When Sin Steals Our Faith

Do you ever become so wrapped up in trying to refrain from sin that your faith becomes small because your sin is so great?

I have. In fact, I do.

I often become so focused on practicing good behavior that I forget to focus on Jesus.

Let me tell you, this is a dangerous path to walk for believers. Focusing on what WE can do, instead of what JESUS DID, is one of the Enemy’s favorite ways in which we sin. Because then, as our sin overwhelms us, we lose sight of Jesus and the Promise. We lose sight of the One who already conquered each and every sin we have and will commit, and then we begin to doubt. We begin to doubt our salvation and God’s sovereignty over our lives and all of creation. We become waves tossed back and forth in the ocean, never sure of which way to turn.

As I fell deeper and deeper into this trap, I cried out to Jesus for help. I was tired of wallowing in my guilt, in my shame, and in my sorrow. The funny thing is, Christ had already granted me freedom from those feelings, but I held them captive because it’s what I knew. I knew I was a sinner, one who has a long history of self-destruction and–to be honest–willful stupidity. I knew–and still know–that its irrevocable that I will ever be “good enough” on my own for the Kingdom of God. For too long, I allowed what I knew about myself and my sin to shadow what I know about the Son and His grace He proclaimed on the Cross. The Cross He died on for me.

I became so focused on my inability to refrain from ever sinning again, that I begin to believe Jesus came to save everyone but me. I’m too mean, too selfish, too opinionated, too arrogant, too crude for Jesus’s grace. I’m UNWORTHY.

But wait–didn’t Jesus die for the unworthy? Didn’t He come to save those who could not be saved? These are the truths Jesus spoke to me as He began to root out the lies I told myself. He led me to verse upon verse in the Scripture that confirmed these truths. During a recent quiet time, I read and meditated over Galatians 3:1-14. These Scriptures spoke a bit loudly:

Galatians 3:3–

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”

Galatians 3:10–

“For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law.’ Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’

I felt that Jesus said to me in those moments, “Child, stop focusing so much on walking away from your sin, instead focus on moving toward Me, Who will lead you from sin by My Power.”

The funny thing is, I had heard this before. Many times, actually, but twice in recent era.

A good friend and sister in Christ, one who I often refer to as my “Titus 2 woman,” said to me as I lamented to her my struggles, “You are focusing too much on behavior and not enough on Jesus. Concentrate on Him, and He will lead you in His way.”

Isn’t that marvelous? When we focus on Jesus, instead of ourselves, we find ourselves letting go of sins we were holding captive. Notice I say that we are holding captive our sins, not the other way around. Because, when we become believers in the Cross, we become free from captivity of sin. It is we who continue to hold us there, when Christ has already broken the chains.

The beautiful thing is, we don’t have to wait until Sunday to start letting go of sin and start living in freedom. Jesus meets us right where we are. Even in the deepest, darkest gutter we find ourselves in, Jesus is there.

Aren’t you tired of trying to run the race, when the victory has already been won?

faith

Galatians 3 goes on to say in verse 13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.”

Christ took my place, became my curse, and set me free. When I focus on Him, I begin to live like Him. I love like Him. I forgive like Him. I say no to temptation, like Him. And when I do fall short, I am thankful that Jesus’s Grace is always beginning, but never ending.

 

 

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Inspired by My Daughter

I wrote this poem recently while watching my sweet little daughter, Brier Vale, play outside on an unseasonably warm and sunny day in January. To be inspired by my children is a wonderful feeling indeed.

Brier Vale Plays Pretend

There is no other world out there, except the one you’re in.
She is told, but still Brier Vale plays pretend.
She doesn’t have time for worldly matters
like turning off the light when she leaves a room,
or sweeping the floors with a broom.
Her life is in her imagination,
where she may be riding a horse,
or boarding a train at Union Station.

Today, she’s a ballerina; tomorrow, she’ll be different.
Maybe she’ll swim in the deep ocean waters with her fellow mermaids,
or traipse through the enchanted forest with a unicorn, whose mane is pink and purple.
Perhaps she’ll board a maiden voyage bound for lands unseen,
or plunder for treasure with pirates on an uncharted island,
and drink from coconuts by the sea.

