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Cover Up

It’s human reaction to cover up when we have been exposed for doing something wrong. It’s not ironic that the reason Jesus died innocently on the cross was to cover our sin by being penalized for it. It was the ultimate ‘I covered for you’ scenario.

As I pursue God, and contemplate His work and will in my life, I am thankful for something the Gospel of Jesus contains, and that is conviction. That word might sound harsh but it’s actually merciful. Like that friend who will let you know if you have spinach in your teeth or the one who loves you too much to let you pass by without pointing out your undone zipper, the Gospel illuminates my need for forgiveness and wholeness.

“Wounds of a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:6

God is for us, and He loves us too much to lie to us. The whole point of the Gospel is to communicate that God wants to be reconciled to us & He paid the ticket for that to happen. We choose whether or not to gain access and redemption to Him. Like a father whose child ran away, He reached out, bought a ticket and said ‘Come home, it’s on me. I miss you and want to see you again.’

The Bible says that believing Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of mankind, and confessing it, is the way to receive salvation (Romans 10:9). It has everything to do with your heart, no particular formula of words. If you’re reading this and want to accept His love, mercy forgiveness and redemption, just tell Him. Ask Him to show you what it means. I had that turning point when I was younger and I’ve been enjoying His presence in my life ever since. Struggles still come, pain still comes, but it’s a whole different situation when a personal God helps you and loves you through it all.

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When it hurts like Hell

It’s been just over a month since my sister lost her twins, Leo and Amada (Spanish for loved). They were born early at 20 weeks. I was able to fly home the day she had them and I had the privilege of anointing them, praying over them and holding them.

As soon as I saw my sister all I wanted to do was hold her in my own arms and comfort her. I couldn’t help but rub her hair and weep. She has just been through hell and was still processing what happened. There’s very few ways to describe the atmosphere…but I think of the popular verse at funerals Psalm 23:4 ‘Even though I go through the valley of the shadow of death…’ and I realize the writer, King David’s wife lost a baby. I wonder if he wrote it with that in mind.

On my drive down to see her, I could only do 2 things-cry and sing. A popular song we had started singing at church was called Grace to Grace. That’s all that I was able to hear when I held the twins…it felt like the track was playing in my head….”when I see that cross I see Jesus, when I see that grave I see freedom, and from death to life I will sing your praise, in the wonder of your grace…”

I remember looking up at my dad while I was rocking them, and humming that song, weeping, but smiling and saying  “They’re not here, and they’re ok.”

It was in those moments of holding them, which was a depth of sorrow I’d never experienced, that I truly felt the presence and certainty of Heaven. I believe even more than I have believed before that loss like this is why Jesus came to make a way for us, to be reunited with our loved ones one day who trust in Him too.

Having peace knowing where their souls are, having joy knowing I’ll meet them in Heaven one day, is what it means to me to have victory over death. In this life, we have temporary pain and suffering, but that is working for us to produce a glory in the next life. We don’t grieve like those who have no hope (1Thess 4:13).

On earth we see things dimly, but one day we will see them clearly, until then we use faith. We take courage, because He’s in the waiting.

Activation Required: Why faith doesn’t work for some

I’m sure you’ve been given a plastic gift card with some monetary value attached to it on at least one occasion. I love getting gift cards! They’re awesome when you understand how to use the value attached to it.

Imagine this scenario. You’re in a coffee shop trying to act like you can’t hear what is going on around you (because we all do that). You can’t help but overhear some people next to you talking about what they got for Christmas. The first one lists… “Sweater, drone, car accessories”. The second one starts his list… “Tools, socks, … and a small piece of plastic that’s supposed to be worth $500.” Upon hearing this you probably would’ve  found a casual way to look directly at this person to see if they are being serious. Have they never received a gift card? Where is it to? Do you want to give it away? 

The other friend jokes, “Was it your grandma? She’s really losing it, huh?” They both get up to leave the coffee shop and if you were less of a person you would follow them and ask for it.

The whole scenario leaves you bewildered and blown away that someone would not recognize and use the money they were given. You’ve already spent the $500 and then some in your mind.

But this is how faith works…. some people give up on faith and others live by it, why? I believe it’s because some people have learned the secret of how it works, it must be valued and activated. Of course a small piece of 2″ x 3″ plastic is worthless on it’s own. But once it’s paid for and activated, it works just like money to get what you need or want. I think this is how God wants us to use our faith. I’ve heard it said this way ‘Money is the currency of earth but faith is the currency of Heaven.’

