Jesus

The Blessing at the Library

I just moved to town.

As a Momma to three, one of the first trips into town we made was to the library. We signed up to get our library cards, checked out our books, asked a few questions about this place we now call home and left.

photobooks

The following week, we returned with our books. In the town I used to live in, I would set the books we were returning on the counter next to the book drop when the library staff were busy checking people out. Then we would continue on about our business of finding new books.

Well…

Apparently that’s not how things work around here. When we had gathered our new books and headed back to check them out, the books we had returned had not been deleted from our cards, but they were also not where I had placed them. So, I explained that I had laid them on the counter right by a stack of other books I had assumed were also being returned. The books were found quickly behind the counter.

Then…

I was scolded. Yes, scolded, in an unkind manner I might add. My offense was repeated to the other lady behind the counter with contempt.

I apologized for not knowing the system and repeated her directions to make sure we were on the same page, agreeing to follow the system they have in place. Simultaneously during this conversation, I am also praying inwardly.

Now, you have to know that I am NOT about being a doormat. I don’t think being a Christian equals being a pushover. I don’t think one can read the Scriptures and get this. Even if you set aside all of Scripture except for the four Gospels, I don’t believe you can get this from the life of Jesus. Although Jesus went to the cross willingly (1Jn 3:16), and He did say, turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:39), this isn’t the end of Him…We can’t put Him in a box, because we also see Him in Scripture throwing over tables(Jn 2:15), calling people names(Mt. 23:16), talking about hell and judgement (Mt.23:33)…

I don’t mind taking up for myself or others and confronting ill behavior even if my knees knock a little. I’m a Momma. This is part of my job description. I’m a Christian. This is part of survival. Have you tried being passive in spiritual warfare? Not a good idea. Confrontation is a healthy part of life and loving people. Scripture even gives us directions on appropriate confrontation in Luke 17:3, 1Timothy 5, and Matthew 18.

But… all my words, all my actions have to be filtered through Him. If I am walking by the Spirit, I have to know that what I speak, what I do is His will or else it is meaningless. It is no better to equate Jesus with always being nice as it is to equate Him with always being confrontational.

The Word says: Walk by the Spirit. (Gal. 5:16 and 25)

 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. Isaiah 30:21

So, here we were at the library with this lady that I could have very easily given a piece of my mind and I would’ve been right. She was clearly in the wrong. I was emotional, though. I had a few things happen on that day that tempted me to be discouraged and this scenario, her words, filled my eyes with tears. They never spilled over, but nonetheless, there they were. I quickly prayed for direction and I immediately knew my mouth should be quiet. I would be speaking out of my whole day into this situation. She would get the brunt of all the collective hurts of the day.

The four of us  (my three kids and I) each stood there politely and checked our books out. My lips are moving as I am quietly blessing her. I am not even noticing their movement.

When we hopped in the car, my middle child, who is constantly observing people and her surroundings, asked, “Momma, why were your lips moving in there?”

“What do you mean, sweety?”

“When we were checking our books out, your lips were moving.”

“Oh! I was blessing the librarian”.

“Oh, why?” she asked.

“I was blessing her because I wanted to curse her,” I answered in a monotone voice.

And do you know what? Laughter erupted in the car. They all three thought that sounded so funny. Honesty is often funny, isn’t it? I think it’s funny because we can relate to each other. Children are so wonderful because they don’t thrive in plastic, fake, controlling, appearance ridden environments. They can see through all of it even if they can’t quite put their fingers on it.

Then, I laughed.

One of my kids belted out, “I know about that! I wanna curse people sometimes too!”

Another one said something funny that she wanted to say to the lady, who had been mean to her momma and it had us all in stitches.

And then I blessed the library lady out loud and prayed for her. Maybe she had felt discouraged like me over the course of the day and maybe she took that discouragement and flung it at the next person in line, who happened to be me and maybe I have behaved like that more times than I care to admit? I thanked Him that I had not walked by my flesh.

Dear Reader, we, who follow Christ, are people of THE BLESSING.

Did you know that in Genesis 1:28 after God creates man and woman, He blesses them?

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

And did you know that The Fall does NOT revoke the blessing? In other words, the blessing on mankind is NOT cancelled, or invalidated by withdrawing or reversing.

God does NOT withdraw His blessing from man at the Fall.

He does NOT curse us, oh there are consequences alright, but go and look at the Fall in Genesis chapter three and you won’t find God revoking His blessing on mankind. He curses the ground and He curses the serpent.

Even when we are under sin, in rebellion, by nature children of wrath, HE DOES NOT CURSE US.

Instead He purchased the security of the BLESSING FOR US with His own blood at Calvary.

The Bible says,”But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

He actually became THE CURSE FOR US.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—Galatians 3:13

Then, defeating death’s stench, He was raised and He BLESSES us with HIS VERY LIFE.

