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Posts Tagged ‘Luke’

For my 30th birthday, my friends set up a surprise scavenger hunt for me. As much as I HATE surprises, I loved seeing friends from all seasons of my life.

One of the challenges I had to do was hold up a “Free Hugs” sign on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in downtown DC. I loved it. I’m a hugger. Affection is one of my natural languages.

Although I shouldn’t have been, I was shocked at how many people wanted a hug. People of all different faith, size, age, color, and background came up to hug me. I loved seeing their smiles, not to mention the joy that filled my heart hugging all of these people.

I was just looking back over those pictures with the words, “are you willing?” running through my head.

Are we willing?

Are we willing to hug someone’s heart? Are we willing to be interrupted with the stories and needs of others? Does your life speak of invitation and willingness to others?

My heart melts every time I read the story of the man with Leprosy in the bible. Here was a man who was given up on by everyone close to him, as well as his culture. This was a man sent to spend life quarantined from the willingness of anyone else.

Then one day Jesus passed through his town. This man took a risk and knelt at the foot of Jesus–the closest to another person he has been in a long time. With quivering voice, teary eyes, and shame filled words, he asked Jesus to being willing.

Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.

Jesus touched this affection starved man and said, “I am willing.” The man looked up with life’s first redeemed touch and eye contact. He was clean.

Life just needs willingness.

We are filled with scars and wounds that are in need of willingness. This poor-in-spirit girl is in desperate need of His willingness. I also desire to be a person who is willing to reach out and hug another’s heart.

Be someone’s willingness. Risk to hold up a sign that says, “I am willing.”

Help someone feel seen and known today.

It matters deeply.

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Sometimes I just feel like I only have a voice shouting to God from a distance. Sometimes I just see through the lenses that are filled with wounds, scars, and sin. My jaded self-perception gets stuck on seeing the old me; the dirty and weighted down me. Sometimes I see a me that only seems to reflect the lies of being the “un-able.” Through those jaded lenses, I see a me that is un-lovable, un-ownable, and un-worthyable. Those are the “un-ables” in me.

I will admit that sometimes I only have the guts to yell out to God from a distance. I see the state of my heart and keep my distance. It’s in those times I have missed the reality of who Jesus really is.

Through reading the story of the Ten Leper’s, I see myself through the eyes of one.

Leper’s are the outcast and disgrace of a community. They are forced to live outside of the life and love of the “clean.” I find myself there so many times. My heart is messy.

One night, ten leper’s had a chance to connect with one who was not only clean, but one who could make them clean again. So they shouted from a distance, bringing the only thing left to bring, their voice. Jesus stopped, took time to meet them where they were. Jesus used his voice to make them well.

One man recognized his deep healing. One man recognized that Jesus’ voice made all things new in him. One man took that same voice used earlier from distance and knelt before Jesus. A voice redeemed. A shouting voice now spoke softly on it’s knees praising the salvation of a savior.

Jesus took one voice, who only knew worthiness only from a distance, and drew him close. Jesus only heard a voice of his beloved. Jesus only saw a man who was his child and worthy of healing.

I have been a voice begging and shouting from a distance. I have experienced times of only being able to see through fogged covered lenses. Jesus hears me, always, and invites me to himself. I have a choice to hear his voice and go on with my day, healed, but empty. I also have the choice to return to the voice of  my healer.

We have two choice: to either experience the healing or experience the healer.

Which will you choose?

Do you have the guts to call out?

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I am definitely not a patient driver. I can go from singing a nice Christian song that’s on the radio to yelling, arm motions and all, at another driver. I am even known to call a  time-out on the phone to yell at another driver. I don’t know what that is. I can’t help but wonder where that comes from in me. I am not a very angry person, in fact I really don’t like being angry. But in the car…dang!

The thing about the car is that my anger is very much a double standard. I know I cut people off, or make decisions that affect someone else’s ignition of road rage. I am not the best driver, and in times of confession, I drive while texting. I can pass people in their cars, who are talking on the phone, and hear myself say, “GET OFF YOUR PHONE!” and two lights down the road I get on mine. What is that!?

I know this attitude and mentality plays out in more areas of my life. Some things I am aware of and some are still surfacing in me. I am not the best at extending grace after I have received the huge blessing of grace and forgiveness. I resonate all to well with the parable of the unmerciful servant. Embarrassingly, I catch myself slamming others for the things I do.

I feel convicted this week by the words of Jesus as he confronts Simon and his friends. In Luke 7, Jesus is hanging out at Simon’s house for dinner. At that dinner, he loved a woman and forgave her of her many sins. Jesus ends the discussion about the woman by saying, “Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

Those words are piercing to my soul. I know I do not get the depth of forgiveness and grace for me. The woman forgiven that night by Jesus knew the depth of forgiveness. I can speculate that from that night on she loved deeply and forgave freely. This woman loved much and knew much forgiveness.

