What was it like? 

"Just look into the camera when you're ready."  
I had been over the dialog a thousand times in my head. I knew what I held in my heart to say. Suddenly all of the words blurred together and it was as though my mouth couldn't work. Which, if you know me, is completely unlike me!  
Inwardly, I prayed.  
'God, speak what needs to be spoken. Help. I can't do this with so much swirling around my mind.' 
Thoughts spun around hurtful events that had taken place over the last couple of weeks. It was a certain attack from the enemy. Pain as I was desperately seeking words for pain. 
Here I sat, perhaps one of the most important events of my lifetime, unable to release the message in me. I searched for answers as I stared into the fibers of the carpeting. 

 

"I'm having trouble putting this into words." 
"Just tell us what it was like losing your babies." 

What was it like? My heart palpitated. Flashes of gore replayed through my mind. Physical pain, emotional pain, and confusion passed through my heart, remembering those fateful moments when I knew another child had died and was leaving my body. I saw Niklas in my arms, lifeless and still. I remembered the silence. the stillness of the birthing room. Visuals of the dim-lit birthing bed waiting for me. No life in that room, only death. Suddenly, the emotions flooded my heart... and words began spilling through tears. 
What was it like? It was like being shredded in a way I'd never been ripped apart before. It was like torture. Being forced to participate in confirming a life ended that you wanted to continue. Pain. Physical, emotional, and spiritual pain and confusion. I wanted no drugs. I wanted to feel every ounce of physical pain. I needed something to push against in the middle of my emotional pain.   
Tears continued. I stared intensely into the camera lens. I wanted to crawl into it, cover up, curl into a ball and hide from the world for just a second.

I worried that they wouldn't be able to capture the words through my blubbering, and yet a part of me didn't care. I needed to say whatever it was that ended up being said. 


1 in 4 women experience pregnancy loss and stillbirth. The tears streaming down my face weren't just for me... they were for my sisters and brothers forced to walk this road in their lives too. They were for my dear friends who sat in the next room who were sharing their stories.  They were for every person on the planet who has been forced to say goodbye to their sweet child before they could say hello. Planned or unplanned, early loss or full-term... it makes no difference. Pain is pain... loss is loss... and your grief is your grief. If you know me well, you know that I feel deeply. Likely I feel more deeply than the average person. The stories of the hurting ache my heart and light a fire to continue to create and put to words pain for those who are not bent this way. The song, Before We Said Hello, I pray, opens a door for us all to heal and begin an open conversation as we traverse a path that non of us would have chosen and none of us want to be on.  

I thank God for the gift of dear friends and family who come to communicate and share their losses with the world for the benefit of others.

I thank God for a sister that has walked closely with me through this entire journey. She has loved me in my darkest hours. She is that person who takes me for a pedicure to ease the difficulty I face during this time of my life and allows me just to sit silently.

I am grateful for a daughter who sobs with me and gets the sorrow of the moment.

I am grateful for my precious husband... my best friend... who knows me, understands my deep feeling heart- and loves it. I am thankful He is the one God chose for me to walk these roads with.

 

I am most grateful for a God who never fails. Who loves me regardless of my pain, questions and failings. He is my greatest treasure and highest dream.

 

