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 ❤

Guest Blogger – Stephanie!

Hello Everyone! Today we have a guest blogger who is very dear to my heart. Right now she lives in Florida – which is way to far away from New Mexico – but she is doing great things there. She is deeply involved in Journey Church and just got back from a missions trip to Mexico where she absolutely fell in love with all the kids. I cannot wait to see where else she will go and what else God will lead her to do for His kingdom. It is beautiful for me to watch my friends grow up around me and she is one of them so without further ado Stephanie’s post!

steph

A Word Misunderstood:

“The number one question people are constantly pondering, studying, researching, asking, googling, reading about, and striving to find the answer to is: ” why are we here?” or, in other words, “what is the purpose of life?”. It is a question that has been attempted to be answered by millions of people in an infinite amount of ways. Each person may have a different answer. Some might say to be happy or to be successful or to have a family or to contribute something positive or to protect the environment or to make yourself and others happy. The list goes on and on.

As a Christian my first response to that question has always been “to reach the lost for Jesus.” – a noble cause. I always found that at the center. After all was that not Jesus’ last command to us? To go and make disciples of all nations. Therefore, as a good Christian, I could confidently say the purpose of my life was to tell people about Jesus, to point others to him. In my mind that was the purpose of every life. God gave people talents so they could use them to point others to Jesus.

The purpose of life is not to be successful because success will fade. The purpose of life is not to be happy because happiness is a fleeting emotion that can easily change. Not that these things aren’t a good part of life but rather that they are not at the center of life.

Recently I have found that the purpose of life is not to point people to Jesus. Here is where a righteous gasp would be allowed and an indignant “how dare you say we are not supposed to point people to Jesus!”

That is not what I am saying at all.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that is within them. He created man in his own likeness and from him he created woman. In the first couple chapters of the Bible we can see the purpose of life as God intended it. Before the fall of man and before sin came into the world, before people chose to forget God, before people needed to be saved and pointed to Jesus God had a purpose for our lives. Every day God met with Adam and Eve to walk and talk and laugh and have an intimate relationship with the people he loved.

The purpose of life is to be a lover; and not just a lover of anything but a lover of a Creator who loved us beyond any of our own capabilities before we could ever love him.

The word lover has been ruined by todays society – corrupted. The word itself would make me queasy and uncomfortable, feeling like I was intruding on something that was none of my concern. For a while all it meant to me was someone who had intimate relations with another – usually when they weren’t supposed to. It felt secretive and dirty to me and had little to no connotations of actual, real love.

Instead of explaining what a lover is not allow me to expound on what a lover is and how it fits into our purpose. A true lover is someone who stands in awe of another being. Nothing could compare to or satisfy like being in the presence of this being. Being a lover of our Creator is not something strange and uncomfortable: it is simply standing in awe of our Savior and losing our breath and losing our words. It is wanting to spend our life getting to know Him better, getting to spend time with the one who gave His life for us. It is us being satisfied that He is all we need. He is our everything. It is a love that realizes that He sacrificed himself for us and in return we willingly and lovingly do what he asks of us because we LOVE Him.

Life is, but a fleeting moment compared to eternity. It comes and goes and what we gained and accomplished in it will be forgotten and lost. So what is the purpose of life if at the end, when we are laying on our death beds, we cannot take anything with us and chances are in 100 years we will be no more than a name on a stone next to hundreds of stones that all look the same? Well to answer that you must look at the bigger picture: at eternity. For eternity we will spend our lives praising and worshipping a beautiful God. The one thing we can take with us when we die is our relationship with our Savior therefore our purpose in life is just to be a lover.

Naturally, when you are in love with God it affects the rest of your life. His love through you affects the people you meet, the way you act, they way you work, the things you do. Which in turn affects your happiness, your work, your success, your passions and desires, your family and friends, and everything else in life.

When God is at the center of not just your life but at the center of the entire essence of your being, when you focusing your love and adoration on him is at the center of every decision you make, of the words you say, of the relationships you have with others, of the work you do, and at the center of everything you are, THAT is when you know you have fulfilled life’s purpose. Because you are who God made you to be: His lover.

Sometimes I lay in awe and wonder of God and in these moments my heart swells till I feel like His love is going to make it burst. I cannot begin to fathom or wrap my head around a love so extravagant and so real. It shines through everything around me. All the things I take for granted and all the things I enjoy are strategically placed in my life as love letters from God. His handwriting is everywhere! Bleeding through my life as a pen bleeds through paper. His love seeps into my being and fills me with a joy that is incomparable.

Even in the hard times he leaves behind his beautiful handwriting. His hand is there guiding me. His arms are open to hug me and comfort me when my face is red and blotchy with tears. He knows. To have a lover that will never misunderstand you, will never let you down, will be there for you no matter what, and knows exactly how to make you smile: that is all anyone could ever ask for and it is already ours. It was ours before the world was made. What more could I ask for?

Words are frustrating because they can never convey the love of God fully. It is something you must experience for yourself to understand the full gravity of. My soul is bursting at the seams through these words trying to find a way to convey the complexity of a love that existed before words, of a love that invented languages. It is impossible. Sometimes it is best to just let yourself be wordless, speechless, and just let God be God.”

This spoke volumes to me.

In what ways do you and I need to just let God be God this school year?

Where must our worries cease and allow His hand?

Should I have more guest bloggers? Should I convince Steph to come back some time?

