Face of Failure.

This may seem surprising to many who know me but there have been many different periods in my life were I struggled with feelings of failure.  I always felt as though I didn’t measure up and I wasn’t good enough.  I felt as though I wasn’t doing enough to make an impact.

The most recent of these seasons was when I first moved to New England and had just become a youth pastor.  There are so many things about that season of life that was hard for me.  I was struggling to gain a voice, to trust myself again and to see that God could use me.  God lovingly placed me in a job that both challenged me to become myself and cushioned me as I tried and sometimes fell.

Almost three years ago life shook for me.  I was transitioning out of my job and God was calling for me to step down.  Step down from a church that was going through turmoil.  To walk away to an unknown future both for myself and for those around me.  Mostly He was asking me to trust those I loved and cared for in His hands even when it didn’t make sense.

My youth group at that church had always been small but I had seen God show up in some mighty ways.  At this very moment three girls from that youth group are in bible college and I am amazed at the women of God that they are.   God was faithful in it all AND YET I walked away feeling like a failure and have carried that with me for the past few years.

Looking back at that season and that transition was hard.  I struggled with being able to reach out to those girls because I felt as though I had failed them because I had left.  I prayed and I loved them from a far but my heart ached.

But thankful, if we press into Him, God doesn’t want to keep us in those places.  And while I have wrestled with those feelings of failure God has been doing a deep work in me.  A work based on understanding that if I did nothing but come to Him, that would be enough.  That I don’t have to try and “succeed” but instead if I just love Him, love others and follow His lead then I am following Him in this life.

God began to dig up that I had always felt like a failure because I was always trying to live up to and earn His lavish gift of grace for me.  I was trying to pay God back when I didn’t need to.

And as God has shown me this trying to succeed for Him part of me He brought me back to this period.  This time of feeling like a failure and quietly said,

“You only failed at living up to your expectations.  To me you did not fail, you did all I asked of you.”

And in one simple statement all my striving and my hurt and my failure melted away.  I had done what God had asked of me in both the staying and the leaving.  It had not looked as I had expected or wanted but I had been faithful to follow my King.

Often our view of failure is based on our own expectation and desires.  I wanted to leave that church with everything tied up in a bow and better than when I arrived.  But I left when God prompted; I left and had to trust He knew and cared for them more than me.

 “Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Remember the Lord in all you do, and he will give you success.” Proverbs 3:5-6

We all deal with feelings of failure at times.  Are you willing to allow God to show you the reason why?  Sometimes we have failed and we have to get back up and try again but sometimes, our failure is only not living in reality.

Advertisements

When the Promise is dead.

Over the past few weeks I have been stuck thinking about one of my life journal entries and today I thought I would share.


“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.)  So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’

When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”

John 11:1-5

Let me break this down for you.  Lazarus was a follower of Jesus but not just someone in the crowd, Lazarus and his sisters were people who Jesus loved and cared for deeply.  When Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus it wasn’t just someone hoping that Jesus would have mercy on them but was a very personal request to their friend.

At their message Jesus proclaims something that we all want to hear: that the sickness wouldn’t be terminal but instead that He would be glorified through this sickness.  That was the promise – that death would not prevail but instead God would be glorified.

“So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’”

John 11:6-7

Okay wait.  When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick He stayed where He was?  On purpose?  Jesus, the Messiah, stayed where He was, on purpose, when He knew Lazarus was sick?  Would you, on purpose, stay where you were if someone you LOVED was sick and you could help them?

Thankfully the story doesn’t end here.

“So then he told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’”

John 11:14-15

“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

John 11:32-33

“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’ “

John 11:40-44

There are so many things in this passage that I saw in a new way this past year.  Here are the high level ones:

ONE: When Jesus is talking with His disciples He tells them that He is glad FOR THEIR SAKE that Lazarus died.  Lazarus’ death and the seeming death of a promise wasn’t even about Lazarus but instead was about others.

