Tag Archives: Cross

A Closer Walk: Standing Barefoot With My Failures At The Cross

Some of us in the church are so quick to spread the sins and failures of others, aren’t we? We love to talk, especially about the latest dudes who blew it. It might be the kid who was just arrested for dealing drugs. The next door neighbor’s unmarried daughter, who we just discovered is pregnant. The abortionist down the street. (No comment necessary here.) Or, the scandalous political figure, (or pastor) who was just exposed in a headline-making sexual scandal.

If it’s juicy… and especially sinful… we’re talking.

Gossip Wounds

There are sins we positively abhor. Sins we are scandalized by. Sins we raise our eyebrows and voices against, waving our placards in self-righteous protest… oh yes. We shout ourselves hoarse to the world and whisper among ourselves, “Have you heard about…?”

(Oh, yeah, we do.)

Scandalized by other’s sins, yet so justisfied… in our own?

“Who… me?” we ask, all doe-eyed innocence.

One sad fact I have discovered in my thirty-some-years as a returned prodigal, is that we “The Redeemed,” are enormously tolerant of our own acceptable-sins.”

I refer, in this case, to the sin of slander and gossip.

In churches I have attended since my return from “the far country,” I have discovered no sin is quite so rampant, indeed, quite so ENJOYED, as the sin of spreading salacious slander or malicious gossip.

(It does seem as if we enjoy the wounding of others.)

And, it does wound.

It wounds if it’s true… it devastates if it’s NOT!

We, with our whispering, our accusing eyes, and our very cold shoulders, sadly seem to relish pummeling another’s reputation (and heart) while we find these “slight sins” of ours—entirely understandable.

Really?

My Bible says, “…the person who keeps every law of God, but makes one little slip, is JUST AS GUILTY as the person who has broken every law there is.” James 2:10James 2:10
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10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he has become guilty of all.

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Every law?

One… little… slip?

Our slips from God’s point of view make us guilty of breaking every law in His book. All of us, at one time, stood barefoot, naked, and guilty, at the foot of Jesus Christ’s cross. We all desperately needed a Savior—and still do.

Perhaps we should all remember that the next time a “juicy little tidbit” floats our way.

Instead of spreading the dirt, perhaps we should cast our eyes on the dust at our own feet.

What do you suppose Jesus might have written there… about us?

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LET ME GIVE YOU HOPE TODAY

Oh, honey. Don’t weep so. I see, I hear… truly I do. Nothing that touches or concerns you is ever out of My care… but Sweet Heart—you must believe.

(Those tears in your eyes belie the fears in your heart.)

I have not abandoned you. It is your past; the cruel deeds of others, that accuse Me.

I AM your Father. I AM your Lover. The One who loves you with tender, perfect love.

I see your faults… so what!

You think what you do could make Me forsake you; stop loving you?

Never. Never. Never!

Rise Above the GossipCome to Me… lay the heaviness of your broken heart on Me. That is what I came for… why I chose you!

I knew you needed someone who would never fail you… never abandon you.

(You think you deserve this treatment?)

No honey. No one deserves to be forsaken, but oh how many are!

Your failures are why I chose you.

Forsaken, and abandoned, so many times, and yet… look at you!

You shall be a trophy of My Grace.

Don’t despair. You won’t wear those wretched rags on your heart forever. Soon, yes soon, I will dress you in My splendid glory!

Let Me give you hope today. Cast all that ugly care on Me. (I can take it.) Trust Me just a little longer. If you could only see yourself, as I do.

Oh… what a jewel you are becoming… fit for a King! A King of kings!

(Hey, come to think of it, that’s Me!)

a closer walk“Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” 1 Peter 5:71 Peter 5:7
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7 casting all your worries on him, because he cares for you.

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Beloved Prodigal… (Part 3 ~ Storms To Come)

aviary-photo_131218001068056944Jesus said quite clearly, “Count the cost.”

Believe me—those are words I now hold very sacred.

When Jesus says to you, “Follow me.” He is not asking you to live in a hothouse full of roses. He is calling you to your own cross.

And, your “cross” is not a pretty piece of jewelry around your neck. It is an instrument of torture, suffering, and death. Your cross is a place where Self, with its hopes, aspirations, and dreams are annihilated.

