Tuesday, February 5, 2013

'Breaking Free' Break


While I'm studying along with a group of other wonderful ladies Beth Moore's book, "Breaking Free" I wanted to share a blog site that you can follow along with us!  We are only up to Chapter 5 this week and God is already rockin my socks off!  I'd love for you to join us...follow the discussion here:


If you decide to join us online, leave a comment here so that I can be praying for your journey towards freedom in Christ!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Why 'Breaking Free?'

Galatians 5:1
"For freedom Christ has set us free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."

Beginning January 23rd at 7pm I will be leading a new learning group through this book, "Breaking Free:Discover the Victory of Total Surrender" by Beth Moore at Bridgepoint Church-Palm Harbor.  

This book has been on my bookshelf for a LONG time, maybe 5+ years!  I've read the Preface and first chapter at least a dozen times.  But for some reason, as He usually does, God did NOT engage me in these pages on those occasions.  A few weeks ago, however, it was as if He flung the book off my shelf and whacked me upside the head with it saying, 'Now, it's time for this!'  I'm ready...I think :)

If I had to sum up or put together a 'theme' for my heart and the work God has been doing in it over the past few years--it'd most definitely be FREEDOM.  Freedom from approval, freedom from expectations.  Freedom from my own selfishness, imperfections and securities.  Freedom from myself to freedom IN Christ.  Alone.  His perfection for my failure.  His acceptance for my rejection. His successes for my inabilities and shortcomings.  His perfect love in place of my endless ego, vanity, worry and unbelief.  We were never meant to 'do' this life by our own means-in our own efforts-by our own will and desires.  Because on our own, in our own merit-we're hopeless, helpless.  Most of us don't want to admit that kind of posture, but it's truth.  We were made for God, by God, to be a part of His Story of sweet rescue and redemption as HE rescues and redeems us-His beloved children.  This has always been HIS story, He's always been the Hero, the main character..not me.  Just the acknowledgement of this has brought my heart tremendous freedom and hope--joy inexpressible!  

BUT.  There's always a but.

As a follower, believer, lover of Jesus-a Christian-is it possible that I'm NOT walking fully (or even dabbling) in the freedom we have offered us in Christ?  Is it possible for our hearts to be saved, redeemed, rescued and forgiven-yet we still live bound to and subject under our own shortcomings and abilities?  We know in our heads that grace is a gift, yet we spend our days often in attempts to earn God's favor and love.  Is it possible for a Christian to know Christ but not live in His freedom?

I believe the answer is yes.  It's true for me.  I wonder if it's true for you?

This journey through 'Breaking Free' won't be a short one...and I'm not just talking about the 47 chapters inside the cover. I believe with everything in me that this journey will only be the beginning of a much longer adventure-one toward true freedom.  Freedom from a lot of 'things' and freedom in the person of Jesus.  I'm asking God for BIG things during our time together.  I'm asking for nothing short of full and total transformation in Christ...mine and yours!  It might be painful at times.  It might seem impossible.  It might require more than I bargained for, but we can be sure we won't be going this alone.  And we know that victory awaits us as we take each step-hand in hand with the One who has already fought every battle--and won!  

I don't know what you're struggling with today.  I don't know what this road will look like for you.  But I know the One calling us to live in the beautiful light of His freedom and grace.  He finishes what He starts, and He wants to see His children living, breathing and walking daily in freedom!  You won't have to do this alone.  I hope you'll join me on this adventure.  Mark your calendar, buy the book (here) and hold on tight...

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Peace on earth...good will towards men

Peace be with you...and also with you


..and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will be yours..

Peace.  It's a beautiful term we throw around often.  In the 70's, it was an icon.  Today, it's more a state-of-mind.  Do you have it?  Where do you get it?  How does it come?  How can you make it last?

Most of my life I've viewed peace as an emotion or a feeling.  Almost like an overwhelming calmness that saturates every inch of my being, inside and out.  Regardless of situation, circumstance or any external forces...peace is being 'ok' in spite of those.  Right?

Jesus talked about peace often.
"the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives." John14:27

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me" John16:33

"go, in peace" Mark5:34

"live in peace with one another" Mark9:50

Paul, one of the major New Testament authors, greets his readers repeatedly with the phrase, "grace and peace to you in Christ Jesus!"

What does it mean, exactly?  What was Jesus (and Paul) trying to communicate with that word?  Was it merely the absence of affliction, conflict or turmoil?  A warm, fuzzy feeling or emotion?  Maybe, but maybe it's more...

Romans tells us that 'the wages of sin is death.'  That without the sacrificial covering and work that Jesus did for us on the cross and the power held in His resurrection..we are enemies of God.  Enemies.  At war.  Our sin-nature is literally at war with the holiness of God...where there is sin there cannot be peace.  We cannot be friends.  In Him there is no sin, so because He is holy and without sin, He cannot be with it...it would mean He was no longer holy...effectively making Him no longer God.

