Christian, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, Jesus, loss, love, righteousness, Spiritual, tears, trials, Uncategorized

She just doesn’t know it yet

He’s been watching her all her life.  He’s whispered to her time and time again but she didn’t hear.  He yearns to hold her and comfort her as she struggles.  It’s going to be all right, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She trembles with the fear of the unknown as her circumstances have stripped her of her identity.  She is strong, she just doesn’t know it yet.

The love that had been her foundation has been ripped away.  She yields to the new identity that presses in on her:  the unlovable.  She is immeasurably loved, she just doesn’t know it yet.

This roller coaster ride of choices makes her sick.  She hates herself because of her weakness.  His opinion of her remains unchanged, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Loneliness is her constant companion as no one wants on this ride with her.  She is not alone, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She goes through the motions of living while she entertains the thoughts of ending it all.  Her earthly life has eternal purpose, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Defeat hangs over her like a thick black cloud as she cannot go back and change the past.  Her knees buckle under the weight of the consequences.  She is redeemed, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She grasps to find hope in the words she reads and the messages she hears, but it seems she is grasping at air.  She is full of hope, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Her tears are constant from the pain of this deep, gaping wound from which she believes she will never recover.  She is healed, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She heard the words again today.  The same words she’s heard over and over, but this time something is different.  Can it really be true?  He loves her?  Something stirs inside her as she considers this possibility…something life-changing…

Her life is changing, she just doesn’t know it yet.

 

She just doesn’t know it yet” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, death, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, Jesus, love, new creation, righteousness, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Newness

There is a certain pleasure that comes with new things – that new car smell, the look of a new outfit, the feel of crisp, untouched pages in a new book (a pleasure lost with e-books…).  We try to take excellent care of the new things we’ve obtained in the hopes that the newness will last longer.  But try as we might, the evidence of use appears more and more with each passing year.  Some things become more valuable simply because they have survived the decades and centuries intact.  Other things more personal are increased in heart-value with much use, like the tattered-edged quilt that my grandmother made for me. It was beautiful when it was new, but evermore beautiful to me now with its ragged edges and broken threads.

In a world where time leaves its mark and things age and become old and changed, we struggle to grasp the concept of newness that the resurrection secured for us.  We have been given a newness that doesn’t fade with time or become less valuable because of our imperfections.

We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, so we too might habitually live in newness of life.  Romans 5:4 

Paul writes further:  consider yourselves dead to sin…and alive to God – living in unbroken fellowship with Him – in Christ Jesus.  (v 11)

Consider:  to think about carefully; to take into account.  Paul was writing to those who had already chosen Christ and attempting to help them understand what change had taken place:  they had been made dead to sin and alive with Christ!  Consider it!  Think about it!  Take it into account!  Every moment of every day we have new life!  This body will show the wear and tear and age that time will bring, but this is only the outer shell that holds who we really are – new creatures.  When we sin and miss the mark we think we become damaged and broken, but our new natures remain unchanged and unmarred. He has washed us with the blood of the Lamb and we are beautiful in His sight.

This is how we truly honor His resurrection – by sharing in our own resurrection through His.  Taking what He’s purchased for us that will be ours for all eternity:  Newness of life with every breath.

 

Newness” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, death, Encouragement, Faith, God, grace, grief, Jesus, loss, love, new creation, righteousness, sorrow, Spiritual, tears

In between

I woke this morning thinking of the followers of Jesus many, many years ago who awoke on this day in between.  They had walked with Him and talked with Him and believed in Him and now He was dead. The fullness of understanding had not come to them yet and they find themselves striving to put the pieces together.  I imagine what it was like as they recall and discuss with one another the things He said as they openly share their grief for this Beloved One who is gone.  Some silently grieve over the hope they feel is dying as doubts and fears begin to creep into the sacred place of their broken hearts.

The mighty work being done was invisible to them, as are all things of faith in the beginning.  Some found strength in numbers, remaining with their fellow believers.  Others pull away searching for clarity in the solitude where no one can touch their pain or expose what they are afraid is their faithlessness. Still others cannot be still, pacing as they try to find something to do that will ease their sorrow and clear the fog of the unknown, not realizing that nothing they could ever do would impact the outcome of His marvelous plan.

In between they wait.

