“I Don’t Buy Junk”

I was listening to the IHOPKC web stream one morning, and after worship the worship leader prayed:

“God, we want to be all that you paid for.”

All that He PAID for.

This phrase stuck out to me…Jesus paid for me…He paid for my life with His.  As I continued to think about Jesus literally paying for my life, I felt like He whispered to me, “I don’t buy junk. You are not junk, because I paid for you, and I don’t buy junk.”  He was planting the knowledge of my worth before Him deeper in my heart, and it filled me with a sense of contentment and joy.

“Of course Lord! Who willfully buys junk?…”  My thoughts went on.  Who in their right mind looks at an item, whether it be clothing or a home furnishing or a car and think, “Wow, that’s a piece of junk that will probably break in two days…I’ll take it!”  Who buys things with hard earned money that are not desirable?  The whole reason it costs money is because there is value attached to it.  We purchase things because they have value, not because they are junk.

Jason exemplifies this more than any other person I know (okay, maybe my dad is like this too).  He does extensive research on anything he purchases, making sure it is all that he wants it to be, complete with warranties if it breaks or something goes awry.  Though buying things can sometimes take LONGER, he does it to make sure he gets the greatest return for his money.  If it is known to break in a short while or has terrible reviews, he won’t buy it– he’ll wait until he finds something to suit his needs.   Jason, and I’m sure most of us, don’t buy junk…and God doesn’t buy junk either.

What fascinates me is that Jesus paid the highest price He could for us, but we do not come with warranties or money back guarantees.  Quite the opposite.  Jesus paid the highest price for us– His own flesh and blood– not when we were all spiffed up and looking amazing and desirable, but rather when we were broken, weak, foolish, and frail.  In reality… we kind of were junk.  But that’s not how He saw us as He carried the sins of the world to the cross, and it’s not how He sees us today.  Through all of our filthiness of sin, our frailty to be faithful, our proneness to break and break others, He still gave the highest price for us:  His own life.  With absolutely no guarantees we would be worth it, He purchased us so that we could become His because in His eyes, we have incredible value.

Truly, we all have failed God and have lived less than He created us for in some way or another.  There are times the shame of our choices and the brokenness we feel seems to overshadow the well known melody, “Jesus loves me THIS I KNOW, for the bible tells me so.”   Rather than feeling loved, we feel shame and we feel dirty because we see our brokenness and foolishness.  But that is not how God sees our life, no matter how “off” we feel we have gotten.  He honestly doesn’t see our lives as junk…He doesn’t want to return us to get His “money” back, nor does He get angry He paid such a great price for our lives. On the contrary, He continues to lavish His love upon us because despite our brokenness, our foolishness and weakness, He sees beyond it at the incredible worth we are to Him.  The truth of the incredible value He places upon our lives is what transforms us.  Internally we no longer believe we are junk, broken, frail and sinful.  Instead we begin to live as His beloved, knowing we are chosen, accepted, and strong in Him.

The parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price in Matthew 13 reveal this so powerfully:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Matthew 13:45-46

There are different ways to understand these parables, but I’m interpreting the man who buys the field and the merchant seeking pearls as Jesus Himself.  Jesus is the one who, upon finding a treasure in a field, gave up His entire life WITH JOY to purchase the field, and upon finding a pearl of great price, sold all He had to possess it.

Jesus found treasure in the field of our life, and rather than taking the treasure out, He hid it once more and bought THE ENTIRE FIELD.  By purchasing the field of our lives, ALL of who we are became His so that no one else could lay claim on us.  Though we may have been overgrown with weeds and thickets and rocky in areas, He saw value for our life knowing that hidden within was great treasure ready to be unearthed.   Our hearts are a treasure to Him, the place He wants to possess and worth all that He has, even when it is hidden from the world and at times from our own eyes.

