Oh…to Live a Crucified Life…A Brave Life…

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Galatians 2:20 (NIV) 20  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

THE STORY, by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee…a chronological reading of the Bible that truly keeps you reading! Of course, reading God’s Word allows the Holy Spirit to do His work in your life, which then brings joyful (sometimes convicting) understanding and eyes that continually open…resulting in a true and continuous heart change!

So thankful my big brother mentioned this book (Bible) to me!

The authors write about Roman crucifixion; “The victim’s groaning became a morning’s entertainment for onlookers. Seeing the horrors of crucifixion was an effective deterrent for wrong-doers. For Jesus, this heinous death was undeserved. As he gave his life, he looked beyond it to God’s bigger story of salvation that was being played out through his life and death.”

Oh the “other truth” that came like a laser searing my heart. Think with me, here. Isn’t that what God has called us to do?

He has truly called us to live our lives with His sacrificial love. In other words, He has actually called us to give our lives to love in a way that can only come from Jesus. Not an out-of-balance superficial way, because He wasn’t (isn’t) superficial. But in a balanced way that can only come from Him. His way is not a way that excuses sin with all of today’s catch phrases and lackadaisical approach toward it.

We are not to be tolerant or easy on sin. We aren’t meant to make those in our sphere comfortable with actions or a lifestyle that breaks the heart of God and eventually leaves them empty and wondering, “Is that all there is?”

True, we aren’t supposed to hate the sinner or get up in his/her face in ways that lack love. But how often we forget to speak the truth in love…because we are afraid and because we aren’t truly walking closely to our God moment by moment. We are to speak out…we are to hate the sin, just as we hate cancer and what it does to the people who have it.

Sin is loving something more than God and His ways. It is a cancer that kills the hearts and lives of the sinner and…breaks the hearts of those who love them and stand helplessly by!

Oh God…may we be brave about walking out our faith through love…may we boldly speak the truth in love. May we be faithful to pray. May we always remember that prayer is truly participating in the battle for the hearts and lives of those we love who simply cannot see to fight. May we…

Look beyond the pain that bravery may cause us, to God’s bigger story of salvation that is intended to be brought about through our own lives. Let’s pray for death to timidity, self-protection and fear. Ask God to give you a true distaste for time spent on the things that take you away from essential time with God. Remember, anything more important to us than developing our relationship with Him is…idolatry. Any idolatry will separate us from that brave life…that crucified life.

That life is…the life that brings us purpose and joy. The one that makes a difference now and for generations to come!

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God is Not Overriding Free Will But…Using Choices to Open Blind Eyes..!


Acts 3:15-19 (NIV) 15  You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16  By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.

17  “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18  But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer.   19  Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,


God is Not Overriding Free Will But…Using Choices to Open Blind Eyes..!

Do you see it?

Verse 17 says, “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.”

He is basically saying, “There is mercy and grace available for you…because your sins…your awful sins were from ignorance. You just…didn’t realize.”

He goes further; “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…”

Do you see it? Those sins were terrible. They “killed the author of life”. Yet…Christ knew it was out of ignorance and He offered mercy, grace and love…redemption.

When we look at the one(s) who have hurt us the most or who are living out sins that seem to us like “the worst of the worst”…we consider them rebellion. No ignorance here. Purposeful rebellion. “He or she knows right from wrong!”

But do you see it? On some level, every one of us sins with a certain amount of ignorance, no matter how well we were taught the difference between right and wrong…the truth of sin. Yes, we (or our loved ones) make deliberate, rebellious choices. But mixed in there, is ignorance. We have blinded ourselves through our own wrong thinking and choices and…the enemy of our soul has given us the wrong picture…fed us the lie.

Out of that mix comes a level of ignorance. Ignorant choices. One that leads to another until it can become our way of life.

Many of these people who crucified Christ knew the Old Testament prophecies of His coming, His crucifixion and resurrection. Yet…they chose ignorance of one type or another. Either they wanted to hang on to their financial or social status, or they didn’t want to take the chance of persecution by family or society. Maybe they listened to friends and family rather than to the voice of God. Who knows? But there was ignorance.