Beauty In Ashes 

There is a bittersweet washing that comes over me as I glance in the rearview mirror of my life. I see the broken moments. I feel the fallings and failings. I hear the wounding words both spoken to me and those that have come carelessly out of my mouth. I gaze daily upon my need for the grace that my merciful God has poured over me and into me and continues to do so, even today. 
It's funny, looking back, the things we can see now that we couldn't understand at the moment. Dreams we thought were dead in the water, brought to life with purpose. Pain that seemed so wasteful and thieving, He now declares useful and purposeful. 
My heart has always wanted to be used by God. I have always felt that regardless of what I may go through or experience in this life, as long as He used it for a purpose, I would be ok.  He has proven so very faithful to do this. 
There is much to my story. Too much to go into in this post. I want to share some of it with you, in hopes that it will encourage you to remember that He is a God of mercy and grace, and it matters not where you have been or what you have done. He has the final say. Man can and will say, what they will. BUT GOD has the final word, sees the heart, and writes the plan over your life. 
I sat in the choir room that last day of my senior year. Pregnant, having kissed all of my music scholarships goodbye, my opportunities to attend prestigious New York music schools were flushed down the toilet. My director announced her farewells to the seniors, "Some of you will go on to lead choirs and bands, teach music, and record... and some of you will just be singing lullabies..." she glanced in my direction.  My heart sunk. I knew that I had chosen to seek fulfillment for my brokenness in things that led to the destruction of dreams and separation in my relationship with God.  
I knew that this had cost me a future I'd dreamed of since I was a small child. I spent hours listening to artists, working on my vocal technique. I dreamt of attending the Grammy and Dove awards, not even winning, mind you- just attending! I ached as I sat in the choir room that day, watching, as those dreams slipped through my fingers and into nothingness. 
Determined, I pointed my feet in the direction of God, himself.  He began healing my heart and renewing my mind as I surrendered to Him. As I slowly navigated through painful valleys, He showed me that He in my life was the greatest dream. 

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Divots in the Driveway 

Thrilled with his new bike, he focused on pedaling down the driveway. Other than an occasional, “Watch dis, mommy!” 

 I was pretty much just an object in the background of his mind. Back and forth on the gravel driveway in his brand new dinosaur helmet riding proudly atop his Hot Wheels big boy bike. I disappeared into the landscape, his eyes intensely focused on his activity. He forgot I was even outside watching his new ability to traverse this big two wheeled bike, nearly too big for him. My heart was filled with joy, my eyes on him, watching him breathe in this moment happily, though he had completely forgotten about me. Then it happened… a turn taken a little too fast, his front wheel stuck in a divot in the driveway. Over he tumbled. I gasped. An electric shock shot through my body. I knew I was too far away to prevent the fall.  Painful tears filled the air as he cried out for me and I ran to his side. I scooped him up, kissing his forehead. 

“Momma! I got a owie on my knee. I fell off my big-a-boy bike.” 

He managed to utter in between sobs. 

“I know, I’m sorry buddy. That looked like it hurt. We will get you a Band-Aid.” 

Carrying him into the house, he stopped sobbing for a moment and looked at me. 

“Where were you? I didn’t see you.” 

I’d been there all along. I’d seen the entire incident play out. I was fully aware of the joy he was experiencing, and the fall he took. I was completely aware of him, yet he had become unaware of me. 

Oh dear one, how we are the same with our Father God! We traverse through this life, focused on what is right in front of us. Our business, our enjoyment and entertainment. We focus on our earthly relationships, our ambitions, our ministries, and we lose sight of the One whose eyes are ever on us! Until our front wheel gets stuck in a divot in the driveway and we topple off course. 

I have always found that pain has been a gift in my life. A gift that causes me to shift my focus back to my God and the things that are eternal. It awakens me back to true life, life that is permeated by remaining in Him. I find myself tempted to embrace all that is temporary, instead of constantly placing my focus on Him as I traverse this journey here on earth. 

I love how God is faithful. His eyes ever on us, even as our eyes shift toward our daily concerns shift our focus off of Him. He holds to His promise to never leave us or forsake us in times of trouble. His salvation and deliverance is sure for the Christ follower! Over and over as we read through the old testament stories, we see how regardless how unfaithful people are, if they are willing to repent, humble themselves and cry out to Him, He comes.  

He doesn’t rescue from the circumstances of our choices, but He brings the eternal rescue through them. Just as He promises. 

 

“Because he loves me, I will deliver him; because he knows My name, I will protect him. When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver and honor him.” 

Psalm 91:14-15(Berean Study Bible) 

 

“Pain points us to the One Who holds the promise.” 

