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?

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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

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. 

I’m 103 and other musings plus another gold nugget from Oswald Chambers


Mr. Chambers does it again. This. I NEEDED to read this. It is just another huge confirmation that the decision Nick and I recently made for our family was the right thing for us. 

It would be hard for me to explain why this meant so much to me without telling you a lot of our personal history and I don’t think I want to do that… But it is still an amazing read for any Christian. 

If you don’t own a copy of My Utmost for His Highest, I highly recommend getting one or downloading the phone app or having both the book and the phone app, like me. Be forewarned, however, there is more than one version. The original version written in the early 1900’s (1911-1917) and an updated version that puts Mr. Chambers old timey speech into more modern language. I personally prefer the original old timey one because I think the way Mr. Chambers phrases things is poetic and makes me think. Also, I’m secretly 103 and kindly request that you get off my lawn, you dang kids. 

Anyway… go read it. HashtagGoodStuff

When you feel evil: Pt 2

Basically… I’m trying to work through this feeling – the feeling that I am evil. The feeling that I am a bad person. Like at my core. I don’t just do “bad” things, no, deeper than that. I am weird, crude, strange, foolish, socially inept, and a lot more junk. 

It’s a pretty pervasive feeling inside of me right now. It’s like suddenly a flood light has come on and I’m seeing all of my flaws with stark, blinding clarity. And it’s no fun. 

I’m not trying to bum you out or get sympathy. I’m not looking for praise or encouragement. Because even though these feelings keep erupting in me at the most inconvenient of times of late, they are almost always followed by a whisper from my loving Father, that I am loved. 


In Mark 10, verse 18, Jesus said that no one is good except God. That verse actually brings me a lot of comfort because I know I’m not alone. No one is good. Everyone sucks. It isn’t just me. 

But as my good friend, Austin Crooks, likes to quote, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

We all suck but God loves us anyways. That’s the message of the gospel. Brennan Manning is famous for saying that God loves us as we are and not as we should be because no one is as they should be. And I need to hear that right now. I need to feel that right now. Yes, I’m no good, but God loves me. 

It’s true that I’m a big mess. It’s true that I’m weird and strange. I overshare. I gossip even when I’m trying not to. I lie. I’m lazy. I’m crude. I enjoy things that I really shouldn’t. But God still loves me. I don’t know how or why. I just know that he does and I need it. Oh, how I need it. 

I hope and pray that people around me can see that I’m a work in progress and even though I’m a mess, I really don’t want to be. Even though I’m a jerk, I love God and want him to change me. I hope people can see that, because I’m sure it’s not obvious. I’m sure my pride is what shines brightest. I’m positive that, at times, I seem like the most arrogant, butt that has ever existed. And at times, I am. 

This morning, in the midst of feeling broken, God used a very unlikely source to remind me that, “He heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3. 

What an amazing God I love! Here I am, feeling so broken because I know that I’m a huge butt, and He reaches down and tells me He loves me. He’s not looking at me saying, “You’re right, Bonnie, you are a butt. Now, repent so I can fix you.”  Instead, He’s saying, “Shh, shh, shh. It’s ok, sweetie. I love you. Just put your head on my shoulder and cry it out, I’ll hold you.”


As the one and only Toby Flenderson said in a moment of joy, “I’m gonna chase that feeling.”  I’m gonna chase that feeling too, that God loves me as I am right now, not as I should be and it’s gonna be ok. 

John 17

Wednesday nights my husband Nick and I teach the youth group at our church.  He takes the older kids, 8th grade through 12th, and I take the younger ones, 5th through 7th.  The group is called Journey Youth.  It’s lit, fam.  (Youth culture forever!)

Anywho, I’ve been taking my kids through the last chapters in the book of John.  We started in John 13.  Tonight I taught on John 17.  This is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  Jesus, with full knowledge that he is about to be arrested and executed for crimes he did not commit, does something extraordinary and beautiful.

He prays.

That’s not the extraordinary part.  Praying is common.  Praying is something everyone has done.  What is extraordinary is WHAT he prays.

