Irrevocable

Today I put the final entry in my journal of over 3 years.  It wasn’t a big journal.  It was something that I wrote in sporadically.  As I filled the final page I reflected over the past three years and changes I want to make.

I felt a general feeling of sadness.

I haven’t been as close to the Lord as I could have been.  I wasted a lot of time.

I wrote out my last entry with some pretty basic goals/hopes for the coming years.  I want to see my baby healed.  I want to be closer to God.

I opened my Bible to Romans 11 and read “….for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29  I love the word “irrevocable”.  The Greek word here is ametamelétos which means “about which no change of mind can take place”.

The call on your life, the gifts God has given you- those things are irrevocable.  Does that give anyone else a tremendous sense of comfort? 20170712_130709

“For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those He predestined He also called, those He called He also justified, those He justified He also glorified.” Romans 8:30-31

Foreknew.  Predestined.  Called.  Justified.  Glorified.

I can’t type these words without tears welling in my eyes.  There is a destiny on your life that supercedes the things that bog you down, the pain that leaves you crippled, the sin that separates you from your Father.  His call, his choice…it’s irrevocable. 

“Lord, fan into flames again the dreams you put into our hearts.  Work in us the will, the desire to obey you.  Help us, Lord, to be courageous and to be more than overcomers through Christ Jesus.  Thank you, Lord, that you knew us before the dawning of time.  You chose us and your banner over us is love.  We love you and we trust that you are working all things out for our good, because we love you and are called according to your unshakeable, irrevocable purpose.”

 

 

Hyper Grace?

Mainstream media is eating up the moral failure of another big-time Christian leader, Tullian Tchividjian.  Made even juicier because he is the grandson of revered man of God, Billy Graham.

Tullian was also criticized as leading a ‘hyper grace’ movement, which has become popular.  The movement seeks to set people free from legalism and guilt and to be released in to freedom in the walk with Christ.  Sounds good, right?

The problem comes when we focus on grace to the exclusion of truth.  Jesus himself came full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

Yes, at times the road to holiness is hard, steep and lonely.  If it wasn’t, everyone would be headed there.  “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14

Our inner man, or spirit, rejoices in the things of God. Romans 7:22  But we all have a sin nature, or ‘flesh’ that is hostile towards God. Romans 8:7

So we daily face a choice- sanctification or rebellion?  untitled

We are all saved 100% by grace.  Yes, we all continue to ‘stumble in many ways’.  But….. salvation is just the beginning.  God has a plan for the life of every believer.  If we cooperate with the ongoing process of sanctification, God can and will do amazing things with our lives.

Pastor James MacDonald often says, “when God says, “Don’t,” He really means, “Don’t hurt yourselves.”  God hates sin because it kills us. Romans 6:23  It separates us from him.  It keeps us under an umbrella of spiritual death and from fulfilling our true destiny.

There is so much at stake.

Jesus’ obedience led him to a cross.  We are all called to follow him to that cross.  To die to self.  To live for him.  It isn’t legalism.  It is the gospel.

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13

Let’s be children who bear an increasing resemblance to our Heavenly Father in this dark world.

Through the Storm

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I’ve shared a bit about my 6 year old son, Gabriel and his health struggles.  We’ve been battling eczema for about three years.  He also struggles with anxiety and fear.

I think it really began before he was born.  The pregnancy was awful.  My husband and I went through a brutal custody fight for my son, Michael.  I was consumed with anxiety and fear and couldn’t sleep at night.  I started having major health problems that continue, in a way, to this day.

He came into the world in quite the dramatic way.  Three weeks early I was up most of the night with intense contractions (sorry guys, avert your eyes!) my water broke after my husband had driven to work (an hour away!)…I called him to race home and take me to the hospital (which was a 1/2 hour away).  He made the trip somehow in half the normal amount of time.

I was gripping the counter when he got home and practically swearing like a sailor!  We raced off to the hospital through morning traffic.  I was in active labor and we were dealing with pokey drivers!  Through the contractions I noticed one of the most beautiful sunrises I had ever seen.  I remember thinking, ‘what a beautiful morning to be born.’

I staggered into the hospital alone as Tim parked the car.  It was close.  They rushed my into the delivery room.  It was too late for any pain relief.  I was freaking out, totally unprepared for the pain and urgency.  Then the umbilical cord prolapsed and it turned into a dangerous life or death situation.  Gabe’s heart rate was dropping as his oxygen supply was getting cut off.  The Doctor raced in from the parking lot (there had been none there incidentally when we arrived) and the room filled up with nurses ready to take me in for an emergency C-section.  The Doctor told me I had to push this baby out NOW.  I bore down through the agony and pushed with everything I had.

