About itreallyisgoodnews

Wife, Mother, Musician, Beauty Hunter, Ragamuffin (:

Sacrifice or No Brainer

I think most of us would agree, the things most valuable in this world are the things that cost us the most.  Whether it’s fine jewelry, nice cars, pursuing a dream, learning an instrument or a new skill; these things have cost associated.  Some cost money, others time, energy or courage.  The Word of God says it’s quite similar when it comes to kingdom things.  He speaks of searching for “wisdom as hidden treasure” and says to “look for it as for silver.” (proverbs 2:4)

I think we sometimes get a warped message when it comes to the cost of following Jesus.  We’re often prone to focus on what we have to sacrifice.  But, the other side of this coin has to do with what we gain.

Jesus Himself told a story to illustrate the point:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44-46)

Notice, the man “sold all he had”.  And that is often the part I have paid the most attention.  However, a light has recently been coming on for me.  Why would the man sell all he had unless….unless the treasure was worth more than everything he had?!

So many times in my relationship with God, I have focused on how much I needed to sacrifice.  I think God is helping me begin to see Himself and His ways in a brighter light; This God we seek and worship is the God who “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all– how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”(Romans 8:32)  This God is One who is abundant and needs nothing.  He can’t be outdone or outgiven.  Just like the man in Jesus’ story– did it really cost him something or was it a no-brainer?!  Give what I have to get something better?

I love that on the scales of our relationship with God, the weight is always tipping completely to His side.  He is the Initiator, the Sustainer, and the Finisher.  There is no comparison when it comes to what we give and what He gives.

I know that there are areas of my heart that I haven’t grasped this concept (I haven’t gotten the word from God that He’s done working on me).  There are things of lesser value I hold onto because I just can’t see the greater treasure in that area yet.

Then there other areas, where I have “tasted and seen that the Lord is good”.(Ps. 34:8)  Where I have seen the prize and done what was necessary to get there.  I have a feeling I’m not alone.  So, I’m praying for me…and I’ll pray for you too, that God- in His grace and mercy- will continue to get this message to deeper and broader places in our hearts so that we will know that what He calls us to spend, give up, or leave cannot even compare with what we will gain.  I pray we will value that which is truly valuable.

Isaiah 55:1-3

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.  Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?  Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.”

Action steps:

Between you and God, are there areas where you could begin to spend more of yourself, your money, your time, your energy to gain something of greater value?  Prayer? Studying God’s Word?  Seeking out Christian Fellowship?  Investing your life into someone?

Or, is there a dream God has put into your heart that you have been afraid to attempt for fear of failure or even not thinking you could have it?  Perhaps you can begin to give up fear for courage? Invest more into your talents and using them to serve and multiply and bring glory to God?  Give up self-reliance, worry, and fear for greater dependence, trust, and joy in Christ?  Others God is speaking to you?

Don’t be afraid to step out into the dreams God has put into your heart for His glory and the joy of all people in Him (that includes you!!)

Joshua 1:9

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

The Most Important Thing

The older I get, the truer it rings:
“These three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Yes, the older I get, the more I experience this Truth; how everything comes from and back to love. 
   This Easter, we remember everything God did for love;  everything He has said and done to  replace the guilty conscience for the clean, the broken, empty identity of self for the opportunity to find our identity in the Savior himself.
   For this post, I do not desire to write long, but to share the most powerful, life-transforming truth I’ve ever known:
The Creator of all things, life itself,  l-o-v-e-s  y-o-u.  I spelled it out because, if you’re anything like me, it’s those seemingly simple truths that we hear all the time that seem to evade our hearts and minds sometimes. 
This Easter,  may I remind you, pray that you remember?  “No greater love has any man than he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
You. Are. Loved.
Come to Jesus, He’s still the Way.
Rest in His love, it is more than enough. 

Really Giving up for Lent

And though the day started off alright, it was quite apparent that ego plans, organized calendars and thoughts… and perfect… would not have much say.

It began, right from the beginning.  The thanks for day He made; but then the grasping for the day I wanted, thought I was supposed to have.

It’s not that I wanted a bad thing, not that I was seeking some evil to pursue.

It’s just that, it was always there, right there with me, just like Paul said.

I had said, “okay, watch me be flexible!– watch me walk in grace through this day that throws out my plans!”  Then I scheme about how to really make it alright.

So the new plan was underway: the taxes, the tires, the truck, the exercise…at least I could do that…And just, please.. the Ash Wednesday service.  I need that.  I need it because I need every reminder I can get about Who He is and what He’s done and how I fit in it all. I need to learn and re-learn this ancient story, to get it into my very bones.  I need to know how to tell the world, how to serve and love. This mortality, This Grace.

One weird experience after another is how it was today.  The taxes were weird.  The truck search was dissatisfying.  The tires took way. too. long.

At the end, we were tired and hungry and 15 minutes from home and no Ash Wednesday service because the tires took so long.   And I’m wondering why we couldn’t make it.  Why the plans that we made instead of the plans we had didn’t add up to us making it.    And I’m wondering where the grace is when you don’t make it.

