Dusting off the Stories of what God has Done

God is always the same and what he did once he would do again.  God is not a respecter of persons and what he would do for one he would do for any.  These two statement encourage the hope and possibility of what God did once for someone else, he would do for me.  In saying that, something he did twenty years ago for me, he can do for you now.  So I’m walking down the memory lane of life as it is always the front page of who God still is today.  Take anything as hope of what can do for you.

  1.  I trusted God with my love life and he brought me the most amazing husband any woman could ever dream of.  As I’m writing this he is charging my cell phone for me and asking if I have water because he was going to refill it for me as I’m sitting in bed on a Saturday typing this about him.
  2.  I’ve never made over $10,000 a year in my entire adult life yet God has financed sending me to 23 different countries over the course of my life. For whatever reason, the way my heart is wired is that I feel most romanced by God when he sends me to travel somewhere. I know I couldn’t, and wouldn’t want to do anything without him sending me.
  3.   I’ve screwed up, meaning I’ve failed at something he’s asked me to do, and yet he’s never fired me, punished me, abandoned me or quit being kind to me.  Because of this I really realized the grace of God is truly a gift.  It is not earned.
  4.   God redeemed the ending of my family when we were younger.  My parents separated and both happily remarried.  My siblings are all risking love in some measure in their life.  This sometimes requires the greatest courage.  I am proud for the measure they continue to risk being known and loved despite how we’ve seen it can possibly end up.
  5.   God has given me peace.  In different seasons of life due to different things I have different measures of peace but in all of life I have a strong underlying trust in God that always imparts to me a steadfastness that I feel all the time.  Like I’m being held, or embraced, or hugged and I feel safe and sturdy.  I love God for imparting this feeling to me on an ongoing basis.
  6.   I realized through frequency to get over myself, my understanding, my ways, control, anything I would hold on to for fear or security.  From plans to stuff, he really does take care of everything and often, when I let him, way better than I could ever put things together.  Like I really am blind and dumb compared to all he sees and knows.  It is wisdom to trust him, let him lead, and put everything in his hands.
  7.   Unity, relationships, connection, obedience, service, humility, love, faith, truth, these things really are the majors in life and everything else is truly unimportant and meaningless in comparison.
  8.   I really feel like my death is in God’s hands as much as my birth was. I didn’t control my birth, God did.  In the same way, I don’t think anything is random and he knows all of the days of my life and will work out the plans and dreams he has for sending me here in the first place.
  9.   I don’t fear death in any way.  Almost daily I feel the fragility of this realm of life and time.  It is such a thin veil and my true self is timeless and in an always state.  I do not want to miss what he wants to show me and teach me and also truly enjoy the day with him as this is me loving to be alive with him.  This is living.
  10.   I feel humbled by God’s goodness and love.  I definitely don’t deserve any of it, but he shows me that I’m worthy because he says I am.  Who am I to disagree?!   😉
  11.   I thought I was going to go into tangible stories about specifics God had done for me–
  12.   Oh-my father’s transplant was an answer to prayer-he met my husband and is still alive!
  13.   And also my grandfather’s life was spared in a time where he was being killed by being given the wrong medication in the hospital but the error was found out and he became himself again to pass in peace at a later time.
  14.   Also I was filled with the holy spirit, a tangible experience in my body that overcame me that I still feel today and a way I interact with God directly spirit to spirit rather than just mind to mind, early morning alone in a gymnasium in a Lutheran church!
  15.   I received God’s forgiveness and being made right with God through what Jesus Christ suffered on my behalf on the cross, making a way for me to stand blameless and confident before God because he has made me his family and his friend.
  16.   I thought I was going to write more specific stories like the ones above, but it appears God is an active living miracle in my life.  I am so grateful to have the ability to see and breathe and feel and taste and express myself and sit in peace and have freedom.  I am so thankful to share life with my husband and spend the passing of time in his company.

These are a few thoughts that come to mind when thinking about what God has done for me in my life.  May it be an encouragement and blessing to you.  Oh yeah – don’t waste your time overly concerning yourself with what other people think of you.  It is not your responsibility nor does it matter beyond your upright heart before the father.  Acceptance or praise of man is not the bread that that gives life but rather the word of God.  Blessings!

