The girl on the side street…

astronomy dark dawn dusk

Photo by Matheus Bertelli

Once I was the girl on the side street flashing in and out of the dark. I was taught a role to play for the well being of my family and for my Dad’s livelihood.  I played it well. Such a mix of tender family moments peppered with the fear that maybe Jesus didn’t really come for me…

…now the ocean’s wind catches each regret, each sin, and sorrow throwing it into the eternity of a perfect God to be forever forgotten.  In the light of the moon a young woman, who thought the stars would stop shining above her found the Maker of the stars and the freedom and love and the lullaby when He sang a Holy song baptizing over her in waves. So now I am drifting, sailing and it was you who came for me.

On that day when the sun tipped over the edge of the earth and spilled colors like buckets of orange, pink, and violet as a reminder of the power of Holy light. The young woman once ravaged and scarred by guilt and shame found joy in the warmth of The Son. Lifted from the darkness you came for me.  You hold me in your arms and by your own wounds, scars, and stripes you heal me. The girl on the side street finally came home…

All her colors run together on the floor

beautiful calm clouds dark

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

All her colors run together on the floor…

she has been here so many times before

She is sure this time they will stone her

Condemnation beats in her heart and her soul is torn…

 

His gentle words were more than she had hoped for…

He bent down in the dirt and wrote a word

He spoke gently lifting her face to see Heaven

“No one here can condemn you anymore…”

 

All the colors of New life swirled around her at once

Blood red drops in the dirt became white as snow

the blue of the sky filled with angels singing “gloria! ”

He said, ” your sins are forgiven now you are whole… “

No Additives

 

 

alcohol bar beverage black background

Photo by freestocks.org

 

He heals the wounds of a ravaged heart

                                                   oh fathom lavish love!

Drink his grace straight up

                                                  fill oh fill my cup!

No one else will care like this

                                               oh death where is thy sting?

Drink his grace straight up

                                             fill oh fill my cup!

Cannot add to him or take him away

                                            oh pure the bread and wine!

Drink his grace straight up

                                           fill oh fill my cup!

 

 

The Cross of Jesus is the most inglorious event in all of mankind’s history yet is the only event that makes our Glory legitimate…

person lying on cart

Photo by HARSH KUSHWAHA

God spoke, “I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my righteous wrath upheld me.” Isaiah 63:5

The theology (meaning study of…) of the Cross vs. The theology of Glory jumped out at me while reading again the book called The Gospel According to Job  by Mike Mason which I have been reading for over five years along with The Discipline of Disturbance  by Hud McWilliams, who has been my spiritual mentor for over twenty-nine years.

All of that to say it absolutely astounded me  when I realized that there is no glory in the Cross. The monumental indescribable event that took place on that cross was one of absolutely NO glory yet it is exactly that event on that cross that makes Glory for you and I a legitimate option through the obedience of Jesus to die on that cross. and be given by God the Father the Sovereign rule forever. It stirred me so that I could not eat or sleep.

The spirituality of the Cross and those of us who trust in The One who died up on it is that it seeks God and ONLY God and here is the kicker, the work on the cross of Jesus would accept NO GLORY!  There is no glory in sin. God himself is the significant value of the Cross!!! Jesus humbled himself  only seeking God’s will and then doing it.

Glory to God is useless if humans conjure it up in themselves. We see it all around us in the Church. A mega church boasting about their numbers of attendance. The church member who judges others who cannot seem to overcome their sin issues  but never  repenting of their own or the supposed Christian celebrities that millions follow on social media and accept their teachings because they are popular.

The Glory belongs to Jesus and Jesus alone, who’ s very essence is God,  yet on that cross he was a son, a man who had not sought ANY glory for himself only his Father’s.

“Never build your case for forgiveness on the idea that God is our Father and He will forgive us because he loves us. God forgives sin ONLY because of the death of Christ…anything that LESSENS the holiness of God through a false view of His love, contradicts the truth of God as REVEALED by Jesus Christ…”  Oswald Chambers

The lesson is that the Cross is for those who will walk by simple faith seeking no glory of our own. Oh that I might grasp this Truth today and everyday for one day my Faith will be made sight and the glory will be more than eternity can hold. Not mine but His.

“The Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:18

 

In a culture that worships a false normal of beauty and worth…

photo of night sky with stars

Photo by Bryan Schneider

“Some of the greatest lies you will ever believe are told by your own eyes.”  Says the  writer Preston Sprinkle

We have been talking about this issue in American culture for the last twenty-five years and I don’t see much change in the message. Even in the age of reality TV shows like “the Voice” while the auditions are blind so that a judge cannot pick the contestant on any merit other than their voice we find that if they make it past the blind auditions they are quickly given a Hollywood stylist and their clothes, make-up, and hair are tweaked here and there and by the time the contest is over for that season the person is “acceptably attractive.” Even as far back as Carrie Underwood winning American Idol or Kelly Clarkson…if you go back and look at them you can see they were “made” more acceptable.

