Failure is a given, but so is grace.

Some of you out there failed big time. You screwed up, and it wasn’t just a little “oopsie.” It was a major mistake. It had massive consequences, consequences that will last the rest of your life. The mistakes you’ve made affected others, ended relationships, and cost you dearly. You swore you would never __________.

But you did.

Now the results are irreversible. The damage is done. And you have the scars to prove it.

You wish it had never happened. You wish you’d never gone down that road. You wish it were just a horrible nightmare.

But it’s not.

Dear friend, I know you think all is lost. I know you feel defeated. I know you believe there is no redemption.

But there is.

Do you remember Peter? Peter, the rash one. The one who swore, too, that he would never. But he did. Over and over and over again. (Luke 22) Peter, who meant well, but failed big. Peter, whose heart wanted to do the right thing, but whose flesh won time after time. God knows Peter loved Jesus, but he just couldn’t seem to keep his mouth from getting him into trouble. He often ran ahead, always acting before thinking, it seemed. (John 13:9, Luke 22, John 18:10, Luke 24:12)

Are you feeling a bit like Peter? Have your words caused you to bite your tongue, wishing you’d kept quiet? Or have others, perhaps, told you you need to “zip your lips?” Or maybe you’ve often been accused of “leaping without looking?”

Friend, you are not alone. In fact, you (and I) are a lot like Peter.

But this is not bad news.

It doesn’t matter what “they” think. It doesn’t matter that “they” think you talk too much. It doesn’t matter that “they” think you’re too bold and impetuous.

What matters is what Jesus thinks. Jesus wasn’t unaware of Peter’s shortcomings, you know. He knew everything about Peter, and He knows everything about you. He knew Peter would fail him. (Luke 22:34) He knows we will fail him, and yet He calls us, just as He called Peter.

You have a voice, the voice God gave you. You take action because action is what Jesus outfitted you with. And you have failure because it humbles you. Failure is not a sign that you should quit, Friend. Failure is your call to “not think of yourself more highly than you ought,” but to recognize where your strength comes from; that it comes not from you, but from Christ. (Rom. 12:3)

Our failures can either lock us up in despair or launch us into confidently proclaiming the power of Christ. Peter wept bitterly over his failure. (Luke 22:62) Weep over yours. Then get up like Peter, accept God’s forgiveness, and go forward. Peter, as soon as he knew Jesus was near, took off as fast as he could for him. (John 21:7) After his failure, after his disappointment and bitter recognition of his own unworthiness, Peter got back to business.

matthew-16-18-peter

Dear Friend, you failed. It’s true. But now take the grace that’s been given you and show others what Christ has done for you. Be the Peter He calls you to be. Remember that your confidence isn’t in you, but in Jesus. He will build His church, your failures and all.

Blessings,

Angie signature

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Are you excited?

My seven year old and I were reading his Bible for the day. We read out of The Beginner’s Bible.

the-beginners-bible2-2

The story was from the book of John, chapter 21. I was reading him the lines pictured above and choked up. “Peter was so excited, he jumped into the water.”

John 21: 3-7

3“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

5He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

“As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.”(Vs.7)

Yeah. This choked me up. Peter was excited to see Jesus. He was so excited that his first response was to take off running (o.k., swimming) for Him.

Friends, do you get excited about seeing Jesus?

Do you long for Him like Peter did? Do you imagine what it will be like to see Him, to stand before Him, to touch Him, to hear His voice?

For a brief moment while reading these verses, I did. And I was overwhelmed. Oh, the joy. The joy that will be ours when we at last will see Him and be in His presence.

See, Peter’s joy was even greater because he had just been through some of the darkest nights of his life. Peter had just experienced massive personal failure. (Remember, he denied Jesus three times. Luke 22His LORD and Savior had died. Peter, the fisherman-turned-disciple, went back to doing what was familiar: fishing. But even that was a disappointment. They caught nothing all night long.

After Peter’s disappointment, failure, and sorrow, what does he get?

Jesus.

He gets Jesus, and he takes off after Him. Friend, you, too, have sorrow, disappointment, and failure. But guess what? You have Jesus, too. Take off after Him. Swim to Him. There is joy in His presence.