I have found in life; it often takes pain to get me to focus on the only One who can help me through it. We so often want relief from pain, but He wants to be relief through it. As we come to see Him as the rescue within the storm, we come to see that the swirling wind and pouring rain are not what we need to rescue from. We need eternal rescue. We need His strength and wisdom and His eternal promises from within the center of the cyclone. As we rest in His rescue, fixing our minds on Him, His promise of perfect peace holds firm.

Babies and the Beach 

Hot sun warmed the sand as waves crashed gently on the shore. Gracie happily played with her new friend in the surf, giggling as they jumped over the waves. Excitedly, she continually announced with each incoming wave, “Here comes a big one! Oh my word! It’s so big!”. I chuckled, enjoying the sight under the bright blue sky teeming with puffy, cotton white clouds. 

With a concerned eye, I watched as Gracie’s focus was concentrated on her friend, the waves, and the fun. Unaware, she wandered further and further away from where I was sitting. Still, I kept careful watch of her to be sure of her safety. Down the beach she wandered in the waves, giggling, oblivious that she was wandering further away from my protection and sight. 

Before long, she stood up amidst the white capped water with a startled expression. I observed her Carefully scanning the massive beach filled with colorful umbrellas, shade tents, and strangers. She began to walk further down the beach, away from me. In her panic, she went looking for me amongst the sea of strangers. All the while, she never left my sight, but I had left hers. 

Dear one, how often are we like this little 5-year-old! Wandering away from our Father as we are swept away and distracted by our temporary circumstances here on earth. We tend to think He has removed His loving, watchful, and protective eye from us- especially when we are in seasons of hurting or wilderness silence. This is what the enemy would want us to believe about Him, yet it is not the truth. 

El Roi... My God Who Sees...

Read the account of Sarai and Hagar. Genesis 16 NLT 

16 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” 

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. 

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.” 

6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her. 

7 The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. 8 And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” 

“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered. 

9 Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.” 

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her: 

“You are now pregnant 
    and you will give birth to a son. 
You shall name him Ishmael,[a] 
    for the Lord has heard of your misery. 
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man; 
    his hand will be against everyone 
    and everyone’s hand against him, 
and he will live in hostility 
    toward[b] all his brothers.” 

13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi[d]; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. 

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne.16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. 

It wasn’t an all that uncommon request Sarai had made. For Hagar to sleep with her husband to conceive an heir. In a moment of weakened faith, Sarai took matters into her own hands. She would give her husband an heir one way or another. She would build her family one way or another… because her plan was better than God’s, right? He’d turned a blind eye and a deaf ear right? Interesting that Hagar would wrestle with the same questions about God. 

When we take matters into our own hands we often end up realizing that God had a better plan and a better way after a mess ensues. Sarai became bitter and jealous and mistreated Hagar.  Neither of them ever left the sight or ear shot range of God the Father.  

El Roi, my God who sees.

He sees you. Though perhaps your vision of Him is somewhat clouded by circumstances, fear, pain, loss or suffering, you can rest assured that this Great Ancient God sees you. He has written you as His child on the palm of His hand. He hears your cries. Stay close, stay faithful, stay focused on Him. Don’t try to understand what is happening, just trust Him. Trust His presence. Trust His person. 

Father, 

Help us to remain focused on you. Help us to keep you in our vision as we are constantly in yours, even when we stray, you never allow us to leave your sight. Even if you have withdrawn in proximity for a season for refinement, we are still in your sight. You never leave us, you never have and you never will. What love! Thank you for your unconditional, never-ending love. This love that we don’t deserve and couldn’t earn- you have and give out of the abundance of Who you are. Oh Great God, grow deep in us until there is more of you and little of us. Enable us to bear your light in a world covered in darkness and hopelessness. May we hold the door open for those who do not know of your Joy and peace.  

In Jesus Name, Amen.
 

