‘Perfect’ Christians

Perfect Christians don’t exist, nor do perfect churches, and anyone who tries to say differently is a liar and possibly a fool.

But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to His [JESUS’] disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” JESUS answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:30‭-‬32 NIV

Do you find a sense of relief in this passage? I do! Knowing that JESUS came for me, the bruised and the broken, full of faults and cracks, it’s amazing, …. and unbelievable??? Why would the King of Heaven, Who created this amazing universe, care about an insignificant being like me? I say inappropriate things, I want to be the center of attention, I keep getting involved with men who just want to use me. I’m selfish and self centered. All these faults, and JESUS Loves me??? I used to be one of those people who thought that I had to be perfect for GOD to Love me. You know, wear the ‘right’ clothes, act the ‘right’ ways, don’t smoke or drink or curse or dance. Be in church for Sunday school and training union (Sunday evening classes) and services, and Wednesday prayer meetings. I was pretty self-righteous and judgemental, and it can still creep up on me at times – I have to be on guard against it.

There’s a song from Hilary Scott (of the group Lady Antebellum) called “Thy Will” that seems so appropriate for me – and probably many others – right now. Here’s the first verse:

I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So, I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

Sound like anything you’ve been through, like feelings you’ve felt, thoughts you’ve had? Then I follow it with this beautiful song by Lauren Dagle, who sings from her heart:

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know

Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory,

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe

I think that sometimes we think, we believe we are following GOD’s Will, but maybe it becomes more what we want more than what He wills for us, and maybe, sometimes, it is His Will that we go through the hard time so that we remember that He is GOD, not me or you. I don’t like being told I’m wrong, or that what I’ve done wasn’t correct, and I’ve never liked being called out or disciplined. It makes me bristle and want to argue, to show that I was right, dadgummit, even when it’s the LORD GOD Who is doing the discipling! Really, do I honestly think the CREATOR is wrong? Yeah, oops. I think it’s pretty obvious that I am far, far from perfect! But, perfection – and perfectionism – aside, the GLORIOUS Truth is that our GOD, our LORD and KING of Heaven, LOVES me, Loves us, anyway! He Loves us through our imperfections and our brokenness, He Loves us regardless of our silliness and stubbornness – HALLELUJAH! Remember what JESUS said: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

I thank my GOD every day for the gift of His Salvation, even when I’m felling down because of the situation! Can you say the same? Oh, I pray that you can! All the brokenness, all the junk and bad times probably won’t meticulously change for the better, although our LORD can do anything, especially the things that we see as impossible.

This is what God says to us, and whispers in our ear:

B.I.B.L.E.

So you like anagrams? Me, too! Here’s another one I have seen:

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. B.I.B.L.E.

For several years, I was a leader in the recovery program at my church. We asserted (and I still do) that 1) Everyone alive has Hurts, Hangups, and Habits, and 2) There are two types of people in the world – those who need recovery, and those who are in recovery. The small groups I led were made up primarily of women who had suffered some form of abuse in the lives; some had been in horrific situations. Why didn’t they just leave, you ask? Oh, it’s not that simple, and it’s a subject I have addressd in previous blogs, so it won’t be dealt with today. In our ‘Basic Instructions’, a very important thing I’ve learned is that any situation we find ourselves in, whether by our choices or someone else’s choices, we don’t have to go through it alone. Read all of Psalm 27. These are a few of the verses I like to share with my ‘girls’ – and also with any man who is struggling. Struggles and hurt are not gender specific!

“The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. You have said, “Seek My Face.” My heart says to You, “Your Face, LORD, do I seek.” For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in. I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” – Psalms 27:1‭, ‬3‭-‬3‭, ‬8‭, ‬10‭-‬10‭, ‬13‭-‬14 ESV

If you are paying attention, I have used these verses in other blogs. They are very appropriate scripture verses to use every day! In verse 10, the psalmists states that his “father and … mother have forsaken” him. I was blessed beyond measure that mine did not forsake me when I was caught up in the enemy’s traps, although they were hurt beyond imagination by my lifestyle. That, unfortunately, is not always the case. For a number of my girls, the abusive lives they were trapped in was, in fact, perpetrated by their very own parents. It’s frequently on the news as well, when parents, foster parents, relatives, and other authority figures are the sources of abuse. I can’t even imagine how an adult can be that way to a child, or another adult. It is straight from the depths of hell. But read on to verses 13-14!

