Jesus.

I seriously hope that no one ever looks at me or my life and thinks – she is so religious. That honestly makes me nauseous. I just hope the way I choose to live just reflects the love of my Savior  Jesus.

I like to think of religion as product packaging. (Disclaimer: I’m a marketing nerd.) It’s a man made label that we use to give identity to how we relate to, worship, serve God. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything inherently wrong with that, but religion is not what it’s all about. Jesus did not come to establish religion. He came to save us from our sins out of selfless, perfect love and make it possible for us to have a real, intimate relationship with God. It’s about relationship not formalities or routine or a schedule. It’s about being real and vulnerable and naked before God. It’s about intimately knowing Him and loving Him and letting Him do the same.

This might seem trite, but I see empty religious shells everywhere I look and it’s perplexing to me. How did we get it so wrong? I don’t ever want my relationship with Christ to be chalked up to religion or look like a task list instead of abandoned, surrendered love. I’m only human. I’m sinful. I need a Savior.

I guess I am trying to live in a way that says, Thank you Jesus for saving me – I love you. We don’t have to jump through any hoops for Jesus. His grace is a free gift. We just have to accept His invitation to a relationship filled with the love and peace we were all created to long for. It’s found in Jesus and nowhere else, in nothing else, in no one else. Just Jesus. There is nothing methodical about love, especially when it comes to Jesus. Trust me you’ll never get bored with it or be betrayed by it. His love is brilliant and creative and perfect. His love never fails. Ever.

It’s just that simple and just that perfect to love and be loved by Jesus. And that’s a good thing because most days I’m kind of a hot mess in need of someone who loves me no matter how ugly I’m acting or thinking or talking. He just takes me as I am.

Breathing deep right now. Then I think – Jesus is closer to me than my own breath in this moment and forever. He will never leave me or forget me or forsake me. I can never do anything, or not do anything, that will make Him love me any more or any less. He just loves me. Period. Now and forever. Since before I was born. And nothing, not even the power of the pit of hell, can snatch me from His hand.

That’s some Good News y’all.

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Anything, not Everything

A seemingly small trick I learned recently from Lysa TerKeurst has shed some new light on an old favorite script, Philippians 4:13. It’s called 10 fingers and it goes like this: I. Can. Do. All. Things. Through. Christ. Who. Strengthens. Me.  (Don’t forget to count with your fingers!)

It’s a little like counting to 10 when you feel like you’re about to overreact about something silly in the heat of the moment. When I feel suddenly overwhelmed with stress, worry, doubt, fear…I simply count to 10 and remind myself of how awesome my God is!

It’s an amazing sense of peace that comes when you take a moment to remember how big God is and that literally ANYHTING is possible with Him. It’s also humbling to recognize that outside Him nothing of value is possible.

But I’ve come to realize that just because God can accomplish anything, things we cant even imagine, in and through us by His strength, that doesn’t mean I need to go out and attempt to conquer EVERYTHING I can get my hands on. Just because God can make something happen doesn’t mean He will. That thing, goal, dream, task might not be for us. If I’ve learned anything in 24 years it’s this: if it’s not in God’s will for my life it ain’t gonna happen.

So I’m trying to learn to live in the moment God has for me right now and stop constantly striving towards the future. I don’t want to miss the present! I know God has me right where I am for a reason, a purpose. It might not be what I envisioned, but I certainly don’t know best. God does! He designed me and He wrote my story. He knows how it ends and all the stops in between. And He pulled me out of eternity and placed here for such a time as this. I may not know what my future holds or even what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds me. Sometimes I just need to remind myself, God’s got this. I don’t need to have it all figured out because He already knows what’s ahead and the reasons for what’s behind.

I am challenging myself to keep my eyes open and my heart ready. To be obedient to what God is placing on my heart right now. To take the next little step of faith. To stay in his Word and let the light of his Truth guide me towards the destiny He has for me.

This year I want to read more than I’ve ever read. I want to DO something. I want to take steps of faith. I want to trust God. I want to decrease and I want Him increase. I want to give him the things I’ve been holding onto so tightly. I want to let go in full surrender. I want to be obedient where I am. I want to give more and worry less.

I want to let God do His thing and stop trying to force my thing.

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“[Waiting] is a kind of work that happens only in the secret place of abiding in the presence of Christ even in the midst of broken dreams and tired circumstance.” ~Emily P. Freeman

Joy & Peace in the midst of a season of waiting. Everyone is longing, searching for peace. But only when we find ourselves resting in His Presence will we find this Peace we seek. Peace in the brokenness. Peace in the tiredness. Peace in the striving, the running, the reaching, the dying.

Peace in a life riddled with trials and tribulations that sap our souls dry. Peace that comes rushing in like cool water and soaks up through the cracks of our wasteland – the desert in our hearts.

Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Rejoice: praise, secure, joy, settled.

Joy, not a feeling.

“Happiness is based on circumstances, while joy is based on God’s love and faithfulness. Happiness is rooted in positive emotions, while joy is something more. It’s a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23), something that God divinely gives us through the power of his Holy Spirit. Joy is like a medicine when our hearts are sick and the pain seems unbearable.” ~Christine Caine 

 Joy, that slips through the cracks of our soul to make us whole again.

Joy, that pours into our hearts with the fullness of Him.

Hope, Peace, Joy, Love. A candle for each, not one without the other – all together. Life by the Spirit. Advent.

So light your candle and place it in the sill. Wait. Expect. The Lord is near; Christmas is dawning. Our Prince of Peace is close. Nearer still than the very breath you inhale.

Wait…watch…breathe in His presence – “Sacred shaping happens in the waiting.” ~Emily P. Freeman

“[Waiting] is a…

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