He Holds Me Together

calm down

Sometimes anxiety gets the best of me. I have to breath deep, and say to myself, “Just hold it together!”

But, it never works! Well, maybe for a day or two, it helps, but then, I am right back in the same anxiety ridden mess, crying for someone to save me, again. All the while, my Bible sits right there with this treasure.

Colossians 1:16-17 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Wait! What? In him all things hold together. This morning, I put my name right in there.

In him, He holds all of Matthea together! This is the foundation of freedom. I’m not alone holding it all together. It’s not even my place to hold “it” together. He created all things, me, my children, my church, my “things”. It’s not my job to hold it all together! It’s his job!

In Him

There was a time that I was on my own. Colossians 1:21-23 puts it this way,

Once Matthea was alienated from God and was an enemy in her mind because of her evil behavior. But now he has reconciled Matthea by Christ’s physical body through death to present her holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if Matthea continues in her faith.

Go ahead. Put your name in there.

Because of Christ I am reconciled to God.

For he has rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:13

Let God’s good word encourage you today that you are not alone to hold all your “things” together. You are free to trust the Savior with all your things. He’s holding them anyway. Why should we keep holding on to them?

Today, trust God with your…

marriage, children, finances, house, job… hurts, brokenness, depression, grief, loss, sickness… bad habits, addictions… fears, anxieties…

“things”.

Maybe your thinking, “But, I got a lot of things!” Me too. I’ve got a lot of sad things, depression things, losses and heartaches, just a lot of things. He knows! I prayed for my children today, like every day. But today, as I went down the list: Katherine, Carter, Caleb, Christian… Kai. I couldn’t finish. It was too hard. We’re getting really close to June. He would be 4. And, poor, Karis-Lynn didn’t get prayed for yet. I hurt too much. I handed my children over to the Lord and the Spirit, knowing that they pray for me. Romans 8:26-27, Hebrews 7:25

Trust Jesus.

Monday with a chance of rain

Waves mark 4 41

Monday rolls around, and instead of refreshed from a Sunday rest,  we drag ourselves into the  work week. This morning, I woke up reminded that the Savior I know commands the storms of my life.

Storms train me in patience.

Storms coach me in perseverance.

Storms drill me for long-suffering.

Storms hone my mercy for others and myself.

Storms educate me in compassion.

Storms ground me in tenderness.

Storms bring a deeper relationship with the One Who Rescued Me.

Do I like them?

NO!

Storms create the sweetest moments with Jesus! I appreciate the person that I have become because of them.

*Note… don’t say this to someone going through a powerful storm. It may discourage them! A friend in the middle of a wild, tempestuous storm may not be able to process that Jesus will bring good out of the frightening darkness she faces. I concentrate on what I have witnessed the Savior do in my life, and the most important thing to do, sit and listen without judgement. Unless you are able to fix yourself; don’t attempt to fix your friend (hint: you can’t fix either of you). Trust the work of the Holy Spirit in your life and hers for healing, teaching. We are instructed to correct a fellow believer, who is caught in sin, but that’s not the kind of storms I’m referring to.

Jesus saves us from being corrupted by this world, He doesn’t save us from the storms of this life.

sprouting seeds

A great lesson from the garden is that seeds germinate at different times even though one plants them at the same time. Some need more heat or water, or something. I don’t know why. God illustrated this point to me this morning in my garden with our green bean plants. Some popped up right away and have beautiful leaves. We thought some needed to be replanted because the seed was a dud. On our walk through the garden,  we saw the dud seeds peeking through the soil.

Don’t give up on yourself! Don’t give up on your friend! Just because you feel like a dud seed, you’re not. Maybe you need a little more heat or a little more water or a little more time. Don’t despair! I needed a lot more heat and a lot more water to come through the storm of grief and church wounding. Now, I say to my folks at Celebrate Recovery, “Keep coming back. Don’t try to jump a head. Take one step at a time! Don’t set arbitrary deadlines. Keep coming back!”

If you are looking for help, my Resource page has a link to a Celebrate Recovery locator and a link to find a counselor.

Tomorrow, I will post the history and background for my study on Colossians. Keep coming back!

Meditations: The tenderness of God

In a male dominated world, we often lean on the man-ish characteristics of God. He is powerful and mighty. His strong arm is able to save. We call him Father.