With God, your image, yours and mine, we are acceptable just as we are but I cannot for the life of me understand why we cannot get past these stereotypes of how one should look, and dress, and even age…

As a believer in God, Jesus Christ and the Bible I have no problem believing that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, all-knowing, all-seeing, creator of ninety trillion million stars, the ocean, the tide, the sun, the earth…(You get the picture). Nobody tells God what he can or cannot do.

I have a harder time believing that this same transcendent Holy God would reach down to his earth and rescue his human race which makes him also an intimate God. A God who desires relationship with the people he created, with me and you. He isn’t playing a game of cosmic chess with us. He doesn’t love us begrudgingly yet most of us have a difficult time believing that same huge God who we believe created us and everything around us truly cares about us. That he delights in us. That he thinks of us more often than there are grains of sand? That he can’t wait for me to come talk and walk with him? That I am more beautiful than any sunset or sunrise could ever be? That he wants to be my friend and even more astonishing that He trusts me? That he never gives up on me just like the father in the story of the prodigal son He never stops looking out to the horizon to see if I am coming home after making a mess of everything in my life! He loves to hear my joy of laughter or singing. He is patient and kind and slow to anger. He loves my face and my body. He loves me!

It is an endless dance of performances and masks that I grow so very weary of. Are you weary? I cannot sustain what I think that you think I need to look like to be acceptable. This is the burden of societal shame. 

So, I must not let my own eyes deceive me in commercial ads, in billboard ads, in Playboy, in movies, in T.V.

I work with young women. Eating disorders, body image, and anxiety is at an all time high in this country. It is a fact. They believe they must be thin, quiet, and good all the time. They believe they are ugly and not made by God and in His image at all. What a toll it has taken on our people.

God sees his children as beautiful. He sees each race as beautiful. His redemption of his children cannot be thwarted by any scheme of Evil or of man. So, I choose to look at myself through the eyes of my Father God who created me. I choose to look into his eyes and see myself as his beloved daughter. A daughter of beauty in every way and that He came down from heaven and redeemed me with his Grace and lets me walk with him daily and talk with him freely and never feel that I am ugly or unworthy of his love and blessings.

My spirituality, my beauty, my worth is upheld by God’s stubborn Grace and deep enjoyment of me.  It is  God whom I reflect and even if my eyes lie to me a thousand times it does not change the Truth one bit. I am precious, beloved, and I do belong to Him. I am beautiful…

I want my daughters and their sons and daughters to know they are more than even their own eyes tell them they are.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity into our human hearts; no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes  3:11

She Offers Perfect Praise… “unless you come as a child you will not know the kingdom of heaven…”

A child is not aware of her dependence on another. She simply trust that it will be done and gives her praise to God in unsolicited ways. Like the sunflower she moves through her day always facing the sun.

She praises God with belly laughs and silly songs never doubting that he will not be delighted with her. She praises by folding her little hands to pray. She praises by dancing for all the world to see. She praises by clapping for herself when she accomplishes a task. She praises with her tears when she is hurt and loving arms reach for her. She praises when she jumps into her daddy’s arms trusting that he will always catch her. She praises when she hangs on to her Mommy’s hand when she is unsure of what is occurring.

She is unencumbered of what things cost or ashamed of anything because she Trusts The Holy One who has shown himself to her in the rainbow and in the leaves and in the pretty rocks she picks up all along her walks with her Mama.

And all of the heavenly host rejoice with her!

The Fruit of The Lie…

clearing desolation destruction fallen tree
Photo by Picography

Everything living bears fruit. It is ordained to be so but the fruit of the lie…well, it is the way of destruction. You will read on Christian folk’s plaques, little framed sayings, and coffee cups what is known as  “the Fruit of the Spirit.” The fruits of spirituality in Christ Jesus are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Most of us who have attended church most of our lives or had a Biblical upbringing can quote these words verbatim.

The fruit of the lie however, is not talked about as much but it’s evidence is rife within humanity. I have seen with my own eyes in the last twenty years… more fruit of the lie than I ever dreamed possible. It is as if the conscience of society only concerns itself with what he/she presumes to be morally acceptable. Not whether a thing is True.

Society now says, “Everyone has their own truth.” THIS is the Lie. There can only be one Truth and Truth stands alone.

If you believe the Bible, in the very beginning the human problem starts with a lie and  disobedience which was instantaneously followed by Shame. The Truth is distorted just enough to sound like truth but it isn’t. This specific spiritual distortion lures you into a temporary comfort that may “imitate peace” for a short time but just like snow that appears to be a warm fluffy cloud  when you press yourself into its deceiving embrace so gently it snuggled you tightly until your cold heart stops beating and you are dead inside.

