Posts tagged #Church

A Post for The Fallen & The Shamed :: There's Room at Our Table for You.

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I’ve noticed a trend on the interwebs as of late. Many feel-good blog posts are for folks who have been wounded or walked through immense suffering. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who has seen grey days, I resonate 110%. But lately God has opened my eyes not only to the wounded, but to the wounders as well. 

So today I have a message for those of you with BIG mistakes. To those of you weighed down with guilt, shame, and regret… 

You are wanted, you are loved, and there is room for you in our homes. There is room for you in our churches. There is room for you in our social circles. There is a seat waiting for you at the table of grace.

Did you mess up big? Have you fallen from society’s good grace? 

No worries, me too.

And I have a word for you today.

Get back up and come sit with us at the table. You might believe that you’ve utterly messed up your life, but I’m here to tell you that a feast is just around the corner. 

“No, you don’t understand what I’ve done,” you say. And you’re right, I don’t know the details of your shame. But what I do know is that God does His greatest work in the most broken places, during the darkest hour. Redemption has always been His strong suit. 

Our hodgepodge heroes of the faith were prostitutes, liars, doubters, adulterers, and murderers (just to name a few), and trust me when I tell you that there’s nothing you can do to out-sin some of God’s best. Not to mention, when Jesus walked this earth, He ate with tax collectors and sinners, people like you and me. And when Pharisees, the religious rule followers, rolled their eyes about the company He kept, Jesus replied, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

You see, it feels good to sit in church and hear how David, a man after God’s own heart cheated, manipulated, and killed. But it’s much more difficult to do the hard work and say, “I am David, and He loves me still,” or equally hard to be like Joseph and say, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. I forgive you.” 

This is the Gospel and the table of grace you’re welcome to. It’s a table full of misfits and mistake makers, rebels with restored hearts, and I want you to know that today, there’s a seat for you here. 

But before you sit down, let me first say this. 

I’m sorry.

You see the church has this beautiful messy job of being the hands and feet of Jesus, and sometimes, (ahem most of the time), we don’t do it perfectly. But in spite of our brokenness, Jesus left the keys to His kingdom in the hands of a bunch of zealous misfits who rarely get it right. 

And sometimes, in pursuit of holiness we get caught up in our self-righteousness, instead of His righteousness. We “do good” to those it feels good to “do good” to, and forget that the greatest good we could ever do is love our neighbors as ourselves, even if... no, especially if our neighbor is that guy who was charged with embezzling, or that girl who has a reputation. Or what about that brother or sister who wounded us? We can forgive others, but not them; the wound is too deep. Instead of grace upon grace, we heap coals of shame and cries for justice upon each other’s failed shoulders as we pridefully thank God that we’re not like that person.

 Jesus loved the outsider, the doubter, the guy who stole money from others, the woman who had been with multiple men. The broken, messed up people that religious folk turned away, these were the people God-incarnate sought out. Yet we hide our reputations behind the appearance of holiness and keep the folks Jesus loved most at arms length.

We forget that it’s not our reputation we boast in, rather it’s in the one we’ve been given. Not earned by any good deed we’ve accomplished, but by one good deed done once and for ALL. We bought the lie - hook, line, and sinker - that we aren't one of you. We believe the lie that we're all better now, and that the sin nature we were born with is gone now that we've said a prayer. 

And for that, I say, We Are SORRY. I am sorry. We have failed you by making you feel like you aren’t good enough or cleaned up enough or like you don't belong here. The truth is, none of us ever were good enough and we still aren’t.

We’re sorry for creating A-teams and B-teams, varsity and jv, when the gospel says ALL of us are big sinners in need of a BIGGER Savior.

We are sorry for pushing you out, rather than drawing you in. 

But that’s the thing about this beautiful messy table of grace, we all are wounded and wound each other. And all at the table must learn to both dish out and receive forgiveness like it's Thanksgiving Pie. 

So today, I’m begging you. Come sit with us, forgive us, find your place of rest here amongst other sinners like you. Start the journey of healing with us by your side and a God who is fighting for you always, because we’re all healing from something. And by sitting with us, sharing your story, letting us walk these messy days with you, you bless us. You help us see Jesus better by letting us sit with you in your broken story, as we ask you to sit with us in ours. Because make no mistake, regardless of pretense, everyone at the table of grace has a broken story and our common denominator is that we are all deeply loved by a gracious God.   

So today, if you’ve fallen, get back up.

Have you messed up big? Redemption awaits. 

There’s room for you at this table, always has been, always will be. Have a seat and enjoy the feast. Be known, be loved, you are welcome here. 

Posted on September 1, 2016 and filed under Story, Spiritual Journey, Suffering.

Truth for Tuesday: Apex series on Ephesians

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Saturday I went for a run. My dad and I are training for a 10 miler in October, and this mama has got to whip herself into running shape. So Saturday I woke up, laced up, and headed out for what turned out to be a beautiful run.  

Lately, on my longer runs, I've been listening to podcasts of some of my favorite preachers. Now... before you make fun of me... hold on. I used to make fun of my dad all of the time growing up because I'd hop in the car and he'd have a tape of some sermon on... BORING. Or so I used to think. But now that life is busy & I rarely get moments to myself, I've found that podcasts can be SUPER helpful to my growth. And they're easy to listen to while running or in the car or while I'm folding laundry while the babies nap. Plus, sometimes it is helpful for me to listen to what other preachers/churches have to say about what a certain passage means rather than just reading it and trying to apply it to my life solo. 