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13 and 14

And Dear Reader, walking by the Spirit blesses our children and the people around us with the real deal of Jesus- a form of godliness that DOES NOT deny its power. Jesus in us the Hope of Glory!

All that we do as believers is done in and by the blessing, never the curse, because He became the curse for us. This is precisely what we want people to see.

He loves people. Whatever He gives us to say or do, whether it be a strong word or a gentle gesture- it must be done IN THE ATTITUDE OF BLESSING. That is the fragrance of Christ.

Then, we leave the results to Him. We do not follow Him to please people.

George Mueller said as believers we are to die to our:

tastes

opinions

preferences

will

the world- it’s approval and censure

our friends- their approval or blame

Isn’t that worth thinking over? Isn’t that a snapshot into the life of Jesus and the way He modeled life to us?

And now, I’d like to bless you:

May you walk so closely to Him that you hear His voice saying, “This is the way walk in it”. May your life crown Jesus and point others in His direction. I bless your home with Scripture coming to life in front of your family’s eyes because a surrendered, blood bought child of the King of Kings resides among them and lives faith in Christ out before their eyes. And your people? I bless them with blessing you with Jesus in their lives… may all your people know Him and walk with Him accepting His gracious gift of redemption.

Blessings in Jesus Alone,

Diana

The Altar

In Numbers chapter 7, the dedication of the altar is described.

Noah had built an altar and offered sacrifices on it upon exiting the ark.

Abraham had taken Isaac to bind him and sacrifice him at an altar. God had provided another sacrifice- a ram caught in the thicket by its horns.

These are just two examples.

And now, at this point in history, in Numbers 7- God has given instructions on the building of the tabernacle, including the altar. The people of Israel  have followed His directions and it is time to dedicate the altar.

A place of death. of blood.

From the first entrance of sin, God shows us this picture of blood: how sin causes death, the spilling of blood (the Truth) and how that blood would be payment for sin (the Grace). Bittersweet and Glorious. Humbling and Majestic.

Adam and Eve, covered in leaves, and God making the first sacrifice to cover them with skins… this is a picture of the gravity of sin and the gracious love of God. Satan had tried to steal their dignity. They took the bait. God took the bait away and gave them truth and grace, wrapping them up… His very self… He did it. He sacrificed the animal and covered them.

And isn’t that the point of ALL of Scripture?

His will, not mine.

His truth. His grace. His work, not mine.

All leading up to HIS BLOOD.

So, in Numbers… we are still at this point in history before His blood… let’s look together.

(My paraphrase): For twelve days, one tribe of Israel would bring an offering for the dedication of the altar. The offerings included items for use in the tabernacle, such as gold and silver plates and sprinkling bowls, incense, flour, and oils. The offering also included animals for sacrifice at the anointed altar.

Starting in verse 87 The total number of animals for the burnt offering came to twelve young bulls, twelve rams, and twelve male lambs a year old, together with their grain offering. Twelve male goats were used for the sin offering. The total number of animals of the fellowship offering came to twenty four oxen, sixty rams, sixty male goats, and sixty male lambs a year old. These were the offerings for the dedication of the temple.

Lots of blood equaling Loads of Truth and Grace.

Repentance here painted in this picture from history

preparing repentance for us here and now-

 We, who live After Jesus, After His blood spilled.

Not as much blood at Calvary’s Cross, but the most precious, most valuable.

The ONLY blood that could fulfill the penalty for good.

The innocent animals killed could only give us a glimpse into the weightiness of sin, the cost.

The innocent JESUS killed.

That.

Where Love Stopped Drawing the Picture and WAS IN the Picture in the Most Profound Way:

In Pain.

For, you, Dear Reader, and for me.

The greatest compassion we can give each other is the Gospel.

The Gospel of Repentance, the only Good News there is.

Giving each other the Gospel means pointing each other over and over and over again to the covenant of blood, the covering of Jesus: His life in exchange for mine.

My sin payed by my greatest love for the purpose of reconciling me to my Heavenly Father and giving me life… my spirit married to His.

If He would bear our sin and spill His blood, is there anything He would NOT give of Himself for us? Is there any problem TOO great for Him? Let’s meditate on Him and stir up the faith in our spirits.

Jesus gives me:

His strength……………………………………………………….for my weakness

His peace………………………………………………………………for my anxiety

His purity………………………………………………………………..for my shame

His truth……………………………………………………………for my confusions

His grace…………………………………………………………..for my judgement

His purposes………………………………………………………….for my striving

His love………………………………………………..for my selfish, needy heart

Paul, all consumed with wanting more and more of Christ, gives us this urging in Romans 12:1

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.

Another altar… without a specific location… for us… anytime, anywhere because Jesus tore the curtain making us: the people after the Cross- AFTER THE CROSS historically and AFTER THE CROSS as in that is what we are after… Taking up our cross daily… leaving all our sicknesses, manipulations, our striving to be good on it… CRUCIFIED…and instead resting in His goodness… which leaves us free to BE. to laugh. to be human and make mistakes. to walk blamelessly, to confess our sin quickly, to boldness because fear of man hangs from that cross as well. Free to let other people be… loving without strings attached… because our insecurity is being crucified there on that cross, too.