Now I remember, “weird” is just a feeling that happens when I forget Christ. is. with. me.  When I think I need a special service to have grace.  And if I forget that, then it feels like the twilight zone.  I tell my family I’m disappointed and sad that we wouldn’t make it in time, how I’m not sure why it happened and how I needed it.

I’m thinking God is saying something through this, too.

This God who isn’t silent.

God whose glory is absolutely incapable of being hidden or lost by missing the Ash Wednesday service or missing perfect.

I read about it on the computer, the symbolism of the Day. Ask Him to help me know what to give up for Lent, and I’m thinking He just wants me to give. up.  Give up fear of failure.  Give up fear of rejection.  Give up the need to be something I am not. again.  Give up the mask.  Give up every identity that is not immersed in Christ.  Give up anything I think saves me besides Christ.

And I ask Him what monumental, world -saving task to take on and it’s beginning to seem obvious.  Just the same as it was on Fat Tuesday or Labor Day or Halloween.  I’m thinking it’s Christ.  Allow myself, and my neighbor, all the grace we need– unashamedly–because believe this.. I. Need. Grace. Every. Day.  I need a Savior!  And of this I am not ashamed.  Because this… this is the one thing I am sure of.  That we are all short of glory and there is One, yes only One who can save us here and it is Christ! the Son of God!  Perfect!  And He is Here!   And I want to go out and shout it to everyone!  The Truth!  To call us all to joyfully abandon the notion and the burden that we have something to offer, or something to receive, outside the Grace that wrecks you for anything less, that God gives through His perfect Son, altogether Lovely– sinless perfect Love, without partiality, Jesus, to all who would receive.  This. This is my story. This is my song.  This I will tell the world.

And I turn off the computer and remember, smile defiantly at the impostor, and I feel it in my bones…

Falling from grace, It may not be what you think…

“You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish?  After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  Have you suffered so much for nothing–if it really was for nothing?  Does God give you His Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”

I remember when I first began to believe the Good News.  It’s hard to describe the feelings, the changes I went through, and how my life began to be transformed on the deepest levels.  To even try to put my experience into words seems to diminish the power of those early encounters with the grace, love, and truth of God.  I’ll trust, however, that it won’t.

The first thing I remember, sitting in that warehouse church, was what could seem to be two opposing feelings.  As someone who didn’t believe in God, but desperately wanted to, I was not unfamiliar with the feeling of emptiness– of this realization that I needed something more than myself.  But that day in the dimly lit building, there was a difference.  The need for God that I had  felt before, it was still there.  This time, though, what I was lacking before– seemed to suddenly ignite in me the smallest ember.  Faith.   Where was this new kindling coming from?  I had always wanted to believe, and couldn’t– why now?  “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17) As I look back on that day, one of the strongest differences I remember was that, for the first time in my life, it felt like to allow myself to believe in this God and His Son Jesus Christ might be the wisest decision I could make.  There was a sense that, although I knew something was going to have to be done about all this sin and darkness in me, that somehow, He might be big enough to take care of it.  That, maybe it really is good news.

Like many others who have walked the path before and beside me, and by the grace of God, will come behind me, that was the beginning of the craziest journey I’ve ever started.  I’ll spare you the details of my early days of “being on fire”, to “walking through the desert”– wondering where or why that strong Presence that seemed almost tangible had suddenly disappeared, to learning that this whole thing is a process– more like a marathon than a sprint.

What I do want to talk about is Grace.  And Trust.  And how every. single. good and perfect thing originates with God.  I don’t know about you, but for me, this topic of grace?  It’s been a bit controversial– which shows there’s a lack of understanding what exactly it is.  Some folks get afraid when you just say the word…”grace”;  Their faces get red and their jaw tightens as they think, “oh boy, it’s one of those ‘greasy grace’ people, thinking they can just use God’s grace as a licence to do what they want.  Lord, help me to teach them the truth.”  I use the term “afraid” because I think that’s exactly what it is.  I think many of us are more afraid of clinging to grace than falling from grace.   This may sound weird, and I don’t think it is intentional on our part, but I think it needs to be addressed with truth so the liar can’t deceive us.
“You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4) Paul is telling the churches in Galatia that it is through trying to be right with God (justified) by the law that would make them fall from grace. It was a matter of what they believed in their hearts! As if to say, “Don’t you know Jesus came and made right with God all who would believe Him?!  There’s nothing left to do except know Him more and more and keep walking with Him through grace!” Based on my study of the Scriptures, I think one of the main things God wants us to keep at the forefront of our understanding is our complete dependence on and the total, provided sufficiency offered in Christ. “We love because He first loved us.”(1 John 4:19) At whatever point we are depending on ourselves for sufficiency, righteousness, right standing with God, justification, healing, salvation, anything…. we are proclaiming an area in our life which we do not need Christ to come in and do what ONLY He can.

We know all the Scriptures that tell us that when Christ saves us, it is ALL about believing that it is only by grace that we are saved.

