a sufficient scandal.

grace.001

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!  Galatians 2:21 (NIV)

I am not sure how many times I have cried out to the Lord, “If I could just encounter you face to face, like the woman who touched the hem of your garment, I would never be the same.”  There have been many times in my walk with Christ that I have been superbly agitated with my imperfection.  Why, afterall, can’t I get it right?  I “know better” because I know what the word of God says about a particular situation.  I haven’t always rejoiced in my weakness because it reveals the strength of Christ (2 Corin. 12:9)…I don’t know that I have always even fully understood that.

The law could not prevent sin, but only to point it out and when Jesus came along and began saying He was the son of God and the way to heaven was through Him…well let’s just say that was scandalous.  Jesus was speaking a shocking language, if you will, they called Him all sorts of names and eventually He was crucified.  Yet, while the human mind and weakness (and the enemy for that matter), thought it was their will He die, it was all a part of God’s plan.

Jesus died to prove something, that because of the love of God we could be free, we could live in His grace and not by the law in which we would continuously break.  (Yes, we all know grace is not an excuse to sin.)  Jesus came to make access to the Father easy…it is by faith, this was the opposite of what had been tradition, which was by works.  This can be scandalous to our human minds and wills, because we think, “I’ve got this.”  Scandalous is just another word for improper or shocking and grace can be very shocking to our human will and weakness.

The other night as I was laying in bed talking to the Lord, I was reminded of the times I had cried out, “Lord if I could just encounter you face to face, all this mess would just break away and I would never be the same.”  Then, the Lover of my soul spoke directly to my heart and said, “You need to know I love you in the mess.”  …insert a profound heartfelt sigh…

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by GRACE you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus  – Ephesians 2:4-6 (emphasis mine) NIV

We all need to know He loves us in the mess, because that is His grace being sufficient.

Awakening the Heart of the Warrior

She is someone’s daughter, sister, and niece.  She is someone who needs a warrior.

It is said that in the United States every 30 seconds a young woman becomes a victim of sex trafficking, it is estimated that 100,000-300,000 minors are at risk every year.  The average age for entry into sexual exploitation is 12 years old.  Trafficked victims are forced into prostitution, escort services, pornography, strip clubs and more.  Prostituted women and children are forced to make hundreds of dollars each night to fill quotas set by their traffickers and pimps.

When a young woman is brought into the sex trade she is often forced to watch pornography and is often forced to participate in the making of pornographic materials such as movies and photographs.  “…Pornographers, like other pimps, learn how to exploit economic and psychological vulnerabilities to coerce them to get into and stay in the sex industry.  Other times they threaten or use alcohol and drugs to induce compliance…”    www.covenanteyes.com

She is someone’s daughter, sister, niece who has often been manipulated because of her vulnerability, threatened by violence, controlled by the choice of her pimp or trafficker.  She is not there by choice.

To effectively fight sex trafficking and exploitation we need men of valor to awaken the warrior heart within themselves, within each man, the heart that was created by God to stand up and become protectors of the vulnerable.  She is someone who needs a warrior to value her life, to honor her with his actions, to stand and speak for her freedom.

A covenant warrior’s promise:

*Pledge to value all women, regardless of background and history
*Pledge to teach sons, nephews and those who look up to you how to value women and protect them
*Have accountability outlets (for internet, etc.) set up for men of all ages in your home
*Sow financially into organizations who are reaching out to victims, rescuing and restoring victims
*Find ways to bring public awareness to what is happening to the daughters of America.

They need warriors…they need you.  Take the pledge.

Perfect Peace

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are stayed on You, because they trust in You.  Isaiah 26:3

I must be odd.  Either that or God’s infinite peace is becoming a greater reality for me.  I keep seeing how many of God’s people have been put into a panic over the current administration’s policies…should we be concerned…yes…panicked?  No.

While on Facebook I was reading a post by a woman (of which I’ve seen several times as well as online) who grew up in Austria during the 1930’s-40’s when Hitler invaded.  He came across as trying to help the Austrian people, causing them to depend solely upon the government, turning the educational system into an indoctrination and sporting event, and many other things that caused Austria to grow further under his thumb and under a dictatorship.  The woman retelling her life story was warning America.  She drew direct parallels to what is happening now.  For many reading it added fuel to their panic fire…oddly for me I felt comforted.  God took care of the situation then and He will now.  It doesn’t matter what our circumstances around us look like, doesn’t matter at all.  Either God is faithful or He isn’t.  God is either for us or He isn’t.  If you think He isn’t…then I think you may not understand the height, width and depth of His love.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 says this, “…there is nothing new under the sun.”  Therefore all this has  happened before and God took care of it then.  I find that comforting, not placing me in a position of complacency or apathy, but in a place where I go before God in confidence not in panic.

Our action should not be one of panic, but instead of seeking Him and acting from there.

After all…

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 1:9

Any time panic, fear or worry in your life tries to set in -say to yourself “God has got this.”

Great Joy in Weakness

I personally have been wrestling with weakness or faults in myself.  The weaknesses or faults in other people do not bother me. I seem to have a grace filled heart for others, I on the other hand…grace tank empty.  A while back God showed me how I was living a double standard…I would encourage others and talk to them about God’s great love and compassion and in my own heart would be so hard on myself.  After all who doesn’t like to be perfect, right?  Well maybe there are a few of you out there who don’t mind having faults, but it is something that I wrestle with.  Just being real with you, because real is what we need to be with each other.  I don’t try to pretend to be perfect or act like I am, but I am extremely hard on myself at times.

This is something God has been speaking to me about (because yes, I believe God speaks through His word and to our hearts).  I have been drawn back to the scripture where Paul talks about boasting in weakness because in our weakness Christ is made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9) and I sit there saying, “God, my heart isn’t comprehending this.”

Last night, God showed me what mattered.  I was co-emceeing a benefit for orphans and when we came to the entertainment portion of the evening we had several amazing, well-rehearsed, practiced dance groups.  Yet, the first group to come out were 4 young ladies, two of whom were most likely under the age of 9 years old.  I watched as the two younger ones were very excited to be on the stage, counting their steps (very obviously), they were not in sync with the older two and would spin off in opposite directions.  Their precious teacher was back stage with me watching, shaking her head and chuckling to herself.  In that moment God touched my heart profoundly with how imperfect their dance was (by the standard of the world- not God’s standard) and how it brought Him great joy.  How, we are so imperfect and still bring Him great joy.   How we should be like little children, excited to be before God and bringing our best, whatever it may be and know that it brings Him great joy.  Later that night God spoke to me and said, “it is not your perfection that brings me joy, it is you.” Immediately I thought of the scripture,

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

WE WERE AND ARE THAT JOY.  Remember, it’s not the perfect dance that brings Him joy…it’s the dancer.

So maybe, just maybe when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:31, “Let one who boasts, boast in the Lord,” he is saying that because of God’s amazing, phenomenal, mind-blowing love and who sings over us continually, we should shout from the roof tops “I AM WEAK, I MAKE MISTAKES AND HE DOESN’T JUST LOVE ME ALL THE SAME, BUT I BRING HIM JOY!”

So,will those girls get just as good as the adults with practice?  Of course, but that isn’t the point.  After all, God told us to be like little children.  By the way, the song those beautiful girls were dancing to was Joy to the World.

Ok, God…point taken and received.   I am thankful today for those 4 little dancers :)