Because he doesn’t spend his time praying for help or bargaining with God.  Instead, he prays for his disciples and… he prays for us.

I submit to you now, my notes from tonight’s lesson.  Maybe you’ll see what I see in this beautiful prayer.  Maybe it will change your life like it did mine so many years ago.  Maybe you’ll see the God of mercy and love that I see.  Maybe.  I pray.

jesus-praying-10-7-13

So, without further ado, John Chapter Seventeen:

John 17

1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,

The hour has come… Jesus knows it is time for him to go to the cross.

Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you… How will God glorify Jesus?  And how will it glorify God?  God glorifies Jesus by sending him to the cross.  This doesn’t sound very glorifying.  This sounds humiliating.  This sounds painful.  When we think of glory, a painful, humiliating death does not sound like glory.  But remember what Jesus says in John 12.

John 12:32 – And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Jesus knew that even though his death would be painful and humiliating, ultimately it would draw people to him.  So even though a death such as the one Jesus had does not sound glorifying, Jesus knew that the results would bear much fruit.  And when people were drawn to Jesus they would see the truth of who and what God is and he would be glorified as well.

1 John 4:8 – Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.

John, the same John who wrote the book of John, also wrote 3 letters in the New Testament called First John, Second John and Third John.  Here we see in 1 John evidence of how Jesus’ death glorified God.  We see this new understanding of God, that God is love.  No longer is God viewed as a wrathful judge, but now a God of mercy and love.  Jesus’ death and resurrection revealed God’s plan for humanity and we could finally understand just how much he loves us.

So here in John 17:1 we see Jesus acknowledging that it is time to fulfill his mission and reveal to the world God’s plan of redemption and love:  “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you.”

2 since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 

 You have given him authority over all people… God has given Jesus authority over everyone.

To give eternal life to all whom you have given him… Jesus was given the authority to give eternal life to all the people given to him by God.

So the important question is, “Am I one of those people?  Have I been given to Jesus by God?  Have I been given eternal life?”

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

 The word “believes” here isn’t the same kind of believes like “I believed in fairies when I was a kid” or like “I believe that Russia exists because I’ve seen pictures”.

 It’s the greek word “pisteuo” (pist-yoo-o) And it means you put your faith in, entrust yourself to, commit yourself to…

We could then rephrase John 3:16 to say:  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who commits themselves to him may not perish but may have eternal life.

How do we know if we are one of Jesus’ people and have eternal life?  The answer is found in this question: have you put your faith in him, entrusted yourself to him, and committed yourself to him?  If the answer is yes, then you have eternal life.

So what is eternal life?  This question used to keep me up at night.  I used to really suffer and worry over the question: Why were we created and what does eternal life look like? But then one day I discovered John 17:3 and it completely changed my outlook on Christianity and what it means to be alive.

3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 

IT’S SO SIMPLE!  Eternal life is knowing God and Jesus.  We were made to know him and we will spend eternity coming to know all about him.  That is eternal life!  It’s not sitting on a fluffy white cloud playing a harp.  It’s not running around heaven trying to find all our ancestors who died before us.  It’s having a real relationship with God and finding out everything about him.

And this verse proves something really important guys!

God wants to be known!

We spend our time saying things like, “God works in mysterious ways.”  Or “God is unknowable, his ways are too great for me.” Or “God is a mystery.”  But the truth is, God doesn’t want to stay hidden.  He wants to be known.  It’s part of the plan.  All those pesky questions you have about life and why things are the way they are, God wants you to have your answers.  He wants you to understand him. He wants to be known.

When we commit ourselves to Jesus, like it says in John 3:16, we begin the adventure of discovering God and knowing him.  Eternal life doesn’t start when you die.  It started the nanosecond you committed yourself to knowing Jesus as your savior.

If we are doing this thing called Christianity “right” then we are spending our time seeking God and trying to know him, just as Jesus said in John 17:3.  Eternal life is knowing God.  And it begins now.

 4 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

 I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do… Jesus glorified God by doing his work on earth and becoming the sacrificial lamb that would save us from our sins.

