Handing the Keys to Jesus {A Post on Learning to Live Like I’m Really His}

It would be completely absurd. Buying a new home and getting a list from the previous owner about what you can and can’t do.

“You can renovate the bathrooms, but not the kitchen. You can paint the kids’ rooms, but we’d prefer you not touch the master bedroom. You can add on a new patio, but definitely not a garage. Oh… and here is a list of the paint colors we’re okay with.”

Ridiculous, right? Because it’s your home now. You own it. You live in it. And yet, isn’t this exactly what we oh so easily slip into doing with the Lord?

“Sooooo… I know You paid for my life on the cross Jesus. You gave everything to purchase me and now I’m Yours. And I’m super grateful. I really am. BUT there are a few things I feel like we need to go over. You can mess with what I watch on TV, but I’m going to have to ask You to steer clear of my eating habits. You can move me to a new job, but I’m going to need it to stay in line with my own personal plans and dreams. I’m okay with being nicer to some people, but I would really like to keep the unforgiveness and bitterness I’ve been harboring towards you-know-who for years. And, I’m just thinking out loud here, but maybe You should just go ahead and run any and all changes by me first, ‘kay?”

I’m so convicted by this.

The beginning of 1 Corinthians 6:20 tells us we were “bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own].”

Are we receiving His gift of salvation, but then hedging on living like we’re His?

Are we fully handing these “houses,” these lives over to Him?

Are we trusting His love for us, the love that endured the cross for us, enough to let Him renovate, remodel, even gut as He sees necessary?

I don’t know what your answers are to those questions, but I know my own answers leave me needing to pray.

Oh, Jesus. I’m pretty sure I’m still holding on to the keys to this life You paid for. Sure, I let You come in. I let You visit. I take Your thoughts and plans into consideration. But I don’t know that I’ve ever let You fully have Your will and Your way in my life. Will You help me? Help me hand it all over to You, trusting that Your design, Your remodel will be better than anything I could ever come up with on my own. Help me remember that You are for me and not against me. That any changes You make are because You really do know what is best. Thank You for loving me enough to die for me. May that love work its way into my heart in such deep and real ways that I’m willing to fully live for You. In Your precious name I pray, Amen. 

So thankful for His grace.

Learning to live like I’m really His,
Kimberly 

When You Feel Like an Embarrassment to Jesus

Peter messed up. Not in private. In public. In front of God and everyone.
 
Sinking when he took his eyes off of Jesus.
Cutting off an ear that Jesus promptly replaced.
Promising to stick with Jesus and then denying Him – not once, not twice, but three times.
 
And goodness gracious do I ever feel like I get Peter. In my desire to live for Jesus, I feel like I’m constantly tripping up and getting out of sync with Him. Running ahead with misplaced zeal. Lagging behind from paralyzing fear. Ending up feeling sure that Jesus must be just about done with me because when am I ever going to get this living all out for Him thing right?
 
But Jesus does the same thing for me that He did for Peter. He invites me to sit with Him. To listen to Him. To give Him permission to lovingly redirect me. He helps me fix my eyes back on Him and Him alone.
 
And I keep thinking this morning about how Peter could have stopped. He could have given up. Embarrassed. Frustrated. His pride wounded. His faith shaken. But he didn’t. He humbly received both Jesus’ correction and His love.
 
And Jesus. He could have ripped all chances of ministry right out of Peter’s hands. Peter had certainly stumbled enough. But Jesus didn’t. He knew full well when He chose Peter how utterly and completely human he was. He knew how many times Peter would make a bit of a mess. But I believe He also saw how teachable Peter would be. How resilient. How willing to blow it in front of everyone for the sake of Christ he would be.
 
Sweet friend, I don’t know how many times you’ve blown it. I don’t know how many times you’ve been sure the Lord asked you to do something and then come to find out you were way off base. But I do want you to know this… that doesn’t mean Jesus is done with you. He fully knew you when He first chose you. Every weakness. Every mistake you would ever make. All of it. And He still said, “I want him. I want her. I choose you to minister love and hope in My name.”

He’s not embarrassed by you either. He’s still so glad He chose you. And He’s ever willing to dust you off with His unending grace and then help you keep moving forward with Him.

If you’re feeling a bit out of sync with Him right now, I hope you’ll do what Peter had to do. What I’m continually having to do.
 
Sit with Jesus.
 
Let Him course correct you where you need correction. Let Him love on you like no one else possibly can. Let Him recommission you. Let the Holy Spirit fill you afresh and then follow His lead. It’s okay if you’ve embarrassed yourself a thousand times in your zeal. God did mighty things through Peter – a man who pretty much embarrassed himself on the regular. And He can do mighty things through you and through me.
 

Keep living all out for Him, friend. And remember that we’re all going to stumble along the way.

Much Love,
Kimberly

When All You Want to Be Is Angry {Letting God Change the Composition of Your Heart}

notebookBlack marble composition notebooks.

They have been my prayer journal of choice for as long as I can remember. But it was many years before God showed me something hiding in plain sight, right there on the front cover.

I had come to Him with my journal in hand and a whole lot of hurt in my heart. Tears and angry words mingled on the lined paper as I poured out my pain. And instead of being met with a reprimand for the brutal honesty of my feelings, I sensed God’s “yes.”

“Yes, Kimberly. This is exactly what you need to do. Bring your hurt to Me first. Bring your pain and your questions to Me. When you do this, you’re doing what’s right there on the cover of your notebook.”

And that’s when I saw it. Plain as day. The two “i’s” in the word “composition” look like two little people, and between them is a “t”… a cross. And while I know it may sound a bit simplistic to some, it was exactly the encouragement I needed.

When I pray out my pain with God first, I’m positioning the cross between us. I’m putting Jesus between me and the person who has hurt me. I’m giving Him permission to remind me…

Of my own sin that placed Him there and my own need for grace.
Of the forgiveness I’ve freely received and must also freely give.
Of the truth that He loves us both and willingly died for each of us.
Of His ability and desire to do a deep work – not just in them, but in me.

And it’s what Jesus came to do. He came and positioned Himself between sinful me and a holy God, taking the wrath I deserved. Making a way for restored relationship. For restored hope and peace and joy.

And He’s Who we need to position between ourselves and the ones we want to pour out our wrath on. Letting Him do His healing and grace-filled work. Letting Him stand in with His love when we are struggling to drum up any of our own.

Because when we position Jesus between us, He changes the composition of our heart. Taking our bitterness and resentment. Healing us and making us whole. 

I don’t know who has hurt you. I don’t know who has caused you searing pain. But I do know it’s hard to stay angry when we’re brought to our knees by the tremendous love and sacrifice of Jesus.

Put the cross between you, sweet friend. And let Jesus speak first. Speaking love and hope and truth into your hurt before you utter words that will only serve to make things worse.

Truth I’m continually having to live out myself.

The Best Thing to Do at the End of a Hard Year

img_1684The Lord has had something stirring in my heart for a few weeks. Something that feels like a word of encouragement for the end of this year.

Because I think 2016 has been a hard year for a lot of people. I know it certainly hasn’t been the easiest one for my own family.

And whereas I sensed 2015 was a year of “leaving” – a year of asking God to unpack our bags of the heavy burdens we didn’t need to carry with us into the new year – I believe THIS is a year of “taking.”

Because while this has been a difficult year, God tells us that there is GOOD to be had in hard places. He strengthens us in those places. Gives us wisdom in those places. Reveals His faithfulness in those places. Pours out fresh hope in those places.

And it would be so tempting to look at 2016 and say, “Good riddance! Bring on a new year. Bring on a good year!!” But I sense God telling us not to leave this year without what is rightfully ours. To PLUNDER the dark places for the good He has provided.

Yes, the enemy tried to plunder our joy.
Yes, he tried to rob us of our strength.
Yes, he tried to steal every bit of our hope.

But our God is greater! He helped us keep getting back up. He helped us keeping moving forward. He filled our hearts and our mouths with fresh praise even though we felt sure we might never have reason to rejoice again.

So let’s not dare leave this year too quickly. Let’s not carelessly label it a loss and hastily move along. Let’s not leave empty-handed.

Let’s PLUNDER the year for all that was good, for all that was lovely, for all that is rightfully ours to carry on with us. Hard-won wisdom and hope and strength that will now carry us through when the enemy tries to steal from us again. Precious treasures that darkness tried to hide. The ones that are rightfully ours because we are beloved children of the Lord Most High.

Yes, friends. Yes. Let’s plunder the darkness and take what is ours.

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.”
Isaiah 45:3

{More verses to consider: James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5; Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20}

Love & prayers,
Kimberly 

When It Feels Like God Is Taking Your Dreams

img_1682Blessed and highly favored.

That’s what the angel Gabriel called Mary when he showed up with the news. The news that God was about to turn her whole life upside down.

And I can’t help but wonder what she had been doing in the moments before he arrived. Had she been thinking about Joseph? Was she wondering what life with him was going to be like? Was she planning out how she would make their home a sanctuary? Maybe even pondering how many children they would one day have?

When she heard the news from Gabriel – when he told her that she, a virgin, was going to conceive a child – she had to know. She had to know in an instant that she stood to lose everything.