 

Trust, horses and us. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” 

Proverbs 3:5-6 

For years, this verse graced the bottom of every birthday, Christmas card and letter my mom sent me.  I would read it nonchalantly and move on.  Rarely, did I sit and meditate on its deep meaning or why it was such a special verse to her.  It was her life verse. Throughout her life she experienced trial, trauma and suffering. Jesus rescued her through those things, holding her heart in His hands and bringing her to trust Him. She came to know first hand what it was like to stare down the path of the great unknown and traverse it holding the hand of her Savior. Not perfectly, she was human and had human concerns, but she took hold, held tight, and walked on. 

Trust. I’ve wrestled with it.  I’m sure you’ve wrestled with it at times too. Especially if you have had trust betrayed or had difficult experiences with those you’ve given trust to. 

 We recently got a new horse at the farm. It takes time for a new horse to settle in, and the more I observed this newer horse, the more I realized she had some ‘trust issues’. First, she didn't know me. It's hard to trust someone you don't really know- right? "Trust issues" are what horse people call it when a horse doesn’t warm up to you and trust that what you are asking them to do has their best interest at heart. (Can you see the spiritual parallel coming?) 

This can stem from a lot of different circumstances. Sometimes, if a horse is the only horse on a property and the owner doesn’t spend much time together, the horse becomes hardened and self-sufficient. Horses are herd animals. Most of them need other horses to feel safe and relaxed. The alpha, or boss horse, protects and directs the herd. Horses often will be ok alone, as long as they have a person who is actively their ‘herd’. Another reason for trust issues is perhaps there has been some mistreatment, or even abuse in the past. Once you’ve been hurt wrongfully it’s hard not to duck when something is coming to bop you in the head.  Good to say, this horse is warming up beautifully and learning that we love her and are trustworthy. Though, this isn't always the case with every horse.

We aren’t much different. When people hurt us, it’s difficult, if not impossible to trust again. 

I have struggled terribly to be able to trust men in my life. Abuse, abandonment, adultery and divorce have crippled my ability to trust immediately, I walk with a gimp in this area. Especially if I’m not leaning fully into the One I can trust, God. 

This trust issue often we wrongfully transfer to God. We place on Him the characteristics of those who have hurt us, betrayed us, and have broken our trust. We buy the lie that He is just like everyone else.  But He’s not.  

If we dive into His word, we see that He not only is Trust worthy and faithful, He’s the God of second and eighteenth chances! Check out the story of His people the Israelites! Whoa! If we aren’t a carbon copy of them most days! Yet He loves, showers mercy, and still longs to teach them and bring them back to Himself. Not for His best and good… but for theirs… and ours.  

So, when life doesn’t make sense, when you don’t get what God is up to- Trust with ALL your heart. His ways are not ours and His understanding is not ours… Trust that HE has your BEST as His primary concern, and what your enemy perhaps has planned for evil- HE WILL use for your good. I promise, He will direct your path as you lean into Him, our most trustworthy and loving God. 

Father God, 

Drive me deeper into trusting you. Give me eyes to see your power and how I can rest because of Who you are. Reveal to me the Truth about these things. I want more of you God.  In every breath.  Grow our relationship, for I know it is difficult to fully trust someone we don’t know… and God, I want to know you to my depths. 

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Chosen 

Tears flow in abundance as I sit in deepest gratitude for all God has blessed me with.  I have been given a beautiful treachery that has held hands with blessing while walking through this life. He and I have become close, intimate, and I still sit in awe and fear of His grand Holiness the more I come to know Him.  

Once again, here with my coffee and jam next to my laptop I gaze out over the hay field pondering this walk with Jesus, The Father, and the Holy Spirit.  Dampened tissues from tears as I have spent time in the word this morning thinking on about the fact that He chose me, long before I chose Him clutter my table. I struggle hard to get my understanding around this undeserved choosing. Regardless of my understanding, or ability to get my logic engaged with it, it is the truth, and I’ve soaked in multiple scriptures that support it. Still, I don’t get it and am humbly baffled by it.

