Zacchaeus – Short Dude. Weird Name. Noticed By God.

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Okay, so I master teach in middle school youth occasionally, and this past time I taught on Zacchaeus. At first I was really bummed about it because I was all like, “Uhhhhhh, every kid who has ever gone to church knows this story… it’s like the children’s ministry’s favorite one… what the heck am I going to say that’s ‘new’ that they haven’t already heard!?!?!”

But then as I started to study it, I felt washed over with a “new” perspective that I had never heard of/thought of before. Several of my friends wanted to hear the message and since I script out all of my lessons, I just changed it up a bit to make it blog-friendly and thought I’d share it here with you!

 {ZacchIKEAus}

Did you know that IKEA will babysit your kids… for free… for an hour… while you go upstairs and have a cup of coffee in their café?

Yeah. Well, they will.

And yeah, it’s awesome.

And yeah, that is the main reason that I potty trained my kids… so that I could take them to IKEA childcare and maintain my sanity every once in a while. Annnnnnnnd, well, now we are pretty much “regulars” there!

When we first started going out there my oldest son was three and he couldn’t remember the name of the store but they were learning the whole Zacchaeus climbed a tree song in church and so… yeah.

ZacchIKEAus.

Well, let’s talk about him.

Short dude with a weird name.

Yeahhhhhhhh, that combo was probably NOT good for his social life. I mean… I can totally identify with that. I’m a short girl with a weird name. So, yeah, I get it… I’m that chick that has to stand up on the seat at football games when everyone else stands up. I’m the girl who every time someone learns that my name is “January” they have to say “JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER…” as if they were the first person ever to say that to me.

I actually asked this question on facebook and twitter…

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And here were some of the responses…

Napoleon
Flava Flav
Zach Galifianakis
Danny DeVito
E.T.
Rumpelstiltskin
Prince
Benedict Cumberbatch (okay, yeah, he’s not exactly short but his name is crazy awesome-weird, so I had to include him!)

Anyway… those were cracking me up! I mean, E.T.?!?! Brilliant!

But to the REAL Zacchaeus… here’s his story:

 1Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. 3He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.5When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”6Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. 7But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.8Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”9Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:1-10

Geeeeeez.

Short. Rich. Weird name. Tough break for this guy.

Plus, what’s even worse is that it says in verse two that he was the chief tax collector and that he had gotten really rich… and man, there is not a whole lot that we like less than a RICH politician guy with a WEIRD name who is also SHORT. So, anyway, Zacchaeus was NOT well liked. Jewish people tended to really not like the people that were tax collectors.

Here’s a pretty good explanation as to why…

As a chief tax collector for the vicinity of Jericho, Zacchaeus was an employee of the Roman Empire. Under the Roman system, men bid on those positions, pledging to raise a certain amount of money. Anything they raised over that amount was their personal profit. Luke says Zacchaeus was a wealthy man, so he must have extorted a great deal from the people and encouraged his subordinates to do so as well. About.com

So, here’s this short dude, weird name, AND he’s basically conning people out of all of their money.

Zacchaeus is a bully.

And we reallllllllllllllllllllllly don’t like bullies.

But Jesus took the time to stop, call him by name, and talk to him… so he must be worth checking out. The thing that I think sticks out the most to us about Zacchaeus here is that he climbed a tree to see Jesus.

Did you pick up on that? He climbed. a. tree.

Like, a grown man. A politician type guy. Climbed a tree. To see some preacher dude.

Okay, that would be a little weird now… I mean, okay, I’m just going to go with THE politician everyone knows: Obama. I mean, he kinda has a weird name like Zacchaeus, so let your imagination stretch. Can you imagine if some super preacher, like Billy Graham, was walking through town and Obama heard about it and he was all like, “Oh dang. I can’t see him… I’ll just climb this tree.”

Uhhhhhhhh, weird.

And it was just as weird then. But ya know… Zacchaeus was willing to do something CUH.RAY.ZAY. to meet Jesus. He was willing to climb a tree to see him. To see if it was true. To see if all this awesome stuff that he was hearing about Jesus was true.