We often get stuck in what a promise means to us that we don’t stop to think about how a promise AND it’s fulfillment brings about believing in those around us.  Although God’s promises to us are birthed out of love for us they also have a grander plan of bringing God’s glory to all those who surround us:

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Community

SECOND: Jesus was deeply moved by Mary’s emotions.  Even though Jesus knew the final outcome and knew the joy that would come He was still moved and mourned with Mary.

The same is true in our own lives.  Jesus knows the joy and celebration that is to come and yet He is still moved to mourn with us in our moments of sorrow.  And as we look at the lives of others and see what God is doing we should not loose sight of mourning in the moment as we wait for the joy that is to come.

THIRD: Jesus speaks out and prays to God not for Himself, but for the benefit of others.

Sometimes when God is doing something in our life and WE KNOW what He is doing it is still important to PROCLAIM it so that others may join in and believe with us.

FOURTH: Lazarus wasn’t raised to life as a zombie or having to wear his grave clothes for the rest of his life.  He was not only raised to life but He was redeemed back to who He was before.

When God redeems our once dead promises they won’t be zombie promises.  We do not have to settle for less than the fullness of all that God has for us.  Jesus states in John 10:10 that He comes to give life and life to the fullest (in abundance, in the fulness of all life can be).


We all experience at one moment or another a promise that looks as though it is dead.  The truth is that it MAY BE DEAD but thankfully our God is the one who brings the dead back to life.

We don’t have to be dismayed even when our promises are laying dead, for God in His plan will bring them back to life, and in the process others will believe.

 

My Give.

Over the past few months I have been haunted by an idea, a phrase that came about from a journal reading.  The idea came from Exodus 35 and 36, specifically 35:21 and 36:4-7…

“Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.” Exodus 35:21


“Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the Lord commanded us to do.”

So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done—indeed too much.” Exodus 36:4-7

How incredible.  As they were working on creating the tabernacle for the Lord – the place where the presence of God would dwell (!!), the people with willing hearts gave of what they had.  As each person gave from what they had, both possessions and talents THERE WAS MORE THAN ENOUGH FOR WHAT WAS TO BE DONE.

More than enough.

Nowhere in this passage did it say that the people judged their gift based on what others were giving but instead it says that they brought freely from what they had and all together it was ALL they needed for ALL parts of the tabernacle.  Actually, it was MORE THAN all they needed.

I think too often we look at our “give” and we judge it against what we see others giving.  We judge the type, we judge the amount, we judge what looks to be the quality... and often in this judging we judge our “give” to not be enough and so WE DON’T GIVE IT.  What we forget is that it takes many types and qualities and quantities of GIVES to make complete the calling of God on His people.

Recently I was reminded of this passage and an incident found in Acts.  There are currently many situations and people in my life who are going through hard times.  They are going through situations that I can’t fix.  I feel worthless because I wonder what I have to giveto them.  And it is in these moments that I remember a time where Peter, like me, didn’t have what a situation looked to need… but what he does have, he freely gives.

“Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.'” Acts 3:6

Peter doesn’t have money but what he has is more powerful.  Peter doesn’t have physical resources but he has miraculous resources that go beyond time.

Although I don’t always have money to give, solutions to the problem or even words to bring comfort, I don’t have the immediate resources, there is something I do have and like Peter it goes beyond…. I have God.  I have His presence and power inside of me.  Like Peter I have the miraculous resource of the presence of God within me who brings peace and healing.

My give is not dictated by what I think I have or don’t have but instead my give is dictated by His Spirit inside me.  In Him there is fullness and He enables me to give what is needed in those moments.  And so, I give of what I do have, Him.

What is your give?

Deep Cries Out to Deep.

10985301_10207839127927883_6608697790991928893_n

Deep calls to deep… this was a devotion that I wrote a year ago and as with most devotions, it still speaks to me.

We have all been there, when the depths of who we are are steeped in pain and despair.  Sometimes the pain is actually growth, painful and time consuming periods of growth.  Other times that pain and despair is God’s prompting for surrender.  Surrender to the healing that can only be found in Him.  Regardless of what the pain and despair seem to be, It feels as though whatever is going on will never end, will never let up.

It is in this spot that we often forget who God is and what He has done. We forget that our God is steadfast, that His love looks beyond the moment into eternity, that He can and does the impossible daily.

God’s love is hard to understand because it is a love that has all understanding.  Our vision is clouded and minimal in distance but His not only encompasses all there is but sees in all of time.  He has all of us and all of eternity within the scope of His love.

And it is in light of that love and in those moment of pain and despair that  deep calls out to deep.  The deepest part of who we are calls out to the deepest of His love.  Where the roar of His life and love can drown out any other sound.  It is here that His grace and love pour over us and where, if we allow it, His mercy can wash the dirt away.

As deep calls out to deep, His mighty waters drench my soul, His great love allows me to surrender my plans to His and trust.

For even though the storms of life rage, my God calms the waters with a word and stills the raging sea with the soles of His feet.  


Will we surrender in the waters and allow them to wash over us?
Will we allow our deepest parts to cry out to Him?
Will we allow Him to remind us of who He is and who we are in Him?


Champion.

I’ve been thinking about this post for over a year.  It’s really a topic and a thought that I’ve had since high school.  Something that I’ve pondered on as I have watched individuals in my life champion me.  

A champion is normally thought of as the victor of something.  They have become victorious and because of this they often are seen as fighting or competing on behalf of other people.  In the Hunger Games you would see this idea as each district had individuals competing to be the Victor but it was an honor for their district if they won.  They were champions for their people.
But what this word, champion, can also be a verb.  And in verb form it means the act of defending or support.  In Kaitlin terms… to champion is to make someone or something victorious.  To champion is to raise someone up when they can’t on their own.
Throughout my life… I have had many champions.  My parents, my sisters, my friends.  Aunts and Uncles.  Cousins.  Pastors, mentors, coaches, teachers.  They have all championed me.

In high school… I had many champions.  My parents, my high school leadership teacher and my pastor.  These people didn’t see me just as the youth with emotional baggage, who didn’t see herself as worth something but instead they saw what God was up to in my life and that my heart to follow Him outweighed my brokenness (most of the time).  And so they championed me.  They raised me up, they encouraged me, they made room for me at the table.  They naturally pulled out who God was calling me to be.
In college… I had many champions.  I had district supervisors and staff (Shout out to Dave Veach in the Northwest District!!) who loved on me and gave me opportunities to do and see more.  They didn’t hold back but only because they knew I had more to give.  I had staff at LPC who gave me opportunities to step into leadership roles, to love on others and who created opportunities to help me make it in college.  They saw not only a college student but a minister of the gospel, in many different ways.
And most recently, in the years since I moved to New England… I have had many champions.
I had a district staff that made room for me at the table.  When I arrived as a district intern I was given a voice.  I was encouraged to speak up and speak out.  To lead.  When I didn’t feel old enough, wise enough… when I just didn’t feel enough.  They championed me until I knew I was enough.
I had pastors around the district, well respected and seasoned leaders, who loved me and encouraged me.  They made room for me to be Kaitlin but also made certain that I was a part of this place.  Leaders who let me love their people and lead their youth.  Leaders who again, made room at the table and championed me.
I currently have a job as a staff accountant with a team and a boss who champion me.  They respect my thoughts and give me opportunities to both learn and lead.  They champion me to minister beyond just my local church body or even my denomination family to impact the Kingdom in far wider places.

 
I am being championed.
And I have pastors today who are helping me to make room at the table for others.  they encourage me to think differently, to dream larger and to allow God to do more in me. Who have never once told me that I’m too much but who are helping me to be the ALL God created me to be.  They champion me to not limit God in me, to not stay rooted in the box of conformity, but to be open wide to the limit that is only God’s Word.
They champion me. 
The other day at staff meeting, one of our pastors mentioned that in many of the letters that Paul writes he addresses the letter as coming from both himself and Timothy.  Paul puts Timothy on the same level as himself.  He gives Timothy equity with just a few words. Paul champions Timothy.
In my own life, I have so many instances to champion people.  I have leaders who are capable who just don’t know it.  I have youth who are made for more, who can’t even see past high school.  I have college students just wanting to know that they belong.  I have friends in my community loving God as best they can.