I remember years ago when Jason and I were in a very difficult place in our marriage he turned to me and said, “I forgive you and I will keep loving you because I know you are worth it and that there is treasure in your life I will see in time.”  WOW.  Jason understood the Lord’s heart.  He saw the value of my life even when he was experiencing some of the thorns and rocks, and he kept loving me because he knew there was treasure in me.  Jesus purchased our lives seeing the treasure in our hearts, even when it was hidden in a rocky, overgrown and forgotten field.  We are not junk, we are treasure to Him, and He joyfully purchased us with His own life.

The parable of the pearl is much the same.  Jesus is like the merchant who was SEEKING for great pearls.  The Lord’s eyes scan to and fro throughout the earth searching for those whose hearts will be loyal to Him (2 Chron. 16:9).   When He found us, He saw that we were a pearl of great price, so He gave everything up (the comforts of heaven), and surrendered His life to acquire us.

Jesus had eyes for one pearl, the pearl of your life.  It’s amazing that while there are so many of us, God possesses the ability to have single devotion and love for each and every person.  As a new mom, I’m beginning to see how this is possible.  I love Eternity so uniquely and completely, yet I know when we are ready to have a second child, I will love them just as much!  Their life will have just as much value that I will be willing to do anything for.  God’s love is complete for each pearl on this earth. We are not junk, we were sought after and found to be pearls of great price.  

Thank You Lord that You see our true worth, and that You gave everything to possess us.

My prayer is that the truth of our worth and value before Him will be planted deeper in our hearts and increase more and more.  It truly is what transforms our life, and what allows us to love others as He has loved us.



Following the Lamb

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  Matthew 16:24

If anyone desires to come after Me…  This is about longing to go after the One.

Let him deny himself…  This is the same word Jesus used when He told Peter he would deny Him three times (Luke 22:24, Mark 14:30, Matthew 26:34- G533, aparneomai).  To deny in this form of Greek means to “affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with” (blueletterbible.org).  To deny oneself is to refuse to know ourselves or have a connection with ourselves.

Take up his cross rather than taking up one’s own desires, we are to take up an implement that will serve to bring us to death.

And follow Me… Following the Lamb comes after we are already on our way to our own death.  We cannot follow Him without first posturing ourselves to be led to death.


This is such an intimidating verse, and yet in it we find the potency of the Christian life.  It’s really challenging me right now, making me re-evaluate my beliefs, the choices I make on a day to day level, and what I tell myself is true about faith, God, and about how I’m supposed to live life.

God is a loving Father who loves, comforts, and cares for His children.  In His love, we receive great freedom to live, discover, and be.  But it’s in the freedom of understanding His love that He invites us into the zeal of His heart, which I believe is the lost (Matthew 9:36-37).

It was Jesus’ zeal for the lost sheep of Israel, and ultimately every nation (Isaiah 49:6), that propelled Him to leave the heights of heaven, the fullness of light and beauty, to come down to a dust-filled earth of darkness and decay.  And it was His continual infilling of love from the Father above that led Him not to seek His own life on earth, but deny Himself over and over again until it crescendoed into taking up His cross to die on behalf of those He loved.

Yes, God is a good Father, a loving Father, one who gives good gifts and utmost freedom.  But I’d have to say, I can get confused and begin to bask in the comfort of His love so much that I forget to enter into His zeal for people that propels me to take up my own crucifixion implement.  Denying myself becomes arduous, and at that point I have to ask myself…am I truly following the Lamb who was led to the slaughter?  He willfully went on to be tortured, and He calls us to the same fate.

Right now, there are areas of my life I feel the Lord calling me to deny myself in– areas that to give them up feel like torture.  They are small denials of self, small sacrifices, and yet I know if I want to grow in the Messiah-like love that lays down its life for others, these sacrifices are necessary.  I’m mindful that Jesus Himself was not looking forward to the cross but rather prayed, “Father, not My will, but Yours be done.”  Though it was torture, on some level Jesus knew the “joy set before Him,” (Hebrews 12:2), and so endured the cross.  We have to grow in our understanding of what denying ourselves produces, because the end result is of great worth; greater than anything this world has to offer.  Sometimes my– our– priorities get mixed up, and we begin to follow the world and seek it more than we seek the Lamb.  He still offers this to us, “If anyone desires to come after Me…”  If we desire to come after Him, let us go after Him the way He has told us to, by denying ourselves.

