Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’


I recently marked my third year anniversary of blogging.

Originally I began blogging to build a platform as recommended by agents and publishers in order to help facilitate an audience for the book I had been writing. And yes, I published the book, finished another and have more in progress. But the best part of blogging has been the people I’ve “met.”

Relationships make life worth living.

From the deeply intimate ones I enjoy with Jesus, my husband and children to the casual liked-your-post types, they all add so much to my life. Every week I’m challenged, encouraged, or uplifted by laughter not only because of my dear family and friends, but also through you, my readers and fellow writers.

I thought I’d take a jaunt down my blogging memory lane and provide some of my newer friends with the links of my fondest posts and those readers found helpful.

Mostly, I pray that whatever I write will point people to Jesus.

 Here’s the Top Ten:

 Did You REALLY Meet Online? About Us

A Shout Out

Is Online Dating Gaining Popularity?

The Emptiness of Sexual Encounters

What I’m Learning From My Illness

Miracles Do Happen

What is Intimacy?

Getting Well Series – How Do You Rebuild Your Life?

Online Dating…An Obsession?

IT’S FINALLY HERE!

Hope you enjoy!

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I’ve read a lot about religion lately.IMG_3527

The other day I remembered an orange button that adorned my leather purse when I was about sixteen. It claimed something like this:

Jesus is about relationship, not religion.

I recall when I saw it in a gift shop at youth camp, the concept grabbed my heart. It encompassed what I had been learning as a youth reading my Bible. Primarily the book of John, which I felt portrayed Jesus’ love for me the best because it was written by Jesus’ best friend on earth. I longed to spend time with my new friend and live in a way that made him proud of me. I didn’t get that his life for mine really meant just that. His blood covered over my sin. There was nothing I had do about it except accept it and be grateful.

But I grew up in an age of religion. Big time.

Right and wrong were about being right, and therefore someone else being wrong. Being right meant someone else had to be wrong. Good guys and bad guys. Church goers and “heathens.” Oh, I knew what the Bible said about grace and all that, but it also had plenty to say about not sinning. I took that to mean that the less I sinned, the more right I was. Which naturally meant other people who sinned more than me were wrong. Wasn’t that the standard?

No, that’s just plain dangerous thinking.

Does that mean I learned not to sin? Nope. I was pretty messed up and did a lot of foolish things based on my messed up perspective and my rebellion. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get it right. Fighting to be right left me frustrated and hurt others as well as myself. Until I learned the simplicity of repentance. That coming clean about my stuff, all of it, with complete honesty to Jesus and those I hurt is the only way to freedom. But that’s not religion.

When God created people, he wasn’t starting a religion.

He wanted a relationship with us. And each other in the same way he, in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), enjoys relationship in heaven. He is love, therefore he longs for us to love him and others. He even tells us that those are the greatest commandments. Makes sense that if we recognize his love for us and love him in return, he will give us the ability to love everyone he created.

His ultimate showing of his love was to come to us, giving himself up as a sacrifice to make a way for us to still be in relationship with him even when we choose to sin – to cut him and others off. Because let’s be honest; we’ve all had thoughts of wanting to do harm to someone at some point in our lives even if we haven’t actually followed through with it. And at some point, haven’t we all decided that our ways or plans were better than God’s?

On that basis, we need God’s love and forgiveness in order to have a right kind of relationship with him and with others.

The problem with religion, whether it’s Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism or Mormonism (name any you want here), is they are all man’s way of trying to get to God when God already made a way for us to be in a relationship with him through Jesus. Even as Christians or followers of Christ, we can cling to our particular denomination and its traditions rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

But we don’t need to figure out a way to make ourselves right.

God did that for us. So all of our rituals whether they be worshiping a particular way or bowing down the right number of times or wearing a specific outfit do nothing to create a relationship with the creator of us and our world. We miss the point if we focus on those things. We miss loving God and each other. Especially when we insist that our way is the right way. Jesus said that he is the way. He is the truth. He is how we live rightly loving one another. And he is the only one who gave the ultimate example and lived again to prove it.

If we chose a relationship over religion, how would that change the way we live?

 

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This post is my response comment on Diana Rasmussen’s site.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – photo from Google Images

My eleven year old son was on a field trip to a local amusement park with his class this past week. He was disturbed that while he and a friend waited in line for a ride, a male couple in line in front of him was kissing. It really bothered him and his friend. We happen to live in an extremely liberal area where any and all sin is accepted, condoned, and promoted as the best way to live so this situation isn’t the only one to which my children have been subjected.

What should I say to him?

I’m so sorry that you were subjected to the sinfulness of other people’s choices.

I explained that the Bible is very clear on this issue of homosexual relations using the verses you shared here(Romans 1). And that God loves us all. We all choose to sin in various ways every day. That sin affects others too.That is why Jesus died for us.

He understood that and said,

But Mom, it really bothered me. A lot. Why would someone want to choose to do that?

He instinctively knew it was wrong – meaning not the way God created us, even though we haven’t really talked a lot about homosexuality. It has come up in discussion, but we haven’t had an agenda about it. I also explained that it used to be that if people wanted to participate in a sinful lifestyle, it was private. Maybe affecting their life, but not so much the public. By law certain behavior choices were not allowed (and still aren’t in some places) to be exhibited in public. At least others didn’t have to be subjected to the depravity of drunkenness or drug use or cursing or stealing or….name it.

I guess all that is to say that I agree we need to pray and love others.

Can we or should we mandate sin? The Bible does. For God’s chosen people (the Israelites and those of us grafted in who follow Jesus). But as you say, the world lives according to the world standard, not biblical standards. What is our role then? I think of Paul in Greece who acknowledged the gods of the people while pointing out the one true God. (Acts 17:16-32) Many sneered at him, but many were open to hearing him speak. I guess that means that in love and kindness we should be willing to confront as we feel led by God in order to share the gospel-his love and plan for us.

We’ll be laughed at, but we will also be heard.

How does that apply to lawmaking? Maybe the same way – in love and kindness those in authority must stand for what is right and make good laws that will protect all not only cater to a small percentage. Then be willing to be maligned by some for those laws on behalf of those who want to live in the truth. And continue to pray and love and pray again.

Also, remember we are aliens in our world that is dictated by Satan. There will come a point, according to the Bible, in which the Holy Spirit’s influence to hold back sin will become less and less and our world is going down. I think we are in that time or coming quickly to it. So our focus may need to be on loving and sharing with individuals more than legislating sinful behavior. Just a thought :)

What are your thoughts?

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Today I visited a friend.IMG_0642

I dropped my daughter off to ride horses and ambled through country roads under marshmallow studded cerulean skies. Pastures rolled across the landscape embellished with the white arches of raspberry tenting. One ribbon of road cut through apple orchards stretched out towards a quaint farm house. Crisp spring air blew through my open sun roof whipping my hair.

Ah, the delightful beauty of the day.

In that moment, I savored the presence of the Lord in the wonder of his creation. Yes, I was on my way to a particular place for a planned reason. I drove my car.  But for that short span of ten minutes, I was being not doing. No emails overflowing my inbox, no Facebook poking me with notifications, no cell phone beeping, buzzing or sending me alarms for my next activity. The superhighway fast lane sped to various destinations five miles away from my peaceful world.

In cherishing this space, I longed for a simpler life.

Outside pressures of job, kid’s sports, church activities and social media clamor for our attention. The world’s technology has caused our tight knit communities to welcome the world. On one hand, that’s great. I’ve many blogging, Twitter and Facebook friends and connections that I am thrilled to have because of that technology. On the other hand, I don’t have the capacity to hold the world in my heart or hands. I don’t think anyone does. And I’m not so sure God asks us to. So what do we do with the needs, demands, and interests of the world?

Internal pressures abound as well.

We use busyness as an escape. Insecurity drives us to be responsible and in control of every situation. Legalism reminds us of all the shoulds and should nots. Expectations, perceived or actual, command us to do more, do better, achieve at any cost to claim success and abundant life. Performance driven, we jump through hoops to prove we are worthy of God’s love and others’ favor.

But Jesus calls us to sit at his feet.

And go into the world making disciples. Can those two realities co-exist? This week I read the story of the good Samaritan. I believe I saw the simplicity of being in the presence of Jesus as the Samaritan man reached out to be the “church” to his neighbor. This dear man traveled along attending to whatever business was at hand for him. Maybe he was headed to work, or a friend’s house.  Or on his way to worship. Perhaps he was enjoying his journey simply for its own sake.

But he was open to interruption. Jesus calling.

Willing to give a bit of his time and some of his resources, he cared for a wounded fellow traveler and went on his way. He also made a point to check back to follow up on the man’s well-being. It didn’t seem an inconvenience to him nor a new project to seek out every hurting person in the country. He simply helped someone in need who happened to cross his path – or rather whose path he crossed during his everyday life.

