When God speaks to you through Ricky Bobby…

sphe-talladega_nights_2006-Full-Image_GalleryBackground-en-US-1484000554780._RI_SX940_Movies speak to me.  They have since I was a kid.  It’s really just stories in general, but being a visual thinker, movies and television have always had a huge impact on me.  In fact, when I write my own stories, I’m generally just trying to describe the pictures playing out in my head.  So it’s no longer a surprise to me when I receive revelation while watching a movie.

Even one as stupid as Talladega Nights.

Don’t get me wrong, I laughed my hiney off watching this movie tonight.  I needed to laugh.  It’s been a rough few days for me.  I try extra hard not to be, but I’m a very dramatic llama sometimes.  And as the meme says, “sumbody dun brokt” me.  Or rather a small army of “sumbodies”.  drama llama

I’ve been experiencing different forms of rejection from people I love for a while now.  And, even though I need to build a bridge and get over it (thank you Hannah Montana), it still hits me where it hurts and makes me eyes choke out tears.

Tonight, watching Ricky Bobby pray to “baby Jesus” over and over again did my heart a giant world of good.  If I can do it somewhat succinctly, I want to try to explain why.

Without going into too much detail (or any really), let’s just say that some people don’t agree with some things I believe and I don’t agree with some things they believe.  I think that pretty much sums up all arguments, ever, over all of time.  But you get the idea.

The real problem (at least for me) is that I worry that what I believe affects my relationship with God.  I really want to follow Jesus.  I want to be one of the scruffy, common, uneducated disciples traipsing around the desert with Jesus, breaking all the rules and changing the world.  I live in fear of being a Pharisee, thinking myself righteous and holy while in actuality living a life of selfishness and pride.  I live in fear of being so self-deluded that I believe I walk among the righteous, when in fact I am walking straight into the gaping maw of Hell.

But this is flawed thinking.

This kind of thinking is changing the beautiful words of Jesus from:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:35

To:

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if your theology is perfect and you have interpreted my words precisely.

John 13:35

How often I have quoted John 13:35!  I love this beautiful verse.  I have tried to live by it.  But I fail.  Oh how I fail!  I stop measuring my discipleship by love and start measuring it by my theological prowess.  And let’s be honest, I don’t have much TP (theological prowess) to begin with.

I’m not the only one.  A lot of us measure our worth as disciples by our understanding of scripture and how well we follow the “rules” as we understand them.  We read our bibles, devotionals, listen to sermons, read books to further our understanding of the “rules” God has “set out” in His word.  We each develop a new set of commandments that we live by based on what we have learned over the years.

And then we become deeply devoted to these commandments.  So devoted that we begin to fear for our loved ones who don’t adhere to these commandments.  Even if our loved ones are doing their very best to follow Jesus in the only ways they know how.  Even if our loved ones are as deeply in love with Jesus and committed to Him as we are, just doing things differently.  We’re afraid that loving Jesus and desperately trying to follow him isn’t enough.  Because, as we established above, we’ve changed the definition of disciple unwittingly from love to knowledge.

I’m not saying all this because I’m judging the people who’ve hurt me.  I’m saying all this from my own personal experience.  I’ve done all of this.  I’ve changed the meaning of discipleship from love to knowledge.  I’ve been afraid that loving Jesus and trying to follow him isn’t enough.  I’ve made my own set of commandments and judged others for not living by them.  Over and over and over and over and over…

As I grow and change and evolve, so too do my “commandments”.  They must change because my understanding of scripture has changed, my vision of Jesus and God has changed, so my commandments must change too.  And the cycle begins all over again as I judge others by my new set of rules.

ughUgh.  I’m getting tired just thinking about it.  It’s so terribly boring and pharisaical.

And that’s it right there.

Watching Ricky Bobby pray his ridiculous and completely hysterical prayers tonight, I realized that we’re all just trying to follow God the only way we know how, well those of us who are trying to follow Him anyway.

And I realized what a hypocrite I am, what a Pharisee.

What I realized is that anyone can be a Pharisee – conservative or liberal.  A Pharisee is just someone who believes that perfect adherence to a set of rules makes you holy and righteous and definitely holier than those who don’t perfectly adhere to those rules.  The rules actually aren’t the important part, it’s how well you adhere to them that matters.

Dang.  Mind explosions.

I was a big, weepy mess before we watched Talladega Nights.  I honestly didn’t think it would cheer me up.  The world was completely ending.  (I’m a dramatic llama, remember?)  And I really didn’t expect to have a huge revelation that would lead me to shift my thinking in a major way.  But it did.

