Object Constancy

Ephesians 3:14-19

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

There is nothing that quite compares to the glorious feeling that overwhelmed me when I held my baby boys for the very first time. Seeing the evidence of God right there in those doctor’s hands, all squinty and crying and covered in grape jelly! When I first laid eyes on my newborn children, they were the absolute most beautiful squishy little things I had ever seen. I took them in my arms as soon as the doctors would let me. I felt the warmth of their skin against mine, held their small little hands in between my fingers, and tried to understand why God would entrust this tiny human into mine and my husband’s care. We were one, my child and I. This was the jumping watermelon I carried inside of me for ten months. My blood ran through his veins. I desired to love and cherish him as long as I lived. I desired to meet his every need with patience and tender mercy. I daydreamed of being the mother who would never yell, never lose her temper, always have a sweet song to sing like Celine Dion every night before bed…and I would always always have fresh baked cookies in the kitchen.

Well, fast forward six years and I think I score a meager C+ at being the mom I dreamed of being. I am so thankful we serve a graceful and forgiving Father!

When my children were born, I really had no sense of myself apart from them. The past year had been spent preparing for their arrival. I couldn’t even be in a different room than them without feeling guilty. And to leave them with somebody else and go on a…what is it called again?…oh, a date! Nope, I’ll leave them alone with somebody else when they are 18!

Thankfully, I did eventually chill out! But I was very much aware of the “symbiosis” between my baby and me. A newborn has no sense of self apart from his mother. This symbiotic union between a newborn and his mother comes straight from the heart of God. It’s the reason why nobody can comfort a baby like his momma. The child does not have a sense of safety apart from her presence. However, as the child grows and learns…and especially when he starts to crawl and walk!…this symbiotic union is replaced with the goal of “object constancy.” I know mommy exists even when I don’t see her. I know mommy loves me even if she is not holding me. I can tell mommy goodbye and know she will come back. Mommy is a vital part of my life, even if I am not in her presence.

I was just talking tonight to some friends about this transition most parents experience. It breaks our heart when we drop our little one off at preschool, and they cry and cry. Yet, it also breaks our heart when we drop them off and they don’t even want to give us a kiss and they go right to playing…and even have the courage to look up and say, “Mommy you can go now.” I mean, really? I feel the love! He doesn’t even need me anymore!

But, you see, this is all so so beautiful! Object constancy is explained in Ephesians 3:17 and Colossians 2:7. It is the will of God that we, as His children, are rooted and established in love, and built up in Christ. God’s desire for us is to be so aware of the great love He has for us, that we never feel alone…even when we are alone. That we feel His presence even when our circumstances tempt us to doubt Him. That we trust His provision even when we have trouble understanding why certain things are happening. That we look outside and see the beautiful sunset, and the rushing ocean, and the majestic mountains, and know that our daddy made His creation to display His splendor to us and His love for us.

I cannot go on without taking a look at my own heart. Do I live as a newborn in my faith – only trusting God when I understand and only believing He is real when I can see Him? Or, have I matured into object constancy. Do I trust God even when it is hard? Do I truly believe that I am never alone? Do I write the Lord’s words, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” on the walls of my heart? Will we continue the all too familiar cycle of seeing a problem – doubting God – watching God come through – realizing we should have trusted Him – until we see the next problem – then we doubt Him again. Or, will we take the initiate to mature in our faith and allow the Lord to bring us to a new, stronger relationship with Him?

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The Scarlet Strand

Joshua 6:17 —– The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prositute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.

Today was like any other day for Rahab. She awoke with the sun beating down upon her window. Just another day. Another day of shameful acts…”It’s for survival,” she tells herself. “I am not worth anything more than this anyway,” she convinces herself. “This is my reputation and its too late to change,” she believes. Yes, just another day of bondage. One more day of walking the city streets and enduring the judgemental glances from the women – and the lustful, illicit looks from the men. There is not enough makeup or fancy clothes in the world, to mask the pit of despair inside, or to hide the despravity she sees in the mirror. How do you make a better life for yourself, when the ugly reflection staring back at you is only a reminder that you simply are unworthy of any life other than this? “Rahab the prostitute.” That was who she was. That was her identity. There was no changing that.