They cling to the words of promise uttered from His lips but they do not see the fulfillment.  The frustration of things left undone is ready to overwhelm if they will let it have its way.  Emotionally and physical exhaustion cause the hours to pass slowly.

Three days.

There is no way around it, this day in between.  Tomorrow there will finally be something to do, rituals to observe which are in themselves the symbols of finality.  Once His body was prepared and the tomb was sealed again, they would be expected to return to their lives.  But how could they?  They have been forever changed and nothing is the same as it was before He came and the question hangs in the air “What will we do now?”

Sometimes the waiting in between is hard for us also.  We find Him and His promise that sin is conquered and that we will be free from its grip and destruction.  We know from the depths of our spirits He is real and His promises are true.  But we look at ourselves and it appears we are unchanged.  We cannot always see the work He is performing in our own lives and if we are not careful the frustration of things that seem undone can overwhelm us.  Fears and doubts stand ready to creep in and convince us that we are not really changed after all.

In between we wait.

Oh, sometimes there are obvious things that we need to do.  We need to read and study and fellowship with those who will love and encourage.  We need to recall and discuss the things we were taught of Him.  But when we understand that it is by faith that we receive Him and by faith that we receive the victory over sin, we can learn to stand in faith while we wait, our faith placed in His power to change us from within and work out this wonderful salvation in our every day lives.  Faith that one day our transformation will be evident on the outside.

Those believers many years ago stood in between the cross and the resurrection and they waited.  We stand in between the power of the resurrection and the perfection that heaven will be.  There is no way around it, there is time in between.  This time of our existence on earth is important and He will make it significant in His way and His time.  But let’s not forget that this is not the end goal.  One day we will be with Him after the in between. 

In between” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Bible, Christian, church, death, Encouragement, Faith, family, God, grace, Jesus, love, praise, righteousness, sorrow, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Separation anxiety

Year after year family photographs were captured, always with one family member absent as someone had to operate the camera.  The boys were attired in their once-a-year suits and ties.  We girls had new dresses and white shoes which embarrassed me as my spindly legs made it appear as if I had unusually large feet at the ends of them.  We were dressed up to go to church for Easter services.  We regularly attended Sunday service, so the only difference on this particular day is that we would be especially dressed and it would be more difficult to sit on our right-side, third-row-from-the-front pew if we did not arrive earlier than usual because many more people would attend this day.  The pre-service preparations involved the same flurry of activities as every other Sunday morning – the search for lost shoes and belts, the efforts to keep children clothed and still without spills or stains, and the prayer that one particular child would not get carsick on the way.  It’s a wonder my mother ever was able to relax and worship once she entered the sanctuary doors.

While we did not attend a church rich in liturgical traditions, we were taught the true meaning of Easter and what the Lord’s Supper represented.  The colored eggs and plastic grass in baskets and races to collect the greatest numbers did not detract from what I knew, even as a child, to be true.  Jesus died for my sin.  I placed my faith in Him early and throughout my struggles and challenges with life itself, this was and is the unwavering platform on which my feet remain firmly planted.  And yet, I missed a critical truth even as every year we heard the messages of His death and resurrection and the hope and victory that this act secured for us.

It is finished.

Sin is conquered, death is defeated, the veil that once separated man from God has been removed giving free and unlimited access to Almighty God to all who will enter in.  He sent His Spirit to indwell the imperfect people who would say yes to this, His invitation.  He promised to never leave us or forsake us.

So in the process of the spiritual housecleaning that I’ve done over the last few years I’ve picked up and put down a particular piece that for a while I could not determine if it fit in this temple that is me.  It is the idea that “sin separates us from God.” I’ve heard this throughout my life, continue to hear it frequently, and have been one to have said it as well.

Sin separates us from God.  It sounds true.  It feels true.  It must be true.  It was true before we came to accept this magnificent sacrifice. But as I’ve studied more deeply what Jesus said and did, I cannot find a place for this.

If Jesus paid the penalty for sin – ALL sin – how can my sin change my position with God?  How can God move away from me if He promised to indwell me and to never leave or forsake me?  Was the veil torn down only to be put up again and torn down again and put up again…?

It is finished.

