Category Archives: PAID IN FULL

7 What If’s?!

Have U seen the movie yet?

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It’s perhaps the biggest What If?” ever debated –
What if God is dead?
What if God (and Heaven) isn’t real?
Personally,  I’ve never seen a need to debate it,
but there are a few other “What If’s” about God I’ve pondered:

WHAT IF –

• …U’re already as Forgiven (by God) as U’re ever going to be?

• …God already Loves U as much right now as He ever will?

• …The only thing God really needs from U is for U to spend time – with His Son?

• …God wants U to work WITH Him instead of FOR Him?

• …God doesn’t remember WHAT He forgave U of – He just remembers WHY?

• …God can use Ur past to touch others at the place of their deepest pain?

• …God wants U to stop trying to get Him to like U?

…Now, share with all of us… Tell us the biggest What If U ponder…

 

 

HOW! GOD Loves me/us

Yesterday I was re-writing part of the testimony I plan to share at our 6 year Celebrate Recovery anniversary dinner. I’m trying to reduce it from 12 minutes into the allotted 5. So far I’m at 8.1/2. How do I reduce a 5.1/2 year journey into 5 minutes? What can I leave out? That’s only 66 seconds per year!

Several times I wrote the phrase “How much God Loves me“, or “How much God Loves us“. After the 4th time, I began to recognize that the word “MUCH” didn’t belong. It’s not HOW MUCH… It’s HOW! God’s Love cannot be quantified. It’s QUALITY,  not QUANTITIY. It’s the WAY He loves us, not How MUCH.

Unconditionally! Unfailingly! Amazingly! Unselfishly! Sacrificially!
Gracefully! Unending!  ___________fillinyourownword

My desire and prayer needs to be: “Lord, teach me HOW you Love!”

My puny human efforts to get God to Love me MORE must make Him laugh.
But first, it probably breaks His Heart.

“I sacrificed My Son to set you free! I can’t do ‘more’.”

“Lord, beginning today, bring me into a deeper understanding of your Love.
Open my heart, my mind and spirit, create in me a greater
capacity to know HOW You Love.”

But What about my sin?

For the past (almost) 4 years, I’ve had the privilege of working with 6 or 7 guys from Teen Challenge every Tuesday at New Life Church, Alamo, Ca.

Several months ago, we started having a time of sharing together each morning as we eat donuts and drink coffee. They enjoy it because of the coffee and donuts, and I get a chance to share my blog posts. Win,Win for all!! Seriously, it’s become a very beneficial time of sharing our hearts in a small group before starting our day.

Last Tuesday, I shared a blog post about God’s Presence. The phrase that became the point of discussion for the morning was:

“Don’t ever allow the awareness of your sin to keep you out of My Presence.”

The Question of the day became:

“If we can’t pick up our sin and carry it into the presence of the Lord,
what are we to do with it?”

Several things were listed:

      • Work harder
      • Pray more
      • Read more scripture
      • Recommit myself
      • Deny it
      • Bury it
      • Blame others
      • Promise – never again!
      • Stop – just stop!
      • Compare mine with yours
      • Pretend I don’t… sin (one’o my personal favorites)
      • Ignore it, maybe it will just go away
      • Do Penance for it
      • Run from it
      • Cry about it
      • Rename it
      • Give in to it. Again. Like before
      • Justify it

For most of my life, I did not know what to do with my sin. Over the years, I’ve tried all the things on this list, and more. I’ve watched others struggle as well. I’ve come to recognize that lots of (most?) people don’t know either. I knew we are saved by Grace, but then what? What if I keep sinning? Didn’t Jesus say: Go – and sin no more?” What do I do with my sin? How can I abide in Him if I keep sinning?

There have been days upon days that I find myself standing in the storm, waiting to get dry enough so I can come “inside”. I’ve had those on the “inside” hand me a towel and say: “Here, dry yourself off so you can join us.” Before I know it, my towel is wet, too.

I finally reached the point I knew all my efforts to atone for my shortcomings (see – I renamed my sin) were never going to allow me to come before Him with the boldness and confidence He promises.

I finally learned (He taught me) that the ONLY thing I can do with my sin is pick it up and carry it into His Presence. It is THERE I find victory. It is THERE I find Love. It is THERE I find acceptance. It is THERE I find forgiveness. It is THERE I find freedom and joy. I can go THERE because HE says: “COME

What are U doing with Ur sin?
How’s that working 4U?
Is Ur towel wet?

Therefore,… we have confidence by His blood,… to draw near to God with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith…   Hebrews 10; 19-22 NIV

“DADDY!”

Excerpt from: “My Judge? or ‘Father!'”    read the original here.

My Child, let me explain one more thing to you. That death of my Son on that Cross set you free! Not only from the penalty of your sin, not only from the punishment of your guilt, but also from the power of sin. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. There is therefore no condemnation for you. Will I accuse you? Listen close to what I am saying to you! My SON died for you! Will I bring a charge against you? I justified you!”

