God Doesn’t Make Mistakes

I read this earlier and it has stayed with me, so I thought I’d share it with you: God doesn’t make any mistakes. Where you are is where you’re supposed to be.

It doesn’t mean where you are feels great. It doesn’t mean where you are is easy.

It does mean that where you are is where God is working on you and on those around you. Where you are is the place where your healing starts. Where you are can be do-over from a bad start.

You never end up anywhere by accident. Every place and part of your life has a purpose. Ultimately, that purpose is you being like Jesus. Right now, that purpose is to get you ready for the next chapter in your life.

With God, there’s no such thing as a dead end in life. There’s no such thing as hopeless or hapless or worthless. There’s still no thing and no one and no place in your life that God can’t redeem and turn into something glorious.

The end.

 

Karma vs. Grace at Christmas

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I hear a lot of people who profess Christianity talking about karma. Well, more specifically, I see many of my facebook friends who post how people who mess them over are gonna get what karma’s dishing out.

It’s funny how people always want karma for others but never for themselves. Just my opinion.

I prefer grace. Period.

I know where I’d be if I got karma. Majorly screwed.

Besides, Jesus didn’t come to give karma. Jesus came to give grace, which in my mind is infinitely better.

Karma says you get what you deserve. Grace says Jesus got and paid for what you deserve. That’s the difference.

Karma is all about what you deserve. Grace is what you don’t deserve but get anyway. Karma may be getting your just desserts, but grace is more like a feast– much more satisfying and filling.

Karma says that it’s up to you. Grace says that God is up to it.

Karma says that if you try really hard and be nice to people then maybe, just maybe, on the next go-round, you won’t be a bug. Eventually, if you’re really lucky and eat all your vegetables, you may wind up in a good place. And I admit that I’m exaggerating a bit.

Grace says that no matter how badly you’ve messed up and how even if you’ve made enough mistakes for several lifetimes, Jesus offers forgiveness and a do-over. Jesus offers a new life, not just in the eternal by-and-by, but here and now. Life to the fullest.

I choose grace.

If you want karma, that’s fine. I don’t want to wish for someone what I wouldn’t want to receive myself. I know that it’s not right to want karma for others and grace for myself. It just doesn’t work that way.

So grace wins in my book, hands down. The end.

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Grace on an October Thursday Night

“For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

We are heaven’s poetry etched on lives. I like that.

You and I are not accidents. We are not mistakes. You and I matter very much because God says so.

You and I have a purpose. Some may take longer than others in finding theirs, but all of us have one. And I believe strongly that it is never too late to find out what that purpose is and to discover who you might have been and still could be.

Just remember that when you go to bed tonight, feeling tired and worn out and useless. You do matter. God says so.

 

For Brandy and The Worst Day of Your Life

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I know we’ve only spoken two or three times. Four at the most. I know I don’t really know you all except for your first name and that you have long brown hair and wear dark rimmed glasses.

You seemed quiet and kind. At least to me. You also struck me as being very pretty. Not the kind of beauty that shouts and parades itself, but the kind that often goes unnoticed by most. But I saw it.

You’ve gotten into deep trouble. Your shame was broadcast and published in a tawdry little rag for thousands to witness. By the way, your mug shot doesn’t do you justice. Not by a long shot.

I want you to know two things:

First of all, I am still your friend. You were kind to me when others weren’t and always spoke to me, even though for you it was the end of a long day for you. I’m still praying for you and hoping and wishing the best for you.

Second, I want you to know that Jesus loves you right now, where you are and just as you are. He sees your mistakes and bad choices and has chosen to love you amyway.

He came to the world for people like you and I. People who just can’t seem to get it right. People who so often want to do good but end up doing the very things they hate.

All Jesus is looking for is the smallest place in your life to start something amazing. Who knows? Maybe one day this most embarrassing and shaming moment will be the first part of your testimony of how God rescued and redeemed you.

His birth in a messy manger proves that there is no mess too ugly and no place too dark and dreary for Him to go to find people loke you and me.

I’m thinking of you, rooting for you, praying for you and as blessed as ever to consider myself,

Your friend

Greg

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

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“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.” (Henri Nouwen)

I’ve posted and blogged and mentioned multiple times before how the hardest person to forgive is often yourself. You know yourself too well and you know your own weaknesses because a certain adversary reminds you of them every single day.

I know I’ve blown it with a friend and the friendship won’t ever be the same again. We used to hang out and be good friends but now she won’t even sit on the same side of the room as me and we feel like really good acquaintances.

There are one or two (including that one at Starbucks) who have taken to actively disliking me and nothing I say or do will change that. For me, I have to remember that I can’t be friends with everyone and that it’s not my job to make every single person like me. It’s my job to be the best me possible.

But forgiveness isn’t optional. Not with others and especially not with ourselves. How dare I choose not to forgive myself when God (who incidentally knows me better than I do) has freely forgiven me? And why would I want to live under a cloud of condemnation when I don’t have to?

