We’ve got it Backwards

Not long ago I wrote a post called, Has The Church Become a Modern Israel?, in which I talked about similarities that I had noticed between modern Christians and the Israelites. The main similarity being our dependence on our ability to do what we’re supposed to do and other ways in which we have seemed to forget the cross and its life altering meaning.

Recently I listened to a sermon by Pastor Joseph Prince in which he talked about the way we usually teach or view our Christianity. We tend to say (or if not say, act like) we need to stop being lazy (or sinful, or tempted, or lost, or confused, or weak, or some other condemning thing) and start following Christ and doing what he says. If we do that we will be loving Christ and we will have peace knowing that we are finishing his work on the earth.

This is how Christianity is so often thought of! We are sinful and so we need to start doing things right! That’s when we start getting the perks. That’s when we become real, good Christians. We quote verses like “Do you love me?” (John 21:16) and “come and follow me” (Matthew 4:19) and “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17) to condemn ourselves further and draw the requirements out of us.

According to the bible we have it all backwards.

When Jesus died on the cross for our sins he shouted, “IT IS FINISHED!” (John 19:30)

He finished his life work right then and there. He doesn’t have some need for us to do anymore work on that front. The whole point of his coming was that we couldn’t save ourselves.

After his death he appeared to his disciples in the upper room and said, “PEACE BE TO YOU.” (John 20:19)

What did they have to cause them peace? The finished work of Christ. Christ calls us to rest in him. To be sure of his grace, to be sure of his salvation, to be sure of his love for us.

After his disciples found that peace he asked, “DO YOU LOVE ME?” (John 21:17)

Why then? Why after they’d found his peace? Because he loved us first. “We love because Christ first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) We would be unable to love him if we didn’t see anything in him to love and if we didn’t trust him. All Christ wants us to do is look at him and to his finished work on the cross. That is how we love him. We declare his goodness and his greatness by resting in him.

After the disciples said they loved him he said, “FOLLOW ME!” (John 21:19)

It goes from Grace to Works, not from Works to Grace.

The point of the old testament, the point of the ten commandments, the point of the cross was to show that we couldn’t be good enough alone and that we could never deserve the free gift of love that God was giving to us, so why do we keep trying?

Why do we continue to strive?

Why do we still find ourselves filled with guilt and condemnation and confusion and sin?

More importantly how do we stop?

That is what I will discuss next time in the context of Isaiah 2-4

May God bless you with an inability to forget the cross.

I love you,

Deanna ❤

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This is Not a Bad Captivity.

Today at church my pastor said something that really struck home with me and my current fight in life. He said, “At the base of everything else there can be only one sin that creates not only a war between yourself and those around you, but a war within your own soul. It is this: you lust after and desire something so much that you would fight to the ends of the earth to get it. You would even go so far as to fight God.”

I realized earlier in the month that I had been fighting very hard for a man that I have loved for more than four years. I discovered that even though my love for him may have been a beautiful, pure love that there was a such thing as loving him to much.

There were times that I actually did fight with God over why we weren’t together and whether or not I should tell him about my feelings, but typically my idolatry – for idolatry it was – took the form of thinking about him too much and having that yearning that darkened even good days.

Ever since I realized that I decided that my continuing to live that way was not only wrong, but that it was hurting me and holding me back from the great life I could be having as a single. I knew God didn’t have me single for no reason. I knew that I had a purpose in my years as a single that I could chase with a Christ-like passion, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I kept feeling like I had a dream and I was trapped, unable to get to it.

Then on May  18th my pastor’s wife said,  “Being single is not a disease that you one day over come. Being single is not a cage that you someday escape.”

In my spirit I heard something that God had been saying to me for weeks now. He said, “This is not a bad captivity.”

It was in Jeremiah 29 that I first had this revelation from God. Jeremiah 29 is a letter written to those that God sent into captivity in Babylon.

He starts straight away by saying I am here with you in this time and I know where you are. I want you to build houses here. Rest here and bare fruit here. Be content and rest. Increase and grow even in captivity. Be like the Israelites. They grew even greater than their enemies. Seek the peace of your captivity because I have caught you there. Pray for My peace because in this captivity there is safety and peace.

Do not listen to the people around you who tell you this is a bad place or tell you things that make you dissatisfied. Do not listen to your heart and your dreams because when you are in a place your flesh does not like they will deceive you even if the place is good for your spirit and for the world. Don’t let yourself be tricked. Rest in this captivity.

After a time – a certain time that I know and that will not change – I will bring you out of this captivity and you can go where your heart feels at home. I have good plans for you and this time of captivity is part of it. This is for your good and will not harm you. This is to give you the future I have planned and to fill you with unending hope should trials come when you leave the captivity. Know this and you will call me. I will hear you. You will seek me because you know with head knowledge that I love you. You will seek to really know my love and you will find that you do know it. That in fact you know it better than ever before. If it weren’t for this captivity in my arms you never would have had the time to seek me in that way.