Three beautiful words that cannot be reconciled with the idea that my sin brings back the veil.  Does my sin matter?  Yes.  The call to repentance remains the same, but not because it is the only way to gain access to the Father again.  We are to repent – to change our minds about sin – in order that we can live fully in the forgiveness purchased for us.  We repent so that we can receive the fullness of the blessings offered us as His children in this lifetime and beyond, to have a right mind and a soul that is free from the burdens that sin will most surely heap upon us, and to enjoy the peace that comes with a heart ready to do His will.

I have lived with a great deal of separation anxiety because of this misunderstanding, when all the while He was right there with me.  I’ve lived in fear of His absence as there were no more sorrowful words on the day of His death than “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  It was agony for Jesus to be separated from His Father.  But it was an agony He endured so that we would not have to.  He is with us, faithfully leading us in the ways of righteousness, correcting – not condemning – us when we sin.  He knew we would.  Yet He has chosen a position of unfathomable mercy and extravagant love that will abide – make a permanent home – in all who will allow it.

It is finished.  This is the truth.  This is the truth that sets us free.  Free indeed!

 

Separation anxiety” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, Jesus, love, prayer, righteousness, Spiritual, Uncategorized

But why?

Any parent or grandparent vividly remembers this stage of their child’s or grandchild’s life – the incessant asking of the same question over and over and over:  “But why?”  Rarely was a simple answer sufficient for such a child.  One answer seemed only to fuel the fire to know more, even when their maturity level had not caught up with their insatiable curiosity.  Most of us reach the point of exasperation after a while and simply answer “because I said so” or “you won’t understand” or perhaps, as my husband did when his children were young, “no more questions after lunch”.  Our adult patience wears out long before we exhaust our knowledge of the matters that concern little ones.

My thoughts today piggy back those of yesterday as I clean what remains in my messy spiritual corner.  In the rummaging through various things I’ve collected, I’ve come across this notion that we should not ask God “why?”  My mind immediately goes to Isaiah 55:8…

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

As God’s ways are so infinitely above our own, it must be that we can never understand.  I believe that to be true about many, many things, for we will be learning who He is and of His ways throughout all eternity.  But I also believe He is a big enough God that our questions do not frustrate and exasperate Him and that He desires to answer them even now, before heaven.  Some of the answers we may not fully understand as our maturity has not caught up with our curiosity.  But He speaks.  He answers.  He gives understanding at the right time.  Psalm 119 is replete with David’s desire to learn God’s ways and his confident expectation that God would grant his requests!

I lived many years of my life knowing that He lived in me, but in reality He was a resident stranger.  I was a child who lived in the constant presence of my Father, believing that to ask Him “why” He did or did not do anything was to insult His sovereignty, and that even if I did ask and He answered, I would not understand.  How this grieved His heart!

Jesus changed forever the relationship man could have with God.  He chose to dwell in us, not to be in hiding but to be known.  Paul wrote to the church of Ephesus his desire and prayer…

…that you may be filled through all your being unto all the fullness of God – may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself!    Ephesians 3:19b

…and to the Corinthians…

…But we have the mind of Christ and do hold the thoughts of His heart.  1 Corinthians 2:16b

He chose not only to indwell me but to make it possible for me to experience a rich measure of His presence – so that I can be wholly filled with Him!  The more I set my mind on Him, the more the more attuned I become to His voice.  I consider Him in all my ways, give Him all my efforts and He directs my thoughts to line up with His.  Then comes understanding.  I have been invited to come before Him boldly, fearlessly, and ask.  I can ask all the “why” questions I want with a great expectation that He will answer me.  And don’t have to stop at lunch time.     🙂

 

But why?” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, friends, God, grace, Jesus, love, righteousness, Spiritual, trials

That was me

We sat around the lunch table, a group of volunteer workers of which I had the title of leader.  We were a good fit as a team and were enjoying our time together.  Conversation covered a range of topics and on this particular day we had been presented a situation that none of us were quite sure how to handle.  We discussed the seriousness of it and made several suggestions on how best to deal with it.  Then comments turned toward one who was involved.  Surely they know better.  Why would they do that?   That’s just not right.  

I sat silent as I wondered what these women would say if they knew that was me.  Oh, the circumstances were different and it was long before I had met my current cohorts, but the actions of this one talked about mirrored my own at a very difficult point in my life.  If they knew this about me would they deem me unworthy to sit with them, work with them, be a leader?  Could they understand the choices a damaged soul makes in a panicked effort to find healing?  It’s hard to understand if you haven’t been there.

