April 23, 2009

brace yourself

k, for this one - make sure you listen to the actual song. click on the title.


i often only think in terms of my specific circumstance. you might say i suffer from a serious case of tunnel vision. i am bound, as we all are, for this time to an imperfect context. my spirit's innocence to unabashedly encounter God's love is clouded and tainted by all my 21 years of living as a broken, near-sighted individual. i often don't consider that the love offered in Jesus isn't overwhelmed by the same rules or boundaries or context in which i exist. i can't wrap my head around it, really. i'm in awe, and i'm thankful that Jesus' love, which is freely given, and frees. it's an empowering love.

Jesus lived the message of his love as he broke some "rules" society had in place. Jesus went out of his way to show that he came to love us. there are many examples...

Jesus welcomed children, and told the disciples not to barricade them from coming into his presence. I imagine they just wanted to run right up and sit on his knee, be as close as they could possibly get to 'the action' as he told stories about seeds and weeds. I imagine if my desire was to be as close to Him as those kids wanted to be, I would know better the safety and rest of his welcoming arms.

Matthew 19:14 "Leave the children alone! Allow the little ones to come to Me, and do not forbid or restrain or hinder them, for of such [as these] is the kingdom of heaven composed."

Jesus also made it abundantly clear while on earth that he had come to love, heal and save those who had no hope, those who needed healing, justice and mercy. Simon Peter, Jesus' little rock, who denied knowing Jesus three times needed Jesus' abounding grace (Matt. 26:75). The woman who loved much was forgiven much (Mark 14). Zaccheus, the tax collector, needed to repent and repay to know new life (Luke 19). Thomas, though he doubted, believed was saved from his unbelief (John 20). The blind would see, and the lame walked (John 9:25; Mark 2:9). Those who had been cast out with leprosy joined society anew (Matt. 8:2-3). Another woman reached out to Jesus and in her faith, was healed of her bleeding (Luke 8:48). We need love, and it has been supplied in great abundance through Jesus death and life so that God can love us.

His love is powerful enough to 'eclipse our afflictions' with His its glory. He is complete love. He has shown all-encompassing, over-flowing, gracious, merciful, freeing love. He doesn't forget, doesn't need to ask for forgiveness, doesn't fail, and won't quit. There's hope and matchless beauty in the restorative way He loves us. Marvel in it. Enjoy it.

The powerful reminder that we're "drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes" reminds me that it's with grace and love that we are to introduce others to Jesus' love. We, all of us (not ONE excluded!), are not going to be strong enough for ocean of grace He pours over us... if we face it, we're going to sink in it's overwhelming power! (Something not too awful to be 'caught up' in!)

Like me, you probably don't need to be told to 'brace yourself'. I think many of us live in a sufficiently "braced" state. As you take it in, let the message of this Love be the agent of grace that loosens those binds and calls you from out of whatever has kept you alone, hiding.

You're accepted. You're welcomed in. You're loved. You're beautiful. You're free.

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Deutoronomy 4:24 "For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God."

1 Corinthians 13:10 "... but when Perfection comes, the imperfect disappears..."

1 John 4:10 "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins."

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How He Loves Us - Kim Walker

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight
of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by Glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great your affections are for me

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us so...

Yeah, He loves us, oh,
How He loves us, oh
How He loves us, oh,
How He loves

We are His portion
And He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way

He loves us, oh,
How He loves us, oh
How He loves us, oh,
How He loves

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* my favourite line is: 'So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss'. God has gone to far more ridiculous, real, and tangible measures to make His love known to us!!

April 13, 2009

love's perfect gift

"This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down His life for us." 1 John 3:16

Easter's beautiful. One weekend is such a journey: from the great sacrifice and message of Jesus' blood to 'He is Risen! He is Risen, indeed!' and celebration on Sunday/Monday! I have been reminded this weekend of the fact that God's offer of rescue was not a secret plan that would provide a way for me to reciprocate the same love God has shown me. His plan was for a 'forever' kind of relationship. He has always been interested in reaching out to me.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4: I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.

Love came down and bridged the gap for those who believe, receive and accept the gift of the cross. First, God created me for relationship with Him, then, Jesus came to live an example in a life of perfection and death in my place so my sins could be wiped out. Over and over, I forget what the cost was for Love to come down and reach me.

I can't keep up with that kind of love. He's perfect, and so is how he loves me. I can never wander out too far. I can never be outside the realm of His love. Today I am reminded that I am protected, pursued and profoundly loved.

1. 'all for love a Father gave'
John 3:16 "God loved the world so very, very much that he gave his only Son. Because he did that, everyone who believes in him will not lose his life, but will live for ever."

2. 'only Love can make a way'
Hebrews 9:26 "Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself."
Matthew 26:28 "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."