THIS is what makes the gospel aka 'the good news' of Jesus not just good but GRACE!  Jesus accomplishes for us, what we cannot do on our own.  His payment of our sin (not His own, He led a sin-less life) on the cross and resurrection not only defeats sin and death on our behalf but it allows us to be friends with God.  The battle was won...where there was once war and death, we now have peace..and life!  Picture Israel right now if they were in a time of peace, instead of war.

Jesus told us that He doesn't give us peace like the world gives...the peace He brings isn't a mere emotion or state of being, though it can be those things too.  It's  not just the absence of conflict or affliction, though it can encompass that.  But the peace we have in Jesus is that the war of sin and death is over...defeated...He is victorious!  And in Him, we are too.  No longer enemies of God, but friends, at peace...and even better...adopted, beloved children!

I'm not sure I'll be able to throw the word around as much now that I've seen a bigger picture of just what peace we truly have in Christ!  The next time you pray for peace in someone's life or circumstances...remember that we're praying for the battle of sin to be won in their lives through Jesus, more than a warm fuzzy feeling in their heart...though, sometimes the two go hand in hand :)

Friday, December 14, 2012


My son is 5...well, he'll be 6 very soon.  He is rambunctious, curious, energetic, creative, rambunctious...!  Sometimes I forget that this sweet, kind, very big hearted little boy is just that-a little boy!  Sometimes I expect him to act like a big kid or to remember the 25 times previous (in one day) that I've told him to stop fighting the sofa with his light saber!  But the truth is, he's 5.  Sure he can be a 'selective listener' (a skill I'm pretty sure he's learning from his daddy), and he can be rebellious and defiant.  But 98% of the time, he's just a little boy, who is so enthralled and enchanted by his surroundings and his imagination that he needs to be lovingly lead...carefully reminded who he is and the boundaries of  his world.

I'm not 5 anymore, by a lot of years!  I'm reliable on most days to behave, listen and not entice the couch to a light saber battle.  But I still forget.  I still lose sight of who I am, and the boundaries of my world.  I still need to be lovingly lead, carefully guided and reminded.  It's a task I can't do for myself the way I can for my own son and daughter, while they are young.

Romans 1:3-4 says:
'Concerning the Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord'

Paul needed to remind his fellow believers in Rome just Who this Jesus that they were building their faith upon and church around, was.  He wasn't just a good Rabbi, though He was the best to ever live.  He wasn't just a performer of miraculous signs and wonders, though He revealed the absolute power of God in amazing ways during His life.  He wasn't just a prophet as they had learned of in previous generations.  Jesus is the Messiah!  He's the One the scriptures have been pointing to, revealing and prophesying about!  He is fully man-descended from the line of David, just like scriptures foretold.  He's also fully and powerfully God's own son-shown in His all-powerful defeat and victory over all sin and death itself in His resurrection from the grave!  This Jesus, isn't just good and helpful, He IS life itself, the reason we are here and the rock on which we build our faith, our church, our everything!

I needed this reminder today, just as those in Rome did so many years ago.  I need this reminder everyday as I forget who I am, or should I say whose I am.  This story isn't about me.  But because of who He is, I get to be a part if it.  This isn't about my perfection or successes, but His perfection for me!  I'm sure to forget, but He is faithful to remind.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures," (Romans 1:1, 2 ESV)

I typically glaze over introductory words like these. Even in study, I would expect to find the 'meatier' words found within the middle of books/chapters. But have you ever started to read a book from the middle? Oh sure, most times we can catch up to what the author is saying, who each character is, storyline etc...but if we miss those first introductions, we miss richness and context that enhance and enlighten the words that follow after.  In fact, it might even change the whole story.

If you read much Scripture, the first words in this chapter can seem redundant. Paul is credited with writing many New Testament books. He often begins in this same manner, introducing or reaffirming who he is to the audience of his letter. But this isn't just a generic reminder of his genealogy or an apathetic spring board so he can get to his point. These words contain his very identity, and it's within this identity that the rest of his words, found in many letters written to many new testament churches, find their meaning and authority.

Identity. It's a pretty hot topic in our culture right now. Who am I? Why am I here? These questions have been asked by every living soul since the beginning of time--literally. What Paul is communicating here is that the message he brings to the believers in Rome isn't his own. In fact, he isn't his own. He belongs to Christ (see first post on Romans), has been called to 'go and teach/make students' of Jesus by Christ himself. The message of rescue and freedom he is bringing is a message straight from God-for the glory of God..not from Paul, for the glory of Paul. It is the message of hope that has been told since the fall of man as recorded in earliest of Scriptures. Every word, every person, every law spoken through prophets in the holy scriptures (old testament) has pointed to and proclaimed the coming rescue, redemption and reconciliation for us-to God-in Jesus.