And the question that I am faced with is this, will I champion them?  
Will I make room at the table, will I allow their voices to be heard?  
Will I make them victorious, no matter the cost to myself?
Will I champion now?

Resolving to Relate: DTR Part Two

If you have been following my blog for any length you will notice that there has been a strong theme over the past few months that have to do with 1. identity and 2. Relationships.  This is because at my youth group we have been talking about Identity (Who we are in Light of who God is), Resolving to Follow God, and then how those two play out in our relationships, especially dating, sex and marriage.

In our Identity series we talked about Determining the Relationship and that we must resolve to love those we interact with not as the world calls us to love but instead with God’s love.  A few weeks ago we touched back on this idea of Determining the Relationship but more in the context of relationships.

Our original design was as the image bearer of God , male and female together. As the imago dei (image of God/image bearer of God) we were created for:

  1. Relationship with God
  2. Relationship with others

If we are made as the image of God – then we have to understand who God is:

God is love.

1 John 4:8 “he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.

This word love is the Greek word “Agape.”  This love…

…is considered a benevolent love which means that this love that is God’s very identity is a love that gives the recipient (you and I) something we can’t receive, make, find, earn on our own.

…it sees something infinitely precious in the recipient – not because of something they have done or not done but just because of who they are.

…is not shown by doing what the recipient desires (wants) but instead what the one who loves deems as needed by the recipient, even knowing this may lead to rejection.

We, as humans, cannot show this type of love to God or others without first receiving God’s love – it is only God, in His Holiness, who has such an unselfish love because this love is rooted firmly in the personal character of God. God’s love is a part of his personality and cannot be swayed by passion or diverted by disobedience.

God’s love isn’t based on how we make him feel – it is willful. He chose to love us and He continues to carry that love out.

If we are made in the image of God, and love is a part of His personality/His very identity – then doesn’t that mean that we are made in the very image of love?

And so, we must determine what our relationship with the World should be. Our Relationship with the World must be one of love – God’s love.

A love that gives what people need not what they want.

A love that is willing to be rejected to truly love.

A love based on seeing those we love as infinitely precious and deserving of God’s truth, God’s life.

A love not based on our feelings but based on willful purpose.

But the question is, how do we do that?


  1. A love that gives what people need not what they want.

I firmly believe that with both friends and with the suitable partner God has for us – that they will challenge us to be more of who God created us to be. They will give us what we need feedback, challenges, encouragement, room to grow, etc. not necessarily what we want.

We also need to be willing to be those people. Those friends and even those possible suitable partners.  Are we giving space for them to seek God first and not us, are we challenging what they are hearing from God when it sounds off base?  Are we calling them out when their actions don’t line up with what they say God has said?

2. Love with willful purpose – not a love based on feelings.

In resolving to relate – we need to be intentional – we need to have willful purpose in our relationships. We need to know what God is calling us to.

In our relationships we need to care both about those we are relating with today but also those we will be relating with and who they will be relating with in the future…

Listen to me, it isn’t just about how far is too far. But it is about honoring each other and those you will end up being with.

3. We need to be intentional today for the promises God has for us tomorrow.

We need to not just think about today but we need to ask God what He has for us in the future and then make decisions based on those promises.

Noah started building the Ark when there weren’t any clouds in the sky… when they didn’t even have a concept of what rain was. His actions were in light of God’s Word for the future not what he saw or felt in that moment.

4. We need to know who we are in God.

Adam and Eve were suitable partners for what God had created them to do.  God’s plan for us includes suitable partners for what we were created to do. But that means that to know who is suitable, we have to be willing to wait until we know what God has called us to do.