Until today. When her life would be turned upside down by two unexpected Israelite spies. Two unannounced visitors into her home. Did they not realize whose home they were stepping into? Did these spies of God not know that this was the defiled home of a defiled woman? What was she to do? Well, she may be unworthy of true love from a man…but she was not incapable of showing love to others! She hid the foreigners, and cleverly dismissed the King’s men who were looking for them.

“I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.” (2:9) She heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea when the Israelites left Egypt. She heard how the power of God let them completely destroy Sihon and Og and the Amorites. “When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (2:11) How did she know this? How was Rahab able to make such bold claims and confident statements about a God she did not know, and about a group of people she had never met before? Maybe she had this one thing most of us tend to struggle with…willingness. She was willing to listen when the Spirit of God knocked on her soul. She was willing to believe the great stories she heard on the streets about the mighty works of the God of the Israelites. She did not question how a sea could be parted or how 300 men could defeat 3,000. She was just willing to believe that it happened. She was willing to accept two complete strangers into her home. She was willing to accept their promise that her and her family would be spared, in return for her safe keeping of the spies.

She was a harlot and a liar. But she was willing to believe that God could use her. Even though she was clearly defiled, broken, dirty, guilty.

I just love how God works! The life of a guilty prostitute was completely overhauled! And used in a mighty mighty way, to bring about the powerful works and glory of the Lord! God interrupted her day and she received the unexpected change in plans.

“The men said to her, ‘This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house.” (2:17) It probably took ever ounce of gumption inside of her to gather her family together – on the hopes that this God truly was real – and toss that scarlet strand outside her window. It made more sense to run, right? She was told of the impending doom to come to Jericho. Why not gather her family and try to escape? No, she was going to stay, and stand on her faith. Just as the Israelites marked their doorposts with blood during the Passover in Egypt, Rahab let that scarlet rope down, marking her home as one to be saved.

Matthew 1:5 reveals that Rahab is in the royal genealogy of Jesus Christ. She even makes it into the “hall of faith” in Hebrews chapter 11. A prostitute? Yes! Praise God! For then there would be no hope for me! Being a sinful, far from perfect, flawed woman who allows her emotions to take the driver’s seat all too often, this story is near and dear to my heart. We are all like Rahab. We lie, we cheat, we steal, we are sexually impure, we make mistakes, we have bitterness, we hate, we manipulate, we act in anger…we look in the mirror and struggle to see anything beautiful staring back at us. Believe today that God just loves to use the broken and imperfect! We can read the story of Rahab and walk away with the promise that NO MATTER WHAT, we will never be too far gone for God to light up His love in our lives. We will never be too sinful, that the blood of Jesus can’t wash us clean. We will never mess up enough that God just can’t reach us anymore. If we are willing, God’s power can be intertwined within our lives. Be brave enough to believe (even when you may not understand) and toss that scarlet strand outside your window. Mark your home, your marriage, your family, your children with the blood of Jesus! Then receive the salvation and victory of the Lord!

 

Eucharisteo

Luke 22:17-19
And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

 

 

Eucharisteo. The art of living in thankfulness. Made possible by grace. Paving the way to joy. Thankfulness. The cure for the “common cold” of the mundane life, of bitterness and fear. The remedy for the discontented life, of self-hatred and relentless anxiety. Thankfulness. The result of our intentional effort to take off our blinders and look beyond ourselves. Thankfulness. The consequence of turning our eyes to the Mighty King Jesus, even in the midst of the worst of storms. Thankfulness. The by-product of a willing heart…willing to accept everything God gives us. EVERYTHING. Even the things that contradict our fleshly desires and our “this-is-not-what-I-planned” questions.

When we choose the life of Eucharisteo, we take a step onto the path of righteousness. And freedom. And joy. You know, that kind of joy that is a living testimony to the world. The kind of child-like faithful joy, which makes others stare in wonder at how we can go through such a storm and still proclaim, “I am not afraid! My Jesus has the power to tell this storm to cease! And He has the power to tell the winds to blow and the waters to jump!”

