Can I forgive myself?

Imagine you go to college and get your first credit card. Loving the fact that you don’t seem to need real money, you run up $50,000 in debt. As you become aware that when you use a credit card you are, in fact, spending real money, you realize you are trapped by your foolish decisions. You cannot even make that much your first year out of college. Then, God writes you a check for $1,000,000. You take the check, crying in gratitude, fold it up, and place it in your pocket where it sits for years. Have you received His gift? Well, technically yes. But have you really received His gift or are you still trying to pay off the debt yourself? In the same way, if we do not apply God’s forgiveness to our overwhelming debt of sin, we have not really received His forgiveness. We are stuck trying to forgive ourselves. Without God’s forgiveness, the good news doesn’t feel that good to us.” (The Art of Breathing, p. 51)

God has more than ‘sin management’ in mind for you.

“We must decide if we will depend on our righteousness, or if we will trust the work of Christ. Will we trust in our own ability to be righteous or will we count on the mercy of Jesus? Will we strive to forgive ourselves or will we cash the check?” (p. 54)

Introduction

For those who want to know more about what is inside the book, here is the introduction:

While following Jesus and abiding in Him go together, they are not the same thing. Following focuses on action, like obedience and service. Abiding emphasizes resting, remaining, living within. As we grow in Christ, we begin by following Him, just like His disciples. When Jesus called the Twelve, He bid them to follow Him. But as His ministry on earth began to draw to an end, He asked them to abide in Him like a branch abides in a vine. He asks us to do the same. We follow Him, but then we must grow to a place of abiding. The way we train children in the lessons of right and wrong, following Christ teaches us the basics of how we function in our Christian walk. We ask, “What would Jesus do?” and we focus on obedience to His word. But at some point we must move from milk to meat. We must allow obedience to flow from something rather than depend on it to get us to something.

I have never met anyone who feels they have too much joy or peace.

Does fruit come from striving or abiding? Does a branch strive to produce fruit or does it come from a healthy connection to the vine? Can we really have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control by trying harder? If so, wouldn’t we have already tried by now? (more…)

Perspective

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great the darkness.” Matthew 6:22-23

When I was young, my family went to Yellowstone Park. We have a picture of my brother standing in front of a huge moose in the background. The way the picture was taken, it looks like the little tiny moose is actually standing on my brother’s head. It’s hilarious. The reality is that the moose was probably 18 times his size and, if provoked, could have easily crushed him. Perspective changes everything. (more…)

Daily Bread

Recently, the word ‘daily’ has been standing out for me. It seems so easy to do this Christian life thing in chunks and spurts but more difficult to allow God to set the rhythm of my life. It’s difficult to stay efficient and contemplative at the same time. Life-styles demand efficiency. My soul desperately needs contemplation. Since I choose not to live as a monk, cut off from the world (however tempting that may be at times), I need a way to ground myself. I don’t want my faith to mean something only on Sunday morning. Anyone else feel this way? (more…)

Stepping Stones

Usually I write my own blogs. Today, however, I want to share something I read by Margaret Silf from her book Inner Compass. It rocked my world. Check it out:

“Each breath a stepping-stone to God.”

These words have made a home in my heart. I let the feeling paint its picture in my prayer today. I let myself walk into the picture, feel the swirl of the river, and stand on the stepping-stone. My whole prayer today wants to be just time standing there in God’s unseen presence, on the stepping stone. (more…)

You’re Saving Me

The following is a song I wrote many years ago. I was going through a dark time and could not figure out how to find God.

It is dark.

Evil surrounds a weary soul.

Don’t understand why

You don’t intervene

and take control.

Your tear-stained eyes

I do not see.

I’m blinded by the fear inside of me. (more…)

Known

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.” (Psalm 139:1)

Don’t we all want to be known? Don’t we all want to be discovered? Not caught, or found out, but really understood in our deepest places? We need someone who can bridge the gap between what we do (being caught) and who we are (being known).

Most of us, on some level, feel invisible. Our experiences don’t help that.  Remember, as a child, trying to get someone to watch you jump into the pool?  As you came up for air you realized that everyone was continuing to read or talk with each other and missed your amazing, death-defying leap? Or maybe you really like someone who forgets to invite you to the party. He just forgot. You. He remembered everyone else. We feel invisible, unknown. (more…)

Lead Me to the Cross

I was talking with a friend yesterday about the American evangelical church.  I often wonder if we, as a whole group, have started to drift away from some important things.  As a counselor, I really appreciate teaching that helps the average pew-sitter to function better.  How do I parent better?  How do I improve my communication with a spouse or family member?  How do I lead my family to be strong?  I think these are questions that the church must address.  But I’m not sure if they should address them from the pulpit.

While learning how to help my child handle a bully, or the statistics for how eating together builds strong families is really important information (truly), I don’t need Jesus to do that.  I think the emphasis on growing strong families is crucial to our society.  But I need to learn how Jesus is the only true Source for that to happen.  In our attempts to help a dying world, I don’t want to see us become the Christian version of a self-help resource for families.  Does this make sense?   (more…)

Freedom

So I’ve been studying the book of Exodus.  I thought it fitting this week as we celebrate our Nation’s freedom.  Both focus on our need to be free.  As humans we were not made to be in bondage.  We were not designed to wear shackles of any kind whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  We were made for freedom.

Gerald May, a Christian psychologist and author, states, “The freedom question is not whether we can do whatever we want but whether we can do what we most deeply want.”

I love that!  So what was I made to want?  The book of Exodus tells us. (more…)

Busyness, Book-Writing and Distraction

Sorry I haven’t blogged for so long.  I’m hoping this once-per-quarter entry will pick back up again now that MY BOOK IS FINISHED!  It is at the editor’s now and should come back to me mid-week.  After that, I will make the needed corrections, format it for the publisher, and they will make me a book.  It feels like I’m having a child…minus some of the obvious symptoms.

Something that I’m learning through this process of writing a book is how easily we can know something with our heads and how quickly we can detach from that knowledge in our everyday moments.  I wrote an entire chapter of my book on forgiveness and yet I am wrestling through bitterness in my heart right now.  I WROTE A CHAPTER ON FORGIVENESS… How can I so easily miss what I know?  What is it about the human heart that can do that?  Is this why the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is so dangerous to us?  Without connection with God, can we handle what we know?  Can we live in it at all? (more…)