Judgement

I have been thinking about writing this one for a week or so but haven’t been getting around to it.  It’s not a topic I feel qualified to write about but I want to share my journey in relation to the topic.

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Judgement Day

At one time in my life when I was steeped very much within an extremely religious culture there were a lot of very good things and a lot of bad things that were unnecessary.  Judgement was one of these topics.  ‘God is your judge.’ ‘You will be judged.’ ‘He will judge the thoughts and intents of your heart well beyond your outward physical actions.’ ‘Your place in heaven for all eternity will be based off your ability to obey (successful religious performance, absence from things that appear ‘worldly’). ‘You (and most people) will experience the weeping and gnashing of your teeth because of all you have wasted in this life by not living 100% obeying holy spirit all the time.’ ‘If you relax, you are being lazy spiritually and will be pruned like a dead branch only good for burning.’ ‘Why aren’t you healing people miraculously.  Jesus died to give us that.  You should be. You’re not living up to your calling.  You will regret that in eternity. God would show how much your close to him by signs and wonders.  If you aren’t seeing that, you’re failing.’

I got a little off topic toward the end of this list, veering into believers of God walking in the ability to perform miracles but for me, it all stems back down to the point where you will stand face to face with God and what we believe this interaction and accountability will be like for our lives.  There was a point where I carried great fear of this pending day.  It was a real fear and it stifled joy.  There are some who believe this is wisdom and good for living.  That it is appropriate and should be taught.  For them, they believe that the cause for fear is real.

I still had images of passing through fire, where everything that isn’t eternal gets burned up, and there unfortunately, because I know me, very little, if anything, remains.  And of course, because I know me, I would get stuck on some distant dark shore of heaven only being able to see the light of Jesus on the horizon.  Finally taking the place I deserve, I made it in, but barely.  For eternity.

It’s so sad.  I think many religious people carry thoughts like this around in the back of their heads but wouldn’t necessarily articulate them or even recognize them as they pass through their mind.  I think this one sole issue of our imagination of God’s judgement of us sometimes is the single motivator towards religious works.  Fear keeps the hamster wheel spinning.

What Can Save Us from God?

Wheeeww.  It’s getting pretty heavy in here, even as I write this!  I really do believe the news of heaven is good news, not bad news that should be good news if we get this life right.  I really do think that the things that make our heart leap and dance and get excited are whispers of the heaven that is home inside us.  God really is nicer than the nicest person you’ve ever met, and kinder than the kindest.  He is gentler than the gentlest, and more understanding than the person that’s understood you most.  Humans across the board only stand on one ground, the ground of forgiveness, there are no religious superstars that skipped that step on the way to their ‘best-buds’ seat in heaven.  God sees us all as his children.  He dreamed of each one of us.  He created us.  He knew us before we were even born.  Maybe we knew each other then too, 😉

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Fortunately God intervened and delivered me from lies about himself that I had interpreted from either scriptures or teachers, whether the intent to cause this reaction within me was there or not.

The Truth

God brought me back to relationship.  I had a relationship with him at the time.  I interacted with him in my heart and he with me as I lived my life.  He brought up the scenario in my head.  “Am I kind to you today and you think that one day many days from now, after you pass from this world, my character is going to change in my relationship to you and I’m going to point out all your flaws, weakness, mistakes, and failures.  And not only that, but you imagine that on that future day I will finally release this anger I have been holding towards you, because I finally am completely honest with you?  What kind of friendship is that?  Don’t the humans around you love you better than that?  Do they love you better than I do?  Then I will?

Now I believe God is so good I can’t wrap my brain around it.  Do you understand that goodness is most displayed in God’s seat of judgement?!?  When God is justified in punishment–there’s the word–punishment.  God The Punisher, the devil’s favorite lie.  Yes, God the father in heaven is waiting to… punish you?  Was Jesus waiting on the cross just hoping for the day he could punish the very people who were unjustly murdering him in torment?  What was his judgement of them?  Forgiveness.  Where can we escape God’s presence?  Not even in the depths of hades.  Love will be there.  In God’s role as judge he cannot turn off being the essence of love.  And I don’t mean a perverted form of love where he delights in seeing someone being tortured.  Even on earth no one would say that type of person is full of anything but the devil.

