Christ Didn’t JUST Come Down; He Moved In

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood…” ~John 1:14 (MSG). Think of a neighborhood you’ve wanted to move out of or wouldn’t want to move into. He didn’t just come to clean us up; He desires to dwell with us, long-term. The God of the universe moved into the middle of the mess we made for ourselves. That’s commitment. That’s love. {Lev. 26:11-12; 2 Cor. 6:16; Rev. 21:3}

You Were Claimed Before Being Cleaned

The good news of the gospel isn’t just that God loves you, but that He loves you as much as He loves Jesus, and that when He looks at you, He doesn’t see your sin; He sees His Son. It’s good news that Christ cleanses us, but even better that He claimed you before cleaning you. He saw your mess and said, “You’re mine!”{Rom. 8:17; Jhn. 17:22-24; 1 Jhn. 3:1-3; Isa. 43:1}

“Hanging upon the cross, Christ was the Gospel.” ~Ellen G. White

Dirty Fingernails: For mechanics in Afghanistan filthy hands means finished repairs

Biblical Intimacy Looks Like 2 Things: Sacrifice and Redemption

Cross Died Crown Love Heart Bible Thorns Shadow

I N T I M A C Y will look like 2 things: SACRIFICE and REDEMPTION. Growing close, deepening love, fully knowing and being known will look like restoration. It’ll look like the Word becoming flesh and moving in, like being naked and vulnerable…on a cross, like fighting death and hell to claim what’s yours.

3-Minute Video of How Our Intimacy with Others Mirrors Our Relationship with God:

Boundaries: Avoiding Pain Is NOT the Endgame

man head downB O U N D A R I E S are important, but avoiding pain is NOT the endgame of a Christian. Restoration requires sacrifice. It’ll cost you something to love others well. Sometimes, the biggest thing it’ll cost you is your pride. The children of Israel exalted the things God sent to bless them above God Himself (worshiping Gideon’s ephod to celebrate God’s victory, honoring Moses’ bronze serpent God sent for their healing, etc.). You can exalt the fences so high that what should bless you (boundaries) becomes an idol – something you trust MORE than you trust God’s design of restoration. Boundaries are good, but only if governed by God.

3-minute message:

What Happens in the Normal Life, If You’re Lucky, Maybe…

black-girl-flower

“I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on our behalf.” ―Jim Cymbala, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

Jim Cymbala captures the heart of every soul seeking something more, yearning for significance to rise from all of life’s heartache, desiring the God of the universe to show Himself strong. While living a normal life, you find yourself hard pressed on every side, cast down, even perplexed, and if you’re lucky, the glimmer of hope in the goodness of God will shine brighter than the burdens you bear. Maybe this is the trajectory most often traveled in bringing God absolute glory. Perhaps, our problems equally beckon us to either “slip by” relatively unscathed by the clamor of desire or to embrace the center of our suffering with a heart still anchored in hope, still searching for miraculous intervention in the middle of life’s searing storms.

How unfortunate it is to go through life untouched by tragedy. Not that you must intentionally familiarize yourself with trauma, but wholehearted living requires embracing both beautiful and bitter morsels of your journey. In the normal life, trouble will darken your doorstep, and how unlucky you’d be if sorrow never swept your way between stretches of deep satisfaction and great achievements. That’s right. Unlucky if you remain unchanged by the pain that daily surrounds you and implores you to purpose it. Unlucky if you haven’t a single problem or unmet need that keeps you ever seeking our Sovereign Savior, ever stretching to reach beyond your grasp.

What a terrible waste of unlimited potential to skate safely through the life experiences that change so many others at the core, to never be transformed by loss, or heartache, or practicing to delight in the minutiae of seemingly mundane events. In the normal life, distance from Eden’s untainted perfection will ravage your soul and scar you deeply. If you’re lucky, you won’t be too rushed to “keep calm and carry on” or too willing to hide your heart at the first pinprick of pain. If you’re lucky, your agony won’t be invisible. Others will see your broken places, and maybe catch a glimpse of God shining from the cracks you refuse to conceal.

In the normal life, you’ll chance upon conflict. If you’re lucky, you’ll engage in loving confrontations that bear lasting fruit of deepened friendships, and maybe you’ll grow from the thing you didn’t avoid. In the normal life, doubt will visit your toughest decisions. If you’re lucky, repentance will swiftly follow the heels of remorse, and maybe you’ll choose your regrets more wisely when chasing second chances with those you love. Cruelty and cynicism swirl all around us, mingled with joy and generosity, and if you remain unaffected by it, you’ll miss the beautiful ways you were meant to reveal God’s glory. So, this is an invitation to open your heart to the things you’d rather avoid, to embrace every part of your story, especially the seemingly nuisance interruptions, to acknowledge the pain wrought by living a few thousand years past paradise, a summons to live with your whole heart expecting to be awed by God in the intricate details of your story, a request to open your heart to both the tragic and transformative nature of a normal life.

Leaving God Margins in a Double-Spaced Life

Submit all work with 1” margins, double-spaced. As a professor, I hold fast to these two formatting rules so I have enough room to make corrections and provide substantive feedback. It made me wonder if we leave God enough room between the lines of our stories, if we leave enough space in the margins for God to bring our dreams in line with His divine plans. Are you slowing down enough to live the double-spaced life? He knows your story better than you. Are you leaving God margins so He can write it on your heart?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. {Jer. 29:11, NIV}

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. {Psa. 139:16, NLT}

god-margins

 

Gideon Bible Study (Final)

W H E N you believe God and choose to be faithful despite your fears, your words begin to align with HIS Word! God’s declared: you win! Your enemy believes you win. Now it’s time to act like it. Fear isn’t sinful; it’s an invitation to cower or live with courage. Faithfulness is a decision. You CAN be faithful, even in the midst of your biggest fears!

VIDEO: