Testify

It has been on my heart of late the importance of our testimony. Everyone who is in Christ has one, we know our own stories like the back of our hands... and yet so often we hesitate to share the story of our salvation. Scripture implores us to share our faith. If we know nothing else, no scripture, no verses, no words of wisdom... we still know our own Jesus right? Our testimony is our story- it's our own, personal love story with the Creator. We don't need to be theologians to tell it. We don't need to have massive amounts of scripture memorized to throw at people. We need only the guts to open our mouths and tell it.

Our testimony is one of God's most potent weapons against the enemy. Wielded through the mouths of the ones who lived these salvations, our testimony cannot be stopped. Revelations 12:11 says the word of our testimony conquers Satan himself! It is such an easy yet mighty tool in our arsenal for the kingdom. And yet, still... we do not use it as much as we should. Why?

Shame.

How often, even those of us who are walking in freedom, grace, and mercy hesitate to share what God has done because of the shame that our past still holds over us. Satan just loves to keep us living in the past right? And if it's not shame for what we've done... it's shame for what we didn't do. Anyone out there feel like their testimony isn't worth sharing because it's just not juicy enough? It's not littered with drugs or affairs, abuse or porn... so it's just not worth sharing?

Satan'll take our closed mouths either way. He'll convince us our past is too dark to share or too light to share. I would ask you today, do you view your own testimony through the lens of shame or the lens of victory? What's keeping your mouth shut?

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love, and self-control. So do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me, His prisoner. Instead, join me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God. He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not because of our own works, but by His own purpose and by the grace He granted us in Christ Jesus before time eternal. And now He has revealed this grace through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has abolished death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, apostle, and teacher.For this reason, even though I suffer as I do, I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day." 2 Timothy 1:6-12 ESV

We have to open our mouths dear ones! We have to share the salvation of Christ in our lives! We don't need a degree, we don't need a long story, we don't need to be saved x-number of months, we don't need to be a speaker, we don't need a juicy story. All we need is to tell what Jesus has done for us. Good, bad, or ugly. Like the woman at the well. Having been saved a hot-minute, she spoke the only testimony she had, which was a whopping eight words. That's it!

"Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, 'He told me all that I ever did.' So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, 'It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.'" John 4: 39-42 ESV

Our testimony is God's tool to use through us. All it needs to do is point people back to Him. He'll take care of the rest. So let us walk unashamed in the salvation He's provided and proclaim it from the rooftops. Whether it's X-rated or a very mild G, all are important, all need spoken... there IS someone who needs to hear yours today. Be brave, be bold, and speak up! Testify!

If you haven't read mine, please do here. I'd you to hear my story and learn about my Jesus!

Naked Joy

Good morning dear ones, wanted to encourage you this morning with some nude words. This is from a post I contributed to Mom-Sense last week but thought you may enjoy it as well. In short, I want us to be naked with joy, nude in our cleanliness, praising our Savior in nothing but our birthday suits.

I'd been praying over what to share with you for a couple days and God's answer came to me in the form of two very wet, very naked, little boys last night. Praise God for kids right?

Bath time at our house is an Event. Usually the degree of filth has reached epic proportions before I start noticing that particular 'boy smell' (because, yes, I'm THAT mom...) Fortunately my boys love bath time, shower time, pool time, pretty much anything that involves water. So they get thrown in the tub, shower, pool, bucket, whatever nearest H2O-containment system that's available; add some soap, occasional bleach (just kidding!), aLOT of elbow grease (and/or soaking time- I swear there's some chemical reaction that occurs between boys skin and all manner of dirt, dust, and grime which takes place making the bearer of such filth virtually impossible to easily or expeditiously clean!!) and viola! momentarily clean children.

They. Love. It.

If your kiddos are anything like mine, those short moments right after a bath are unusually crazy. Our house usually sees two little ones tearing around the place like feral cats, screeching, running, jumping, wrestling, and otherwise completely uninhibited by anything around them. Completely naked. They love the feeling of clean that comes fresh out of the bath- the freedom, the complete lack of inhibition.

My boys have no shame after their washing.

And neither should we.

There's something to be said for regular washing- there's more to be said for regular, INTENTIONAL, spiritual cleansing. Our souls and hearts too easily get grimed up by the everyday filth of living on this side of heaven. It's a thing dear ones. Just like our houses need constant upkeep, so also do our spirituals houses.

