whether you change or not

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“Jesus the risen Christ is with us this moment. Right here, right now loves you and accepts you just as you are.

You do not have to change to get his love. You do not have to give up your sin. You do not have to have a conversion experience. Obviously, Jesus wants you to change and yes he wants you to give up your sin and your selfishness… be converted and live, experience the freedom of the children of God but you don’t have to do that to get his love and acceptance. You have that already, before you decide to change and whether you decide to change or not.

Do you believe this?”

(part of a talk that I was watching given by Brennan Manning)

How absolutely scarily beautiful is that?!!

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Love running into our days

River_Running_by_jjuuhhaa

“Over the mountains and the sea Your river runs with love for me, And I will open up my heart and let the Healer set me free.”

Words to an old Delirious song. I was singing it this morning. Haven’t thought of the song in ages, but the words were in my heart. Patrik had already left for work and Eli was still asleep so really that only left Jane the dog to look at me like I was a freak while I was singing away and getting ready for work.  Then I just started thinking about how the words are beautiful but how do they fit in to what I’m in – God and Shannon?

So I started singing (for real, I did): “Over the co-workers and attorney Your river runs with love for me”

That is SO where I need His love to run into during my days.

“Over the clients and the pain And even over my weight gain I will open up my heart and let my Healer set me free!”

Haha! I made it personal. My days, my silly and not so silly struggles. I needed it to be my prayer and my song about God’s love running into today. It lifted me out of the dread of the work day and there He was, as He always is. A guy I’m friends with on facebook recently posted:  “In the Psalms David didn’t write, ‘Where can I go to find Your Presence?’ He wrote ‘Where can I go to escape it?”  You don’t even know how many sermons or teachings I’ve heard in my life about how it is hard to come into God’s presence or how he hides from us… but that’s NOT what David said in the Psalms!!  Beautiful!!

Psalm 139 v. 7-12:

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I run away from where You are? If I go up to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in the place of the dead, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning or live in the farthest part of the sea, 10 even there Your hand will lead me and Your right hand will hold me. 11 If I say, “For sure the darkness will cover me and the light around me will be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to You. And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to You.

Just so great. How beautiful and strong is God? He will never leave you or me, not even if we are making our bed in the place of the dead. He loves us.

Beautiful, beautiful love!!

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“With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us……

…..So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!”

(Romans 8)

blessed are the honest, for they shall see God.

Over the past several months I have often attended a Wednesday lunchtime bible study with a few ladies from work at a restaurant called Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Now, on a normal evening you could easily spend a coupla hundred bucks on dinner if you ordered the good stuff and had a few drinks. They provide a free lunch for the Bible study… so… I go. Yep. I have mainly gone for the food. The pastor guy who teaches while we munch is a good guy and full of excitement about what he has to say.  A few times I’ve walked out of there feeling like God taught and confirmed some things to me that He had already been speaking into my heart.  A lot of times I get all Shannon on the guy and just tune out when I hear him saying things that he thinks are “cutting edge” (but are really just regurgitated law dressed to look like freedom) or when I hear things that don’t sound any different than what I grew up learning in what I call the machine that is usually what we are familiar with and call church. However, I think it’s a minor miracle that God has helped me not grow all bitter like I used to when I hear that stuff.  For the first time in ages I’ve been able to stay pretty healthy and love the person and not get hung up on the religion/doctrine/mantra/crap.

So a few weeks ago I was feeling particularly burned out, exhausted and overwhelmed during one of these lunchtime bible studies. Mainly, I was checking out my facebook news feed on my iPod.  I was fading in and out, listening to him teach about Matthew 13, the parable about the sower:

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 When anyone hears the [i]word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the [j]word, immediately he [k]falls away. 22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the [l]world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

When the dude got to verse 22 and read it I felt shocked with the realization that I am that person.  I really am.  It was a moment when God speaks to you and you hear it.  You hear it, you chew it up, you swallow it, you digest it and you get nourishment from it.  I didn’t just feel surprised, I felt relieved.

Then the pastor guy read verse 23 and followed it up with, “I hope everyone in this whole room is the person in verse 23!” 

The grace of God came into my heart right then. I knew it was grace because I wasn’t bitter against him and didn’t get angry.  I did want to say, “Why do we want to be that person? Why put that on everyone in this room?” but I wasn’t raging at him while wanting to say that.

I have to explain something… Grace.  I felt so loved the moment that I began knowing that now in my life I am the one whose thorns of worry and wanting and fear have choked out the word of the kingdom of God. It was such a freeing revelation to me. Why do I want to be anyone else? Grace has met me HERE.  If we could just teach and live in this Grace, no one would walk away dejected and down on themselves, they might actually believe that God is love and total mercy. I cannot be better and I do not know how Jesus will make me someone who has soil in my heart that is good and understands the word of the kingdom, someone who bears fruit again. I cannot make myself bear fruit again. Damn the trying!!!!!!!  I am free, do you see?

This is why I titled this post “blessed are the honest, for they shall see God.”  Honest acceptance of of God’s revelation is holy, no matter what tangled up place in life you and I are in.  The revelation wasn’t a lesson for me to learn. The revelation was Jesus himself standing there with me and showing me who HE is in this place with me. Isn’t that the point? Jesus Himself. Enough.

I love Him and I am so thankful to Him.  The tiredness is still in my body, my emotions, my soul, but I lift myself up to Him and thankfully smile and soak in His tenderness, healing and love.

We teach one thing and live another. I have been guilty of this too.  The truth is, I don’t have to do anything to be loved through and through. I don’t have to do anything to be transformed. I open up my arms to Him. I honesty accept His words and life. He does it all. It’s beautiful. I feel amazed and drunk by His love for me.

Tonight, reading Psalm 139 is like drinking a rich, fiery, rare wine that is love. And I’ll end it here with that.