We want a ‘magic’ button in life sometimes to change our circumstances or we don’t understand why God doesn’t just ‘fix it’, but He gave us the capacity to operate in faith so that we could partner with Him in accomplishing what we need to, overcoming what we need to, and living the full life that He paid to give us.

I think most people, Christians anyway, treat their faith like a decoration in their house instead of a gift card with value. They might have the word ‘Faith’  written in delicate letters on a pillow or in a wall frame, but it’s practically useless. Can you imagine going to someone’s house and seeing the gift card you gave them in a nice frame on the wall? How frustrating and disheartening! But this is how we treat our faith and sometimes our walk with God….we want it to look nice, but we don’t walk in it’s purpose or power.

I want to encourage you today, that there is no doubt at least one area of your life that you can think of where you would say, I could use help here. Whether it’s relational or practical, God knows how to get you what you need, you just have to start using your faith.

Ok, but where does it start? It starts with believing that God is good on His word, just like credit on a gift card. It starts with realizing you’ve been given what you need to succeed and the challenges and obstacles are not the problem, lack of encouragement or tenacity or boldness is. So ask God for what you’re lacking. He’s not cheap. He’s abundantly rich in every way and to pair with that, He’s good. Instead of praying to win the lottery, pray that God gives you wisdom to prosper. Instead of praying for your problems to go away, pray that God helps you see them the way He does and for the empowerment to overcome them. Pray for everything. Why not? There’s no story in the Bible that says they asked for too much. Actually, God rebukes David in 2 Sam 12:8 for not asking Him for more and going about things his own way. “…And if that had been too little, I would have given you much more!”

Apply yourself to activating your faith, and you’ll begin to discover all that God has in store for you!

 

 

 

You are just like your Father!

I heard that or ‘You look just like your dad’ growing up. As I’ve gotten older, I embrace it and treasure it more and more, but it’s true, I’m a lot like my dad. I didn’t have to try, I just am made that way. I can relate to him on a few levels because of this.

I used to have a passion for Christian apologetics and follow the archeological findings that supported biblical stories. I thought that if my atheist and agnostic friends saw enough proof, they would eventually believe in God. This approach didn’t have the results I wanted and it felt more like a tug of war with me in the middle trying to force them to shake hands. I got frustrated and basically said to God ‘Don’t you care that they find you? Why are you being so elusive? Are you stubborn?’

The answer that I felt came to me, was something like ‘What do you want for them?’ My answer was (and still is), ‘To know you, and to know you are good’. I felt like that was a shifting point for my faith because I realized God doesn’t want to be found by way of physical proof (not that some doesn’t exist, but you get my point). He is much more personal, and that’s how He is found. ‘You will find me when you seek me with your whole heart.’ (Jeremiah 29:13) Since we are made in His image and likeness, it became clearer to me that the most tangible proof of the biblical God is within us humans.

When someone selflessly and sacrificially loves someone else, that is what the Greek call Agape love. It is the highest form of love there is. Have you seen someone display that kind of love? I am fortunate enough to say I have. It kind of leaves you speechless and it almost seems like you’re witnessing something miraculous. That’s a reflection of God and how He loves. Do the words ‘For God so loved that He gave’ (John 3:16) sound familiar? It’s probably the most popular scripture because it sums up the gospel. Of course, there is another conflicting nature within us humans, but that’s another blog.

Another trait I see as proof of God in people is the ability to create. It’s one of my favorite things to see how my artistic friends can create, paint, sculpt, & design something so amazing and bring it to life. I don’t know one of them who isn’t passionate about it either!

I also think of the things that hurt us the most and what we desire the most-relationships. When someone doesn’t believe you or trust you when you’re trying to help them, that feeling of rejection, frustration and pain is real and He’s familiar with those emotions too. On the other hand, the majority of humans I know desire real, genuine relationships. That desire to know someone, whether it’s friendship, romance or spending time with your child, that’s what’s at the core of God’s heart too.

I’m realizing over and over again, that God is not religious! He is all about the heart. Our free will is a gift and we aren’t robots!  So the next time you seek proof, don’t think about the Ark of Noah being discovered, think about how your heart and mind function, realize you are made in the image of a good God and consider seeking Him with your heart instead.