One Leg Hanging Out of the Blanket

Sitting on my couch, crocheting an OSU earwarmer, and listening to Big Daddy Weave radio on Pandora: God gives me my next blog entry. I wasn’t seeking Him, or really even dwelling on thoughts of Him, and He invaded my mind and planted this there for me to share with you to bring glory to His name, and His name alone. That’s my King, and yours too. The lover of my soul.

So the song I was listening to during this invasion was this:

One line in the song says something like “Your grace covers me”. When I heard that lyric I got a picture of being covered, nice and cozy, with a great big blanket or comforter. It feels so lovely and warm under there, I’m protected and I feel secure. But then, as the night goes on, I get a tad warm and kick one leg out from under the blanket to cool off. There’s a real comfortable balance between the warm and chilled, and I feel good.

Imagine God’s grace is that big fluffy blanket. He tucks me in, warm and snug, letting no cold air from the outside touch me and taint me. His grace covers me completely and I’m protected, safe, secure. As my walk with God progresses, He searches my heart and pulls up the dark and the ugly. He wants to heal those areas of my life so I can be whole in Him: protected, safe, and secure.

But see, I want to hide from the ugly and ignore the bad. I want to embrace the warm fuzzies and forget the bad ever existed. So I kick my leg out from under the blanket when the hard work gets too hot to handle. In my mind, I cope by ignoring the leg, acting as if the leg is no longer a part of my body. I think the leg is too ugly to be covered by the grace of my Almighty God. I kick it out as far away from the warm, fuzzy goodness as I can in hopes that God, the Creator of the Universe, the Knower of all, will somehow forget it ever existed. If I forget, and He forgets, then it’s gone and never really happened anyway. Right?

But God… He wants to COVER ME completely with His grace. His grace says that “Yes, it happened. Yes, it was bad. But I love you so much that I am going to turn that bad into good for the good of you AND those around you, so that eventually, the bad will be used to bring others into relationship with me.” His grace says “There is nothing too ugly, broken, bad, or just plain yuck that would make me kick you out from under this blanket.” His grace says “There is nothing you’ve done to deserve this grace, it is simply my GREAT and HUGE love for you that makes me want to cover you in this way.”

Does all of this mean that I am always going to be comfortable under the blanket of God’s grace? No. Sometimes it is warm, fuzzy, and comfortable. But other times it’s just plain HOT! I want to kick the whole blanket off and run back to where I came from. But after the hot, after the hard, after the work, I’m grown to a deeper understanding of the blanket itself, God’s undeserved grace that never ends, and in that I’m able to speak His love louder than ever. The heat is good. Real good, regardless of how hot it feels.

Moral of the story? Don’t try to kick your leg (or arm, or head) out from under the blanket. God’s grace covers you whether you’re under the blanket or not. But ignoring the leg will only lead to frustration and a much longer healing process. Get it back under the blanket that God gave His Son for you to have, so He can do the work He wants to do in you. He wants you whole, because His love for you is so enormous. The One who hung every star in the sky is enamored with YOU. Let Him be.

This stuff hurts

Sacrifice.

What is a sacrifice? Here’s the Webster’s definition:

1:  an act of offering to a deity something precious; especially :  the killing of a victim on an altar
2:  something offered in sacrifice
3a :  destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else
  b :  something given up or lost <the sacrifices made by parents>
4:  loss <goods sold at a sacrifice>
Anyone who knows Jesus knows the word “sacrifice”. We hear it all the time. We read of it often. It’s a part of our repertoire. But while using this word, do we really know the significance it carries?
Take a look at the third definition above. Did you read it again? Destruction or surrender of something (someone) for the sake of something (someone) else. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice who died for our sins. Right? His human body was destroyed for our sake, for our freedom. He was beaten, mocked, spit upon, flogged, ridiculed, belittled, and killed for our sake.
When I say “our” (above), I mean every human being who will ever walk the face of the earth, and that means you. The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 5:15 “ He died for all”. Jesus was sent as a perfect sacrifice for the ENTIRE WORLD for all of history. He died so that we MIGHT be saved: John 3:17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” He died for me. He died for you. He died for the ones who hate Him. He died for the ones who beat Him. He died so that I MIGHT be saved by His grace. It was worth it to Him.
That’s a sacrifice. A life. A holy God coming down into filth and wickedness, became the sin of the world throughout all of history, and then He died, so that I MIGHT come to know His saving grace. That’s a sacrifice.
How will I ever repay God for the sacrifice of His Son? I can offer Him all kinds of things to try and even the score. I can wake up real early and read the bible. I can pray for 5 hours a day. I can serve at every church service in every way imaginable. I can offer to help every single person that asks for help. I can cook and deliver meals to every one of my sick friends every time they’re sick. I can go to bible study every night of the week. I can give away all of my stuff. I can eat really healthy and workout all the time. I can treat my husband like a king. I can never raise my voice to my children. I can memorize the Torah.
None of those things are a sacrifice. A sacrifice hurts. A sacrifice requires blood. A sacrifice is a life. His life ended so that I could have eternal life with Him. The only way I can repay Jesus is to give Him my life. The rest of that verse from above (2 Cor 5:15) is “and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” Want some more?
Galatians 2:20, 21 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
1 Corinthians 15:31 “I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
Romans 7:4 “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.”
Colossians 3:3 “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Jesus is a radical God of radical change. Radical change happens when I allow that God to enter my life. I can’t let Him in when I’m do do doing. He changes me when I surrender the sacrifice of my life to Him. His life for my life. That’s how it works. When I lay Crystal down, that’s a sacrifice. I lay down my wants, my needs, my desires, my dreams, and I give it all to the Creator of the universe. I give Him my life because He gave me His, freely.
Do you need a touch from the Lover of your soul? He longs to speak into your life and fill the holes in your heart. He satisfies, He fulfills, He completes. Only Jesus gives us what we all long for. He accepts us as we are. He loves us where we are. He sees us as His prized possessions and He only wants good for us. He wouldn’t have died for junk. He died to save the ones He loves, His people. That was a sacrifice. He wants a sacrifice from each and every one of us, and sacrifice hurts. Does what you’re offering God hurt you to let it go? If it does, the blessing is huge! Surrender your heart, and watch Him work. Jump in.

Was Christ really resurrected?

“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” 1 Cor 15:12 (NASB)

The Gospel message: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor 15:3,4

All Christians, as proof of the title, believe that Christ died on the cross for our sins, was buried in a tomb, and three days later He rose again. This is the crux of our faith, right? But some, dare I say most, don’t walk in a way that shows this belief. I know there are days I don’t. What I’m referring to, specifically, is the resurrection part.

Christ died for all sin: past, present, and future. Then, He was resurrected by the Spirit of God three days later. We are forgiven of our sin, because Christ died, and we’re then resurrected by the Holy Spirit to have new, abundant life in Christ. We are not only forgiven, but we are NEW CREATIONS. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” – 2 Cor 5:17. We are new in Him, with the Spirit of God dwelling inside us. He empowers us to live a life free from sin and death. That is what the resurrection does.34859-A-New-Creation

So do we, as Christians, really embrace that? What does that mean, to embrace that truth? Are we new or not? I am new. I am made alive in Christ and am no longer dead in my sin. I am made holy and blameless in the sight of my Father because of the blood of the Lamb. And, I can walk upright, a new creation, because of the resurrection of Jesus. I have been resurrected by the Spirit of the living God, and I am called to walk in that truth.

Part of walking in that truth means we believe that our brothers and sisters have also been forgiven of their sin and resurrected by the Spirit of the living God. We believe they can walk holy and blameless in the sight of their Father because of the blood of the Lamb. They can also walk upright, as a new creation, because of the resurrection of Jesus. When we are unforgiving of our brothers and sisters in Christ, when we hold their sin over them, we risk taking that truth away from them. If we can be forgiven by Christ, they can too. And if Christ forgives us, He forgives them too.

Jesus died for me when I was still a sinner. Not only that, but he sought me out when I was a stranger. I didn’t know Him, I didn’t want to know Him, so I certainly did not love Him, but he came after me! He wooed me. He never gave up on me. He never stopped pursuing me. He kept on, and kept on, and kept on, until I finally surrendered. He died for me when I was the worst of sinners. He extended His never-ending love and mercy to me when I hated Him. I didn’t, and still don’t, deserve any of it.