And I think that we have to remember this… because we see people do all sorts of crazy, stupid stuff sometimes, and we are all like “Ugh… they are just trying to get attention.”

And ya know what? Yeah… yeah they are.

They are trying to get the attention of Jesus… well, the only Jesus they know: You.

You are the walking, talking, representative of Jesus.

And they are being crazy because they want your attention. They want HIS attention, through YOU. They want HIS love, through YOU. They want HIS forgiveness, through YOU. But the only way they know how to get to Him… is to be crazy.

You see, most of us, it doesn’t matter if we are 4’6” or 6’4”… we feel that we fall short. Just like Zacchaeus. We feel that there is this… something… about us that makes SHORT. Too short to really see Jesus. Too SHORT for Jesus to see us.

And so people do crazy stuff to make themselves NOTICED.

Zacchaeus climbed a tree. Your friends act all drama-mama. Or they go do crazy stunts to get everyone’s attention. Or they monopolize the conversation. Or… whatever.

Thing is… Jesus NOTICED Zacchaeus. He called him by name. While he was up in a flipping tree!!! And then not only did he NOTICE Zacchaeus, but Jesus also became his friend… in front of everyone. Like, THE guy in town that no famous person would EVER want to befriend, and not only does Jesus befriend Zacchaeus but he also goes over to his house.

Now, I remember when I was in school, a lot of kids would use this as an example for “Hey, mom and dad, you say that I’m supposed to be like Jesus and well, according to the BIBLE, He went to this guy’s house for dinner… a notorious sinner! So, obviously, if Jesus were here today… then he would go to this drunken drug fest at Susie Q’s house this weekend just like he went to Zacchaeus’s house.”

Okay, yeah no. This chunk of scripture is NOT saying “Go to parties… go get drunk or high with those kids.” That’s what not it’s saying here. You gotta look at what this represents.

What Jesus did was to STEP OUT of what everyone THOUGHT he should do and he showed Zacchaeus love. Compassion. He made Zacchaeus worthy just by being with him.

And Jesus didn’t even require Zacchaeus to change or confess or become perfect BEFORE He befriended him… no. I mean, look… Jesus is all like “Zacchaeus… yo. I’m coming to your house.” There was no “Zacchaeus, Hi, my name is Jesus. Look, you’ve been a really bad dude. Tell me all the bad stuff you’ve done, tell me you feel guilty for everything, show that you can be different for a few months, and then IF you do all of that… THEN I’ll come over to your house.”

No. And I want all of you to hear this: Jesus doesn’t NEED you to be perfect or worthy BEFORE He will come over to your house… He doesn’t show up in your life because you are extra awesome… you BECOME extra awesome when He shows up in your life.

God doesn’t choose us for His work because we are worthy;
when He chooses us, we become worthy.

Paraphrase of a quote by Augustine

Okay, so the three things I want you to remember:

  1. Attention seekers: they just want to see JESUS in you.
  2.  Jesus doesn’t require change to be loved by Him: He requires your heart. Change will come.
  3. If we are going to BE Jesus then that means that we can’t require others/attention grabbers to be perfect either.

 {I didn’t script the prayer, but I thought I’d go ahead and end this post with a prayer…}

God, wow. Thank you… thank you for loving me no matter what. Thank you for loving me without me having to do a blooming thing. Thank you for just wanting my heart… despite the rotten condition it is in half the time. Thank you. I pray that you would help me to see some of the people around me that are obviously just trying to get attention… and I pray that you would transfer the feelings in my heart from those of annoyance to those of compassion and love and kindness. I pray that I would see them as you saw Zacchaeus: just a person, doing something crazy, trying to get your attention… trying to see you. I know that sometimes I do that… I stray from  you just hoping that you will come and fetch me. God, if you see me sitting far away from you, call me out by name. Call my name Jesus. TELL ME that you are coming to my house. Seek me out God. Seek us all out. Eat with us when no one else will. Infuse us with your worth… it is the only worth that matters. Oh thank you again God. For the ease with which you accept us all. I love you, Jesus. Amen.