In honor of Mother’s Day let us be encouraged by God’s softness. Let us celebrate that God is compassionate and tender with us.

We learn so much about God’s character through the names that His people gave to him. Today, I’m meditating on El-Shaddai. A few quick facts, some Hebrew scholars point out that Shaddai is likely derived from the Hebrew word for “breast” which is shad. Shaddai  is a compound word composed of the relative “she” and the word for “enough” or “the one (she) who is self-sufficient.” If this is the case then Psalm 91:1, which uses El-Shaddai and translates it as the “Almighty” pictures God as like a nursing mother who nourishes and sustains her infant child with her own life.

I’ve spent 7 years of my life nursing babies. I can give testimony to the time commitment that it takes. I found that my babies nursed for many reasons besides hunger. Sometimes they would just want attention or comfort, to be held close and snuggled.

The picture of God being our everything presses into my heart. He is the one who nourishes me, comforts me, teaches me, rejoices over me… This brings me indescribable joy!

I am encouraged to snuggle up close and allow God to comfort me.

mother and child

Meditations: God is as tender with us as a nursing mother is with her baby.

For this is what the Lord says,

“I will extend peace to her like a river,

And the wealth of nations like a

Flooding Stream

You will nurse and be carried on her arm

And dandle on her knees.

As a mother comforts her child,

So will I comfort you;

And you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 66:12-13

 

Be Light

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:14

Something changed in her, an innocence lost. As she looked out, the world seemed to be losing color, so she hung her head. The ground seemed to be shaking. She looked around. No one else seemed to notice. To her terror, she realized, she alone felt the tremors of her life falling into darkness. A secret she must keep.

We all have secrets. Those dark hidden places locked up in our hearts that we dare not venture to far into that void. These little reminders of deep agonizing pain fissures through our memories, terrorizing us with the past. Secrets we must keep.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”

Ephesians 5: 8

In order for healing to come, some stories must be told. Stepping out of denial and into the light of God’s power gives me strength to tell my story of his saving grace. Slowly, it becomes less about my past and more about His rescue of a little wild girl caught between dangerous darkness and vivid fantasies.

truth

I’m working through writing my story down. It’s sad, tough work revisiting painful places, and feeling the shame again is exhausting. Thankfully, I carry the truth that I was once darkness, but now I am light in the Lord with me to the void.  This truth becomes a salve to the fissures of pain in my heart, healing the brokenness, giving me wholeness in the face of my secrets.

I rejoice that healing is not for me alone, but every Friday night I share God’s rescue with hurting people at Celebrate Recovery. The darkness of my past becomes a light for others to find God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Imagine the dark becoming light!

Today, I want to encourage you that no matter how dark your secret, in God’s hands, it becomes light. As He heals our tattered souls, we become a beacon of light.

The first step is the hardest to make. The darkness we’ve known our whole lives feels familiar, safe even. We developed an arsenal of weapons to manage the shaking ground of abuse. We found ways to force our world to feel right, when what was done to us was so, so, so wrong.

Coming into the Light means, we have to let go of what we worked so hard to do. We must stop depending on ourselves and trust someone else. I don’t know about you, but this statement strikes fear to the core of my being. Trust someone else?

The God I knew in my childhood was a demanding tyrant. He was angry at everyone because no one could follow his rules. No matter how hard I tried I could never be good enough to be loved.

But then I meet the real Jesus, and through Him a compassionate Father, who ran to me.

Throwing his arms around my neck, he clothed me in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. I have no need to be jealous of other girls. Now, I am a princess in his kingdom. Gone are my days of envy. Now, I have a heavenly inheritance stored up for me, where moth and dust cannot destroy.

If you are reading this, and think, “I could never tell my secret. I could never trust Jesus to make me whole.” But, maybe you’ve come to the place, where your life seems unmanageable, and anything else is better than this life your living now.Find a Celebrate Recovery. It’s for every hurt, habit, or hang up. CR is place filled with a bunch of really messed up people, who found a real God, who is making them whole again. It’s a safe place to be really messy. It’s a safe place to be inconvenient. I’m a pastor’s wife, and they let me be messy, broken, and inconvenient. I didn’t have to pretend that I was more sanctified than I am. They allowed me to have problems. If you know anything about church, this is unusual. The pastor’s wife must be well-dressed, well-mannered, and darn near perfect to be acceptable. Even the people that said they wanted me to be real, rejected me and used gas-lighting. They said one thing, but then got very mad at me because I wasn’t grieving the exact way they thought I should grieve.