Thanks, Ricky Bobby, for helping me to remember that we’re all just trying to follow Jesus in the best way we know how (those of us trying to follow Jesus anyway).  NONE OF US WILL EVER GET IT PERFECTLY RIGHT.  But if we are truly His disciples we will endeavor to love one another.  That is how we will know we are His disciples, by our love for one another, not by our perfect execution of our interpretation of scripture.

People have hurt me, rejected me because we don’t necessarily believe the same things, but that’s ok.  They’re just trying to follow Jesus the best way they know how.  I can love them even if we don’t agree.  I can love them even if they don’t love me.  Well, I don’t know if I can but I know I can try.

#gofast

 

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You beautiful creation, you, let’s abide

You are a unique, one-of-a-kind creation, made in God’s image, carefully hand crafted by God himself in your mother’s womb. He programmed your DNA, wrote your software, designed your hardware and made sure that you wouldn’t be like anyone who has ever existed. He knows how many hairs are on your head right now and how many you lost in the shower this morning. He knows the name your parents gave you, the one you secretly call yourself and even the one you don’t know about that he alone calls you. He knows when you took your first breath and when you’ll breathe your last.

You are a unique, one-of-a-kind creation.

< Insert Sarcasm Here >

And now that you’re a part of God’s family, we’d like to show you what it looks like to be a unique, one-of-a-kind creation, hand-crafted by God. You see, he likes his unique creations to all look unique in the same way. There are rules, standards, protocols.

I know that we told you that God loves you just the way you are, and he does, please don’t get us wrong, but now that you’ve accepted that love, we believe you should strive to look and act the way that we do, according to how we’ve interpreted the Bible. Yes, we know that others who call themselves Christians have interpreted the Bible in different ways, and we believe they love Jesus, they are just misguided, bless them. There is only one way to interpret scripture and we’ll teach you how.

What about grace, you say? You have grace, it’s a free gift from God, it absolves you of all past sins. But now that you’re a Christian, don’t you think you should try to quit sinning and live like Jesus and the apostles? They are the example we were meant to follow and we are the body of Christ, meaning we represent Jesus here on earth. If we don’t strive to live good lives, how can we expect God to bless us and insure our place in heaven? After all, everything we do on earth is getting tallied up to decide how many jewels are in our heavenly crown and how big our mansion will be. Don’t you want to hear Jesus say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant?”


Oh beloved… Remember your first love.

2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

Revelation 2:2-5

Do you remember when you eagerly sat at the feet of Jesus because your heart was a puddle and you knew only he could restore you? Do you remember when you absorbed teaching like a sponge and prayed for anything that moved or breathed and the first note of a worship song could bring you to tears before anyone started singing? Do you remember yourself before you woke one day to the knowledge that you were learned and scholarly and knew more about the Bible and God than your peers? Do you remember when you still believed we were all unique, one-of-a-kind creations, hand crafted by God?

When did we stop believing God made us unique and start believing there is a pattern, a mold, that we must fit to be a “real” Christian? When did we start measuring our faith, not by our love, but by our knowledge and righteousness? If God truly made us unique, doesn’t that mean that someone else might live out their faith a little differently than you? Should we keep judging ourselves by the standards Paul laid out nearly two thousand years ago in a different world and culture? Women should not teach, slaves should obey their masters… Have we learned nothing?

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:1-5

If you are a branch, you cannot prune yourself. The vine grower/dresser does the pruning. If you are a branch, you cannot prune another branch. The vine dresser does it. Only God does the pruning… Let me say that again for those in the back… ONLY GOD DOES THE PRUNING. It is not up to us what gets pruned from ourselves or from anyone else. We must simply abide.

It is the simplest and yet hardest thing to do: abide. But to grow, to really grow, that is what you must do. Get your eyes off the other branches and focusing on growing.

1 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

Matthew 7:1-5

Beloved…

I am shamefully and woefully guilty of this. But my deepest desire is to go back to the beginning, find my first love, sit at his feet and simply abide.

Unique, one-of-a-kind, beautiful beloved… will you abide alongside me?

He fights for me…

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Exodus 14:14

All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.

1 Samuel 17:47

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:12

All of my life in Christ, I have been taught this: Our fight is not with people.  Our battle is with spiritual forces who are out to piss in our cheerios.  The battle belongs to God and he will fight for us.

This is true.

All these things are true.

And maybe I’m just a twisted sister, but I’ve always added an addendum: God will fight for me, if I’m in the right and have done everything right according to scripture.

And I obsess over this.

