Are we good enough for God?
We are not.
No one is good, but God. ~Jesus
A man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, alone.
We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping
but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ.
How do we know?
We tried it–and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen!
Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement,
we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God
by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good. ~Galatians 2:16 (MSG)
No one will ever get it right.
No one will ever be “good enough” for God.
It’s impossible to please God without faith, and trying to “be good” is not faith.
It is trusting in self.
Believe me, please. For, you see, I tried it.
For years and years and years which turned into decades upon decades.
I was even given the name “Goody-goody” throughout my school years. Yes, I thought I could keep myself saved through good works. It doesn’t matter if you believe your good works will save you before, or after, you come to know Christ. Either way, you’re still only trusting in self.
It wasn’t until my late forties that I realized I can do nothing to save me.
I either have faith in Christ, alone, or it’s all a sham.
And guess what?
On the other side of self-abuse, wretched sinfulness, and family-shattering betrayal…
Finally, I understood the GRACE of God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
He looked upon my sinfulness
And bestowed upon me His forgiveness.
I saw my sin,
And I knew He saw it.
Yet, I felt His grace.
I found it is only through Christ, my Lord, that I am able to stand before God, the Father.
Jesus took the punishment I well-deserved. He endured the suffering for my sins — all of them — before I was even born. Yes, and even before the foundation of the earth, the Lamb of God was crucified for us all.
As a child I learned Jesus loved me. But I was also taught I must keep myself “good” for Him. And if I didn’t, He would not accept me. My standing before Him was based upon my good works, not His sacrifice, alone.
Why all of the clarification now???
Because, I spent so many years teaching it wrong. And so many people heard me. Eventually, I did learn the right teaching, but without the experiential knowledge, it wasn’t completely understood within my soul. I kept being “good” for I knew it was wisdom to live well.
He turned up the fire of trials in my life.
He tested my knowledge and let me go down a path that would solidify my faith.
It wasn’t pretty.
Seeing our own sinfulness is never pretty.
And now I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW …
I am the LORD’s and He is mine.
And nothing can separate me from His love.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dear LORD.
Please, hear me, it is still wise to live well, BUT, never ever believe your good works will save you, or keep you saved…
In Christ, alone, is our salvation.
For by GRACE you are saved
and this is not from yourselves,
It is the gift of God.
February 13, 1933 — December 14, 2014
My dad was an amazing man.
He was a charmer, a singer, an artist, a soldier, a director, a provider, a comic, a gardener … and my teacher.
For most of my life, Dad was my inspiration. From grade school he encouraged me to hone my artistic abilities. He was a professional artist.
Dad saw beauty everywhere and much of the time it brought tears to his eyes. He had an uncanny, God-given ability to paint landscapes. He was also one of the few truly talented calligraphists in the country.
He was a man of faith.
I wrote this poem for his birthday in 2006 …
I remember watching Dad
When I was only nine,
Creating pictures for the news
And adverts for the Times.
He inspired me to watch and learn,
To see beauty everywhere.
He gave me guidance as I tried
To express myself with care.
As we traveled on vacations
He pointed out the sights;
Showing much appreciation
For the expression of God’s might.
The waterfalls, the sparkling streams,
The chipmunk on the wall,
Were shown to me through his eyes
As we walked to view them all.
The mighty oak reaching to the sky
With gnarled limbs and shade;
Dappled sunlight shining through,
Creating wonder with all God made.
I thank you, Dad, for inspiring me
To see beauty in the world;
I feel a fullness, a breadth of wonder
You helped me to unfurl.
It’s not good-bye, Daddy, just farewell.
I know you are living the best life yet…see you soon.
It always hung in our bedroom.