“This is the covenant I make with you. Your sins and your lawless deeds I will remember no more. Now, where there is forgiveness of these things, I no longer require a sacrifice for sin! Therefore, my child, you can now have confidence to come into my presence with freedom and boldness.

Please, don’t ever allow your awareness of your sin
to keep you out of my presence!

“From this moment and forever, you do not come before me to be judged.
You come to me as my Beloved Child!”

Well, Of COURSE God Loves me…

Have you ever struggled with the idea that God Loves you? Some do, others never do. I do, my wife doesn’t. Why? I have absolutely no idea. How can she simply accept as fact that God Loves her – and that’s that? Why can’t I?

I recently wrote: “God can’t love me – Look at me!” At 4:00 this morning, this new thought woke me up:

Well, Of Course God Loves me, look at me!”

At that early morning hour, at that first waking thought, I assumed this was the opposite viewpoint of my previous blog – Now that I’m awake, I’m realizing that both are the wrong perspective. Both statements have their foundation based in my insatiable EGO. “I” am looking at “me”.

I have discovered – at a HUGE cost to my ego, the only reason God Loves me is simply…

BECAUSE HE CHOOSES TO

LOVE ME

God does not Love me because I’ve finally gotten it all together. He doesn’t love me because my Daddy was a preacher man. He doesn’t love me because he has a plan for my life. (He has a plan for my life because He Loves me.) He does not Love me because He needs a missionary to China. He doesn’t even Love me because He sees potential in me. He doesn’t love me because I am or I’ve done or I’ve said ANYTHING (or not).

He simply Loves me.

My EGO hates it when I can’t find a reason why God Loves me
My ego hates it so much it keeps making them up
Or, it finds reasons why God CAN’T Love me
They all prove to be false
Lies

It was some 35 years ago I listened as a guy said to me: “Jim, my wife told me she wishes I were more like you.” My first, ego-driven thought at the time was: “Well, of course she does – look at you!” (thank God I didn’t voice that to him)

What I said to that young man was – “Eric, guys like me do guys like you a real disservice when we hide our real selves.”  Of course his wife wanted him to be more like me… she was comparing the man she lived with and saw every day with the man I let her see occasionally. There was a big part of me – under the secrets – that was a lot more like him than I wanted anyone to know.

I still cringe at that. Problem is, at times, I still want to think it. “Of course God Loves me… Look at how much I pray… At how much I give… At how much I study His Word… At how hard I try… At how much I _____fillintheblank”

But if I pick up that shiny coin and stick it in the pocket of my soul, the other side of the coin – the one I think is the ugly side – says: “But God can’t really Love you…” When I carry that coin around in my pocket, I never know which face I’m going to see when I pull it out. I never know which side of the coin is the truth. That’s because the coin is counterfeit. Both sides of the coin are as ugly as sin.

It looks real. It feels like reality. It’s even a very commonly accepted form of exchange we use daily with everybody in our lives.

When I began to discover the TRUTH – God Loves ME! With no “Ifs“, no “Whens“, no “Unless’s“, no “Untills“, no “Buts“, no “_______fillintheblank’s“, I began a journey that is bringing me into a place of amazing freedom. I finally began to Discover the Real Me.

Freedom to walk with Him in His Garden. (That’s why I chose the picture at the top of my blog pages) Freedom to lie down and rest in the green pastures. With Him. Freedom from judging others for what I perceive as their failures. Freedom from the Pressures of Pretending. Freedom from the hurt when I think others are judging me. Freedom from the struggle to understand His Way for me. Freedom to step through the veil into His Presence – simply because He’s Calling. Me. I’m finding a new freedom to Love OTHERS simply because I’m Loved, and – The One who Loves me Loves them.

My EGO REFUSES to walk through the veil. But on the other side of the veil is where the FREEDOM resides. Do I choose to stay with my ego or do I step into (His) freedom? The difference between the two sides of that choice seem to be more vivid everyday. In fact, it seems like it’s becoming a daily choice.

There is some truth in the statement – “one can only Love as much as one is Loved.”

God has more Love for me than I think I need, more Love than I can understand. He has more Love for me than I can hold. That’s why He keeps changing me. So I can hold more of His Love. In fact, I now have so much of His Love I can’t hold it all. I have to give some of it away. The more Love I give away, the more He provides – In, For, and Through me.

“IT IS FINISHED”

Lately, as I’ve been reading the letters of the Apostle Paul,
I’ve become increasingly aware of the PAST TENSE used whenever he
makes reference to the work of Jesus Christ in our lives

There seems to be certain rights and privileges reserved
only for those who are “Righteous in Christ

So, once again, I’m face with this age-old question:

At what point in our journey do Christians become righteous?”

I think most Christians understand we come to Christ for the first time
on the basis of His Grace and we cannot work our way into salvation.
But it seems many believe once we are past that point of beginning by His Grace, growth and maturity toward righteousness come primarily by our own efforts

The final declaration of Jesus before dying on the cross was:

IT IS FINISHED!”

