Posted in Life as it happens.

The Temptations

Last week I spent an enjoyable morning reading about Jesus temptation as is found in Matthew 4. The Spirit brought new truths to mind as He opened my eyes to see this familiar passage in a new light.

If you know the passage (I just can’t call it a story. It’s not a story, it’s truth), you know that after Jesus was baptized God the Father descended on Him like a dove. God spoke His Words of Truth over the Word and the Truth. Jesus was then led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He first fasted for 40 days and nights, then the tempter came to Him and tempted Him.

I don’t know how it works in your life, but in my life it works just like this. I will have time of God’s revealing His pleasure of me and I’m hearing His voice speak loud and clear to my soul. Immediately afterward I’ll have a sense that I’m going without something, that I’m fasting only not intentionally. Then the tempter comes in and seeks to remove and destroy all evidence of God’s pleasure.

I’ll start to doubt I heard God’s voice at all. Or that He’ll keep His word to me. Or that I heard right. I’ll be tempted, sorely tempted to doubt.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone but on every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4 (nasb)

When I’m being tempted if I respond with anything other than the Truth of God’s Word, I battle on my own and I will not win. If I slap truths on the temptation and rely on my own strength to muscle through the temptation. I will lose the battle every time. It’s guaranteed.

Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and there he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple. Matthew 4:5

Again the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Matthew 4:8

Even when I battle with the Word, the temptation might not go away but the devil will change tactics and attack from another angle.

When this happens I must still respond with the Truth and in the Truth and I must rely on the Truth to bring my deliverance. If I respond to temptation with truth in myself I will continue to suffer from the deadly disease of pride as if I did it all.

I must not only know the truth, I must believe the truth is true for me. I must be able to apply to every situation in my life, every temptation that comes must be met with truth. But not any truth, it must be met with THE Truth!

I must be aware that temptations to sin can come from anywhere and can change. I must be ready for the rapid-fire changes and tactics or I will be caught off guard and will confuse the voice of temptation with the voice of my Savior.

If I wait the first time I heard something and then act when I hear it again I could be responding to temptation and not Jesus. Notice how the devil tempted Jesus to worship him all three times, but each time he changed the wording, the temptation didn’t change though.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Matthew 4:3

Temptation (and the enemy–self or satan) attacks first who I am to bring doubt and confusion as to my identity.  When he has me questioning who I am, he has me on the ropes because I will answer to and fall for anything he says next.

The temptation then expects me to prove my identity by my doing something it requires. Satan expected Jesus to prove His identity by obeying satan.

Jesus knows who I am and will never ask me to prove it. He, even in His testing me, does not use “if” statements. He will never say, “If you’re truly My child then do……” Just as I don’t expect my children to prove they are mine, He doesn’t expect us to prove it to Him either. He knows we are His. We are the ones who doubt.

He does, however, use “because” statements. “Because you are My child this behavior needs to (either) stop (or) grow.”

Temptation seeks to sound like God so I will fall for it every time. Temptation always seeks my worship. It seeks to draw my worship away from God. The more I–through the power of God–resist the more blatant the temptation becomes. Satan started tempting Jesus to make bread, then he moved to more blatant temptations of worship.

The only way to battle temptation is to stand firm in Jesus and in who He declares us to be. Apart from that we have no hope, and haven’t a leg to stand on when faced with temptation. Thankfully Jesus brings us His identity and He battles for us. When we forget who we are and when we are cocky and battle on our own in our own strength we will lose every time.

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Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

Something To Be Thankful For

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“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you.”(Ezekiel 28:15)

We were created blameless –perfect. Our default was righteousness.

But sin changed that. Sin brought shame, condemnation,  separation,  death and unrighteousness.

But Grace changes that! Grace brings healing, salvation, restoration,  covering, togetherness,  freedom and righteousness restored.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Posted in Go MAD Monday, Jesus, Life as it happens.

I have cancer.

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I have cancer. I have cells in my body that are growing and multiplying at an alarming rate, eating all the good cells that surround them.

Given enough time, this cancer will kill me. I’m being eaten alive from the inside. Parts of me are eating other parts of me. To my very destruction. At this point I don’t know very much more than this. How long? I have no clue. Stage? No clue. All I know is this:

I have cancer.

Be joyful, when you hear you have cancer? I’m sure it can be done but for now I just have a big gaping hole where my heart used to be.

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Psalm 116:7b says “…The Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” This is bountiful? I thought it was supposed to be a good thing, His dealing bountifully with me. I thought the place of His bounty was the place of His blessing. Yet, this feels like a curse. A curse of death.

Which is the very thing He wants. He bids me to come and DIE. While all the time promising me life.

Abundant life.

How can I,  in the love of all things good,come and die and yet have abundant life?

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Blast those cancer cells!

Cancer is defined as: the cells that only benefit themselves. Cancer cells don’t look to benefit any other cell. They look after themselves only. Eating whatever they desire. They take care of themselves and only themselves. Not just taking care of themselves first, as we are told to do now.

They take care of themselves only and only take care of themselves. Wreaking havoc and destruction, bring death everywhere they go.