Bless you with the Cross today. Bless you, Dear Believer, with resting in the finished work done for you there. And bless you with being you all wrapped up in Jesus today.

And you. Who may not believe? Bless you. If you read this far, you did so for some reason. Bless you with the peace of the cross, the privilege of laying down all your burdens and being cleansed by Jesus.

In Christ Alone,

Diana

And…I am giving away this book:

photogive

Because it is such a clear representation of the Gospel and salvation. The kids and I loved it and I want to share it.  So… if you would like a copy, become an e-mail follower of the blog… that way I can communicate with you about where to send the book. If you already follow, comment on this post. I’ll send two books out, so we’ll see… I’ll draw if I need to.  Bless you!

The Good News for the Battle Weary

It doesn’t sound like good news.

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. Matthew 27:1

Doesn’t sound like it, but Good News indeed, well that is if it is our good news- if we own it… if it owns us. If we’ve been purchased with the blood that was shed.

The best news.

This story. Truth and Grace made ours by His blood.

But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. John 19:15

Still, here it doesn’t sound like Good News either.

Sounds bad. Like front page Memphis, political, back room scheming, depressing news.

O but to the ones who have been called according to His purposes… who know that plan was carried out and that it was ON PURPOSE that the innocent should die because He loved the guilty so much. He paid the penalty. And for the ones who know that there is no remission for sin unless the innocent dies on behalf of the guilty- this is GOOD NEWS Indeed!

 

The Bible says we are born INTO sin.

The Bible also says there is no way we can get ourselves OUT of sin, or the sin OUT of us- not on our own.

There is not one person who has escaped the wretched stench of death producing sin. Not one. But because of THIS GOOD NEWS DEATH, Jesus can take every death and breathe life into it.

THIS GOOD NEWS.

You could make a list of what you’ve lost, what has died in your life because of sin: your sin and others.

I’m wondering who you are and what your list is and if we could share ours, would we be able to relate to one another? I’m certain that we could.

And I’m wondering how the enemy whispers in your ear and reminds you of your shame, tells you you are a victim. Does he cast ungodly images in your mind, thoughts, desires? How does he remind you of all that’s been lost? Do you suffer in silence? Do you fight, sometimes or often to seemingly no avail?

Are you battle weary?

Sometimes I get this feeling come over me, like a blanket, and I can’t describe it any other way but with the word: DEFEAT. It “feels” like that word is “on” me. Can you relate to that? I’ve had to learn to push through that… to place my faith IN HIM, not MYSELF and to weed out the lies from the truth.

I want to share something about the Good News with you.

It is right to “own” a problem, a sin, an issue, a pain…

photo 1

to point it out- call it what it is. Say, “This is mine”.

“I’m an alcoholic. I’ve tried and tried and I cannot drink normally”.

“My husband is on porn”. (or you for that matter)

“I’m having an emotional affair”.

“I was abused as a child”.

“I am anxious”.

“I’m greedy”.

“I control and manipulate to get my way”.

“I’m having sex outside of marriage”.

“I am depressed”.

“I don’t trust you with ______, God”.

It is a right thing to take ownership, responsibility. To say: I have this with an open hand pointing at it calling it what it is.

The GOOD NEWS is meant to STOP the intimidation and bullying of sin’s condemnation and death sentence over us which often keeps us secretive and stuck or religious and just as stuck.

Here is the line, though.  Pay attention to the difference in this picture.

photo 2

I’ve closed my hand on the sin, the issue.  Now I’m calling it, mine in an inappropriate way. I’m saying that this is WHO I am- me! I’m unwilling to let it go. I’m covering it with my hand. I start to believe that sin is my identity. In this label rich culture, this is happening all around us. This is where this leads:

photo 3

Right here. Is where Satan wants that problem, so close to our hearts that it is an identity: loser, bad mother, failure, dirty, gay, depressed, anxious, addicted, stupid, whore, liar, freak, pothead, unlovable, unwanted… you fill in the blank…

Now-

Listen closely to what Jesus commands: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul
and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor …” Luke 10:27 

There is no one or anything that is supposed to be closer to our hearts than Him.

Our hearts are meant to let Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be in first place… with the whisperings of His truth and grace closer than any other.  Believers, we are NEVER meant to allow the enemy that close.

When we do, we become all twisted up.

Anybody ever been twisted up?

When we have become so intimate with lies… they truly seem like they are part of who we are.

photo 4

Here is the proper posture.

Hands open.

First here:

Admit it. Own it. Point to it. Speak plainly- no candy coated rambling.

photo 1

 Next, do not close that hand. Do not draw it close.

Open those hands,

and receive His nail scarred hands in yours

 photo 4

in exchange for every sin, issue, problem in your life.

