Tag Archive | Jesus

The Bad Habits of Jesus by Leonard Sweet {A Review}

If you’re like most people I know and have talked to about this book, the title scares you. It probably conjures up thoughts like, “But MY Jesus didn’t have any bad habits! He was God!” And you are right.

Leonard Sweet is in full agreement with your statement, but in this delightful book he encourages us to look at Jesus in a different way. He wants us to take off the Sunday School glasses we tend to wear when we view Jesus and read the Word.

He points out that Jesus did things and said things that we would not dare say or do today because it is considered bad.  A few examples:

Jesus spit.  Think about that. He spit and made mud. If that wasn’t bad enough, He then smeared that mud on a man’s eyes.

Jesus procrastinated. His procrastination led to a man’s death, and He was completely unbothered and unapologetic about it. He simply kept on being God.

I loved this book. I have been reading Leonard Sweet’s books since “A Cup of Coffee at the Soul Cafe” was published in the late 90’s. When I see a book with his name on it, I gravitate towards it like a moth to a flame because I know I will be challenged by it.

This book, The Bad Habits of Jesus, did that. It challenged me to look at Jesus and what He did in a whole new way. I was encouraged to think outside of the box, or even to throw away the box, when looking at Jesus and the familiar stories. In a world full of fluff books that preach to the Millennial “me first” gospel, this book was refreshing in it’s simplicity but also in it’s meat. This is not a milk-toast, watered down gospel book. This book will require the brain to be fully engaged. Leonard Sweet does not offer milk, but steak and he doesn’t feed you.

I love the cover. I’m a Harley-loving woman and the resemblance to the Harley-Davidson logo on the front is eye-catching.

I received a free copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

All the Runners Run

Boy that is profound, isn’t it? All the runners run. Duh. That’s why they’re runners.

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I’ve long been a runner. Not always physically, but I’m a runner nonetheless. All of my life I kept running. Running from the boogey man, from pain, from fears, from people, from love, from Jesus.

Almost ten years ago I also started running physically. What great bringing together of the inside and outside of my life. Run away on the inside, run away on the outside.

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I recently spent a glorious week in beautiful Blue Springs, Missouri. We used to always joke that Missouri was really spelling M-I-S-E-R-Y. This week was anything but misery.  I was attending a rather intensive retreat and Jesus exploded all over this woman.

By all over, I really mean All. Over. Completely.

My prayer going into the retreat was that Jesus would ruin me for life as normal. That I would  have zero desire to ever back to what my life had been like. He completely undid me!

I will never, ever forget my time there. I will never forget what He told me there. I will never forget the pictures He gave me.

I am ruined. Forever ruined by Him and for Him.

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If you were to zoom in on my necklace in the picture above you would find the pendant is a stick figure of a runner. Very much indicative of my life to date. I wore it with happiness.

Happiness but not joy.

I had been home for a just a couple of days at the most when I was putting the necklace back on one morning when I heard Jesus speak to my soul.

That isn’t who you are any longer. Throw it away. 

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I held it in my hands, looking at it. And again I heard Him speak,

That isn’t who you are any longer. Throw it away. 

My soul reacted with joyful abandonment. And I threw the necklace in the trash. I have been completely set free from my running from everything.

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Everything.

I still run. It just looks different now. Instead of running from, I run to. I run to Him. I run to life. I run to love. I run to joy. I run to friendships. I run and when I run I feel His pleasure.

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Clearing Out The Old

One of my favorite parts about spring and summer is not the heat, although I do love that. I love yard work.

Strange. I know. But it’s true. I go a little nuts on my yard and working in it. I love tending my flowers, plotting and planning where to put more and what kinds I want. I love getting out, walking behind my mower and  using my weed whacker.

My favorite things.

I’d really rather spray weed killer, or use a good weed and feed than spend any time pulling weeds. Why pull them when you can kill them dead right in their tracks? I mean really!