Am I going to or “doing” church, or am I being the church?

Am I running around like Martha so concerned about getting everything done, checked off, accomplished, worked out, served, made, corrected, or controlled? Or can I sit at Jesus’ feet soaking up his love, grace, mercy and wisdom – the peace of his presence? Not only in my life circumstances, but in the posture of my heart.

These are questions I’ve been asking myself.

While I don’t read this version often, I kind of like how The Message puts it in Micah 6:8:

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.

Mary had it right.

She didn’t escape or neglect her life, but she knew the best place to be was at Jesus’ feet. And Jesus commended her not for all her activities or service or community projects, but for being with him. Isn’t that why we were created?

How about you? Are you able to sit with Jesus? What kind of external or internal demands drive you?

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Are we shouting “crucify him?”

Finally, after decades of complaints, prayers, token support and watching “B” Christian movies barely funded and with the best intentions, but not always much in the way of acting, movie goers have been inundated with a plethora of positive cinema. All in this month before Easter. You’d think the Christian community would be thrilled and celebrating.

Of the famous four, “Son of God”, “Noah”, “God’s Not Dead” and “Heaven is For Real,” I’ve only had the privilege of viewing the first, so far. Plans to see the others are in the works. Kids are begging for them, especially after viewing all the trailers a couple of days ago. My opinions, therefore, are limited.

But the point of this post isn’t to give a review.

I saw “Son of God” with a girlfriend the second day it came out. I felt it was well done, and while it may not have depicted the intensity shown in “The Passion of the Christ,” it evoked deep emotion. I appreciated the scenery which created an experience for me of walking with Jesus, and the way he was portrayed in such a personable manner, as I imagine Jesus would have been. Woman followed him in the Bible, so I appreciated the inclusion of the female gender, not only the men who were his disciples.

While some of the scripture was re-ordered, omitted or changed (probably for cinematic affect), the message remained unscathed and potent. Jesus came to save us, sinners, through love and compassion and ultimately his death on the cross and resurrection. We weren’t blown away by the film, but liked it a lot in spite of its “creative license.”

The shocker to me?

The criticism these movies have garnered from the Christian community. I don’t expect reviewers who don’t believe to rave in a positive way about any of these movies. After all, they talk about God and the Bible, Jesus and Heaven—topics that often raise objections among the majority of folks. What I didn’t expect is the flak from Christians who have complained on a number of points.

Really people?

The arguments seem to stem primarily from the pious protecting the Bible, or worse, their personal theological views. But the end result is cutting the throats of fellow believers who are living out their faith in a way they hope will make a difference by infusing the public with a taste of the Lord.

It may be presumptuous, but I choose to believe that each of the participants, who created, acted in, produced and directed, sought wisdom from God in what they did. Did they miss the mark? Probably in some ways. Are they human? Yes, which makes them potentially fallible. But did God use them to touch lives by showing people a bit more of him through these films? I’m betting, yes.

What’s the real point?

God created us, loves us and wants to be with us. Jesus died on the cross and rose again in order to make that a reality in spite of our free will leading to sin. We can have all kinds of theological debates(which we’re admonished not to do – see 2Tim.2:23 & Titus 3:9) over the “right way” to portray the truth, or simply be grateful that someone has the guts enough to do it. In some manner, these movies have the potential to bless believers and sow seeds for those who may not have thought about God before. Maybe some curious chap will choose to view and actually come away choosing Christ. It’s possible, regardless of what many are saying.

Bottom line?

Today we celebrate what Jesus did for all of us, and look forward to symbolizing his resurrection in a couple of days. People do that in many ways all over the world. It means something different to each person, each year depending on their personal relationship with Jesus. In the same way, the message of a movie, book, blog, or work of art can inspire whatever God wants despite the human factor of the messenger.

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.                 Philippians 1:18

When will we lay down our agendas and uphold our brothers, the church, and join in unity to bless and not curse?

Oh gaze of love so melt my pride that I may in your house but kneel, and in my brokenness to cry, spring worship unto Thee.”  Hymn by Jars of Clay

What do you think? Seen the movies? Read reviews?
 
Disclaimer: I did not create this YouTube.

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How many of us really know who we are?