Blessings,

Angie signature

 

Like Felix and Oscar

As I opened my eyes to Monday morning, my thoughts went to morning devotions. I pulled out my copy of Streams in the Desert and lay in bed reading. Monday’s entry spoke of the “perplexing care that the world is full of.” How appropriate for a Monday! Meditating on the day’s passage, my mind, as it has for the past five-plus years, turned to thoughts of heaven and God. Those thoughts, in turn, bring me to thoughts of my son.

Why is it that the “perplexing care that the world is full of” seems heavier at the start of a new week? I don’t know. (Of course, not all of us feel this way. I do actually know a few people who greet Mondays with unrestrained verve. Sarcastically speaking, I’m not exactly sure why we’re friends.) Unlike those who find Mondays a fresh start, a new beginning, and an unexplored possibility of great things, I do not generally welcome them.

Mondays and I are a bit like The Odd Couple, Felix and Oscar. I don’t care for Mondays, but we must cohabitate. Mondays drive me crazy, overwhelm me. They just come on a bit too strong. Much like grief some days. We, too, cohabitate. Grief is definitely not my choice of a living companion for, like Oscar, grief is messy. It is perplexing.

Do you know someone who is experiencing grief? Do they seem a bit “messy” to you? Believe it or not, they are normal. They are grieving. Like Mondays, they may come off a bit strong, but rest assured, they will find their way given enough grace. Give them space to grieve, but stay close. Give them validation for their pain, don’t expect them to grieve like you.

We are not best friends, Monday and I, but we have learned to respect one another. Like Oscar and Felix, and grief and joy, I discovered we can, indeed, live together. I have thrown aside my agenda for Mondays (and grief). I make my to-do list, but leave room for God to direct. I let the moments of sorrow wash over me, but cling to the truth of His word. Whatever “perplexing care that the world is full of” on Monday, or any day, it is my call to run to my Father with it, to roll the burden unto Him.

“Roll on Jehovah thy way” (Ps. 37:6, margin).

Whatever it is that presses thee, go tell the Father; put the whole matter over into His hand, and so shalt thou be freed from that dividing, perplexing care that the world is full of. When thou art either to do or suffer anything, when thou art about any purpose or business, go tell God of it, and acquaint Him with it; yes, burden Him with it, and thou hast done for matter of caring; no more care, but quiet, sweet, diligence in thy duty, and dependence on Him for the carriage of thy matters. Roll thy cares, and thyself with them, as one burden, all on thy God.
R. Leighton

Build a little fence of trust
Around today;
Fill the space with loving work
And therein stay.

Look not through the sheltering bars
Upon tomorrow;
God will help thee bear what comes
Of joy or sorrow.
Mary Butts

We shall find it impossible to commit our way unto the Lord, unless it be a way that He approves. It is only by faith that a man can commit his way unto the Lord; if there be the slightest doubt in the heart that “our way” is not a good one, faith will refuse to have anything to do with it. This committing of our way must be a continuous, not a single act. However extraordinary and unexpected may seem to be His guidance, however near the precipice He may take you, you are not to snatch the guiding reins out of His hands.

Are we willing to have all our ways submitted to God, for Him to pronounce judgment on them? There is nothing a Christian needs to be more scrutinizing about than about his confirmed habits and views. He is too apt to take for granted the Divine approbation of them. Why are some Christians so anxious, so fearful? Evidently because they have not left their way with the Lord. They took it to Him, but brought it away with them again.
Selected

Streams in the Desert (Online at Christianity.com)

 

What has you perplexed, dear Friend? Take it to Him…Monday, today, any day.

Blessings,

Angie signature

Nobody puts Baby in the corner

If you’re a certain age, you know where this line comes from. No 80’s movies pop quiz today, though, folks. Instead, I wanted to throw the line out there, but jerk it a bit. Here’s what I mean and where I’m going with it:

Have you felt, like Baby, that you’ve been put in the corner lately? Perhaps there’s a situation in your life where you’ve begged God for deliverance, but instead, He’s put you in the corner. The corner isn’t a comfortable spot, is it? Sometimes this isolation in the corner feels a bit like we’re being punished. We think our Father is ticked off at us, that we’ve done something wrong. We feel as if He has abandoned us.