“I believe that I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

We read these verses with incredible Hope. I, too, like the psalmist, believe that “I shall look upon the Goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! I see it every day. The Goodness of the LORD shines through the changed lives of the women (and men) who have sought the LORD in their lives, and allows others to see how Good He is, for:

“Great is the LORD, and greatly to be Praised, and His Greatness is Unsearchable.” – Psalms 145:3 ESV

Do you have the Hope, the Peace, the LIGHT of the LORD in your life? He doesn’t care how ‘bad’, how broken you are. He wants us as we are. He is the Great Physician, the Creator and Craftsman. Ony the LORD can repair us and hold us together. Don’t mistake this to say that once you receive JESUS CHRIST as LORD of your life, everything will become peaches and cream. Au contraire, my friends, when we allow Him to Love us as He longs to, the enemy, that prince of everything dark and evil, known as Satan – our enemy will hit us with anything he can come up with to turn our face away from the LORD. It often works, too. When the abuse doesn’t lessen, when our finances get worse instead of better, when illness seems to loom over us and our loved ones, even death…. we can reach for heaven and the Peace of the Holy Spirit, or we can fall into ugliness and despair. It’s always a choice; one that I confess to messing up quite frequently.

“For from HIS Fullness we have all received, Grace upon Grace. …. For GOD so Loved the world, that He gave His Only SON, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For GOD did not send His SON into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the Only SON of GOD.” – John 1:16; 3:16‭-‬18 ESV

AMEN. How will you fare when standing in front of The Judge?

I’m Asking …. I’m ASKING, LORD and I’m Listening

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your FATHER in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them – this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:7‭-‬12 HCSB

“Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for – believe that you have received them, and you will have them.” – Mark 11:24 HCSB

What are you asking for? Is it to be recognized in your field, or to make lots of money; that you get a bigger, more impressive house or car/truck? Is your prayer, your ‘ask’, that you succeed as an entrepreneur or business person? Is your ‘ask’ that your sports team or favorite athletes win? Is it wrong to pray for these things? I don’t have an answer to that question. Like others, I have prayed for and worked towards all those things, and my LORD has provided me with countless blessings throughout my life.

Now, my prayer is just to have enough. I don’t want, or need, a big house or a fancy automobile. Right now I’m caught, stuck, in the web of my own making, a big one. I can’t see a way out, but my GOD sees the bigger picture, and because He loves me, He hears my prayer. Like the father of the boy who was possessed cried out to JESUS, I also cry out to my LORD, “I do believe! Help my unbelief.” – Mark 9:24 HCSB

Just enough, LORD, just enough. I do believe, and I’m listening!

Blue-Footed Booby and the Platypus

It’s almost the end of July here in the center of the contiguous United States. The average temps run in the mid-high 90’s, and we’ve been topping out the 90’s for the past several weeks with equally high humidity….. Today, it feels more lke October – it’s chilly!

I’m not complaining!

Our Creator GOD has a sense of humor; I am thoroughly convinced of it. Who else would have the creativity to make a snowquakenado? (FYI, that’s when you have snow, an earthquake, and a tornado, all at the same time. Only in Ooooooook-lahoma!) Who else has the genius (and sense of humor!) to make the Platypus, the Blue-Footed Booby, or the Pangolin? Who else could have engineered the complex, precise mechanisms of the human body; not only physically complicated, but the brain. And especially, what human would make something to be their companion, and then give them free will? In all of the Robot novels by Isaac Asimov, robots are limited in the scope of what they can do. They are constructed to never be able to harm a human (e.g. The First Law of Robotics: 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.)

When humanity was created by GOD, it was designed to be companionship for Him, never causing harm to each other or to GOD’s incredible earth. The difference between humanity and robots is that we are not constrained by a similar law. Instead, our Creator gave us free will, and we have been making poor choices ever since. Still, despite our best efforts to belittle and minimize the LORD, He continues to love us, forgive us, and reach out to protect and save us. I certainly wouldn’t be open to any person who treated me as badly as I have treated my Saviour!

He has kept His sense of humor throughout the ages, regardless of mankind’s actions. Look at the variety of humans! We come in a plethora of colors and shapes and sizes and abilities. In our wildest imaginings, could a mere human have done the same? Oh sure, we’ve manipulated gene pools and adapted, but we haven’t created anything. After humanity’s diversity, there are the animals…. really, a Platypus??? A Blue-Footed Booby??? And that’s just barely tapping the surface! I haven’t even started on the lanscape or the ocean or the stars and planets…. You’ll never be able to convince me that GOD is a dour, grumpy old man 😁 that doesn’t enjoy laughing with His people!

P.S. Don’t pet the Platypus!!

Jesus Christ, My Living Hope

Sung by Phil Wickham, this song is a beautiful anthem, a praise hymn, and a glorious tribute to the HOPE that is only found in JESUS CHRIST.