There is hope. Jesus said,

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,

Luke 4:18 

Meditation: Holiness

This week 1 Corinthians rocked my world! Often, we study single verses out of context, and they begin to reflect what is inside our hearts. When, we take the time to read through the whole letter, God uses his word to display himself into our hearts and supernatural healing begins.

See what I did there? Reflection is  natural to humans. We were designed to reflect God’s  glory as image bearers. We must admit, we are not God, even though we are made in his image. Like everything else, sin broke this too. Now that we know evil, we want to be God. It’s a constant struggle as we learn to submit our wills to God and to walk in the Spirit to reflect God and not ourselves. Psychologists call this projection, and it is very easy to project our thoughts, feelings, and motivations onto God, the scriptures, and even the people around us.

As I studied this week, God displayed his truth with clarity. Perhaps you have heard someone who hurt you say that you must look at her intentions. If it wasn’t her intention to hurt you, then you shouldn’t feel hurt. We, who believe that we are saved by faith alone, forget that our works display our salvation. Good works and obedience have a place in our faith. It matters how we live. It maters what we do. If we are judged by intentions alone, then how could God judge me? I intend to be obedient, but I keep messing up, even though I want to live right. The truth is that both matter, intentions and behavior. If my behavior harmed someone else, then I am responsible to apologize and make amends. Although, this person, who harmed me, may not have intended harm, however, she caused me deep pain that has taken three years for me to heal. God is good and faithful to heal us. Sometimes that healing happens now, and sometimes that healing will come in heaven, when God dries my tears and I see Kai again.

I can’t wait, but until then, God cautions me to be mindful of how I live.

Did you know that our works will be tested?

They will be tried by fire. If we have built with wood, hay, or straw, our good works will burn up, “the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved– even only as one escaping through the flames.”

Paul goes on to write, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one you thinks you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For wisdom of this world is foolishness in the God’s sight.”

I have gladly become a fool for Christ, so that I am humble to learn from him. In myself is self-righteousness and pride. In Christ is all wisdom and knowledge,” so that I may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” I have learned this is a painful process at times. It means I give God the right to chip away parts of me that do not bring him glory. Sometimes, I like those parts because they have brought me comfort, but they are not from God. Sometimes, they are the very coping mechanisms that I have relied upon to endure abuse. However, if I continue to use these coping mechanisms, I will not grow in my knowledge of Christ. I will not be able to fellowship with him in suffering, and my good works will burn up. I will be as one who escaped a fire.

knowing jesus

Meditation: Holiness 1 Corinthians 3:10-20

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[a]; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”[b]

World Poetry Day

In case you didn’t know, it’s world poetry day. Somewhere between sadness and grief, Jesus met me, and gave me the comfort of His presence. He spoke gently through the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace from chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel. This story has comforted me in a variety of storms, and it doesn’t disappoint. When Jesus says, “I will not save you from all suffering, but I will be with you even in the fire,” we glorify Him as we are obedient.

These men said,King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Even in the storm may we say, “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods.”

Below is a short poem in honor of Kai Glass. His short life has been God’s grace to me to hold to the Truth even in darkness. I will always miss Kai, but my prayer is that even through suffering, I will be found obedient. One day there will be an end to these sufferings.

In Between

between…the words

there is and no

where hope recedes

and light flees

my soul refused to die

his heart has stopped

but mine defied

the darkness came

we remain

hope is found

in grief’s sound

God Loves You!

Someone needs another sneak peek at the devotional I’m writing about learning to rest,

Whispers of Rest in the Storm.

Day 23 Rest in the Love of Christ

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

What beautiful words! God demonstrated His love. When my son died, I hurt so much I despaired, “Maybe God doesn’t love me?” In my brokenness, I couldn’t imagine God loving me and allowing me to hurt so much.

loveMaybe you are like me, and you struggle believing that Jesus loves you. Abuse and affliction steal our dignity and self-worth. Even the message we hear from the world is to be loved we must earn our place, prove our usefulness, and show our value.

We have to work for it.

Sometimes, while in the storm, we ask for a sign. In my weakest hour I asked for a sign that God loved me. I’m thankful I asked for a rainbow because they are more rare than pink sunsets. God denied me a rainbow, and I am so thankful that He did.