 

Day 738: Every Day, In Every Way

Day 738 The Covenant Diet - Every Day, In Every Way

My son has a ptosis on his right eyelid. He’s had it since birth and the doctors said it might just resolve on its own but it hasn’t.

Honestly, I hardly even notice it anymore.

It’s not super severe, but it’s there.

He never really noticed it until lately. I mean, he’d say: “One of my eyes is sleepy” and then he’d move on to build something amazing with his Legos, but that was really it. No biggie.

Until.

Until he went to school.

And wow – other kids were really keen to point it out. Not maliciously, but just “Hey! One of your eyes is closed!” He would just shrug at first and say “Yeah. I was born that way.” He handled it so well. Again, no biggie.

But recently he has become very aware of it and whereas before he wouldn’t let us even discuss the idea of surgery, now he is the one asking for it. {He’s going to have to have surgery because it is affecting his vision.}

And last night on the way home from church he said, “Mom! Please, can we just go get my eye fixed tomorrow? Cause, like, everyone is making fun of it and I just want it fixed.”

I wanted to sit down with him and say, “Oh man. I get ya. I get it. But I promise that even though we’ll get that eye fixed, kids are gonna find something else. They always find something else.” But I decided that was a bit too “mature” of a response for him. So, I said,

I understand that you want it fixed and that it hurts your feelings when others tease you. I’m really sorry for all of that. Ya know, when I was younger, people used to tease me about something too.

What? What did they tease you about?

My hair. My very, big curly hair.

But I like your big hair.

Yeah, me too. But it’s wasn’t “normal” and so kids teased me about it. But know what I learned? I learned first of all that Jesus loves me, all of me, big hair and all.

{My son then pointed out that I also have a big belly and that sometimes people make fun of people with big bellies. Yeah. Thanks dude.}

And I also learned that it didn’t matter what was on the outside… my big hair or my big belly… because what was on the inside was more important: that I am fun, that I love to laugh, that I am nice to people no matter what, that Jesus loves me all the time, every day, in every way.

{He then pointed out that I am fun but that I am not very good at Mario. Okay, well, I’ll give him that one. I am not very good at Mario. Like… at all. And this is a serious hit on my level of “coolness” in our house.}

And later that night I thought about our little conversation. I was trying to decide if I had gotten anything into his soul about the truth of what he should think about himself. But I couldn’t make myself think of him: I just kept talking to myself… about myself.

January, do you really believe that? Do you really believe that it doesn’t matter what is on the outside? When you looked in the mirror before church tonight and cursed the fates because you were wearing your “fat jeans” and you still had a roll sticking out over the top – it mattered to you. It mattered what was on the outside.

I had to answer myself: Yes. Yes. It does matter. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to totally make it NOT matter on this side of heaven. But what a great reminder that it’s not what matters to Jesus. Not saying that He doesn’t want me to take care of my body, and not saying that He doesn’t care about what I care about, but that just that He… He loves me.

He loves me.

He loves you.

All the time.

Every day.

In every way.

So just stop. Stop for a second right now. Stop and close your eyes and whisper His name. Whisper the name of Jesus.

Jesus… fill me with Your Love right now. I want to feel Your Love. I need to feel it. I need to know that when you see me, you just see the core of me. I need to know that in your mind, your gaze pierces through to the heart of me. I need to know that in your mind, your gaze burns through the mistakes, through the fears, through the facades, and that it just sees me: Your daughter. Your wonderful, beautiful, lovely daughter. Remind me today Jesus. Remind me to whisper Your Name. Remind me to push past all that is temporary when I look at myself and to see me as you see me. Remind me to love myself the way You love me: all the time. every day. in every way.

Day 622: When A Man Cries…

You might have noticed yesterday, about 2pm, I went a little nuts on my social media channels.

Well, nuts in a good way.

I sat down with a full heart (like, the good kind of “full”) from church and just wanted to pour some of that fullness into all of you. I wanted you to feel the relief I felt from one moment in Sunday School, so I posted all of these updates on facebook, twitter, and Google+. And I did it within a span of ten minutes. Cause I didn’t want anyone to miss it!