 

I was recently gone for a week….oh it was a glorious week! Jesus lived large, loud and out-loud. He was so very present. A friend of mine has what he calls “EO” or eating orgasm. (I know…I know…I know), I have adapted that somewhat and will often now exclaim, “JO! JO! JO!” Not as a name, Jo, but “Jay Oh!” Because He blesses me.

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This morning was just such a time.  I spent time mowing, pruning my flowers, and just general yard work. 20170609_063710

I love spending time outside with Jesus. He is always so faithful to speak and focus my thoughts on Him and His very goodness and very God-ness.

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This morning I noticed the ugly part of my yard really needed some attention. And by some attention I really mean a LOT of attention. It is ugly. No grass at all, it’s choked with weeds. There are no pretty flowers and really it’s just an eyesore. Our old broken trampoline is there, broken and fallen branches clutter the top.

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Today was the day to mow that area.  I started in and it was hard going. It seemed every large tree branch from 5 counties was in that small, postage stamp sized area.  My mower was wanting to stop with each step I took it. I was determined to win the battle though and persevered.

Pushing my way through when Jesus spoke. “You know, this is a lot like your life. It’s full of weeds, things you have believed to be true that just aren’t. Now we’re working through these, and it’s hard going.”

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“We’ll have to stop every so often while we pick up broken branches. Some of the weeds will just bend with the mower, so we’ll have to go back over them from another direction to clear the area.”

I was listening, taking it all in. I stopped to move the branches, the broken fence posts, praying for a heart that is willing to do the hard work to believe the truth that so often feels and sounds like a lie.

Isn’t that funny. We listen to and believe lies so much the truth sounds like a lie. We exchange the TRUTH of God for a lie and that makes the lie true and the truth a lie.

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Our choice makes the truth a lie. 

Yeah, you try that on for a pair of moments. Just by believing a lie, you’re making the truth a lie and a lie the truth.

Now that’s crazy talk!

When I willing choose to believe a lie from the enemy, either the devil himself or my own flesh, I do his job for him.

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And you know what?

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I’m done helping him out. 

I’m so done helping him. My life might look barren, dry and full of prickly weeds, but it’s not for long.

Not long at all.

You see I have a dream. A passion. A desire to join with the Master Gardener and work to weed out the garden of my soul. He has plans to break up the hard soil, prepare it with compost, and then plant grass.

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He’ll landscape it with flowers, a bench, and a fire pit. Where we’ll sit and share our thoughts of the day, both at the beginning and the ending.  Just Him and I.

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And we’ll revel in the new found freedom I have.

I’ll call Him my Lord, my Daddy. He’ll call me His little peony.

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Prayers for a Simpler Life by Faith Sommers {A Review}

20170316_150123Prayers for a Simpler Life by Faith Sommers is a PlainSpoken Devotional published by Herald Press. It is a 13 week study how to live a simpler life. This is not a book about decluttering your house.

It is a book about decluttering your life. Each devotional brings to mind a spiritual discipline we should be making a priority in our lives. Each one is based on a chapter in the Word and includes a prayer and thought-provoking, digging deeper question.

Each day takes just minutes to read but you could spend all day meditating on the truths shared. It would even be a great stepping stone to studying for yourself the deeper truths of Scripture.

It would work well as a personal study or with a group.  It does use the King James Version for the Scripture but you are free to use any version you like.

Faith Sommers is a conservative Mennonite mother and wife. She is a columnist for Ladies Journal (a publication for Amish and Mennonite women). Faith is also the mother of 6.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

 

I

A little Grace

Recently we were dining out, it was a Sunday afternoon and the restaurant was busy. We had about a 15-minute wait. Once at our table our server came by to take our drink orders and almost immediately she returned with them. After she took our orders she said she was going to go put them right in and we should have our meal in no time.

We enjoyed our appetizer and didn’t notice that it had been quite awhile since we had ordered, our server goes by and says she’s going to check on our meal. A few minutes later she comes to our table and tells us she had forgotten to put our order in right away, and she offered to get her manager so they could do something with our bill.