Take a moment to meditate on that.

This Good News of Jesus taking deadly sin and giving us Himself.

Close your eyes, open your hands out in front of you and imagine His nail scarred hands slipping into yours and pulling you up close to His heart, His life.

Because, Dear Reader, after that bloody death, three days later He rose again.

Death has no sting.

In His Strength, He reigns.

Not In ours.

We are not to be intimidated by our wounds, weakness, neediness or our temptations.

They are just evidences that His Word is true.

The Good News- He was already aware of it all- all our weaknesses… Hence the cross, where the blood payed for every last bit of it.

I bless you with pressing on into Jesus, confessing your sin boldly at the Throne of Grace and receiving His hands in yours.

Bless you with knowing Him as your perfect Abba Father, with laying your head down against His chest and letting Him love you as His beloved daughter.

Bless you with NOT recognizing yourself according to the flesh because you are in Christ, you are a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Bless Him, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,… (adapted from 2Corinthians 5:16-18)

In Christ Alone,

Diana


Faithful God Part 2

Cause stumbling around in the dark is to be expected… It is darkness.

And that’s why we need The Light.

The only one who can be called Light.

Every believer has to believe it’s true- that the way to walk with Christ is to stay near to the cross… His finished work, the evidence that I am a wretched sinner and that ONLY by His grace does He save me.

I’m not saved… gonna be a good girl now.

I am a beggar, filled with His goodness saying, “Come, eat, drink and be filled”.

He is the bread and the water of life- the light my darkness craves.

And He won’t have the picture painted any other way.

I cannot mess up His purposes for me.

I can sin and be out of His will- but as His child, He will accomplish what He has begun in me and in you, if you walk that road of repentance that has led to salvation- that trail carved out by the Father that leads straight to Him, with Him, and for Him.

There will be fruit, cause He said: those that are His will be known by their fruit.

Believe it.

Believe it. Believe it.

Fruit- with your name  and mine on it to carry His Name in your daily life. Fruit-With my name and yours on it to shine His glory into the darkness.

Fruit that bears witness to the Lord of Lords. The King of Kings. The Author of the stars, seasons, mountaintops, and valleys.

Dear Reader, sometimes we all drink from the well of self, but because of Jesus we can stop.

He is NOT surprised by our weakness- He was crucified for it. Can we get that He knows the depths of our weakness even more than we can comprehend?

He allows us to see it at times- glimpses- not to hurt our feelings, but to draw us close- so that our lives WILL BEAR FRUIT. Because the only fruit worth bearing is the real deal Jesus fruit.

Fake fruit can be mighty pretty, but that’s all it can be- it serves no other purpose.

To give glory to the King, who let me pretend for a time- only for the purpose of drawing me closer:

Cause my eyes teared up and I tried to grasp truth,

That seemed to fall through my fingers,

looking for proof

and my heart felt betrayed,

like you left me alone,

all alone,

til you showed me,

How I wandered,

and traded the truth for lies,

trusted self and became puffed up-

Pride.

Enemy No.1 in the the Kingdom of God

Fear. Unbelief. Deceit.

Your battle training includes teaching yours about the enemies at hand…

letting us take that line- because You are not scared. Not scared to lose us the way we fear losing You. You know we are safe in Your hand-

Perfect, unworried Father…

So the valley of battle might cause us to lose heart over our weakness….or even the weakness of others…

But Dear Reader, the battle and our failures in it never do take the King by surprise-

He knows He has won and now He trains in walking in His winning, all wrapped up in Jesus with the armor in place.

Teaching us how to walk at His pace.

How to listen as He speaks His truth and His grace,

Whispering

Love to His beloveds-

Come here.

Closer.

“I never leave. Remember”.

Say it.

In the dark, He loves me.

And in the fear it’s true.

He will never leave me, cause I really am His dear.

His bought with His blood

Repenting and trusting Him alone,

If the training to trust nothing but You, O God takes dark valleys of the soul…

Then so be it.

He is with me in the valley… shepherding me with His care.

Til we  cry and fall at His feet,

That when our self will run riot will raises it’s head- I must pay attention and drive it back to the cross.

Wake up!

Wake Up!

You, O God only You are good,

You in the valley,

with purpose there,

That if there is fruit- it will only be yours.

You give and you take away

and the song of the redeemed is Blessed Be Your Name

And you, God of the mountaintop and the glorious view

And you, God in the kitchen, in the yard, in a prison cell, in a crowd, or all alone-

And what you want is me- at the cross- pointing at the tomb

where you shatter my enemies- and give me your life-

You.

Beloved You.

 

The Lord Bless You With Knowing Your Heavenly Father Through Jesus’ Finished Work And Being Enabled By His Spirit Alone. Bless You.

 

For Further Meditation:

Psalm 103 and Psalm 121 for meditation on God’s goodness.