From our first apartment to our last home I used my exquisite wedding veil as a focal point in our sacred, holy place. A hand-made gift of tatting lace with our names and the date of our wedding, alongside our wedding picture, completed the memorial. Throughout our years it was a special place in our home. Many days through many years I lingered by the picture, fingering the embroidery on the veil. Remembering…
Seeing how young we were and so completely inexperienced in life, the photographer captured our joy laced with hope. My best friend played Debussy and my sister sang, “Savior, Like a Shepherd, Lead Us.” My grandfather led us in our vows to one another.
We. meant. every. word.
After the divorce I had no idea what to do with the veil or my dress. I strongly doubted my daughter would ever want to use them; nevertheless, I couldn’t give them away. I still loved Phat. Even after all that was said and done, I knew I would always love him.
Feelings come and go. Love is a choice.
Noticing how dusty the veil had become, I gently washed it by hand. As I did the lace began to fall apart, disintegrating as I pulled it out of the sudsy water. Once I realized what was happening I quickly laid it on a towel and began blotting it dry. I wondered if the tears would ever stop flowing…
When I found my little house and decided to buy it, I had another bedroom to decorate.
I remembered my tattered veil, folded away, as I began calling myself the names I knew I deserved.
That’s when it all came together.
That’s when God spoke to my heart.
He stopped me … (thank You, Lord, for stopping me).
Gently, He told me that I am His bride.
Lovingly, He reminded me that I am redeemed.
Tenderly, He guided me to His word.
I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine!
For the LORD has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit…
O troubled one, storm-crushed, uncomforted!
See, your stones will be framed in fair colours,
and your bases (foundations) will be sapphires.
Above the surface over their heads was what looked like a throne
made of blue sapphire.
And high above this throne was a figure
whose appearance was like that of a man.
The One sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones
––jasper and carnelian.
And the glow of an emerald circled His throne like a rainbow.
I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can take new courage,
for we can hold on to His promise with confidence.
This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
It leads us through the curtain of heaven into God’s inner sanctuary.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast
and one which enters within the veil.
My tattered veil became a garment of salvation…literally. Through His restoration and assurance of eternal love, I understood I needed to create a symbol of my Heavenly Bridegroom and of His covering for me. I adorned the veil with crystals of emerald and sapphire. I created a bow of colors just like the one I imagined encircling His throne. And now, every night before I go to sleep, I look up at my wedding veil. My once tattered veil. And, I envision the beauty of the One who has loved me without condition.
I remember His holiness ~
His banner over me is love.
~scriptures taken from Isaiah, Revelation, and Hebrews
“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God
whose ways you may not understand at the time.”
– Oswald Chamber
“No one is good but God”
“Let not your heart be troubled;
Trust in God. Trust also in Me.”
“I and the Father are One.”
-Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God
Heavenly Father, I thank You that even when I do not understand what You are doing, or how You are working Your plan in this world, I do know YOU. I do know You have revealed who You are in Your word and through The Word. I can read all that You have revealed through the Law and the Prophets, for the Jewish people have kept it intact, throughout the ages, so that the world may know. I can read about Your Son, The Word of God sent to save a sinful world. I can understand the path of salvation, for I know He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. I praise Your Name for making the way clear, for speaking the truth through Your servants, and for making eternal life available to all who believe, in the Name of Jesus…
At this time, when all the world seems to be falling into more and more chaos, with each passing day the devastation caused by hatred and greed is further revealed; help us, O Lord, to rest in Your plan. Remind us of Your goodness and mercy and wisdom. Let us remember Your lovingkindness and Your faithfulness toward us who believe. Help us see that we serve a good God who holds all of the world in His loving hands.
Please, Father, lift the veil of unbelief. I know You do not wish for any to perish, but for all to come to You. You have chosen to save the world from our sins. Bring us to our knees before You, trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice and in His bodily resurrection, through Your awesome and mighty power. Find us to be loving servants, and empower us through Your Holy Spirit so that we may overcome in these difficult days…
Keep us faithful, Lord. Bring us before You restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established in Him on that glorious day.