Let’s face it, sin comes out of some measure of ignorance/blindness, self-imposed or not. Wise people who have truthfully thought through and faced the consequences of sin…are not going to choose to carry it through and ultimately allow it to become “a life”.

It is important that we remember, as Christ does, that within the rebellion, there is some blindness…some ignorance. If we don’t, we will be less likely to believe that God will open our loved-one’s eyes. In our hearts, we might condemn them as hopeless. After all, they are making intentional choices…why would they ever change? Our faith and hope grow dim…right along with our mercy. In our hearts, we are close to giving up.

But when we remember that there is some level of ignorance/blindness…we are absolutely going to have more mercy, more hope…more faith.

It will dawn on us…after all…

God is not overriding rebellious free will. He is…opening blind eyes!





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Who Is Binding You With Ropes…?

Final Watermark

Psalm 119:61-64 (NIV) 61  Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law. 62  At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws. 63  I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts. 64  The earth is filled with your love, O LORD; teach me your decrees.

Who is Binding You With Ropes…

Do you have some wicked people who bind you with ropes?

I think we all do.

Not the physical kind, of course. Maybe they aren’t as much “wicked” as they are selfish. But let’s be honest. Selfishness can be pretty wicked. It can be excruciatingly painful. Sin is wicked. Selfishness is wicked. So lets just use that word.

Who is your wicked person?

Or…are you that wicked person? Do you lash out in the moment when you feel inconvenienced? Do you hurt others repeatedly by justifying your behavior? Do you lie to yourself and to them in order not to take responsibility for your own actions?


If you have a wicked person who is binding you with ropes…are you taking on the discipline of remembering God’s word…His comfort…His faithfulness? Or are you defaulting to despair repeatedly throughout your day. We are going to despair! We are going to hurt!

But…at midnight, when you and I are awake being tortured, being bound by that person’s hurtful and wicked ways…we must practice grabbing onto thoughts of God’s faithfulness. Let’s keep something encouraging on our nightstand where we can easily look at it when we are in so much pain that we can’t remember anything about His faithfulness.

Perhaps this little passage will be one of the ones you place near your bed, in your car or on your bathroom mirror. Remember…during those midnights, “rise” (in your spirit if not in your body) to give Him thanks for His righteousness and for the fact that any (every) blessing here on this earth is a gift from Him.

That person who is causing you such pain is but one of the people in your life. He or she can certainly cover you in such pain that it is hard to see or feel the other amazing gifts God has given you. We must be intentional.

At those midnight times and then again at 10 am, 1 pm, 5 pm, and 9pm…whatever times the painful things hit, we must intentionally rise and give thanks and go over the wondrous protection of His law. In other words, give thanks for Him…for who He is and for His faithful gifts of love that surround you.

That flower you planted that actually grew. The surprising hug your little one or your spouse gave you this morning. They way you laughed so hard with your closest friend (or even a new acquaintance) this morning, when you weren’t expecting to laugh at all. The simple kindness someone showed you when you dropped your wallet from your too-full hands and she quickly picked it up, met your eyes with understanding and gave you a warm smile.

As you lay your head on the pillow, if you feel you have nothing sweet to rehearse…ask God to help you remember.

Keep giving the person who binds you to God. Each time something new and hurtful comes up, ask Him how (if) you should respond. Then…respond in the way His peace leads you.

All of this takes intentionality, practice and often, a good amount of time (sigh) but remember…

His peace is on the way!

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Stooping…a Beautiful, Powerful Thing…!

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Stooping…a Beautiful, Powerful Thing…!

The Jewish leaders and Pharisees brought a woman caught in the act of adultery and quoted Scripture to prove their point and catch Jesus in the act of breaking the law of Moses. “Moses’ law says to kill her. What about it?”

Knowing they were trying to trap Him, he stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. So often we want to know what He wrote in the dirt. As I read it today, I thought… “What a distraction to focus on what He might have written.”

Instead, maybe we should think about this:

Don’t you suppose their lack of mercy toward the woman made Jesus angry as did their false accusations toward Him? He was fully God and fully man. Surely His anger was rising. You know the feeling…that fire of indignation that starts in your belly and rises up toward your tongue!

But Jesus stooped. He didn’t fight back…He stooped. When someone you care about comes to you and speaks harshly toward or about you…do you fight back, or do you stoop?