If I am in a disagreement with someone, if someone is angry with me or if I even suspect someone is angry with me, I obsess over every detail of the situation.  After all, God will only back me up if I’m right, right?

Hard to believe as it is, sometimes I don’t see eye to eye with other Christians.  This happens for multiple reasons ranging from “I’m a prideful monster” to “they’re a festering anus.”  When you’re at war with someone who is not one of your sisters or brothers in Christ, *sarcasm* obviously God will be on your side because you’re on his side and that other person is a hell-bound, sin-baby.  But whose side does God take when your war is with someone who is ALSO on God’s side?

Eenie, meenie, miney, mo.  Catch a brother by the toe.  If he repents, let him go.

How does God choose whose side to take when he fights for us?  The bible says he’s gonna fight for us.  So which one of us does he fight for?  Obvi, he chooses the brethren or sistren who is the most righteous and who is clearly the most biblically and scripturally right.  This is why it’s SOOOOO important to be caught up on doctrine, really know your B-I-B-L-E (that’s the book for me), and practice your theological knowledge prowess at all potlucks, life groups, family gatherings that include sinful relatives, and times when you trap a newcomer in that inescapable corner in the foyer at church.

false

That was sarcasm.

THOSE WERE BAD IDEAS.

Here’s the truth that was revealed to me as I walked into Walmart to buy strawberries:

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Wait for it…

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God is on BOTH of our sides. *GASP!*

Even if we’re wrong.  *DOUBLE GASP!*

And….

We’re probably both wrong.  *GASP GASP GASP!!!*

Also….

He’s on the side of the evil, hell-loving sinner we are hypothetically in a fight with too. *A LOT OF GASPS!*

Ok.  No more gasping.  I’m getting winded.

Brennan Manning said this:

img_2890

While I’m stewing in my tower of self-righteousness, secure in my ability to live rightly better than everyone else, God is loving me.  And he’s loving the person I’m fighting with in my mind and heart.  And he’s fighting for me.  And he’s fighting for them too.  And he’s fighting for the sin-babies too.

God fights my battles for me whether I’m right or wrong.  Whether I’m righteous or sinful.  Whether I love him or not.

He’s not fighting against the person I believe so clearly deserves to feel ashamed and repentant.  He’s fighting against the spiritual forces whizzing in my cheerios.  He’s fighting against my selfishness, pride, greed, gluttony, and hate.  He’s battling the forces that want his children to tear each other apart limb from limb.  He’s battling the forces that want to keep his creation, his beloved ones, in the dark.

His fight is with the withered foliage and dead branches.  He’s pruning me.  He’s pruning you.

So.

(I say as I slowly spin around to face you in my opulent, plush, faux-leather [cruelty free, baby] desk chair, my large, Persian cat purring loudly, relaxed but not asleep, my fingers pressed together lightly in steeple formation under my chin.)

This idea changes things.  For me, at least.

Now when I’m hurt, wounded, depressed, angry, scared, instead of taking comfort in the fact that I did everything right and can stand before God with a clear conscience, I will take comfort in the fact that I even if I did everything wrong, I can stand before God, secure in the knowledge of his love, secure knowing he’s fighting for me.

And that person… my sister, my brother… the “sinner”… God is fighting for them too and he loves them too.  We’re all, ALL OF US, in the same boat.  The love boat.  He loves us all the same.  And he’s fighting for all of us the same.

I don’t have much more to say.  I could quote a bunch of scripture but honestly I’m too lazy.

let me sum up.jpg

God is fighting for you BUT NOT BECAUSE YOU’RE RIGHT AND THEY’RE WRONG.  He’s fighting for you because he loves you.  Even if you’re a festering anus or a prideful monster.  He loves us as we are and not as we should be.  Because no one is as they should be.  He’s fighting cheerio-pissing-in spiritual forces and he’s fighting your own pride and sinful nature, pruning you.  He’s fighting darkness NOT PEOPLE.

I don’t know, but that’s pretty comforting to me.

Thanks for reading.  Peace out, prideful monsters. XOXOX

Free Indeed

Here’s a little tune I’ve been working on.  I don’t know if I’m done with it yet.  Maybe I’ll add a bridge or something.  I definitely don’t have an ending yet.  If you even sorta like it, share it on Facebook because I’m taking an FB hiatus.  I still have my account, I’m just not getting on there.

Thanks!!!!

Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 12.11.53 PM

The heart is a fragile thing 


A heart is a fragile thing. It has four chambers: one to fill with sorrow, one with love, one with longing and one, secrets. 
And like an old home, we store our old things in the chambers, things we cannot bear to throw away. We wander from chamber to chamber, holding these things in our hands, letting them soak into us, feeling every fear, pain, joy, cheer and grief until it overwhelms. 

