You are loved

I’m not sure who told you you were unlovable and unworthy, or if maybe those thoughts have just always been there for as long as you can remember. Perhaps no one said it verbally, yet somehow you just knew you weren’t loved, knew there must have been some reason the people in your life didn’t love you, that it was your fault, something you said or did wrong, that made them reject you. And no matter how many times you’ve been told you are loved, you don’t believe it. There’s always some little piece inside you that rejects those words. Oh, you wish you could believe them. You ache for them to be true. But deep in your heart? You’re not convinced.

I know the mantra, friend. I remember the deep, bone-marrow conviction that shouted above the voices of reassurance. All proclamations of love were drowned out by my mind’s absolute certainty of the contrary. For as long as I could remember, I, too, remained a prisoner to the lie that I was not loved or lovable. No amount of “proof” or repeated declarations could sway what I believed was the truth.

Are you with me? Do you get what I’m saying? You know what I mean, right? Yeah. I thought so. Oh, my friend. Will you trust me on this? Will you believe me when I say that what you’re believing is a lie? For once, will you doubt the voice of condemnation? Will you dare to trust the voice of the One who made you? Will you step out of the lies that bind and fall into the arms of Him who loves unconditionally?

I don’t know what it’ll take for you to believe the truth. I only know that carrying a burden of self-hatred and false rejection never leads to freedom. The way to freedom is through Christ.

know the truth

My freedom came when I did a Precept Bible study titled “Lord, I Want to Know You.” It was through the study that I learned who God was, and in knowing who God was (and is), I discovered His love. For the first time in my life I learned what God thought of me, how He saw me. I was acceptable just the way I was. He showed me that I was loved simply because I was His, not because of any merit on my part. I didn’t need to be smart, pretty, or even lovable. I found my identity in Christ. I didn’t need to be dependent on other people’s opinions of me. I could believe I was loved.

When your identity is in Jesus Christ, you are set free. Lies will always enslave and reduce. Truth enlarges and relieves. Will you believe God today, friend, that He loves you? I pray you will live in freedom in the knowledge of the truth: You are loved.

Blessings,

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Goodness

chocolate lava cake raspberry

(Photo credit Abby Cherney)

I have one daughter who is a photographer and another who is a baker. I admit I am spoiled. My kitchen is never clean, but it’s a small price to pay for some of that yummy goodness pictured above. (It’s Chocolate Lava Cake, btw, made and photographed by one said daughter.)

I’ve been thinking much lately about goodness. Seeing goodness in life after loss is like participating in a marathon. It takes effort, training, and persistence to see any goodness after loss. (Not that I would know anything first-hand about a marathon. Anything to avoid sweat is my motto!)

But it is the putting of one foot in front of the another that eventually leads to passing mile markers of goodness. Always, it involves focus. Counting my steps, each one echoing something for which to thank God. Gratitude, like exercise, takes repetition. Practice does not, as they say, make perfect. Practice makes progress, said someone.

And the apostle Paul in Romans 7 gives voice to many of us. We do what we don’t want to do, and don’t do what we know we should. It’s never easy to praise when in pain, but the practiced prayers of our hearts are seen by a holy God. He knows the “sacrifice of praise” and sees the desire of a bleeding heart to trust it’s Maker. Our praise is never rejected, our hearts held by the most skilled of surgeons.

This life is training ground for eternity. You will most certainly face hardship and trials. It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.” (James 1:2) Do not let this discourage you or cause you to fear, friend. In fact, let it spur you on, like Joseph, to store up during the years of plenty so that when the trials come you have a good and great reserve on which to draw upon.

But the reserves are not the good memories or wonderful years. No, the reserves are the truths you have learned, the truth about God and His Word. These truths will be the very life preserver around you when you find yourself in the depths of the sea, the waters overwhelming. The truth that God is good and everything He does is good will be your anchor in the storm.

He purposes that our “light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2Cor. 4:17) Do you see that, friend? Those trials are achieving something. What are they achieving? Eternal glory. Eternal. Glory. We certainly don’t view our troubles as light and momentary from our perspective, but that eternal glory? That eternal glory far outweighs them all. We can’t even fathom, can we? For some of us, our sorrow is so great, so overwhelming, so heavy, and yet His Word says that these troubles will be far outweighed by eternal glory. This is goodness. This is why we give praise.