Now, I’m not talking about physical cancer here, I’m fine. Well I’m not fine, not at all fine. But the cancer is not to my physical body, but is in my soul.

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You see, I have a tendency to care for myself. First. And sometimes only. I do what benefits me the most. Above benefiting you.

Is it any wonder I’m broken? I ask you, is it any wonder?

Even as I’m drawing crosses on my wrist to remind me of the greatest Love imaginable. I’m choking on the cancer that is killing me slowly.  Even as I’m trying to live cruciform, in the very shape of the cross, arms spread wide open, embracing.

Welcoming.

I’m looking out for myself, and I might love you, but only so far as I’m benefited. If I can benefit I’m all about loving you, but if not chances are I’ll skip it.

Cancer. Cancer cells are the only cells that take care of themselves.

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I read that line in The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp. And I sobbed as I realized I have cancer of the soul.

It is no coincidence that I read this chapter today. On Monday. The first day of my renewed, “Go MAD Monday”.  The day I’m supposed to be looking for others’ needs to meet, I’ve been wrapped up in myself and my own struggles. My sense of not belonging, not being wanted, in the way, abandoned, neglected, abused.

This journey to healing is a difficult one. Most days it’s all I can do to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. I hope I’m moving forward and not backward, but really I haven’t a clue what I’m doing or if I’m doing it right or if anything is being done. Anything good being done.

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Today was a hard day. Full of tears.  Tears running silent rivers down my cheeks, and full of fully body-shaking sobs. Sobs that took my breath away and I wondered if I’d ever be able to stop and just breathe again.

And I have cancer of the soul.

In an attempt to salvage part of this hard day, this day of tears and sobs, to combat the cancer of my soul, I took the 14-year old for coffee after her dance class. I bought her coffee. And I bought the coffee for the man in the big white Chevy pick up behind me.

Maybe that was the right thing to do to fight this cancer that is eating my soul. Keeping my focus on myself and my own needs. Maybe, just maybe if I choose to take care of someone else’s needs when mine are so great, maybe, just maybe my healing, my needs will be met.

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Maybe that is how I will have peace. And healing. And my focus will be on the right things. And the cancer will be stopped.

Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

Sinners All

I sin. I hate that I have to admit that on such a public forum but it’s true. I am indeed a sinner. I could honestly say it’s not my fault, it’s in my genes, but I make the choices. If only I wasn’t a descendant of Adam, then I could say I wasn’t a sinner.

This reminds me of when my 12-year old was 3-5 years old. She could tell you what sin was, give examples of sin, admit that did commit some of those sins, but when you asked her if she was a sinner the answer was always an emphatic, NO!

I’ve known about sin for a long time. I’ve been confronted at all angles, from all sides with my sin issue. I’ve read about sin, I’ve read about other people’s sin (David and Bathsheba…anyone?) .

Last night I was doing my Bible study lesson and I had to read Genesis 3:6. From the English Standard Version, it reads like this:

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate.”

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve read this verse, heard it read and even listened to sermons that included this verse. I’ve heard it talked about as

The Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes and the boastful pride of life.

I’m not saying it’s not about that, but one thing really struck me as I read it last night.

Satan appealed to Eve as a whole person. He wasn’t stupid when he pointed out the fruit. If this was on an episode of Touched by An Angel, I’m sure they would have used special lighting on the fruit, it would have fairly glowed with promise.  It looked appealing to Eve.

It appealed first to her physical being.

She saw that the tree was good for food

Physically she saw it would be good for physically. So many times I do things…sinful things because they appeal to my physical body.

She saw that the tree was a delight to the eyes

It pleased her emotionally. She felt good, delighted when she looked at it. “I feel good, so therefore it must be right.”

She saw that the tree was to be desired to make her wise.

And it pleased her intellect. “I must be the wisest person here!”

Sin is insidious. It infects and affects us all. It appeals to all of us walking this spinning planet we call home. Because sin appeals to our whole self it infects our whole self. There is not one person who is not affected by sin, and not one part of a person that is not affected by sin.

I don’t know if I’m making any sense or not. I just had never thought before of sin affecting and appealing to our whole being before.

Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

The Miserable.

Do you ever wonder why on earth someone would title a book that way? Who wants to read a miserable book about miserable people? I certainly don’t. Sometimes life is miserable enough and I just want to dive into a book and forget the miserableness of life. And I have it good.

I have read the book, Les Miserables and I have to say I loved it. I thought I got it, I thought I understood it but really I had no idea.

I was going to tell you all about it, and maybe I will at some point, but that point is not now.

A man refused to be known for what he was so he set out to show kindness and forgiveness to all. Even the prison guard who would throw him back in prison without a moment’s hesitation. He not only forgives this man once, he forgives him twice.

We all have people in our past, people would love to forget that we’ve been. We’re all thieves. We’re all adulterers. We’re all sinners. We all had our share of regrets, but that can all change! We don’t have to live in slavery to the old person anymore.