2 books chock- full of Gospel: The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning

The Saving Life of Christ by Major Ian Thomas

In Christ Alone,

Diana Corman



 

Part 1- Faithful God

I had experienced a round of warfare that had me on my face, on the phone, in offices, in the Word and NOT finding Him.

I couldn’t find Him.

I had a journal. It had black pages. Pens of different bright colors marked my desperate pleas on the paper.

He gave me a verse to scratch out on that black paper:

 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

The black paper seemed appropriate for this black night of my soul. Blackness I couldn’t fix and He wouldn’t.

I woke up with fear gripping me. I tried to be normal and went for jogs, to work, to school. One jog I remember clearly and sadness grips me every time I pass that side of town. I couldn’t run any further. Even though I had just begun- I was maybe a quarter of a mile down the road when I bent down and cried. Then I cried some more. It was an ugly bent over sob. And all the reasons sounded crazy. No one had died. No life threatening illness. No natural disaster had leveled my home. No trauma.

I’d been sober for close to four years. But there I was in so much inexplicable pain- And worst of all is I couldn’t find our safe place. The place where I could go to Him and there He was. I opened the Word and felt confused. My mind raced and I couldn’t seem to get a handle on it.

No trauma except a ship wrecked, broken past… and a twenty-two year old girl in the present thinking a magic wand would be nice just about now. Could I cry enough, pray enough, which verse did I need? What had I done wrong? Deliver me!

2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

And I cried and I cried. I prayed. I prayed. I could not hear. This went on and on.

And I started to affirm that He didn’t love me- reasoning with myself.

I got up off my knees.

And I began to play that same ol’ game he’d saved me from: pretend.

When He had saved me…

I would lay at night in awe of the Maker of those stars that I could look up at and know that He loved me, formed me, and saved me. That in the ugliest revealing of my sin on display, in that very season of my life, is where He chose to save me.

And He didn’t save me from the difficulties or the consequences of it.

Instead, He allowed me the dignity to walk through it- owning up to it, but because of Him- I could hold my head up… and for this girl that meant the world!

His glory was on display, and I would weep and sing songs of His grace to Him and it was my voice I heard with my ears, but His I heard over me ministering to me- singing a song together- One only He and I could sing.

And in this black night of my soul… I got up off my knees. I felt like He had abandoned me.

I chose to believe the lie that He didn’t love me instead of going back to the place of clinging to that cross… needing Him for every right thought, every right feeling, every right desire. I chose to reject His sovereignty over the dark.

photodark

I heard a pastor say, “There’s some prosperity gospel in all of us”. And isn’t it true?  None of us can walk these dusty roads without equating prosperity and pretty pictures with godliness.

I got up to play pretend- believing He was only God of the day and not the God of the night- and spiraled further into doubt and fear.

I had never experienced this torment, this darkness, not in sobriety – where no solution seemed to help.

And I gave up, but not on the outside. Relapse scared me too much. There was NO painting my past pretty, no way.  I couldn’t even try. And this church culture would feed my fakery just fine. This sit in rows, and keep it in.  I had taken every rejection concerning my vulnerability in the church house to heart and didn’t seem to fit anywhere. Rehab was over and you can’t just go back because you can’t handle life, but you haven’t relapsed! Plus places change and that season was over. Now this seeming to not fit with Christ was too much. I was desperately immature, insecure, and needy.

But I wasn’t totally given over to my doubt yet- when I failed miserably and I did blatantly sin against my Lord, I knew if I wasn’t honest, I might spiral into relapse even if I didn’t want to.  I knew God had clear boundaries and I had violated them. I was scared and I wanted help. I knew I needed the body. And guess what- I confessed to two pastors and not one fought for me. Not one. I was brushed off- my sin excused, downplayed, brushed under a rug… and the lies in my head seemed to be confirmed. I want you to hear that- brushing off the sin of others will confirm the lies of the enemy.

The Word is clear- the royal priesthood has authority over all the ways of darkness because we have a head named Christ- He can command. He is wisdom.

Girl, boy, man, or woman- don’t believe the lie that if man will not fight for you, then God must approve and His will is your defeat- that your destiny is muck and mire. That your dreams of wholeness were a joke.

I’d seemed to have lost all ground. I couldn’t grasp the lessons I had learned so clearly in that rehab where I’d spent 10 months.

And Dear Reader, I want you to know I am not mad at “the church”. I am part of the body. But I  no longer allow a “church culture” to dictate my faith. I no longer settle for a sit in rows, performance mentality or allow people to lead me that won’t fight for or with me when the rubber meets the road. I will fight. I will stay on my knees, and I know the Lord is willing that I do- fighting the good fight of faith for ANY I come in contact with. I stopped allowing man to define my walk with Christ or seal lies of the enemy over me because the pretending was overwhelmingly painful and contradicted my hungry, sealed spirit.

I am trusting Him and Him alone for right thoughts, feelings, and desires.