God Loves You

And it was all because my Sunday School teacher… a man… cried.

I mean, I know it’s the new own-your-feelings era and men cry a lot more now than the olden days, but not this one. Not really. I mean occasionally he’ll get choked up or whatever but he’s not the cry-every-time-he-teaches type (and I’ve had those types before, so I’d be able to recognize it). And honestly, I don’t really remember what he said right before it. And I don’t remember what he said right after it.

Wait, I kinda do.

We were talking about not being the judge of others and where they stand with God. And we’ve gotten to know him over the past year pretty well that he’s been our teacher… it’s kinda a small tight-knit group. He said:

I bet most of you in here aren’t the types that are hard on those around you. {Pause} My guess would be that most of you are harder on yourselves than on anybody else. {I nodded my head in agreement thinking of the past several months of my own life} But that’s what I really want you to hear… the only thing I want you to hear and I’m afraid you might miss it… {Big pause… obvious tears in his eyes} I’m afraid you might miss that God. Loves. You.

God. Loves. You.

And my mind was lost.

Lost to the rest of his sentence.

Lost to thinking of only that.

Lost to doing anything other than telling my heart again and again and again… God. Loves. You.

God. Loves. You.

God. Loves. You.

God. LOVES. You.

He’s not wrapped up in your sin or your inability to do “right”. He just… LOVES… you.

And today I tell you the same thing my friends… cause I’m afraid YOU might miss it too. And I don’t want you to miss it.

So hear me.

Hear me now.

GOD.
LOVES.
YOU.

GOD.
LOVES.
YOU.

God Loves You

Day 512: Guard On Duty

me and the hubs - nashville

{Me and the hubs in Nashville being
touristy after my first
Summer
NAMM show for Chord Dice!}

When I was single, I became pretty darn independent. I mean, I paid my own bills, bought my own fast car, traveled around on my own, rented very nice apartments. I mean… I was doing just fine. And then I met my husband, and I fell in love, and I married him.

Wait… all of a sudden I wasn’t the one calling all the shots anymore.

Yeahhhhhhhh, that’s tough for an independent woman who is married to an independent man. I remember thinking (for years) “He is just SO protective! I can take care of myself but he doesn’t believe in me.” Of course, the longer that we’ve been married I realized that my analysis was a smidge off. Yes, he is protective, but it’s not because he doesn’t believe in me. It’s not because he wants to rule over me. It’s because he loves me and wants to protect me.

The longer that I’ve understood that, the more enjoyable it is to be guarded and protected by my husband. It’s… nice to be able to put some of those cares on him that I carried by myself before. It’s nice to be able to go to him when I am scared or unsure of things. It’s nice for him to step out, a bit like a knight in shining armor, and protect me. But before I realized all of that I fought against his protectiveness because I thought that it would restrain me and make me into something I’m not. I thought it would make me weaker. I thought it would take away my individualism.

But it’s been the exact opposite.

And God is like that… He just wants to protect me because He loves me. And the more that I realize that, the more that I release to Him, the more I am protected, guarded, taken care of. And then more I love my life and find comfort in peace. The more I can, like the Proverbs 31 woman, laugh at the future.

POSITIVITY: I am guarded.

I died to this life, and my real life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3

PRAYER:

God, it is so refreshing to know that you are in control. That you have all kinds of crazy power… power that I can’t even fathom. And it’s so cool to know that with all of that crazy awesome power you are taking care of my life.

Today it was so neat to remember and to rest in the knowledge that You have me under your wing. That when the craziness of life and the uncertainty hits… that you are there guiding everything along. It makes it so much easier for me to “die to this life” and just snuggle up and allow my soul to remain hidden with Christ in You.

Thank you for my comfort. thank you for my love. thank you for my protection.

Amen.

Day 503: An Ode To My Mother-In-Law

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You’ll have to forgive me for the lack of elaboration on today’s post. On a whim, we ended up spending the night at my in-laws place in the country and so I didn’t have my laptop and cell reception out here minimal, at best.