Sometimes we stay too long in a chamber and we can’t seem to find our way out again. The fragile walls of the chamber squeeze in around us, suffocating us, paralysing us. We wallow in our sorrow too long and our skin becomes pruny, hanging from us like the droopy jowls of a basset hound. We love too deeply and the sting of unrequited feelings burns us until we become numb. We sink into longing until the ache tightens our chest becoming a corset, leaving us gasping for air. Our secrets isolate us in a tower of our own making and our own destruction. 

The heart is a fragile thing, and a prison.

And in my life I’ve only ever known one who can release me from my prison, who can stop the walls from collapsing around me. Holy Spirit. He alone can ease suffering. He alone can reinforce the walls of the four chambers to keep them from falling in around us. 

““The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.””

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The heart is a fragile thing, but it doesn’t have to be a prison. It can be a temple, a place of divine contemplation. Instead of sorrow, joy. Instead of being broken by love, we are renewed by it. Instead of longing unfulfilled, we are content beyond measure. Instead of secrets to isolate, honesty to open us. 

These are Holy Spirit’s doings. 

My only job: when my heart becomes a prison I must remember who liberates me. 

The heart is a fragile thing, but I’ve given it to the one who restores all things. 

Long Division

This morning, for some reason, I see so clearly how the powers of darkness are working to destroy the church. It’s so simple, it’s amazing we have fallen for it for so long. The darkness comes in like a worm, slithering its way into any tiny crack, nudging and pushing until the crack becomes a split and the split becomes a chasm. Division. That is the power of the enemy.  And he’s been doing this for a long time.

The Crack:

Party 1: A nagging thought. Something someone said is buzzing through their brain and they’re not 100% sure they know what it meant.

Party 2: A nagging thought. They said something to Party 1 and they’re not sure it was taken the right way, or maybe that they should have said it at all.

The Worm:

Party 1: Instead of going to Party 2 and just asking what they meant when they said, “X”, they have imaginary conversations in their mind. The worm tells them that it would be a bad idea to talk to Party 2 and so instead they talk to everyone else about the situation.

Party 2: Instead of going to Party 1 and apologizing or trying to clarify what they said, OR APOLOGIZING (I know I said it twice), they act as if everything is totally okay, and begin distancing themselves subtly from Party 1. The worm tells them that “really they didn’t say anything wrong and if Party 1 is hurt by that, they are just being sensitive”.

The Split:

Party 1 has now become hurt and angry by: first, the hurtful thing that was initially said, and second, by the nonchalant way that Party 2 has handled everything, including talking about this situation with everyone but them. They no longer want to have anything to do with Party 2, whom they now believe is legitimately evil.

Party 2 has now become hurt and angry by: first, having what they initially said blown way out of proportion, and second, by the way Party 1 is now talking about them to all their shared friends, causing people to have to choose sides. They no longer want to have anything to do with Party 1, whom they now believe is legitimately evil.

The Worm:

The Worm continues to speak to both parties, encouraging them to remain prideful, discouraging them from talking about the problem with each other, helping them to forget that loving your neighbor as yourself is one of the tenets of Christianity.

Pride: it’s something I write about a lot because I truly believe it is the number one tool of the Worm.  If we are full of pride and full of concern about our “rights”, the Worm can work with that.  Easily.  If we are more concerned with being the one who is in the right than we are about trying to make the situation right, the Worm will use that to continue dividing us from one another until the Split becomes a Chasm, with Parties and their supporters lined up on either side, hurling insults at each other.

A church split isn’t a separation of two groups with competing ideals, it’s a gaping hole with wounded people struggling to climb out of the abyss.  And the split begins as a tiny crack, that Party 1 and Party 2 are too prideful to try to repair.  Many of Jesus’ counter-cultural parables centered on figures who forgave when they didn’t have to, helped others when it was not easy or convenient for them, laid down their pride to better those around them.  So how do we miss this most basic teaching?  How do we let a crack become a chasm?

The Worm: the prince of darkness who lives in the shadow realm, is waiting for opportunities to exploit our most basic human weaknesses, our pride and selfishness.  Yes, he encourages the division that is destroying us but the tools he uses are of our own making.

***

I’ve seen a lot of division in the church in my short 36 years on this Earth.  And this division I’m talking about has been going on for centuries, and it is well documented.  Even as far back as Paul and Barnabas.

