August…….a time to be set free

Here I surrender lay down every weight 
Remember Your love has broken all my chains 
What You have finished, cannot be undone 
The work of the cross was more than enough

I’ve been set free
I’ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power over me
Found in Your mercy
I’ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

There is a promise written in Your scars 
I am forgiven, changed by who You are 
What you have finished, I will not forget
I’m buried with Christ
I’m raised from the dead

I’ve been set free
I’ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power over me
Found in Your mercy
I’ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

No longer bound in chains 
No longer blind I see
This is amazing grace Jesus alive in me
No longer bound in chains 
No longer blind (now) I see 
This is amazing grace 
Jesus alive in me
No longer bound in chains 
No longer blind I see
This is amazing grace 
Jesus alive in me

(Oh) I’ve been set free
(Oh) I’ve been set free
Sin has no hold
Shame has no power (no power) over me 
Found in Your mercy
(Oh) I’ve been washed clean
You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

(Yes) You call me whole, saved and redeemed 
I’ve been set free

(Set Free….Hope Darst)

I shared a story this past Sunday of this very thing. It was the moment I truly knew I’d given everything to God. It wasn’t when I made a profession of faith at nine. It wasn’t when I threw myself on the altar at church camp at 14, a year after I turned my back on God in favor of a lifestyle that I erroneously thought was protecting me from pain. It wasn’t when I told him how sorry I was and how I wanted to turn my life around years later.

Those were three very real experiences and I meant every word of what I’d said each time.

But there was one time when I took it a step farther. One time when I knew I’d given Him EVERYTHING. The time I learned what it was like to be set free.

I’ve shared this story before, but the song above (featured in this month’s Media Picks) reminded me of that moment.

I was on my knees, figuratively, once again. Everything was a mess and I wanted to turn it around. It was a familiar prayer and I meant every word. But this time, He knew it was different. It was the lowest bottom I’d ever reached and I was all out of fight.

The calendar….He whispered.

Oh yes, the calendar…

It was several years old at that point and it held the phone numbers of every contact I’d ever need if things went south. Just now, as I’m writing this, I’m struck with the realization of what “going south” means. Going to hell. Which is what that calendar contained….a billion roads to send me to hell.

However, until then, I’d always looked at it as an insurance policy.

If things messed up, if I needed help, if I just needed a little something to help me through…it would be there. I would TRY not to use it but I’d keep it in a safe place as a back-up plan.

I hadn’t even thought about the calendar when He brought it up. But there I was, at the very intersection I call faith and free will. He was going to allow me to worship Him and He would bless me and I would revel in His grace and mercy no matter what I did. But I was tired of being tied to my past. It was the very thing that had kept me in bondage for years.

I don’t think I hesitated for a second. I made a fire, grabbed that calendar and threw it in. The weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. I felt 10,000 lbs lighter. My heart rejoiced. I felt as if angels had lifted me off the ground and I heard the chorus of At the Cross.

…and the burden of my heart rolled away…

I knew that was the lightness I felt. The burden I had unknowingly been carrying around all those years by holding on to something “just in case” I needed it later.

If there is something you are holding onto, something that separates you from God, and you have it on the shelf instead of in the fire, BURN IT TODAY!

Whether it’s a relationship, an addiction, a ball of anger….it will never do for you what God can. And your relationship with God will never be what it could be until you let it go.

Don’t just be free for a little while.

Be free indeed.

It’s 2020. Does anyone really care about Jesus anymore?

The Lighthouse by the Crabb Family is one of my favorite songs. I’d listened to my husband sing it for twenty years but last week it took on a whole new meaning.

         Everybody all around us….they say tear that old lighthouse down

         The ships don’t come this way anymore. There’s no use in it hanging ‘round…

My heart began to weep inside.

That’s where we are in this country. The nation formed UNDER GOD. They say they Bible is archaic; Jesus was a mere man, if not a myth. No one believes like that anymore and if you do, you’re wrong.

Christians are a hate group. Christians are ignorant. Christians are intolerant. The claims against Christianity abound.

Many Christians back up. Humans have an inherent need to be accepted. They aren’t tearing the Lighthouse down, but they are standing by silently as it is dismantled.

Do you not remember?

       But my mind goes back to that stormy night…where just in time I saw the Light

Does the praise of men mean more to you than that day of salvation?

This is my featured song for July in my Media picks. If you haven’t heard it before, listen to it. Jesus was YOUR Lighthouse. Jesus is THE Lighthouse. And yet, our world thinks the flashlight it created works better.

I’ve shamelessly plugged one of my new books as well. Surfing, Dancing Seeds of Glory is a metaphor for life. Seeds are all born different and lead different lives but in the end they all have the same opportunity: to surf down the river of life and dance on streets on gold! The book was designed to open communication about salvation and the promise of Heaven. It is a children’s book that was designed to also use with elderly and mentally-compromised patients who need to hear the good news of Jesus.