So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed…  Soon after Jesus’ resurrection he ascends into heaven where he will sit at the right hand of God and await his triumphant return to earth, he’ll once again be a king and retain the position he had before the world was created.

That’s one possible interpretation of those words.

 Here’s another:

Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus:  “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  So “the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed” could be referring to this truth, that Jesus was chosen to be slain before God and Jesus ever created the earth.

Either way, Jesus is telling God that he is ready to die.  He is ready to be the lamb.  He is ready to pay for our sins.

It was time for the plan of God for love and redemption carefully crafted before the earth was created to be realized.

6 “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8 for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.

I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world… Jesus preached the truth about God to the disciples (which God gave to him).

They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word… The disciples that followed Jesus have kept God’s word.

Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me… Jesus taught the disciples only the words that God gave him and the disciples had received them completely and believed that Jesus came from God.

There were more than 12 people who followed Jesus during his 3 years of ministry.  The Bible says that multitudes followed him to hear him preach and to see him perform miracles.

There were more than 12 disciples too.  Luke 10 tells us that at one point Jesus sent out 70 disciples to preach and pray for people.

So what made those 12 11, that Jesus is praying for, so special?

Jesus said it in those verses: they REALLY believed.  They weren’t just followers or fans or curious.  They were DISCIPLES.  Students who wanted to become like their teacher.  And these disciples were the ones who really believed that Jesus really was the Son of God.

Really.

9 I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.

I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me… Jesus isn’t just praying a blanket prayer to cover everyone “just in case”.  He is specifically praying for the ones that God gave him, those who really believe in him.

And this is what he is praying for them:

 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 

He is praying for their protection.  He asks God to protect them for a specific reason, though.  That we may be one as God and Jesus are one.

So what does it mean to “be one”?  Unity.  Love.  Grace.

Chew on this:

Ephesians 4:1-6

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

This is what it means to “be one”.  It means unity, love, patience, gentleness, humility, etc.

Does “being one” mean you always agree?  No.  But it means when there are disagreements among believers, they are handled with care, love and empathy.  It means putting others first.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Serve.

Human nature is selfish, prideful and unkind.  And Jesus knew this.  He knew that we’d struggle to be in unity with other believers.  But he prayed that we would “be one” because he knew that when we committed ourselves to him, it was possible to change us into selfless, humble, kind people who put others first.

 12 While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

Why did he say “do not belong to the world”?  Who or what do they belong to then?  They belong to God.

He said the world hated them because they do not belong to the world.  Is it any wonder that our current society tends to despise Christians?

 1 Corinthians 1:18 

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

It is foolishness to them.  We seem like idiots to the world.  Backwards, superstitious, ignorant and foolish.  They don’t even understand what they hate about us either.  And unless God reveals himself to them, our clever arguments will not work.  If you can talk someone into belief in God then someone else can talk them out of it.  They have to have an encounter with God for themselves.  And until they do, they will hate us and never know why.

 15 I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.

 Again, Jesus asks his Father to protect us from the evil one.  Does that mean that if something bad happens in your life that God has let you down and is no longer protecting you from the evil one?

Think about this:

 Matthew 9:1-8

1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. 2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”  3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?  5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” 7 And he arose and departed to his house.  8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

 What do we see in this story?  A heartless Jesus who doesn’t heal the poor guy until everyone freaks out?  Or a loving Lord who knows that the condition of our hearts is exceedingly more important than the condition of our bodies?

Bad stuff happens, guys.  It always has and it always will until Jesus returns.  How we deal with it is what matters.  Jesus was praying that God would protect his disciples’ hearts from the evil one, not necessarily their lives.  After all, most of the disciples died in the name of Jesus, being killed for what they preached.

 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

 Sanctify them in the truth… What does that even mean????  What does sanctify mean?!?!?!?!?

Sanctify means to make holy, purify, consecrate.

 Hebrews 10:10 – …We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

 Jesus death on the cross is what sanctifies us or “makes us holy, purifying us”.