I think it was only a minute or two before he was out.  It was awful.  He was blue-ish and not moving.  I started crying out to God and they whisked him away to give him oxygen.

He was pretty tiny at 5 lb.s 10 ounces but healthy and beautiful.  1931405_115168950073_2317_n

We went to ‘meet’ our son in the nursery and while all the other babies were crying Gabe quietly looked up at us.  He was so alert and calm after such a dramatic birth.

He has been such a blessing and joy to us.  He got my hazel-brown eyes and sensitive soul.

I see in him a heart for ministry.  He is so sensitive, loving and caring.  He is so receptive to the things of God.

I feel in my heart that he has had to deal with so much because there is a very real struggle for his destiny.  He had low muscle tone and needed a lot of help learning to walk.  He has always struggled with fairly severe anxiety.  And a little crusty patch that started on the back of his knee has slowly consumed most of the surface of his skin with dry skin, crust, and oozing sores that itch constantly.  It is a constant battle.  He often doesn’t sleep well because of it.  He is often in pain.  The eczema has brought us to our wits end.     My baby and I last summer- 10574293_10202019693968587_408779126700107518_n

So, yesterday when my mom texted me that there was going to be a healing service especially for children at her church that night, I was all over it.  Just before we left ominous storm clouds had blown in.  Gabe and I got into the car just as heavy rain started to fall.  Pretty soon the rain got heavier and it started to hail.  I thought briefly about turning back, as it was an hour drive.  I pushed on though because I felt like this was some sort of bizarre spiritual attack to keep me from taking Gabe to the service.

I drove slowly through the rain and hail, while many people had decided to pull over to the side of the road to wait it out.  I felt a growing sense of purpose and destiny in this trip.  For most of the way I could see a beautiful rainbow ahead, seemingly leading me through the storm.

As I type I have tears in my eyes.  There is nothing like seeing your beloved child suffer.  It has been a hard road.  I’ve held onto the verse and promise that God will cause all this to work together for Gabe’s good.  It has been a pretty big leap of faith a times.  20150503_173812_resized

The service was very anointed and Spirit-filled.  Pastor C.J. at Discover Family Church in Burnsville was prophetically calling people out of the audience to recieve healing.

He spoke about a passage in scripture that I had just been reading.  How Hannah had dedicated her child to the Lord, her child that had been an answer to prayer.  I thought about the many times I had dedicated Gabe to the Lord in prayer.

My mom and I brought Gabe up to be prayed over.  Pastor C.J. prayed over his mind (without me saying a word about his anxiety) and spoke to my fears- that Gabe IS going to grow up to be a strong healthy young man in spite of the diagnosis and words spoken over him.  He looked me in the eyes and said, “you need to protect him.  He has a very special call on his life and the enemy is trying to stop it.”  He prayed for me as well and told me a long-awaited breakthrough is coming.

I think of the importance of a single life.  Jesus died for it.  The enemy works furiously to destroy it.  Every life matters.  Every human being is knit together with inherent purpose, destiny, and value.

Perhaps Gabe’s healing with be a process that we will have to keep walking out.  Please pray for us.  I want so much to triumph and completely derail the enemy’s plan for my family.  I want my children to grow up to be mighty warriors for God.

20150503_204946_resized  -My little Warrior

I know the struggle is real.  I feel like the enemy tried hard take me out and very nearly succeeded.  I am determined to stand against and expose his schemes.  He will not get my kids.  I will stand in the gap.

“‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!” Yes, I said to you while you were in your blood, ‘Live!'” Ezekiel 16:6

If I had a ‘life verse’ that would be it.

We serve an Awesome God.  We have to go through many trials to inherit the Kingdom of God, it’s true.  But there is always a rainbow after the storm, when God is involved.

He looks at the dying and hopeless and says, “Live!”

I will look at my difficult situations and chose to trust and believe and know that God is working out something huge.  Every trial is shaping and strengthening us and bringing us closer to a God-breathed destiny.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

The Dance and the Dream

“You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.” Deuteronomy 32:18

The Hebrew word here for ‘gave you birth’ is חוּל– chuwl meaning whirl, dance, or writhe.  It is associated with childbirth and anxious longing.  I really love the intimacy of it.  God is laboring in a sense, over each of us.  He is dancing with us.

I understand as a parent that the labor process doesn’t end when the child comes into the world!  It is really just beginning.  You tenderly care for them, love them, nurture them, you are there for them through the good and the bad, watch with great joy as they develop… you have hope and dreams for their life.