If Jesus did all that for me, how can I hold any forgiveness from anyone else? Whether they deserve it or not, He gave it freely, and so should we. Reminding our offenders of their sin against us keeps them in the bondage of that sin. They aren’t “new creations” when we’re constantly reminding them of their failure. How can they be? Have they not been forgiven and resurrected? Let them walk as such! They are forgiven by Jesus, who are we to say they’re not? They have been raised from death to life, new and abundant life in Christ, who are we to say they haven’t?

Forgiveness. Edification. These are Kingdom things. They are not possible without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We can forgive the unforgiveable because He empowers us to do so. We can build each other up, instead of tearing each other down, because the Spirit enables us to do so. Who reminds us of our sin? Who continues to pull us back to “death”? Who lives to steal our hope and joy? Who tells us lies about who we are and forgiveness? Satan. We’re Kingdom people, so let’s do Kingdom stuff.

Don’t hold sin against one another, regardless of the sin.

Forgive the unforgiveable, Jesus did.

Inspiration

I’ve been pre-occupied and this blog has definitely not been my priority. You know what is though? Glorifying my Jesus. I can do that here! So, consequently, this blog should be a priority. Amen? I’m going to try to make it such, and if it’s God’s will, I will be successful!

I’ve titled this entry “Inspiration”, though I’m not quite sure why. I sat down to write, with no apparent agenda, and that title came to me. We’ll see how this unfolds. The title will, undoubtedly, be accurate since I’m sure it was divinely inspired.

If you’ve read ANY of my blog posts (within the last 2+ years), you should know that I love Jesus. I am so in love with the redeemer of my soul that I can’t help but write about Him and what He’s done, and continues to do, in my life. He is amazing and His love for me is so incredibly great. How could I not share His wonder with you!?

God is God, no matter who I am. He is God no matter who you are too. Do you believe? Do you think I’m a nut? Either way, He’s still Him. His existence does not depend on your belief, or my belief. God is the Creator of the Universe whether we acknowledge Him or not. Isn’t that incredible?

I love that NO MATTER WHAT I do, He’s still Him. That means that His love for me is always the same. It doesn’t ebb and flow like the waves of the sea. He doesn’t love me less when I love Him less. He doesn’t love me more when I’m having an especially “holy” day. His love for me outnumbers the stars in the sky every minute of every single day. And it doesn’t depend on my belief in Him either! You know what that means? His love doesn’t depend on YOUR belief in Him either. That same great love He has for me, He has for you too. Ha! I love it. It’s such a foreign concept to the world, this true unconditional love. We have no idea what it’s like to love like this.

I love my children, like a lot. I love them so much that I could not bear to think of living this life without them. I didn’t know how to love before I had them. Truth. But, my love for them is not purely unconditional. I like to think it is, but it’s not. Your love for your children isn’t either. Or your spouse. Or your parents. Or anyone else you think you love. It’s not unconditional. Our love, our human love, always comes with conditions. Let me explain: When my son does something so ridiculous it infuriates me, I don’t stop loving him. I don’t. I will always love him, no matter what. I’m sure most parents would say the same. But, if he stopped loving me, and turned his back on me completely, never to return or reach out at all, there would come a point where I would stop pursuing him. I would always love him, but I would not always run after him.

God will NEVER stop pursuing. God will NEVER stop chasing. God desires for ALL PEOPLE to come to know Him. You may turn your back, you may reject him, but He will NEVER stop loving you. His love is NOT dependent on your love for Him. Ever. That’s unconditional. That’s the love my Jesus has for all His people.

This love, the love of my Father, inspires me to love others differently. Because of His never-ending love for me, I love others in a new way. I’m no longer self-motivated. I no longer have an agenda. I don’t love others out of selfish ambition. I simply love God’s people because He does. I don’t deserve His love for me. Not one bit (see previous post, Dec 2013). But He freely gives it. If He does, why can’t I? You don’t deserve His love either. But He freely gives it. Why can’t you?

Love today, regardless. Regardless of whether they deserve it or not. Regardless of whether you feel like it or not. Regardless of whether you want to or not. Just love, because He first loved us. You’ll be surprised how easy it becomes.

With love, Crystal