Please share in the comments!

God is faithful and you are utterly blessed.

Love,

Deanna and Stephanie ❤

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.

Waiting…

Waiting Takes a depth of soul and depth of love that’s rare – that’s special. Many claim love as a refusal to let go, but love is more so the ability to say, with Jason Mraz, “If you’re needing your space to do some navigating I’ll be here patiently waiting to see what you find”. Love is realizing that no matter how much you want to be there to help that person some journeys need to be taken alone: in a thoughtful, peaceful silence. Sometimes people need to sort through their heart themselves before they give it to someone who loves them.

And other times love  – the kind Jesus Himself came to give us – is realizing (and accepting) the fact that the one person you care so much for, the one person you want nothing more than to encourage, love and hold will never feel the same way you do…

More often than not sacrificial love is the willingness and, dare I say, the desire to let them choose their own way. Indeed love is trusting God enough to let Him care for them as you let them float away.

Love, Deanna. ❤

…Moments…

 

October 7th 2013 – Moments.

 

 

Moments.

 

A sweep of the air

 

A pounding of feet

 

These are the moments we need to keep.

 

 

They hide in our hearts

 

they fill our lungs

 

they’re the story God wrote

 

before our days had begun.

 

 

We wish and we dream

 

for the future we make

 

little do we realize

 

its the moments at stake.

 

 

The moments we hide in our hearts

 

and fill up our lungs

 

the moments that change us

 

and show us His son.

 

 

We breath in the air

 

but cough out smoke

 

because we dont stop

 

to see the moments He wrote.

 

 

If nothing good goes in

 

nothing good comes out

 

If we dont love

 

what is life all about?

 

 

We need the moments

 

they lift our eyes

 

to the creator

 

who made the skys.

 

 

We need the moments

 

that breath of fresh air

 

the one we dont realize

 

is always there.

 

 

We need the moments

 

the red red rose

 

the rain on our cheeks

 

and His kiss on our nose.

 

– To The World and Those Who Live Within It –

1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.

3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

9 Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

10 Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.

22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:

23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.

24 Therefore saith the LORD, the LORD of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:

25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:

26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.

27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

28 And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.

29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.

30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.

31 And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

Can you not see? Do you not understand even though you hear? Constantly God is traveling within your dark spirit – calling your name – saying, “I never left you! When will you stare into the brightness of the dawn and see the SON? I don’t wish to condemn you, but I must if you continue in the way you are going. I wish nothing more than to love you for eternity! Can you not see that in the life of my Son? I wish you to live – abundantly! Can you not see that in my commands? Deuteronomy 10:12 – 13 states what I told Moses and what I now reveal to you about my love, “What does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear {honor} the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart {everything you desire, dream and feel} and with all your soul {every part of your personality and what makes you an individual}  and to keep the Lords commands… which I am commanding you today for your own good?”

Can you not see my good desires for you? Come into the Light of Righteousness and fall into My Arms so you may “learn to do right,” and live in abundance through Me.”

When Evil Strikes.

Disaster, Pain, Terror, Death, Uncertainty, Disalusionment, Shame, Guilt, Chains, Difficulty, Loss.

They are words we all try to avoid and words that strike us all at one point or another. But don’t blame God. Dont say, God did this.” Dont even say, “God let this happen.” or “why doesn’t he make it stop?”.

God cannot put into motion any evil thing nor can God allow such a thing to occur. God is love and therefore all his actions demonstrate it. He has made us so many loving promises and “God is not a man that he should lie.” – Numbers 23:19 so he always keeps his promises.

If you read the word and really let it soak into your spirit and your mind you will see for yourself that God has no part in any evil thing that occurs in our world. He says, “(I wish) that no man should parish but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 peter 3:9. God doesn’t want any one to go to hell and yet so so many do, “For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.” – Matthew 7:13 Imagine the pain that creates in the heart of our almighty lover who promised to let us choose.

Our own choice is where the evil came from. Satan convinced us to be greedy, and to want something other than the wonder of Christ. He convinced Eve that the fruit was good to eat and would make her smarter than her God. He convinces young men and women that God is depriving them by asking them to wait until marriage for the intimacy of sex. He convinces them that its their life and their body and if they so desire they can remove the child which they foolishly created. He convinces those who are drunk to drive at insane speeds. He convinces husbands and wives that they are no longer satisfied with their spouse and must search elsewhere for their satisfaction.

The devil was the root and sinners have become the branches making a tangled mess of this world we live in.

On Monday april 15th bombs went off at the Boston Marathon. They are stating that this was a terrorist attack, but whether the terrorist Is our own, or one from another country is unknown. 22 have been reported injured and 2 dead. This proves the words spoken in scripture, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars…” (Matthew 24:6) The end is near and the world has never been more broken, but God has not stopped loving us. Gods protection was still there. Three other bombs were found in parcels that did NOT detonate. Though the fact that any were injured or killed is terribly tragic we must look at it in the light that out of at least a million people only twenty four were physically affected! That alone is a miracle but I do not think that is where the miracles will end. I believe that with our prayers those injured will be amazingly healed and made entirely whole. I believe people will come back from the dead.

When we pray God hears us and just because there is evil in the world doesn’t mean he stops loving and caring for us. It simply gives more proof to the fact. God is all powerful, He answers prayers and he is there in the midst of the destruction with us.