While God is love, He is leading me, and you, our flesh and our love for the things of this world– to death.  It’s not to torture us or make us suffer just to suffer.   It is to lead us to a death we do not think possible, only to find new life– true life– again. Jesus found glory and renewed life after being led to death.  Often we preemptively feel the pains of denying ourselves and taking up our cross and turn the other way.  I don’t know about you, but I want to follow the Lamb, and He was led to death; He beckons us to follow Him there.


“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleshipp. 44


The Same Access Yesterday, Today, and Forever

I woke up at 2am, ridiculously hungry, so I decided to get something to eat. Reflecting on it, my hunger was not just for physical food, it was also for the presence of the Lord.  The last few days had been full of heart gymnastics (if I were at the Rio Olympics, I would have won the gold, silver, and bronze medals), and in the pain I felt I began to shut my heart down to the Lord.  Rather than going to Him to receive the wisdom, strength, love and encouragement He always offers, I turned to worldly comforts– talking things through with others (we like to call it venting), watching movies, sleeping through my quiet time.  None of these things are bad or sinful, but we know when we, in a sense, avoid God in an attempt to ease our pain and receive comfort from something other than Him.  That’s what I was doing, and the outcome was a distance I could tangibly feel and a growing hunger for His presence.

The distance I felt was not because He was distant, but because I distanced myself… but it felt like He was distant.  This phenomena is observable in our earthly marriages and in our relationships with other believers because of the bond of covenant we share.  If I intentionally avoid my husband in subtle ways because my heart is in pain, he is going to be affected; our relationship will be affected.  What can happen is rather than owning up to our own deficiency and realizing the walls we put up, we feel others are distant and it further removes us from wanting to be with them because we feel they don’t want to be around us.  And that is exactly what had crept into my life the last few days.  I could feel a distance in my heart I created, began to feel as if God was not available, and thus continued to remove myself from being near Him.

Despite the state of my heart, the Lord, in all His patience, began to speak to me about “access” in the middle of the night while my stomach was growling and my spirit longing. The distance I created in the relationship was not the only issue.  When we draw away from the Lord, it is perpetrated by something: shame, guilt, anger–we hide away from Him for a reason.  And while there may be compounded reasons and layers of why we hide, He continues to call out to us in the same way He did with Adam and Eve, “Where are you?”  Genesis 3:9.  Despite the things we do to affect our relationship with God, He is the constant One, always loving, always persevering, always reaching out to us.

The access to the Father’s presence, though at times we feel is closed off, is always open.  It’s always open because Christ forever lives in God’s presence, opening up the way for us to come in.  He is the One who prayed, “Father, I desire that those whom You have given Me may be with Me where I am.”  John 17:24 (emphasis mine).  The longing of Jesus’ heart is for us to be with Him, always.  The access we have been given to the presence of God and to His love is absolute, never ending, never changing, though we may wander at times.

And there is no person on earth who has been given anything different than we have.  It’s the same access, for every person, from every culture– we have access to God through Jesus Christ.  It’s the same access for you as it is for me, and it’s the same access today as it was yesterday, and it will be the same access in the future.  In the quiet of the night, my hunger quelled, this word He spoke to my heart about having “the same access” to Him as always, began to penetrate down into me to break down the distance I felt.  He was there all along, had never left.  He was watching the gymnastics my heart was going through and was waiting for me to come closer to Him.