When we choose the life of Eucharisteo, we choose hope over weariness. Peace over doubt. Rest over striving. Life over death! Thankfulness says, “Lord, I don’t like what I see, but I believe Your Word and my life is in Your hands.” Thankfulness allows us to live. Fully live. To no longer be characterized as the “walking dead,” questioning if we will ever be enough, accomplish enough, find enough, gain enough.

When we choose the life of Eucharisteo, we deny our circumstances the right to define our God! We stomp the enemy under our feet! We stand in victory against the lies of the Serpent; the enemy’s lies tempting us to doubt the God who set the stars in the sky. Thankfulness believes that even when bad happens, God is still good. Even when my heart is broken, God still has an amazing plan for me. Even when I am lonely…I AM NEVER ALONE!

Look back at the verses above. Read them aloud. Let your heart and ears hear the living Word of God spoken through your lips (lips this God Himself formed), testified by your breath (breath that God Himself set into your lungs). It was the night of the greatest injustice ever committed in the history of the world. The perfect and sinless Jesus, our Lord and Savior, would be brutally and wrongfully beaten, humiliated, chastised, and murdered. Jesus knew what was to come. He knew that in just a few hours, He would feel the betrayal of those He loved and lived among. He knew that He would be standing naked and mocked in front of the crowd. He could feel the sting of every whip of glass against His back, the unbearable agony of every step He took with the weight of that cross pressing down on His shoulders, the struggle of fighting for every little breath as He hung on that hill. And He knew the worst pain of all was to come…the pain of His Father turning His back upon Him as He bore the sin of the world. And with all this in mind, what did Jesus do? HE GAVE THANKS. He gave thanks.

Jesus chose Eucharisteo. Because this night was also the most glorious night in the history of the world. It was the night the bridge between man and God would be mended. It was the night that would make possible for you and I to walk once again in communion with God, as Adam and Eve had done. This night rang forth a new dawn. Grace would now be the law. Blood would be shed once and for all. The perfect and ultimate sacrifice would finally come. Scripture and prophesies, from the first scratches of ink written by man and inspired by God, were to finally be fulfilled. In light of the impending storm, Heaven could now come down to earth. The love of God could now be poured upon His children as originally intended in the Garden of Eden. The Holy Spirit could be unleashed within us and through us. The power of the Almighty that worked through Jesus could now run through the veins of those who love the Lord and accept His love, His death, His resurrection!

Yes, this night, there was much to be thankful for! And today, wherever you are. At work, at home, at the grocery store, at the park, in your car…Jesus sits next to you. He reaches His hands out. In one hand is His blood. In the other hand is His body. He looks into your eyes and His gaze pierces to the depths of your soul. He sees everything He died for. He sees every sin and mistake you have made, and will ever make. He sees every great and wonderful plan He has in store for you. He sees the eyes He formed with His hands. He sees the heart He commanded to beat. He sees your fears, your worries, your desires, your dreams. And in all this, His heart pounds with a love for you that is greater than anything you will ever be able to fathom. And He says, “Take My blood. Take My body. Give thanks in all things. Open your hands. Receive everything I have for you. Not just the things your flesh wants. Not just the things your limited mind can understand. Receive EVERYTHING I have for you. My Beloved, oh how I love you! And, what life I have for you! Do not be afraid (Isaiah 41:10). What loving father would give his daughter a serpent when she asks for fish? (Luke 11:11). I will withhold no good thing from you, My princess! (Psalm 84:11) You cannot imagine what I have planned for you! (1 Corinthians 2:9). My grace makes it possible for you to trust Me (Colossians 1:27). Trust Me. Take Me at My Word. Open your clenched hands. Receive everything I permit. And give thanks.”

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing. 

Give thanks in all circumstances.

For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Do not quench the Spirit.

 

“Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle.” – Ann Voskamp

 

 

 

Do You Believe?

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. – Luke 1:45

No unbelief made him waiver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness.  – Romans 4:20-22

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6

We need to write these three verses on the walls of our heart! We need to put them on our mirrors, on our refrigerators, and in our cars. Put these verses in a place where we will see them every day, and commit them to memory. We need to be reminded of how imperative it is to take God at His Word. If we do not believe in the words and promises of God, then they have no impact in our life. Just look outside your window and see the lost people, the broken people, the confused and sick people. People who are choosing to remain in their state of death, by choosing to not believe God.