And do you know… I threw that black journal away where I’d etched these words:

2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

I hated that black night of my soul and all my unfaithfulness and the torment of it. I couldn’t make a bit of sense out of it. I wanted to erase it. It can’t be erased…

I don’t blame anyone for MY unfaithfulness, cause in every sin personal responsibility precedes repentance.

I did repent. And He met me there and confirmed my salvation and showed me His faithful hand over that season of my life despite my inability to settle down in His love on my own.

And I repented this morning, and this evening… proclaiming with my mouth- “You alone are faithful! You Jesus are my All! Without YOU Jesus I am toast. And if I add anything to you, I have nothing… but If I add nothing to YOU, then I HAVE EVERYTHING! Settle me down in your love, Jesus”.  And this is what He etched on my soul in that dark. It was not a wasted time. He was and is faithful, for He cannot disown Himself and He is mine and I am His.

Beloved Reader, Bless you with JESUS.

Bless you with knowing the simplicity of Jesus being your All.

Bless you with wisdom to reject all the lies of the enemy- with never again pretending in place of putting your faith in Him, with knowing His faithfulness will complete the work He began in you. Bless you with admitting that “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood”. (Hebrews 12:4)
And bless you with the only ONE that could shed blood and pay your debt and mine.  Oh, reader, believer, arise and meet your Maker afresh and fight the good fight of faith!

Because the lost are hungry for the real deal… and you, believer, have been given the ministry of reconciliation – of restoration.

To the Kingdom and to the Restoration!

Diana Corman

What’s a Christ Follower to Be in a Culture of Boxes and Labels

1 Timothy 1:15

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.

This was written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, his true son in the faith.

The book of First Timothy was written to give Timothy instructions to lead the believers in Ephesus. This was not an easy task in that it included dealing with false doctrine, disorder in worship, the need for leaders, and materialism.

Timothy was in the midst of a complicated culture as are we.

TODAY, there are talking heads in abundance, opinions galore, experts in extreme, and labels for everything and… yes everyone.

In this environment our main goal is to keep our eyes on Jesus and the simplicity of the Gospel because that is where we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit leaving behind wrong thoughts about who we are and are not.

Let’s look at our culture together and see how this Scripture applies to us so beautifully.

CULTURE’S LABELS: Alcoholic, Bulimic, Kleptomaniac, Homosexual, Heterosexual, Bisexual, Transgender, Pyromaniac, Manic depressive, ADHD, Left-winger, Right-Winger, not to mention denominational and religious labels… and how about emo, gangsta, prep, stoner, rocker, nerd, preppy? As you noticed, I listed a wide variety- from clinical to slang.

Labels in and of themselves are not bad usually. They can help people take responsibility like saying, “I am an alcoholic”, which is a huge step for a person, who has perfected the art of blaming. Responsibility is a big step in the right direction. Labels help doctors identify and treat issues like postpartum depression. And if a girl wants to hang out with a stoner, well, Dad and Mom will have the necessary information to protect their daughter. So, labels can be helpful.

So, what happens when sinful man gets a hold of labels? Well it can become confusing quickly, especially when it’s personal. Here are some examples where labels can be misused: An alcoholic guilts his friends and family to enable his destructive habit of drunkenness. Someone diagnosed with bipolar can use this to minimize and justify their inappropriate behavior. A left-winger can refuse to listen to anything a right-winger says and vice versa. Here is another: I read a blog post some time ago by a woman, who was named one of the top 50 most influential women in Christendom today by Christianity Today. She was responding to the Southern Baptist Convention’s passing of a resolution to condemn the leadership of the Boy Scouts for accepting openly gay boys in the organization. Now, she gives some great points in her blog especially challenging some of the church’s obvious hypocrisy in dealing with sexual issues, but nonetheless she buys culture’s use of labels hook, line, and sinker. She continually uses the word, “gay” as a label. Reader, it is the enemy who whispers lies to young boys saying, “You are gay” and in her blog she affirms that lie. She even suggests the Christian Gay Network as help for in her words “gay Christians”.  We MUST take labels through the lens of Scripture, not discounting our struggles or others, but never making those struggles “special” or putting them in little boxes that say “Do not Touch”… Let’s be honest. We forbid no one but Christ. Did you get that?  When we coddle our labels, we choose them over Christ refusing Him and His healing of our deepest wounds.  And we will ALL stand before Him one day and give account. It is Satan that tells us our sin is special, our identity. Our sin is only our identity if we are unsaved, unrepentant; then still Christ calls us to more: to Himself and a new identity in Him.

Look at what Paul says: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.

PAUL”S LABEL: Paul gives himself the label- “worst of sinners’. Now let’s consider why. Look at the verse and consider where the period is placed. I believe that Paul is saying here that the worthy saying starts with the first word after the colon and ends with the period. I don’t believe Paul was giving only himself this special title. I believe he was also giving it as a gift to first Timothy and then to the body from the Lord.

Consider Paul saying, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst”.

Timothy saying,”Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst”.