We in the Church throw the word cross around as casually as grace sometimes. But we do people a great disservice if we portray following Christ as only a “joy ride” without the expectation to also wholeheartedly embrace suffering.

The Apostle Paul wrote,”

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” [Gal. 2:20Gal. 2:20
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20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.

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Ponder those words.

If you believe them, you may be choosing to live them out, literally.

Count the cost—because there will be a cost.

His word guarantees it.

And still… I ASKED to be made a woundresser.

Crazy? Probably. Am I sorry? Some days yes; most days—no. And that’s just being honest with you.

I now know to become a woundresser involves a costly education.

One I do not recommend for the faint of heart.

BACK IN “THE FOLD” — MY EDUCATION CONTINUES

As if my past is not enough of a resume, Jesus decides my education needs expanding.

There were more dark storms waiting for me on my horizon; baffling and incomprehensible storms. Storms that shook everything I trusted and believed.

“… everything that could be shaken, would be shaken so that that which could not be shaken would remain.” [Heb. 12:27Heb. 12:27
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27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain.

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my paraphrase]

I share these details not to look for your sympathy; not to say, “Oh, poor me.” but rather, “Yeah, me too!”

  • I have been through two major health crashes.
  • The first one brought me to the edge of death.
  • I became pregnant at eighteen only to have my twin babies die in utero.
  • Being young, painfully ignorant, and unaware of what happened, I walked around with these dead babies inside.
  • Needless to say, I became extremely ill and almost died. But that wasn’t the worst. Not the pain, or the blood, or even the resulting hysterectomy at eighteen. That hysterectomy was devastating. But the grief and pain that got buried under a huge secret was worse.
  • I was told “a tumor had been removed” and my medical records were then sealed.
  • For over forty years there were memories of events I couldn’t explain. Questions that went unanswered. And grief that had been buried alive. It was the weirdest sensation, being haunted by “feelings” that made no sense.
  • Then there was the ultimate realization that most of your adult life has been based on a lie.
  • My second medical crisis, a misdiagnosed thyroid crash, left me helpless, hopeless, and jobless.
  • There were astronomical medical bills I couldn’t pay, putting me into a medical bankruptcy and wiping out my credit.
  • I have been homeless—twice. Though not “on the street” I have slept on floors, in some very filthy and unsafe places.
  • I spent twelve years building a business, only to hand it off to an unscrupulous business partner who decided he wanted it ALL. I walked away with nothing, believing what the bible says, that fighting in a courtroom is wrong and about as unchristian as it gets.
  • I have been through what I call “a Church holocaust” where I was shunned, though I was never charged with any offense. Overnight I was an untouchable outcast. No one was allowed to speak to me or have any contact with me.
  • You have to go through the horror of shunning to understand that kind of painful rejection. You are emotionally stoned and left for dead.
  • The official diagnosis was: “One of the worst cases of spiritual abuse the Experts had ever seen.
  • Their verdict: “These people will likely never recover, or ever be an active part of a church again.”
  • I have endured a “bully” pulpit, but Pastors are also victims of abuse. The spiritual abuse door swings both ways.
  • My last three churches all had pastors who became embroiled in headline-making sexual scandals. The “holocaust” ending in a devastating church split.
  • Me? I’m thinking, “Three strikes—I’m out!”

God AGAIN—had OTHER plans.

  • First, because His plan holds the promise that He will never forsake you. (No matter how fierce your storm!)
  • Second, because of His love, He will make a way when you lose your way.
  • I was befriended by one Christian couple.
  • Ned and Maryellen—you were the incarnation for me; Jesus with skin on.
  • They washed my wounds with the word of God.
  • They spoke Light and Love into my life when I saw only darkness, pain, and hopelessness.
  • They “sang” songs of faith to me when I was engulfed in storm clouds of despair and doubt.
  • They gave me back my song when I believed I would never sing again.
  • They were His Lighthouse’s, shining Truth into my storm; reviving my battered faith.
  • Though we have never formally met, I will love them to my last earthly breath.

Which brings me to this place—this book I call, Habakkuk’s Vineyard.

(Perhaps the point and real purpose of it all?)

This “vineyard” has been a barren place for sure—of everything but His Love and Grace.

