Tag Archives: Jesus

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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What to Give and What to Give Up!

Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. Forty days (Sundays not included) meant for reflection, repentance, and sacrifice. A time for Christians to prepare for Easter and remind ourselves why this time matters so much. That we would focus our hearts on Jesus Christ. On his life, death, burial and resurrection. On His suffering and His sacrifice.

I truly love this season, it always feels like a new beginning. A time of renewal, a rebirth. Spring is near and life is on the verge of abundance, nesting birds, blooming trees, a bursting garden. A recovery from that which was harsh and cold and heavy.

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Not all Christian churches observe Lent but my family does and we are deeply blessed to do so. I was raised Presbyterian and grew up with the season of Lent but not the personal practice of “giving something up” in observance of Lent. That is something my husband and I decided to do as a married couple and it is something our children will do for the first time this year. We have asked them to pray and listen for what God is putting on their hearts, what He wants them to give to Him. Sara is pretty sure she will be giving up the computer. David was quick to offer up fruits and vegetables, we suggested a bit more reflection. Nathan is still a little young to fully understand but we will encourage him and show him by our example.

If you have read my last few posts, you know that I have been on a bit of a journey with God over the last few weeks – probably much longer but I’ve only just begun to really listen. I feel Him pulling me forward into a new season. My family is moving into a new season. That I have felt coming for some time now. I have observed the change in my children. The deep healing and increased peace in them.

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Four years ago, in the Spring, our older two children returned to us after having been back in the care of their birth mother for nearly two years. You can read more of that story in my post “Beauty from Ashes”. In that four years, we have walked with them through some very dark and terrifying places as they fought their way back from abuse and trauma. It has been hard. Very hard. The hardest thing I have ever done and I have not always done it with grace.

But now, my children are doing well. They are moving forward. Charging forward.

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God has redeemed so much and has brought them so far beyond their pain. He has enfolded them in His grace and filled them with the promise that His plan for their life is good. He has reached them and they have opened their hearts to Him in miraculous ways.

My own heart overflows for the changes I see in them but the process of that change has taken a toll. And now it is my turn. His eyes have turned toward me. Really they have always been on me too, but now I am aware.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am thankful and I am blessed and I am happy. Truly. But I am tired, I am weary, I am spent. Not because of my children or because of their pain or the journey God called us to walk with them. But because of my choices in dealing with just how hard it was. Because of my need for control and the avoidance of the depth of my own loss, grief and pain. The guilt of my mis-steps and lack of grace. Too long I have buried it all in distraction and busy-ness. Too many times I have come before Him broken and on my knees only to take back that which I was so desperate to give to Him. He has waited for me to bend just far enough and now He is calling me out. He is calling me to a season of change and renewal. And I am listening.

Lent. This year He is not asking me to give up a favorite food item, TV, wine or chocolate. No, He is asking for much more. He is asking me to dig deeper. He is calling me to give up SELF. To give Him the pieces of me that I still cling to, hide behind, wallow in, make excuses for.

I will spend the next forty days committed to a pattern of change, committed to live more intentionally. Directed and purposeful. Proactive instead of reactive. Refreshed and not tired. Renewed and not weary. Listening for His voice to tell me what is mine and giving over what He claims as His.

I will sleep more.

I will eat more that is green.

I will eat less that is white.

I will drink more water.

I will exercise more.

I will deepen my prayer life and devote more quiet time to Him. I will rise to meet Him every morning and not find a reason why I am too busy or too tired.

I will  make no excuses.

I will be slow to anger.

I will watch my tongue.

I will guard my thoughts.

I will remember that while I am a mom, I am a wife too.

I will fast. Over the past ten years, I have walked closer and closer to God but I have never fasted in prayer. Never. He is asking me to start.

I will rid myself of all that I have taken up that He has not asked of me. I will clear the clutter and all that keeps me too busy and distracts me from Him.

And when I am done, when He is finished. I will celebrate that He is Risen. That He lives. And that I too am alive again.