Sunglasses on a Cloudy Day

I like my sunglasses.  They are cheap.  They are cute.  They are useful.  I wear them just about every time I go outside.  Even on cloudy days.  Sometimes I feel silly, wearing sunglasses when obviously the sun isn't shining.  But that's just it: the sun IS shining, even if I can't see it.  I pondered this as I drove around town the other day, sporting my shades when there wasn't a ray of sunlight to be found.  Some people sneered at me in passing cars.  I thought about succumbing to peer pressure and taking them off.  But then I thought, No!  I am going to wear them proudly as a declaration that the sun is still there and will shine again, and could break through the clouds at any moment!

This is the essence of faith.  Of hope.  This is a prophetic act, an outward sign that my heart believes in the goodness and glory of God as the truest reality.  No cloudy, foggy, rainy circumstance that stares me in the eyeball will rob me of my ability to see with my spirit the eternal shining love of my Jesus, the One who sits on the throne!

Funny thing is, this awareness of the Son above the clouds, creates within me a joyful atmosphere!  I become a vessel of His glory and goodness, able to release it to the grey-eyed, weary-handed, heavy-hearted ones trudging through the puddles.  Isn't this the crux of our faith?  Loving God and knowing His love for me re-creates me in His likeness, His Spirit within enabling me to love others as He would.  
It is a beautiful thing!  It brings Light and Light-heartedness to a sometimes very dull and dreary world.
Is it cloudy over your life right now?  It might be the perfect time to wear your sunglasses.

Bliss to you!


God does not see impossibility.  He is so secure in His ability to accomplish His will, that He allows, welcomes, and even sets-up situations to test and try what He has promised.  I am slowly learning to stop faltering at what arises that appears to be contrary to what He has said.  It has nothing to do with His validity; rather it exists to prove Him faithful beyond comprehension.  He is Who He says He is.  He does what He says He will do.  Every time.  For all of time.  Impossibility has no influence over Him.  I want to be like Abraham, who walked in obedience to lay down his dream because he knew God is able even to resurrect it after death.  I want to be like Sarah, who, though outwardly laughing at the absurdity of the promise, still counted God faithful beyond impossibility.  Holy Spirit has only hope and positivity towards every promise of God for me!  Because He knows that nothing is inconceivable with Him.  The only impossibility with God is the thought of His failure!  

This understanding comes at a good time for me.  I am on a journey of recovering a part of my wholeness that has been badly damaged over the past ten years.  When I first thought of sharing this with you, I didn't consider telling the whole honest story.  It's a bit ugly.  But by downplaying my ugly, I also minimize God's beauty.  I want to sincerely apologize to my friends or family who are reading this...I wasn't honest with you about all of me, and I am sorry.  I ask for your forgiveness in advance.  So, for whatever my story is worth, here goes...

In 2001, my family moved to Hong Kong.  It was a year of changes for me.  I went from relaxed, clean-aired, foot-of-a-mountain living to the crowds, stress, and pollution of the concrete jungle.  I also transitioned into an international high school, after homeschooling for 6 years.  Plus, I was in an entirely different culture.  All of which were excellent growing experiences that I am thankful for.  Certainly the best change came in the form of meeting my transition from girl into woman was smooth, peaceful, and couched in love as I stepped out from the covering of my parents and into the covenant of marriage.   One change that wasn't positive was the shift from being a size medium in one culture to instantly being an x-large in the Chinese sizing system.  That did a number on my teenage psyche, especially since I had already felt self-conscious about my weight since childhood.  I began to purge my food.  I clearly remember the first time I bent over the toilet on purpose, desperate to be something I wasn't.  I knew better, I really did.  I knew it was ineffective and unhealthy.  I just wanted to do something, anything.  At first it wasn't often.  It took a lot of effort to bring the food up and it was unpleasant.  But gradually, over time I became desensitized to the discomfort.  As I grew accustomed to it, I also developed another unhealthy habit that only encouraged the purging: binging.  Hunger was unpleasant, feeling full was torture.  As with most bad habits, it grew over years, fluctuating in intensity from hardly at all to several times a day.  I expertly hid it from everyone.  Even from my loving husband.    