You and I saying, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst”.

Now imagine Christ asking, “Who will be the worst of sinners in this generation?” And Paul standing and raising his hand volunteering and through the corridors of time men, women, boys, and girls, have read those words and said, Yes! Lord, me! I get it. It is a call. A position- to both serve and receive more and more of Christ and His love, His goodness, His purity, long suffering, power, wisdom, joy, peace, and self control. It is all about Jesus and making much of Him!

Let that soak in.

And consider further with me evidence of this. In Bible times, the goal of discipleship was not merely educational learning but personal transformation. “A disciple did not grasp the full significance of his teacher’s learning in all it’s nuances except through prolonged intimacy with his teacher,” states Jewish historian, Shmuel Safrai. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11:1. This was Paul’s goal with Timothy. Do as I do, Say as I say, as I am following Christ follow me. And isn’t it true, we begin to talk and act like those we spend the most time with.. Paul indeed wanted Timothy to take the entire saying as his very own, so He could serve with this attitude, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”. Philippians 3:12 And this: “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8 If you are a parent, you can see this clearly, children are watching you and your words mean little to nothing if they aren’t backed with action. Paul wanted his way of life to be caught, not merely taught.

May the Lord bless you with casting all labels and boxes of bondage at the foot of Jesus, that every weakness would present to you an opportunity for more of Jesus, who is the head of the church. Bless you with trumping every label with the best one of all- worst of sinners- bought with a worthy price and crowned with the righteousness and purity of Christ. Bless you with allowing the Father to re-parent you, letting every cultural assumption run through His fingers and given to you corrected: new, afresh, in truth and in grace- healing you in your deepest wounds. And bless you, with the awareness and peace that the Holy Spirit intercedes for you in your weakness.

In Christ Alone!

Worst of Sinners, Diana

A Propensity for Dumps

photo36

RECENT OBSERVATIONS:

So, we are driving down the street in our green Dodge van with UN-tinted, fingerprint covered windows. I cannot explain why the children touch the windows so much. Me- with my addiction therapist husband in the passenger side, my home school kids in tow, and my big black purse, off to the soccer field we go. It’s my husband who’s playing tonight. Going- because I love to see him play. Going- because prison work (the husband’s) is hard and it’s good to have a field where you can play hard with other men who sweat and work in the world where weeds grow and thorns prick. So, here we are on our way. I slow down at the light, then stop. Go. A truck comes up on my right. My husband rolls down his window and sticks his head out, shaking his head at the boy who’s driving that truck. He’s hitting a pipe (not a tobacco pipe mind you). My husband says, ” Maybe he’ll head home.  I wanted him to know I saw him.” Then, side by side we drive. I look over. My husband looks over. The boy looks back at us, grins wickedly, and hits his pipe- long. He lets the smoke flood out of his mouth. He’s proud and angry and Lord knows what we represent to him- maybe just a possibility to display all that is going on inside him. We all long for that. We all stop at the red light. The boy cranks his music, bangs his head, and hits his steering wheel repeatedly. My husband reaches for the phone. The kids ask questions. I pray.

I plead for mercy on behalf of him because someone prayed for me-

My phone is in my big black purse. And right here is where my husband can’t relate.  He wants the phone now, but it’s somewhere at the bottom. He uses both hands to dump it and I scold, “Don’t you dump my purse”. There is tension. The boy bangs his head, hits his pipe. The light turns green. Chaos for a moment and then I find the phone. My man calls the police. Calm and thoroughly, he gives details. North bound- the road name, the license plate, make and model. And we part ways. We head to the soccer fields. He takes the exit onto the interstate. The dispatcher is given the last bit of information. Gone. Moments later we are at the soccer field.  Our kids jump out of the car whooping and hollering. We all laugh. There might have been chaos for a moment, but we let it drive away with that boy. I pray. I pray he gets caught. I pray that one day- he will cry. That he could cry and say, “Help me God. If you are real, help me”. I pray one day he will smile, a sincere, redeemed, sane smile.

A twelve year old boy asks my husband what’s wrong with marijuana. He thinks it will be legal in Tennessee soon. My man, not much for preaching, asks, “Just because something is legal, does that make it right?” They talk. He learns the boy’s step dad uses. He thinks the boy does, too. My man plants seeds of truth.

We are asleep. A crash wakens us. We run outside.  A big ole man is crashing to the ground. He’s maybe twenty years old. He can’t stand and he is so intoxicated, that he is not even trying to catch himself. A woman, who is just as drunk, tries to help him. I stand. My man stands. They live around the corner. They stumble down the road. We pray. We watch. We go inside. We pray again. We pray for misery in the morning- the obvious misery will be there. But, we pray for a double dose- the kind that won’t go away and drives a person to their knees.  We pray for repentance.