These past few weeks I've been stuck on Apex Community Church's series on Ephesians. I heart Apex. Like... a lot. I attended that church when I was in college, and that's when I really came to understand my faith better. That church and pastoral staff (along with some awesome Cedarville staff) really shaped the way I view the world and God. So it will always hold a special place in my heart.  

So Saturday as I was trucking down the road, I was listening to Pastor Rob teach on Ephesians 6:10-12 and there were a few times I almost had to stop running because my heart was just so full. And the whole time I was running I was thinking... I need to jot this down or dannnnnnnnnng, I wanna tweet that one-liner (we all do it... don't judge me), but alas... I was running and I didn't bring my pen and paper so the twitter world definitely missed out. ;)

BUT, I wanted to share this sermon series with yall AND post this on my blog as a resource for myself later in life. I want to be able to find this and listen to it again as needed. So today for our Truth for Tuesday, I want to post this sermon. Seriously, download it and listen to it. 

Ephesians 6:10-12

Go on... click on the link above and listen. I pray that it'll be as encouraging to you as it was to me.  

Much love, 

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Truth for Tuesday: You are His.

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Hello. I hope you all had a very relaxing Labor Day! 

Today is Tuesday & I'll confess, I was tempted ALREADY to skip out on a post. BUT... I'm really trying to be consistent. TRYING.  

For those of you who don't attend my church (which is most of you!), we have a Bible reading plan that is available. I really REALLY love it. It's taking us through the New Testament in one year by reading 1 chapter a day. ONE CHAPTER people. It's awesome. For those of us who struggle with consistency (ahem... me), this is perfect because it has us reading Mon-Fri and then praying/reflecting (or catching up) on Sat/Sun. It's perfect for new moms who like to read a quick chapter on their phone while nursing or while you're sitting in your car waiting to pick up the littles from school. It's also perfect for the busy professional who only has a few minutes but wants to start to develop the discipline of reading the Bible. This is an excellent baby step into reading the Bible daily. And for those of you who like to bite off a bit more than a chapter, this is also a GREAT plan to pair with an in-depth study of an OT book. It's nice to be reading both at the same time, and it's nice to know that you'll finish it in a year!

My church isn't paying me to plug their plan. :) So I'll stop with the promo here, BUT I did want to share with you what's driving a lot of these posts.  

Yesterday's portion was 1 Corinthians 6.

Verses 16-18 say:

"For we are the temple of the living God; as God said.  'I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst and be separate from them,' says the Lord, 'and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me says the Lord Almighty.'" 

This passage is discussing our relationship with God and how that affects how we live. The previous verses are very clear instructions on how we are to live, but that's not what this post is about. 

It's really easy to list out things to do and not do. I think it's a lot easier to draw lines in the sand and create behavioral boundaries than it is to recognize HOW God views me. After all, it should be our relationship with the Lord that drives our actions. Yet more often than not, the roles are reversed (at least they are in my life). I think this is why Paul ends this chapter with quotes from the Old Testament to remind us that YAHWEH will uphold His covenant with His people.

So in light of that, I want to point out 2 relational truths about your relationship with YAHWEH. If you're a believer in Jesus Christ, let these truths FUEL your love for God and your actions today. 

  1. We are HIS. I know this sounds trivial, but let this sink in. If you're a believer in Jesus Christ, you belong to Him. He chooses to identify WITH YOU. Listen to these words, "I will make my dwelling among them and I will walk among them, AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD and THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE." That last phrase holds a lot of weight. It is YAHWEH's promise to the Israelites and is used a ton in the OT, and yet Paul found it appropriate to use that same phrase when talking with the Corinthians. Does that sound like a distant God? Does this sound like a God who doesn't want to identify with His creation? Isn't it amazing that over centuries, YAHWEH continued to speak of His covenant to His people? He is OUR God and we are HIS people. Today, as you go about your day, rest knowing that you are HIS & His covenant with us still exists today... You are His. You are His. You are His. 
  2. You are His SONS & DAUGHTERS. This blows my mind. The God of the universe, who can calm the wind and walk on water, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, The God who overcame death and sin and is making all things new... That God, well... He will welcome you, and it is so much more than that. How will He welcome us? Not as a stranger welcomes a guest, but as a Father welcomes his sons and daughters. Bam. Mind blown. The familial language is a strong depiction of what God wants us to see. We are HIS children. He is our Father. Again, let this relational position sink in and influence our practice. Let it drive us today in all that we do. It doesn't matter if that guy isn't crushing on you like you had hoped. You are His beloved daughter and He delights in you. For you mamas out there grieving the loss of your children, your FATHER is grieving alongside His daughter. You are His. For the woman who is battling cancer, You are His. For the marriage on the rocks, YOU ARE HIS. For the person in the boring job, or the person who is jobless. You are HIS & He is our Jehovah Jireh. Friends, this is crucial, don't let your circumstances define who you are. Let your identity be found in the one whose character and covenant is unchanging. You are his sons and daughters, relish in that and let it grow in you an unwavering love for your God. 

Today, I'm preaching these truths to myself. I'm telling myself over and over and over... I am his. I am HIs. I AM HIS. And I'm praying that as I focus on the kind Father, I will slowly be molded into the daughter that would make her heavenly dad proud. I'm praying the same for you today. Except for you men... I'm not praying that you'll turn into daughters... I promise. ;) But you get the idea...

Happy Tuesday Yall!

 

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Posted on September 3, 2013 and filed under Truth for Tuesday.