Not just any dreams she had of being a wife.
Not just any dreams she had of bearing Joseph’s children.
Not just any dreams she had of a home spilling over with love.

She would possibly lose her own life – stoned to death by those who would question the swelling abdomen of a young girl not yet married.

And her “yes”… her full surrender … it humbles me more than I can say.

Because who among us, when God asks us to stretch ourselves, when He asks us to lay down everything we have been dreaming of, when He asks us to exchange our plans for His, consider ourselves blessed or highly favored?

No. We don’t tend to deal well with detours from our carefully laid out plans. We don’t tend to respond with joy when we find out God may possibly be taking away the very thing we’ve been longing for, for years.

But Mary.

She chooses to believe. She chooses to trust. She makes this holy exchange. Her willingness a kind of prophetic foreshadowing of what her Son will one day say in His own exchange. A “not My will, but Yours” kind of moment.

And, oh, the power and the beauty of her exchange.

Her will. Her plans. Her dreams. She empties herself of every single one. All to make room for His. And in the space of her surrender, God is able to bring forth the One who will not only be our salvation, but Mary’s as well.

All because her heart’s response to Him is one of trust.

I trust You. Completely. Even though I can’t see how this will all work out. Even though I stand to lose everything. Even though my heart is full of ideas on how I want my life to turn out. I trust You.

Oh, to trust Him like this. To believe we are BLESSED when He asks us to relinquish our plans and dreams. To see that giving up actually leads to gaining. That turning our world upside down for Him really means finding ourselves better off than we ever were before. That what seems like the end to all that we hoped for is actually the beginning of more than we ever would have dared to dream.

I love Eugene Peterson’s version of Ephesians 3:17-20 in The Message:

“And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”

We can hold on to our own plans. We can give God our firm and fear-filled “no.” Or we can trust His love for us completely. We can experience the breadth of it and test its length and plumb its depths as we humbly say “yes” to Him.

What we’ll end up with is what Mary ended up with – a fullness beyond what we could have ever planned for ourselves.

Because God isn’t asking us for everything so He can leave us empty.
He’s asking us for everything so He can make us full.   

Much love, dear friends.
Kimberly 

Why We Don’t Have to Unwrap God’s Presence This Christmas

img_1589There are Sundays where I know as soon as worship starts. I can feel it like a weight. A sweet heaviness in the air. God waiting for our worship to go up so His words can come down. Because worship, it has this way of opening our ears to hear and our hearts to receive.

And as I sang my own song to Him, telling Him how much we want to unwrap His Presence this Christmas, He dropped truth in my heart that left me undone. Truth that started with two images.

The first was of Jesus as a babe, tenderly wrapped by Mary and placed in a manger. {Luke 2:7}

The second was of the empty tomb, nothing left but the cloth they had wrapped His broken body in. {John 19:40; John 20:4-5}

And I sensed God’s holy whisper – “I’ve already unwrapped My Presence for you.”

Oh. My. Heart.

Jesus was wrapped in flesh for us… wrapped in swaddling cloths for us… wrapped in strips of burial cloth for us… and then freely and fully unwrapped when He rose from the grave… paving the way for unbroken intimacy with His Father for us.

Intimacy we get to experience not just in eternity. But here. Now.

And oh how I pray that we let this sink in deep. How our God is nothing like what has become engrained in our minds about gift giving. This Santa Clause mentality of “you’d better be good or you don’t get a thing.” We didn’t have to earn the gift of Jesus, and we don’t have to go to great lengths to unwrap the gift of God’s Presence.

We don’t have to be good enough.
We don’t have to work hard enough.
We don’t have to jump through holy, flaming hoops.

Jesus came as a gift. His body was given as a gift. And now we can enjoy the gift of His Father’s Presence. Purely because of grace.

This Christmas, we can simply sit with Him. Worship Him. Soak Him in. And freely receive the love and grace and mercy and hope we find there.

Because we don’t have to unwrap His Presence.
It’s already been done for us.

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” Ephesians 3:12

Merry Christmas, friends!
Kimberly 

When Life Feels More Frustration Than Song

img_1218I prayed recently that God would let my life be a song to Him. A beautiful one that continues to echo even long after I’m gone.

His reply to me in the days that followed caught me a bit off guard.

“Practice your scales.”

My scales?

Memories of my childhood and the brief amount of time I spent sitting in front of a piano began to surface. God had truths He wanted to impress on my heart. Truths to help me keep going when faith feels too hard and I just want to give up.

So grateful my sweet blogging friend, Leah Adams, invited me to share at her blog! You can read my post “When Faith Feels More Frustration Than Song” HERE.

Practicing My Scales,
Kimberly