This doesn’t mean that we have to know the exact specifics but we must have a sense of the direction that God is calling us to.

God gave me this picture:

Imagine that you are back in high school and you have a huge project for one of your classes. Each person has a unique project they are working on and it has to do with who they are and how they were created.  Each project was created to bring out that specific person.

With this project, you will be working with a partner of the opposite sex.  The teacher tells you as you are receiving your projects that you can choose your own partner or you can wait on the teacher and they will pair you with someone who has a project that would complement your own.

You decide to pick your own partner.  You see someone who you think is cute and looks as though you would get along great.  You introduce yourself and ask if they would like to be partners.  They quickly agree and you start talking.  You find out that you have similar personalities, you likes similar things and everything looks perfect to you.

Over time though, you find that your projects are less compatible than you first imagined.  Conflict begins to arise as your research and resources are incompatible.  You find that either you must separate to find new partners, you will stay together but work harder to try and make things work or one of you will have give up their project.

If you had just waited on the teacher they would have brought you a suitable companion.  A companion whose project would have complimented your own.


The questions that God has challenged me and I challenged my youth with is this:

Are we willing to be intentional today – in our relationships –
for the promises of God for tomorrow?  

Are we willing to be intentional today so that our marriages, our callings,
our families tomorrow will be all that God intends them to be?

Zacchaeus: A wee little man made tall.

Since I read the story of Zaccheaus this morning I haven’t been able to stop thinking about.  Driving into the office this morning I was pondering the story and I was struck with a thought that I had never had before.  But hold on, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s start with the story:

Zacchaeus the Tax Collector

Luke 19:1-10Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.  A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.  He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him,’Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.’ So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, ‘He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.’

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'”

Okay, let’s break it down for a moment.  Zacchaeus was a wee little man, not just in stature but in character.  He was a tax collector but not just a tax collector the chief tax collector.

Tax collectors were despised by their own people because they collected taxes on behalf of the Roman government.  But it wasn’t just their job title that caused their own people to marginalize them, no it was the fact that they were dishonest, cheating their very own people out of their money.  They would inflate the tax and then cushion their pockets with the extra.  And Zacchaeus was the chief of them all.

And this chief sinner, when hearing that Jesus was coming through was drawn to His presence.  There was something about Jesus that beckoned to Zacchaeus, that caused Him to desire to see who He was.  It was this something that caused a grown man to become undignified and climb a tree.

One of my favorite parts of this passage though is that Jesus knew Zacchaeus was in the tree.  He knew without looking up and He desired Zacchaeus to be in His presence and know Him.  Jesus called out to the chief of sinners.  And it was from being in the presence of Jesus that Zacchaeus repented of his ways.  He repented of his sin and offered restitution and reconciliation to his people.

Zacchaeus released control of his money.  He released control of the very thing that he had held onto comfort before, the very thing that he had tried to use to ease his sin.  He released providing for himself and self medicating all for the presence of His Lord. 


And it was this thought that caught me anew this morning.  As I was thinking about Zacchaeus’ response to the presence of His Lord my mind turned to an encounter that had happened just a chapter earlier.  The encounter of the rich young ruler:

The Rich Young Ruler

Luke 18:18-23 “A certain ruler asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’

‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good—except God alone.  You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’

‘All these I have kept since I was a boy,’ he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

Such a different response from Jesus and these men.  Zacchaeus, the chief of sinners, gladly gave all that he had from his encounter with Jesus.  Zacchaeus gladly gave up his wealth for the true life from Jesus.  The rich young ruler, although considered pious, still lacked in that he clung to the temporary riches.

One clung to the eternal and the other the temporary.

Jesus exclaimed salvation to Zacchaeus but not the rich young ruler.  The chief of sinners received salvation and rejoiced while the pious ruler left sad.


Are we clinging to the eternal or the temporary?  

What is our response to the presence of Jesus?  