Scripture talks over and over about the cleansing nature of holy water- confession, repentance... the Holy Spirit. Psalm 51 is a perfect example, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭51:2‬ ‭(ESV‬‬). Verse 7, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Dear ones, only God can fully clean all those dark and dirty places in our lives. Sometimes, as in my own kid's cases, that cleansing needs soaking- it needs time to slough away, because it's been there awhile. I think we all have areas that need some prolonged Holy Spirit saturation. What are yours?

But what naked, clean JOY comes after such a cleansing! "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭51:12‬

Confess your filthy areas today dear one and find the fun in being naked, unashamed, and irresistibly joyful before Abba. Uninhibited spiritual nudity, the kind that bears no shame, carries no guilt, and can run and play with the Forgiver of Sins is what must endlessly please God.

It does my momma-heart good to know my children are clean and wrecklessly happy (and I do mean wreck....). I can only imagine it brings the same feeling to our Heavenly Father!

Look in the Mirror America- We're ALL Guilty

This last week has been shameful and heart-wrenching for our nation- maybe more specifically Charlottesville, Virginia. Although the outpouring of both love and hate has been immense, and at times downright vehement, I am compelled to write (to myself as much as anyone else!) a gentle reminder of what we're actually working with here- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let's go in backwards order.

The Ugly- As much as I hate to admit it racism is not, nor has ever been in the history of this country, a new thing. And, very unfortunately, though in many places it is held at bay and not overtly apparent, racism (of all kinds, towards all peoples and colors) still is very much a prevalent part of our tapestry. And I say 'our' very purposefully... as in us as a people, us as human beings. This is not an American problem, or a Western problem, or even a first-world problem... it's an earth problem. A HUMAN problem.

Because in the end, it's a SIN problem.

And racism is nothing more than sin.

Of all forms, respects, leanings, or bents... anytime that anyone feels or looks at himself as something higher, more noble, more entitled, superior, better, stronger, etc. etc. that person is sinning. Flat out sinning. There's just no two ways about it. We have to call it what it is. Racism is simply a very obvious (and easily hated) thought process and behavior that exemplifies the root of all our fallen-ness... this idea that we are better, we are brighter, we deserve more. As forward thinking and 'enlightened' as we all would like to think mankind has become, in the end, this week's events has done nothing if not show us that we are exactly like every other generation before us, world-wide... We all (to some degree or another) think we are right, we are correct, our way is the best way, our life is the best example.  If we were to look in a mirror, I am sorry to say but we all to some extent are racist, sexist, ageist, you-name-it. Because what all these ugly words really boil down to, what they are at their core, are beliefs that something or someone is better than another (it doesn't matter the reason- color, creed, religion, sex, sexual preference, eye color, coffee preference, etc.) It is holding something or someone up in opposition to ourselves, and allowing for no other outcome but our own personal, unopposed, view of victory.

Yes, you and me... we fit all too nicely in that box of opposition.

 

But stay with me here!

The bad- What I'm getting at is that even the best of us are sinners. We live under the cloud of the first sinners, Adam and Eve, who thought they knew better, were wiser, could skirt the rules and hide from God. They were wrong and still millennia later, so too are we. You see what I'm getting at? We are still trying to convince ourselves and each other that we. are. better. Some of those arguments take a more obvious road of hatred, violence, and accusation, some are quite a bit more passive and quiet. But they all come from the same root... an utterly fallen nature... the very root of all sin.

Pride.

I struggle mightily with it. You do too. So also, do 'they'. We all have some degree of superiority complex that assumes our 'rightness of cause'. And in that, the cause itself becomes wholly secondary, regardless of how repugnant, righteous, violent, evil, wholesome, or loathsome. It matters not... because we stand guilty as charged, and the cause somehow fades into the distance as we stand in front of the ultimate Judge, Jury, and Sentencer.

And just like that, the playing field is leveled.

Yes, as many are saying, hate is taught. But I would also argue that scripture tells us that we are born into sin. We are way more spiritually bankrupt at birth that I think any of us would like to imagine. Hate, the kind of hate that we've seen this week, is taught. The behavior has to be encouraged. But love, real love, God's love, is taught too- it is absolutely NOT inherent in our genes. And without that kind of love, not a one of us is any better before the throne of God then those who we would love to shine a light on and condemn. Terrorists, ISIS, neo-nazis, white supremists, the Khmer Rouge, Stalin... all the 'fashionably' easy ones to bemoan. Without Jesus standing in front of us, without His blood covering our wrath, we would stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

Without God, we are helplessly and hopelessly, utterly and eternally without love.