Being Chosen has absolutely nothing to do with me. Nothing. I couldn’t talk God into it, live well enough to obtain the right to it, or buy into it either.  For whatever crazy reason, I came to faith in Jesus, because He chose me first

I keep hearing how we must live fearlessly, and set out to do great things because of our being chosen and set free.  I agree… to some extent. 

Shouldn’t we first just sit in awe of it?  I want to encourage you to just take some time over the next few days to sit in the thought of being chosen by a perfect, Holy God. Why?  Why were you chosen?  Simply because He loves you.  He loves YOU… just you. Not what you’ve done. Not what you can do. Not what you can bring to the Kingdom- He doesn't need you to bring your thing! Not because you’re nice, cute or kind. Not because of your wealth, wisdom, or whit. He loves you...Just you

Bask in that a moment. Ask for a new revelation from Him on this.   

As I sit in it, I am brought to a place of utter humility and honestly, and repentance as well.  I can do NOTHING worthwhile without Him… NOTHING.  I have NOTHING to offer this dying world… I can only open the door for those who need a glimpse and the opportunity to greet and meet the One Who has chosen them.   

Father God, 

We sit today humbly at your Holy feet, utterly grateful for being chosen by you, our most High and Perfect God. Thank you for making the way home for us through the death, burial and resurrection of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Oh God, may we not take for granted this day, your choosing of us. May we commit to being sold out and constant followers of you and your ways, Living out this grace filled life, this freedom you paid so dearly for, this rich peace and joy as bright lights for the world to see You. Humility overwhelms as we consider that you would and did choose us to belong to you… Thank you Lord… Thank you SO much. Strengthen us and enable us to live out gratitude, your love and truth in this lost and broken world. 

In Jesus Name, gratefully and humbly we pray, 

Amen 

My Dear Ones... Dive Deeper...

I hope you can steal away for a few minutes and just sit in this portion of scripture... Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth about your Chosen position in Christ Jesus... allow the truth of His love for you wash over your entire being. Love you, my dear ones!

3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. 4 Before the creation of the world, he chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in his presence. 5 Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this 6 so that the kindness[c]he had given us in his dear Son would be praised and given glory.  

7 Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins. God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness. 8 He poured out his kindness by giving us every kind of wisdom and insight 9 when he revealed the mystery of his plan to us. He had decided to do this through Christ. 10 He planned to bring all of history to its goal in Christ. Then Christ would be the head of everything in heaven and on earth. 11 God also decided ahead of time to choose us through Christ according to his plan, which makes everything work the way he intends. 12 He planned all of this so that we who had already focused our hope on Christ would praise him and give him glory.  

13 You heard and believed the message of truth, the Good News that he has saved you. In him you were sealed with the Holy Spirit whom he promised. 14 This Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive our inheritance. We have this guarantee until we are set free to belong to him. God receives praise and glory for this.

Jam, Being Chosen, Coffee and Bearing Fruit 

“You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit- Fruit that will last.” 

John 15:16 (Read John 15- worth your time!)

I love the taste of raspberry jam on toast in the morning, complimented by a steaming cup of coffee.  We have been blessed here at Hope Springs Farm to have an abundance of raspberry bushes all over the property.  Almost daily, I head out with the two littles in tow with their buckets in hand, to pick berries. Some are easy to get, right on the edge, bright purple and juicy. While others are far out of reach within the bramble of thorns. The inaccessible ones seem to look the largest and ripest, of course! We then take our harvest into the kitchen to begin the process of making jam.  Cooking it down, mashing the berries, adding the sugar, etc.… It’s a process. First, choosing the ripe berries. I carefully scan the vines to find that which will bring the sweetest yield of jam. I also purposefully choose some that are not yet that ripe to balance the sugars. 

“You did not choose me… but I chose you…” Sometimes this baffles me… okay, most days I’m stunned that God would even look my way. Accepting that He not only loves me, but has chosen me, and sings over me is just downright difficult to get my head around sometimes! I observe my heart. I see clearly places where I’ve stumbled, disrespected and hurt God in my sin and rotten living choices and rotten heart position, yet- there He is. He stands there at the edge of the thorns, sometimes even stepping into them, reaching out and choosing me… in all of my unripe, nastiness. He sees what I cannot, He rejoices in where He is taking me and drawing me.  He envisions a sweetness that is growing and is yet to come as He adds more of His likeness and sweetness to my soul.  