In the storm, I cried out, “God, if you love me, then save me from this hurt.”

He whispered back, “I already have. I sent my Son. He humbled himself into the womb of a woman. He experienced every human struggle, and did not sin. He is your sign that I love you. He paid the debt for all your sin. He ripped the curtain that separated us. Let my rainbow be my promise to not flood the earth, and enjoy the pink sunsets that I created to declare my glory. Let Jesus be the sign of my love for you. I will walk with you in your hurt. Depend on me.”

Every morning God whispers, “I love you! Look at Jesus and see how I love you.” Romans 8: 32 says, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” These words sooth my aching soul in the storms of life.

Rest today knowing that God demonstrated His love for you through Jesus. We need no other sign. Enjoy the beauty of His creation, but let Jesus demonstrate His love for you! God walks with us through the storm, and nothing can separate us from His love (Rom. 8:34-39).

Sojourner Truth: If she can, I can!

Every student in America is familiar with the names of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, John Hancock, George Washington…etc.  The Founding Fathers inspire us. Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence was ground breaking in both breadth and scope for the individual.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

As self-evident as these truths were, many continued to suffer in bondage. As we walk down the path of life suffering comes to us all, but we don’t have to live in bondage.

Selfishness tempts us to narrow our vision, and forget the great women, who came before us that fought for many of the freedoms we now enjoy.

When I need inspiration, I look to Sojourner Truth.

sj 1

Born a slave in 1797, Sojourner endured untold emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Although, she lived isolated from other African-Americans in New York, her many conversations with God led her to take a walk of faith to freedom. Her first action as a freed woman was to sue a white slave-owner, Solomon Gedney! He had bought her son illegally. She is the first African-American woman to sue and win! She got her son back.

What makes Sojourner an example to those who suffer is how Christ worked in her heart to rid her of bitterness and unforgiveness. Because she forgave those who hurt her, she spoke with dignity and righteousness as opposed to vengeance. She became an itinerant preacher calling all to repentance and for the equality of all.

“When she arose to speak in their assemblies, her commanding figure and dignified manner hushed every trifler into silence. (pg. 113-114).”

Her famous speech “Ain’t I a woman?” should be mandatory reading for every student (pg. 131-135). During a suffrage meeting in Ohio of 1851, a heckler left the white women invited to give the address speechless. After standing up to her full height of six foot, she took command of the audience against “Dat man ober dar” who said “dat women needs to be helped into carriages, and lifted ober ditches.” She reminded the audience that no sj2man had showed her deference by helping her out of a carriage or over ditches or gave her the best place. Truth pulled up her sleeve barring her strong arm, and in a voice “like rolling thunder” she commanded them to “Look at me! Look at my arm! . . . I have plowed, and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me—and ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man, when I could get it, and bear de lash as well—and ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen chilern, and seen ’em mos’ all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”

As the crowd cheered, she continued, “Den dat little man in black dar, he say women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wan’t a woman! Whar did your Christ come from?” Raising her voice still louder, she repeated, “Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothin’ to do wid Him.” What a rebuke?!?

My favorite quote is in defense of Eve “If de fust woman God ever made was strong enough to turn de world upside down all alone, dese women togedder (and she glanced her eye over the platform) ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now dey is asking to do it, de men better let ’em. Bleeged to ye for hearin’ on me, and now ole Sojourner han’t got nothin’ more to say.”

Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave

Everything in quotes can be found in the Narrative of Sojourner Truth

The more I read about Sojourner Truth’s life the more convinced I am of God’s goodness and His plan for salvation and restoration for every soul in bondage.

Thomas Jefferson may have written words proclaiming freedom for all, Sojourner Truth lived it out. I have not suffered even a fraction of a fraction of affliction as this great woman, and if she can believe in God’s goodness, then why should anything hold me back?

sj quote

 

I Became Inconvenient

After the initial shock of my son’s death, I became inconvenient.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross finds acclaim for writing the most important book for caring for the dying, On Death and Dying. In her well researched book, she describes the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She is both right and wrong. If I were caring for the dying understanding these stages would be helpful. If I am caring for my friend whose child died, these stages do no good. There are no stages for the ones left living. No one grieves the same. Every loss is not the same.

I found that grief came in waves, easing some days, and crashing over me in overwhelming super waves on others.

