The Fear Of Total Acceptance

I am convinced that the thing we most fear isn’t rejection but TOTAL ACCEPTANCE. There I said it. At least that is what my fear was…and sometimes still is. You see for me growing up in a religious environment where it was suggested and subliminally ingrained in our minds was that no matter what we did, how many hours we prayed and fasted it was never enough. I still felt dirty. God was still Holy on His blessed mountain and I was still a million miles away. If I was going to make it to Heaven surely it was on the off chance that God was focused on Jesus waving His bloody-nail imprinted hands drawing the attention to Himself so I could slip through the pearly gates. Then it happened…then He happened to me. About 7 or 8 years ago it was my time, my turn to be wrecked by Grace. I was on the Heavenly Hit List and He revealed Himself in me, to me. The Scandal of the Cross turned over all my tables of religious failed efforts on bettering myself.  He showed me an aggressive unrelenting Love that simply would not let me continue on living with the roller coaster religion of one day being up and feeling loved followed by the next day of me feeling like I was not good enough for Him. You see the Good News is that we have ALWAYS been more than enough for Him.

So why do we often respond with fear in the face of total Acceptance and Love??  I am sure there could be numerous reasons. But at the core of it all I believe it all comes down to Trust. I remember when God whispered in my ear and said,”Joel, all of the problems that you think you have can be taken care of by simply trusting me.” I mean wow! To think of a God that is so in tune with all of our emotions and so intricately woven in our day to day activities, that He always wants to make Himself known in every area of our lives.  I will never forget when Heather my wife said to me,”I want to know all of you.” Honestly scared the sh*@ out of me. I could feel fear surrounding me. Why?? Because for Heather to know all of me would involve me being VULNERABLE. And that is where for many the rubber meets the road. Not only with relationships with loved ones but with God Himself. We have become experts in hiding…hiding behind religious masks and behind tough exteriors of independence. But through His love He is still coming down to us searching and calling us by our name like He did with Adam. Where are you?? Who told you you where naked?? Who has said that you are not good enough for me?? Who has filled your head with nonsense and saying that I am not more than enough for you?

My question is: Will you let Him in? Will you Trust that He is good? Will you let Him love you?



His Rest Was Never At Risk

  His rest celebrates perfection. His work is complete; the fall of humanity did not flaw its perfection. (Heb. 4:3 the Mirror Translation)

  Each day I am more convinced in the totality and perfection of not only what Christ did but in WHO he is. He has always been the Lamb slain before the foundations of the world. The solution was there before the problem, our forgiveness came way before our repentance. There is this Capon quote that I absolutely love. It reads: Creation is just as miraculous now as it was at the beginning, because redemption is present at every moment and every place throughout every part of creation. The creation and redemption are one act, not two. In the moment Adam and Eve eat of the fruit of the tree, they are redeemed. Not by that act but by him who made them. And therefore everything that happens after that is a proclamation of the gospel. Francois du Toit says: God saw more than his perfect image in Adam, he also saw the Lamb and his perfect work of redemption! I mean wow!!! 

  Growing up in the Church I always heard what God was about to do or was going to do but few rarely boasted in what He had done already. Religion always seems to put the good things of God in a far distant future. It thrives on distance and delay. Somehow Religion has made boasting through a language of lack as being “spiritual.” I am really excited about seeing how many have been waking up to the blissful reality of what Christ accomplished! Many when hearing the Good News feel life jumping inside of them. The truth is that the Good News is not a Message of something that they haven’t heard but it’s something that Religion tried to cover up. True Faith recognizes what has ALREADY taken place! In the beauty of this growing revelation we are not only finding who Christ is but we are also finding who we have always been… accepted and chosen in the Beloved before time!

Brave Dreaming…Brave Living


Joel:   We have the privilege of dreaming together with God. Now Religion has told us that we must sacrifice our dreams, to offer them up on the altar, die to them in order to “please” God. When in reality He was the one who placed those dreams inside of us in the first place. This lie of giving up your dreams has left many depressed and not really living their lives to the fullest but merely surviving. We encourage you to dare to dream those dreams again. I see many leaving jobs that they have been working in for many years because they thought they had to and opening up their own businesses and or going to school again to go after those things they have longed for. I see a people who will no longer dread getting up in the morning to go to their boring job but jumping out of bed with joy and a great expectation of what that day will look like.

Heather:   After working as a missionary giving “my all” to God, my career choice took an unexpected turn of events.  While living in the midst of illiteracy, a culture of addiction, lack of adequately involved parenting, and general violence, while doing a lot of “good work” Papa said, “Quit belittling the gift I’ve given you.”  In my hierarchy of perceived self-sacrifice I was “laying down everything” to do what I perceived to be God’s will.  Until he had a conversation with me.  I was invited by an individual to start painting.  It seemed like the world was ending in the midst of my decision on this one point.  I was picturing with God and I saw him through the eyes of a scared little daughter.  I was tightly holding a box of 64 crayons (well used and appreciated in my childhood–mine even had the sharpener built into the back) and Daddy reached out his hand to following his leading.  He was opening a door for me into the front of a building and was leading my hand to follow him and come inside.  I said yes.

I’m not sure if I would have had the faith to step out into starting my own business trusting God’s leading if I hadn’t already done that on the mission field for eight years without having “produced” anything.  But God made it undeniably clear that he desired my creativity and that somehow was important to him, well beyond my understanding.  I was even slightly offended by my lack of understanding on how this was at all practical or effective in any regards to the kingdom of God but I decided he knew what he was doing.

To this day, two and half years later, I paint.  I still don’t understand it, I still have never received training (I don’t have any concept of doing things wrong or right), I still don’t know why what I do is special, and I still often wonder how I should be doing things differently but in the meantime, I paint.  I don’t paint led by money, I paint led by inspiration; sometimes those to combine nicely, other times, I am left to wonder and trust at the fruit.  I find I am often challenged by the Holy Spirit–every project actually–always has something new I’ve never done before involved in it.  To be honest, that’s what keeps thing challenging and intriguing and inside when I’m going to approach a project.  I have to figure out the execution and that’s the part I enjoy of creation, the newness that I’ve never experienced before.  I guess it’s kind of like singing a new song to the Lord.  That’s a little of my story as an artist, a child, and a wonderer.