Jesus changes everything

I had other posts semi-drafted to possibly publish on the blog this week, but my soul has felt heavy with some local news from this past weekend — a tragedy that touches the lives of a number of dear friends. So I’ve been quiet.

But then there’s Easter coming up. And as I’ve thought of Easter’s intended implications onto our every day lives, and those thoughts have collided in me with thoughts of this local devastation, well…I just have to take a minute to point to my Jesus.

And because you’re busy, I’m busy, the world’s busy, I’m going to get right to the bottom line.

Jesus changes everything.

 

Jesus changes everything

 

When out of His love and grace Jesus died and then rose from the dead, He changed everything for humankind. No longer are we distant rebels from our holy Creator God. In Jesus, the Father calls us daughter and son. In Jesus, the Father sees us as righteous and forgiven and holy. In Jesus, selfish man can draw near to the One our souls were created to worship. And that identity change has zero to do with our abilities or inherent goodness. It’s all in grace, received by faith.

But He didn’t just come to change our identity before the Father. He intends to change our experience in this world. He intends for that shift in our identity to radically impact our everyday lives on this broken planet.

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10

 

Listen, if you, like me, in faith believe that out of the Father’s grace and love He sent Jesus to this earth to die as the perfect blood sacrifice for your and my sin — and the sin of the rest of all humanity for all time — and that this Jesus rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and will come again to finish the story, then that means you’re a “Christian”. Happy birthday to you.

But if you’ve been a “Christian” for any length of time, you know how hard it can be. Because we see our own discrepancy. We live here on this messy planet with messy, tragic situations and complicated people. And an enemy who prowls around aiming to kill, steal, and destroy. And our flesh that wants its own way all. the. time. And though Jesus died to change everything, including our experience on this earth, we struggle.

We struggle with sin. We struggle with self. We struggle with other people who won’t do what we want. We struggle to believe that God is good.

But Jesus’ death and resurrection means to bring freedom to our soul. He means to bring joy and hope and peace. He means for us to experience abundance regardless of circumstance. Yet experiencing all He intends happens as a result of the every day choices we make in the every day moments of life. Soul abundance will only happen when the truth of the gospel invades our today.

 

Soul abundance will only happen
when the truth of the gospel
invades our today.

 

What does that mean? That means that we follow Jesus’ lead. We surrender. We surrender our rights, our plans, and our selves. We surrender our places of addiction and sin. We surrender our loved ones and all the what-ifs. We open our hands to God and say, “Have your way.”

We surrender in order that we can receive. We receive His grace. We receive His continual forgiveness. We receive His presence. We receive His mercy. We receive His power and His lead. We receive the identity He declares over us.

But we need each other. If there’s anything God has taught me in recent years, it’s the vital necessity of vulnerability. Because our hearts deceive, the enemy lies, and our selfishness likes to have a say. We need at least one trusted friend who knows the places in us that we like to hide from the rest of the world. Someone who will speak life into us when we’re tempted to stray. A friend to whom we can humbly say, “I’m a total disaster right now. Will you help me up?”

Jesus changes everything. He changes our identity. He changes our hope. He changes our perspective. He changes our desires. He changes our grieving. He changes our joy. He changes our lives from the inside out. All by His grace.

But experiencing all that His death and resurrection intends to change — the abundance He means for our daily lives — includes our own choice to surrender, moment by moment, to a faithful, loving, good God who pursues the heart of sinful man. By His grace, we get to surrender and receive, today.

Happy Easter, my friend.

 
Fill me Lord…

What does it mean to you to have the gospel invade your today?
 

for when our lives have some frayed edges

“Frayed edges”. That’s the phrase that came to me yesterday. I woke up feeling as if some of my edges were a little frayed. So I did the only thing that ever truly helps: I ate chocolate. Well, not really. Actually, the only that ever truly helps: I pressed into God for wisdom.

