Fortunate, Indeed.

“David confirms this way of looking at it, saying that the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man: Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off, whose sins are wiped clean from the slate. Fortunate the person against whom the Lord does not keep score. Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don’t we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God?”

Romans 4:6-9 MSG

The parallels between Paul's story and mine are not lost on me. I find it even more interesting that he points out that Abraham—the professed father of salvation for the Jews—didn't have all of their disciplines and religious practices.

I've found developing a relationship with Jesus Christ to be far more challenging than hyper-disciplined rule keeping ever was. And yet, pursuing that relationship has produced the blessings that I was promised as a rule keeper, but never received before. Do I still honor God's law? Absolutely! It is the natural result of the loving relationship I have with God because of what Christ won for me, not because I managed to be good enough, worthy enough, to qualify for His love.

I had to come to Christ as though he was the Lion of Judah—not a tame lion. No cage to keep him comfortably controlled for the sake of my flesh's craving for a predictable God, no leash or muzzle to guard against the raw power inherent in omnipotence.

I had to trust that his nature—Love itself—would be all the protection I would ever need. That I could come before him, heart completely vulnerable, and believe I would be safe. As Lucy said to Aslan: "I'd rather be eaten by you than fed by anyone else."

You can chase righteousness through a thousand intricate trails, but without coming to Christ, learning about him and actually listening to what he has to say to you, personally, you will never, ever find righteousness. You will never find salvation. You must KNOW God, like you know a person. And getting to know someone is an age-old, established ritual. We ask around to learn what the people we love or respect most think or know about that person. If it's a person of note, we read up on them. And we observe who they are in daily interaction, listening to what they say and gauging their character by their behavior.

The same is true for Jesus. We ask others about him. Read his word. Listen for his voice to us, and talk to him.

He knows you already. Sees everything you'd like to think is discreetly hidden. The only thing self protection gets you is isolation from the One who is Love. So come to know him, for he is knowable. Read the things he said, because they will show you who he is. And then trust that you can come to him without being afraid. You can. Because of Jesus Christ.

Father, I pray every heart hungers for your presence, every thirsty soul comes to and drink and eat without money and without price, because that's what your Son, gentle and not puffed up, invites us to do. I pray we will all take you at your Word, in Jesus' name, amen.

Community: one of the greatest gifts from God.

This post came in response to one sentence I recently read online:

"We probably shouldn't be listening to any pastors, ministers, prophets or any man".

No person is required to mediate connection between us and Jesus Christ. And, we ABSOLUTELY need pastors, as well as apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers, to reach out and bridge the gap that opens between individuals and Jesus. We need ministers passionately on fire to tell the good news that JESUS WON, and what that really means for us in this moment while the rubber squeals against the road. We need prophets hearing and speaking how God sees our circumstances, calling out the things we can't see from our perspective. We need apostles with their strategic minds and long-term vision to help the body of Christ operate in a healthy, balanced way as each congregation moves into the God-ordained destiny on that group. We need pastors to guard and care for their flock, their beautiful hearts beating to meet the needs of those around them. We need teachers to ground us in the word of God, to illuminate scripture in ways we haven’t yet. And we need evangelists, irresistibly drawn into the community, who feel the worthy weight of every soul, to gather the hungry and hurting into the household of God.

We need the experience and wisdom, knowledge and testimony of others so we don't have to forge this path on our own, but can stand on their shoulders, doing greater things and going farther in the work of saving souls than they did. And we need one other. Oh, how we need one another!

If we actually didn’t need anyone else, then "meeting together often" wouldn't be in scripture. Yet scripture states believers met together to break bread and to talk together about the welfare of their souls. (For that matter, we have scripture because prophets, apostles and others heard God and wrote it down, or wrote what we would call journals today, or letters to loved ones.) In Ephesians 5 it talks about how prophets, pastors, evangelists, teachers and apostles are given to the church—the ekklesia, built by Christ—for the equipping of the saints and for the work of the ministry. In community we have a beautiful opportunity for others to bless and strengthen us so we can get a leg up on our climb to the mountain top.

