Sunday, February 20, 2011

On Seeking Perfection

I am Melanie, and I am letting go of perfection. 

This is a scary thing for two reasons. 1) I am a seeker of perfection and have often driven myself crazy as I strive. 2) Doesn't Jesus call us to be perfect just as He is perfect

Yes, he does, but he doesn't call us to work and achieve and beat ourselves up when we fail. He calls us to himself, He draws us near, and the closer we become to His heart, the more in unison our hearts will beat with His. The goal is not the trying, the striving. The goal is to be Holy as I AM is Holy. We can only reach such perfection when we release our efforts and accept the life changing, new-covenant-making, total atonement of the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. 

He became our once-for-all sacrificial lamb

This doesn't mean we give up, stop seeking, or accept our sinful state as part of the deal. Absolutely NOT. By receiving that redemptive blood of Christ over your sinful heart, you have been given new life. We begin to stumble along beside our Master and experience discipleship for all it's worth. We are created to learn from Him, to long to be like Him. 

It all starts with believing in the Lord Jesus and accepting His all-surpassing grace and love into our lives. Then we offer all we have back to him--our love. Jesus will know the truth of our love by our obedience, and our obedience is simply the outpouring of our heart's desire to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  

There is no striving, no achieving involved. Only grace. Only love. Only pursuit of the One who has given us life. We can't know our Lord intimately and not experience His holiness as a part of our life. He commanded us to be perfect, knowing it would be the natural result of a life truly and wholly in love with Him. 


Monday, February 14, 2011

Such a good metaphor...

The Church is the bride of Christ.

My reaction to that whole metaphor in scripture was always "huh?" As a kid I got that Jesus loved us, but it was a little weird to imagine myself married.  I mean married. The idea was almost spooky to little 12-year-old Kevin.

Some things just make more sense in time.

So it's Valentine's Day, and I just thought it would be an appropriate time to talk about how much I love my wife. Seeing her is the bright spot in my day, and even if things aren't perfect, or she's just wearing sweats...I love her. Seeing her makes my day better.

Thinking that's the way that God feels when he looks at us...well it blows my mind. The idea that the God of the universe is just as proud and happy with us as I am with Mel puts everything in perspective. God isn't sitting on his throne up in heaven counting up all your sins...He's eager to forgive, eager to please, and He loves you.

Many people say they have a hard time making the decision to do hard things for God. Thinking of God as the bridegroom helps give me the desire to do right, to be like Him, and to be the best I can.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

On Eucharisteo

"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them..." (Luke 22:19)

Just hours before Jesus was about to give up his life, He sits down to give thanks. He gave thanks?!  

Ann Voskamp, in her new book One Thousand Gifts, shares a revelation that literally changes her life and is in the process of changing mine. She digs into the root Greek word behind "thanks." It is eucharisteo and the contents of this word are unbelievable. 

Charis. Grace
Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving
Chara. Joy. 

The joy of life--life to the full--comes only after thanksgiving for the grace, the gifts God has given. We have been given the gift of salvation, and we have been ushered into the family of God, but have we yet experienced the full measure of life that Jesus came to bring us? Have we come to Him in the spirit of thanksgiving day in and day out, thus welcoming the miracle that is chara joy?

Ann takes readers through a new prospective of the story of the leper Jesus healed in Luke 17:11-19. We have all read, perhaps in awe, that Jesus healed all 10 men afflicted with this debilitating disease. After this, ONE of the men rushes back to Jesus, praising God for his healing. He thanked Jesus.

But what comes next?

Jesus turns to the man and says, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well." (vs. 19).

But wasn't the man already healed? Why did Jesus tell him once again that he was made well?

Perhaps the secret to a full life lived in the grace of God lies in that one part of the story we never noticed before. Yes, the man was already healed of his disease. But when he came back and exclaimed his thankfulness to The Master, he was given the gift of complete healing--wellness encompassing every part of his life. By having faith and a true attitude of thanks, this man found the fullness of life--the real healing Jesus is looking to give.

It starts with the gifts God gives.
We offer our thanks.
And we receive that miracle of joy--the full life.  

These gifts are all around us. The light streaming in the window. The cold water in my glass. The cat napping on the pillow. My husband's deep breathing. The wind blowing as the dried leaves cling to the branches. We don't have to pack a bag and travel the world to see the beauty. Our lives are brimming with the gifts of our great God. Even though our days may be filled with dirty dishes and jammed schedules and heartbreak, we are called to eucharisteo. Yes, even in the hard times. 

"Thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life" (One Thousand Gifts, p. 39). Eucharisteo thanks precedes us experiencing our fullest salvation in Christ, being saved from the bitter, angry, resentful qualities of sinful living. 

Join me and (in)courage Bloom Book Club as we experience the miracle full life that flows from thanksgiving. 

One Thousand Gifts: Chapter Two from Bloom (in)courage on Vimeo.

Friday, February 4, 2011

On Delegating to Community

Today, Jesus said to me, 

"Obedience to Me doesn't always mean doing everything yourself. Nowhere in Scripture is it commanded (or even indicated) that you are to "go into all the world...and you must go it alone." Where did you get this notion that the work you do is only able to be done by you? Child, you are irreplaceable and an essential part to my Body, but you are being overtaken by pride. You must give me those secret thoughts that say, "But if I don't do this, no one else will (or no one else will do it this good or this right.)"  Your way is not perfect. 

MY way is perfect, my dear, and my way is done in community with others. From the days of Moses I have been instructing my children to call on others to accomplish my will. I commanded that great man to delegate responsibilities to other leaders. He was trying to do everything himself and it just wasn't working. It's impossible. 

As soon as you realize you're doing it all, you must recognize that you are also rejecting my involvement--my leading. 

Don't be afraid to lose control. to lose respect. to lose words of affirmation when you give responsibilities to others. It may be a hard decision to make, but it is the right one. It is the humble choice that follows the example I set for you. Servanthood. When you make the choice to give up control, you are saying to others that you value their help, you need their help, you are not super woman.

You were created for community. Live in it

And start by letting Me lead."