Pick up Your Cross

Courtesy posting by my boomerang gal and all-time AWESOME sister – I couldn’t have written it better!

IMG_0224Today as I sit drinking my coffee and reflecting today is Good Friday and what that means to me as a Christian, I see the crosses which decorate a wall in our living room. I wonder what a non-Christian thinks when they see those crosses and then I thought about what it should mean to me. It should be a reminder as a Christian that I die daily to myself (my selfish thoughts and wants) to follow a risen Savior who died for my sins. And truthfully, I fail….again and again. I chastise myself, but I press on.

For I’m encouraged to pick up His cross again because I serve a risen Christ who is loving and forgiving. I am an imperfect person following a perfect loving Christ striving to be more like Him.

Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins!

 

Laying it Down

He is the AnswerPraying I can focus the thoughts in my head (running at a ridiculous pace!) to make sense on cyber-paper… please be patient!  So that the real post will make sense, I’ll backfill a bit from the post last month where I put my big girl panties on and shared a medical diagnosis:

Stage IV NeuroEndocrine Breast Cancer

with widespread osseous metastasis…

In other words cancer run amok in the bones.  I haven’t spoken with others – perhaps it’s the same for everyone when they’re first diagnosed…life seems to move at a warp speed whirling around doctors, tests, more tests, medicines, more medicines…chemo and/or radiation. The past few months have been painful, emotional, overwhelming, and odd as it may sound…wonderful! Wonderful to rely on God’s faithfulness, and more wonderful in retrospect to see God consistently in action for His precious children – whether they act like defiant two-year olds… or not!

FAST FORWARD:

March 2015:  This is the meat of this post – sorry for the scenic route, folks!  My family started a bible-study a few weeks ago based on Not a Fan by Kyle Idelman.  I won’t bore you with details of the pitiful rationalization process, but needless to say I’m still on week one of the journaling process… now, if you noticed a trend…yes, hesitancy to write, you are absolutely correct.  Like the quiet riot tendencies I exhibit on a far too frequent basis, I was still resisting God by not completing the journal assignments for the study – after all, the journal is *optional* – sure…every other writer out there knows there’s nothing optional when it comes to the way God speaks to a writer’s spirit…the defiant two-year old…hiding…thinking…”if I don’t write, I’m not vulnerable…if I’m not vulnerable, that rug doesn’t need to be pulled back and swept…right…let me know how that works for you…

It’s not even as if I put my study material out of sight…there are the books…along with my journal, right out in the open…I LOOK AT THEM EVERY DAY! It’s not as if I don’t “have time” – and that’s where I painted myself into a corner… I picked up the book yesterday and guess where the discussion started?

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  – Rev 3:14-16

The verse was easy enough to gloss over UNTIL I read the author’s words: “If you are to be hot, then you must be sufficiently heated.  Every stimulus you allow in your life will heat or cool your love for Jesus.” which were followed by a series of exercises to examine a typical day.  Keep in mind:

  • I’m not working,
  • I’m off chemo right now (recovering from the first two months),
  • Due to physical restrictions, I’m not constantly on the go or spending time on house projects

Looking at my typical day, I was embarrassed and convicted.  The amount of time I dedicated to God dwindled at an astronomical rate.  I praise Him daily and profess His Mighty Goodness and pulling back all at the same time.  But why????? Hello. Circle the mountain again Celeta.  The incredibly painful lesson I haven’t revisited for almost a year came blasting into clarity: I’m still struggling with performance based worthiness.  As I looked over the pages, I kept thinking, “It’s so much easier being a giver and now I’m just a taker” – why yes, I was feeling sorry for myself…but the thoughts are deeply rooted and apparently I didn’t let the Gardner of my Soul clear out all the weeds in my heart – translation? Unbelief.

Ugh…my head knows His truths – the circuitry to my heart is still a little faulty…

And guess what?  That’s okay! God is faithful and persistent because He loves each and every one of us and will consistently meet us EXACTLY where we are – two year old attitudes and all.  We each have a choice EVERY SINGLE MINUTE of EVERY SINGLE DAY: will you choose Him? God will teach me whatever I’m willing to learn from Him.