Well, my mother-in-law just sent all the boys up to their other house on the property so she and I could have some down time. I’m potty training my 3 year old and was getting… frustrated… so I think she could tell I needed a break. Gotta love a good mother-in-law and boy howdy do I have a good one!

Anyway, that is a pretty good tie in for today’s positivity verse.

I’m not one of God’s chosen people by lineage or birth. I’m, technically, a gentile.

Just like I’m not my mother-in-law’s daughter by birth or lineage. I’m, technically, a stranger.

But just as my mother-in-law has pulled me under her wing to care for me, and give me gifts, and help me, and love me… so did my God. And honestly, she treats me as her very own daughter. Just as God treats me as one of His chosen people of Israel.

You see, my mother-in-law loves me because her son loves me. Because he chose me to be his bride.

And God is able to love me because His Son loves me. Because He chose me to be His bride.

I am loved.

POSITIVITY: I am loved.

God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for me, won’t he also give me everything? … Christ Jesus died for me and was raised to life for me, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for me.

Can anything ever separate me from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves me if I have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is mine through Christ, who loved me.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate me from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither my fears for today nor my worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate me from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below- indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate me from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39

PRAYER:

God, You are the sweetness of my life. You fill me with Hope and Love when I feel there is nothing but frustration and despair. You love me- Your Son came for me- You embrace me into Your family.

Help me today to honor Your Love with the thoughts that pass through. Help me today to honor You through my actions and my words. May You be honored as I treat my family with respect and kindness. As I care for my body through careful controlled eating. May my life be something that makes You smile today.

I love you. In my best way, I love you. Thank you for accepting my love, God.

Amen.

Day 500: Strong Spirit

Gonna admit… I’m starting my writing of this on what is technically Day 498. It’s just that I got such encouragement from the positivity (I am new!) and prayer (Draw me closer to you, God) today and so I wanted to get ahead a little bit to make sure that each day coming had that positivity and prayer already set for me.

POSITIVITY: I am strong!

God has not given me a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Honestly, this is one of those verses that I have heard a gazillion times and so at this point I sort of just let it slide through my brain and then trickle down into long term memory. And in true pessimist form, it’s probably because I so often focus on the first part of the verse. All I hear is “fear” and “timidity”. But as I focus on the positive aspects today I just zone in on the second half of what He HAS given me!

POWER! LOVE! SELF-DISCIPLINE!

And really, what a wonderful spirit to have… a combination of power, love, and self-discipline!?!? How cool that He threw those three together into a combo! But really, those three are THE things that I would want! Power… to stand up for what is right and to do whatever God calls me to. Love… to balance the power so that I don’t just run over everyone and everything with power but that I am kind and caring and patient and all that stuff from 1 Corinthians 13. Self-discipline… honestly this one almost throws me off at first as to why it’s in there, but then again, no, it belongs there. For what is power and love is all the more powerful when controlled.

PRAYER: God, You are strength. You are power. You are love. And you are self-discipline. Thank you for giving me all of these things as well. God, please remind me that I already HAVE all of these things! I need to know that you give me the strength to resist things, and well… not just to resist things, but also the power to be above those things. Remind me today God that I have the power to focus on You. to keep my mind on You and Your… awesomeness. to think about the things of eternity instead of things of the earth. Help me to see over and over again that You and Your Words and Your Love is lasting and fulfilling. Keep my eyes lifted to you today God. And remind me that I am strong! Amen!

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Day 460: Name Change

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Yesterday, a dear friend of mine got married.

It was a beautiful celebration.

I even cried. And let me tell you… I nev.er. cry at weddings. Like, it just doesn’t happen. But, she had music from Pride and Prejudice for the bridesmaids so I was already a little sappy-minded, and then when they opened the doors for her, and I saw her there just beaming with her gorgeous smile… well, I lost it. I was so incredibly happy that she had found her match that I just started to bawl… joyful bawling, but well… way too much sniffling to become a polite southern woman (not that I’ve ever been “a polite southern woman” despite my mother’s excellent training in such matters).