The sacrament of communion was instituted at a communal dinner: the Passover feast. And at the beginning of his ministry, Jesus gathered a group of others around himself—He operated in community. He needed close friends and companions. He discipled his closest friends so they could become His apostles, to teach and disciple and impart to others.

Even in the very beginning, God saw it was not good for man to be alone. And I personally believe Adam also knew it wasn't good for Eve to be alone, and that was one of the factors in why he ate the fruit she offered.

The enemy prowls like a young lion, looking for those whom he might devour, isolated from the community, unprotected and alone. I know I’m not alone with the reality that I have the hardest time with accurate discernment when I'm "in my head", trying to sort through things alone. Especially when I’m struck with disappointment, or struggling to forgive. And I most likely to be deceived, hands down, when I am trying to do things on my own.

From the beginning of time, God touched human hearts by speaking to his children, and those children wrote and spoke and served and loved those who hadn't yet heard, or who weren't hearing in that moment. I hear from God a lot. I've healed illness and injury in the name of Jesus, had visions and dreams, spoken words I've heard from the Holy Spirit that have changed people's lives. I've also walked through times of desperate lonliness and misery, and the ONLY thing that was finally able to pull me out of it was community, community in the Body of Christ that included people who heard the Holy Spirit speaking and told me what God spoke to them for my benefit. People who let the love of God flow through them to fill me when I was weak and broken, cut off from that love because of false conceptions—lies I believed—about of the nature of God in that moment or season.

We NEED one another. Always. God gives gifts, not for the edification of the individual, but also for the blessing and comfort and exhoration and encouragement of others. I find it interesting that communities of believers are such a deeply-grounded part of the history of God's people that scripture doesn't really hammer home the message: "Be sure to get together with other believers, because it's really important". It's more like the idea I see today of individuals forging their own paths into heaven was so foreign to those authors that it never occurred to them to address it.

Not one of us is perfected enough to avoid error while in isolation. And not one of us is perfected enough to avoid erring while in community. Healthy community functions to nurture the injured, strenghten the weak, to empower, to draw out the destiny God sows into every heart, and BLESS BLESS BLESS one another. To offer perspective outside of the emotion of the moment, or the emotion of the circumstance, and help one another not go careening off the rails. Our individual weaknesses provide opportunities for others to bless us, and for all of us to learn. And those weaknesses and blessings knit us all together in an incredible network of love and service that teaches us who God is and how he loves us.

His Beloved

Filling the reservoir of my coffee maker just now, I looked down at the inside of the lid, and saw this. The odds on this are so long, I know my moderate math skills can't notate them.

Our God is speaking ALL THE TIME. He's leaving love notes for you everywhere your eyes land--motivated by a love so deep and so strong and so passionate for connection with you that it was worth the priceless blood of deity to make it possible. Do you see them? Do you recognize them? They are there. And he'll never stop, because love never fails, never runs out, never grows weary, never gives up on his beloved. 

And his beloved is YOU.

Revelation = VICTORY

What's on my mind today? The fact that God reveals for the purpose of VICTORY. That when my own limitations come up before my face, I recognize it as the gift of seeing them clearly for the purpose of receiving guidance on how to allow the strength of God to come in and make me stronger in that arena.

So, when life gets tough, know that you have to see where you lack before you can receive His abundant solution—and God has amazing things in store for you!

God Sees Through the Lens of Forgiveness

"Forgiveness is a selective remembering that is not based on our selection but His. To forgive is to remember only the loving thoughts we gave in the past and the rest are forgotten.

Forgiveness transforms our vision. It is here we can see the world clearly as illusions that had twisted our perception and fixed it on the unloving past are removed.

We must get to the place where we love to forgive and not become unloving as a result of unforgiveness. The supply we draw from comes from the Source of forgiveness.

Forgive and see the world through the lens of beauty."

~Brian Orme

Originally posted on Facebook.

#theascendedlife #mindsetlegacy