Does that mean when we become Christians that God taps us on the head with a magic wand saying, “Poof, now you’re holy” and you never sin again? No.

In Romans 7, Paul the apostle talks about an inner conflict that believers go through.  He says in verse 15, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Paul clearly expresses in Romans 7 the struggle that believers go through, trying to follow God’s Spirit but getting tripped up by our human nature to sin.

Sanctification doesn’t mean “I’m holy now so if I commit a sin that must mean I don’t really love God.”

Jesus said, “Sanctify them in your truth, your word is truth.”  That means he is using his word and his spirit to make us holy.  It’s going to take time.  We’re going to mess up.  But… It. Is. A. Process.  It’s not going to happen overnight.

God gives us grace.  Does that give us a free pass to Sin Town, USA?  Nah, bro.  It means were incredibly loved.  And we need to get right back up on that horse and try again.

Jesus asked God to sanctify us in God’s truth which is his word.  We should expect that if we are committed to Jesus, our desires will change over time.  Maybe not all at once.  But as we grow in the Lord and as we embrace his word, it will change us, making us more holy.

Because of Jesus death, we are already holy in the sight of God but the process of getting us to match up with what God sees will be something we experience our whole lives.

Imagine you’re looking at an old photo of yourself.  You no longer look that way.  Time has changed you, aged you, helped you grow.  But the process of going from young you to older you took time, pain, hard work, life.  It’s the same for sanctification.  As you grow in Christ, you will change and you won’t look the same from year to year.

 20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,

 This is us.  This is the verse where we find out that Jesus hasn’t just been praying for those 12 disciples this whole time.  But he’s been praying for all believers.  Those who will believe in me through their word

If you believe in Jesus because of the word that the disciples preached then this verse is talking about you.  And now you can point to this verse, John 17:20, and tell everyone that you are in the Bible.

 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 

So that the world may believe that you have sent me… How is Jesus revealed to the world?  How will people know who he really is?

That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us… Jesus is revealed to the world when WE ARE ONE.

Remember this?

 Ephesians 4:1-6

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

It is through love, patience, kindness, humility, etc. that Jesus is revealed to the world.  Not through our perfectly crafted arguments and speeches.  Not through viral videos or powerful songs.  These things can point to Jesus but they don’t reveal him.  He is only revealed to the world when we ARE CHANGED BY HIM.

That change reveals the power of God because if God could change a sinner like you, there must be more going on than I realize.

This is why we must begin seeking for God to change us and seeking to walk in the kind of love and unity that Jesus is praying about here.

 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one… We are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus dwells in our hearts right now.  And his greatest desire is for us to “be one” with each other and with God.  He is drawing us into himself so that we may be sanctified (made holy) and through that we will become one (united, loving, humble).

This is how God is revealed to the world.

 24 Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am… Where is Jesus?  Current location: God’s throne room.

There are many layers of meaning to that phrase “with me where I am” but we’re only going to talk about one layer, the one that matters to us right now, at this very moment: Jesus wants to be one with us.  He wants that unity, love and relationship.  That is the layer we need to focus on.

The other layers of meaning laced in this phrase?  When is Jesus returning?  Who is sitting with him in God’s throne room right now?  Who stayed with him when he went to the cross? These are not the questions we need to worry about right now.  Only this: are we seeking unity with Jesus?  Do we want to be one?

So that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them… Jesus’ greatest desire, that we know God and his love.  That we may be one.

Take this with you:

Accept that God loves you and wants to be known by you.  This is eternal life and it began when you committed yourself to Jesus.

So did sanctification, the process of being made holy.  God is sanctifying you by his truth, which is his word.

And when that love changes you and you walk in oneness with God and other believers, Jesus is revealed to the world.

~~~~~

Okay, that’s it.  All my notes from our lesson.  I hope you got something out of it.

 

 

 

If We Knew

Here’s another little diddy for you by yours truly.  Nick and I have been listening to sermons by Brennan Manning lately and they’ve made me realize just how much we don’t understand the love of God.  Hope you enjoy the song.

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