Forgiveness and love are connected. Jesus doesn’t say,”to whom little is forgiven, the same forgives little.” Jesus harnesses the depth of how one loves with the understanding of forgiveness. By taking the time to look my heart over, I see how much I don’t get forgiveness for me. I am one who shows little love because of my lack of understanding. That wrecks me inside. I am really learning how much the two are connected together.

I crave being a deep lover of the heart. I so desire to understand how much that was sacrificed to forgive me. This requires humilty on my part. That is really hard for someone who is a professional at being self-sufficient.

How we love has everything to do with our understanding of our own need for forgiveness. Out of this place will we be able to forgive others. Everything stems out of our relationship with Christ. Forgiveness does not have two categories. Meaning forgiveness of self and forgiving others. I think that the ability to forgive others comes out of our own understanding that we are forgiven.

The more I have been marinating on forgiveness the more I find myself knee bound. I can’t seem to say “forgive me father” enough. There is humility in that recognized need. My heart feels soft and my love big.

I know I will teeter back and forth for a while. But this week I can honestly say I have “tasted and seen that the Lord is good.”

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Forgiveness is a powerful thing. Forgiveness enables the place of reconciliation, redemption, and renewing. Recognized forgiveness releases that exhale of freedom.

Forgiveness is a theme laced in every area in the bible. Forgiveness is the major theme of the bible. There are some stories I am drawn to more than others. Today I want to tell one woman’s story taken from Luke 7. Some suppose that the “sinner” in this story was Mary Magdalene. So that is the name I will use.

The emptiness was overwhelming as Mary rolled over to find a denarii on her bedside table. She sat up and tears began to stream down her face. “I didn’t even know his name” she whispered through her deep breaths. Mary looked around her room and wondered how long it had been since she really knew who she was. Mary spent so much time in this life style of one wrong choice after another that she forgot what joy felt like. She spent too long associating joy with the few moments spent in the arms of another.

Some men she knew, some she didn’t. Some she enticed, some forced themselves on her. All ended with the same emptinesss of her own heart’s echo.

Mary wiped her eyes, got dressed, and headed out to the market. She rarely made eye contact with others out of shame, but she could still hear their taunts and words to her. Silent tears would lace her face as she made her way through the streets. Some voices were familiar. Some voices were of those “friends”she new growing up. Her heart stirred as she asked herself, “how long ago did I become this person?

That late morning, she heard rumors of a man named Jesus coming to town. He would be having dinner at Simon’s house that evening. Mary’s curiosity grew and asked someone who this Jesus was. “Jesus is the healer of disease. He awakens the dead, casts of evil spirits, and even forgives sins.

Forgiver of sins?” For the first time a feeling of hope began to grow in her heart. She went back and forth all day in her heart, wondering if she had too many sins that were beyond forgiveness.

That night, Mary grabbed her alabaster jar and headed to Simon’s house. Mary crept up to the house and peared through the window. She found them all reclining at the table. After deliberating for quite some time, she entered the house and walked straight to Jesus. The site of him was overwhelming. She could already sense something different about him. Jesus smiled as Mary approached. Mary bent down and wept like she never wept before. It was as if years of pent up tears flowed from her soul. She poured everything she could out on Jesus. She offered everything she could in hopes for mercy.

At this point grumbling broke out among the men. She heard names being hurled in her direction. At one point it got so bad she stopped and looked up at Jesus. In that moment, his eyes were full of compassion, joy, love, and genuiness. She felt seen for the first time. Jesus’ eyes pierced her wounded places.

Jesus then did something no man had done. Jesus owned Mary in front of everyone. Jesus stopped the party and acknowledge Mary as a real person. She had been overseen her whole life, and tonight she was the center of attention in a new positive way. Jesus loved her.

After a story, Jesus turned to her and smiled. He said words that she wanted to engrave on her heart, “your sins, which are many, are forgiven.” Jesus spoke to the heart of Mary.

Oh the rush of exhale and freedom. She felt whole and new. She felt redeemed and loved. Mary was over joyed that her many sins were not too many for forgiveness. She left different that night. A new beginning started. Mary finally knew love not condemnation.

I don’t know this woman’s story. I don’t know what constituted her “many sins.” I can imagine her titles. I can imagine some of her decisions. She humbled herself long enough to realize that she was in need of forgiveness. We are all included in her story. We are all in need of forgiveness. The question is, will you humble yourself long enough to realize that?

What keeps you from knowing forgiveness?

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Some times temptations can be blatant and in your face. Temptations can appear wearing masks of clearly identifiable things, but they can also be subtle and harder to spot. Acting independent from the one we are wired to worship can manifest itself in so many ways.

I have two blatant areas of temptation in my life. The first would be listening to music with lyrics that are hard on my heart. I gotta be honest, sometimes Christian music just doesn’t have enough beat for me . The second would be road rage. I seem to have zero ability to muster up patience and encouragement for other drivers. In the car, I have words that dull the blade of the iron that sharpens iron. EEK!

But what about those subtle temptations that go more unnoticed? I have talked about my identified temptations of self-sufficiency and taking my life in my own hands. I have spent too much of my life searching for things that do not satisfy. More often than not I rely on myself as authority, and my pride resembles a desire for glory. This makes for some long seasons in the desert.