This is obviously not a new revelation by any means.  However, in the midst of walking through life and encountering all the things that press upon us and seeing the ways our hearts respond (sometimes not for the good), He continually comes to remind us, “I am here, I’ve always been here, and I’ll always be here.”  What comfort He gives us.  What assurance we have in this covenant.  Imperfect as we are, His perfection and enduring love will never fail us if we keep saying yes to Him.  I went to sleep with warmth in my heart knowing despite my reactions over the last few days, God was not closing Himself off or putting up a wall between us, He was doing the exact opposite– assuring me of the access I had and will always have to Him.

On Saturday mornings I go to the prayer room, and on my way today, more of my walls came down. Tears filled my eyes and I was finally able to declare to Him once again my desire to be near Him.  I had avoided Him, had distance myself, but I didn’t want to anymore. To top it all off, I turned on a devotional set at the prayer room that ended up expressing my heart perfectly.  You can listen to it by going to this link: Marshall Kirkman  (fast forward to 1 hour and 2 minutes).

Here are excerpts from this set:

“I still love You, despite all my failures.  I know I need You, first in my heart.  I still want You, more than I want this world, these bones You have broken will be my song to You… Come awaken my heart, all over again… Awaken my heart like when we first met, Lord draw me away… Let us stop running, stop hiding from You, and quiet our souls, and run to You, because only a holy God can quench the thirst that’s inside.”

Once again, the knowledge of His love has flooded me.  It’s a love I never want to be without…though sometimes choose to go without. He’s reminded me we were never meant to live without His love, He made us for it and has given us constant access to it now and forevermore.  May you run into it again.


The Servant of Servants

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”  Isaiah 55:6-7

Jesus is the Servant of all servants.  He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords exalted to the highest place, yet He also made Himself a Servant to the most lowly.  Despite His absolute authority and power, He consistently serves us, coming to us in unfathomable ways to motivate us to live according to His Spirit, that we might receive an inheritance of glory none of us deserve.  The last few days the Lord has impressed this on my heart as I’ve come to those areas of my life and heart that I simply do not know how to change in my own strength. What He has been showing me is that in the midst of my struggle, He is there, patiently extending His hand to help me in my time of need. He serves me by offering Himself to me in the midst of my struggle, patiently enduring my immaturity and lovingly encouraging me to continue to walk forward in the newness of life He gave me, all the while never condemning me.  This is what Jesus came to do– to save, not condemn.  There is a day of judgment, but until that time, He will continue to uplift, exhort, help, encourage, comfort, and extend mercy to us as we turn to Him. His mercy does triumph over judgment to the broken and contrite heart.

“Mercy triumphs over judgment.”  James 2:13

“A broken and a contrite heart–these O God, You will not despise.”  Psalm 51:17

In the midst of a struggle with our flesh, the words of the bible can often sound condemning, especially as we see our own weaknesses and inadequacies spread across the pages.  The enemy will often allow the words of truth to pinpoint all of our failures, cornering us to feel that God is upset, distant, and waiting for us to pull it together.  I’ve often fell prey to such attack of the enemy. As I’ve come to see, this revelation that Jesus is the Servant of servants shatters the false understanding of what He thinks and feels towards us as we struggle with sin.  If we turn to Him in our weakness and brokenness, rather than casting us away, Jesus is there to guide us out of sin– to fill us with His love, to give us wisdom to learn from our mistakes.  Though He could have every right to point out all of our mistakes and hold us to account, at this time, He offers His hand to help us walk away from our destructive ways that we might learn to be like Him.

“If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.”  Psalm 130:3

While the enemy wants to list off all of our failures, God releases forgiveness if we come to Him.  As we receive His mercy as a free gift, our hearts are drawn to Him to follow Him.  It’s the revelation of His mercy that moves our hearts the most and we desire to live for Him wholly, for who else has loved like this?  It’s absolutely astounding when He releases His love upon our hearts when in reality He could punish us severely.  He makes Himself available to us to come and get help when we need it, just as Isaiah 55:6-7 and Hebrews 4:16 declares.  He has given us time to come to Him to turn away from our sin, that we might receive His mercy.