You will find me and I will free you. There are people out there who refuse to be taken captive by me and will not look for me. Because of this – and because they tempt you to do the same – they will find themselves unprotected, restless and full of troubles. Their ways are not my ways. Even in hardship you are safe because you live in the place I tell you to. I can keep you from getting sick if you live in the city I tell you to live in. I know which cities will be struck with disease and which will not and so why would you try to live in the place you think best? My instructions to go here or not go there are to protect you. If you do not listen what else can I do?

Listen to my voice. It is your peace in this captivity. You are held captive by me, but not by force. Find joy in the fact that I want you safe and so close. I know what you have done in the past and I know where you are. I am witness to your tears and have whitened all your wrongs.

Let me take you captive. Do not think that you know everything. No man should think higher than he ought. You are not a prophet. You do not know the future or even really know who you are. Take comfort. I know who you are. I know the path. I planned the path. Trust me all the way. Everything is for your good.

For this purpose you will be here for awhile: build a house, take a break, bare fruit by knowing me. I just want you to take time to know me. This is not a bad captivity.

I accepted those verses completely and I was seeking and searching trying to understand Gods purpose for me here. I was asking him, “What house do I build? What fruit do I bare?”, but most of all I was asking, “How do I rest in complete peace and contentment?”

I was trusting. I was growing. I was slowly letting go in my thoughts and my emotions, but there were many times – days even – when I was not content. I felt a pit in the center of my heart and no matter how much I prayed or wrote or worked it would not leave me.

Last night while I cried myself to sleep God said, “Deanna. It is so so easy for you to think of things to do to fill the void for a time, but I am trying to make you a dwelling place.”

I racked my brain to think of what that could mean. I thought of a bunch of different places I could dwell and grow and learn, but none of them held a passion or an excitement to move for my Savior. He wanted me to find a work that was deeper than writing or helping or dreaming. He wanted to show me that even though I was not a married woman that I had a place and I could live my dream.

God made me exactly who I am for exactly where I am right now.

I have discovered that life is all about the right now.

I don’t have to wait to use my talents.
I don’t have to wait to find joy, peace, contentment and fulfillment in my life.
I don’t have to wait to live my dreams.

Today in service they were taking questions through text and this is what I said,
“I have wanted to be married my whole life. Over the last four years I have prayed about it intensely and really grown in my beliefs concerning family and marriage. I know that God’s plan is the best plan. I recently turned 18 and had this fantasy that I would have a boyfriend for my birthday lol and be on my way to my life long dream of being a wife and mother. That obviously hasn’t happened. My question is how does a single whose dream is to raise a family find contentment and purpose in being single and stop being unhappy wishing for what they do not have?”

I asked that question feeling empty and lost.

I left service today feeling not only full, but empowered to live my life!

She said, “There are children all over the world who are helpless and abandoned. They would love to have a mother like you!”

I realized in that moment that while I may not be a physical mother to anyone yet that I am (and have the potential to be) a spiritual mom to many, many young men and women. I have my siblings, the darling babies in the nursery, the wild kids of promise park, and those coming up behind me in yx.

I have a place in the family of God.

God gave me the gift to encourage, nurture, listen, pray and love fiercely not just so I could one day be a mother and a wife. He gave me those gifts to bless everyone that walks into my world. God has given me the grace to raise up young men and women for him – right now.

My encouragement to you is this:

You don’t have to wait for a certain season of your life to bare fruit. Step out, realize the Grace and Power of God in your life and bare fruit even when the world calls you a captive.

We are in the world, but not of it.

The world and what it deems to be “normal” is not of any importance to us.

You purpose in life is to use your gifts to glorify your Father in Heaven and you can do that in an earth shattering, opinion destroying, life altering way when you do it with God.

There is a time to live and a time to die.

There is a time to be single and a time to be married.

Stop waiting and live while you still have the chance.

Tuesday Thoughts On A Wednesday Morning

Tuesday.

The one weekday that is by far the busiest. That one weekday where I may not finish everything I need to do or if I do finish I just barely crawl past the finish line named “All Done”.

But that day somehow remains my favorite, over late Friday night movies or Sunday chillin’s, Tuesdays are my favorite. Despite the evening rush and the morning haze I dont stress or worry because I know that on that day – for just awhile – I will be at home; inside and out I’ll be home.

I know I’ll have those precious moments when I look around me at those whom I call brothers and sisters and see Him.

I see His light in their smiles.

I see His surrender in their lifted hands – reaching to the heavens to give their lives to Him – saying, “Here I am. Here I am.”

I see His love in their eyes and I hear His joy in their shouts.

For a moment –  one sweet, beautiful moment – I see Him – tangibly – all around me. I realize each and every time that He is in me – in my every movement and my every moment. He weaves through me like the ocean through the crags of pointed rocks and He beats like a pulse through my veins.

As I see these things I wonder at the fact that in this mortal body is an Immortal God pure as the whitest rose and strong as the two edged sword.

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Love,

Deanna ❤