Who could imagine so great a mercy?
What heart could fathom such boundless grace?
The God of ages stepped down from glory
To wear my sin and bear my shame
The cross has spoken, I am forgiven
The King of kings calls me His own
Beautiful Savior, I’m Yours forever
Jesus Christ, my Living Hope

“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest? ” {JESUS} said to {the Pharisee}, “Love the LORD your GOD with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the Greatest and most important Command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” – Matthew 22:36‭-‬40 HCSB

How can we not love and worship the LORD? He left heaven and His Throne to live a life of hardships here on earth; to be tortured for nothing more than being Himself, and to die a horrific death on the cross for each and every human who will ever live. He came as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins; to give us unlimited Love and Forgiveness and Mercy and Grace. There is the beauty of it all! Would you be willing; would you volunteer, to be tortured, mocked and spit on, and then nailed to a cross until you died, in physical agony the whole time, for the neighbor you barely know? The coworkers who gossip behind your back? JESUS did that and more, and He did it willingly, even knowing that He would be rejected by millions. I don’t have that kind of mercy or grace! I have a difficult time just being civil to some people, and to die for them? I don’t think so.

What tender Mercies our LORD pours over us! Jesus Christ, my Living Hope, Sustainer of my life, SAVIOUR and Redeemer. Amen!

Yes, I know it’s a shameless plug for Phil Wickham! But….. just listen to that song!!!

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

It is well with my soul. Have you ever listened, really listened, to the words of that hymn? If you can, read the story behind the words Horatio Spafford penned in 1873. In tragedy, he found that “Peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). These are the original lyrics, as noted on Wikipedia:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to knowa
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul! b

[a “know” (at the end of the third line) was changed to “say”.
b “A song in the night, oh my soul” (last line)
was changed to “Even so, it is well with my soul”.]

How many of us can say the same as Spafford? Can we lean on our LORD the way Spafford leaned on Him, and go on from tragedy – in peace! – and do the work GOD calls us to? I find it to be a hard task to let go of hurt and resentment, and yes, jealousy, because I compare my life and my hardships to others….. Oh, but that is just looking at the outsides of their lives! Do we really know what those we are looking at with their ‘better’ lives have gone through? Do we know their hardships and their tragedies? No! Even knowing someone well and having a closeup view of their lives doesn’t allow us to understand and to know what they have gone through. As humans, I think we tend to look at others through somewhat rosy glasses, and judge them for having what we think we want/deserve. Perhaps that’s why JESUS said in Matthew 7 not to judge others. For myself, on my own, I find it impossible to have peace and contentment. It is only when I can release the hurt and negativity to my LORD, and lean entirely on Him that I find peace, and then it is truly well with my soul.

Like everything else in life, attaining true Peace – through JESUS CHRIST – is a choice. Like Mary, listen to the words of the angel Gabriel:

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

And let my answer be as Mary’s: “I am the LORD’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:37‭-‬38 HCSB

Amen.

From the Library of Congress.

LET FREEDOM RING!

“For the Spirit GOD gave us does not make us timid, but gives us Power, Love and self-Discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our LORD or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the Gospel, by the Power of GOD. He has saved us and called us to a Holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His Own Purpose and grace. This Grace was given us in CHRIST JESUS before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our SAVIOR, CHRIST JESUS, Who has destroyed death and has brought LIFE and Immortality to light through the Gospel.” – 2 Timothy 1:7‭-‬10 NIV

Okay, you are probably asking what in the world does this scripture have to do with our celebrating the freedom of our country today? Without the Freedom of our LORD, there is no other freedom. We are Blessed to live in this great country (yes, great, despite all of her problems) where we can believe and worship and give testimony to our beliefs without fear of government retaliation. It is nearly impossible to do this in many countries around the world. It is unfortunate, though, that even in the U.S.A. many followers of CHRIST are singled out and persecuted, while any and every other belief system is tolerated, and encouraged. Our soldiers and sailors, fly-boys and marines and other maritime services have given life and limb to ensure our freedoms….. yet so many citizens spit on them and ridicule and revile them for that service.

Today, I celebrate my freedom as a citizen of this great nation, and I celebrate my freedom from death through JESUS CHRIST. Both of these freedoms came with tremendous sacrifice! Not my sacrifice, but the unbelievable and incomprehensible sacrifices of our country’s men and women, and most importantly, the sacrifice of my LORD and SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST. Grace and Mercy abounds, Amen!

“If My people, who are called by MY Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I WILL Hear from heaven, and I WILL forgive their sin and WILL heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Time to hit our knees, people!!