In some ways I see Jesus bearing ALL our sin, receiving ALL our punishment, taking ALL of the curse upon himself, undoing ALL that Adam did in the garden, as God’s introduction handshake with humanity.  Hello, this is who I am, this is what I possess within me to redeem your choices, this is how I feel about you, this is my character, this is my nature.  Hello, it’s okay, I made you and I’m here.  I’m not leaving, I’m not going anywhere.  Nothing separates us, you don’t have to hide here.  I love you.

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God Saved Us From Everything But His Judgement

Some people get really touching when you threaten their beliefs about judgement.  As if in the absence of the threat of future suffering, our new hearts and minds in Christ will grow depraved and corrupt.  This is not true my friends.  Welcome to the taste of true freedom outside fences of fear that have kept some from feeling the full effects of salvation.  Fear is sad when you see people hold onto it, as if it originated within love.

I could go on and on I feel but I will start to close here because who reads blogs that are even this long anyway??  I will leave you with this.  Love expressed itself in forgiveness.  Forgiveness really means forgiveness!  In true forgiveness, your old stuff isn’t brought up anymore.  ever.  It’s not held against you.  You don’t have a tallying punch card.  It’s not shoved in your face.  It’s not used as a tool for power or shaming you.  It’s forgotten.  Like it never happened.  Like you can really let it go.  Like you can learn from your experiences without holding on to ANY of the negative effects of sin on your relationship with God or your relationship with yourself.  Have faith in your forgiven-ness.  Experience the miracle of no longer punishing yourself or fearing future punishment from God.  God’s goodness is not bound by time or space, or the confines of your poor choices.  Your troubles are not to hard for him to love you through.  Poor choices ARE NOT FUN TO LIVE THROUGH.

The preaching of threats and fear may have intended to produce sinless living, in attempt to help out God in the advancement of his kingdom, but one thing it never produced was a greater love for his character, his person, his nature.  Is obedience based on threats true relationship?  He is altogether trustworthy with all of you.  All of your emotions, your thoughts, your relationships, in all of your past, all of your present, and especially–ALL of your future, including any day called “judgement day”.  I don’t think God was joking when he said ‘nothing can separate you from My love’–as if the only exception here is his own judgement of you?!

Experiencing Our Choices

Leaving you with my concluding topic, one thing I do expect to experience in heaven is the full comprehension of how my life affected those around me.  This includes my lack of care and consideration for others.  I don’t carry this as a weight or fear but just as a reality I will understand in the future.  I will understand how my judgment of others felt, how my negative words affected them, how my choice of myself over them felt, etc.  You get the idea.

previewThis reality is judgement enough.  Other people’s experiences are real and are valuable.  I will understand how my life affected the people I love around me and even the people I love less for some reason.  This truth motivates me to live with an awareness to let God live through me; he cares, he gives, he understands, he is patient.  It reminds me what’s important about being alive.  My choices matter.  Sometimes if there is something being said about someone else in a negative way, I can feel that person’s presence when they will hear what’s been said about them in future.  Like everything we say about others will one day be heard by them.

I can trust that even this future process of understanding and knowing more, is for my good!  I actually think living in community where communication is regular and intentional helps us grow in a similar way here on earth because we are forced to confront and experience the consequences of our own words and actions on a daily basis which naturally fosters the growth of our ability to love others and ourselves when done in an open, honest, and safe environment.

I esteem the life of God in others and to the best of my ability at the time, seek to enjoy their company and share in our freedom together.  When freedom is celebrated, it displays the love that lives inside of us.  When lies of our own false judgements of others takes root within us, love remains unexpressed, hidden in darkness.  Getting to love others is a delight and an opportunity, and is neither a burden nor a scorecard.  God is not burdened by his relationship with you.  There is Grace like an unending ocean in this classroom of life as we learn to grow in love.  (Which is not growing in my ability to hold grudges and punishing people for not obeying me and tormenting them.  Which is what we imagine God does in his relationship with them or us–one day.)