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All of our eyes are on this girl, brave enough to face hungry people and say “I screwed up.” Her question of getting her manager just hung there over our silent table for a pair of moments while we all looked at her, not quite daring to breathe.

Was it okay? Was it okay with us, the hungry family, that she had failed to do as promised?  Was it okay?

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I thought of every time I’ve screwed up. And I remembered the cross on my wrist. The cross I’ve been inking into my flesh for months in hopes of reminding myself to live cruciform.

Live all give out in the shape of a cross.

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Live all give out when someone else does something that isn’t okay.  Live as Jesus lived when I’m inconvenienced or kept waiting.

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I found myself saying, “You know what, we all screw up. It’s okay.”

Because it is. It really is. We do all screw up. Your screw ups are no worse than my screw ups. Jesus’ love covers mine as well as yours. His grace is deep enough to cover them all. And if I’m truly living as a conduit of His grace, I have no choice but to extend it to you.

Jesus didn’t call us to be grace hoarders.
He called us to be grace givers.

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Those chosen people who exhibit His grace and His character in all of our activities. Even those that squeeze us, inconvenience us.

Maybe by showing His grace and extending His grace is how we know we are given grace. Maybe that is how we feel grace. Maybe that’s why He requires it of us. Because He knows we’re nothing but grace beggars and if the broken hurting world is going to see His grace it’s only when we extend it.

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We’re all beggars when it comes to grace. In myself I have none. None for me and definitely none for you. But in Jesus…in Jesus is found all the grace we could ever need. And He gives it freely to us.

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So we can give it freely to others. It’s living in His grace.

So we can give it freely to others.

A Nickel’s Worth

DSC_0155 (1)I’ve been noticing a trend lately amongst my friends. They’re all looking for something. But not just any old something, something in particular. Every time they find what they are looking for they eagerly take a picture and share it across social media lines.

Just what is this thing they are looking for so almost frantically?

Hearts. A simple heart shape in the world around them. Some of them call the hearts they find glimpses of God’s love for them.

Now I’m a non-conformist to the core. If everyone else is doing something, that’s a good enough reason to me to not do it. I just don’t want to do or be like everyone else.

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I’m also if nothing else a study in contrast. You see I think it’s neat and great that these ladies are finding God smiles in their day. Neat. And if I were to speak the truth, which I am, I’m a bit jealous. I want something from God, something that He gives to just me as a reminder that He, as it says in Psalm 32:8, has His eye on me. That as He promises in Job 23:10 He knows the way I take.  So I want the same thing He is giving to these ladies, but I don’t want a heart shape.

So I’ve taken the past few weeks to as I think about it, pray for Him to give me something special, unique to let me know He’s watching, He knows, He cares and He loves me. I haven’t wanted a heart shaped anything because that would be too conformist for me. I want my own shape.

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A couple of weeks ago I was having an especially hard week when I glanced down in a parking lot and saw a nickel. I’ve always been one to pick up loose change I see lying around and this day was no different. I picked up that nickel and immediately I had the most godly thought ever. Yeah, or not as the case really was.

My first thought was exactly what zany thing I was going to post on social media about finding a nickel.

“If the saying goes, ‘Find a penny, pick it up, and all day you’ll have good luck’, what happens if you find a nickel.”

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I thought nothing more about that found nickel.

Until today.

This morning I walked to get coffee and to spend some time reading and talking with Jesus. I took Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, and read while I walked. I did stop on occasion to underline an especially meaningful part, or to just write down some thoughts Jesus was giving me.

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The wind was blowing  cold bitter air over my bare fingers but His words warmed my heart.  We talked of such things as where I was a year ago. How much has changed in this past year. 365 days of walking with Him. A year ago today I was in a hard place. Today I’m in a harder place, but the difference is while last year I knew intellectually He was with me, today in this hard-hard place I know experientially that He really is with me.