This verse shows that God very much feels the same about us, his children.  He carefully formed us and chose the exact time in human history we would be born.  He gave us our characteristics, personality, giftings, and room for flaws as well 😉  He has hope and dreams for each one of us.  He longs that we would go through life ever mindful of our Father-creator.  That we would engage him in the dance of life.

There is a song by Casting Crowns called ‘Let me Dream for You’.  Some of the lyrics are-

So come on, let Me dream, let Me dream for you
I am strong when youre weak and I’ll carry you
So let go of your plan, be caught by My hand
I’ll show you what I can do
When I dream for you
I have a dream for you

I’m stronger than you think I am
I’ll take you farther than you think you can
You sing and call me Great I Am
So take your stand
My child, if you only knew
All the plans that I have for you
Just trust me, I will follow through
You can follow Me

It speaks to the deepest parts of our heart.  We all long to know that we are loved, that our lives matter, that there is a reason for our existence.  There is.  God is bigger, better, and kinder than we know.  He wants to dream for you today.

Gotta Have Faith

Abraham led an extraordinary life and became the father of the Jewish people (and eventually Jesus) and the spiritual father of all believers.  Galatians 3:7

The crux of Abraham’s life was this, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Romans 3:4  Abraham made mistakes but when it came right down to it; he believed God.  His belief led to obedience.  Obedience led to blessing.  Belief is virtually the same as faith.  Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.” 1 Cor. 13:13  Notice, faith comes first.  Love is definitely the greatest of these three virtues but faith comes first.

If the grace of God is our ‘boat’ of salvation well then faith is the motor.  Without it we stay stuck.  Without it we cave.  In the armor of God, faith is the shield.  We can not make any sort of progress spiritually without dealing with fiery darts of doubt aimed right at us.  We need that strong faith as our shield so we can keep putting one foot in front of the other.

One of my favorite prayers is this, “I do believe! Help my unbelief!” from Mark 9.  Life is tough.  Sometimes there aren’t easy answers.  The Bible is a lamp not a floodlight.  Sometimes we have to keep moving forward when, Like Abraham, all we are going on is faith and promises.  Sometimes God puts something in our heart to believe for but no one else is going to see it.  Sarah (Abraham’s wife) laughed at the promise.  It still happened, of course!  Abraham had the faith and he received the promises.  Sometimes we are going to have to have faith for the hope and dreams God has put in our hearts, when people may laugh or roll their eyes.  Shake it off.  Let it go.  Be gracious but don’t let anyone talk you out of your God-sized dreams.

I love that Abraham’s story was not ‘airbrushed’.  He made mistakes.  He kept going around telling people that his wife was his sister; basically throwing her under the bus to protect himself.  Nice.  Sarah ended up in two harems because of Abraham’s ‘fib’.  (If I was Sarah I would have throttled him right there!)  Abraham messed up.  He was obedient to follow God into the promised land as a foreigner but he didn’t trust that God could or would supernaturally protect them there.  I love that God’s grace and His plan supersedes our failures.  God intervened twice and saved Sarah.  He had called this couple and nothing was going to change that.  Sarah became the mother of Isaac- and eventually Israel.

After 25 years of waiting and a few big mistakes *ahem Ishmael ahem* God did come through.  They conceived Isaac when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90!  Sometimes God makes us wait until all natural hope has long since passed.  That is when he gets the most glory.  Isaac was the child of the promise.  He was born to a barren woman long past menopause.  That is just how God works.  Lesson- lift your chin, renew your faith; it is never too late.

God wasn’t done though.  He put Abraham to the ultimate test.  He called Abraham to sacrifice his unique and beloved son.  We have the benefit of knowing how the story ends.  Abraham didn’t.  Though he trusted God so much that he was willing to obey no matter what.  He was just about to go through with it when God intervened- “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Genesis 22:12

It was a kind of prototype.  It mimicked what would happen many years later outside of Jerusalem.  When God would provide a sacrifice, His Son, except that they would go through with it.

Abraham was an ordinary man but his life was marked by remarkable faith and obedience.  Thousands of years later his life still echos through time.  God promised, “through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:18

Through our faith every other spiritual blessing flows.  Lack of faith is a sin, or at least it leads us into sin.  Look at the original fall into sin.  Adam and Eve listened to the serpent and doubted what God said.  Don’t we still do the same thing today?  When we let doubt penetrate our hearts; when we doubt God’s intentions, character, or love; we effectively lower our shield and leave ourselves wide open to attacks from the enemy.

We must remember that even faith is a gift from God.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–” Ephesians 2:8

In this journey of life, faith is what carries us through.  Miracles happen when we walk by faith.  Mountains move.  We inherit the promises of God.  Our impact stretches far beyond what we can see and echos into eternity… and nothing is impossible.

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9