Tag Archives: Christ

Not to Condemn but to Save

Good Friday. A Holy and reflective day for the followers of Christ.

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But why is it called Good Friday. What is good about the suffering, humiliation and death of the son of God? I remember my pastor from childhood posing that very question. A question that has undoubtedly been asked thousands and thousands of times.

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And the answer? Love. The answer is love.

“God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

Perhaps the most well-known verse in the bible and for good reason. But do you know what verse 17 says?

“God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” John 3:17

Not to condemn but to save.

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Forgiveness. Cleansing. Resurrection. Rebirth. Salvation. Life. Love.

For ALL of us. He came for us all. All broken. All hurting. All sinners. All stained.

Not one better than the next.

Not one clean enough to sit in judgement over another.

He came in love. He washed us clean and called us to follow Him and only Him.  And He called us to love.

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Why then do we claim condemnation as our own? Why? When even God Himself, did not. It breaks my heart and convicts me to live differently.

I recently read a post by Christian author and speaker Jen Hatmaker that was like a breath of fresh air. Nail on the head kind of stuff. I hope you will click the link above and read it too. I would love to know what you think – whatever you think.

I am blessed by those in the Christian faith who, like Jen, think outside the boundaries of convention. Who believe that Christ calls us out of the pews and our freshly ironed Sunday best to reach deeper, do more.

To LOVE. Not just to say it but to DO IT.

To get dirty. To stand up for the enslaved and oppressed. To embrace the hurting. To minister to the sick and impoverished. To care for the widow and the orphan. To love those who, in the eyes of the world, would be deemed unlovable. Not just to “add a little Jesus to our already awesome lives.” As my current pastor, Mark Connelly at Mission Community Church, has said.

That is what being a Christian means to me.

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Not to condemn but to save. No strings attached.

” … this world needs some Good News, but they can’t decode what is actually good about us. Good is finding a safe place to struggle, to doubt, to ask hard questions. Good is food when you’re hungry. Good is warm, kind, genuine love extended, no strings attached. Good is clean water, medicine for your sick baby, education, family. Good is community, even before ‘belief’ binds us tight. Good is sustainable work, dignity. Good is Jesus and His backwards, upside-down ways.”

Unafraid. Unthreatened. Unreserved. Arms wide open.

“The skeptic, the cynic, the doubter; my arms are wide open. Their questions and disbelief don’t scare me; I am unthreatened. The loosey-goosey, tambourine shaking, barefoot liberal who loves Jesus and the earth and votes straight-ticket Democrat? I love her. The young adult generation who is leaving the church but running to Jesus in unfamiliar, new ways – I gather them to me like a Mama because they are going to change the world.”

Perspective and compassion. Not judgement.

“I am not put off by creed or denomination or sexual orientation or terrifying doubt or outright anger or nationality or socioeconomic status or issues or weirdness or politics. I’m not going to make a deal out of a glass of wine when 25,000 people will die today of starvation.”

Renegades. Closer to the margins.

 “… we need some renegades closer to the margins, building bridges, creating safe spaces to question, wrestle, rethink.

He is everything good and gracious.

Bring me your doubts, your fear. My Jesus can handle it all and then some. He is all of our dreams come true. If you don’t believe me, start in Matthew and read until the end of John. Jesus is a hero, a brother, a Savior in every sense of the word. He is everything good and gracious. His love for us is embarrassing, boundless, without standards at all.”

He is ALL of our dreams come true.

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If you don’t know my Jesus, YOUR Jesus, if you think something like … Christianity wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the Christians;  I invite you to take another look. If reading up to this point you have determined “Oh man, she’s a Jesus freak, I thought she just blogged about food and her kids” … It’s true. You are correct. Jesus freak here. But perhaps that means something different than you might think. Something different than perceived notions or past experience has impressed upon you.

I hope that you will take another look.

What puts-off and offends is not Christianity or Christians it is legalism and judgement. That offends me too. And I promise you. That is not Jesus.

Take another look.