No one does relationships well. We mistrust each other. We read too much into silences and jests. We say the wrong things and fail to say the right things. Most of us have gotten used to the taste of shoe leather from sticking our feet in our mouths so often.

But real friendship between two believers is the Jesus in me communing with the Jesus in you. It’s practicing forgiveness and grace and blessing, giving these abundantly because we know our desperate need for all of the above.

You are not your past. Or your mistakes. You are not the names you’ve been called or that you’ve called yourself.

You are:

Redeemed

Forgiven

Blessed

Child of God

Beautiful

Beloved

To Die For

The One Your Abba Is Still Very Fond Of

May we speak not hurt but life, not wounds but blessings into each other. May we always look to see the best in ourselves and in others and call out the beautiful and glorious in each other. May we learn to love others and ourselves the way God has always loved us.

Hello, My Name Is . . . More of What Jesus Wants to Say to Every Woman

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I felt like I had to revisit this because there’s so much more that I felt needs to be said. So much I feel like Jesus wants to communicate to women, both single and married. So here goes:

“My Precious Daughter,

Why are you so concerned about the future? Do you think by worrying you can hasten its arrival or change one iota of your destiny?

If you are single, be single. Regardless of whether I’ve called you to be single for life or not, I have called you to be single today. Embrace this stage as a gift and especially embrace all the lessons and wisdom that you can only gain from this part of your life.

If you are married, remember I am your identity now. Not your husband, not your children, not your job. All these things belong to Me.

Your marriage is not yours. It’s Mine. So is your husband. I expect you to give him back to me better than when I first gave him to you– more like Me.

Your children do not belong to you. They are Mine and I have entrusted them to your care for such a short time. They will form their opinions of Me much more by watching your daily actions and habits and lifestyle than by listening to your words. Live what you profess to believe.

Make time to find rest in Me. Notice I did not say to take time. In your hectic schedule, you will never have time for Me unless you make time for Me. And you will always make time for what really matters to to you.

Remember, whenever you hear the voices reminding you of your past, your shortcomings, your faults, and your mistakes, speak My name aloud. Do not dwell on such things, but rebuke them in My name.

Your feelings will lie to you. Your woman’s intuition will lie to you. Your mind and heart will deceive you. I will always tell you the truth, for I am the Truth. Trust me.

Let My love for you captivate and enthrall your heart tonight. Repeat the phrase, “Abba Father, I belong to you” over and over until the thought becomes as ingrained as breathing.

I love you just as you are right now but I will not let you stay that way. I am far from finished from the masterpiece I am making out of you.

That Undo Button

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I love the undo button on WordPress. It’s saved me more than once when I accidentally deleted a good portion of a blog I was in the process of writing. Quite frankly, it has saved me from cussin’ at my computer.

I wish I had an undo button for tonight. I had a burger and fries at McCreary’s Irish Pub. I was okay until those last ten or so fries.

Then I went over to Frothy Monkey, where I had an iced mocha. I was good until I started the walk back to my car. Then it hit me.

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I can’t remember ever feeling so full in my entire life. I was nearly praying that I would spontaneously combust. I actually felt nauseous. It was touch and go for a while. Thankfully, no cookies got tossed, no one called for Ralph on the porcelain phone, and nothing was spewed or projectile anything’d.

Right now, I feel like I won’t eat again until next Wednesday.

Do you ever have regrets like that?

Maybe it was a few drinks too many one night. Maybe it was getting carried away in passion and going too far with a date. Maybe it was a marriage that imploded. Or a career that got jettisoned.

It could be a conversation that you wish you could redo, words you wish you could take back, replays of yourself doing incredibly stupid stuff that is on an endless loop in your brain. Maybe you intended friendly conversation that got interpreted as creepy and involved a Starbucks manager warning you not to harass the employees so he wouldn’t have to get the cops involved. Yeah, that last part happened to a good friend of mine. Ahem.

Oh, if I offered you an actual undo button right now, you’d pay just about anything to get your hands on one.

Jesus said that if you confess your sin, He is faithful to forgive you and cleanse you. That means the sin is gone. No trace or reminder of it anywhere. It goes away from you as far as the east is from the west. That’s a long way.

You might still have consequences, but remember this. There is nothing in your life that Jesus can’t take and use it for good, no disastrous mess that He can’t turn into a beautiful masterpiece, and no mistake that He can’t turn into a powerful message of Hope.

I love the word justified. You could say it means just-if-I’d never sinned. God declares you innocent. Not guilty. God looks at you and sees none of those ugly stains and wounds. He sees the perfection of Jesus.

I’m thankful every single day for forgiveness and fresh starts with each new morning. I’m thankful that I don’t have to pay for all my mistakes and bad choices and regrettable behaviors.

I also know this. The next time, I’ll leave a few fries behind. And maybe skip that iced drink.

Back to Loving Being Me

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It really is okay to love yourself. After all, the Bible does say to love your neighbor as yourself and you can’t very well do that if you’re not too fond of you. I think there’s a kind of false modesty that gets passed around where we have the “aw shucks” mentality and downplay any compliments that come our way. I can tell you for certain that kind of thinking doesn’t come from God or the Bible.