We have been forgiven. We’ve been set free. We are no longer slaves. We have been set free of a huge debt of sin. I don’t care if you’ve never killed someone, never committed adultery, never stolen, you’ve still been a sinner.

And God has still offered and obtained your salvation. He has freed you from what you were.

We all know the story of Mary Magdalene, she is known through the ages as the one who “loved much because she’d been forgiven much”. She is all of us.

The trouble is we don’t know it. Or we refuse to acknowledge it. We have all been forgiven much. Even if we were the only sinner in the world and we only committed one small sin, it would be enough to condemn us to hell.

We have been forgiven much.

The problem is we think we deserve it. We’re not as bad as the man next-door. The problem with that is the only thing we deserve is hell, eternity apart from God.

Yet in His infinite grace and mercy, in His fathomless love He offers us total forgiveness. He offers the chance to live with Him forever.

Oh yes! We have been forgiven much. One sin would have sent Jesus to the cross. He offers us grace. He offers forgiveness. He offers freedom from sin.

I’m in. I’m done living under slavery to the person I was. I am not that person anymore. I haven’t been that person, but instead I’ve been carrying around the dead body of my old self. I’ve strapped it to my back and I’ve carried it around. I’ve chained myself to it much like a prisoner is chained.

Posted in Jesus, Life as it happens.

Forgiveness

A few evenings ago Mr. FullCup and I were chatting about confession. I had read 1 John 1:9 (If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness) and I popped the question “Do you think it means just to God or does that mean to others as well?”

We talked about it and how no one confesses their sin to another person anymore. I honestly can’t say if people still confess their sin to God or not. But I certainly hope so.

I told Mr. FullCup that I hoped it just meant to confess to God and not others because I don’t want to confess to anyone with flesh on. Not because I am afraid they won’t like me, or will think less of me.

I don’t want to because I don’t want to be the only one confessing sin. I don’t want to tell someone, “Man! I’m so guilt-ridden over stealing that pack of Juciy Fruit last week at Target.” (I didn’t!) Or, “I am really struggling with thoughts I should have.” Or gossip. Or anger. Or bitterness. Or….Or….Or…. .

I want there to be some sort of reciprocal confession. Not that we are trying to prove how much worse we are than the other person, but just know they have faults too. I know we all know intellectually that everyone sins, we all fail. But if no one is talking about it, if no one is being real, it is all too easy to feel, which leads to thinking, which leads to believing, that we are the only one.

This led to a discussion about forgiveness and how our asking God for forgiveness after we confess is not mentioned. We aren’t told, “If you confess your sins and ask for forgiveness, He is faithful and just and will forgive your sins….”.  He is faithful to forgive without our asking.  We don’t have to ask for His repeated forgiveness.

This led to my thinking this morning. Asking for forgiveness is not mentioned in Scripture. We are told to forgive. We aren’t told to ask forgiveness from God or from others. We are told to confess and forgive.

I’m still pondering and studying the whole issue and I might someday come and share some truths I’ve learned, or confess that I was way off base. But for now, I’ll let you ponder on it too. (and be sure to let me know if you have any great (or not-so great) thoughts.)

Posted in Book Reviews

Grace, Grace

Grace.

A girl’s name. A book’s title. An attribute of God. A character trait we all need. Something we extend to others because God has extended it to us.

Max Lucado has written, and Thomas Nelson has published, a book entitled simply, Grace. It’s subtitle is: More than we deserve. Greater than we imagine.  You have to believe me when I say this book is phenomenal and a must read for everyone who names the name of Jesus. Those who need need grace and those who revel in it’s power in their life.

This book revolutionized my life and my thoughts on grace. I’ve heard about grace, I’ve sung songs about grace, but I’m not sure I spend much time contemplating what grace really means. I know I haven’t given near enough thought on how I can use grace in the lives of other people.

I learned things like:

  • When grace happens, Christ enters.
  • Grace is everything Jesus.
  • Grace is a God who stoops.
  • The fruit of grace: saved by God, raised by God, seated with God.
  • Jesus Christ is what God does, and the cross is where God did it. (Frederick Buechner)
  • Sin is not a regrettable lapse or an occasional stumble.
  • Sin tells God to get out, get lost, and not come back. Sin is insurrection of the highest order, and you are the insurrectionist.
  • Grace is not blind.
  • Grace is simply another word for God’s tumbling, rumbling reservoir of strength and protection.
  • When grace happens, generosity happens.
  • Trust God’s hold on you more than your hold on God.
  • Grace fosters obedience.

Eleven chapters. One conclusion. Profound thoughts. Simple thoughts. Amazing grace.

I loved this book because while the concept is complex, the words are simple. Max Lucado put grace in words we can all relate to and understand. He peppered each chapter with personal stories and anecdotes these increased my understanding of grace.

There is a study guide at the back of the book that would be very helpful whether you are doing the study alone or with a group.

My prayer for me is that I will allow the truths of this book and THE Book to infiltrate my heart and become such a part of who I am that when others see me, they really see the God who gives grace.

To read more of my thoughts on this book, click here.

(I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson publishers for the purpose of review.)