By nature, the word salvation implies that we are saved from something.
The Gospel isn’t a self-improvement program. It is a liberation movement.
And liberation is only needed if I am a slave.
The truth is that all of humanity is enslaved to sin. The word sin means to “miss the mark”; we are by nature law-breakers and fail to meet God’s perfect moral standard.
“For all have sinned…everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin…for whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (Rom 3:23, John 8:34, 2 Pet 2:19).
Life is unpredictable. In the span of three decades, I’ve already lost more than I care to lose: family, friends, a job, dreams and health.
When you’ve experienced recurring loss and grief, it can create a cycle of anxiety and fear over what else you could lose.
Salvation, for one.
Many times I have been gripped by the panic that I could lose my relationship with God. Or that Jesus will forget me when death darkens my door. Could I do something to jeopardize my eternity? Will my faith be enough?
I know Jesus has forgiven me. But too often I live like this forgiveness isn’t full or free. I allow my past to define me. When I fail, I fear God will be mad at me. And though I don’t admit it, I’m still trying to prove my worth so that God will accept and approve of me.
But the resurrection proves I am forgiven.
The resurrection proved that Jesus died, not for his own sins, but ours alone. “For death has rightful claim only over sinners” but death had no hold over Jesus (Acts 2:24). The resurrection proved that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins and showed that God not only accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and payment for sin, but He declared Jesus innocent by raising him from the dead.
I caught her gaze and she looked at me. She mustered a smile, but her eyes betrayed her. To others, she looked happy. But I knew better.
Her shoulders hunched from the shame she carried; that nagging guilt that told her she was useless, worthless, and a burden to others. The lines etched in her forehead revealed the anxiety and pain that plagued her on a daily basis. Fear of present and future circumstances hovered over her like a dark cloud.
She looked discouraged. Overwhelmed. Burdened. Weary.
Dejected, I tore my gaze away from the mirror. Continue reading
For some, Valentine’s Day is not always a happy one. The pressure to fit a year’s worth of romance and love into one day comes with its own set of expectations and disappointments.
If you’ve been jaded by relationships, you may feel broken-hearted, embittered or let down by love.
But at the risk of sounding cliche, there is someone who will always love you well.
Jesus loves you. Perfectly. Always. Forever. Regardless.
Maybe you’ve heard it so often that its meaning and impact has faded over time. Perhaps your own wounds, experiences or relationships have tainted your view of God and His love for you. If others have rejected, despised, blamed, ridiculed or abused you, you may fear Jesus will do the same.
But Jesus loves you differently. The way He treats you and interacts with you is not the same way others do. Continue reading
Every year we celebrate the familiar story of Jesus’ birth with pageants, movies, carols and greeting cards. Manger scenes are decked out with all the proverbial characters, as baby Jesus smiles sweetly from the manger.
But if you think you know the Christmas story, you may want to think again.
Buried under years of tradition and translation, the historic and cultural details surrounding the events of the nativity are no longer common knowledge.
If you want a deeper understanding of the Bible that will blow your mind this Christmas, take a gander through these profound yet often missed details.
Here are 13 fun facts about Jesus’ birth you probably won’t hear from the pulpit this year! Continue reading
For some, the anticipation of Christmas is not always pleasant. With calendars stuffed to the brim with trimmings and festivities, suddenly the merry season doesn’t feel so bright.
Somewhere between November and December, I morph into a crazy person filled with comparison and complaint. With parties to plan, cookies to bake, stockings to stuff and gifts to wrap, my spirit of thanksgiving can easily turn into the most primitive bah humbug.
So when my husband asked how he could unsubscribe from my RSS feed of complaint this year, it left me with a sobering thought.
I was the grinch stealing Christmas this year. Continue reading
For many of us, the changing season ushers in a renewed sense of thanksgiving. But what happens when your season of change is marked by pain? When you don’t feel very grateful?
As we approached Thanksgiving, I felt anything but thankful. A serious illness had darkened my door, filling me with disappointment and heartache over what was being lost: hopes, dreams, expectations on how life would be. Yet it was in this difficult season I learned two important lessons about gratitude, discovering that hardship, not happiness, is the forerunner of joy.
Is your season of thanksgiving overshadowed by pain? Are you looking for a way to harvest more joy in your life? Join me on (in)courage to read more and discover how you can find joy in the midst of your hardship!
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