For ten years I felt hopelessly trapped in a whiplash cycle of overindulgence and self-loathing.  I thought freedom from the bad habits was impossible, and even more so the thought patterns that kept me bound to them.  Like ruts worn into a soft path, negative thoughts and lies ran deep tracks in my mind.  I struggled on my own, hardly even letting my struggle into the light of my relationship with God.  As if my refusal to address it with Him somehow hid it from His notice.  But He is patient.  Slowly, lovingly, He danced me into a space where the desire to be free and whole was stronger than the desire to protect my image.  

Nervously trembling, I finally opened up to my dear friend and mentor.  Miraculously, I thought, she responded with understanding and love.  She held me and spoke grace over me: accepting me as I am, but demanding that I move forward.  I am so thankful for her Christ-likeness.  That conversation gave me courage and momentum to tell the one person I love and respect the most in this world: my husband.  God surprised me there, too.  Instead of shame as I expected, he encircled me with love, prayer, and unity to face the road of healing together.  From the place of honesty, leaning heavily on Holy Spirit and those closest to me, I was able to turn my back on the bulimic behavior and begin thinking on new thought paths.  Now, over two and a half years have passed, purge-free!  And what's better is that even the desire has disappeared and I don't even think about it anymore!  In it's place a peace is growing with who and what and where I am.  

A couple years ago I would've said emphatically that the above paragraph is pure fiction, impossible.  And yet here I stand, on the flip side of freedom, one step closer to wholeness, and with a renewed belief in the mind-blowing ability of God to do what I deem impossible!  I couldn't have done anything without Holy Spirit, who has been very close to me, giving me strategies and saturating me with His positivity.  At one point, before I even shared my struggle with her, a good friend of mine gave me a prophetic word: she saw me sitting in a prison with ten hash marks as a tally scratched on the wall (one for each year!); I am waiting and asking God, "How long until I am free from this?" (which I have done more times than I could count); the encouragement was that now is the time of my freedom and that there will be a day when I will stop counting how long it's been since I was freed and even forget that it was an issue altogether!  Scary accurate!  A few days after that, God brought to my mind the episode of Peter being led by an angel out of prison and it says he thought it was a dream.  All the chains, doors, and gates open so easily that he doesn't believe it's reality until he's fully free.  I received from Holy Spirit that this process of my freedom is going to seem too unreal, almost like a dream!  Then, I saw in my mind's eye the angel assigned to walk me through this season.  He is terrifically happy!  I felt that his name was Chaniah.  At first I dismissed this as just me making things up.  But I couldn't shake the thought.  So, I looked it up to see if it's even a real name.  It is a Hebrew name and here is what it means: "grace of the Lord; a place to rest; to be happy".  Then, out of curiosity, I looked up the Native American version, Shaniah, which means, "I'm on my way!".  That is just perfect!  I know I need to rest happily in God's grace as I'm on my way to victory!   Also, it's a reminder for my impatient self, who still wants to lose weight, that I will get there eventually and healthfully!  Some days are difficult still.  On those days, I am learning to lean hard into Holy Spirit for the strength that His hope brings, and to be honest with those few trustworthy humans who are my safety net of love and intercession.  

Along with the breaking of outward habits, God is repaving the inner thought paths of my mind, teaching me to think in agreement with His Word, who He says I am.  I'm practicing the discipline of rejecting any thought that doesn't line up with His nature, because I have died and no longer live, but Christ lives in me!  I asked Him for specific Scriptures that would fill in the potholes of lies and forge new alignments with Truth in me.  

