Saturday, February 28, 2015

food to eat, ears to hear, and words to say // an evening's reflections

I sat down on the couch, exhausted after a long day of running errands and cheering for the boys' robotics competition. I had gotten sick earlier in the afternoon, with an intense headache and severe stomach pain, and was still feeling a little jittery. Driving home up to the mountain didn't help much. I sat down on the couch and opened my Bible. I was only one day behind on my Bible reading plan, so I began reading in the last place I had left off: Leviticus 10.

Reading through chapter ten, and then eleven and twelve, I struggled with concentration and zoning out. This isn't that important, I reasoned, it's just a list of what to eat and what not to eat. This makes you clean, that makes you unclean. I should just skim over this section and get onto my New Testament part... But I felt that little prick of conviction from the Spirit, and I immediately looked at the words differently. No, this is the Word of God. There is something for me to learn in every aspect of Scripture. So, Jesus, where are you in this? I finished chapter twelve, still having no sudden revelation from the Lord, and so I turned to today's New Testament reading: Mark 7. I started reading with piqued interest, because in the passages Jesus was addressing the Pharisees about cleanliness and being defiled. I was interested in Jesus' take on this!

"And when He had called all the people unto Him, He said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him, can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any have ears to hear, let him hear." || Mark 7:14-16

Wow. So here, Jesus just basically ditched Leviticus? I'm guessing that He isn't, but I do believe that He was making a point. What good is it to watch what goes into your body if what is coming out doesn't look like God Almighty? I'm not saying watching what you eat is wrong, because I watch what I eat, and the dietary laws prescribed in Leviticus 11 are actually proven to be extremely healthy and beneficial to your body. No, I'm not going against that at all. But what I am saying is that it's extremely important to watch what comes out of you. Because your words and actions are the outflow of what's in your heart. If you don't have a new heart and a renewed mind, what good will keeping a set of laws do? The Pharisees kept the law, yet according to Jesus they never once honored Him with their hearts. How I long to honor Him with my heart!

I want ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, because HE is always speaking. And this evening He reminded me that it's not about things on the outside... it's about what's coming out of me. Staying healthy isn't going to show someone Jesus – speaking and doing what the Spirit is saying and doing will show Jesus. x

Friday, February 20, 2015

forgiveness and being love.

I woke up, at six am, like I do every morning, to the sound of my phone alarm (which is extremely annoying). Nothing extraordinary happened – it was like any other morning: still dark outside, my sister's heavy breathing still indicating that she was asleep. And then it happened. Wham! Instantly I felt that shrinking feeling, like I was up against something I couldn't control, and my soul cowered. I panicked. I hadn't felt this way since all those months ago, when it first happened. The feelings of anger, sadness, shock, hurt, mistrust, broken heartedness, and unforgiveness slammed into me with a vengeance, and I felt like I couldn't breathe. Somewhere in the back of my head I knew that what I was feeling was wrong, and in desperation I seemed to cry out, "But I thought I had forgiven him! I thought this was all over!" And the enemy countered back, "But do you remember what happened? When you were so hurt by that person's sin? How could you ever trust that person again, let alone anyone else? How can you trust anyone, actually?" I wasn't even out of my bed yet, at 6:05, and I felt inundated with these feelings and questions from the enemy. I had struggled once with forgiveness – it was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, things I have ever done. I know the fight to forgive, and I had won a big battle many months ago. Yet, this? I wasn't expecting a counter-attack from the enemy, with all his forces in tow. It was almost like I had never even won the battle in the first place, and I was re-living the situation all over again. I hated it, yet couldn't seem to let go of those feelings and follow what I knew Truth spoke.

It was something I managed to push aside, and try to forget about, as I got ready for the day, ate breakfast with my family, and proceed with the day. Yet it was still there, subtly asking me to remember past grievances and go back to the past. All throughout the day I tried to ignore it, and for the most part I did, distracting myself with other things. But as the night drew closer and the day began to wind down, it came back with full force. We were riding back from an evening in Denver, and I sat in the passenger seat next to my dad, who was driving. All the other kids were slowly nodding off to sleep, and I asked dad a question.

*"Do you ever remember things from the past and all the feelings come back, and you feel like you have to forgive all over again, even though you did when it first happened?" He nodded.

"It's a very real thing. It took me eight years to fully forgive someone for something they said."

"But remember [insert specific situation]? I woke up thinking about it and I felt so angry, and full of mistrust, and like I could never forgive."