So, I took a few grainy iPhone pics and posted one of them on my new instagram which is connected to facebook. So, I went in and tagged her in the pic.

And then… next thing I know… her name is changed.

Like, she was no longer Ashley Hepsted. She was suddenly Ashley Amron.

I was like… whoooaaaaa. that was quick. I mean, I know she got married and everything, but before Facebook I had time to let the new name settle in for a while before I actually SAW it in black and white print. But nooooooo, now I have to come to grips with my friend being a married woman all of a sudden!?!?! So. totally. weird. (Like, in a totally awesome cool kind of weird way.) Cause, it’s not like just because her last name changed all of a sudden she was just an entirely different person! She’s still the same Ashley that she was before she walked down that aisle, right? Right?!?!

Well…… it sorta hit me.

When a woman gets married, her identity truly and actually changes. Like, we get new social security cards. new driver’s license. new email addresses. new monogrammed towels (okay, maybe that’s pushing it). We start out marriage changing little bits of ourselves. And although on a basic level, we are still the same person… we are taking on a new identity. One that is fused to us through love.

That’s just like our switch when we covenant ourselves to Jesus. Because of Love, we have a new identity. We are still the same basic person, but that new identity is starting to change little bits of ourselves.

And it happens just. like. that.

This new identity that we grab on to… it takes effect as quickly as a name change on Facebook.

And it changes… everything.

So, while I’ve got you here… a few years ago I was in a bible study called Me, Myself, and Lies. (Awe.some. study if you are looking for something) and she had a list of verses that helped with truthfully labeling yourself… or, in this case, correctly stating your identity. I typed them out and reworded them into the first person.

Read a couple (or all) of them out loud. Allow the Word of God to remind you who you are now.

I am…

  • New: I belong to Christ, and so I’ve become a new person. My old life is gone; my new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Cherished: He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased my freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave my sins. He has showered his kindness on me, along with all wisdom and understanding. Ephesians 1:7-8
  • Strong: God has not given me a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • Chosen: I didn’t choose Jesus… Jesus chose me. He appointed me to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give me whatever I ask for, using the name of Jesus. John 15:16
  • Complete: In Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So, I am also complete through my union with Christ who is the head over every ruler and authority. Colossians 2:9-10
  • Loved: If God is for me, who can ever be against me? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for me, won’t he also give me everything else? Who dares accuse me whom God has chosen as his own? No one! For God himself has given me right standing with himself. Who then will condemn me? No one! For Christ Jesus died for me and was raised to life for me, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for me. Can anything ever separate me from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves me if I have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is mine through Christ, who loved me. And I am convincned that nothing can ever separate me from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither my fears for today nor my worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate me from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below- indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate me from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39
  • Unfinished: I am certain that God, who began the good work within me, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6
  • Free: Now, I am free from my slavery to sin, and I have become a slave to righteous living. Romans 6:18
  • Pardoned: So now there is no condemnation for me who belongs to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
  • Capable: I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
  • Saved: Even though I was dead because of my sins, he gave me life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that I have been saved!) Ephesians 2:5
  • A Masterpiece: I am God’s masterpiece. He has created me anew in Christ Jesus, so I can do the good things he planned for me long ago. Ephesians 2:10
  • Welcome: Now, I can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit as everyone else because of what Christ has done for me. Ephesians 2:18
  • Understood: Since I have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let me hold firmly to what I believe. This High Priest of mine understands my weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings I do, yet he did not sin. So let me come boldly to the throne of my gracious God. There I will receive his mercy, and I will find grace to help me when I need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16
  • Guarded: I died to this life, and my real life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
  • Valuable: God bought me with a high price. I must honor God with my body. 1 Corinthians 6:20
  • Loved: See how very much my Father loves me, for he calls me his child, and that is what I am! 1 Corinthians 6:20
  • Family: But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that I am God’s child because they don’t know him. I am already God’s child, but he has not yet shown me what I will be like when Christ appears. But I do know that I will be like him, for I will see him as he really is. 1 John 3:1-2
  • Included: So now I, as a Gentile, am no longer a stranger and foreigner. I am a citizen along with all of God’s holy people. I am a member of God’s family. Ephesians 2:19
  • Selected: I am a chosen person. I am a royal priest, part of a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, I can show others the goodness of God, for he called me out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9-10
  • Holy: Since God chose me to be a holy person he loves, I must clothe myself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12
  • Changed: I have had that veil removed and can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes me more and more like him as I am changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • His Heir: And since I am his child, I am his heir. In fact, together with Christ I am an heir of God’s glory. But if I am to share his glory, I must also share his suffering. Romans 8:17
  • His Friend: He no longer calls me a slave, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now I am his friend, since he has told me everything the Father told him. John 15:15
  • Delightful: For the Lord my God is living among me. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in me with gladness. With his love, he will calm all my fears. He will rejoice over me with joyful songs. Zephaniah 3:17
  • Bold: Because of Christ and my faith in him, I can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Ephesians 3:12