God made you. He created you exactly how He wanted you to be and no matter how many scars and breaks and bruises and messes you may have accumulated along the way, He still loves the work of His own hands– you. No matter how you may have been rejected or friend-zoned by girls or guys, God is enraptured and enamored and captivated by you. He is completely and totally crazy in love with you.

I’m loving being me. I can say that I’m not like anybody else out there. That doesn’t make me odd. That might make me eccentric. What that does make me for absolute certain is unique. There is no one in the whole wide world quite like me, and I like that.

I love that I can be socially awkward at times. I love that I can be overly enthusiastic in my friendliness and sometimes be perceived as coming across a little creepy.  That’s okay. Aside from maybe needing to visit Decaf-land from time to time, I’m fine if not every single person likes what I have to offer. Many people were turned off by Jesus.

I love that when God sees me, He sees Jesus. He sees beauty and perfection and wisdom and strength beyond measure. He sees my very best self, the one only hinted at in my best moments of selfless devotion. He sees the finished product of who I will become.

As of this moment, I refuse to take on myself any names other than the ones He has given me. Not from family or friends. Not from co-workers. Not even from me. I don’t have to be defined by words spoken in frustration or anger or resignation. I am no longer the mistakes I’ve made or the chances I’ve missed or the good intentions coming up short.

I am Forgiven. I am Set Free. I am Redeemed. I am A New Creation. I am Blameless.

Of all the names God has given me, my favorite is this: I am His Beloved Son in whom He is well pleased.

My hope and prayer for you tonight is to let go of all the names you or anyone else has called you out of hate or anger and embrace the name given in love by your Creator and Redeemer and Savior. Listen to Him calling you His Beloved Child. Hear Him singing His delight over you and smiling over you. Let your life be defined by God’s pleasure over you instead of people’s disappointment in you.

I truly hope and pray that you will come to the point where you can truly and honestly say that you love being you.

A Perfect Night for Sand Volleyball

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I had a blast playing sand volleyball tonight. Even though my teams only won once and I sweated like the pig that knows he’s about to be dinner.

It’s not about my mad volleyball skills. In fact, none of us are all that good. Well, maybe one or two. But we have fun and we cheer each other on and we laugh with each other instead of at each other. It never gets overly competitive and no one gets mad at anybody about a bad hit or that occasional moment when someone forgets that they’re in the middle of an actual game.

My favorite to watch (and my new friend) is a girl named Katie. She has an infectious joy and is one of those people who smile with their whole face. It’s hard to not be happy around her. I love the way my friends J.D. and Julie exhibit what a good marriage is and how two married people can be best friends too. Troy is one of the most consistent players who’s as good as any player out there yet able to laugh at himself when he messes up.

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The best part is that we root for each other, even if we’re on opposite teams. I don’t mind losing if I see the people on the other team enjoying themselves and getting in a good hit or two. As long as it’s not a complete blowout.

I love more than anything watching people who get better each time they play and really start believing in themselves. There’s nothing better for somebody than a little taste of success.

I like to think that Jesus roots for His children that way. He knows we’re frail and too often choose badly and fall down. He knows that we still have that old sin nature that sometimes comes out when we make poor decisions and know something is wrong yet  do it anyway.

I heard in church today that we don’t need empathy. We don’t need someone who feels bad with us when we feel bad. What we need is Somebody who knows what we’re feeling but also has the power to do something about it. Somebody who has the power to transform us and our choices.

Jesus is the best because not only does He root for us, but He sees us not as we are but how we could be at our very best. Not only that, but He is changing us into our very best selves. That is, changing us to be just like Jesus.

To All the Rahabs in the World

I’ve blogged about Rahab before. Maybe because she’s got such a beautiful story. Maybe because I can relate to her brokenness so well. Or maybe it’s because it shows God at his redemptive best.

Rahab was a prostitute who hid the Israelite spies and lied about their whereabouts to the local police. She led them to safety on the promise that they take care of her family when they come to invade the city. Note: she didn’t ask for herself, just her family.

Rahab’s past is synonymous with shame. She had seen her life spiral downward into something she could never have imagined as a little girl. Anyone else in her position could have turned hard and cold and not even let those foreign spies in.

But there was something about them that got her attention. Something about those stories of their god who had led them through the desert and defeated their enemies. All her own gods had failed her. Maybe there was something different about this Yahweh.

When people look at people like her, all they see is something broken. Something to discard, to throw away. God sees the perfect piece that will fit into his master plan of redemption. He sees the mother of Boaz, the father of Jesse, the father of King David, out of whose line came Jesus.

I love the saying that broken pieces make the best stained glass windows. It’s true. The best testimonies come from the worst moment of your life when you saw that God could stoop low enough to find you in your filth and raise you up. That he could save anyone, even you.

So to all the Rahabs in the world, just remember this. You have a place in God’s story. You have a place in God’s heart. You are not a dirty whore. You are a beloved daughter, a beloved son, a beloved child of God.

Your Abba is indeed very fond of you.