 

Frayed-edges

 

As I journaled through some of my feelings, God reminded me of a few compromises I had made in recent days. Not major compromises, necessarily. But little compromises with things like how I spend some of my time. Small things that add up to bigger things by the end of the week. And it’s no wonder my edges were a little frayed.

Almost every minute of every day we have some choice to make — eat that, go there, do that, say this. And God doesn’t guide us towards certain daily choices because He wants to squeeze all the fun out of life. He guides those who ask because He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Following His lead doesn’t give us gold stars in the Jesus book. It doesn’t earn us greater favor. It’s just that following His lead — walking down the path He graciously reveals for our minutes — brings greater blessing to our days. Simply because He knows what’s best.

 

Thus says the Lord who made you,
who formed you from the womb and will help you…
(Isaiah 44:2)

 

It isn’t legalism. It’s wisdom. And it takes intentionality. The world is too loud and the lists are too long to coast through life hoping we get it right. Unless we purposefully press into our Lord, seeking the path that best suits our today, we’ll be swept away with demands.

I feel the pressure. External pressure from a world that judges. And internal pressure I place upon myself in efforts to live up to the external pressure from a world that judges. It’s tiring. And fraying.

So I asked for His wisdom. And the thing I heard Him say was, “Go back to the things you already know to do.” The quiet, non-social-media start to my day. Seeking Him before making some long, unreachable to-do list. Taking good care of this physical body He has given me. Some of my personal basics.

Our edges will get frayed when we spend even one day trying to keep up with the pressure-filled world that surrounds us. Yet even when we have moments of detour, God waits in grace ready to cleanse and guide. How amazing.

 
Fill me, Lord…

Are your edges a little frayed?
What are some things that you “already know to do”?

 

why fear is stupid

Fear is stupid. The end.

 

why fear is stupid

 

(But of course I have more to say.)

On one of my runs last week I was talking with God about fear. Not any one fear in particular, just fear in general. And this truth landed heavily in my spirit so I thought it should be documented. And since it would be too large of a tattoo, it seemed the blog would suffice. You’re welcome, mom.

 

Fear steals today.
It shouts of a possible tomorrow
with the underlying assumption that
God won’t be there pouring out His grace.

 

Fear steals today. It does. It takes the moments we’ve been given and plagues them with worry or anxiety or bitterness or insecurity — all rooted in fear. It steals. It doesn’t discriminate. And it isn’t polite.

It may start as a whisper but the more we listen the louder it gets until eventually it shouts at us of possible tomorrows. But it doesn’t just shout of possible tomorrows. Ultimately it convinces our soul that God won’t be in that possible tomorrow pouring out His promised grace. And we buy in.

Oh we don’t consciously think that we’re buying in. But whenever we fall into places of fear about possible tomorrows, we’re assuming that God won’t be there. We’re forgetting very basic truths about the character and promises of God.

When we live in places of fear, we’re forgetting that He promises to go before and behind us. We’re forgetting that He promises to work every single thing together for the good of those who love Him. We’re forgetting that God is sovereign and His plans for His children are defined by His love.

 

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

 

Fears will come. We’re human and this world is broken and scary. But I’ll keep preaching it as I preach to my own soul: in Christ fear is not our inheritance. Fear is not our inheritance.

Our victory comes when we learn how to take fear thoughts captive to truth, one by one, moment by moment. The abundance Christ promises happens in the dailiness of life, you and me submitting ourselves to His love and truth, one minute to the next. And that daily submission often includes wrestling fears to the ground, replacing them with declarations of faith.

We weren’t meant to travel this faith journey alone. We have His Spirit who convicts and empowers and restores and speaks life and… ad infinitum. But we also have other believers. God created us for intimate fellowship. He designed us to reach out to one another with a, “I’m really afraid. Would you speak some truth to me?”

Fear will come. But it isn’t our inheritance. It’s a stupid stealer of days. The end.

Oh and only really mature people say the word “stupid”. Like me…and 8 year olds.

 
Fill me, Lord…

How do you overcome the fears that naturally arise?