There is not any place that we can go that He will not be, ready to help us out of the “pit we dig for ourselves.”  His hand is always extended towards us if we need help.  The question is, will we take it?

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?  If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”  Psalm 139:7-10

There is no depth that we can go to that Jesus is not there, ready to forgive us if we turn from our ways.  He is always, always there, extending His hand to save a soul that is drowning in its own ways of destruction.  There is likewise no person that Jesus has not made Himself available to serve.  His blood was shed on behalf of every single person that was ever born in this age.

Meditating on Jesus as the Servant of servants secures my heart in His love as I see that He has come to serve first.  He wants me to receive His forgiveness, His service towards me, that I might be made great.  King David testified that it was God’s gentleness that made him great (Psalm 18:35). Jesus continues to do that for us today as we humble ourselves before Him.

This revelation also creates a patience for others.  There is simply no person on earth who God will not forgive and serve over and over again by guiding them into His ways unto everlasting life.  There is no person too insignificant, too lowly, or too lost.  Jesus is the Servant of servants, and He labors to make us like Him that we might experience the fullness of life now, unto eternal glory in the age to come.

Relationships: An Opportunity (and Necessity!) to Put on the New Man

In the midst of relationships, the negative seeds of sin from our old nature crop up…often more than we would like.  It can be really discouraging if you realize there is anger, bitterness, jealousy and judgment within you (but no human is exempt from it), but it does afford the opportunity to taste of what Jesus truly died for.  We all were born into a sinful race– descendants of Adam and Eve (1 Corinthians 15:22).  But Jesus, the second Adam, gave us a new nature, a sinless nature by the power of His Holy Spirit (Romans 5:15-17).  It takes time, but we are learning how to “put off the old man that grows corrupt” and rather “put on the new man who was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness.”  (Ephesians 4:22-24).  The more we take on this charge, we will enjoy greater fellowship in our relationships because we will relate to one another not based in sin but in holiness and righteousness, putting love first.

Jesus is uncompromising about us being transformed into His likeness; about us putting off our old man and being holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Thus sometimes, when He speaks to us, He speaks words to correct false paradigms or ideologies we hold– He speaks to confront sin.  He does so not out of frustration or hatred towards us, but rather as an invitation to hear truth and turn from our sinful ways so that we can truly live.  Let’s look at an example from Luke 12:13-15:

“Then one from the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’  But He said to him, ‘Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’  And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’”

A man came up to Jesus and beckoned Him, “Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (vs. 13).  In Jewish tradition, the firstborn received a double portion of the inheritance as a right (see Deuteronomy 21:15-17).  For many families, this law probably created many negative relational dynamics.  This man sought Jesus to change his brother’s life for his own benefit.  Latent within this demand was entanglements of sin, and Jesus saw it.

What could have been this man’s inner dialogue, and for how long could he have been upset about his brother’s inheritance?  “It’s not right that my brother receive the inheritance and not I.  Why should he prosper and not me?”  His desire for what was “fair” revealed that he was concerned about the difference between their earthly possessions.  He was focused on what they owned.

Such was his discontent that this man abruptly interjected his demand upon Jesus in the midst of hearing Jesus speak about the fear of God (12:4-7) and about the great reward of those who remain faithful to the Son of Man in this age (12:8-10).  Yet that was of no concern to him– his main tension in life was seeing his brother receive a greater portion than himself– his life was bound up in what he possessed and it brought him great displeasure to see his brother receive more.