Gosh, I wish we could see it. So often, we use the same angry tools the person who is treating us poorly uses. They aren’t spiritual tools. They are foolish and futile earthly tools not meant to fight the spiritual battle we are really fighting. Ephesians 6:10-12 (Below)

But Jesus…Jesus stooped. Do you think maybe He was lowering Himself out of the line of fire, so they wouldn’t get more angry and defensive because of the righteous indignation they saw in His face? Do you think perhaps by lowering himself, avoiding eye contact, and distracting the conversation, He could have been providing them an opportunity to walk away rather than hanging on to their pride and staying, simply to avoid being the first to back down?

How many times do we show that kind of wisdom, restraint and mercy, especially when we are right and the one accusing us is oh, so wrong?

We sometimes behave like a bratty little kid whose Dad is restraining him by holding his long arm against his son’s chest. The child is punching and kicking furiously but gathering only air. Nothing he does is effective. He is so prideful and angry that he just…doesn’t see it!

How quickly we forget that it isn’t about being right or even winning the fight! It is about the redemptive work of God in the person who is fighting us and…the redemptive work of God in us.

Jesus humbled Himself so often when He could have called an army of angels or simply stared at those around Him and melted them to the ground. But…he knew that restraint and love provided the best opportunity for their redemption and now…ours.

Isn’t that what we are supposed to do for the people in our sphere?

Oh…if we could only see it…remember it in the heat of the moment and then…

Stoop…pray…and wait!

 John 8:7-11 (TLB) 7  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, hurl the stones at her until she dies. But only he who never sinned may throw the first!” 8  Then he stooped down again and wrote some more in the dust. 9  And the Jewish leaders slipped away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until only Jesus was left in front of the crowd with the woman. 10  Then Jesus stood up again and said to her, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” 11  “No, sir,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT) 10  A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11  Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.


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Mischief…Little Happenings…Self-Imposed Blindness…Amazing, Loving God…

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God used prophets, priests and judges to lead the people of Israel. There was a particular kind of closeness to God that meant visions and miracles and triumphant victories. Yet…they were a stubborn and stiff-necked people. Like with us…some things started with a little mischief. But once you start…things often get complex…even out of hand.

Despite God’s faithfulness, love and amazing direction, they would repeatedly get sidetracked, worshipping and serving other Gods. Oh the sins that followed!

Despite God’s faithful leading, the Israelites wanted to be like other nations so they asked to have a king to lead them. Samuel was the prophet, priest and judge during this season. Despite his warnings about the kind of taxation and oppression it would ultimately mean…they were relentless in their demands for a king.

Obviously, it hurt Samuel to feel he was being rejected/replaced. God said, “Samuel…they aren’t rejecting you…they are rejecting me. Let them have what they ask.”

Prior to Saul becoming king, there is this seemingly random little story tucked in God’s word. It tells how Saul’s dad’s donkeys got loose. Saul and his servant were sent to find them. They went from place to place, endlessly searching for these stubborn, wayward donkeys. Saul was about to turn around and go home but his servant mentioned how there was a man of God (Samuel) nearby and, “Everything he says comes true. Maybe he can tell us where the donkeys are.”

Then…wonder of wonders, despite their random wandering, they “coincidentally” ran into Samuel.

Seriously? They had been searching everywhere for these foolish donkeys and they “just happened to” run into Samuel? This was the man who would pick Israel’s first king. God’s plan was for Saul to be that king! Can anyone deny that these very daily events and yes…this crazy donkey-search was orchestrated so the people of Israel could have Saul as their king?

Small events add up to the life God intends. Sadly, this was something God did not want for them. This was something they chose because of ego and sin and a desire to be like their godless neighbor nations.

Yet…God picked a king for them.

Why? Because, as always, He was on a mission to provide what the people needed in order to ultimately be drawn to Him. There was a lot of pain attached to choosing the leadership of a king, rather than the leadership of God. Rebellion always means pain. Rebellion is blindness by choice. To rebel is to choose not to see and hear what God is saying. It doesn’t start with total rebellion. It starts with the little things.