Lay it at the CrossAt some point, most believers have experienced the opportunity to physically lay cares at the foot of a cross – for me, it was a very powerful experience – so powerful, my daughter made me something very special – a shadow box where I can write and leave cares at Jesus’ feet.  Now, take a moment and look closely at the box…granted, this is the original  photo, but it’s still looks pretty darn empty today – speaks volumes, doesn’t it? I look at the cross every single day and yet I hold onto so many cares troubling my heart.  A pattern of unbelief I didn’t recognize before.  Yesterday I pulled out the ONE item I wrote and placed at the foot of the cross – it was a prayer to God over my work situation last year – in the weeks that followed, I left my corporate job and God blessed my obedience and trust in Him more than ten-fold.  You see for me, I only know I’ve really laid it down (and left it there) when I experience perfect peace in the days and months (or years) following.

Sisters and brothers, God is waiting patiently to show up and show off in our lives!  The lesson I’m still learning? Give your cares to Him freely and let Him show off!  Lean into Him and HOLD ON! Claim His strength, His favor, His healing, His provision – even when we can’t see the way…HE IS THE WAY!

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Paid in Full

This morning I woke up to the words “Paid in Full” pressing on my heart…later my mind pulled on a memory of how I always enjoy driving through Starbucks – especially when given the opportunity to bless an unsuspecting driver behind me by paying for their coffee…

Can you imagine the surprise when the cashier says, “you’re paid in full”? – they did nothing to “earn” it, nothing to “deserve” it…

Hardly the price of a coffee, yet still unearned, still undeserving…the ultimate price was paid for us through God’s immeasurable love on the cross – HALLELUJAH we are PAID IN FULL!!!!!

The Bridge of Faith

We’ve all heard the phrase, “riding coattails” and in some form or fashion we’ve all been there…relying on someone to bridge the gap in a relationship – a very common scenario is between a parent and child…the mom (or dad) is consistently the one to bridge the gap in communication.

While the Mom/Dad may initially have the best motives to bond the two parties, ultimately she/he is in the way and no true bond ever forms – there is no “bridge” – only a barrier.

Now let’s take this example and apply it to our relationship with our Heavenly Father…have you found yourself using another person as a go-between in your relationship with Him?  Perhaps you don’t even realize it – I certainly didn’t.

Yes, we all need teachers, coaches, mentors, and the like to share perspectives – but there is a very fine line between facilitating from the side line and getting in the middle.  There is only ONE bridge in our relationship with God – and that bridge is the cross.

One of the studies my group went through last summer was the Bridge Illustration – I’m sure there are many studies using this method for presenting the gospel – the one we studied was Bearing Fruit in God’s Family (Session 7).  When we went through the study the principles all made sense, but like so much of our walk, there are phases of revelation.   In a performance oriented world, I struggled for some time to accept there was NOTHING I could do to earn salvation or God’s love – in a You Can Do It! culture, it’s difficult to accept we can’t get there on our own – salvation is God’s gift to us!  Once we embrace His love and grace, it opens the door to so much more…

 “8 For it is by grace you have been saved,   through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works,   so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

Receiving God’s gift of salvation is our open invitation into a personal one-on-one relationship with Him.  Christ’s death on the cross is the bridge!

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross tore the veil inviting us into a direct relationship with God.  I recently read a deovotional on John 14:6 that wove the pieces together – it was definitely one of those ah-ha moments and fits so perfectly into this message.  Author Susy Medeski discusses the meaning behind John 14:6:

“There are 3 gates or doorways in the tabernacle. The first was on the east side of the compound, the only way in, and took people and priests alike into the courtyard where the brazen altar was located. This entrance was called “deherej – Way.” The second doorway was the entrance to the Holy Place, which could only be entered by the priests, and was called “emet – Truth.” Finally, there was a veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place and could only be entered once a year by the high priest and it was called “chayah – Life.” Boy, doesn’t that shed some light on Yeshua’s words!”

How wonderful is that?  Like I said, an ah-ha moment…  As we progress in our walk, we have to earnestly ask God to search our heart and reveal any roadblocks in our relationship with Him.  Like any new and undeveloped relationship, conversation at first can seem a bit awkward.  Take these words of encouragement and press on! Unlike other relationships, this is one where you will never be disappointed.