Surely this great Teacher whom the multitudes were following would be able to resolve his issue.  Yet Jesus offered no sympathy for this man.  Rather, he directed him to see the source of his discontent was sin; it was covetousness.  He longed to own what was not rightfully his, and it brought him much unhappiness.  The words passed down for so many generations of “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house;…nor anything that is your neighbor’s” (Ex. 20:17) were of little importance to him.  He was not concerned about eternal life, righteousness, holiness, or hearing about the Father (which is what Jesus came to testify of); he sought better circumstances for his life.  It was through his relationship with his brother–relationship– that the sinful intents of his heart were laid bare.  Jesus corrected him to reveal that He did not come to arbitrate disputes based upon sin (vs. 14). He rather came to call us each individually to righteousness, because its as individuals that we will all be judged and accountable for our own works.  He’s confronting our own sinful attitudes and desires in the midst of relationships, a context where the negative seeds of sin crop up, and gives us an opportunity to put off our old man and put on the new to lead us to eternal life.

A Hope that Causes us to Celebrate!

As a young child, I really don’t remember thinking too much of Christmas other than presents.  In recent years, and especially this year, I’m realizing how truly profound it is that we celebrate Christmas.  Has secular society grabbed a hold of it, altered its meaning, even causing confusion in our own hearts?  Yes.  For a while I didn’t even want to celebrate Christmas because it seemed it was “just about presents,” even to Christians.  In light of so many things happening in our nation and in our world, I actually desire to celebrate Christmas, because we are celebrating the reason we have HOPE.  As this age comes to a close and a new age dawns in which Jesus is fully established as King, we will more and more need to be anchored in the hope that God the Father released when He sent His Son Jesus to the earth.

The hope that we have is not in governmental systems, its not in new social programs or in greater economic prosperity.  The hope that we have in Christ is both laid up in our future, but it is also very present today.  This is a reason to celebrate, and the immensity of His love fills our hearts when we connect with the real hope we have in Him.  Whispering “thank you” as we connect to what He has done, both now and in eternity, fills our hearts with a most blessed wave of His presence.  These are most precious moments, and available as we set our minds to think upon Him in the midst of the feasting, the presents, and family (all wonderful things too!).

Today we have hope.  Because Jesus came into the world, lived a sinless life, died for our sins and was raised to new life again, we have hope today.  As He ascended into the heights of heaven to take His stand by the Father, He offered His blood upon the altar in heaven, an offering that forever cleanses us of our sins if we believe it as our only source of salvation (Hebrews 9:24, 28).  And as Jesus stood before the Father, He asked Him to send the Holy Spirit to the earth, to pour out the Spirit of Grace and Truth upon the us, that we might forever be connected to the Father as His beloved children.  Jesus wanted the Father to send that which He promised, the Holy Spirit, who would give us new life and guarantee us to have everlasting life in the new age (Acts 1:4; Eph. 1:13-14 ).  And it’s because His Spirit abides in us and we’ve been given new life that we can come to the Father directly, in the fullness of His presence and love.

As children of God, we have direct access to the Father, any time, any day.  It’s the secret place (Matt. 6:6).  The Father desired to have an intimate place of communion with those called by His name.  When we were still dead in our sins, we had no access to God.  Because Jesus came, covered us in His blood, He ushered us back in to the presence of the Father, today.  And each day, because we can commune and have fellowship with Him, we can learn from Him and be made new.  After accepting Jesus as our salvation, we are to journey with Him to be transformed into who He made us to be apart from sin.   I’ve seen some of the depths of my own sin and depravity–His death covers that, and His Spirit gives me new life to live by that I can turn from my old ways. This is a reason to celebrate.  This is a reason to say “thank You,” and have hope.

The hope we have in Christ is not just for today, it is for a glorious future beyond compare.  In all of human history, there has been no government or kingdom that has brought forth peace that endures and alleviated every issue of social justice, yet Jesus promises to do just that.  He is King of the nations, the King of kings and Lord of lords, and He promises to return to the earth to establish peace (Rev. 19:16; Isaiah 9:7).   As He stands to return to the earth on behalf of the poor (Psalm 12:5), He will come to establish His throne in righteousness (Psalm 45:6-7).    To those who have chosen to love Him in this age, He has great rewards to bestow upon them– He has an inheritance of riches that will never grow old, rot, rust, or be taken away (1 Peter 1:3-5; Matt. 6:19-21).  This is a reason to celebrate, this is a reason to say, “thank You,” and have hope.