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I love the church and do not mean to sound as if I don’t. I believe we are called into community to live as a body of believers. To gather together, to do life together, to worship together, learn together, grow together. Community. One body. Inclusive. Even if we don’t always see eye to eye. Even if we don’t agree on everything. That is Grace.

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Because Jesus is our savior, not our religion. Because He died for us. For you and for me. Both sinners, both struggling, both redeemed in Him, both made new. Because He loves us. And He wants us to love each other, differences and all.

Be blessed today, this Good Friday. Share a little grace, show a little love. Remember what has been done for you.

If you would like to talk with me or prefer not to comment here publicly or if I can pray for you in any way, please e-mail me at welcomecompany@cox.net.

And, if by chance, you are a renegade, closer to the margins, Jesus freak too – I’d love to know it!

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Love, Lent and Following Where He Leads

From the start of my blog, my desire has always been for it to be conversational. I think this may be because I am at a stage in my life where the day-to-day joys of parenting three young children has riddled my brain incapable of stringing more than a few random thoughts together at a time. Long, cohesive, well-thought out, planned, drafted, grammatically correct, edited and revised is just not in the cards right now; well, yes, sometimes long is. Nor should they be because that is how God wants it. Someday I may be a “writer” but for now, I am a conversationalist. He knows me and He knows that anything else would be too much about me and not enough about Him. I still have so much growing to do and wisdom yet to gain.

I talked yesterday about all that God has had for me this past week or so. As I seek Him in the early morning hours, after He has awakened me and called me to His feet, I have continually felt His leading to focus and reflect on LOVE. To write about love, to spark conversation and thought about love.

Love. I LOVE it!

Naturally, I think, this will tie in perfectly to Valentine’s Day … God, your timing is always perfect. Love it is! All week, I will talk about LOVE. Thank you God for your message, thank you for your leading. I have a plan, a direction, I know what you want me to do and I am happy to do it.

And then came “Love is not passion — It is the pulse of sacrifice”; from Ann Voskamp. And it stuck. And I couldn’t shake it. And I felt God’s gentle touch on my shoulder; “no, this kind of love“.

What? But we had a plan, I had a plan. This was supposed to be about Valentine’s Day; fun and festive and pretty and easy. Blogs about 17 ways to celebrate 17 years of marriage and making cards and heart-shaped pancakes for kids and chocolate. You know, LOVE! I’m not qualified to talk about LOVE!

This is where I need to tell you that I am smitten with all of the aspects of blogging (well, not all – not the technical and “computer” stuff) and the creative outlet it has given me – it is so much neater than scrapbooking or crafting and Lord knows, I do need to be neater. I love that God has given me a passion for family history and food and hospitality and has given me this vehicle to share those passions. But He does not wake me up at 3 am to talk about chocolate souffle – I’m pretty sure though, if He were to wake me at 3 am to talk about food, He would want to talk about chocolate souffle.

He gives me the grace and go-ahead to talk about my passions. Who am I not to listen and obey when He asks me to talk about His LOVE.

So I wrote yesterday’s post, “What is Love?”; not easy for me, raw and honest, but true to what He desired of me. I am so thankful for the reflection and the growth, for the questions I am still working to answer and for the peace that comes from obedience to Him. I am thankful that in obedience, I have found His assurance that I am qualified to talk about love because I am loved.

And now that I am listening, my shoulder, heavy, not burdened, but heavy with God’s hand …“Yes, I have placed Love on your heart this week but that is only part of it. Think child. Be still and hear Me.”

Lent. Not Valentine’s Day. Lent. Sacrifice. LOVE. True love.

My husband and I are not Catholic but we observe Lent. We give something up, make a sacrifice, that we might reflect more deeply on the sacrifice that was made for us. This year though, I have been distracted. I haven’t been listening. And this year, He is calling me to more. Finally, I am hearing Him. This year, 40 days without french fries just isn’t going to cut it.

Growth. He is moving me forward.

If you would like to join me in the journey, I encourage you to read today’s post by Ann Voskamp, may it bless you as much as it did me …

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and we’ll talk more tomorrow, the first day of Lent.