We will get to see God apart from the lies about him we hold in our hearts, and we will get to see one another apart from the lies we believe about each other.  AWESOME!

One more thought.  Some people think that the God I’m painting with words here is weak. What about the God of Anger, Wrath, Power, and Full Control?  A man who talks with his child instead of just using his fists is stronger.  A man who doesn’t lose his temper with his wife is stronger.  A man who forgives over holding grudges is stronger.  The greatest strength is displayed in Mercy.

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An ancient golden crown found in Afghanistan

A God that teaches us to love our enemies, really love them, is not pushing us to do something beyond his own capacity to love as he sits there and judges and wants to punish his enemies.  It’s not just a ministry strategy.  It really is what he’s like.  Those who do the same are like his family because he really does love his enemies!  He loves them.

Now I really am stopping there!  I haven’t solicited invitations for comments before but am tempted to do so now.  Share with me what your thoughts are below!

Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

 

 

Trust/Rest

I’ve been around the idea of trust for sometime, but I didn’t really begin to think about rest until listening to a series on it maybe seven years ago.  I never realized how powerful rest is.  When we strive and fear and fret, its not only so exhausting, its just simply a less fun way to be alive.  I think it helped me to answer the question, what does trust look like?  It can and often, looks like rest

Our imagination can cause our heart to tighten up and our breath to shorten when we imagine some undesired outcome.  Sometimes this process of fear is actually worse than even what we’re fearing!  Most times, these imaginings never come to fruition and they are nothing more than a haunting illusion.  But the goal of fear in our lives is to cause us to become our own Gods.  This is never in our job description.

The only thing that interrupts this is a living relationship with the one who is God.  When we know he is good and we know he is in our future situations and events as much as he’s in our immediate moment, we will rest in the face of illusions of possible frustrations or disappointments.  I think one of the ways God displays his greatness is actually in the personal details of our lives.  He’s really good at.

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In the kingdom of God, a living relationship with a good father, brother, and friend (just a few of the dimensions of our relationship with God) keeps our heart at rest.  Because we experience his love for us, we believe it, we remember it, and we trust rather than react like someone who is alone and needs to fix/control things when there could be an event or situation outside of our expectations.

In God’s kingdom, peace doesn’t have to be forsaken.  If there is a thought or conversation that threatens it, when you recognize that feeling, it is okay to let go of control, to change or fix something.  It is okay not to figure everything out or why something went wrong.  It is okay not having everything figured out for things to come.  It’s okay.  You’re going to be okay.  You are living loved.  And there is someone very capable with you sharing in your experience who is not worried, not fretting, not far away, and who understands and loves you very much.

Trust/Rest is just one more wonderful attribute of God’s wonderful invisible kingdom.  I have forgotten this in certain situations and events in my life.  I can feel his tangible love even now.  And just recently I have been able to completely let go of things in the past I don’t understand, aren’t fixed, and can’t change.  I can trust/rest God completely with the past as much as we can with illusions of our future.  He really is good and moves on our behalf.  It is a beautiful journey of courage that only love creates: surrender.

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Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

The Freedom of Disappointment

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In case you are in an emotional experience of being hard on yourself or not seeing a way out of your own lack of excellent performance in your current circumstances, this blog is for you.  Unfortunately perfectionism and performance based identity pervade the church.  It’s unfortunateness is that it keeps individuals from experiencing heaven in just their living breathing daily life.  It’s common enough, or a safe enough problem to have because it’s not against the law, it can get you ahead in approval seeking ambition or the inner disappointment you carry inside of yourself doesn’t interrupt daily living too much.

In Christ we are no longer under the law; he fulfilled the spirit of the law, and therefore it’s requirements completely.  The law works itself out in some sneaky ways.  Responsibility and expectations are some common forms of control in relationships, even in the relationship we hold with ourselves.  You view yourself as the way you should be, or how you should act, or what you should be getting done.  Even when achieving small goals or completing tasks or being helpful, we can still carry the feeling of failure if any of those things were less than, later than, or not quite up to our own expectations.  Cue disappointment.

