Take chances. Abandon all the rules. Ditch the recipe. Color outside the lines.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oldest Trick in the Book

Today’s topic is how Satan works.  I grew up in church and my mindset about Satan was always that he tempted us with those really awful sins that you hear about all the time like murder, adultery, and theft.  Those were all the things that I was taught to be aware of and run from because, you know, those were quick ways to end up in hell!

When I hit high school I learned that Satan used three basic temptations; lust of the eyes (What looks good), lust of the flesh (what feels good), and the pride of life.  From this education I formed an idea of how I thought Satan operated and thought I had figured out most of his tricks. Oh… but he was much craftier than that!

Recently, I’ve been discussing and looking at Adam and Eve in the garden.  If you look at how Satan operated in the garden it gives a lot of insight into how he likes to work.  Eve is in the garden and the first thing the serpent says is, “Wow, so God told you not to eat from ANY of the trees?!”  and of course Eve corrects him (she is a woman after all) and tells him they can eat of any tree but that big one in the middle, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Here’s the part where he gets really tricky!  Then he says, “Well, the real reason God told you not to eat that is because He knows that it will make you like him!”  As we all know, that’s when Eve takes the bait. 

I don’t blame her really, of course she wanted to be like God! Who wouldn’t?!  Here’s the kicker though… she already was!! She hung out with him on a daily basis!  She literally had the insider trading secrets on what he was all about!  Satan tempted her with something she already had!

Guess what?  He is pulling the exact same con today!  His temptations aren’t in things like lying, sleeping around, getting drunk, stealing, and murder.  Those are just the symptoms of something far more destructive.  Today, he tells us, we have to do more things to get more from God; that we have to live perfect lives to get favor from God. 


We already have the full favor of God through Christ!  He already sees us as perfect, holy, and lovely!  It’s not about what we do or how good of a Christian we are that day that makes us right with him; if that were the case then Jesus died for nothing! 

Do you see how slick Satan is?   Don’t let him fool you!  We walk hand in hand with God every day.  We have the full opportunity to get everything we need from him.  There is no judgment because you have already been judged by Christ’s sacrifice!

It's an easy lie to believe because, honestly, we don't deserve any of that!  I mean to think that we are called sons and daughters by the creator of the universe; that the one who should throw us aside because of our crimes against him instead embraces us; that he calls us holy; well... that's crazy! That's the beauty of grace, it makes life a little crazy and at the same time so wonderful.  Don't let Satan use that desire to be close to God make you forget that you already are.  Let your desire for him bring you peace in him and not fear of him. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Peter in Me

Recently we have been going through a series with the youth about Jesus’s walk to the cross going hour by hour all the way up to the crucifixion.  This week we talked about Jesus and Peter’s interaction.  This got me to thinking about Peter.

I’ve always loved him and found plenty of ways to relate to him.  Peter was always that guy who let his mouth get him in trouble.  He was known for correcting Jesus, talking out of turn, being a smartass, being quick to fight, and many times being doubtful of whether or not Jesus really knew what he was talking about.

Yet, out of the twelve disciples, Jesus chose him to be one of his inner three, his closest friend.  I often wondered why it was that Jesus chose to do that.  I mean, Peter, had to be a handful always mouthing off or correcting Jesus like he knew better.  Still, Jesus held him close and called him the rock he would build his church on.

That is very cool to me!

See, I’m Peter.  I let my mouth run without thinking, I let my sailor tongue wag without censorship, I correct God all the time somehow thinking I know how to handle things better.  I’m sure I would have been the one to declare my unyielding loyalty to Jesus and then, a few hours later, run away with my tails between my legs in his darkest hour.

What is encouraging to me is the  fact that Jesus really loves people like me and Peter!  He holds us close and calls us out to be leaders in his revolution.  Where others see a hot head Jesus sees passion and excitement at change.

You know, right after Peter denied Jesus 3 times and the rooster crowed (randomly at 3am) the Bible says that Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter.  He looked at him not with anger or sadness or disappointment.  He looked at him with love and forgiveness sparkling from the tears in his eyes.  I know this because he looks at me that same way.