The good- But there is such HOPE! Christ covers our wrath. He covers our hate. He shows us a better way... because he IS THE best way. Under Christ there is no condemnation, no judgement, no pride of self... only Him and His blood. With that blood being available to all.... we cannot help but also love and sacrifice for all... even the ones who are hardest to love.

So what's my point here? What's the application?

First off, I hope the point has been driven home, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye" (Matthew 7:1-5 NIV.) I'm not saying don't condemn these horrific acts and ideas... I AM saying examine your own heart and prejudices before you do in order to maintain your integrity and not be called out as a hypocrite. 

Because as hard as it sounds, you will be judged by the rule that you judge others. Your sin of pride sits squarely next to 'theirs'. Pray long and hard about your own soul before you go tearing into others.

And yes, once that's done... pray them out of it. Show them out of it. Love them out of it.

Do something. Hate is learned, a greater Love can be taught as well. But it takes action to undo what has been done. We who live under Christ's Love have been commanded to spread that Love to others... even those who hate the hardest and reject true Love the most. They need to be shown the better way just as much as you do.

So show them!

 

 

Why Coloring Inside the Lines is so Outside the Box (part 3 of Coloring in His Lines)

Are you an outside the box color-er (is that a word?) or inside the box kinda soul? I used to fancy myself an outside the box kinda gal... it's a trendy and empowering position to take but then I got to thinking... coloring-outside-the-lines

We are God’s artwork- plain and simple. He created us.

Think about that and what it means.

Let's talk about lines, boundaries today.

God has placed lines in our world- many, many lines. Straight lines, thick lines, wavy lines, squiggly lines. Sometimes we see where they're going and sometimes we don't. Some intersect, some twirl and swirl- but they are all drawn together in a way that will make our lives a beautiful picture. These lines are the artwork of ourselves. They have been purposely set and drawn by a perfect Artist that results in a beautiful image. That’s right beloved, we are His masterpiece!

line-drawing

More often than not though, especially in the midst of the picture because of our low perspective, we cannot see the bigger picture... but it's there; and the lines that are present are put there as boundaries for us to know where to color correctly. The lines of the masterpiece have been drawn for you. Before time they were skillfully and perfectly crafted for you alone.

Yet too often we question the direction our lines are going, we are tempted to color our lives outside the boundaries that He's set for us, we try to peer over the lines into the next section. In short, we color outside the lines. We color outside HIS lines.

Lines can be sin, temptation, walls of obedience and they are not to be crossed- disregarding them mars the picture and become at odds with the image He has designed for us.

Not unlike Jonah, the 2 year old… remember his picture? See my first post about that here. His picture was just scribbles, he sort of acknowledged the lines of the drawing but didn’t really make an attempt to stay within them. The older one, Jesse, obviously saw the lines, noticed the picture and had a desire to stay within the boundaries.

Do you see your picture?

Can you see your lines?

Mature Christians should see lines in their lives daily, in all things. We should recognize them immediately as drawn by our Creator. We should acknowledge their boundaries and stay within them. They are there to protect us from marring our picture… in short, from defacing what the Artist intended it (us) to look like.

It is not up to artwork to tell the artist where and how its lines are to be drawn. That’s ridiculous! And yet how many times do we, as God’s creations, demand our pictures look differently? It is incredibly en vogue nowadays to be rebellious, to experiment, to stretch the limits and boundaries of what is right and acceptable. But we do so at such a cost! How often do we purposefully vandalize the image stamped onto our lives by sinning, crossing lines we know we’re not meant to? Do you see how bizarre that set-up actually is? That artwork would argue it's existence with the artist?!

God's artwork is perfectly drawn. It is perfectly planned and we are not meant to experiment with that. He does not want us to.

Everyone is so outside the box these days that being inside the box is the new radical lifestyle!

How ironic.

Dear ones I am convicted daily of how much I struggle with those seemingly pesky lines in my life! I am especially good at arguing with God about moving them or taking them away completely. Yet I cannot see my whole picture- and I do want my life to be a beautiful masterwork; one that looks the way it’s intended to.

I desire to be beautiful in His sight- and that requires, no, it demands that I stay within the lines drawn for me; tempting as it may be to go off with my own pencil.

So I’d ask you again to consider- How well are you coloring in the lines? Do you desire to be the masterpiece He's intended you to be?

 

Thank you for taking the time to read my heart today. Please comment below with thoughts and ruminations of where your walk is today- and stay tuned for part 4 (the last in the series <sad face>) coming to a blog near you!