For many years, I thought that final statement referred to His earthly ministry
As He took His last breath, that ministry was complete
He was now free to return to His Father in heaven
While this interpretation is certainly not incorrect, there is a more vital,
much deeper meaning we desperately need to understand

When Christ declared IT IS FINISHED,
He declared RIGHTEOUS all who accept His Gift of Grace

The greatest Blessing God gives His children is the Presence of His Son in our lives
The changes produced by that Presence are often seen as His Requirements for Righteousness;
But Christ’s desire for us is that we would simply respond to His love for us

His Presence is the Power that produces change. In us

“But”, I hear you say; “does it really matter?” “What is the difference in WHY the changes are made, just as long as we change?” The primary difference is found in Hebrews 10: 19-25. Here, the word instructs us to draw near to God WITH CONFIDENCE! If that confidence is based upon our own efforts and performance, then in those inevitable times of failure, we will shrink back from His Presence

As we move out of His Presence, we move away from the Power that makes us more than conquerors. But if that confidence is in the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, we become free to respond to the call to Enter His Presence with Boldness and Confidence

If the blood of Jesus did not pay the total price for our righteousness,
then that blood is not as powerful as He says it is. If it is not as
powerful as He says it is, then it has no power at all

What is the greatest need of the world today? It’s that we may know the personal, intimate Presence of God. When Christ said “IT IS FINISHED”, the veil separating the place of preparation and the Holy of Holies was torn in two. This allowed the Presence of the Lord to come out of that place and begin to dwell within the hearts of men. That tearing of the veil also allowed mankind to enter into the Presence of the Lord without extensive rules and regulations of preparation

There will still be changes in the lives of His children. There will always be progress toward growth and maturity. There will be areas in which the Lord deals with us to submit and commit to Him, But these changes will happen BECAUSE of who we are in Him, not IN ORDER TO BE what He wants us to be so we can receive His approval and Love

The door is open!
The veil is torn!
The price is paid!
The gap is bridged!
The Faith is given!
His call for intimacy is sent forth!

RESPOND!
With CONFIDENCE!

1Question – only 1Question

Brennan Manning, Where have U been all my life? U make it sound so simple!
It’s taken me a lifetime to learn how simple it really is
God Loves Me. He just wants me to Love Him back
 It really IS just that simple (.com)
Why do I keep forgetting?

I LOVE Ur Question:  “When I stand before God…”

http://youtu.be/PFrSlT1khds

When I found out how I was Loved
By Him, I began to act like I was Loved!
By Him. I was finally able to stop TRYING to Be Loved
By Him. Most days. Other days, I tend to choose the ways of My Ego

Lord – U remain RELENTLESSLY FAITHFUL! To me!
Please – keep reminding me

The JOURNEY

Yesterday morning, as I was driving across town to spend the day with Teen Challenge @ New Life Church, this thought occurred to me:
 
God loves me as much as He Loves Billy Graham.” The fact that I would even entertain such a thought without rejecting it immediately is a miracle. That thought is the end product of a 5 year journey of learning how God views me. 
 
5 years ago, at a men’s retreat, God impressed upon me to stop striving, to stop trying so hard to please Him so He would Love me more. He wanted to begin teaching me how much He Already Loves me. 
 
That journey took me to Celebrate Recovery. Then to A.A. It took me into some dark valleys and to some glorious mountain tops. It’s revealed to me that He’s God on the dark days as much as He is when all seems bright around me. It led me into close, safe relationships with “God Connections”, people who touch me in profound ways, and who are in turn touched by God through me. This path has taught me that when I share with others I receive more than I give.  I’m now learning to give and share with others who at first seem to be “the unlovable”. (another lesson – God loves “Others” as much as He loves me – & Billy Graham) 
 
This journey has taken me into my past to recognize, acknowledge and heal from hurts, habits and hangups that were keeping me from loving and being loved.
 
I’ve learned to sometimes say “No” to people’s   ” Jim, can you…”    instead of a reluctant, obligatory “Yes”. Often, I said “Yes” so I’d feel loved & accepted.
 
More and more I’m beginning to accept His Daily Invitation to lie down in green pastures and enjoy my time with Him. We share so much as I learn to relax in Him.        Be still, and KNOW(Me).”
 

It’s not about EARNING His Love… It’s all about LEARNING(about) His Love
For me. And U.

    “God Loves U right now as much as He always has, & always will.”
  Ask Him to show U!
    Let Him take U on Ur Journey. 

Grace – Ful Discipline

Until I “got” Grace, until I learned that difficulties in my life came not because I needed to be punished, I failed to understand the DISCIPLINE side of life’s difficulties.

The weight and fear of PUNISHMENT taught me to hide my guilt from the judgement of the punisher. DISCIPLINE that flows from a heart of LOVE draws the disciplined one closer.

GRACE will include DISCIPLINE.
DISCIPLINE must be wrapped in GRACE.

DISCIPLINE, properly administered and understood leads to Freedom, Confidence and Joy in the Presence of the One who paid the Price.