I ask all these things in Your Son’s precious Name, Jesus the Christ,
We must learn to live in the tension between the real and the ideal.
It is in the tension that the beauty of salvation is seen.
~a paraphrase from Andy Stanley
When he said that yesterday, I felt more grace flood my soul than I have felt in a very long while. For someone to recognize the tension between the real and ideal, and then allow for a “less than perfect” reality … Well, I haven’t heard that kind of grace spoken much recently.
Another gracious word from a discussion over the weekend:
Satan calls you by your sin.
God calls you by your name.
And that’s when I remembered, this is warfare.
The names I’ve been called reveal the disappointment others feel toward me.
And the names I’ve called myself reveal my own disgust.
It feels like a flesh and blood battle when flesh and blood people are speaking the words. But, I must remember that we do not war against flesh and blood. Satan can speak through people, without them even realizing they are being used. Remember Peter? One moment he’s declaring Jesus is the Christ and the next, Jesus tells him to “get behind me, Satan!”
It wasn’t that Peter turned into Jesus’ enemy, it’s that he didn’t understand the Father’s plan for Jesus’ life. And in his misunderstanding he spoke.
We do this all the time when we assume we know what God is doing in someone’s life. We imagine we can see where they need to be headed, and yet, only God knows the plans He has for each of us. He is the One working out our salvation for His good will. He is the One empowering us to do the “good works” He has planned for us to accomplish from the foundation of the earth. He is the One who sees all the intricate details of each of our lives and is directing our paths as He sees fit.
Remember, Beloved, when others speak untruths concerning you, when you are “labelled” as they see fit, know that is not My name for you. I call you Beloved. I call you Redeemed. I call you My Child. Stand firm in the armor I’ve given you.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil,
so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News,
so that you will be fully prepared.
In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
Put on salvation as your helmet,
and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.
A note to the reader: For any who hurt due to abuse, it’s okay to stand up and speak out. It’s the hardest thing to do, but it will allow the healing to begin. Also, “you” is meant to be universal…I have had too many abusers in my life to name just one.
I am not your punching bag anymore.
I will not stand by and take whatever abuse you choose to dish out.
I will not remain in your presence, because your words are a lie straight from hell.
God says I am His.
God tells me I am beloved.
You tell me I am not worthy…not beautiful…not real.
I know I’m real.
I know what I feel and I know why I feel as I do.
I became a non-entity to you.
I filled up whatever need you may have had for a time…
And when I realized I couldn’t keep it up, I would never be enough…
I curled up into my shell.
And you left.
I was the butt of your jokes.
I was the blame behind your anger.
I was the target of your rage.
I learned I was an object at two years old.
Now, at fifty-two, I’ve decided to become a person.
I will be seen…by those who choose to cherish and not condemn.
I believe it’s time to realize I am worthy…
Because He is worthy.
He sacrificed Himself for me;
HE calls me His own.
Your names for me are a lie.
I choose to hear the Truth:
God loves me.
By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell…With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image…Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
~verses from James 3
When the hurt runs deep…
He is deeper still.
(I must say I’m having a very difficult time leaving this post up…yet, somehow I feel I must. After so many years of not believing I was worthy to speak up, taking this first step toward doing so feels so foreign…so vulnerable…I want to run. But, I know I can’t. I know I must get the words said for no other reason than having it written to look back upon, and know there was one day…a moment in time…I did feel I could speak the truth. I only hope I can survive the honesty…)
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ,
set your sights on the realities of heaven,
where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power.
Let heaven fill your thoughts.
Do not think only about things down here on earth.
For you died when Christ died,
and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world,
you will share in all His glory.
So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.
Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires.
Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.
God’s terrible anger will come upon those who do such things.
You used to do them when your life was still part of this world.
But now is the time to get rid of
anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.
Don’t lie to each other,
for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds.
In its place you have clothed yourselves
with a brand–new nature that is continually being renewed
as you learn more and more about Christ,
who created this new nature within you.