Some berries never get picked out of my patch. I can’t reach those luscious large ones in the center of the patch, but they have beautiful purpose- they will fall to the ground, decay and their seed will spring forth new growth.   

See, nothing is wasted. No one is wasted. A single seed can spring forth an entire vine of new growth and fruit! All because of the connection with the vine and the ability to bear fruit that is ripe and useful. 

Jesus chose first to give up His life to save us. His love was completely sacrificial. He didn’t have to do it, but He did. He chose to give up His rights for us.  There is no greater love than this. This is the fruit that is eternal and lasting. 

Makes me ponder how this plays out in my own life.  How is it playing out in yours?  There is so much discord and anger out in our world these days. How are we doing at sacrificial love as believers? Are you willing to put your opinion, and self-appointed doctrine on the back-burner to love well? Do you like to attack and stir up anger and dissension because you believe something (political or otherwise) is a point worth beating into people? Is my position on an issue more important than the people God has placed in front of me?

May this never be found true with us as Jesus followers. May we always be seen to deliver LOVE and then, if the Spirit leads, to speak truth into someone through us… we bring HIS Truth.  But ALWAYS TRUTH in LOVE- always for the benefit of the other person… NEVER to benefit our rights or belief system-or our point. This is about bearing eternal fruit and bringing in a harvest of souls for the Kingdom of God. Loving people where they are, the way they are, and holding open the door for them to meet Jesus, the One Who Loves them that way. He loves them enough to bring an unveiling of truth to their eyes, if that is what is needed. 

So, as I sit here with my coffee and jam, reflecting over my heart as I sit in the word, I want to challenge you to consider the fruit you are called to bring today. His fruit. He chose you to do it.  He has placed beautiful fruit within you.  Live it out. You are free to live and love because of who He says you are! He has chosen you!

Dependence Day 

“Independence day was the day that we declared our dependence on God…” 

Mom has been gone for over two years now, but many of her words still resonate in my heart every day. 

On a day where it is imperative that we recognize and express gratitude for those who fought and gave their lives so we could live free, I believe it is imperative to remember the One who gave us freedom that is temporary and eternal. 

Freedom cost Jesus His life. His perfect life. In a world where we cry out because of injustice and unfairness when rights are violated, I am propelled to cry out on behalf of Jesus. He had every right to walk away.  Yet, He chose to freely give his life for our freedom. 

I sit gazing over our beautiful, freshly cut hayfield. Neat rows of hay waiting to be baled together. The harvest.  Jesus saw the harvest. He saw me. He saw you. He saw all of the beauty God created us for. He envisioned us free. Free from sin, shame, and death. He saw our souls so valuable he became a willing sacrifice. He knew setting us free would be worth His sacrifice. 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NLT 

We are often stuck in our own self-deception, selfishness, and sin. Trapped in the mud of earth, we sit on the merry-go-round of self-pity and focusing on our pains.  I did this for years.  The enemy had me tripped up in my head and trapped in my heart. He was working steadily to keep me enslaved. His one goal? To rob me of the freedom that has already been paid for and to render me useless for the Kingdom of God. 

John 8:31-36 

In speaking to believing Jews, Jesus said, 

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” 

Notice HIS teaching… not their adaptation, not their interpretation, not what they thought was right or convenient… His teaching. 

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

Their response… 

“We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 

Notice- they didn’t even recognize that they had been slaves on numerous occasions throughout history (check out the Old Testament). At the time, they were oppressed by the Roman government. They didn’t have eyes to see their own bondage. Neither do we at times. 

I have to wonder if Jesus had an inward smile, like when you watch your child inquire of something you long to share with them… did His heart leap as he saw the hunger in their hearts for truth and the freedom that was just around the corner? 