Because it has been RIGHT HERE that He has PROVED TO ME:

Nothing can separate me from the love of God!

  • Not broken families.
  • Not our own brand of broken behavior.
  • Not broken churches.
  • Not other broken hearts—who just don’t know Him yet.
  • NOTHING. [Romans 8:38-39Romans 8:38-39
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    38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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  • That word is now branded on my soul.

God always has OTHER plans for us. Plans for GOOD—not just calamity! (Jeremiah 29: 11Jeremiah 29: 11
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11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end.

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)

Today I am attending a church. (Yes, I do still struggle at times…) But MIRACLE of MIRACLES, I wrote this book FOR YOU, a Prodigal.

Like I said before, “Yeah, Me too!”

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For Judas and The Thief

“…What shall I do with this man you call your King?”

They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

Mark 15:12-13Mark 15:12-13
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12 Pilate again asked them, “What then should I do to him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They cried out again, “Crucify him!”

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My enemy came to me today,

I wanted to turn and walk away!

“Who does he think he is?” I said.

A Voice, from deep within me, pled…

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“He is another for whom I’ve died,

Like you, he’s stolen, cheated, lied;

Yet what you two must understand,

Is for your sins, they pierced My hands…

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The BOTH of you, are dear to Me.

Oh, child of Mine, why can’t you see?

That what you think is “Ministry”

Is really PRIDE – it isn’t ME!

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I want you two to listen well…

Perhaps the others you will tell;

I have no enemies – none at all!

And if you’ll listen to My call…

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I’ll take you where no pride can grow;

You’ll have to kneel and bend quite low;

With basin, towel, and love anew,

You’ll wash the feet of those who threw…

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The stones that made your poor heart bleed;

You’ll find new ways to meet their needs.

And when you’re tempted to forget,

You’ll remember that your needs were met…

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By One who laid beneath your stones,

With bleeding wounds and broken bones

Yet harkened to his Master’s Voice,

Renounced his fear and made the choice;

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To look not on the things you’d done

But offer up the gift he’s won,

Of mercy from a brand new heart…

I’d given him—he’s done his part.

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And now I turn to look at you,

Like Judas and the thief who threw,

Betrayal and curses into My face

When I had offered loving grace-

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You must decide what you will do

When you are hated by a few

Who still don’t understand or know

I have NO ENEMIES here below…

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Just wounded hearts, in need of love,

That you are called, like One above,

To give away – forget the cost.

For sinful pride, how much is lost!

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A new heart here I have for you

With Mercy, Love, and heaven’s dew—

Of thankfulness for sinner’s blame…

Forgotten Forever—because I came!”

 

 

My Cross

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Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto

the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Psalm 51:1Psalm 51:1
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51 For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. 1 Have mercy on me, God, according to your loving kindness. According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.

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KJV

~~~

In all my woe I ran to Man

Hoping for successful plan

“Show me options, and a way,

To fix my broken life today.”

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But nothing could they do or say,

To end my pain and sad dismay.

In fact, their offers came to me,

With strings attached – nothing for free!

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“Fix us! Fix us!” their deeds cried out.

“We, too, are bound by fears and doubt!”

“Dear God,” I cried. “What can I do?”

Man’s help is useless, only You…

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Can bring the mercy that I need.

“Where do I go?” is what I plead.

Do for me what no man can,

Deliver by Your awesome hand!

~~~

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THE CROSS, my child, is where to go…

That is where “free mercy” flows;

Where pain is healed, and woe erased.

THE CROSS is where you find such grace.

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Man can’t give you what you need,

On that, you and I agree.

THE CROSS is where fear is undone;

THE CROSS is where REAL life’s begun.

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Abundant life with joy and peace;

Freedom’s found and you’re released!

It’s all right here awaiting you,

And here is all that you must do…

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Come, hungry, needy, wanting more…

That is what MY CROSS is for!

To heal your wounds – replace your strife,

With Living Water bringing LIFE!

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Come, drink your fill… and still, there’s more!

This is what MY CROSS is for.

A heart that’s healed – your life restored

At Grace and Mercy’s open door…

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MY CROSS! That’s why I came and died.

Plunge beneath its crimson tide…

God’s grace is bountifully applied.

Mercy is free. Not one denied!