In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,
circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free.
Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.
Since God chose you to be the holy people whom He loves,
you must clothe yourselves with
tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
You must make allowance for each other’s faults
and forgive the person who offends you.
Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love.
Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.
For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace.
And always be thankful.
Let the words of Christ, in all their richness,
live in your hearts and make you wise.
Use His words to teach and counsel each other.
Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
And whatever you do or say,
let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus,
all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
I haven’t always lived like this in my Christian walk.
Oh Father, make me wise through Christ’s words. Let me be a true “little Christ” as I follow after Your Son. Thank you, Lord, for bestowing upon me love, grace, and patience. Empower me to fulfill Your will. I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.
Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them,
“If anyone wants to become My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”
(Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)
When we preach that Christ was crucified,
the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be destroyed,
and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.
Since Christ lives within you, even though your body will die because of sin,
your spirit is alive because you have been made right with God.
May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
Embrace the cross
Where Jesus suffered
Though it will cost
All you claim as yours
Your sacrifice will seem small
Beside the treasure
Eternity can’t measure
What Jesus holds in store
Embrace the love
The cross requires
Cling to the one
Whose heart knew every pain
Receive from Jesus
Fountains of compassion
Only He can fashion
Your heart to move as His
Oh, wondrous cross our desires rest in you
Lord Jesus make us bolder
To face with courage the shame and disgrace
You bore upon Your shoulder
Embrace the life
That comes from dying
Come trace the steps
The Savior walked for you
An empty tomb
Concludes Golgotha’s sorrow
Endure then till tomorrow
Your cross of suffering
Embrace the cross
Embrace the cross
The cross of Jesus
“One of the great wounds in life is the shattering of relationship — having a friend who turns on us and reverses shalom or what the Bible calls peace. Betrayal is the experience of being set up, violated, and then discarded. It is being used by someone who violates our dignity and then is unmoved by our pain.
Such betrayal, for whatever reason, isolates us in loneliness, doubt, and shame. The connection we once assumed and enjoyed becomes a web of awkwardness. We don’t know whether to speak to the estranged friend when our paths cross, or simply pass with eyes averted. To the degree there is avoidance, suspiciousness grows. If there is conversation, it is constrained and tight, marking the contrast to the way it once was. This is the soil where blame shifting and slander can grow like robust weeds.
The memory of how-it-once-was burns a deep and hollow spot in the heart. Memory haunts and self-doubt grips. Why did it end? What did I do wrong? Why does my friend no longer like me? The intense shifts between angrily blaming the other and cutting oneself with the shards of self-doubt are exhausting.” ~Dan Allender
Allender speaks clearly of the chaos in the heart and mind when betrayal has been experienced. It is a lack of peace in our deepest parts. How…how, in those moments, do we consider Jesus? How do we stand firm on the Rock when our minds are haunted with memories and self-doubt? The constant cutting of oneself with the shards of broken relationship is not only exhausting…it leaves one bloodied and crying out for relief.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.“
Jesus says I can live light and free.
Jesus says I can walk in unforced rhythms of grace.
Jesus says I can have a real rest and recover the life He wants me to live.
These are the promises Jesus gives to those who will follow after, and learn from Him.
Who is Jesus? He is a true friend. He does not “set us up, violate, and then discard” us. He does not make promises He never intends to keep. He is the one who sticks closer than a brother. He is a husband to the forsaken bride crying in the wilderness.
He loves with an everlasting love and He gives an unshakeable peace.
Betrayal is soul-wrenching. Its never-ending shattering peace gives way to many doubts and unanswerable questions, unless…
You turn to Him.
Go to Him.
Lay down your burdens and confusion,
Your pain, and your doubts,
Your fears, and all your tears,
All of it. Lay it down…at His feet.
Bow down and consider Jesus.
“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the LORD who has compassion on you.
“Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden,
And I will give you peace.”