The One With Nail Scarred Hands

Sometimes in my time with the Lord (whether that’s in the Word, prayer or worship) I imagine myself sitting next to Jesus. Before anyone gets all, “idolatry!” on me, I don’t see His face. I know I’m sitting next to Jesus, the God-man, and always envision a human formed body with no face. I picture what everyone pictures I suppose: a white robe.

During this time with Jesus, I talk to him. I sit at His feet. And sometimes I lay on the floor like a terrible two and beg the Lord to just let me have my way (Sidenote: have you not caught on yet to how “mature” I am?). In those early morning moments of curling up on the couch with Jesus, reading His word and drinking my coffee I miss one thing: His hands.

I heard a sermon this weekend that showed a few clips from the Passion. I think I almost forgot what that was for Him, for us. I forgot that although death did not win, He did suffer the crushing weight of sin on our behalf so that we wouldn’t have to pay the price of sin.

I kept thinking yesterday, “God, why do I feel like you don’t understand the trials of this life?” And then I thought of all those times hanging out with Jesus. What did I picture his hands to look like? Were they pristine as though no life had actually ever lived in them? Hands that never went to the cross? Or were they the hands of God himself who took on flesh, worked years as a carpenter, had those calloused and strong hands nailed to a cross for the redemption of the world? Am I picturing the hands of the only One who will ever be my hope and my portion?

I realized that I plead my case before Christ as if He has no idea as to what’s going on in my world. I forget the hands that were pierced for my transgressions. I forget that my life isn’t about me. It’s not for me. It’s for Him and always will be about Him. Letting go of that is scary, but so very freeing. I make a crummy god.

When Jesus calls us to take pick up our cross and follow Him, He knows it’s going to be hard. But Jesus, being worthy of trust and obedience, reaches out His nail-scarred hands and bids me to come. So I come.

Advertisements

Obedience And The Love Of God

Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, is a beast when it comes to handling the Word. I have never listened to a sermon by him and thought, “Yeah, God didn’t use that for my sanctification.” This sermon was no different.

This morning I needed to breakaway and spend some good, long quality time with Jesus. I have been struggling with surrendering something to the Lord (maybe I’ll blog specifically about that in about a month). I felt the Lord pushing and I was like, “Yeah, I’ll be open to that God in about two years.” My prayers looked like this, “I see that you’re trying to show me something here. I am going to look at it and acknowledge it before you. I’m not going to fully give it to you, but I’m not going to take it either.” Talk about an elephant in the room…

I was convicted (a few times this week) while talking to friends who said, “Yeah, what you’re doing is not actually praying.” Or another friend who straight out said, “You’re like Jonah running from God.” Ouch. I needed it, but whew!

I went through my podcasts this morning to just break away with the Lord alone and was skimming through my Église Nouvelle Vie, Desiring God and The Village Church messages. I went to the bottom and saw, “Motivations for Obedience.” Perfect.

I think this sermon is so worth listening to especially for those of us who on our default have a hard time trusting that the Lord’s will and leading is always meant for His glory and our joy. This past week I’ve been convicted that when I’m not 100% surrendering everything to Christ I’m essentially saying He can’t be trusted. I look at the unknown with dread rather than excitement that my heavenly father wants to go on an adventure. And He is so good!

This message helped my perspective in regards to the struggle for my will be done, my view of the Lord, and was a fresh reminder that the word of God is refreshing to our souls and leads us to the abundant life.

The Pursuit of God {Top Ten Quotes}

I just finished reading a really great book called The Pursuit of God by AW Tozer. There are very few Christian authors {Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards are two} that capture the beauty, awe and majesty of the Lord in a way like Tozer does. I love visionary authors whose passion for Christ seep from every word and iota on the page. It is impossible to read books like these and not be changed. I absolutely loved the way this book ministered to my soul! It took me two months to finish 119 pages. Every page contained such deep, theological truth that really made me pause and pray. I had to pray about if I truly believed those things, not just doctrinally but in the deepest levels of my heart. It was such a great read. I highly suggest you reading it. It will help give you a new perspective on Christ, the omnipresence of God and experiencing God. 

Here’s my top ten favorite quotes from The Pursuit of God:

  1. “The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition. That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the Kingdom of God. It is, however, not an end but an inception, for now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart’s happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead.”
  2. “If we refuse one step, we bring our progress to an end.”
  3. “Whoever defends himself will have himself for his defense, and he will have no other. But let him come defenseless before the Lord and he will have for his defender no less than God Himself.”
  4. “The whole work of God in redemption is to undo the tragic effects of that foul revolt, and to bring us back again into right and eternal relationship with Himself. This requires that our sins be disposed of satisfactorily, that a full reconciliation be effected and the way opened for us to return again into conscious communion with God and to live again in the Presence as before. Then by His prevenient working within us He moves us to return. The first comes to our notice when our restless hearts feel a yearning for the Presence of God and we say within ourselves, ‘I will arise and go to my Father.’ That is the first step…”
  5. “Ignoble contentment takes the place of burning zeal.” p.35
  6. “But the highest love of God is not intellectual, it is spiritual. God is spirit and only the spirit of a man can know Him really. In the deep spirit of a man the fire must glow or his love is not the true love of God. The great of the kingdom have been those who loved God more than others did. We all know who they have been and gladly pay tribute to the depth and sincerity of their devotion. We have but to pause for a moment and their names come trooping past us, smelling of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of ivory palaces.”
  7. “God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature, mysterious and deep as that nature is.” p.39
  8. “Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life, hoping ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and trust. We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life, and then reckon it crucified… We must insist upon the work being gone. We dare not rest content with a neat doctrine of self-crucifixtion.. The cross is rough and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep it’s victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the presence of the living God.” p.44
  9. “What does the divine immanence mean in direct Christian experience? It means simply that God is here. Wherever we are, God is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not. Ten million intelligences standing at as many points in space and and separated by incomprehensible distances can each one say with equal truth, God is here. No point is nearer to God than any other point.” p.56
  10. “…faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.” p.81

Milestone :)

Well, I thought I’d give you a little update. As of today, I’m at 41% of my support raised. 🙂 So exciting! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to those who have financially invested, prayerfully invested, and invested in this ministry in numerous other ways. I know I’ve said thank you, but words cannot express the gratitude I have. I can’t wait to share with you how your sacrifice and investment will change peoples lives and make such a major impact on the Kingdom of God. Continue to be praying that I’m completely done with my support by August 1st.

God is so great and worthy of our praise. I can’t imagine what I’d do without the hope I have in Christ. Thank you for partnering with this ministry to share Christ with a nation that doesn’t have any clue about God’s love for them! The Lord is God and is good. Praising Him tonight for His provision, faithfulness, and His desire to draw the Senegalese closer to Him!

College Graduate

I am now DONE with school!! YAY! I am no longer a college kid. I know most people say this but I feel so accomplished. From the beginning I’ve been thinking school wasn’t for me. But I persevered and finished! Thanks mom for making me stay in school for 5 years plus summer school.

Now: I’m an a full time intern with Cru. That’s a total big girl step! I’m support raising right now and it’s been amazing. I really need balance in my life and am learning it through support raising. I’m so excited to be doing ministry this summer while establishing ministry partners. But really my heart is so excited to love on these people and to introduce them to Jesus. I can’t wait to be an official big girl living in AFRICA! 🙂

Is this supposed to be really scary? I know what I’m doing for the next 14 months, so I’m not too nervous. My main worries right now are bugs, african food, and not being able to speak French as well as I’d like. In about 3 months of being there I’ll get over all of that stuff. I think towards the end of my  STINT I might get more nervous/freak out about my future. I have no solid plans and have never kept a job longer than 9 months. It’s sink or swim time. I can doggie paddle pretty well. Surely, life can’t be as hard as swimming….