I also am featuring a study by one of my favorite Christian authors, Elizabeth George. This is a study of Esther and I’m particularly interested in Esther because of where we are right now in this country.

thumb

 

I know what Esther’s role was. Now, do I know mine? Actually, I believe I do, and I strive to meet God’s expectations for my life every day. What about you? He has raised you up for such a time as this. Are you doing what YOU are supposed to be doing?

For the movie, I realized I never featured the very first advance screening for pastors I attended. Do you Believe? came out in 2015, after the nation hungered for God’s Not Dead. I found it to be complex and heartwarming, and it set a high standard for screenings to come. If you haven’t seen it, download it today.

I hope you enjoy July’s featured media! If you decide to order a Surfing, Dancing Seeds book, let me know and I’ll send you a free bookmark that goes with the book. It contains a poem called “Take Up That Cross” on one side and salvation verses on the other. Images and ordering available on the author page.

 

Go get a blank name tag….we’re about to do some editing!

I was going to start off by apologizing for featuring a song twice but when I started looking, I discovered I’ve never featured this song. What?!!

th (5)

I’ve had this song on REPEAT all day long.

I should’ve had it on a continual loop since March!  Because I’m pretty sure that I forgot who I was for a little while. And once the devil got in my head, all I could hear was…

432605_480p_posters4

Confused with what was going on around me, broken by the chaos, past regrets coming out for an encore…the whispers were drowning out the truth.

And then the grand finale. A sucker punch from left field that left me balled up tighter than a roly-poly in a toddler’s hand. I wanted to give up. Run away. Thelma and Louise my life.

But an amazing thing happens when you reach that point of utter brokenness. God intervenes. Like any good parent, sometimes He steps in even when you haven’t asked Him too.

I wasn’t quite ready for the two-by-four He smacked me with. I was still firmly in Stage 4.

You see, I have these five stages of hurt I go through. Quite like the stages of grief, my stages of hurt and predictable but intense. (My mother says it’s ’cause I wear my heart on my sleeve.)

Anyway, here are my stages:

Stage 1: Shock- It’s that initial sting where you are momentarily paralyzed as the pain starts to set in.

Stage 2: Confusion and/or Regret- Either you have no clue why this person has chosen to hurt you so deeply, so you rack your brain trying to make sense of it for hours and hours on end OR you know exactly why (and you’re actions that caused it) and you spend hours and hours trying to undo the damage.

Stage 3: Pain- it’s just sheer and utter pain. Your heart hurts, your mind hurts, your feelings hurt.

Stage 4: Anger- a human body can only take so much pain before it begins to fight back. If it were a physical pain, you’d go into fight or flight mode. Emotionally, you keep crying or you get mad. “Who does she think she is?”

Stage 5: Forgiveness

(Now, I imagine you could reach Step 5 and NOT forgive, but it’s going to leave a little pit in your stomach that will grow and grow until you have a fully formed root of bitterness. Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled…Hebrews 12:15. I’ve been down that road. Unforgiveness isn’t an option. But staying in Stage 4 was. At least I THOUGHT it was.)

Even after He gobsmacked me with a revelation that definitely soothed my soul, I wasn’t over it and I wasn’t ready to forgive. It wasn’t okay. I wasn’t okay. But it was more than just one incident that sent me over the edge. I’d walked right up to that edge, like a foolish tourist trying to get a selfie while leaning over a 1,000 ft drop. I put myself in that position.

And it was time to get back on the path.

And it was time to forgive.

Then it was time to get to work.

I put on a playlist this morning and this was the first song I heard. Oh the power! I played it again. Then again. And again. Every chain I’d allowed the devil to wrap around me broke loose.

th (6)

Did I really forget who I was in Christ?

Sometimes you can be doing and saying everything right and STILL lose sight of your identity in Christ.

1265a392347c0d05aa8b05e65009b822

My mistakes don’t define me and it’s time I stopped living in regret. If I could go back in time, would I do things differently? Absolutely. Hey, there are things from LAST WEEK that I’d do differently as well! But I’m not going to be bound by my past actions or decisions anymore.

Those lies?

th (4)

If you don’t know the song, check it out here.

For my June movie, I did revisit a previously featured film.

th (2)

I STILL BELIEVE

We’d seen the advance pastor’s screening and loved the movie by the same producers of I Can Only Imagine. Unfortunately, the quarantine affected its theatrical release but it’s available for streaming on many platforms. Check it out!

For my June book, I chose a book I’d picked up in the bookstore several months ago but never read. It was a short read and I enjoyed it immensely. It was a sequel, but you can read them out of order. In fact, I just ordered the first book. Having had my own experience with a flesh and blood Jesus, I know this can happen so it was less fiction and more reality to me, even though it is a novel.

s-l1600

I hope you are staying safe and doing well. Blog posts will resume on Mondays and Thursdays at 8 AM, and you will also notice a new author page (currently under construction) that will feature my published and upcoming books.

Have a wonderful June!