good calls and a few bad calls. But overall, the kids come out of it with strength of character and lifetime friendships. Guys that battled it out to the point of blood, pain and exhaustion turn around and hug their opponent.

So many lessons here to hold onto. We can handle loss with as much dignity as we can victory. Life is meant to be lived with gusto, giving it everything we have. There may be fear, but courage is just walking forward to where God calls us and jumping in anyway

One of these fears of mine that reared its ugly head this past weekend was about heading into the “empty nest”. The devil has just had free rein in my mind in that area lately. I let fear take over and grow every day. It’s become a monster recently! Causing me to shut down and withdraw for fear of the unknown that’s coming. Somehow I had wrapped my whole identity up in my role as a mother!

I wish I could say I have it all worked out by the time I’m writing this but it’s just not true. I’m still struggling with it. I’m fighting back though by staying in God’s word. I’m searching out verses that remind me of my real identity, a child of the one true King. Any other “identity” is fleeting and will change or pass away.

         See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!              1 John 3:1a (NLT)

This doesn’t make me any less of a mom. I will always be a mom to my two sons. It’s just my role in motherhood has changed.

     "When mother's talk about the depression of the empty nest, they're not mourning the passing of all the towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They're upset because they've gone from supervisor of a child's life to a spectator. It's like being vice president of the United States." Erma Bombeck

My “kids” have good heads on their shoulders. They love God and I trust Him with them. I’m learning bit by bit to drop the reins and trust that they will be ok out in the world. God has them!

As for me, despite my fears, I will choose to trust God with whatever the next chapter in life brings.