Jesus first advent is a reason to hope, and a reason to celebrate!  Today we can commune with a loving, all-powerful Father who will help us overcome our sin and flesh.  As we say yes to His leadership in our lives and choose to love Him, when He comes again and give us a place in His kingdom and an inheritance that we do not deserve.  It’s actually His good pleasure to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32).  We just have to be diligent to take our eyes off what is before us and talk to Him about what He has done for us and what He will do for us.  He has given us a reason to hope.  He has given us a reason to celebrate this Christmas season, to worship Him as the King He truly is.

I pray you will be filled with hope and peace this Christmas as you usher in the New Year!

The Compassion of Our Great Physician


The thing that the Lord is continually impressing upon my heart is about His goodness.  I believe that while most of us know in our minds that God is good, kind, tender, and gentle, the way that we live reveals we believe that He is not.  I know that I have, but that is why the Lord continues to show me, in various ways, that the opposite is true.

The other day as I read, He brought this question to my mind:  “What do you think when you see a person who you know is in sin?”  He was asking me to begin to understand and pay attention to the thoughts that go through my mind when I look upon one who I know is walking contrary to the Lord’s will and ways…when I hear the harshness a mother speaks to a child in the store; when I see a woman walking hand in hand with another woman exposing her choice of another woman as a mate; when I see a drunkard, a teen speaking profanities; when I see a person with road rage who cuts me off…what are the thoughts that go through my mind?  And He was asking me about what I think when I see other people in sin, but then it was as if He turned the question to me and said, “what do you think about you, when you know you are disobedient to My will and ways?”  And I realized that when I know I have messed up, I turn to self-hatred, frustration, and anger towards myself, and I hide in shame from God.  While I have said I know God is kind, my thoughts towards myself reveal I believe the opposite to be true.

He began showing me that the same way that I treat myself in my sin is the same way that I look upon others in their sin.  Even though that is a horrifying thought, because we all like to think we “love others so well,” the fact remains that we are commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:17).  But if I am filled with hatred towards myself because of the things I mess up in life, how could I look upon my neighbor with compassion when they mess up?  If I am angry at myself in my sin, I must be angry at my neighbor too, for we can only love others to the extent that we love ourselves in the grace of God.

He then brought my attention to the scripture where He said, “only the sick are in need of a physician,” (Matt. 9:12), speaking of the “sinners” of His day whom the Pharisees were condemning.  And with that it was like a light-bulb went off in my heart– “Oh my goodness God.  Sin is a sickness, and You are the physician who heals me.  You want to heal me of My sickness, not condemn me for it.  You look upon my in my sin with compassion, as a sick person lying on a sickbed, unable to live. You came to heal my sickness of sin, not condemn me for it.

My own response to my sin revealed the way in which I perceived what He thinks about sinners, about what He thinks about me when I am not living the way I know I should.  But He’s calling me to see Him differently and to understand the depths of His compassion towards me, towards us sinners. He truly does look upon us in our sin as if we are sick and in need of healing.  He has never looked upon a “sinner” with hatred and condemned them.  He came to save (John 3:17).  In fact, when His disciples wanted to call fire down from heaven upon a city that did not accept Him, He forbid them and told them they were not walking according to the spirit of God and said “the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:51-56).  He comes to heal, save, redeem, set-aright; not to condemn, hate, destroy, or kill.    When we touch this truth, it drastically changes the way we think and feel about ourselves, and the way we respond to our brokenness.  And in turn, it changes the way we speak to others when we see them doing things that are not right, and my even be the catalyst for us to extend our hand to help them or encourage them in the Lord rather than say “I can’t believe they could do that!” We will see them through His eyes of mercy, that they are in need of healing, and that He has a heart of compassion towards them.