Everyone around me wanted me to get to the finish line. They wanted the final stage wavesaccording Ross, acceptance. I wearied them with my sadness. I wearied them with my insistence that not everyone could just get over it and move on. They were busy. My grief didn’t fit in with their schedule. God was doing big things at our church, and I was in the way. They didn’t have time to sit with me in my home as I wept.

I became inconvenient because when a close friend said something hurtful. I told her. Then I avoided her, if she didn’t acknowledge what she said was hurtful. Death had taken a cheese grater to my soul. I stood with my weeping and shredded soul as a friend said, “It is wrong to express anger at someone as long as those people are doing their best. It may hurt, but you have to see that their intentions are good. You are harsh.”

I was harsh. I was exhausted. I was despairing. I was inconsolable. I was wretched. I was desolate. I was confused. I was overwhelmed. I was angry. I was lamenting. I was terrified. I battled feelings of jealousy and envy. I was inconvenient.

Kai handI despaired wondering if the intensity of my pain would ever ease. Once, I stood staring at picture of myself on the wall, pondering, if I would ever smile like that again. A cloud settled around me, making it difficult to laugh easily or enjoy the good things still in my life. Getting out of bed, getting dressed, cleaning the house, and feeding my family became my victories for the day. I learned to celebrate each one, even if no one else did. I made room for the long road of grief.  Never knowing when a “grief attack” like an anxiety attack would happen, I learned to ride the wave until it was over. I slowed down.

I learned that grief has no finish line. My reality is that my son’s ashes are in an urn, where they will be until they are buried with me in death. What I have found is a reconciliation. My old normal is gone. I couldn’t divorce myself from the reality of loss. One book I read said that losing a child is a “prolonged grief process.”

In A Necessary Grief, Larry Michael writes, “The grief may be immense for this loss (miscarriage). Even more, stillbirths are especially difficult…my heart went out to those parents who had placed such hope and longing for this child that was now taken from them. A great degree of sensitivity and compassion is needed for this situation.”

What I found is that God is more compassionate than I had ever imagined.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

Because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

And recovery of sight for the blind

To set the oppressed free,

To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Luke 4:18-19

I felt the poverty of my loss intensely. I felt imprisoned by others’ expectations. I felt blind to the goodness in my life. I felt oppressed by grief. But I did not understand the year of the Lord’s favor. How is this situation favor? Well, it wasn’t. Thankfully, I don’t have to sugar coat Christianity. The favor of God is not man centered. Jesus says blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the gentle, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, the persecuted, and the insulted (Matthew 5: 3-12). Jesus never talks about earthly riches or desires as favor.

God in His compassion spoke gently to me and cleared up my confusion over the word “favor”. His favor is the gift of repentance, forgiveness, salvation, and His presence just to name a few.

Jesus demonstrates that those in grief are not an inconvenience to him.  In the story weepingof Martha and Mary (John 11), their questions, lamentations, and weeping were not troublesome or wearing. He joined with them, connecting with each Mary and Martha in her unique grief.

Jesus was on his way to raise Lazarus from the dead. Martha stopped him, and chastised him. She was harsh, blaming Jesus for Lazarus’s death. Jesus follows with a logical conversation because that is what she needed. She needed to remember that…

          Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live,  even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

Martha becomes the second person in scripture to proclaim, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Although Jesus knew he was about to perform one of his greatest miracles, when he meets Mary, he isn’t hurried to the task of doing great things. He’s not too busy. She falls at his feet weeping. Deeply moved in his spirit and troubled, Jesus weeps with her.

Jesus spoke no words. He gave Mary the ministry of joining with her in grief.

She’s not one of us

tracks 2

Getting off the school bus, she was sure to walk a few steps behind the group of pretty girls, not wanting them to notice her.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but your words kill.”

She knew her place.

As she crossed over to the other side of the tracks, she wondered what it would be like to own a new dress with a matching Jo-Jo bow.

Dressed in her brother’s hand-me-down jeans that never seemed to fit right, she walked on dreading the evening routine: help with little sister’s homework, get the house clean, make dinner, hope mom doesn’t get mad and yell, smile pretty, maybe dad will notice.  Just maybe today her parents will acknowledge how hard she’s working for their approval.

We all long for significance.  Desiring to be the one on top, we like to break society into classes.  Although, in America these classes are more fluid, let us not be blind to ethnic, economic, and social barriers that we created to find value and significance at the expense of other image bearers.  This man-made significance never satisfies our need.