All I could say was “When you’re really messed up you don’t know how messed up you are.”

It’s very much like someone who knows they are sick but they think it to be only a really bad cold.  They struggle with the symptoms and employ every effort to heal themselves.  Scattered among the days they feel like death warmed over, there are the good days when they feel fine.  This surely must be an indication they are healing.  They let this drag on and on until finally they surrender and go for help only to discover that what they have is not a cold but rather a very serious case of pneumonia.  The treatments needed are significantly different from those for a common cold, possibly even hospitalization, and without the help of the physician this one who is sick would continue in their misdiagnosis and all the wrong treatments, frustrated that they could not find relief.  That was me.

My mind moved from thoughts of this one in the midst of trouble to the women who sat with me sharing their opinions and implied judgement.  Before life took me through some serious trials, I was one quick to judge and quick to lack compassion when the faults of others were so clearly evident to me.  I was one weighing sin as if mine were somehow more acceptable to God than the sins of others.  I was one discussing the error of their ways, feigning concern but really just gossiping.  But I had no judgement for those who shared my table because it wasn’t that long ago when that was me.

There was a day years ago when I raged and hurled my accusations toward God until I was spent, then crumpled into sobs that poured out the weariness of my damaged heart.  The realization that all the years of trying to heal myself had only made things worse weighed heavy on me.  I was empty and alone, broken and defeated.  It wasn’t easy to admit how spiritually sick I was, but it was here that I found Healing.   The process of heart-repair seemed to move at a snail’s pace, God being unwilling to rush despite my pleas.  But in yielding to His work the good days slowly began to outnumber the bad and I began to experience the mercy and grace I had always heard about but never really understood.  That was me.

The scars in our lives should remind us that those we see who appear so messed up probably don’t know just how messed up they are.  Our opinions and judgments are simply more of the wrong kind of treatments for what ails them and will never assist their healing.  Having experienced ourselves the lovingkindness, the longsuffering, the mercy, and the grace of our amazing God that worked healing in our lives, how can we withhold it from every other who is sick from sin??  We are called to be the vessels containing the nature and character of God, vessels that pour that very nature of love and compassion on all.  This is you.  This is me. This is who we are. 

 

That was me” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com 

 

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, friends, God, grace, Jesus, loss, love, praise, prayer, righteousness, sorrow, Spiritual, tears, trials, Uncategorized, worship

This hope we have

 

 

I could hardly understand what she was trying to say, her words were so choked and broken by sobs.  In the aftermath of choices that have irrevocably altered her life, she is powerless to stop the ripple effect throughout the waters of those who love her, a ripple effect that has produced their choices as well.  No doubt she will never return to the way things were.  The damage has been done.

“You have destroyed your life.”  This is the lie the enemy relentlessly screams to her as if her life is over and there is no point to her existence any longer.  It sounds true.  It feels true.  Others have even voiced those words.  It must be true.

What do I have to offer this one in the grips of despair?  Hope.  Not empty words of the sun shining again, although it will.  But a deeper hope that transcends the multitude of mistakes we make.  Hope that is the very answer to despair.  Hope that holds the future in His hands and Hope that is unwilling to settle for less than the impossible.  It is why He came to earth.

Here is a portion of a beautiful song by Kathryn Scott entitled At the Foot of the Cross that captures the wonder of this hope we have…

At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received

And You’ve won my heart
Yes You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

This is the hope we have:  that we can take all the ashes of our choices, our mistakes, our sin to God and He does the impossible – He turns it into something beautiful.  For this burdened friend of mine, her mistakes have brought her to His feet where her suffering meets His grace, where He lifts her head and crowns her with His loving forgiveness, and where her life will begin again.  She will grieve over what is lost, but will rejoice in what is found as she discovers the mercy that is new every morning.  She will find Hope.

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not one of all His benefits— 

Who forgives every one of all your iniquities, Who heals each one of all your diseases, 

Who redeems your life from the pit and corruption,

Who beautifies, dignifies, and crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercy; 

Who satisfies your mouth – your necessity and desire at your personal age and situation – with good so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle’s – strong, overcoming, soaring!   Psalm 103:1-4

 

This hope we have” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com