Are we encountering a teacher or our Lord?

Identity: Determining the Relationship

I went to a smallish bible college for my college education.  And I’m not sure about most colleges but at my school relationships and dating were weird.  Our campus and student body was so small that no matter what you did everyone was watching and noticing.

There was a phenomenon in college called “DTRing”  DTR stood for “Determining the Relationship.”  A DTR happened when two members of the opposite sex had been hanging out a lot and on one side or the other questions of where this newfound friendship were going arose.  A DTR conversation could be identified by the following:

  1. A male and female were sitting alone at a bench or table.
  2. Normally there was an abnormal amount of space between the two.
  3. At least one of the individuals looked extremely uncomfortable.
  4. Both were serious.

A DTR conversation could happen because friends were questioning the friendship or due to a desire from one participant to be more than friends.  A DTR was meant to determine what their relationship was: dating or friendship.

I wish I could say that I never had a DTR but unfortunately I participated in a few too many of these.  And while the concept is mildly amusing to think back upon I can’t help but think that when we are talking about our identity as image bearers of God, that we are made for relationship with God and others, that we must Determine what our Relationship with the World will be.

Let’s take a look at what I’m talking about.

If we are made in the image of God we have to understand who God is.

God is love. – 1 John 4:8 “he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.

When I say love what do you think about?

This love that speaks of God’s love is the Greek word “Agape.”  This love…

..is considered a benevolent love which means that this love that is God’s very identity is a love that gives the recipient (you and I)
something we can’t receive, make, find, earn on our own.

..sees something infinitely precious in the recipient – not because of something
they have done or not done but just because of who they are.

..is not shown by doing what the recipient desires (wants) but instead
what the one who loves deems as needed by the recipient,
even knowing this may lead to rejection.

God’s love for man is His doing what He knows to be best for man, not what man desires, because He sees us as infinitely precious to Him.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you look at Jesus, Jesus was not the Messiah, the Savior they wanted but He was the Messiah, Savior they needed.

God loved mankind enough to give us what we needed (and still need) knowing that mankind could continue to reject Him.

God’s love for us is not motivated or manipulated by our rejection or disobedience.

Romans 8:39 “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We, as humans, cannot show this type of love to God or others without first receiving God’s love – it is only God, in His Holiness, who has such an unselfish love because this love is rooted firmly in the personal character of God. God’s love is a part of his personality and cannot be swayed by passion or diverted by disobedience.

God’s love isn’t based on how we make him feel – it is willful. He chose to love us and He continues to carry that love out.  

If we are made in the image of God, and love is a part of His personality/His very identity – then doesn’t that mean that we are made in the very image of love?  It is out of His identity of love that our identity and purpose are redeemed. Jesus redeemed our identity and redeemed our purpose of relationship with God and others.

And so, we must determine what our relationship with the World should be. Our Relationship with the World must be one of love – God’s love.  A love that…

..gives what people need not what they want.

…is willing to be rejected to truly love.

..is based on seeing those we love as infinitely precious and
deserving of God’s truth, God’s life.

 ..is not based on our feelings but based on willful purpose.

What the World desires is to be accepted just as they are. To be accepted in their brokenness and chaos.  They know nothing except brokenness.  Their true desire is love, God’s love, but they don’t have even a basis to know what that is.

Eph 5:1-2 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Luke 6:27-28 “But to you who are listening to say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Are we willing for the World to dislike us if it means they will experience God?

Are we willing to be rejected to truly love others?

Will we resolve to love and not tolerate, no matter what it takes?

 

Identity: Purity

I’ve already shared with you that identity has been something that I’ve struggled with as I felt I had to earn or work towards what I thought my identity was.  Purity was an area that I never felt I had “achieved.”  It wasn’t that I had really made any choices that lead me to thinking I wasn’t “pure” but I never felt good enough.  Let me give you a bit more context…

My name is Kaitlin.  If you’ve ready my post καθαρός then this will all sound familiar but forgive me from indulging for a moment.  My name Kaitlin is derived from the Greek word Kathros.  This word can be found in Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see the Lord.”  The word pure in this passage is that Greek word, Kathros.  So you see, my very name speak the identity of purity but I felt as though it was something that I would attain after years of striving, after years of doing what I was supposed to.  I needed to discipline myself in the things of the Lord, get rid of all my sin, and then I would be pure of heart so I could see God.