"Have you asked the Lord for His perspective on this? Have you asked to see that person from His eyes? How does Jesus see that person?"

"No, but I don't feel like I can –"

"Ask the Lord. You know the truth. Live it out."

It's hard to live out the Truth, but it really is the only thing that will set us free. Forgiveness is something, I'm learning, that has to be continually given. Forgiveness is required. Trust isn't. But I want to give forgiveness out as if I have enough for everybody, for every situation... because I do. I'm in Christ, and I have everything I need. Heck, He has enough for me. And we are not even trustworthy to begin with! Christ gives Himself to us, and has no guarantee that we will love Him in return, or if we honor His name... yet He continues to love, and forgive. And I pray that I show the same love, and forgiveness, to others, even when I can't seem to forget what they did, or how I felt, etc. I want to be love. And so, little by little, I'm going to ask the Lord for His vantage point on those that I don't feel any hint of love for, until I'm exploding with love. Because love isn't a feeling, oftentimes. It has that dimension, but it's more than a feeling. It's Jesus. And I'm going to show Love, and choose Love, despite the attacks from the enemy that bring up the past. Because I'm not the past, and neither are you, and Love believes all things.

"Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." // Matthew 18:22

"[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." // 1 Corinthians 13:7

*Conversation paraphrased

Monday, February 9, 2015

this is {my} gospel

I've been thinking about the Gospel. Funny as it may sound, I don't actually think about the Gospel all the time. I meditate on the truths of the Gospel, and on the person and character of Jesus, but I don't spend a ton of time thinking on the story of the Gospel. But I was this morning, as I lay in bed not feeling so well, and as I dragged myself to the bathroom to get ready for the day. As I brushed my hair and washed my sleepy face, I thought on what Jesus actually accomplished. What He actually did on the Cross. And I shrunk. I cringed as I looked into the mirror. I saw a sinner, a disobedient person who has broken the law of God. I saw a liar, a cheater. I looked inside of me and became disgusted at my unfaithfulness and my selfishness. I actually began to despair this morning. Before I saw or spoke with any of my family members, I despaired at my plight apart from Christ. I panicked, for a moment, as I looked at all that I was and compared it to He is. I fell short.

I don't like to think about who I am apart from Christ very often, because I honestly just don't like seeing me. But I did this morning. 

Then came the glorious part of the Gospel: the Cross. I looked back at It after taking a long look at me. And I exhaled. Because He paid it all. He crucified my old man so that I could be free. So that I could be back in right standing with Him. A daughter, wrapped in the robe of righteousness, clothed in my Savior's work. A daughter! A son of God! 

There's more to the Cross-work, though. The story goes on. Not only do I see my sin, and repent of it, and because of that become washed clean and righteous. No, that's only the beginning! That's just Passover! I have the chance to be filled. With the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit. The very life of God. Grace. I have that opportunity. What is the point of dying to my flesh if there is nothing better that could fill my life and direct my actions, thoughts, and words? But there is. I'm overwhelmed at the thought. That my Savior would not only rescue me, but that He would give His life to me. He washed me clean, now He offers the very Spirit of God - his life - to fill me. So that I can be like Him.

So I looked at myself in the mirror, and I breathed a sigh of both joy and relief. My view quickly shifted from one who was lost in darkness and would ever fall short, to one of gratefulness and thanksgiving to my Jesus for making me into a Bride, clothed in a white robe of His righteousness. I am not who I used to be. I am not who I would be apart from Christ. I am a daughter of the Most High God. And I am found IN Him. It's such a miraculous work on His part that my co-laboring almost seems insignificant. But it's not. I have to choose, moment by moment, to die to the whispers (at times loud screams) of my flesh as I press forward in the life and high calling of Jesus Christ. I have to choose to trust that He knows best. I'm not perfect, but I'm striving after the perfect One. Even just reflecting on the past year of my life I'm stunned to see the growth that has occurred. If I could talk to me a year ago, I would've slapped that girl in the face and tell her to focus on Jesus. Yet I have a sneaking suspicion that a year from now I could do the same thing to me today. There's always a growing and maturing process, which is made up of little moments of death to flesh and being ALIVE to Christ. Let's focus on Him. That's when we grow, truly. When we become love. 

So, I was thinking on the Gospel this morning, and that's when I realized how much I love Jesus. He truly is worthy of my all.