Acts 15:36-41

36 Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.” 37 Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus; 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of God. 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Did they part because they prayed and felt that God wanted them to each go a different way and further His gospel?  No.  They parted because they were being stubborn and prideful, each believing they knew what was right.

The Worm.  His work is evident.

Galatians 19:21

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Paul said this!  My friends, even respected leaders mess up.

***

This summer I have, once again, felt the painful caress of division, like a sword, maiming but not killing.  I have been Party 1 and I have been Party 2.  I’ve been stubborn, prideful, arrogant, unforgiving, angry, hurt, wounded, beaten, broken, a real jerk, and a real innocent.  I have played all the parts and felt all the stings.

But I don’t want to be manipulated by this worm anymore.  Even though I feel as though my heart has physically been ripped from my chest and set on fire on top of a pile of broken glass, I don’t want to play the games this worm has contrived anymore.  I don’t know how, but what I want more than anything is to walk in humility towards others.  I want to lay down my pride and pray together and work things out.  But I can’t do it alone.  Even if one party is willing to try, if the other is closed off, it will not work.

So this is my declaration: I am here and I am willing to talk and pray and try to work things out.  I don’t want my pride to get in the way.  I don’t want the worm to win.  I don’t want to see lives hurt and wounded and beaten and broken.  If you are with me, if you are willing to work through any hurt we have between us, please call me.  I will sit with you and pray with you and hopefully, together we will find a place of agreement again, even if we no longer walk the same path.

My friends, don’t let The Worm have his way.  Don’t let him nudge his way into that tiny crack.  Let’s all lay down our pride together.

John 13:35

35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 

Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers,
    For they shall be called sons of God.

When You’re a Failure

Maybe you feel like a failure in the Kingdom of God. But if you’re still walking behind Jesus day after day, you’re not a failure. To succeed in God’s Kingdom you need to do only one thing: get behind Jesus and stay there.

If you’ve walked away from Him, and you feel like a failure, you only need to do one thing to become a success again: get behind Jesus and stay there.

The disciples followed Jesus around for 3 years before He ascended to heaven. And after His ascension they were filled with the Holy Spirit. When Jesus was alive, did they get everything right? Did they fulfill His will perfectly every time? No. When they received the Holy Spirit, did they always perfectly hear His voice and put action behind His words? No. But they succeeded because they never stopped trying. They never walked away. They got behind Jesus and stayed there.

In Mark 4, when the storm arose and Jesus slept and the disciples thought they would die He said to them:

Mark 4:40 He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?’

They messed up.  Their faith was lacking.  Did Jesus write them off?  Tell them to find a new Rabbi to follow?  Go out looking for new disciples?  No. He didn’t because they weren’t failures.  And they weren’t failures because they were still following Jesus.

Nor did He kick them to the curb in Matthew 17 when they were unable to heal the afflicted boy.

Matthew 17:16 “I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

Even after Jesus ascended into Heaven and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter still messed up.

Galatians 2:11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong.

Can I let you in on a little secret?  They were human.  *Gasp*  And, you know what else?  You are too.  *Gasp, Gasp*

Humans make mistakes.  It’s what we’re most famous for.  And, believe it or not, God knows that.

Psalm 139:1-2

Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

***

Sunday morning, I stood alone praying.  I poured my heart out to the Lord.  I told Him that I felt like such a failure and I felt so lost.  That’s when I felt the overwhelming feeling inside, that I was not a failure because I was still showing up.  Yes, I’d made mistakes.  And, yes, I’ll make more mistakes in the future.  But I’m gonna keep showing up.  I’m gonna keep trying to see the face of my Lord.  And as long as I’m doing that, I’m not a failure.

PLEASE READ EVERY SINGLE WORD OF THE FOLLOWING SCRIPTURE.  BECAUSE IF YOU HAVE READ THIS FAR, YOU NEED TO READ THIS TOO.

Romans 8:31-39

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  

36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)

37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that NOTHING can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If we live by the standards of this world, then, yes, we are all failures!  So thank God that failures are His favorite kind of people!!

1 Corinthians 1:27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.

The heroes of our faith, the patriarchs that we look to in the scriptures for guidance, they all have their faults on full display for all to see.  No humiliating detail was spared in scripture.  The message we should see staring us right in the face when we look into the scripture is this: God uses the losers, the bastards, the orphans and the whores because He loves them and they love Him back.  The world sees them as failures.  They see themselves as failures.  But God says, “Keep showing up.  That’s all I ask.”

Here’s the song I wrote on the subject: For Sure

Luke 14:16-24

16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”

God’s recipe for success in His Kingdom: SHOW UP.

I don’t know, but I think I can do at least that.