Friday, October 30, 2009

Freedom of Grace

God is so awesome in the ways that He deepens my understanding and reveals Himself in new and exciting ways. God showed me something yesterday from a new angle and I just had to share it.
I have always thought that Paul understood grace much more than many others because of the depth of his sin from persecuting Jesus and His followers. I have always imagined Paul being deeply grieved by what he had done and his understanding of grace stemming from this. But I was studying Galatians & Acts where it tells of Paul going to Jerusalem to once and for all get a decision about whether gentiles had to convert to Judaism and be circumcised. He brought the issue before Peter and the apostles and they deliberated over whether righteousness was from faith or from something we must do. The decision was that faith alone restores you to God and that this is it in order to experience salvation.
When I was studying this it occurred to me that Paul had grown up becoming the perfect Jew, following all the law, being groomed to be the best, zealously persecuting those he felt were wrong and forcefully obeying the rules. When Christ came to him and set him on a new path on the road to Damascus, he encountered God and it completely revolutionized who he was. I realized that his understanding of grace came from feeling the burden of the law ("doing & performance") being lifted from off of him. Suddenly the weight was gone and he understood Jesus saying that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
So instead of it just being sorrow and repentance for his sin (which I am sure he felt deeply) being the basis of his understanding, Paul understood grace and freedom because he personally experienced it. He no longer suffered and groaned under the law. No wonder he was so passionate about not putting the yoke of slavery on gentile believers. He knew that his own people were breaking under the burden and refused to lay that burden on others.
I am a gentile believer and I have not been put under the law but under grace. I can glimpse a bit of Paul's passion for grace and understand even more how Christ has set me free and blessed me beyond my wildest imaginations! What a thought! Praise You God for Your wondrous blessings and love! I will be meditating on this verse.
Galatians 5:1 Amplified
IN [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Big 30...

Today marks the beginning of my 30th year!

Lots of people have been asking me if I will stay 29 forever and I even remember my mom wanting to be 29 for a little longer. But now that I am here, it really isn't that big of a deal. Or maybe it just hasn't sunk in yet. ;-)

I have been mulling over where God has brought me in the last decade and thought I would share a few things.

20:I was newly married and going to school full-time at Tarleton finishing up my bachelor's degree in Dietetics. I was also working for the 1st time in the hospital and enjoying living in our own tiny little apartment. This was a really peaceful and fun-filled year!

21: I was in graduate school at Texas Woman's University and living in the big city. This was a switch and I had to deal with traffic, new types of professors and a whole new world but quickly came to love it! I found a great running friend and started running more seriously. Jonathan and I found a wonderful group of friends and a church home this year so spiritual growth really took off!

22: I was finishing my dietetic internship and getting ready to become a dietitian while finishing my master's degree in nutrition. This year was very busy with work as I also started my 1st full-time job in a hospital. I quickly determined I wanted to work for myself again! I also started teaching exercise classes for the 1st time. I also became very active in my professional associations.

23: I trained for and ran my very first Marathon. Jonathan started his own financial business this year and I decided to go back out on my own for work. God began to bring contract jobs in and build some fun opportunities for us. I really began to expand my exercise class part of my career and start putting nutrition and exercise together in my work.

24: I started working in sales for the 1st time and had a lot of fun traveling all over the south and mid-west. I also added a lot more exercise classes to my work schedule. Jonathan's business started hitting some roadblocks but we both continued working for ourselves. We got another lab puppy and had to start the training process from the beginning. It was like having a kid that you could crate! ;-)

25: This was the 1st birthday where I realized I wasn't a little kid anymore. I truly was a grown up! ;-) We climbed the tallest mountain in Colorado and in Mexico with some friends this year and I ran another marathon. We also bought our 1st home and this was a complete God miracle!

26: I began and ended working in sales full time this year. God seemed to open and door to what I thought I wanted to do and quickly showed me that I was not following Him in complete obedience while trying to do sales too. He shut that door and sent me out there to work on my own again. Jonathan started a different job for someone else and God worked on both of us a lot. I met some new running friends and ran another marathon this year. We also started going to a new church and God began to take us through a spiritual transition.

27: I decided that I wanted to try and qualify for the Boston marathon and started training harder than I ever had before. For the 1st time in my running hobby, I started to race and try to get faster! This was fun and exhausting. I also started running the employee wellness program for our city and found something that I loved doing with both nutrition and fitness. Jonathan started his own business again and we continued to grow in our faith. Many of our friends started having families and babies were everywhere. I started the Centurion Program with Chuck Colson and really started deepening my learning with God.

28: I continued to attempt a marathon to qualify for Boston. I continued to race and started coordinating a running program to inspire others to go for their running dreams. We quickly became one of the only couples without kids of our friends. Jonathan's business continued to grow with lots of time, sweat and tears. Jonathan turned 30 this year so I got to tease him about getting old! I finished the Centurion's program and became a mentor for new Centurions. I started teaching bible studies for the 1st time.

29: I continued to attempt qualifying for Boston and still didn't make it. This was one of the most discouraging years for my race goals because I felt like I had worked as hard as I know how and still hadn't met the goal I set for myself. God and I had to really work on this one together. Then I had to rediscover my love of running just for running. Jonathan's business really grew with the addition of many more employees and the headaches that go with that. Sometimes we were just ships passing in the night. I really started digging deep into theology, original language word studies and lots of in-depth bible study and could feel God pushing me beyond head knowledge to action and obedience.

So here I am. Continuing on in the grace that God has given me daily and waiting to see what He will do next! Come on 30, let's see what God will do!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

October 15th Verse

Matthew 22: 37-38 NIV
"Jesus replied; ' "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment.' "

Monday, October 12, 2009

Staying Focused on the Truth in Our Circumstances

I am going to borrow some concepts from my "Experiencing God" study today because I really felt like God was speaking to me!
I have been having some Job moments the last few weeks- tough circumstances in my life right now that have been leading me to question "Why is this happening God? Did I do something wrong? Did I miss You?" and I have been earnestly seeking some answers. Like Job said in JOB 3:23 "Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?"

Then today God once again spoke to me in my time with Him. If I have accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, doesn't He have the right to be the focus, initiator and director of my life? This means that whatever circumstances I am in, whether good or bad, I have to trust, obey and look to God for His perspective on what I am going through. My human nature is to question myself, God and the circumstances to find the fault. In my mind there must be something wrong if life isn't going along peacefully. But what He said is that I need to come to Him when I don't understand and am struggling and ask for His perspective instead of my own. Here are some progressive steps for facing confusing circumstances:
1) Don't begin blaming God
2) Don't abandon following what He told you to do
3) Go to Him
4) Ask for Him to reveal the TRUTH of the circumstances
5) Ask for His perspective on them
6) Wait for Him to answer and to move
By following this model, I can feel secure in my faith, circumstances and direction. I can trust God. Maybe His desire is to deepen my relationship with Him in a new way, reveal His awesome deliverance in such a huge way that He receives all the glory, or perhaps He is working through my life to minister to someone else because they need it. I must maintain seeking God's perspective so that I can stay God focused and others oriented. Then God can accomplish His work through and with me and I can grow in Him!
Now I am praying for God's perspective and am trying to wait on Him! Hang in there with me and remember...
Philippians 4: 11-13 Amplified
Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am. I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency].

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1st Verse

Matthew 22:37-38 NIV
"Jesus replied: ' "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. " This is the first and greatest commandment. ' "