Without this introduction, Paul's identification, the words that follow don't hold water. If Paul was just Paul-a guy trying to make a name for himself, his readers wouldn't have found life and hope in the words that followed.  The rest of the letter wouldn't make much impact. Who we are, reflects in what and how we speak and act and how our lives play out.  Are we the main character or is Christ?

Identity. Who am I? Why am I here? These aren't just cliche words. If I were to examine every facet of my life- Who/what am I identified by? 
What propels how I live and the choices I make every day? 
Am I here to try and make a name for myself or is there more? 
As a follower of Jesus, a student-called by God, am I living to tell others about Him, as an ambassador of His great love and freedom?

This thing called life...it's His story...let's not skip the introductions and miss out on who we are and why we're here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mutually Encouraged

I'm an optimist by nature.  An idealist and encourager.  This doesn't just mean that I see the glass as half full (most days) but that I see it as completely overflowing as God pours abundance never-ending into it!  I believe that He's given me a desire to help others see that same fullness and abundance in Christ in their lives as well.  Not blowing smoke or building ego, but discovering the reality of tangible freedom and life we have in Christ.  But as any encourager can tell you...there are times when we lose our exuberance or run out of steam.  Times where weariness replaces excitement and our thoughts are shadowy instead of seeing and savoring God's marvelous Light.  It's a rough place to be, but often an indicator of need for more regular and consistent 'filling' of those same freedoms and realities in my own life.

I'm getting a bit out of step here, skipping to verse 12 in Ch1 of Romans.  There's still a lot to be had from the first 10 verses, but this one keeps coming back to me:

Romans 1:11-12
1For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—12that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. 

Paul is longing to be with and see the believers in Rome not only to continue to build and strengthen their faith but to encourage his own! What a sweet joy, and never more full than when the gospel of sweet grace is shared!

We often think that the gospel is only a starting point. That we must move on from it in order to grow and mature as believers in Christ. And while Paul speaks often of graduating from spiritual milk to solids, from babies to maturity...it is not without the gospel that this growth can be seen. Indeed, it is its continual revelation, and constant delight of, that mutually encourages followers of Jesus to continue on in our journeys, struggles and triumphs.

My heart is never more full than when I can see and share how the undeserved Love of God is pouring out through the person of Jesus. To be able to watch Him moving, working and transforming lives...redeeming and rescuing His beloved children..there is nothing that makes my joy more complete...my own faith more encouraged!

Are you walking with Him today? Are you returning to the story that started it all? Go there often, and share who He is and what His undescribable grace is doing around you. You can be sure that it will mutually encourage you and those around you!  

Monday, November 5, 2012

A walk through Romans

For a few months, I've been dabbling through the first chapter of the book of Romans.  Yes, I just said FIRST chapter.  Actually, I think I'm about 6-10 verses into Chapter 2 as of today!  What a MEATY book...slightly intimidating to be honest.  But I think it's the power in the words that entice me to dive in!  So, instead of traversing alone, I thought I'd jot a few thoughts down here as I go and maybe you can join me...it's always more rich when we study together :)

I like to read out of the ESV (English Standard Version) but will sometimes refer to the NLT (New Living Translation) for slightly different verbiage.

Paul is the author of the book of Romans.  We discover who he is and see his encounters and missionary activities throughout the book of Acts, just before Romans.  I highly recommend doing your homework on Paul...he's a beautiful example of God's incredible grace and mercy...and desire to use our weaknesses for His good!

Ok, ready to get going??

In my rush to get to the 'good parts' of the story, I've always overlooked the first few verses of Romans-- Paul's introduction or greeting.  What a big mistake!  There is so much richness in how Paul describes himself to his audience in these first 7 verses.  Note to self-not ONE ounce of God's Word is useless!  Savor.every.bit!

Romans, Chapter 1: 1-7
"Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Besides being possibly the longest run-on sentence known in history, it's easy to get lost in these words.  Let's disect it a piece at a time.

Vs1: "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus"
Servant isn't exactly a politically correct term in 2012...hasn't been for decades, thankfully.  But the greek word here 'doulos' translates better as bondservant or slave.  Slave most closely identifies with Paul's intention here.  While we consider ownership of another human being to be horrific (and it is, when the ownership is forced) Paul is letting us know that he no longer belongs to himself.  He has handed over to Jesus, his entire self...rights, possessions, desires...everything.  He wants to convey to his readers in Rome that following Christ isn't just an acknowledgement of Jesus as the Messiah but a complete transfer of one's ownership.

I wonder what owned Paul when he was Saul...before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus? What owns you?  I'm asking myself the same question.  Even as a Christ-follower...have I made the transition (only with the power and help of the Holy Spirit) from being a slave to sin & rebellion--ie: my own way to being like Paul...a slave of Christ Jesus?  He won't take it from me, I have to hand it over to Him...willingly, with gratitude.  Are we there yet?