“I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed…” 

The freedom Jesus paid for is complete.  It is not only freedom from death and sin… it is freedom to walk confidently where He has called and gifted you. It is freedom to love others, even when they are cruel in return. It is freedom to give when it hurts. It is freedom to forgive when there has not been an apology. It is freedom to have joy, even when your world is crumbling, because this world is not all there is! We can live with eternity in view while traversing this broken land! 

Live free, my dear one. Release the chains you’ve been holding so tightly to.  Release the un-forgiveness, the bitterness, the anger that has you locked down in the pit of dark depression. Let go of the desire to control. Set yourself free by accepting His freedom and allowing Him to set you free completely and forever! He paid dearly for it. If you need to reclaim your dependence on Him or maybe you have never accepted it… let’s pray this together… 

Father,  

I come to you in Jesus name. Thank you for dying for my sin and my brokenness.  Thank you for your sacrifice of service.  I need you. I am weary of being chained and broken. I accept your gift of freedom and salvation. Make me your child, your true follower. Today, this independence day, I declare my dependence on you.  I need you to be God, because I have found that I don’t make a good god. 

I love you. Thank you for your sacrifice and for saving me. 

In Jesus Holy Name, 

Amen. 

Make this independence day the day you begin declaring your dependence on Him… and let’s continue to declare our dependence on Him first thing every morning. 

Thank you to those who have fought for our freedom in this great country. 

Thanks mom and dad, for your declaration those many years ago. My life is changed because of your choice to accept and give forgiveness. 

Thank you Jesus for setting me free forever.

Shine Your Light 

“Let your light shine before men… So they will glorify your Father in Heaven.”

Matthew 5:16 NASB (emphasis, mine)

Glancing around, I watched the congregation as they began worshipping.

“Many are perishing among you…”

“What? Lord… what? We are your church.” I stood there baffled at this sentence.

“Many are perishing among you. They have one foot stuck in the earth and one toe in me.”

I knew exactly what He was saying. I used to live this way. I wanted Jesus, but I wanted this life too. I wanted the things of this earth. I wanted my life to be a certain way, look a specific way, and my circumstances to be in alignment with my wishes. I gave Him my grocery list of desired blessings and things I wanted. I offered Him my Sundays, my Bible study mornings and quiet time, though there was only a fraction of true devotion and surrender. I was surrendered in only some places of my life, even though Jesus called me to complete surrender.

While my eternity was secured, there was little secure about my temporal existence. I had the deposit of the Holy Spirit, which gave me eternal security, but I was still perishing in my daily life. In reality, my love for the things of this earth, relationships, life going my way, and my financial security was hatred for God. We cannot serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) It is a choice… and we must choose between the things of earth and Him. As we serve Him, we are given life abundant. Serving anyone or anything but Him brings death and destruction. Those things that can be destroyed, when we worship them, bring destruction upon us. So we must worship the One who is indestructible!

He came so we could be truly free… completely free, and dwell in this life abundantly and in peace regardless of the circumstances that come our way! As we live in complete surrendered worship of Him alone, we are given the chance to shine His light and peace into a dark, hurting world. This is the light we shine- His light of abundance, peace, and a life completely surrendered.

Believers, we are called first to shine His light to each other, reminding each other of the calling we’ve been given and the hope we have. If we cannot navigate through this life any better than someone without Jesus, what really do we have to offer those who do not know Him? We shine His light into the darkness to point the way for others to know Him. Be His light. Be His love. Extend grace. Extend mercy. Shine.

Many are perishing among you… Shine His light today.

Father God, Make us worthy ambassadors of your love, carrying it into our world this day. May your precious light in us be a guide to those who are lost, lonely, looking and hurting. Rid us of our selfish ways, our striving, and our desire to claim and control our lives as our own. Give us courage to completely surrender ALL things, past, present and future into Your Sovereign hands. All glory to you Great and Good Father, Amen.

 

"My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice..." Psalm 34:2