My goal in telling this part of my story is to magnify the limitlessness of God.  It's important to recognize and reject the lies of darkness that would try to convince us that this part of ourselves, or this situation, or that dream is impossible, even if it feels true.  Our feelings always follow our beliefs, and our beliefs are formed by our thoughts.  Ask God what He wants to do, believe it wholeheartedly, and then agree with it as often as you can in your heart and mind and words.  Focus on Who Jesus is for you and watch Him do the impossible!  

The picture below is my visualization of the promise from God for me in this season.

Thanks for reading.  I pray God's grace over all of us, to see and believe wholeheartedly in our God of the impossible!  

Bliss to you!

Poverty and the Feast

I saw people standing in front of a table that was full of delicious foods.  I knew this was the banqueting table of God, you know, the one He calls us to under the banner of His love?  I saw this feast was made up of tender lamb, breads, oil, fruits, honey, and wine.  The sight of it made my mouth water!  What a yummy meal!  But there was something wrong with the picture: instead of gleefully partaking of the feast, the people just stood there, looking ragged, hungry, poor.  They didn't even lift their eyes to look at the food; focusing instead on a stale crust of bread in their hands which they nibbled on joylessly every once in a while.  I was shocked.  I wanted to shout to them, "Look up!  There is abundance laid out for you!  It's RIGHT THERE!  Toss out that old crumb and dig into the fresh juicy lamb!  Or the honey, it's so sweet!  At least drink some wine and be refreshed!"

I realized that this is the sad reality of many a Christian's life, often of my own.  I pout and wimper over the circumstances of my life, nibbling occasionally on some long-ago God-moment, and feel powerless and hopeless.  I forget that He has made available to me all the riches of His glory through Christ Jesus!  I forget that He has given me everything I need for life and godliness!  I forget that He is a Good God, that He is in a Good mood, and that He is not a God of measure but of fullness!  There is so much that He has for me!  His abundance makes my need (whatever it may be) look inconsequential.  Like taking a cup to the ocean and begging to fill it up, worrying that I can drain the ocean or that it will begrudge my taking.  My cup doesn't deplete the ocean one iota!  Say your need is bigger than a cup, like a barrel or a tank...the principle is the same.  And it is the same with God's abundance, even more so.  What need do you have that God can't possibly meet?  None.  There exists no need on this planet that God cannot meet...and then some.   Even if my physical circumstances don't change, He has given His Holy Spirit within me to resource my spirit from the Kingdom of Heaven!  Negativity, despair, and hopelessness have no place in me, I am a citizen of an ever-abundant Kingdom, made a co-heir with the King Himself!

So, the question is, What are you hungry for?  I guarantee the supply to satisfy that hunger can be found at God's table!  Forgiveness?  Take a bite of the Lamb, whose blood washed away your sin.  Joy?  Revel in sweet refreshing pleasure of His presence.  Love?  Drink deep of His love that intoxicates like wine!  Wisdom?  His Word is sweet as honey, marinating the mind with His thoughts.   Healing?  The bread of His body was broken to make you whole.  Intimacy?  Let Holy Spirit cover you like a costly anointing oil, soaking into every fiber of your being.

As for me, I am resolved to oppose the spirit of poverty by partaking by faith all that Christ died to give me, so that I can show His goodness to a starving world!  I cannot give away what I do not may the Kingdom of Heaven abide in my heart, that I may sow seeds of the King's goodness for His glory everywhere I go!

Taste and see that God is GOOD!
Bliss to you!

Better Than a Muffin

Imagine with me for a sec...

You're standing in line at Starbucks; it's been a long day that's not over yet and your tummy is rumbling.  You look in your wallet to find only enough change for a tall coffee.  You sigh and avert your eyes from the last muffin of the day sitting pretty, delicious, and all alone in the display case.  Just coffee will have to do.  You make your order and dump your change into the barista's hand.  Just then, someone slides 2 dollar bills across the counter and a voice from behind you says, "And that last muffin for them, too, please!"  Shocked, you turn around, but before you can politely refuse, the kind person next in line smiles warmly and chuckles.  You thank them profusely and share a laugh over the kind of day you've had.  The barista pulls that precious last muffin from the case and as they are moving to put it in the paper bag, the unthinkable happens.  You watch in slow motion as the muffin slips from their hands and tumbles down, down, down....splat!  Right onto the floor, sticky and filthy from a long day's work.  Tell me, what would your response be towards the person who bought the muffin for you?  Would you take your thanks back because you didn't get the muffin in your hand?  Would any of your anger or disappointment be directed at the one who paid?  No!  Their money wasn't bad.  It wasn't their fault you didn't get to eat the muffin.  You would thank them anyway for their generosity and kindness.

Christ paid for something much better than a muffin.  He took 39 lashes and died a bloody mess for our healing.  In faith we accept that healing.  What is our response, then, when the healing doesn't get to our hands?  Do we retract our praise and faith in the One who paid for it?  Though healing and wholeness is our right by faith in the grace of God, sometimes the muffin just falls on the floor.  But Christ has paid for it already and He is worthy of our praise, worship, and thanksgiving before, after, and even in the absence of the healing restoration.  Gratitude is the correct response of the Christian to Christ's work, whether we taste the reality of it in this life right now or not.

One more thing,  I can't imagine any Starbucks that I've ever been to letting something like that happen without compensating for it with a free voucher of some kind.  I also can't imagine God being outdone in faithfulness by a coffee company!  Sometimes we get the healing right away, and sometimes we have to come back again!  It's paid for!  It's yours!  Continue thanking God for it, and come back until you taste it!  

Bliss to you!

2 Corinthians 9:15
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Ephesians 5:18-21
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

Philippians 4:6
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Colossians 3:17
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

1 Thessalonians 5:17
in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 13:15
Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.

1 Peter 2:24
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

Obedience = Rest

This morning I read Hebrews 4:1-13 (below).  A couple of things struck me in this passage about rest.  First, Paul says that we have a promise to enjoy God's rest, but if we do not apply the faith to enter in to that rest, then that promise doesn't affect us.  Belief opens the door for us to enter into the Promised Land of God's rest.  Just as the Israelites who first gazed on that beautiful, pleasant place and turned back in fear and disbelief that God could do what was necessary for them to live there, we have a choice: do I believe that God has accomplished His work and that promise of rest is mine to live in?  Or will I disobey His command to enter the Promises and remain outside of His rest?  

God's work finished on the seventh day of creation.  Jesus' work finished on the cross.  They are resting.  At peace.  Full of joy and hope.  God has set before me a promise of rest and commanded me to go in and possess the land.  Why do I hang around at the edges of the Jordan, then, wringing my hands in worry and unbelief?  That amounts to disobedience.  The refusal to rest in God's promise reveals a heart that disbelieves the extent of His goodness towards me.  "He brought me miraculously this far, but I'm not sure I trust His ability or willingness to give all that beautiful abundance to me."  Why do I still imagine there are limits to God's love for me?   After all He's done?!  

The good news is that God continually says, "Today!  Today is the day!  Enter into My rest!  Settle down in the belief that I am Good, I do Good, I have Good things for you to enjoy and for you to do!"  Entering into God's rest is obeying His heart; realizing that my works are useless to get me into His promises.  He has given His word, the word that is never empty or void, but always full and fruitful!  His word is living and active!  The day assigned for entering the rest and the promises of God is: today!  Always today!

I know, some of you are thinking, "Faith without works is dead."  Yes!  But all my works must flow from a place of resting in the finished work of God and in the bounty of His promises for me!  Jesus came to give me abundant Life!  Not for me to sit on my hands and wallow in it.  He did not intend for me to be a reservoir, but a river.  Sitting water becomes stagnant; flowing water is fresh and alive!  So I rest in all He has done, and I let the effect of His finished work flow out of me.  Obedience does not equal working harder in order to please God; obedience is resting in the undeserved love of Jesus that covers my inadequacies and positions me in God's pleasure, so that I can taste effectiveness through Jesus' obedience.  Love is cultivated through rest.  Obedience is a result of love.  Therefore rest is a first step.  How do I enter that rest?  By faith.  And without faith it is impossible to please God.  Faith.  Rest.  Love.  Obedience.  It only works in that order.  