It was easy to stop and underline on the way to the coffee, but once I purchased my coffee and had headed for home it was a bit more difficult.

A few blocks from the shop I stopped to underline a sentence, I moved off the sidewalk, and squatted down on a small piece of concrete just off the beaten path. I set my coffee down, unzipped my pocket, reached in to grab my pen, and I froze.

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There in the grass was another nickel. Of course I picked it up.

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And I heard God laugh. Not a “haha, jokes on you” laugh. But a genuine chuckle. Like He knew something I didn’t, but He knew it would bless my socks off.

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And then He spoke.

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He spoke to me. He spoke to me clean through my frozen fingers as they caressed that found nickel. He spoke clean down the marrow my very soul.

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“That’s your gift. That’s your sign. That’s your shape. That is your way of knowing I’m watching you. I’ve got my eye on you. I see you. Even when you think I’m hiding. Even when everything in you is speaking lies that I don’t care. I’m watching you.”

 

 

Learning through Breaking

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Brokenness doesn’t come from badness. Brokenness comes, instead, from woundedness. God doesn’t break us because we’re bad, but He breaks away the  the self-made scars that we’ve grown over our wounds to heal ourselves. The wounds only appear on the outside to be healed, but underneath the surface scar there is still putrid, rotting flesh that is unhealed. It is unhealed because we cannot heal ourselves.

Self-protection is not healing. Self-protection is hiding.

Like Adam and Eve tried to cover their naked wounds with inadequate fig leaves, we try to cover out wounds with fig leaf clothing. Fig leaves weren’t made to heal or cover us. I so often look to wrong things for healing and covering. When I’ve screwed up (again), I reach for pride to cover my screw ups. I look around for blame to hide my sin. I look to and for people to validate my feelings.

Those are fig leaves. And fig leaves cover and heal nothing.

choose-joy

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But Jesus. Jesus and His blood. That is where healing and covering is found. He heals us. Slowly. So very very slowly. And just like a physical cut heals from the inside out, His healing starts deep inside of me, so deep inside no one, not even me, can see it or feel it. But He is working.

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Wounds are ugly. Self-healed wounds are uglier. Jesus healed wounds are beautiful. Because Jesus makes all things beautiful. Because Jesus alone knows the beauty that lives deep inside the human soul.

coffeebeans

 

This might be a little overly simplistic, but coffee beans do not make a good cup of coffee until they are broken and ground fine.

They also are the most fragrant immediately after grinding.

The coffee bean is grown green. It is useless to make a good pot of coffee until it has been roasted. Roasting always requires heat. Always. When roasting the green coffee beans they will within the first 3 to 15 minutes crack, they will crack again within 15-120 seconds after the first crack ends.

In roasting coffee, the beans crack. They break. High heat breaks them. Then they are ready to be removed from the heat.

High heat breaks them. Just as it breaks us. It breaks away the skin that covers the bean, just as it breaks away the self-made scars we’ve produced to protect ourselves.

Then the bean is ready to be broken again and ground up fine. It seems the breaking process never ends. In grinding the beans the fragrance is released. Just as when we are ground fine by God’s grinding us release the fragrance of what is inside.

That still isn’t all. The coffee bean when it is grown but left green is of no value to the coffee drinker. The coffee bean when it is cracked by the heat of roasting, or broken by the coffee grinder still has no value as coffee and is unusable in that state until it has been placed in coffee pot and had hot, boiling water poured over it. That is when it produces the desired result. That is when it fully is what it was grown to be.

Lord if it’s true that nothing is so ugly something beautiful can’t be made from it, please make something beautiful of me. Thank You for being the Creator of all and the Re-Creator of all that is damaged and broken. Thank You for being the Light that shines in and out of the broken. Thank You for being the Truth in a life filled with lies.
Please be with me to deliver me and Re-create me in You into something usable. And then Lord, please use me.