Two girls are by a dumpster sharing a joint. They didn’t expect me to make a bee line towards them. Neither did my kids. I did. They dropped the joint, hid it, and looked as innocent as possible. I told them I knew. I told them to get away from trashcans. And then not knowing what to say, I prayed. I lifted my hand and blessed them with Jesus. I told them I used to hang out by dumpsters. Dumpsters are for garbage not for girls.

Fantasies– This world is full of them, pictures  created in minds, making what is NOT glamorous, glamorous. And the pictures, they end up in the reality of dumpsters because God is the King in Israel. A man named Elijah said those words. He spoke them to a man named Ahab.

Ahab- King of Israel- married to Jezebel- worshiper of Baal.

Ahab is said to have been more wicked than any of Israel’s kings before him. And he was king. But when Elijah spoke, he said,  “God is King in Israel“. Who is king? God is King.

And Elijah told Ahab. Ahab, who thought small, pansy thoughts of this God, had a fantasy  that ended up in a dumpster.

No puffed up, self will run riot fantasy ends up anywhere else. Why? Because God is King in Israel. This King deals in reality. He gives us His Word rooted in real history. It is futile to act as if He did not or does not exist- as if someone else were king, as if someone else establishes the laws. No, this has no power and it will end up at the dump.

We have all ended up at the dump, maybe multiple times.

And God says, “You’ve tried being king, but guess what? I AM the KING in Israel“.

And just what does it mean to be the King of Israel? It means he is the king over all. Because this is precisely what Ahab forgot. He forgot the history of the founding of the nation Israel.

The history. The story. The beautiful, soul stirring, spirit redeeming, true story. God choosing a man, Abraham out of an idol worshiping, dump dwelling people, and giving him a son of promise in old age named Isaac.  Then He is found in Scripture giving that son Isaac a son who wrestled and submitted- wounded and limping…  Jacob, who earned a limp in place of his pride filled dump, was renamed Israel by this King-God. Jacob became the one who had the tribes.

The 12 tribes- Israel’s 12 sons who would be the tribes hence the 12 tribes of Israel. The promise that Abraham had been gifted with- the one about children numbering the seashore, children of faith- The tribes would be the sons who marry wives, who have babies. They would go to captivity for 400 hundred years. Then they would leave following a deliverer, (Moses following THE DELIVERER) and they would conquer the land.

Why? Because God is King in Israel.

And they would be a megaphone to all the world all the way until now. They would tell of His character- The God- King who comes to the dump and delivers and fights battles on behalf of a people who He foreknew would wander back to dumps. This God- who let Israel reject Him as king for one they could see with their eyes. Then through the line of repentant, God adoring David from the tribe of Judah would be promised the rightful King who would reign forever. This is the history that Ahab forgot to remember.

Then fast forward past Ahab and the rightful King Messiah would come and spill blood as the biggest testimony to our propensity for dumps. The Son of God tortured and killed by the human hands He came to save.

The blood that was spilled that day would pay for dump living once and for all and He offers freely His salvation and His kingdom to those who repent. His words spoken, “Come all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”, would now hold the weight of His blood. It was finished. He gave all of Himself. Then He would give more.

On that day of Pentecost, the promised Spirit would come in tongues of fire. Indwelling. Sealing the heart of the believers and whispering, “Believe, beloved, you were bought with the blood of the King who overcame death- rescuing you from the dump.” That Spirit is given to all His children who come by way of the blood, forsaking dumps and fairy tales.

Because God is King in Israel.

He does not change.

Not for the boy hitting the pipe- cursing the world.

Not for the boy who justifies intoxication.

Not for the drunk girl who stumbles unable to help her falling friend.

Not for the dumpster girls smoking pot after school.

Not for you and not for myself because He is love. 1 John 4:7-8 Love always does what is best for the beloved.

  He is the King and if we are redeemed then we are the megaphone:

Israel and those grafted into Israel.

The megaphone- a privilege to proclaim that the law is being fulfilled in us who walk not by the flesh but by the Spirit. Romans 8:4

Like Ahab, who thought he could go on- being the picture maker- taking holy sacred Israel and painting the landscape with altars to false gods, seating idol worshipers at the table to eat and serve to point others to these false gods. Like this king, we are placed in a time period full of picture painters, life builders, scene makers, self promoters- and the opportunity to follow suit.

This, though, is not your destiny not if you are a child of the King.

Your destiny is freely walking with the King in His purity and simplicity, boldness and power, peace and confidence because you know this King intimately and sit at His feet letting Him deal with you and are learning to hear and obey Him.

You, if blood-bought- are a megaphone and it must be only in His power. Surrendered servants are getting it (Take note: I did not say past tense got it).

The Lord bless you, dear reader, with pasture dwelling where you hear the voice of your Shepherd guiding you. Bless you with His rod and His staff serving as your comfort in those places where you are tempted to run to a dump for cover. Bless you in this generation to proclaim and minister, like Elijah, that God is indeed the King of Israel and that He is coming back.

To the King! To King’s Ways!

 In Christ Alone-

Diana

photo 8