Life can be very tough.  And there are often problems and stressful issues that try to pull us away from rest.  We must ignore those demands.  The enemy wants to use those things to increase negativity, worry, panic, fear, doubt, and depression in us.  God wants to use those things to promote us, changing us more into the likeness of Christ!  Holy Spirit has a positive to replace any negative in your life.  So often, though, God speaks in that still, small voice that can only be heard in a place of rest.  "Be still and know that I am God."  Stay in rest, receive the positive from God.  Then step out in faith towards your promised inheritance in Christ!  

Lift up your eyes to the hills, flowing with milk and honey.  A place of abundance and joy set aside for you!  God has good plans for your future!  He also has good works He wants you to do with Him!  Passions you are uniquely designed to carry in the Kingdom!  Gifts you possess to minister blessing to the nations!  Now look down at your feet...there is a mighty river flowing fast past your toes.  It is a time of decision.  Will you turn back in fear, doubting the goodness of God?  Or will you finally obey in faith, as the priests carrying the Ark of the Presence into the Promised Land.  Like the priests of Israel so long ago, God requires the first step from you.  Like them also, as you put your foot down, the rushing waters will part for you to cross smoothly into your promise.  You carry the Presence!  Who can stand against you?  His rest is for you!  Today!

Bliss to you!


Hebrews 4:1-13
1 Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,” although His works were finished from the foundation of the world4 For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “and God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this passage, “They shall not enter My rest.” 6 Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience7 He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts .” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

Psalm 121:1

Exodus 3:8

Psalm 36:8

Isaiah 55:2

Jeremiah 31:14

2 Corinthians 8:2

John 10:10

Jeremiah 29:11

Sweet Water Spring

Last night, I felt God's smile over me like a warmth around my soul.  I didn't do anything in particular that day that one might point to and say, "Oh, God is pleased with her service/performance/growth/etc."  I just lived out my day as usual.  But there are times when I sense His intense pleasure in me just as I am, His beloved redeemed one, and I know that it has nothing to do with my effort.  God is pleased with Jesus and I am in Jesus, so I get to taste the full intensity of the Father's delight without lifting a finger.  The weight of that love is overwhelming.  Last night was such a time.  This is what He whispered to my heart...

"You are sweet!  Salt water deceives: the more you drink, the more it leaves you parched.  This world is the same.  But there is a sweet, ever-fresh Water that hydrates in Truth.  You have a deep well of this inside, a sacred reservoir of Me that supplies you and never runs dry.  You also have a spring of this sweet Living Water bubbling up; it sprinkles, showers, and drenches others around you with My goodness.  I love that about you!"

I don't want to hog this beautiful word for myself!  I want to bless all you who are the Springs of Sweet Water...Jesus is flowing out of you to refresh a very thirsty world.  As He flows through you, He also refreshes you!  Rejoice in the Source!

Bliss to you!

James 3:9-12

John 7:38

2 Corinthians 2:14

The Birth of Compassion

This morning I experienced an unforgettably beautiful and tender moment with my 3(almost 4) year old son.  I've been reading "Another Man's War" by Sam Childers, about his life and work with orphans in Sudan.  On the back cover there is a heart-wrenching picture of a small child grieving with some unknown, probably unthinkable pain.  The child's eyes seem to lock with yours, tears streaming down dusty cheeks, mouth opened in a silent wail of the soul.  I was reading this book when Isaac came up to ask me something about his legos.  That's when he first caught a glimpse of this crying child's picture.  He stared at it for a few seconds.  Then his face crumpled, his eyes welled up with tears, and he crawled up into a corner of the couch, face buried in his hands.  I immediately set the book aside and went to him.  I asked him what he was feeling; he replied that he was sad for the child.  With my own eyes brimming with tears and voice choked with emotion, I took the next several minutes to hold him close and whisper with him about that feeling: compassion, to see someone else's pain and hurt for them, and to want to make it better for them.  I explained that, though painful, it is actually a good thing; compassion is the heart of Jesus inside of us, moving us to love others as ourselves.  Then we prayed softly together for God to be with that child, wherever they were and whatever they were hurting from.  Stroking his thick hair and soft cheek, I marveled at my son, eyes so full of pain and love for a child he's never met.  Here sits a happy, healthy boy living in a free country, safe and with every physical and emotional need met...and his heart is breaking for the child who has none of that.  I long for my children to live compassionate lives, but that is something I cannot give to them.  It must grow within them from the Spirit of God inside.
What blows me away is that a year ago God gave me a picture for Isaac: an arrow.  At first I argued with God that it didn't fit him, because he is a tender, content boy whose name means "laughter".  An arrow felt too hard and cold.  Then God showed me the elements of the arrow:  the tip is Love, the shaft is Faith, and the fletchings (feathers) are all the Fruits of the Spirit.  God revealed that Isaac will be a weapon against the kingdom of darkness by living in Love and Faith and Joy and Gentleness!  This morning I witnessed him take a first step towards his destiny: the birth of compassion in his heart.  As I watched him encounter this strong emotion for the first time, I imagined what exploits he will undertake in his life, compelled by the love of Christ to protect the innocent and provide for the poor.  I snatched that priceless moment to speak those seeds over him (You are a strong and brave boy with a great heart of love, God will use you to help and protect children like that who have no one to fight for them), and watched them fall into the soft, freshly tilled soil of his young heart.

Holy Spirit, rain upon those seeds of Jesus in my children.  Father, let the light of Your face shine on them.  As they learn to live in love with You, cultivate Your dreams for them in the hidden places, until they grow into mighty oaks of righteousness.  And teach me, also, Lord, to live from that deep, powerful place of compassion.  Move my heart, as Your heart moves, so that I may pray the prayers that You can agree with!  For Your sake, Jesus.  Amen.

Bliss to you!


For Christmas this year my mom gave me a book.  At first glance, it appears to be an average book.  It is not.  The stories contained between the covers have forever changed me.  The book is Passport Through Darkness by Kimberly L. Smith, and it is her story intertwined inextricably with the stories of a beautiful place tragically oppressed by darkness: Darfur, Sudan.

I have been aware of the problem of human trafficking and modern slavery for a couple of years now, but I try not to think about it.  I knew it would devastate me, so it seemed safer, and certainly more pleasant, to only think on it briefly.  Reading Kimberly's story opened up deep places in my heart and, yes, the pain floored me at several points.  But I am realizing that in order to be truly intimate with God, I must open myself up to all of Him.  What kind of wife would I be to Sam if I only wanted to share the good things with him, but shut down or walked out when he was going through pain, difficulty, or depression?  On our wedding day I vowed to share all of life with him, not just the fun parts.  Participating in what the other is experiencing is one of the most fulfilling and sometimes sacrificial parts of intimacy: "I am a separate person than you, but I choose to be one with you, even through the ugly of life."  I wouldn't trade it for the world.  In the same way, if I desire to be called the Bride of Christ, I must allow my experience of Him to encompass what breaks His heart.  Just as He rejoices always, He also sees every evil act and weeps with His womb-formed ones in their pain.

I find the more I hear of the inhuman atrocities mankind is capable of inflicting, the higher my estimation of Christ's blood rises.  As I look deep into the heart of Jesus, my heart breaks for the vulnerable and my anger burns on their behalf.  Yet, I see His love goes much deeper still: even to the depth of longing for the perpetrators to be washed clean...after all, He has already paid their price for redemption.  He bore the blame and shame of EVERY sin as if He had done it Himself...the weight of which was enough to kill Him.  This shatters me to bits.  What God is this?!  How can He love like this?!  He is overwhelmingly beautiful.

I challenge you to dissolve the compartments of your heart, open the door just a crack and ask Jesus to let you feel how He feels about His suffering children.  It seems dangerous, I know.  There is so much pain and abuse of the heart in your life already.  But the pain of Jesus' heart is a clean pain.  It will not stain or scar you because it is mixed with His powerful, redemptive, joyous, hope-filled love!  All evil has an expiration date!  Jesus is the God of Justice and He never fails!
Like I said, having tasted His heart in this way, I am forever changed.  I do not feel guilty for the blessed life that I live.  I have been given freedom, health, and abundance for a reason: to be a voice, a hand, a heart for those who haven't.  This is pure religion that pleases my Father in heaven.

In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness month, I encourage you to do something to join in the fight against modern slavery and oppression, even if it is only to let yourself feel what you never have before.

Here is a beautiful song: Break My Heart by Tosha Zwanziger.  If you like it, purchase the song or album on iTunes, proceeds go to support this cause!

Ministries to check out:

Make Way Partners

Not For Sale

Stop Child Trafficking Now

Pearl Alliance

Reveal the Father

The presence of a child reveals the existence of a father.

I want to live my life in such a way that I reveal the nature of God.  When others look at me, I want them to know that there is an Everlasting Father because I am His child.  Words are not sufficient for this.  I must authentically find my identity in relationship with Jesus.  Majority of that happens in the secret place.  Who am I really when it's just me and God?  Learning Who He is and how He desires me to relate to Him is something that takes time.  I know what kind of life pleases my Heavenly Father because I sit with Him often, relishing His pleasure over the parts of my life I get right, and allowing His empowering grace to work on the parts that I don't.  The result of this private relationship is a "well-loved child" mentality in the outer spheres of my life.

When life gets too big for me to handle I have a seat with Him in heavenly places.  I like to think that seat is His lap!  I have access to a place that I can crawl up into with boldness like a child.  There, in a position I didn't earn and therefore cannot lose, I find a strong shoulder to cry on, an ear that is always open, and a ready smile to savor the wonders of life with!  It is also the best place to be quiet and learn the secrets of His heart.  I know with my own children, if I want them to really hear what I want to say, I pull them close and talk softly, whether it be words of approval, a story, or a teachable moment.  They listen best when they are secure in that irrevocable position of "beloved child".

Our Father is not angry with us!  He has an open lap ready, full of the riches of His glory for us to partake from as our inheritance!  We are His children, not because of our goodness or worth, but because He gave us Life and calls us by His Name!  Let us live as well-loved children, and reveal the Father's heart to the world around us!

Bliss to you!

Ephesians 1:3-14
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that isthe summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

Ephesians 2:4-10
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Someone Has To Pay!

I recently saw an advertisement for a TV show that centered on revenge.  The tagline for the show was, "Someone has to pay!"  That got me thinking.  Isn't it a natural response to expect justice for wrongdoing?  This seems to be a common human experience spanning time, space, and culture.  It is evident at a very young age...just try taking candy from a baby and you will quickly discover their built-in sense of justice!  So, we have this justice gene, put there by God (He designed us, remember?) to mirror His own nature as the Righteous Judge.