They don’t take the whole Bible as truth, because in their limited human brains, there are things in the Bible that just don’t make sense. How can a sea just separate in the middle? How can the entire earth be covered in water? How can one man death save every man for all eternity? How can crippled people walk or blind men see or little chindren be brought back from the dead? These things are just not possible.

And they are right. These things are not possible. Not in our human capacities and understanding. And they don’t happen in our lives today. Not because God has changed. I guarantee you the same Spirit that worked from Genesis to Revelation is available to us today. His power has not diminished, and He is sitting on the edge of His seat just waiting for a righteous man to believe! These miraculous, “impossible” things we read in the Bible don’t happen in our lives today…because we don’t believe. We don’t dare to take God at His Word. We don’t have the courage to pray the big prayers – you know, the ones that rely upon the power of the Almighty to have any chance of coming true.

I look around me and I see a world of sick, confused, empty captives – who choose to remain in such depravity – when the answer is staring them in the face – but they are just afraid to believe. Well, perfect love casts out all fear! And we have been ransomed by this perfect love. The invitation is there for you.

Are you willing to be fully convinced that God is able to do what He had promised?

The next time you read or hear a scripture from the living, breathing, Word of God…ask yourself:

Do I believe this? Do I take God at His word? Do I trust that what the Bible says is true? Do I truly believe that this can make an impact in my life? Do I accept that this applies to me? My friend, the Bible and the Word of God and the Truth within it is the ONLY thing you can fully rely upon, the ONLY thing that will bring life back to your weary bones, and the ONLY thing that can set you free!

I challenge you, and I challenge myself. Ask the Lord to give you a scripture. Memorize that scripture. Watch your life change.

 

 

May It Please The Crowd

Mark 15:12-15 

Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

If you have ever attended church on a Palm Sunday or Easter morning, I am sure you have heard this story. Jesus is betrayed and captured, put on trial before Pilate and Herod. Utter tragedy. Inconceivable unfaithfulness. Jesus double-crossed by His very disciple, denied by His beloved Simon Peter, and sentenced to death by the very people who just days before were welcoming Him with celebration and adoration. And all to fulfill Scripture…and to save our souls!

This story is also depicted in Matthew 27:22-16, Luke 23:13-25, and John 18:38-19:16. The Gospels compliment each other, to paint a complete picture of this moment. Each time I read this story, my heart cries out at the injustice served to my King. Today, however, I want to take a closer look at the war raging within Pilates’ heart, as he ultimately dismissed Jesus to death.

Pilate, faced with a difficult decision, turns to the crowd. “What do you want me to do?” He found no evil or wrong-doing in Jesus. The Gospels tell us that Pilate found Jesus innocent, and even wanted to set Him free. He found no guilt in Jesus, for Him to deserve death. But, he was afraid. He was afraid that a riot would ensue if he did not do what would please the crowd. The crowd’s voices were loud and persistent. He washed his hands of all guilt and refused to take accountability for his own actions. Even though it went against what he knew was right, he gave Jesus over to the crowd’s wishes.

This story contains an important lesson for us concerning the motive behind the decisions we make. How many times have we based our decisions on what would please those around us? How many of us live in the bondage of the expectations and opinions of others, afraid to do what we know is right or what we know God is telling us to do? Oh, how our lives would change if we cared about the opinion of the Lord more than the opinions of the crowd! We are faced with a decision to make, or we stumble across a difficult season in our life, or we are unable to deny that the Lord is telling us to “go” or “do.” And the first thing that comes in our mind is, “what would they think?” We make a decision based on what we think would be most approved by those in our social circles. We cope with the difficult season by seeking out the opinion of others, never going before the Lord for counsel. We fight the Lord’s direction in our life because we fear that He is taking us somewhere those we love the most on this earth may not be willing to follow. And then we wonder why we have an emptiness in our soul and an uneasy sense that we are not really doing what we should do. We are not really living where and how we should live.

What was the last thing God told you to do? Did you do it? Or did you succumb to doing what pleased the crowd? Now, I do acknowledge that the Lord will put people in your life to speak truth and help guide your way. But, we must not first listen to man, then later see if God agrees and only listen to Him when we does. Rather, we must first go to God, and test man’s guidance according to what is congruent with the truth of Scripture.