You see, I thought that my identity and thus my purity was based on me doing instead of me being.

But, purity is so much more than what we often talk about.  Purity is more than saving sex for marriage.  Purity is more than learning to not go too far.  Purity in its simplest form is about relationship, but not the type we typically think about.  Purity is about our relationship with God.

Purity is a lifestyle of wholehearted devotion to God. 

As I began to share earlier… For my whole life I have held onto the verse Matthew 5:8

Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see the Lord.”

… I held onto the idea that this was who I was destined to be.  My identity was to be pure of heart for then and only then would I receive what my heart desired, to see the Lord.  I have always looked at this verse as something to be attained, that if I try hard enough, if I keep myself pure, if I do all that I should be doing, then and only then could this verse truly be my identity.  But in the last few years God has spoken to me something that changed the way I see my name and myself.

He spoke to me truth.  “Purity of heart” is not something to be attained in the future but instead is the identity that God has already given to me.  God sees me as pure of heart, it is not something I must “make happen” but instead, in my passionate love of Him, it is found.

The phrase pure in heart means having a singleness of heart toward God. A pure heart has no hypocrisy, no guile, no hidden motives. The pure heart is marked by transparency and an uncompromising desire to please God in all things. It is more than an external purity of behavior; it is an internal purity of soul.

Purity is much more than what we can/should do or not do. Purity is a journey that must originate inward and flow outward.  Purity isn’t just about what we have, should, haven’t, shouldn’t do but instead purity is focusing completely our whole attention, in every area of our life on God.

In scripture there is a man who God calls “a man after His own heart.” Do you know who this is?  It is King David.  David: Sought God, Knew God, Meditated on His Word

This type of life starts from the inside.  Inner purity, the condition of our heart, is most important to God.True purity isn’t something we can do on our own.  True purity only comes from Jesus repairing our broken hearts and replacing them entirely.

Titus 3:5 “Jesus saved us, not because of righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”

Even King David though, the man who was after God’s own heart, screwed up.  He slept with a married woman, killed her husband and then married her.  But even in the face of his sin God still saw King David as pure of heart.  God saw the inward part of him…

Psalm 51:10, David cries out to the Lord, “Create in me a pure heart and renew a right spirit within me.”

The question isn’t if we will screw up, but instead what will we do when we do?

Purity in our lives doesn’t mean that we don’t screw up, but that we always rely on, have eyes on, turn back to God when we do screw up.

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we allow God to replace our heart and cleanse us, then he begins to permeate through our whole life.  Is the cry of our heart the same as David’s?  Create in me a pure heart?  Renew the Spirit, will, desires within me?

Growing up my dad used to talk about our lives as though they were a glass house.  He would ask us to invite Jesus into this house and begin to show Him around.  As we showed Him each of the rooms His light would permeate and shine through the whole house.  We had to decide when we came to a room with our sin and garbage if we would allow Him to clean that room so that His light could shine.  This is true purity – allowing God to shine his light through our whole life.

1 Peter 1:22 “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

The goal of purity is action – to love God, others and ourselves well.  Purity before God happens when everything we do becomes an act of worship.  Purity is our identity, not because of what we do, have done, don’t do or haven’t done.   Purity is our identity because we are an image bearer of Him. 

God redeems us as His image bearer, when we rely on Him to redeem us, to make us clean – when we turn our hearts fully towards Him and worship Him in all we do, then HE changes our thoughts, feelings, actions and makes us pure.

Will we allow God to redeem our identity?  Will we decide to pursue Him with everything we are and allow Him to bring about purity from our inside out?

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