Often, as I am confronted with my own sinful acts or attitudes, my gut reaction is to think that I have fallen from God's grace, a helpless, hopeless worm in the dust, assuming He feels the same about me.  I tend to take on superlative amounts of guilt and let myself be buried under the weight of trying to regain His favor. (By the way, the Accuser loves this situation and will try to make the most of this opportunity to bind us up in lies). This is false humility.  It really is a slap in His face, the very face that allowed His beard to be torn out and was spit upon in payment for my wrongs.  God looks at me and sees sin no more, but Jesus' Righteousness instead.  Who do I think I am to come into the presence of such Grace and think for a minute that my self-imposed penance or feelings of wretched guilt will somehow enhance Jesus' sacrifice?  Can I add to a work that has already been finished perfectly?  Pride in disguise!  No, if I believe that Jesus' blood is enough and that all sin was paid for by His death on the cross, then all I can do from a place of guilt is to receive that priceless gift of His forgiveness.

As a parent, when my kids disobey, I don't want them to weep and moan about for days, ask repeatedly for my forgiveness, become depressed with guilt, or consumed with how awful they are.  My ideal situation when they mess up is for them to acknowledge truthfully their wrong and take responsibility (clean up a mess, apologize to a hurt sibling, etc.).  But more than anything, I want them to listen to my instructions for how to behave better from then on.  If my human heart feels this, how much more so does my heavenly Father's heart desire this for me, His well-loved child?  When I become aware of my disobedience, He wants me to respond with true humility: recognizing that my beloved Jesus already paid for that foolish act of mine and I must live in His forgiveness, though I don't deserve it.  My justice gene knows instinctively that "someone has to pay"....and what's more, that "someone" should be me!  Far more humbling and heart-changing than any penance, accusation, or guilt burden I can conjure up for myself, is the realization that Jesus' punishment has purchased my peace with God.  My response to this?  Awe.  Worship.  Gratitude.  And teachability...allowing His Truth to teach me wisdom in the inner being.  One real look into the heart of Jesus as the sacrificed Lamb will jumpstart the shedding of my old nature and sustain my rejection of the sinful habits that go with it.

Now what about those who wrong me.  If I am unable to pay the price for my wrongs, how can I then demand that others pay for their wrongs towards me?  Reminds me of the story of the king and his slaves in Matthew 18:21-35 (below).  To hold a grudge against someone is to say that Jesus' blood wasn't enough for what they did to me.  Another way for my pride to belittle Jesus' ultimate sacrifice.

So, should I just carry on as if sin doesn't effect me negatively?  Pretend that they didn't hurt me?  No.  I carry my wound to the Judge....who happens to be my Bridegroom, (not to mention the King!) and let Him comfort me with Hope and His promise of Justice.  Imagine a wife goes out shopping.  Hours later, her husband gets a heart-wrenching phone call from the police, saying that she has been beaten and sexually assaulted.  He races to his wife's side at the hospital.  What tender, intimate words of love and support he would whisper to his wounded beloved.  But imagine how quick his demeanor would change if he was informed that the police knew who the perpetrator was, but hadn't arrested him...oh, there he is, over by the vending machine.  Can you visualize the ferocity of the husband's jealous anger over the injustice done to his wife as he approached the man who touched the apple of his eye?

Now, see your Bridegroom's eyes...full of tenderness as He comforts you.  But for the one who injures His beloved, beware the burning fire of His wrath!  If you read Revelation, you will see clearly that jealous, fiery Bridegroom coming to wage war on all that hinders His love on the earth!  Fear not, beloved, He will avenge.  It is a terrifying thing to be on the receiving end of that vengeance.  And permanent.  He is true to His nature of Love, and will be long-suffering, giving every opportunity for the wicked to enter into His Righteousness.  But his nature is also Just, and there is coming a Day when His final judgements will be issued, and He will finally reject those who have continually rejected Him.  I want to live consumed with the passion to know Him and be counted among those He loves on that day.  And I want my heart to also be consumed with His passion to see not even one person waste His most costly gift!

The time is too short to hold that grudge.
Bliss to you!

Scriptures to think on...
Matthew 18:21-35
"21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
   23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.24 When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him andforgave him the debt. 28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground andbegan to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”"

Galatians 2:20-21
"20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”

Revelation 19:11-16
 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and inrighteousness He judges and wages war. 12 His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. 13 He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”