I know how that feels. I know what it’s like to wonder, “What did I do wrong?” “Why is God mad at me?” “Isn’t this enough punishment?” “Where is He?”

Friend, that simply isn’t true.

God has not put you in the corner to punish you. He has not abandoned you.

You feel isolated and alone, and it would seem all of your friends are too busy for you or are dealing with their own kind of hard. You look out at the landscape of your life and all is empty, the horizon barren. But, Friend, though your feelings are valid, they are also misleading, a red herring. You can sink fast if you swim after them.

A “time-out” in the corner isn’t what it appears to be. Could it be that God is seeking an audience of one with you? Could it be He is drawing you away to Himself? Could it be He is revealing Himself to you, proving to you that He is all you need? That He alone is enough?

This isolation, solitary confinement? It isn’t a form of ostracism, Friend. It’s an invitation to enter the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies. It is a call to meet with Jesus, to trust Him in the midst of the storm that rages on around you. Your life has become a slippery, hard dance floor, and the spinning of your world has left you dizzy and breathless. But you are not without a partner, my friend. Keep your eyes on Him, follow His lead, and trust Him to lift you higher. He will not drop you. He won’t let go.

He will meet you in the corner, on the dance floor, or anywhere. Dance like you’ve never danced before.

Blessings,

Angie signature

Throwing stones at God

Dr. Joseph Stowell in the book “Through a Season of Grief” by Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard (pg. 201) says: “If you look at your problem and then look at God, you always end up throwing stones at God for the problem. If you look at God first and look at your problems through Him, through His sovereignty–that He is in control of everything—you will see that He is an all-powerful God who can turn this situation to that which is good and right.”

Friends, are you carrying a few rocks in your hand? I remember well holding several stones myself at various points in my life, especially the times when life simply just didn’t make sense. I was hurt. I was angry. Have you been there, friend? Have you wanted to throw stones at God?

The trials in our lives look a lot like the giant Goliath, don’t they? They are overwhelming. They tower over us. They taunt us, saying things like, “If God loves you, then where is He now?” “If you are so loved, then why is God allowing this to happen?” “If God is all-powerful, then why didn’t He stop this from happening?” “If your God does miracles, then where’s the miracle now?” “If God answers prayers, then why is He acting deaf?”

After our son died, it seemed as if God heard and answered other people’s prayers, but not ours. It seemed as if He did miracles for others, but not for us. Disappointment, pain, and unmet expectations can feel an awful lot like stones in the hand. Perhaps you, too, have a few stones; stones of rejection, failure, or heartache. God didn’t answer your prayers the way you thought He would or deliver you from the horrible circumstances you’re experiencing. The smooth stones you hold are tempting to throw, am I right?

We throw stones at the enemy.

But God?

God is not the enemy, he is not Goliath. 

Sometimes we mistake Him for the problem. Sometimes the pain, disappointment, and anger eclipse our view of God. Sometimes we fail to surrender to His sovereignty.

That’s really what it comes down to, isn’t it? His sovereignty. Ultimately, we must let go of our plans and expectations and accept His. That’s really when we drop the rocks and pick up the cross. When we acknowledge God’s sovereignty in every one of our messes, our struggles, our failures, our sorrows, then we will begin to see the glory behind the ugliness. The cross was not a pretty sight. Neither are our lives at times.

That’s exactly why we need Christ’s perspective. It’s why we need to view our hardships through God’s eyes. Jesus didn’t make it easy. He made it possible. Friends, whatever your hard is, remember that God’s plan for us is good. It is the enemy who plots to kill, steal, and destroy. No matter the trial, the hardship, or the devastation, God’s plan is to always, always, bring good from it.

A proper perspective changes our focus. Instead of fixing our eyes on the rocks in our hand, we can raise our gaze and set our sight on the One who stands taller than our problems. As we begin this New Year, may we remember that He is “…over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:6)

Blessings,

Angie signature