Circumstances change. God does not. He gives us good gifts, gifts too numerous to count, but counting them creates a hunger and thirst for more. It opens our eyes to more of His goodness, to see Him in everything. Have you been awestruck by God’s creation lately?

The other day while shopping I saw a child skipping alongside her parents. It made me smile because this little girl’s joy was evident. Seeing her joy gave me joy. Goodness isn’t hard to find if you purpose to look for it.

The overcast days swelling with rain have pressed hard on my perspective this past week, however, clouding not only the sun, but my view of daily life. I had to peer more intently to find the good, but I found it amid the simple: scattered leaves upon the patio, the sound of my children’s laughter, the delightful taste of caramel apple pie with a perfectly flaky crust.

Those things counted with goodness remind me of how good God is. They remind of the pleasures He gives, and the pleasure He takes in giving them. They remind me of His faithfulness and provision. They bring to mind His perfect nature and holiness.

For some of you, finding goodness is a challenge. Your life doesn’t look anywhere near what you thought it would be. You’re facing hard things you never dreamed. You’re wondering where God is at. Oh, friend, He is there. You may not see Him, but look for the love, look for the truth, look for the good. When you find it, you will find His fingerprints. They are all over. Trace them, touch them. They are in every good thing. Goodness and truth – He is it. Stock up, friends.

Blessings,

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That sin you just can’t shake

Someone out there is struggling with sin, a sin they’ve tried so hard to overcome, but just keep failing to conquer. In fact, they’ve tried so long and so hard to gain victory over it, but have failed so many times they flat out gave up at trying. Why fight it, they figure? It’s just too hard. They’ve already failed so many people, it’s over, they think. And they succumb to their sin, numbing themselves to life, turning to a different path. It’s not the path they thought they’d find themselves on, but, hey, it is what it is, right? You convince yourself you’re happier this way, anyway.

This is what despair looks like. This is what believing the enemy does to the one who just can’t shake their sin. It leads one on an old familiar road, the road of sin. I know the road well. I’ve been there, friend. I, too, gave in because it was just.too.hard. I believed I had blown it, blown it beyond any chance of hope. I figured I might as well just live with it and, hey, if you can’t beat ’em, then join ’em, right?

Wrong.

But wait. You screwed up. Again. That means it’s over. Right?

Wrong.

Guess what? There is no limit to God’s forgiveness. There is no point where He finally snaps and says, “I’ve had enough. You’re done. Leave.” God doesn’t work that way. He is limitless, and His mercies are new every morning – even for you. (Lam. 3:22)

See, I know something you don’t. I know the truth. Remember this verse?

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

I suspect you’ve heard it before, but I’m guessing you didn’t hear the verses following it where Jesus says:

“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Do you see it? Truth? The truth is this: Your Father is not satan. Your father is God, therefore, you are not a slave to sin. Have I confused you? Let me explain: Before you (and I) became a Christian, your father was the devil. He was your master. You obeyed him. You had no choice, for you belonged to him. However, when you accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you became a son (or daughter) of God. You are no longer a slave to sin. You are forever in God’s family. Sin is not your master. 

Do you see the truth now? That sin you can’t overcome? That’s a lie. Satan has tied you up with the belief that you can’t overcome that sin. He has deceived you into believing you are handcuffed to your sin, that there is no escape.

Those chains? They’re paper.

And every time you choose to believe the whispers of the enemy, you slap another paper chain on your wrist. Remember, the enemy does not tell the truth, for he cannot. It is not in his nature. He is the father of all lies. (John 8:44)

Friend, you are free! You do not have to obey the voice of sin because sin does not own you. You are free to make a choice. You can choose to sin. Or you can resist temptation and be obedient to the One who died for you. Jesus finished it all for us. He set us free from the power of sin. We still live in the presence of sin, but we no longer have to listen to the voice of sin. Sin is now a choice.

What freedom! Your victory in overcoming sin happens when you realize the truth, when you see sin for what it is: a choice. That sin you can’t shake? Friend, you are not bound to sin. There are no chains on you. That’s the truth.

Blessings,

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