Cheers!

Jesus and his contemporaries do not appear to have had hot coffee in their day. If they had, clearly, Jesus might have performed one or two miracles involving lattes.

Love Latte

No. It seems they had wine. And, in the tradition of kings, Jesus fearlessly offers more wine for guests at a wedding party  (John 2). (Esther’s King Ahasuerus gives a week-long banquet for the people of Susa with an open bar and no limits on the royal wine, Esther 1:1-8.)

winebreak

The Psalmist says wine “gladdens human hearts” (Ps. 104:15). And the prophet Amos tells us to hold on; life will overcome death, the time of exile will end, and God’s people will drink their wine and eat their fruit in the days to come (Amos 9:13-15).

IMG_0933

At the Passover celebration and Last Supper, Jesus raises his glass and says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt 26:28).

Forgiveness is poured out for us. Abundantly. Without cost to us and without limit.

P1150118

I have been relishing the luxury of time these days, time spent sitting on a porch, drinking a cup of hot coffee with cream or a glass of wine. I drink it in — this gift of unbusyness. He leads me beside still waters and restores my soul.

So, Cheers. May your heart be glad. May your life have still, unbusy spaces, and may you know the abundance of the One who gives freely, without charge.
(wine photo, courtesy of L.D.)

 

Freedom Is Not Free

I am enjoying a quiet, reflective Memorial Day weekend. Taking care of personal and household tasks, while watching two Ken Burns documentaries on Amazon Prime:  The National Parks with its history of passionate individuals striving to preserve the natural wonder, beauty, and wildlife of the wide open spaces in America and The War (WWII) with its history of brave men, women, and children of four American towns struggling, fighting, dying, and surviving in that horrific world wide war of terror.

I am reminded — appropriately — that freedom is not free. It always comes at a great price. I am sipping my tea and enjoying tasty maple almond tea cake (low-carb and grain-free), remembering these sacrifices for my freedom and realizing that I too must sacrifice for others. We are not all free — there are battles yet to be fought for those who struggle, fight, die, and survive today.

tea break

Reordering Joy

distorted-emotions

Have you ever said no, I’m not having it. I won’t be hurt that way anymore. Or, no, I’m never going to be subjected to this kind of stress and strain again. I know I certainly have.

Growing up always involves some mix of pain and life lessons that sets the stage for how we manage and function in the world.  We may have drawn lines in the sand declaring we would not experience certain feelings ever again (such as pain, anxiety, sorrow, and so on), and, on the unseen spiritual level, these declarations were put into effect.

Resolving to not feel pain or sorrow or be duped — yet again — can actually harm us because these kinds of vows have unintended consequences. When we block our negative senses, we also block our positive senses. Our capacity to experience joy and beauty then mirrors our capacity to experience pain.

By making these kinds of inner vows, we give the enemy the legal right to mess with our emotions. The enemy has power but no authority unless we give it to him. Jesus had joy as his goal while he endured the cross. He was able to see joy ahead because there was no legal place in him for unhealthy, sinful emotions to land.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

To experience this kind of freedom and joy, we must:

  1. Admit we have been wrong to make willful declarations about our emotions and what we will or will not feel.
  2. Erase the lines we’ve drawn in the sand and give God permission to guide our emotional lives.
  3. Tell the enemy to vacate the premises because he no longer has the legal right to mess with us in these areas.
  4. Stand firm in the truth and word of God. Christ has the power and authority to forgive us. He cleanses, redeems, and restores our emotions.
  5. Receive God’s forgiveness and welcome his loving kindness and mercy.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

We can experience the freedom of feeling all our emotions, including joy and pain, and know that God is good.

This has been my experience. I have been taking my authority in Christ and have found the most unexpected joy and tenderness in my spirit to beauty and sorrow. It is the Lord reordering and restoring me emotionally as he aligns me with his truth.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.(Psalm 34:8)

Value and Worth

You matter! I say this because it is true. Mike Riches writes:

It is important that we take time to secure the truth that God created us to experience perfect love, significance, value, and worth. It is not self-seeking, self-important, or sinful to accept this as a natural desire for our lives. Trouble only comes when we begin to regard ourselves as insignificant, without worth, or of marginalized value. This affects our ability to receive and experience the reality of God’s love for us.” (Living Free)

It is not some mental trick to convince ourselves that we are better than we are. No, it is a matter of receiving Jesus and his gift of freedom and release.

Our action is to receive. This means we let go of the other things in our hands–like hurts, hang ups, cultural pride, pain, and indignation.

We do not move forward in freedom if we see ourselves as defined by injustice. Rather, we move forward in freedom when we grasp, understand, and learn to live rooted in the One who is Just.

Whenever I Feel Afraid…

  
It’s not as if we consciously choose to be stuck in life’s ruts. But, we can choose to remain fearful — fearful of change, risk, depth, transparency, etcetera etcetera etcetera (to quote the King in “The King and I”).

Anna in “The King and I” faces all kinds of challenging circumstances and she chooses to not be afraid. She even has a song: “whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect and whistle a happy tune so no one will suspect I’m afraid.”

We are not to slip and slide back into fear.  It is a slippery slope. When we allow fear to define us and frame our circumstances, we deny our direct access to God the Father who has adopted us into his family as his very own children. How offensive when we fail to rely on his household covering and offer of intimate connection and instead isolate ourselves in fear’s lies!

Are we fearful? Let’s figure out where have we settled for the enemy’s definitions of circumstances. Let’s kick him and his definitions out and open our minds and hearts to the transforming life-forces of God’s love and truth. Abba, Father! Come!

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…”  (Romans 8:15-16)