Set Free

 “Sin is the condition of being curved in on yourself.” -Augustine 

“I have asked one thing of the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord…” (Psalm 27: 4)

Have you ever done or said something to someone about which you immediately felt guilty? Maybe it was a quick comment that the other person hardly noticed, but, to you, it stuck. You knew in your heart that you had wronged someone you cared about, and so it left a bad taste in your mouth.

I had a similar experience recently. I didn’t think too much about it in the moment, but later that day I went home and found myself writing the person a note, telling them how much I loved and appreciated them, how special and how valuable they were to me and to the Father. I meant every word, and the person was grateful for the encouragement. Afterwards, however, I still had a sense that something wasn’t right; I still had that bad taste in my mouth.

Then the Lord spoke very clearly:

You are trying to redeem yourself, little one. But you have already been redeemed. 

Keep reading…

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Thousands of Kisses

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is sweeter than wine.” (Song of Songs 1:2)

My son is now six months old, and he has the most deliciously chubby cheeks. Even with spring now approaching, he still looks as if he’s been storing nuts for the winter. I love it.

People are constantly telling me that they can’t help but kiss his cheeks– and neither can I. All day long I kiss his chubby face and tell him how much I love him. It’s not something I have to think to do (unload the dishwasher, take out the trash, oh yea– and kiss Baby Boy and tell him you love him.); it’s something I can’t help but do. My love for my son is greater than I could have ever imagined before he arrived, and it only grows stronger by the day.

So I happily kiss his face and tell him I love him hundreds– maybe thousands!– of times each day (that’s what it feels like, anyway…). My son has never done a thing to deserve my love or affection, besides exist; in fact, he demands quite a lot from me. But he is mine, and mother-love is the kind that spills over, just because.

 

Early this morning as I rocked my son back to sleep, I sat amazed, once again, by how very much I love him. Then the Father whispered sweetly into the darkness:

Your love for him is only a hint of My love for you, little one, your affection only a faint shadow of that which I show you every single day. Feel my kisses upon your cheeks. Hear Me say it again and again and again: I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you!

I cannot help it! I do! Simply because you exist and you are Mine.

 

Father-love, as it turns out, is much like mother-love– or perhaps it is the other way around, since everything in the natural has a way of reflecting its supernatural Creator. Just as He mercifully gave us His Son to reveal Himself to the world (John 1:18), our Father reveals glimpses of His love through our own earthly experiences each day. And so we are encouraged to look a little harder for His fingerprints which are upon everything.

 

Today I am listening a little closer for my Father’s “I love yous,” and I am waiting expectantly for the thousands of kisses He will most definitely plant upon my cheeks.

You and I belong to Him, and we are so very loved.

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Drink Deeply

thirst: those who painfully feel their want of and eagerly long for those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, strengthened, etc. (Strong’s Concordance)

Have you ever met one of those people who just seems to emanate  Christ? It’s as if they can’t help it– love and joy well up within them, spilling over onto whomever they touch; peace and patience fill them during even the gravest of circumstances. They’re the most refreshing kind of people to be around, the kind you can’t get enough of, the kind who make you want whatever it is they have.

As followers of Christ, we should be the most filled and satisfied people on the planet, yet so many of us are still living from a place of defeat, still seeking that which we already possess. We struggle with this and labor over that. We desire real, lasting fruit to grow from within us, but it seems so fleeting. So we surmise that life is hard. We resign to do our best and soldier on.

 

Yet we are not defeated! Keep reading…

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Carried and Content

“An unlearned peasant, whose contentment is the service of God, is better than the learned and the clever, whose pride in their knowledge leads them to neglect their souls while fixing their eyes on the stars.” -Thomas A. Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

“…fixing our eyes on Christ, the Author and Perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2)

This, for me, has been a season of restlessness. Sure, there have been moments of rest, times when I am reminded of the Father’s love and faithfulness, full days when I welcome in Christ’s gift of perfect peace. But more often than not, my soul has been striving– to do and seek and be and rise above.

God made us- body, mind and spirit- to need rest. Rest in Him, peace in Him. We simply are not able to keep going without it, and we certainly can do nothing without Him (John 15:5).

Yet godliness with contentment is great gain (1 TImothy 6:6). So when our hearts are relying peacefully on our Father for all, when we truly can say that it is well with our souls, then we are somehow able to do so much, much more than we could ever imagine. Or more accurately– God is able to do much with us.  Keep reading…

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Hands Full: A Message about Value

“Great thoughts go best with common duties. Whatever therefore may be your office regard it as a fragment in an immeasurable ministry of love.” -Bishop Brooke Foss Westcott

“The man who can be trusted in little things can be trusted in great… If then you cannot be trusted with money, that tainted thing, who will trust you with genuine riches! And if you cannot be trusted with what is not yours, who will give you what is your very own?” (Luke 16:10-12)

When I was in college, I spent two of my summers volunteering in Uganda at various homes for children. I loved it. I thrived off of the simple acts of service, the richness of Christian community, and the continual sounds of children laughing and playing. It may be my version of heaven.

Granted it was hard work, but I didn’t mind the late nights or the early mornings or the frequent disruptions to my day when yet another emergent situation arose.

Riding on the back of a motorbike with a sick child and then waiting three hours to see a doctor? I’m there. Going hours or sometimes days without electricity, or sometimes water? Not a big deal. Changing endless amounts of diapers and washing clothes by hand? You got it. Somehow, nothing seemed an inconvenience. The exact opposite was true, actually: I was energized by it all. I felt honored to care for those children and to serve in any way I was able.

Keep reading…

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Tests, Blessings and the Power of the Cross

“Then Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness fro 40 days to be tempted by the Devil.” (Luke 4:1)

The Father has reminded me this week that He is a good Teacher who faithfully follows up each of His lessons with a test. And I really am grateful for that… really. No one enjoys being tested, me included, but how else will we learn? The Lord in His mercy allows us to be tested so that we may become doers of His Word and not hearers only, so that we may be blessed in all we do (James 1:22-25).

As I’ve studied God’s Word lately, I’ve recognized the correlation between walking in the Holy Spirit (i.e., following Holy Spirit’s lead) and dying to self. I’ve seen that the only way to really allow Holy Spirit to lead is by following Christ’s example, taking up our cross, and dying daily. I’ve seen that this death to self is actually a good thing; it is for our benefit that our flesh is crucified so we may be reborn to walk in the Spirit.

As I’ve mentioned before, however, dying is difficult. Laying down our lives each day is neither easy nor pleasant, something I experienced firsthand this week as the Lord asked me to put His teaching into action. Keep reading…

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Deaths to Die

“Christ’s love compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: if One died for all, then all have died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14)

In her devotional, Keep a Quiet Heart, Elisabeth Elliott describes a sermon given by Catholic priest, Ugo Bassi, during the early 19th century that has impacted her walk with Christ. Bassi preached the sermon to a hospital filled with sick and dying patients, and it was a message, appropriately, about suffering.

He taught, as Elliott points out, that we cannot truly know Christ and the power of His resurrection without also entering into the fellowship of His suffering, and that suffering is a way in which we are able to draw near to Christ that is short-lived and unique to this world, for there will be no more suffering upon His return.

Bassi then describes in detail the life of the Vine- that is, the life of Christ- and the pruning process: Keep reading…

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Passion and the Way of the Cross

“Even zeal without knowledge is not good, and the one who makes haste with his feet misses his way.” (Proverbs 19:2)

“For dreams result from much work and a fool’s voice from many words.” (Ecclesiastes 5:3)

I wrote in my previous post about the significance of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers, the gift we have in the Holy Spirit as a supernatural Guide, and the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us rather than trying to lead Him. 

Kelsey Nielson, founder of Abide Family Center in Uganda, recently wrote an article about my generation and our tendency toward entitlement when it comes to pursuing our dreams and serving the Lord, our tendency to place passion before knowledge and expertise. But that’s just it- a servant is by definition not entitled to anything, and what God desires must trump our dreams and passions if He truly is Lord. 

Nielson writes that this kind of blind passion is dangerous and a discredit to the people we are ultimately aiming to serve. When we place our desire to go and do above the overall good of the people we wish to serve and before the leading and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, then we are acting foolishly, selfishly, and hastily, and therefore bound to miss our way. 

Continue reading

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“You will conceive and give birth to a son…”

“But how can this be…?”

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the Most High will overshadow you.”

(Luke 1:31-35)

love God’s Word. I love learning more about my Father and Savior and Holy Spirit through the testimony of those who have come before me. I love opening up this earthly book made of paper and ink, and watching supernatural things unfold before my eyes and within my heart.

In the Bible God likens His Word to bread- spiritual food that sustains our souls. When I read the Word- not just as a necessary spiritual discipline, but as a means to intimacy with my Father, as a book that is just as true and as powerful today as it was centuries ago- then God’s Word transforms from dry, day-old toast into sweet, freshly baked banana bread, so filling and so rich that I am only able to take in and savor a few bites at a time. Mmmm.

Through His Word the Father has been opening my eyes to the third Person of God: the Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus and the Father are People who want to know and interact with us, so is the Holy Spirit. And God’s Word- if we take Him at His Word- has so much to say about the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers and the help and power and blessing we miss out on when we choose to ignore Him.

Continue reading

Overshadowed: Following the Holy Spirit, Expecting the Supernatural

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“Indeed, the hairs on your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows!” (Luke 12:7)

My dad works at an antique shop and spends a great deal of his time buying and selling antiques. He researches different items- pricing, history, current demand, etc.- and then he sifts through garage sales and estate sales in search of just the right pieces. It could be a certain type of dish or an old toy from the Post-WWII era- as long someone somewhere is willing to pay good money for it, to him, it’s valuable.

My dad says there is one key variable in his searches, something without which he could not be successful: the people selling the items more often than not have no idea the value of their possessions. Maybe it belonged to a relative who passed away long ago, or maybe they simply have no use for it anymore. Whatever it may be, the sellers are glad to part with the old necklace or coffee pot or rocking horse for very little, and my dad, knowing it’s true value, is more than happy to purchase it. Keep reading…

Worthy

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