3. 'you forgive if only i ask'
Hebrews 10:15-23 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:
"This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds."
Then he adds:
"Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."
And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Psalm 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

4. 'all for love a Saviour prayed: "Abba Father, have your way"'
Mark 14: 35-46 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

5. 'the enemy has been defeated, death couldn't hold [God] down'
1 Corinthians 15:54-58 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.


ALL FOR LOVE/SHOUT UNTO GOD (by: Mia Fields)
All for love a Father gave
For only love can make a way
All for love the heavens cried
For Love was crucified

Oh, how many times have i broken Your heart
Still you forgive if only I ask
And how many times have you heard me pray
Draw near to me

Everything i need is You
My beginning, my forever
Everything I need is You

Let me sing all for love
I will join the angels' song
Ever holy is the Lord
King of glory, King of all

Oh, how many times have i broken Your heart
Still you forgive if only I ask
And how many times have you heard me pray
Draw near to me

Everything I need is You
My beginning, my forever
Everything I need is You

All for love a Saviour prayed
"Abba Father have your way,
Though they know not what they do
Let the cross draw men to You"

Everything I need is You
My beginning, my forever
Everything I need is You

The enemy has been defeated
Death couldn't hold You down
We're gonna lift our voice in victory
We're gonna make your praises loud

Shout unto God with a voice of triumph
Shout unto God with a voice of praise
Shout unto God with a voice of trumph
We lift Your name up
We lift Your name up

...............................................................

You are victorious, God. Thank you, Father, for making a way for us to know Your love. how wide, how deep, how high.... how immeasurable... how beautiful... how complete, how wonderful, how lovely, how mighty... is YOUR LOVE. i'm drawn in, i'm overcome. Amen.
...............................................................

Hebrews 12:1-3 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

April 1, 2009

mighty to save (me)

Israel's Joy & Restoration (Zephaniah 3:14-20)
14Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15The LORD has taken away His judgments against you,
He has cleared away your enemies
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
You will fear disaster no more.
16In that day it will be said to Jerusalem:
"Do not be afraid, O Zion;
Do not let your hands fall limp.
17"The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
18"I will gather those who grieve about the appointed feasts--
They came from you, O Zion;
The reproach of exile is a burden on them.
19"Behold, I am going to deal at that time
With all your oppressors,
I will save the lame
And gather the outcast,
And I will turn their shame into praise and renown
In all the earth.
20"At that time I will bring you in,
Even at the time when I gather you together;
Indeed, I will give you renown and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I restore your fortunes before your eyes,"
Says the LORD.

The good news is: God is in the business of moving mountains.

We're talkin' the knitty-gritty, dig-down-deep, get-dirty, up-close-and-personal, we're-in-this-together kind of healing. He's interested in restoring joy and providing for all my needs, great and small. I believe that He is able, and He has promised to be faithful as I navigate through the hills and valleys of my hopes, dreams, plans and realities. I guess my "mountains" could be summarized in the ongoing dialogue of obstacles and trials, fears and regrets that have shown up as piles of discouragement and lies that I believe about myself, my circumstance, my past failures and my future plans.

We often need to be saved from the lies we believe. If you were to be 'droppin some eaves' on a conversation between my friend Kate and I, you would be blessed (as I am) to be reminded that as a child of the King, we can proceed with confidence in whatever trials or circumstances, big or small we can "expect to be warmly received". Not only are we received with the compassion of a Saviour, but we are strengthened as we hold on to to Truth that our God, who is a VICTORIOUS warrior, has some elaborate plans for us and is constantly at work in dispelling the lies we cling to and giving life to the dreams, peace and passions He's given us. We can be confident: we have nothing to fear.

Ezekiel 37:26-28 "I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people. And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forever."

Luke 12:32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

I'm glad this next song was written. In the middle of last summer, on a day of rest... at a worship time effectively named "Oasis", I was blessed once again by this song, believing the promise that my Friend, God, Saviour has made it so he can run the business of moving my mountains and providing a way for all of my needs to be met - for no other reason but because of His care, compassion and love for me.

I read this verse today, and was encouraged by the picture of God's outpouring of blessing, according to His plan:

Zechariah 10:1 "Ask rain from the LORD in the season of spring rain, from the LORD who makes the storm clouds, and he will given them showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field."

Mighty to work. Mighty to provide. Mighty to love. Mighty to give freely. Mighty to show grace and compassion. Mighty to restore. Mighty to save.


MIGHTY TO SAVE (Hillsong United)

Everyone needs compassion,
A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations

Saviour, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

Saviour, He can move the mountains
My God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Forever, Author of Salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

Shine Your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King Jesus


Luke 24:38-39
And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have."

Acts 18:9
"Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you..."