Most of us have been shaped by words spoken to us in anger or impatience or from another person’s broken perspective. Who of us didn’t have some kid or kids at school tell us we were stupid, lame, ugly, fat or unwanted for some reason. I know I did. Repeatedly. Statistics show that most children have also suffered from the criticisms, insults and abusive words flung at by overwhelmed, scared or generally messed up parents (aren’t we all?). Many of us have felt the abandonment or rejection divorce brings. Four out of five have been exposed to some type of sexual abuse.

Is is any wonder we struggle to understand who we are?

God created us with a specific design and plan for our life. (Yes, even you.) He delights in the unique personality that makes us, well – us. He knows every nuance, every tilt of our head, all the abilities we possess and what makes us smile. And he loves it when we exhibit those traits. No wonder Satan, the enemy of God and us, whispers lies, uses the wounds others have pressed on us, and creates circumstances to distort the beautiful creation of God that we each are.

But how do we find out who we are and become ourselves again?becomingmyselfbookcover

In her most recent book, Becoming Myself: Embracing God’s Dream of You, Stasi Eldredge shows us how. Becoming Myself takes us straight to the throne of Jesus where we are loved, delighted in and encouraged. As we read, we are transformed by the renewing of our thoughts about ourselves, our God, our relationships and our world. With intimately honest stories that come from the depths of her heart, Stasi reveals how we can see ours more  clearly. While her primary audience is women, every person needs what God shares through Stasi in this book. It tops my “must read” list of books. It’s not only enjoyable and entertaining, it is a life-changing read.

 

In what ways have you lost yourself? How have you learned who you were truly meant to be?

 

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41RBRdyNsuL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_Closeness. Familiarity. Seeing into the depth of someone. Allowing ourselves to be seen.

Vulnerability.

Who are you intimate with?  A significant other? Your best friend? How intimate are you? Do you willingly share your heart, your secrets, your hopes and dreams? How are you at recognizing the intonations of their voice or mannerisms? Like me, do you find yourself saying “You sure know me, don’t you?”

Now think about God. Jesus. The Holy Spirit.

If you believe in God, how close are you? Or perhaps you’ve only thought of him as a distant deity.  Maybe you’ve never thought much about God other than to use the word as an explicative. So if I told you that he is intimately acquainted with you, what would you think?

My blogging friend, Rivera Douthit, answers all these questions and more in her new book entitled Intimacy : into me You see. Her presentation of the God who knows and loves us reveals a depth of intimacy that may come as a surprise. I loved the way she examined various areas of life and the corresponding ways God makes himself known to us. Rivera’s use of scripture and fabulous storytelling draws the reader in and offers a glimpse into the heart of God.

He’s not going to deny us the ability to recognize Him if we’re sincerely seeking. He knows our hearts and will reveal Himself in ways best suited  for us and our personalities.

That’s good news for folks who wonder how to find God.

Rivera’s book assures us of God’s love and desire for us. It also points us to ways for us to grow in intimacy in our other relationships as well. In addition, she offers thought provoking questions at the end of every chapter which guide us into considering how intimacy with God and others in our lives currently looks, and how it can become more.

I thoroughly enjoyed Rivera’s stories, and her heart for the Lord. Through Intimacy she offers us a peek into both. A very worthwhile read.

Order Here

 

 

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I’m captivated by a song.

Initially I heard it on the Christian radio stations I listen to, Air1 and K-Love. The chorus haunted me and each time I heard it, another part of the lyrics would grab my heart and call out to my spirit. It so perfectly portrays where I am at in my life right now, learning to trust Jesus more intimately and fully as he draws me into bigger, deeper places of life, love and considering others.

So, as is my practice when I hear a song I like, I grabbed my guitar, found the live version on YouTube, looked up the lyrics and copied them down with the chords. Fortunately, it fits in my singing range (barely) so I didn’t have to transpose the key. Yes, I own a capo, but would rather not use it if possible. The past two days, I’ve been playing it and learning the words. Strains of it circle in my head like the seagulls near my home.

It keeps my mind on Jesus.

The cool thing about this song is how it is affecting people’s lives. I’ve heard a rumor that it is considered the number one worship song in the world right now. One of the comments I happened to see online was written by a woman who said she is Muslim, but loves the song.

That doesn’t surprise me.

We were designed by God to have an intimate relationship with him. He longs for us like we long for those we love. And we have a place in our spirit that cries out for him. No matter where we search to find him whether in art, science, books, religion, other gods, nature, etc. it is God our spirits pant after like a deer after water. (That simile is in the Bible. I didn’t make it up.)

However, another comment disturbed me.