The promise in 1 Corinthians 2:9 is for those who dare to follow the voice of God over the rioting voices of this world. Who do you live to please? Who is your master? Who do you love? “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

 

Today Is Our Resurrection Day!

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18)

Today is the day that brings hope and meaning to our faith. Today is the day when death was put in its rightful place. Today is the day that repairs the bridge between us and the Lord. Today is the day when the final and ultimate and perfect sacrifice looked Satan in the face and said, “It is finished!” Today is our Resurrection Day! Don’t let this day pass you by without spending time reflecting on the implications that Christ’s death and resurrection has in your life.

I was reading through the gospels and began to notice the many times when demons recognized the deity and authority of Jesus.

Matthew 8:29
And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with you, Jesus, you Son of God? are you come here to torment us before the time?

Mark 3:11
And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, You are the Son of God.

Mark 5:7
And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with you, Jesus, you Son of the most high God? I adjure you by God, that you torment me not.

Luke 8:28
When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with you, Jesus, you Son of God most high? I beseech you, torment me not.

This has profound implications in our life! At the presence of Jesus, the schemes of the enemy are destroyed. When the power of the Lord comes to the scene, Satan is defeated! Do you realize that in any temptation you face – any trial you come upon – any thought of depression or anger or fear or guilt or shame – in any and every situation or circumstance, you can have victory. And that victory comes when we invite the One who defeated death into the situation. When we call upon the One from whom evil spirits and demons cower and run. When we call upon the One whose power and authority even Satan himself must profess!

We are not left to be victims to the struggles and thoughts we face everyday. Those demons that have followed you your whole life – declare the power of Jesus and watch them scamper away! The shame that has haunted you from your past – accept the forgiveness of Jesus and those demons have no choice but to fall in defeat. The fear of tomorrow that cripples you – surrender the unknown future to your all-knowing King Jesus and watch the enemy shudder in fear.

King Jesus,

We are overwhelmed today with the great love that You have for us, that You would face the cross on our behalf, and deafeat the cross so that we may know You and Your presence today. Help us to slow down today and spend time with You, lest we allow this day to pass without acknowledging your ressurrection and its implications in our life. Jesus, we invite You into our past. Forgive us of our sins and regrets and help us to walk in freedom today. Jesus, we invite You into our marriages. Help us to call upon Your power and to stop allowing the enemy to steal and kill and destroy our home. Jesus, we invite You into the lives of our children. Help us to pray for our children daily, and to speak life and truth into their current situations and into their futures. Jesus, we invite You into our minds and our hearts. Help us to declare Your truth over the lies the enemy whispers to us. Because of Your resurrection, we have hope! By Your grace and mercy, may we walk in that Hope today!  

In the name of Jesus Christ, who is ALIVE, Amen!

 

 

 

This Is Our Hope

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

We have hope. No matter what, we have hope! We have a hope that cannot be hindered by our circumstances. We have a hope that is undefeated. We have a hope that is unfailing and ever-present. We have a hope that does not disappoint. This hope is birthed from the great love that our Heavenly Father poured out within our hearts. And through that great love, we have been given the Holy Spirit, and all the power of the heavenly places. And how is it possible that we could be given such a great Helper and Counselor? Jesus!

Do you believe it? Really. Do you realize that because our God laid down His Son, as the last and ultimate sacrifice, to face death and defeat death…because of this, we can have hope in any and every circumstance. Yes, any and every circumstance! I would never dare to minimize what you have faced and the struggles you have experienced. I myself have shed many tears from a broken heart, and have cried out to God in pain. But I will dare to allow my trials and tribulations to be minimized in light of the incredible awesomeness of God and in light of the HOPE we have in Jesus Christ!

As I walk this great unknown; Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain? Did I cry these tears in vain?
I don’t want to live in fear; I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen; In both triumph and tragedy
I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go
But sometimes my faith feels think; Like the night will never end
Will You catch every tear; Or will You just leave me here?
But I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go
So, whatever happens I will not be afraid
Cause You are closer than this breath that I take
You calm the storm when I hear You call my name
I still believe that one day I’ll see Your face
(“I Have This Hope” by Tenth Avenue North)