She’ll play and play, and then play some more.
She’ll use her mind to take her to another place or time,
One that only exists in nursery rhymes.
Until, of course, her belly starts to rumble,
or her eyes grow heavy with slumber.
Then, she’ll run to Mommy for some milk and honey,
before she lies down her head
to drift off to sleep and dream
of castles and princesses, and fairies dancing on the moon,
or perhaps a valley filled with lavender, lilacs, and little bunnies.

Good night, Brier Vale, and do sleep well.
For the morning will come again
and once more it will be time to play pretend.16300115_10208740600934193_521527165632084_o

It’s Election Day in America…

Or as I call it, Tuesday. Yes, it’s the day in which the country’s most tumultuous election to date finally comes to an end, but I’m not worried. Instead, I’m sitting here in my office sipping on coffee and writing my first post for my new blog. My fifteen-month-old daughter is not far from my side, clinging to her milk bottle and one of her big brother’s Matchbox cars, waiting patiently for Mommy to finish whatever it is that Mommy does on that black box with the bright light. There’s a load of white towels and bath mats soaking in bleach in the washer in hopes that maybe this time they will finally return to their former blinding white splendor they displayed when first purchased, while a load of my daughter’s bed linens, a unicorn pillow, and a stuffed unicorn doll tumble around in the dryer. Another load of laundry sits in a basket, waiting to be folded and put away. A pile of dishes waits to be washed in the sink, and my kitchen floors could really use a good sweeping.

It’s just another typical weekday at my house, yet outside in the world around me my nation is tensed with fear and anxiety over the outcome of today’s election. An unprecedented presidential race in which voters from both parties have described their choice as being the “lesser of the two evils” will finally be decided today, and tomorrow our world will change. This election has brought out the worst in everyone, turning brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, friend against friends, and so on and so on. Social media is filled with citizens calling out one another for their candidate choices, hiding behind the protection of their screens. Shamefully, I admit even I have taken part in the bickering from time to time. The chaos from this election will only grow after today, but still I am not worried.

I am not worried. In fact, I am at peace with whatever tomorrow brings. Because as the old song goes, “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand, but I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.”

You see, I am no longer worried about this election because I have set my sights back on the true Ruler of this nation and this world–Jesus. No matter what happens today, who wins the ballot for President, and what happens tomorrow as a result of today’s winner, I know that even then, Jesus still reigns. My God is the Sovereign King of kings, Lord of lords, and Creator of the Universe. In the end, His Will will be done, and there isn’t a president, prime minister, or any other ruler who can change that. To God, America is just another nation, and this election is another chapter in the history books. God has watched many powerful nations rise and fall, and the U.S. will be no different. Still, He reigns.

I’m afraid that this presidential race has blinded too many of Christ’s followers, myself included at times. Too many of us are more concerned with promoting our chosen political candidates than we are with promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The saddest part is that many Christians have used the name of Jesus to promote their political cause and even shamed other Christians who have a different political view. Disunity has erupted in America’s churches, taking the focus far away from the task at hand given to us by Christ Himself–to share His Love and the Good News. Instead we’ve chosen to play right into Satan’s hands as the divide between the left and the right grows deeper. That’s right, y’all. Satan loves the fighting and disorder that is going on right now, especially when it’s disruptive to our call as Christians.

Thank God for Jesus. You see, it’s not too late to turn our eyes back to the real Kingdom at hand. It’s not too late to let the peace of God take over as this dreaded election finally reaches it conclusion. Thanks to His infinite grace and sovereignty, God can and will forgive any mistakes you’ve made during this election season, including any that may have caused pain to others. He can turn any situation we fumble into glory when we turn to Him and allow His sovereignty to reign in our lives. He can even turn this mess of an election into something of beauty.

It’s decision day in America, and when you head to the poll you will finally cast your ballot for a candidate. But you can make another decision, right now. You can choose a Ruler who is the opposite of evil instead of the lesser of two. You can choose to start living for the Kingdom that will reign forever. You can choose the Peace that comes when you focus on the one true King and allow Him to move in you. You can decide that no matter what happens in America or the rest of the world today, your life will be lived for the Kingdom to come.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.

-Proverbs 19:21

Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
  on earth as it is in heaven.

-Matthew 6:10

 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be       destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all               these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.

-Daniel 2:44