This was written by a man, someone who follows Jesus, who said this is an awful song.  His reason? It doesn’t specifically say God or Jesus in the written lyrics. True enough. It speaks of Savior, God’s sovereignty, Spirit, but alas, no Jesus. Maybe because it is talking to him. Like in a personal conversation with someone you love.

That comment made think about how many of us don’t realize the depth of God’s love for us. Or maybe, like me earlier in my life, the idea of intimacy with Jesus seemed creepy – because my experience told me that intimacy was a bad, scary thing. Perhaps, it’s because we can only imagine God as a far away disciplinarian who waves a stick or points a finger at our wrongness. Or possibly, we simply haven’t considered the idea that there is a creator of all this beauty around us who wants to share it with us because he made us too and loves us deeply.

Whatever the reason, it seems this song is offering an alternative.

I hope you will listen and be blessed. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find something you didn’t know your spirit was looking for. Being a guitarist, this is my favorite version. Enjoy.

I’d love to know what you think. About the song, this post or even what instrument you play :)

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My husband, Brendan, did an amazing thing for me today.Lake Tahoe, NV

I woke to find a book which held a dated message for every day from January 1st through today in which Brendan specifically told me something I had done or said during that day that blessed him. At the end of each page he reminded me that he loved me that day. I can’t describe how much this gift meant to me for so many reasons other than the obvious. He planned something and carried it out during a time when he is especially busy with schoolwork and business. He took time to write down his thoughts each day so he could show me his love for me. He encouraged me as a wife and mother. I’ve never been so moved by a gift in my life. Sharing this with the world even feels a little sacrilegious.

But Brendan gave God the credit.

And as the day has progressed, and I’ve considered what God would like me to share in this post, it occurred to me that God has done the very same thing for us.

Thousands of years ago, He came up with a plan.

He wrote down everything or had someone write it for Him so He could tell us how much He loves us each day. The execution of His plan cost Him a great deal. But with each action and word written, He reminds us how much He loves us and encourages us as His followers. He points out all the good things we’ve said or done in a day and offers grace (even to the point of forgetting) the complaining attitudes, criticizing words or curt actions. Through it all, He loves us.

God is love.

The Bible is His collection of love letters to us reminding us and encouraging us.

What an awesome gift. Not only on Valentine’s Day, but every day.

Thank you, Jesus.

 

What is the best Valentine gift you’ve ever received?
 

Yes, Brendan and I have a truly wonderful relationship. You can read our entire story now in The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater. Get it here or on Amazon today.

 

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miracle book cover_0001 The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater  went live on Amazon this afternoon and the reality of what we’ve written (I say we  because Brendan put his story, thoughts and feelings in there too) is hitting us full force.

 Why? You may ask.

Well, we’ve shared our personal testimony. Our thoughts, feelings, struggles, triumphs as well as the fun and the nitty-gritty tragedy in between are all in the open. Suddenly, we feel a bit self-conscious to talk about our failures, losses and newly found love. Love found on the internet, no less. We think of the conflicts we’ve given you a glimpse into and the intimacy of some of our moments together, and quite frankly, we’re blushing.

So, why would we do something like this?

The Bible tells us that we overcome our enemy by Jesus’ blood and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). It’s that simple. And complicated. When any one of us shares our story of the amazing things God has done for us, our faith is strengthened. Our testimony encourages the people who hear it, and fills them with hope that if God could/would do that for someone, then maybe he could work in their situation as well.

Each word of our testimony sends our enemy reeling.

We gain hope, strength, power all because of a confidence in the God who just did miracles for us or other believers. When someone tells me about how they were healed, or given $462 when they needed that exact amount for a doctor bill my faith leaps with excited anticipation of what God will then do for me. I am filled with awe, wonder and praise for his mighty works, and his great love that incites him to do those things for us. Like the woman at the well who ran to tell everyone in town about Jesus being the Messiah because he told her things he couldn’t have known unless he was God, we share the miracles of God and others believe.

God did amazing things for two broken people.

This is our story to encourage, inspire and give thanks to a wonderful, loving Heavenly Father who deserves our gratitude and praise. It might bring laughter or tears, or even ruffle a few feathers, but the focus is on the big picture of what an incredible God can do when we trust him. Ultimately, we hope it will bless everyone who reads it, even if we feel a little naked sharing it.

Now available at:

My CreateSpace Store – purchasing here means the highest author royalties

AND

Amazon – this option may be more convenient and offers a discount and the potential for free shipping!

 What is your testimony?

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