God understands us though. He knows that to force us would mean an unrepentant, unchanged heart. He knows that eventual desperation will give us the best opportunity and desire to call out to Him. God formed us and knows our psyche and knows what it takes to drive us out of our self-imposed blindness. It is still our choice, of course. But He is ever working to open our eyes through our disquieting circumstances, the prayers of others and the power of His convicting Holy Spirit.

He has a custom-made plan for you and me so that we can live out the custom-made life He has designed for our peace, joy and purpose and… the glory of His name…

2 Timothy 3:12-17 (NIV)
12  In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
13  while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
14  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,
15  and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
16  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

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Be the Light…Discover Purpose & Joy…

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Be the Light…Discover Purpose & Joy…

During the darker times of your life or just…times when you realize your heart isn’t where it should be toward people or ministry…don’t beat yourself up. Jesus isn’t.

But…He does expect you to come to Him and work through it. He wants you to come to Him a hundred times a day, if you need to!

When I say, “Work through it.” I am not talking about it taking an hour or a day or even a week.

We have things. All of us have things. We have backgrounds and God-given personalities that make it feel impossible to do certain things God is asking us to do. How can that make sense? Perhaps He has given you a more introverted personality and you need/want to be alone. Yet…He asks you to be “the light of the world”. No…He tells you that you are the light of the world!

He also tells you that He will equip you to do what He asks us to do. Would you give your daughter a crayon that is the wrong size for her tiny fingers and dexterity and then ask her to draw a fairly advanced picture? Would you tell her she can’t leave the table until she does? Would you openly criticize her and slap her hands when she dropped the crayon repeatedly?

Gosh…brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

Our God loves us with such a perfect love that He came to earth and lived as a man and then…this Holy, sinless God took on Himself all of the unbearable ugliness/wickedness of our sin. He took our place so that we could live in relationship with Him forever.

Remember, He put Adam and Eve in a garden… the most satisfying place for the soul of man. He walked and talked with them…laughed with them and marveled with them.

That is the life He intended for us…the life He wanted for us.

He is the perfect parent. He wouldn’t create you with a particular personality and then beat you up for not having a different one! He wants you to lean into Him in order to find the strength to do the things He is asking you to do. He wants you to lean into Him when you have just done something that wore you to a frazzle. You only did it because you knew He wanted you to reach out in this particular way.

Slowly…through each small obedience…we learn to depend on Him and take the hard steps rather than excusing our own inaction. Our faith grows. Our joy grows. Our sense of accomplishment and sense of purpose grows.

Or…we can withdraw and declare our personalities are not fit to do what He asks. We can bemoan that we weren’t created differently and we can waste the faith-enhancing, joy-giving opportunities He has created for us.

Your choice…my choice…

Withdraw and excuse or…

Be the light and in the bargain discover joy, satisfaction and purpose through The Light!

John 8:12 (NIV) 12  When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”


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polar bear


Jesus healed a blind man, but the man was uncertain as to who, exactly, Jesus was. The Jewish leaders had, however, thrown the formerly blind man out for defending Jesus as not being the evil person they were accusing him of being.

After all, Jesus had healed him! He was open to knowing the truth about Jesus, he just wasn’t sure what that was.

John 9:35-41 (NIV) 35  Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36  “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” 37  Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” 38  Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.


Some of the Pharisees…religious leaders who were paying more attention to their own interests than to the truth of God were seemingly offended by Jesus saying, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40  Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41  Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

 The difference between the Pharisees and the once-blind man was that they had seen Jesus, they had heard the truth…but they were stubbornly sticking to their own prideful version of how to interpret that truth. Some traditions were too hard to give up. Some of them were holding tight to financial gain and social prestige.

Jesus was asking them to truly open their eyes…to hear and then to humble themselves and turn away from their own stubbornness and pride. He was asking them to see.

For some…it was just too much. They were willing to do anything to hold on to their own self-serving view of life, including refusing sight.

They didn’t want to sacrifice their own stubborn thought processes. They didn’t want to release their own pride or their current position. They weren’t only refusing Jesus and the peace and life He was offering. They were separating themselves from the most important and meaningful relationships they would ever have, in order to stay in their old, tired, empty ways.

They had the opportunity to see…to truly see! But they chose blindness.

Some things…never change.

And yet…

Ephesians 1:18-19 (NIV) 18  I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,



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