We can mine the Bible for a rich treasure trove of truth.  God has no favorites.  He does not love the rich more, giving them more for their comfort.  He does not love the poor less, causing them to suffer because of laziness.  He doesn’t favor one skin tone over another.  He doesn’t create girls to be taken advantage of by men. We live in a world broken by sin, plagued by suffering, and characterized by the strong taking from the weak, but this is not God’s desire.


The very sin that breaks our hearts and self-image broke Jesus Christ’s body on the cross!

Romans 2:11-11 but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, first for the Jew, then for the Greek. For God does not show favoritism.   All who sin apart from the Law will also perish apart from the Law, and all who sin under the Law will be judged by the Law.

Deuteronomy 10:17
“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe.

cross

Job 34:19
Who shows no partiality to princes Nor regards the rich above the poor, For they all are the work of His hands?

Acts 10:34
Then Peter began to speak: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism,

Romans 9:14
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Absolutely not!

There are so many more verses!

The ground at the foot of the Cross is level.  If I know this to be true, why do I still struggle to find significance in the world?  Why do I still compare myself to others?  Why aren’t others struggling like me with finances, self-worth, disobedient children… the list can go on and on.  In short, a soft prosperity gospel has invaded the church.  Some-where along the way, we began to believe that being co-heirs with Christ means that we should never suffer, but that God will give us every desire of our hearts.  We missed the Bible’s message about suffering.

In Romans 8:17 Paul writes, “and if children, also heirs, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”  Paul’s encouragement to us, is not that we won’t suffer, but suffering will never separate us from God’s love.  We are called, justified, glorified.  It’s not that we will never be afflicted, be anguished, be persecuted, be hungry, be naked, in danger, face the sword, or face death.  These things do not separate us from His love.

The soft prosperity gospel says, “#BLESSED, #tooblessedtobestressed.”

You have to read this article. It may hurt, but repentance frees us! Grace covers us!

How God Saved Me From The Prosperity Gospel

Before my son died, I didn’t even recognize how the soft prosperity gospel blinded me and my circle of friends.  Its influence is so subtle.  Like the author in the above article, I didn’t see it until my faith stopped making sense.  I was #blessed, so why is all this happening.  We were losing everything: Kai, house, job, friends, and church.

I faced the truth that God never promises to rescue us from the situations of earthly life that sin causes or the brokenness that follows.  Even when we ask for forgiveness, we experience the earthly consequences of sin. Read King David’s story in 2 Samuel 12:10.

We naturally gravitate towards teachers that inspire and make us feel good about ourselves.   We want to be told that we are basically OK.  Yeah, bad things happened to us, but now we are powerful and we can tell our story!  We are worthy and beautiful.  We prefer a feel good self-empowerment gospel.  After all, we want to be satisfied with our station life.  We’ve worked hard to be significant or find significance in the bad things that have happened.  We’ve exchanged the God of the Bible for therapeutic moralistic deism.  Peter says, “For uttering bombastic empty words, they seduce, by fleshly desires and debauchery… They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.”

Jesus teaches that his kingdom is not of this world.  To be first we must be the servant of all.  The way that leads to destruction is broad.  The road that leads to righteousness is straight and the gate is narrow.  The righteous will be persecuted.  Almost everything he teaches is the opposite of our natural inclinations, including suffering.

Peter writes, “but even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed” II Peter 3:14.  Would we write #blessed after Herod chopped off John the Baptist’s head? What about Stephen who was stoned for preaching the gospel? Priscilla and Aquila started three churches, but were kicked out of their hometown.  The Apostle Paul says that he was overwhelmed with fears on the inside and outside.  Blessed?

The rain falls on the just and the unjust Matthew 5:45.  All of us would like the right amount of rain at just the right time to fall for our greatest comfort.  Some of us are poor, some of us have endured abuse, some of us are plagued by tragedy, and some of us have too many children, while others are infertile.  How can we know who is loved? 

All of us! Jesus loved the whole world, and gave his life for all of us!

Revelation 3:20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he will me.”

The Lord has prepared a wedding feast for his Bride. He calls all to come and eat with him, making no accommodations for rich or poor, abused or abuser, skin color, young or old.  He simply calls everyone to repentance, not wanting anyone to perish, but wanting all to be saved. He wants to walk with us through all of life’s moments. Earth is not Heaven!