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I Am the Wine

Oct
2012
17

posted by on Unforced Grace

Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!”  John 2:6-10

Ah ha moments. Ever have them? They are the times when the light bulb switches on and we get clarity on a situation, a verse, or a person. I had one of those yesterday and I can see this changing my life.

I had been struggling with confidence in an area of my life, and I have this problem of forgetting who I am in Christ. My friend said to me, “You are the vessel of water that Jesus turned into wine.” And I said, “Yes, but I still see myself as water.”

When we are in Christ, we are miraculously changed just as Jesus miraculously turned the water into wine at the wedding celebration. And just like the wine Jesus created, we are not mediocre…we are the best.

But, like me, do you still see yourself as water? Do you fail to see that you are cherished, beautiful, perfect in Christ? Are you still looking at your past and wondering how God could take you with all of your imperfections and your bad decisions and turn you into something miraculous?

That’s the cool thing about God. He can take anything that we have done and make it into something good when we surrender it to Him.  Our past doesn’t define us…God does. Our imperfections don’t define our worth…God does. Our self-inflicted mediocrity doesn’t define us…God does. He takes our past, our imperfections, our mediocrity and turns them into extraordinary. Because of Jesus, we are extraordinary!

I am the water Jesus turned into wine. I am the wine. You are the wine. Let’s promise each other that beginning today we will no longer view ourselves as ordinary water, but as extraordinary wine.

posted by on Unforced Grace

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.  Psalm 28:7

Raegan is my sister’s mini-me. As with all of my sisters’ children, I fell in love with her the moment I held her in my arms. Raegan is a confident, talkative, full of life little girl. When she was little and her hair was a crown of blonde ringlets, she would walk in just the right way to make every single one of them bounce.

During her first year in pre-school, near Halloween, in the car on the way home Raegan told her mom, “Today was the most wonderfulest day of my life.” Amy shared that with me and I wrote the words Most Wonderfulest on a sticky note and stuck it on my computer. When I look at the note I am not only reminded of Raegan, which of course makes me smile, but more importantly I ask myself, “Was today my most wonderfulest day?”

Too many times I confess that not only was today not my most wonderfulest, I can’t remember when I had a day that could even come close.

So what makes a most wonderfulest day? In Raegan’s case it was something just a little bit out of the ordinary.  No expensive gift, not the latest fashion, no grand gesture of love. Nothing more than a little exchange of candy, a few games, and lots of laughter among friends.

What has stopped me from having most wonderfulest days? Yes we have pressures that most children never have to deal with (thankfully). There are bills to pay, calendars to obey, ToDo lists to check off. But couldn’t we get excited about things that are just a little bit out of ordinary?

That phone call to or from a friend, a walk on a beautiful day rejoicing in God’s creation, snuggling for just a few extra minutes, relaxing on the couch in between loads of laundry,  or even just resting in the fact that we are loved completely by a God who gets us.

Living a life under the grace of God means that every day should be our most wonderfulest. Jesus died for us so that we can live an abundantly joyful life. His sacrifice means our freedom.

So beginning today I am going to claim each day as my most wonderfulest day! Won’t you join me?

But God!

Oct
2012
10

posted by on Unforced Grace

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But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5

“But God” – I love that phrase. Two words that hold such great power and promise.

I am unlovable, but God loves me. (John 3:16)

I am unlovely, but God thinks I’m beautiful. (Psalm 139:14)

I am broken, but God came to heal the brokenhearted. (Isaiah 61:1)

I am unforgivable, but God has the power to forgive and forget. (Psalm 103:12)

I am tired, but God has the strength to carry me through. (Isaiah 40:29-31)

I am afraid, but God will protect me. (Psalm 27:1)

But God – when I look at my circumstances, my challenges I get overwhelmed. My empty bank account tells me that I can’t pay my bills, but God will supply all my needs (Philippians 4:19). My overwhelming debt makes me feel inadequate, silly, frightened of how I’ll pay it all, but God tells me to trust in Him in all ways, in all my life and He will show me how to get through (Proverbs 3:5-6). My failures loom overhead always reminding me of my inadequacy, but God has wiped away my past and made me a new woman (Ephesians 2:10).

This has been a rough year for us, but it also has been one of great promise. Circumstances are changing for the better, but the biggest change has been in my attitude. For too long I’ve let my circumstances dictate my attitude, my joy, my hope. So I asked myself the clichéd Dr. Phil question – How’s that working for ya? – and could easily say not so well. I’ve tried it my way for too long, so I began surrendering things in my life to God…little by little. And the heaviness of my burdens began to lift. Circumstances didn’t change, but I did. And so I gave God more and more of my life until I laid it all down at the cross asking Him to carry the burdens for me. Yes I still try to control things, but then I get that uneasy feeling and I don’t like it, because now I know what peace feels like. I’ve experienced joy unrelated to the craziness of life, I’ve laughed in spite of my problems, I’ve released my concerns to God in prayer instead of spending hours worrying about them. And I like it!

So when something comes into my life that I could worry about, that makes me want to cry, that threatens to make my blood boil, I think I can’t do this, but God can!

The Silly Dance

Oct
2012
09

posted by on Unforced Grace

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I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. Ephesians 3:16-18

I just rest in these words and I rejoice how wide and how long and how high and how deep God’s love is for me. My spirit feels light and free. My heart skips a beat as I breathlessly embrace these words. God loves me so much that I can just be…me.

I am defined by this love and so are you. Our completed ToDo lists, our inked up calendars, our fashionable wardrobes (or not), our children’s behavior, our work evaluations, our measurements don’t determine our worthiness. God does.

And God says that we are His daughters, His princesses, His mighty warriors, His bride. God says we were made on purpose for a purpose. God says we are worth loving, worth catching every tear, worth dying for.

As a kid I used to do this silly dance when I was super excited. Life has a way of beating that silliness out of us. But the Bible says that God dances over us because He is so delighted with us. For most of my life I haven’t accepted this because I’ve only seen myself as unworthy. And I’m unable to see myself as God does…beautiful, pure, forgiven.

But today I’m choosing to believe that God’s love is so wide and long and high and deep that He dances with delight at the thought of me. Today I’m choosing to believe that I am a mighty warrior because I have the power of Christ within me. Today I’m choosing to define myself through God.

And today I’m going to start doing that silly dance again because after all I wouldn’t want God to dance alone.