The final card the devil plays in this game of poker is more subtle than the other two. The temptation is for Jesus to use other power sources other than God. 9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

I think that there are subtle ways our culture taps into other forms of power. We are inundated with “self-help”options. We can practice Yoga to help us relax. Zen is used usher us into deep places with in ourselves. We also practice new age aspects of eastern religions to help us experience centering and meditation. These can be subtle ways of providing for ourselves.

Meditation and finding rest are great things, but how we think about these areas matter. Our power source is God. God states, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He also states, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Jesus’ response is so eye opening for me. He responds to the temptation by stating, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” In essence Jesus is saying, “do not ask God to prove himself or put him in a situation where he would have to prove himself.”

The take away from all three of these temptations is that life is not meant to work outside of God. Our constant temptations revolve around the theme of to making life happen on our own terms. These are temptations to keep us stuck in the desert. My hope is that this series has helped call out some areas of nudging God might be doing in you.

I would love to know what blatant and subtle temptations you have!

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Right before the start of Jesus’ public ministry, the last three years of his life, he was led by the holy spirit into the desert. Jesus had just been baptized by John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit descended down on to Jesus. Then a voice thundered out from the father identifying Jesus as his son.

Amazing events before the desert. I can remember how awesome I felt when I surrendered my heart to Christ as a teenager. I was at a Young Life camp in VA. It was a great risk for my heart to take, being surrounded by others who were contemplating the same decision.

But what about after camp? That was a fearful thought for me. I would return home different then when I left. How does that transition happen? I remember thinking that I wish I had some transformation time. I wish I could’ve had an in-between time to really grasp what had just taken place in my heart. Now I understand a little more the value of the desert.

Before Jesus was to take on the road of dying for our sin, he needed some time. He spent 40 days in the desert. At the end of his time there, the devil approached him with three specific temptations.

The past couple weeks, I have really began looking at the significance of these temptations. There were three major areas where the devil tried to entice Jesus. If these were core areas to attack for Jesus, chances are they would be for me as well.

The first card in the temptation deck was, “if you are the son of God, command this stone to become bread.” This temptation attacks an area of basic need for Jesus. The devil enticed Jesus to go outside of God to meet his needs. The devil was also challenging Jesus to prove his identity. In essence, if Jesus could turn the stone into bread, he would prove his identity and ability to provide for himself. The temptation is to act independently from the father to prove ourselves.

This temptation resonates with me. I have talked about being a self-sufficient person before. I know I can fall short of depending on God to provide for my legitimate needs. In response, I take action for myself. I can struggle with thinking that I have to make things happen for myself. Sometimes my identity can get wrapped up in my actions.

Jesus did not cave. He remembered his past 29 years and 39 days of believing in the father. Jesus rested in his identity being in the father. He remembered those sweet words of, “this is my son, in whom I am well pleased.” He looked at the devil and stated his father’s words, “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word from the mouth of God.

I want to rest secure in my identity in Christ. For the father says to us all, “you are my beloved.” That never changes. I am praying through the ways I can entrust myself more to Him to meet my needs. I desire to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God. That is the only answer to my legitimate needs. The temptation entices me to being enslaved, but believing in God for my needs leaves me free. I desire to confidently respond to temptation the way Jesus did.

Thank you Jesus for the example!

How are you tempted to provide for yourself?

In what ways are you tempted to prove your identity and worth?

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This past week I met with a wise mentor of mine. We were talking through areas where I feel stuck in my own emotional and spiritual life.

I am a person who has learned to figure myself out pretty well. From an early age, I have had to learn how to be self-sufficient. This is where I now wrestle with my weakness of self-sufficiency and independence. I can get stuck on thinking that this life is up to me.

This particular mentality gets in the way of what God’s thoughts are about me. It even gets in the way of others getting to know a deeper me. I have many “great walls” in my life. I am learning that they are not as effective or safe as I might perceive them to be.

In light of my growing understanding of my heart, I am learing where I get stuck in knowing who God is. My walls seem to keep even the creator of my heart, out.

My mentor described the person of Moses to have some of the same characteristics. Moses wanted to know God so bad. He asked, maybe even demanded, that God show Moses his glory. Moses craved knowing and understanding as much as he could of who God was. I have that same craving. In my self protection and self-sufficient mind set, I can demand God for the same thing.

My mentor challenged me to read the gospel of Luke 10 times in a row. I guess I should also add that it was through negotiating that 10 was the final number. Why Luke? Luke is said to cover the person of Jesus more so than the other three gospels. Matthew describes Jesus as king. Mark focuses on Jesus as servant. And John talks about Jesus as the Son of God.

The challenge is to read Luke straight through, not looking for nuggets or anything in particular, but just reading to learn about the person of Jesus. So hard for me. I am a nugget girl!

Maybe you want to take the challenge with me. If there is another aspect of Jesus your heart is more curious about maybe choose one of the other gospels for the challenge.

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