I say that as I go into a part of life that’s been getting really messy. If you could possibly remember me in your prayers that’d be swell. I’m being tested on loving people unconditionally. I am letting my hurt feelings get in the way of my relationship with the Lord and others. I have let that fester into bitterness and it’s ugly. Instead of using this opportunity to continue to pursue relationships and show Christ’s love, I have chosen to back away emotionally, physically and spiritually from some people who have really hurt my feelings. It’s not healthy for me nor the body as a whole to ignore the healing the Lord wants to bring; it certainly isn’t honoring to the Lord. Christ came for reconciliation and that’s what we’re called to do as well.

I want to love well regardless of how I feel others are treating me or how I expect to be treated by fellow Christians. Christ first loved me even when I was a jerk and my sins nailed His son to the cross. He still pursued me and loved me. As a Christian, I need to set aside my pride and hurt feelings and just depend on the Lord in this situation. I’m wanting to sit in my cubicle and just ignore the issue, but I can’t. I know I can’t. So, just be praying that I am open to the Lord working on my heart and that I am yielding to His hand daily. Pray for genuine restoration. Just be praying.

Thanks readers.

Mary

Christ’s Righteousness

Dearest Readers,
This verse has been on my heart lately. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about people relying on their own righteousness (I do this too). We put so much value and worth on our own goodness when apart from Christ, there is no good in us. It is not my righteousness that will one day get me into heaven. It isn’t about me. It’s what Christ did on the cross for me and you. It’s all about Christ and His righteousness.

I hope you enjoy these verses.
Love you!
Mary

Phillipians 3:8-14
Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[d] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

Esther

One more quick post today! I’m going through one Psalm and one chapter of another book during my quiet time with God. I’m currently going through the book of Esther. Today, I’m on chapter four. Here’s a link where you can read the entire book if you’d like.

In chapter four, Mordecai finds out that Haman is going to give a ton of money to the king’s treasury if the king issues a decree that all the Jews be killed. The king agrees and all the provinces are told to destroy the Jews in the kingdom. Mordecai finds out Haman’s plans and is talking to Esther (via a eunich) about how she (as queen) has to do something to spare her people. She pretty much tells him she can’t do anything about it. In order for her to go before the king (her husband), he has to summon her. If anyone enters his court without permission, they’d be killed. In verse 13, he basically challenges her to intervene on behalf of her people. What blew my mind was where Mordecai says in verse 14,

“…And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Not only does he challenge her to act on his behalf, but he also tells her to question whether or not this was the reason God made her the queen. Imagine what had happened if he hadn’t challenged her to think about what God was doing through her and where He had her. Scary, huh?

I, like Esther, question if I can make a difference. Granted, I’m probably not going to be killed for standing up for Christ, I still question my ability to impact people’s lives. I think that I’m not smart enough, motivated enough, pretty enough, likable enough, or whatever to make a difference in the kingdom. I think what Mordecai had to say to Esther is so awesome. He’s hinting to her that she might have been put into the kingdom just for this purpose! He’s telling her, “Esther, open your beautiful eyes! Look around you. Where are you? WHO are you? And most importantly, who is your God?” I need people like that in my life to remind me of God’s sovereign providence. He knows what He’s doing. He has us where He wants us and where He can best use us.

I think we forget that we play an important role in God’s story. We each have our own Esther story. God has amazing plans for us. We may lead people to Christ, show people Christ’s love, lead people into worship, preach the gospel, heal people, serve people, etc. Whatever it is, God uses us.

This summer I learned a few questions that I should ask God daily:
1. What do you want me to do here?
2. Who do you want me to talk to today?
3. What are you trying to say to me?

I forget to ask these questions. Instead of keeping one eye on God and one eye on where He has me, I tend to either have my eyes closed or I’m distracted by something that is unimportant. This passage really has awakened me to stay more focused on what He’s doing. I’m fully confident He has me where He wants me. He can and will use me here. Awesome! 🙂 Whoever you are, God has plans to use you too. Be encouraged!

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (New International Version)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Mary