Many times I have failed him and many more will come and every time he looks at me with eyes of understanding.  Eyes that drive me to chase after him with all the power in my being.  I can imagine that day when Peter heard from the women of Jesus’s empty tomb, as he took off in full sprint to see for himself, that look replayed in his mind.  I am proud to be a Peter, not for who I am, but for who He has made me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Eu Amo Amor

I’m a pretty passionate person.  I know that’s a huge shocker to most of you out there since I so rarely get fired up about anything! *ahem* Most of the time my passion is a great thing.  It drives me to accomplish my goals, keeps me focused, makes me a very dependable friend, and causes me to hold strongly to what I believe. 

However, my passion can also be a bad thing.  There are times where my passion for truth makes me overlook the need for mercy.  Other times, like the most recent one, my passion for serving others and helping the hurting makes me forget to take care of myself too. 

My whole life I have been that one that held things together.  I was the strong one that everything came to with their problems.  I would gladly take up my sword to defend the weak.  My armor glistened with power while I hid behind it and fell apart.  I convinced myself that if I hid my pain well enough then it couldn't possibly hurt me… I was very wrong. 

My hidden pain turned into addiction, drove me to depression, haunted my dreams, and even caused me to have physical panic attacks that could have been very deadly.  I’m much healthier now.  On my journey to sobriety, I learned how to face my struggles and how to talk to other people about what was going on inside me.   Then, when I started learning about grace and seeing God with this completely new outlook of Him being pleased with me it further aided in my healing. 

So there I was, thinking I was healthy, strong, ready to take on anything… then this week hits.  I recently lost my job pretty unfairly and I have done pretty much everything trying to find a new job with no success.  So I’m living with my parents, while they support me again which already makes me stressed out because I want to take care of myself!  Well, they aren't wealthy people either, and this week my dad’s truck broke down and they have no money to fix it.  I couldn't help but feel like their lack of money was my fault. I stressed out about it all week which caused me to lose large amounts of sleep.  My poor boyfriend has been facing some stress in his job as well and I try to do my best to be there for him and support him too. 

Then comes this weekend, which consisted of plenty of ministry opportunities, they bring me joy and also provide wonderful distractions from my stress while simultaneously using lots of my energy without me really knowing how much.  All of this leads up to Sunday night. 

After getting only 3 hours of sleep the night before, I spent the day traveling and serving a ministry about an hour and a half from my home.  That night I had to go to a meeting for yet another ministry.  I had no idea how exhausted I was until I actually sat down with my very large cup of coffee.  I tried desperately to focus and push the unrelenting fact of total exhaustion from my mind. 

As the seconds clicked away I began to realize I had absolutely no gas left in my emotional or mental gas tanks.  I had a hard time even understanding what was being said in the meeting and I frustrated everyone around me.  I broke down.  Tears streamed down my face and I had no way of stopping them.  I just wanted to run.  It was probably the worst moment ever to have a breakdown. 

I hate those moments.  How do I tell people I need to leave, how do I escape that moment without looking like a total jerk? How do I explain that I need to get somewhere safe because all I want to do right then is drink myself into a coma?  How do you explain that to someone? 

I didn't realize it but I had started to break out that armor again.  Only this time it was studded with service and genuine love for others that caused me to forget about myself and not deal with the stress polluting my nights and exhaustion plaguing my days.  Then came the breakdown.  Where I had the armor ripped away from me revealing the shaking broken person hiding beneath it. 

Then something wonderful happened!  For the first time in my life, when I was exposed and vulnerable, I was taken care of.  My two best friends on this planet reached in with words of love and reminders that it’s ok to fall apart sometimes.  They reminded me that I don’t always have to be strong and that they are there to lean on.  It was so incredibly comforting I really can’t put into words what it meant to me. 

What is the point, you may ask, to this whole story?  My point is this:  There are hurting people in this world, some that look and act strong, but when they go home they fall apart.  There is only one thing that can heal them, the one thing that healed me.  It’s not about playing 20 questions to get the root of their pain, it’s not about giving them a list of things they can do to better their life, it’s just simply reaching out and loving them. 

Just one wordless hug, thoughtful text, purposeful smile, or random call… that’s all it takes.  To my wonderful friends who continually remind me of how truly loved I am, thank you.  You will forever hold a special place and my heart.  Here’s to living life to love like crazy!