James 1:27

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the
Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let
the world corrupt you.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Gospel of GRACE

First I would like to share a blog post from my dear friend, Carrie Lantry. You can find her over at www.simplyhomeblog.com. LOVE her, FOLLOW her! I am pasting this post below because it touched me so deeply. First, I am going to share my thoughts. I didn't intend it to be a blog- it's just an email that I wrote to friends and family. Since I haven't written on my blog in SO long I figured it would share this email here on my blog, because it really is powerful (the whole concept of worship and grace....). Hope you are all having a beautiful Sunday!! First is my post, then Carrie's post. Kinda long so grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up, and ponder His goodness! 

Oh how complicated I make worship and grace and forgiveness. this is just so beautiful. thank you Jesus for accepting us and loving when we come to you in the exact shape/form/state we are in. This is so so beautiful and awe inspiring in its humility and simplicity and in her total and utter acceptance of Jesus love and grace and forgiveness of her. She knew she was bringing him/giving him her ALL; and she knew that HE knew it- and accepted it as pleasing and beautiful and worthy. Because of who HE IS.  She didn't say oh this isn't enough, or what about all my crap and sin and hurts and bitterness and questions and confusion and what ifs....NO.. She trusted and ACTED upon what He said was Truth. She didn't let the lies, the enemy, the chaos around her drown out the voice of the Holy Spirit. And man, little did she know that this simple yet courageous and incredible act of worship would be recorded in the Book FOR ALL OF TIME. That thought just astounds me. She was simply and humbly acting on the compulsion of her heart to pour out all she had for Jesus. NO CLUE SHE WOULD BE FAMOUS! HELLO! And when I truly ponder this...that this is recorded for ALL of us to read for ALL of time- tells me that He is desperately wanting us to grasp and understand and believe that His love is enough. That HE makes me enough. That its NOT complicated when it comes down to it. Simple obedience and adoration for our Savior- so pleasing to Him, so powerful. And THIS IS AN EXAMPLE FOR US TO FOLLOW FOR ALL TIME.

 Humility. grace. risking embarrassment and others talking about you. risking rejection (but believing what He said is so). risking it ALL really. Not great acts. Not giving huge amounts of money. Not being a missionary. Not living our lives as Pharisees believing our good works are doing something, that they make a difference in the way HE sees us. Not judging those around us. not caring about the judgement around us for that matter. Not afraid. Not ashamed. Simply overcome, completely overcome, by HIM. because HE IS GRACE AND LOVE AND PEACE AND JOY AND FORGIVENESS AND FREEDOM, and HE IS WORTH IT ALL. We don't understand, but we don't have to (or at least shouldn't have to). I truly believe when we grasp this concept that this woman shows the world, all else falls into place. The giving comes. The missionaries come. The adoptions come. The total surrender and abandonment of will comes. The joy and peace come. The freedom comes. The trust comes. The giving of our lives for WHATEVER He calls us to comes. Obedience comes.

 But, BUT FIRST, we have GOT to decide to believe and act on His complete adoration, love, grace and acceptance of us- JUST AS I AM. When my heart cant help but pour out my tears and wash his feet with my hair, then I KNOW his HEART. and my heart follows His. And I am forever changed. And all good things, all things that I long for, all things that I STRIVE AND WORK AND STRIVE AND WORK for- they fall into place beautifully and gracefully, with ease. Because my heart and soul and mind understand who I AM BECAUSE OF WHO HE IS...and that I cannot add one ounce of a spec of the smallest grain of sand to His love and pleasure over me. And even more extravagant, nothing I do can lessen it either. AMAZING GRACE. He dances and sings over me. He really does. NO MATTER WHAT. Do I truly believe that? I honestly believe that in order to be set free to live free, we must believe this fact. We must believe what HE SAYS ABOUT US IS TRUE. We can't add to the Bible. We have to take His promises at face value; knowing He is a covenant making God that is not capable of not fulfilling His promises. That His Word never goes back to Him void, but accomplishes the purposes for which He sent them. 

 As I sit here and ponder this, deep breaths overtake me- literally. Breaths of truth and peace and release and letting go and believing and surrendering. And this surrendering, - sometimes it has to take place 100 times a day. But, BUT, that is the whole point. That is what grace is. I sin, I surrender. I doubt, I surrender. I question. I surrender. I get bogged down. I surrender. I totally lose focus. I surrender. It becomes. about me and my works. I surrender. It becomes about me and my failures and shame. I surrender. And each and every time, IF I ALLOW HIM TO, He takes it.  He removes it AS FAR AS THE EAST IS FROM THE WEST. EVERY SINGLE TIME. It is lost in His SEA OF GRACE. And my heart is pure and white and Abba looks at me and sees His Son. Sees righteousness. Sees worth. Sees beauty. I am convinced that this is the place where transformation happens, over and over again. Not in the beating myself up to do better (lies), not the in the striving (lies), not in the yea I had a good day I can go before God now (lies), not in the crap I have been a "bad Christian" (lie).  I need to do this and that to get back in His good graces (lie), not in the pulling myself up by my bootstraps to get on some level of "worthiness" and then I approach him (lie), not in gaining others understanding (lie), not in gaining others approval (lie), not in ANYTHING but WHO I AM BECAUSE OF JESUS. THIS IS GRACE.  

This grace that is taught about again and again and that we speak of all the time, but has it REALLY touched my heart and soul? Has it really made its way into my heart so that I know how to walk and live in this grace? THE GOSPEL OF GRACE is central, is what everything else is centered around, yet I miss it. I get waves of it. I get glimpses of it. But most of the time it feels like it's flying by me and I am striving, grabbing, reaching on my tip toes to take hold of it but can't quite take hold of it kind of thing. It's beautiful before my eyes, it's so so desirable and I so wish I could catch it, but it alludes me. I want to learn to daily, though His grace alone, learn to accept grace (man, that's a mouthful...but it's true!). THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE I CAN START...and then stay here (and come back to this place a hundred times a day, when I leave this place over and over)....and from this comes a-  no, THE wellspring of life. Abundant life. Freedom. Joy. Peace beyond all understanding, regardless of circumstances and the chaos of life around me.

 So, this is where I must start- as many times a day as it takes to "start" at this place- and then move out from THIS place of truth.....it will all fall into place. I truly believe it will. Revelation comes and we can act or not. We can act and then forget ten minutes later. And then bc of that forgetting, we I,....wherever I say we I mean IIIIIII ) can choose to beat ourselves up for forgetting and fall deeper into the pit of forgetting, that the cycle continues and soon there seems to be no way out and truth evades us and the LIES ARE SCREAMING AND WINNING. Or, we can feed ourselves the gospel of grace every day, all day...to ourselves, our children, our spouses, our friends, our family, strangers, the lost, the hopeless, the dying...this dying world. And from this place, GOOD (GOD) things WILL COME. IT IS NOT ABOUT ME. I live like it is, but is not. I don't know why it's such a battle (for me at least), but I do know that I AM NOT GOING TO GIVE UP, NO MATTER WHAT. I WILL GET BACK UP AS MANY TIMES AS IT TAKES, no matter how many steps back I take....I will get  back up, bc if I don't, I am denying Jesus and the Cross and everything it stands for- and that I cannot do.  (I do it all the time, daily....but ultimately, I WILL get back up as holds my hand and pulls me out of the mire).

Of course I didn't intend to write all of this, but I have been praying as I have been writing- and if it speaks to even one of you, then praise the Lord. Most of you know I am at a...what do you call it....not easy place in life.:) I am in the process, in the Refiner's fire...but there is purpose in the pain and loneliness and everything else. Things that He is showing me and teaching me and I am holding dear to my heart, pondering them all like Mary said in the Word. I have hardly written or shared much, which many of you know is very unusual for me. And I had to pray about sending this- bc it is deep and raw. and it's my struggle. BUT, I feel today that He is saying to me "Brenda, it's everyone's struggles, in one way or another....share what I am putting on your heart. And then come back to me and ponder these things in your heart. I will guide you in your sharing." It's hard for me to share this, which really is a good thing. 

 I honestly feels like 1 step forward and 10 steps back....but I know that my Father is saying I must learn more and accept more and understand that it is ALL ABOUT THE GOSPEL OF GRACE- and I am going to continue to let Him show me this so that I can become more like Him. I may send this email and five minutes later this may be gone, this feeling of purpose and peace. BUT- because He is insanely faithful, He will somehow lovingly (although often painfully) draw me back into a place of truth and rest and grace...a place where He is. Because He does not and cannot exist in many of the places that I do, or at least that my mind does. I don't want to just pray my struggles away to FEEL BETTER, I want to be transformed into His Likeness....that the very core of who I am, the Holy Spirit, is what shines through me. That ALL parts of me are completely transformed by truth and for the rest of my life this process will continue...and I will continue to fall and splat on my face and fail, but those hurt parts of me, those lying parts of me, those deep dark parts of me that haven't been transformed by truth- they are on that journey. And I will continue to be made more like Him, as He (often painfully) sheds light onto the broken places, the hurt places that are not functioning from the Truth, but from the lies and the pain....I know we all have these places. And I will see then, when HE shines His light, that those places are often but SHADOWS of the valley of death- not TRUTH. And HIS TRUTH WILL BRING TRANSFORMATION (however slowly or quickly or painfully or full of ease it may be).

Thanks for "listening". You are all wonderful and made in His Image and I pray for each of us today that we may be touched by the truth of what Carrie wrote about below and that we may offer Him, humbly and sincerely, every part of us today. 

Simply Home Blog

Posted: 16 Mar 2013 08:13 PM PDT

I was stretching, reaching, lifting my hands as high as they could go, as if I could somehow touch Him- the music pounded.  In that same instant I felt like I couldn’t get low enough.  Like I just needed to get lower than the ground would allow.  The throng of voices around us going after Jesus in adoration and exultation, praising Him, worshiping Him.  I was so caught up in the moment, no longer in a concert of praise – I was standing before His throne crowning Him with many crowns…  And that is when I saw her.
The women in Luke 7 who had lived a sinful life (she may as well been me).  LIke a movie flashing across the walls of my heart in vivid display, she walked quietly into the room with her head down and eyes searching for Him.  The one whom she was coming to serve, to lavish, to waste herself on.  Wanting not to be noticed, wanting to just get to HIM and to his feet.

Quietly kneeling, taking those God feet into her hands, she begins to pour herself out, right there for everyone to see.  Her pain, the years of broken bleeding hurt pouring out of her, falling onto those precious feet.  The bearers of good news for her, for us, for me.  She lets the tears fall hard one after the other - a torrent of baptismal water,her pain and hurt – the vehicle for her worshipWithout the pain there would be no offering, no stream of water for the washing and the worshiping. Then without a sound she releases the long strands of hair that cascade towards the floor as if they have been freed from a life of bondage. Her hair is her rag, and she wipes the feet of her Savior.
And that is when I see her most clear, vivid and true- her head moving back and forth to the rhythm of the beat.  Her hair swinging from side to side. The hair that He fashioned on her head, the strands that he has numbered and counted and knows by heart cleansing his perfect, wet, tear soaked feet… And the worship in this room is pounding in my chest like my own emancipation proclamation.  It is in the releasing of the pain that worship is at it deepest most purest form.  This offering poured out is the ultimate act of worship.  Back and forth she dries his feet with her wet hair, tattered from this act of love. She is composing a music all her own, the rhythm of sacrifice and wreckage poured out for Him, on Him, to honor Him…. This is worship.

And as I look around at the mass of people standing with me I can see her heart here. I can feel it, battered and bruised and given away.  Lifted up to Him in song and in spirit, laid low before Him in pure surrender.  We have gathered to waste ourselves on Him, to release all that we have before Him.  We have come to worship.

Or have we?

Because here in this place with chest pounding and ears ringing it is easy to release what is already His-to surrender the pain and the past and the life that we hold so dear.  To lift hands and hearts in that moment of blissful fullness.  But when the music begins to fade and our tired feet must walk the streets toward home, are we worshipping then?  Because worship is not what we feel, but what we are willing to give away.  Are we willing to turn our lives into houses of worship if it requires loss?  Or do we hoard what we have and live luke warm love just trying to sooth our own hurts and mask our own pain with the next fix.  The woman I saw, the one at His feet, she lived brave and bled red-hot, because what she had and who she was – she gave away to Him.  She knew that giving up the NOTHING of her life to gain the EVERYTHING of His – is always the ONLY choice if you want to really live.  She lived her worship, she didn’t just sing it or feel it, SHE LIVED IT, GAVE IT, SPENT IT, She was wrecked unto worship.  The question is, are we?

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