Lest you think I am exaggerating let’s look at some of the fruit of the lie…

  • Saying we “know” God but never being grateful to Him or honoring him rather we honor our own works of our hands, our deeds, our magnanimous “reaching out” to the less fortunate or having wealth of our own for which we give ourselves all the credit. We say “to the works of our hands, you are our gods.” Actually denying his existence and Holiness we belittle His name.
  • Denying who created us and that we are our own “adapted” gods. We instead call it  Adaptive Evolution. Once again Denying the total completion  of God Almighty.
  • We build mighty armies wishing they can keep peace in a world where there is no peace and all the while we here “let’s all just sit down and talk and get along. Those radicals are our only problem.” We never pray or fast or seek God’s direction anymore! Now that is some deadly fruit!
  • Denying that it is God who gives life and healing yet we boast about our choices and our technology as if knowledge alone without ethics is okay. Yet death still comes and we must face that.
  • Saying that “we” feed ourselves when the Truth is that Americans can barely make one day without electricity and refrigeration and we are “out” of heat, food, and gasoline. Instead we are lulled into a false sense of prosperity and believe we can “fix” it all.

I am not saying that working hard and having possessions are a LIE but they truly are a bad thing when we begin to believe the LIE that we “did it all ourselves, look how great we are…look at the technology we have discovered, look at our genius…” when all along it is God who gives all “good” gifts and never “humbling” ourselves rather we are proud, arrogant, and haughty.

There is no Truth, nor Love, nor Good apart from God. That is the Truth. The Fruit of the Truth is love, joy, peace patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Nine Months B.C.

They think they know me…I walk among them and they turn their eyes away. Most of them want to see me stoned to death but Joseph has stepped up to save me. Even my father and mother doubt me. Some say I am a lunatic or have devils in me.
I am ten and four years. I am a daughter of Abraham, a Hebrew girl. I was born, have lived and will die in this patriarchal world. I am to make a good wife and mother. I want to do that with all of my heart.
I have known trembling fear these last few months and yet I have had an unworldly peace in my soul. I really cannot explain it but my Faith in the integrity of my God is so very real to me. I know that God is good. I know that He loves people. I know he created all things and he loves and does not lie. I know that he is just and gives life…this has sustained me. I cry out to Him most nights when all are asleep and I am alone. I cry to him that I don’t understand this miracle that has taken place and that I am so frightened at times that my legs buckle underneath the weight of it. Then I hear His voice and there is peace…I cannot explain it. What lies ahead only God knows…

Year 33 A.D.

This last year has been both glorious and a torment. He had to go. I had known some of what He was to do but did not really comprehend the complete and utter sorrow of it. I was not prepared for the crucifixion. How can anyone be prepare for that? My son, God’s son – so loved yet hated, so gentle yet a stumbling block, murdered they say but I know He gave his own life by his own volition. I was there. A part of me died that day as well. I begged Him to call down the heaven’s army, to save himself…oh yes I did that. Do you think me less holy now? I wanted him to use his God-ness and kill them all! Of course, part of me understood on some level what He was here to do. I had a lifetime to learn of it but when it came to the reality of it I was his Mother and he was my son…A son who stepped down from being God to become my child…of course people think it is all insanity and I can understand that they would but if they met him, if they listened to him and saw his compassion they would be changed by him. That day at the Cross there was SO MUCH blood as if it flowed for all the people of all the world. I realize now that is exactly what was happening! 
So much pain and loss but he kept his word and rose from the grave on the third day as he said he would…Oh my heart was so full when I saw him. I knew then I could go on and when he ascended I knew I would see him again when I die.
He has saved the nations, even Gentiles! Can you imagine?

Now, people try to exalt me and some try to worship me. I run from them. They think they know me but they do not. I will have no worship of me. Jesus is my Savior and my King and He alone is to be worshiped. This I know beyond a doubt…
I must live on until my time comes to go to the temporary grave. I must live with the thought that they may still come for me and imprison me or kill me but it will not stop the message of Jesus…
In so many ways I still am that young child who became the mother of God in the flesh. I pray that no one ever thinks of me as Holy outside of the blood of that same Jesus that makes them Holy…I am full of failures and achievements like everyone else. I have had great joy and have been broken and insane with sorrow…and I am still simply a woman who has Faith in the Integrity of my God!

“Let it me done unto me as you have said…my soul still magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”

Not your normal Christmas Bible reading..

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Knowing full well the cost that lay ahead it says in Philippians 2:5-11 that the mind of Christ was this… “Jesus did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, yet chose to make himself of no reputation and become human… even to the point of death, even the death of the cross…”

The most astonishing part of the Christian story, for me anyway, is that Jesus Christ thought that giving up being God to become  fully human was not being robbed but chose to do it…when I consider the magnificence of this desire that Jesus has to save all mankind…I find I am speechless.

So if Jesus Christ has done anything for you (me), Paul says in the beginning of his passage…if Jesus has changed you, touched you, comforted you, died for you, forgiven you…anything at ALL then can you at least try to take on the same Humility that he put on to become human and be mercilessly degraded and humiliated and die for your sin? WHOA!!! What?

For me, my Christmas season has begun with me on my knees praising God and saying, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.