 

Day 389: BBFFs

BFFs.

Best Friends Forever.

I remember when I was in junior high and dangle rings were IN. I mean… you HAD to have a dangle ring and it HAD to be a Best Friends dangle where one person had the Be Fri and the other person had the St End.

20130201-132644.jpgIn 9th grade, a girl that was a good friend of mine gave me the Be Fri side of the set. Now note. I said a good friend. And my actual best friend (who is still my best friend now) was a little jealous in that junior-high best friend kind of way that all girls experience at some time. And I honestly don’t know when the BFF “term” came about, but I use it all the time (ironically enough though I almost never use it to refer to my actual real best friend). However, I have now come up with a new term.

Best Blogging Friends Forever.

BBFFs.

{Brilliant. I know.}

Why, pray tell, did I come up with a new abbreviation?

When I started blogging over a year ago about my covenant, I anticipated that it would be pretty much just for me and that some of my close friends and family would read it too. I had no idea that other people that didn’t even KNOW me would want to read it and I certainly never expected anyone to do a covenant WITH me.

Which is why I also didn’t expect to get such encouragement from other bloggers and other blogs. Namely, two.

My new BBFFs.

I recently discovered the blog of a woman who approaches her mindset about weight and weight loss in a very similar way to me. It was so wonderful to see someone else write the very words that I was thinking. It was so wonderful to see someone else provide ME with a verse that helped. The blog love.life.chocolate. has already been an inspiration to me as well as comments made on my blog by “finneyfer“.

Like, on Day 387 I wrote a post about when I was in California and got sick cause I ate too much fried food. I was sorta beating up on myself… and she made the following comment for me:

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And I’ll be honest… at first I was like, No, I don’t want to give myself grace and then I was like, Wait. She’s talking about scripture. Before you say “No” it would probably be a good idea to re-read through Romans 7 and 8. This is not HER talking… this is her reminding you of what GOD says. So, I (again, being honest) reluctantly read Romans 7 and 8.

Lo and behold, it changed me. Hmmmmm… what a shocker, that the Word of God would change me. Ha! But I was reminded that this is not about my COVENANT. This is about me showing love to God and honoring Him. It is about living in the spirit not in the flesh. It is about going past the Law… past my covenant… and doing even more than I have been instructed to do. Going “above and beyond” if you will.

That’s just one example as to why finneyfer has been designated as a BBFF… because she didn’t just say “Oh yeah, fried foods are totally gross” or something like that… instead, she pointed me to scripture. A woman I have never met led me to The Cross. She led me to scriptures that reminded me and refocused me on His Grace.

Another BBFF of mine is the author of the new blog mignonpanache. She is actually one of my BFFs in real life as well, and it’s because of things like her post Self Talk:

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And later on in the post she wrote this…

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Dang. Especially after my recent Facebook struggles, this one really got my attention. She said that she had “a ton of non-tech time.” Now, granted… I have two young strapping boys. I have a ton of non-tech time as well simply because I’m always with them… chasing them, entertaining them, cleaning up after them, dressing them, bathing them… you get the picture. However, I tend to gravitate towards my phone whenever I have a second of downtime or “me” time. So, I rarely spend any of my quiet moments without technology.