Let’s pause there, read that again.

And, we know, that even after God initiates the relationship, it continues to be His grace that grows, sustains, transforms, renews, and makes us more like Jesus.  If you don’t know this, just do a word search on the word “grace” and you will soon find that everything good continues to originate and grow from Him. Or, do a word search on “righteousness” to see how we get it. This is just one of the many reasons that God rightfully gets ALL the glory.

Beloved, I believe God is so concerned with us having the Truth in our hearts in this area so much. I believe He wants us walking in freedom (Gal. 5)! In confidence in His love!(1John 4:18) Being vessels that really show that the power is FROM HIM! (2 Cor. 4:7) A people who are ever-believing that there is yet EVEN MORE love to be experienced and explored! (Eph. 3:18, 1 Peter 2:2-3) He wants it known that He. Is. God. ~worthy of praise and with love that endures forever. (psalm 100) And for our hearts to be depending on and clinging to the ALL-SUFFICIENT sacrifice He promised He is. For it is is Christ and Christ alone from Whom comes all Truth and Grace. When these out-of-this-world truths begin to take root in our hearts, we are compelled to worship. To worship with abandon, gratitude, and the humility that acknowledges Who He is and who we are. We are compelled to know this God more.  “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”(2 Cor. 5:14-15)   Praise and glory to God.  This God “from whom all blessings flow!!”  Taste and see that He. is. Good. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3)

Indeed, Body of Christ, cling to grace.

The Light of Christ dispells the darkness in our hearts

“For God who said, ‘let light shine out of darkness’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

It is in partaking in the life of Christ, offered to each one of us, that we will have revealed to us new knowledge-  the knowledge of God’s glory.  This knowledge is light and it is truth and, when taken in, will replace our darkness, deception, and emptiness. God’s glory is worth knowing about because His glory is His essence- the substance of Who He is.  If we want light, if we want truth, if we want love, if we want joy, peace, hope, goodness,  healing, life eternal, purification, we can know that an invitation has been given to not only partake of these, but to be conduits of the same-  houses of the holy.  We have been formally
invited to dive headfirst into an inexhaustible reservoir of all the provision necessary to be born into brand new life and to grow in the protective womb of the sovereignty, goodness and love of our Father, the One and Only blessed Ruler, Creator of all things, through Whom and in Whom and to Whom ALL THINGS LIVE MOVE AND HAVE THEIR BEING.  We need not fear our own limitations, failures, and darkness. A Way has been made for dispelling it from one encounter with His glory to another.  “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15) The fear of death was nailed to a cross on the One who came in the humblest estate as an infant, completely baby, completely God.  He comes in a humility unlike any human meekness we’ve ever seen; “Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8)

“Jesus makes the connection between his Christmas lowliness and the good news for us: ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30; Good News of Great Joy Daily Readings for Advent)

There is no barrier to keep you or me from this God. If you think of one, look to Jesus. Really look to Him. “With ALL our hearts…”

You will find that wall, too, that divided us in hostility, has been destroyed. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far way have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.  His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making PEACE, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far way and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:13-18)

This is Christmas. Glorious Christmas!! His glory is our very life.  Open our eyes, Lord. We look to Jesus. He reigns forever and ever. His glory covers the earth.  Indeed, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.  And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” (Helen H. Lemmel, 1922; based on Hebrews 12:2)

I’m thankful for….Me?

I admit, it was a little foreign to write it down on the paper leaf with the Bible verse on the other side that said “every good and perfect gift” came from Him.

But, at the same time, there was a quickening in me that just knew I had to.  Because I was fighting it again.

You see, we women, mothers, daughters, and sisters — it’s not that we don’t get selfish and sinful and self-obsessed and needy.

It’s just sometimes we think the gift we give is what we do, and that’s it.  And that the gifts we give can only be good if they are compared with other gifts and found to be more.  But the gift…it really is– who we are.  Beloved. Because knowing that you are a gift– remembering this– destroys these questions of worth that cycle me around like the laundry, spinning all the motivation and compassion right out. Because this:  I can only love, if I first know I am loved.  And He said it right there! “We love because He first loved us.”  And the liar is always roaming around looking to eat those words before they take root in me.

And is this the very problem with us?  How did the blushing of the cheeks when called beautiful and loved turn into a barricade of protection against that which would save me.  Acceptance.  Again the Gospel quiet shouts the simplest and most profound message.

And, if my Father is dancing over me– if it’s my name and your name engraved across the lines of his Mighty Hand;  If His banner over me is love– if His delight is in me…

Then, I am thankful, truly thankful…for me.

…And I hand her the pen, this daughter learning and watching like a hawk.  She writes it too, unblinking.

As a family we are writing our daily thanks each night at dinner!  On these leaves that we hang on our “thanksgiving tree”!  Great idea from Mrs. Voskamp!  Just copy the URL below and  paste it in your address bar to see and print for yourself!!

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/11/a-christian-family-thanksgiving-activity-the-thanks-giving-tree-free-printable/