This is a wonderful way to miss the joy of existence.  Without knowing it, we may embark on a journey, a project, or a relationship with preconceived expectations in our mind of how that experience or interaction should or would play out.  Things may even start off smashing and go according to plan at first.  It shouldn’t surprise us anymore but then bumps come in the road, at least bumps according to our expectations.  And then what do we do?

How do you crawl out of a pit of the feeling of other people’s disappointment with you?  How do you escape from the feeling of your own disappointment with yourself?  Couldn’t I have handled situations differently?  Couldn’t I have made different choices and avoided the circumstances I see around me?  Can’t I manipulate and control things now and get things back to the way I had wanted them, the way I always saw them?  Can’t I fix things and get them unbroken?  Then I wouldn’t have to feel this way.  Then I wouldn’t have to be this way.

Expectations over our own lives, and expectations other carry over us–whether intentionally or not–only carry with them the power to accuse.  When expectations are the foundations of relationship they are the fuel for guilt, shame, and condemnation.  Cue performance and perfectionism.  If you continue to hold onto those images of unmet expectation over your own life as a source of fuel for your own judgment of your value now, you will never experience the heaven that was purchased for you by Christ, that is meant to be a free gift for your fullness of being alive right now.

Even in subtle forms or not so subtle forms we tell ourselves that those expectations came from God; they are what God originally designed or gave us vision for in the past, or these expectations come by what I obviously should be doing by looking around at others (not recommended).  All of these leave a nice big hole in our heart not filled by Christ, but by our own accusations of performance-based failure.

God died to deliver you from the prison and cage of living a life of obligation, requirements, musts, duties, and have to’s.  His relationship with you has never been based on your performance.  Sometimes the reminder feels like a slap in the face but its the glorious good news: you cannot earn your right standing with God.  Your own assessment of yourself through your own eyes or the eyes of others will never measure up to any humanistic ruler of behaviors and choices–religious or unreligious–whatever that means.

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You are not a disappointment to God.  Who you are, right now, is not a disappointment.  God knows this but do you?  In this cycle of performance we sit upon our own assessments of our lives compared to perceived expectations and continually come out lacking.  If god has given us a directive and we didn’t listen or failed, then we can participate in relationship and tell him that and experience forgiveness through Christ.  We must remove ourselves from our high seats of self-judgment by LETTING GO (let it gooo, let it gooo) of the expectations we have created, that God is not holding on to, because until we do, we will continue to believe the familiar lie that our value or our worth is according to our own assessments.  While often ours is not, his perspective is the perfection of Christ.

Anything less and we wake up in the morning to feelings of disappointment, we experience awesome things all-the-while sitting next our companion of disappointment, and then tomorrow–again, we will not have hope because now our expectation (of God or of ourselves) is to be a disappointment (to others or to ourselves).  To the degree that you resort to assessing your value or worth based on your own expectations of performance is the degree to which you haven’t experienced Christ in your identity.   In order for love to cast out fear, even in your relationship with yourself in your own mind, it must not be based on your performance.

“God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things that I cannot change”…or don’t need to be and the wisdom to enjoy life.

Or what do we do when we’re really disappointed with God and holding it over him in our relationship with him?  Is your relationship with him, your intimacy with him, based your own ideas of who he should be or should have been…to you?  He’s okay with disappointing you because its not his obligation to meet your expectations of himself.  He knows who he is.  He is way better than any of us have given him credit for.  It’s the unmet expectation over him you’re being invited to let go of so that you can experience once again the exchange of love with him without conditions on either one of you.  This requires trust.  Trust can be scary, but is a fruit of love.  God disappointed everyone by dying on a cross at the age of 33 rather than delivering his people from the tyranny of Rome.  He’s okay with being misunderstood and accused of failure.  He’s got a different perspective and its far better than ours I assure you.

Your value, and God’s affections for you, are undiminashable.  I want to encourage you today.   In your rest, God can bring about all he has gloriously planned for you to experience in this life.  Maybe even lay down the process of making expectations over yourself and discover the wonder and beauty of your life as he reveals its glory to you.

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