And I think this needs to change.

I know it needs to change.

Thanks to her sharing something she has learned… I have been really thinking about my over-techie lifestyle a lot… thinking of how I need to change my full-tech life. thinking of how I can find more peace. more serenity. more stillness.

Soooooooo, yet another example of how someone that I don’t see regularly has impacted my life… through a blog.

It’s just… awesome. It’s so… unexpected. It’s so… modern. Ha. And at no point am I suggesting that BBFFs can replace real, one-on-one, authentic relationships in the flesh… but I think they can be a powerful influence.

Afterall, the majority of the New Testament… was a letter. It was written communication. It was faith, hope, and love in the form of words. sentences. paragraphs. And aside from the fact that it was GOD’S WORDS, it’s form was very similar to a modern day blog.

My point?

Ha- I don’t really know. Find a blog? Start a blog? Write a letter? An email? A note? I guess… my point is… reach out and communicate.

Share whatever blessings you’ve been given. Share whatever message you’ve been given. Share whatever pain you’ve felt.
Share His Grace. Share His Truth. Share His Hope. Share His Love.

Day 333: Sing A New Song

The number 333 is one of our family’s favorite numbers… it’s because of Psalm 33:3…

Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.Psalm 33:3

That’s the verse that helped inspire my husband to invent Chord Dice (which helps people to write a new song). And then God started to just… use those numbers to communicate His Love to us.

I know I referenced it earlier in another post about how He made that be the time that our dice were delivered for Chord Dice. That night my husband and I sat at Rick’s Chophouse having a date night and we cried with joy… not because the hope of this investment. not because of my husband’s dream. we cried because of the raw knowledge that God. loves. us.

He, in all His Greatness, reached out and arranged the cosmos so that those dice were delivered and scanned exactly at 3:33. For us. Little, puny, relatively insignificant… us. It was overwhelming to be “spoken to” so directly.

And now every time I see the time 3:33 or the number 33 or 333 anywhere it serves to automatically remind me that God loves me. And sometimes that reminder can be the thing to support me and redirect me and encourage me.

When I know that Someone loves me so purely. so perfectly. so completely. and so wholly. Well, it empowers me to do… right.

When I want to eat some chips, I can know that God loves me. And they lose their pull (at least a bit)! And when I give-in and eat the dadgum chips, I can know then too that God loves me. And I can hope that the next time those chips call my name that I will tap into that love.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.” )

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39

Day 299: Holy Honeymoon Hours

More than any verse that has to deal with spending time with God, I am really drawn to the ACTIONS of my Christ:

“Before day break the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1:35

He had been casting out flippin DEMONS and HEALING people for crying out loud… but He got his rear out of bed and found that peaceful place of solitude to pray.

As a stay-at-home mom (and even more so when I was a working mom) finding a time of the day for solitude is nigh impossible. And even when I do find a time for that, my mind is so full of to-do lists and grocery lists and that mental list that is always running of all the ways I am inadequate… it is hard work to make room for a Word from the Spirit, and so I get less out of it because I spend so much time clearing my mind that I have less time to absorb His Truth, His Hope, His Mercy. But in the morning… His mercies are new and fresh and my mind is “empty” and open and relatively free from the cares of the day.

It’s almost like the holy honeymoon hours of the day… like, in marriage before you have learned all those strange idiosyncrasies and seen what your spouse is REALLY like… and there is just… love. In the morning, you have yet to see all the tiny nuances in the day of earthly things. You have yet to see your hopes for the day crushed by a four-year-old with the stomach flu or realizing that you are out of the eggs that you need for that breakfast casserole you are to take to bible study, or that the drier has dried its last towel and ain’t no Maytag man gonna be able to revive it.

There is only… Faith. Hope. Love. And those things are just about the best things to start the day off with.