Sin is a sickness that we all have, but He comes to set us free from that sickness and not reprimand us for it.  He delivers us from our sin because He has delight in us, and has compassion on our weaknesses because He remembers that we are merely dust (1 Sam. 22:20, Ps. 103:8-14).  If we turn to Him, He will bring us into freedom and prosperity, its only if we rebel against the love and kindness that He offers us freely that we will be left wandering in a dry desert that has no rest (Psalm 68:6).

Just as God brought more awareness to what I truly think about when I see myself or another in sin, I encourage all to begin to pay attention to the thoughts that go through your mind in either instance.  It will reveal something important to you:  it will reveal if you believe God to be angry, harsh, judgmental and critical towards you, or compassionate, ready to heal, patient, and kind towards you.  It’s an issue of great importance, because in the ages to come Jesus is actually going to unfold the ways in which He is kind towards us…for eternity (Ephesians 2:7).  He’s that kind, that for eternity He can reveal the depths of His kindness.  Its unending.   Only the servant who believed the master to be cruel and harsh did not enter into the joy of the master (Matt. 25:24-30).  I don’t know about you, but I want to enter into the joy of the Lord!  And that means I have to really know and believe that the Lord is kind, and my thoughts and responses to myself and others will reveal what I truly believe.

As I’ve allowed the truth of His kindness to be my first thought about Him, I see myself differently, I see others differently, and more than that, I feel differently.  The knowledge of God brings eternal life (John 17:3), and as we begin to agree with the truth of God, we become transformed and become more like Him.  Let’s go after His kindness and have Him reveal it to us now again and again, because its what He is going to do…for eternity!  Might as well start that now!

Encountering Jesus in the Gospels


“And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum.”  Matthew 4:13

Who would think that God could move a heart  to love over a statement so simple?

The gospels are beautiful because in them contain the very movements of God.  Sometimes its upon the small verses, often overlooked, seemingly superfluous, that the Spirit breaths upon, opening up a well of love and devotion from the human heart. While it is easy to think of the gospels as mere information, chronicles of Jesus’ life; if we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit we will see something vastly different.  As we read, the Spirit testifies of the length of love, the certainty of commitment, and the depth of devotion that the Father displayed as He brought His only Son into the world.

Rather than simply reading “And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum,” (Matthew 4:13) and acquiring a base knowledge of what Jesus did, the Spirit may speak to your heart “Jesus walked upon this earth for you.  God allowed Himself to feel the pains of travel to reveal His mercy to you.”  Wow!  .  He spoke that to me the other day, and all I could do was cry.

You see, God didn’t have to do any of the things that He has done.  To a world that often accuses and despises Him (um, I’m not discounting myself in that), He did not have to dwell in human flesh, redeem the human experience and give us the opportunity to be catapulted into a new kingdom. God never had to experience pain, or even enter in to time.  He didn’t have to die the death we deserve in order to forever be in the light of His presence and love.  He didn’t have to…but He did.  And thus when we read the gospels, more than just knowing the facts about Jesus’ life, we can begin to gaze upon the very mercy of God.  Every act that is recorded about Jesus’ life reveals His mercy.  When we can see that He chose to come and live as a human when He was accustomed to the heights of heaven, full of glory, light, and love, His footsteps on earth begin to look different.  He made a sacrifice not just ot die for us, but also to live for us.

Is there anything special about “and leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum?”  No.  It is a very simple fact about what Jesus did.  But through it the Spirit speaks to our hearts in ways that make us understand the love of God.  The Spirit brings us to Jesus and testifies of Him as we engage with the written word of God.  And the gospels, more than any other place in Scripture, literally detail the movements of God in the person of His Son.  Jesus said Himself that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father (John 14:9).  The gospels provide a pool to saturate ourselves in, seeing every movement of Jesus’ life, allowing us to understand that He not only died for us, but He lived for us too.  Its in the small verses that are often overlooked that the Spirit may surprise us and allow us to encounter Jesus’ love.