The War Inside

Each of us experience turmoil.

We have to make personal choices and decisions, there’s conflict in a family or with our neighbor, co-worker stuff, church stuff, and friendship stuff. On top of that we are all impacted by global strife in ways we realize and ways we may not.

In this week’s video study we focus in on James 4:1-5 and talk about the nitty gritty of wars raging in and how we push those wars to the outside because they are so uncomfortable. Christ declares us righteous and holy in Him through all of it!

Find the archived link here on the I Love My Shepherd YouTube channel:

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section here or on YouTube.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:21-25a


Questions from this week’s study:
Where do you see the war inside of you come out?
What hope does knowing you live as both sinner and saint offer?
What useful questions can you ask yourself or others in this struggle?
What kinds of things do you want and covet?
What things do you see people quarreling about? Is it about Jesus or just stuff?

 

Notes:

simul justus et peccator – whatdoesthismean.org

simul justus et peccator – ligonier.org

Love Your Life Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze

The Rescue of Ransom

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Day 2 – The rescue of ransom

Two years ago we came out of one of the most difficult times in our lives. We had a season like no other of fighting the good fight, standing strong, and letting God hold us up when we had nothing left.

One day, during the struggle, we were driving from somewhere to something. What it was, I can’t even remember, and it hardly matters. What I remember was my husband blaring the radio to some song.

My nerves were on edge and I asked him to turn it down.

“So, it’s kind of loud.”

His response: “Yep.”

“No, I mean, it’s really loud.” I lean up to turn it down. Insert death glare from my husband here. I leaned back. Now, he’s singing along.

I lose it. “Dave, seriously, can’t we turn it down. This is ridiculous. You’re not even listening to me. It’s TOO LOUD!”

My husband, who asks for so very little, you have to understand. He rarely has an opinion about anything less than what is eternally significant. He looked at me and his eyes turned a little sad. “Can’t you hear it? Listen.”And so I did. I listened.

You hold my head up.
You remind me who I am.
You hold my head up.
I’m alive in You again.
I’m made new.
(Made New, Lincoln Brewster)*

What I didn’t understand, that became crystal clear in a moment, was that my husband needed to know that God called him loved and that God called him ransomed, that God called him new. I had spent so much of my time concerned with my own needs, particularly in our struggle and suffering. I was raging against God, yelling at Him in the dark of night, and offering my tears as a living sacrifice of prayer. My husband, however, was clinging to what He knew, what He had read in the Word, what He had been instructed in since he was a tow-headed toddler on chubby legs.

This song in that moment reminded him of the Biblical truths stored deep in His heart – he was God’s. He was held by God. He was made new in God. Maybe most importantly during that time for him was this message, though…God lifts our heads, God lifts our shame.

We hear this Truth in Isaiah 35:8-10 –

And a highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
    It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
    even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.[a]
No lion shall be there,
    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
    but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

We walk a road, even in trouble and difficulty, that is not shaming. We walk a road paved by the Savior of the world, who has gone before us. We will not be attacked by ravenous beasts, although sometimes it feels like it. This is the road for the redeemed. The devil, he tries, but he may not have us. Jesus keeps us on the path, walking sure and strong, heads held high. Though we may feel like tucking our tails, hiding away beneath a rock, Christ is the one holding our faces high. His intercession for us reminds us Whose we are. We belong to the Most High God. We are Holy, because He is Holy. We have been ransomed – brought out – of whatever has tried to overcome us.

Everlasting joy is on our heads, not guilt, not struggle, not shame.

Psalm 47:5-7 –

God has gone up with a shout,
the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!

Look also a couple chapters later at Psalm 49:7-8, as well as 49:15.

Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life,
for the ransom of their life is costly
and can never suffice…
But God will ransom my soul from the
power of Sheol
(death/hell),
for he will receive me.

He is King. Only He can save. Only He is enough. No person, no man, no ruler, no idea can rescue us, can bring us out and lift our heads as He can.

Only He determines our value and He calls us worth ransoming.

Thank you, Lord! Hold your heads up, girls! You have been brought out. You have been ransomed.

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Exploration:

What other Scriptures come to mind when you think of God paving the way, or God’s work on a road/path?

What are some examples of things that trap people in shame and keep them from seeing their value in Christ Jesus?

 

*Made New by Lincoln Brewster Official Lyric Video

*Photo overlay made with the instaquote app. Photos tagged by ilovemyshepherd.com are always sharable!

What Christians have

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I was listening to the radio the other day and I heard about two seconds of the speaker before I clicked over to another station. But who knew that two seconds could be just as impactful as two hours.

The sentence that I heard was this,

“No one is righteous. Not one. That’s the bad news, but do I have good news for you!”

Later, after listening to my tunes in the van and running people to violin lessons and grabbing sour cream from Aldi and, and, and…when I finally sat down, I heard that speaker in my ear. He was a low key speaker. He wasn’t blasting a message loud and proud against the airways. I felt like I was in a coffee shop with him. I felt like he was a friend who had something interesting to tell me.

And he’s right.

We have good news!

And people need good news these days.

Terrorism and genocide, human trafficking, domestic violence, child abuse of all kinds.

We live in a world where people walk into schools and malls and don’t just point guns but shoot them. Hundreds of people are killed.

One person is killed. That’s enough.

It hurts to turn on the news. It hurts to read an article. It hurts to scroll through my Facebook feed.

We have good news.

How about we tell them?

How about we share it, not yelling from the street corners, well maybe, sometimes, but mostly like we’re in a coffee shop. With people we know. People we have relationships with. People that are hurting. People that are tired of watching life implode on the screen before them.

“Did you see that piece about the refugee crisis?”

Yes. I have good news…

“Did you hear about the bombing in France?”

Yes. I have good news…

“Oh my goodness! The floods look terrible!”

Yep. I have good news…

It sounds too easy, right? It sounds pat. But is it?

God, sent His son, His only son, to die in our place, to not only redeem our souls, to tend to them, to hold them safely in His hand, but also to restore them. To restore me and all things around me. To raise us up, to give us more than shifting sand and bloody wars and hungry children and desperate mothers.

He restores. He redeems. He makes new. He reaches in. He lifts up.

I’ve got good news.

I need it like ships need a harbor and like crops need rain and like snowflakes need cold. You need it, my friend. You need it too.

He is something different. Jesus.

He is good news.

 

 

*image used from the pexels image gallery – Thank you pexels!

Childhood nightmares, adult solutions

So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
John 20:3-4
 
When I was a little girl I had a lot of bad dreams. A lot of bad dreams. It seemed like anything could lead to a nightmare – someone talking about ghost stories, a scary movie preview on primetime television, or a bully’s threat at school.
 
In most of my nightmares, I was running. Running from something, trying to get somewhere, out of breath, exhausted, tripping over branches and divots of grass and hidden treachery. As I laid in my bed, the branches scrapping the window signaled someone trying to get me, I came up with infinite excuses for drinks of water and extra hugs, mostly I imagined what would come for me in my dreams that night.
 
I’m sure there is a psychological explanation for all of this, but honestly I’m not sure I care to know. I came from a stable and loving family. I didn’t experience any form of abuse. The real curse was my extremely overactive imagination.
 
What I do know is that I hated to run for years. I saw it as a punishment inflicted to my body and soul. At recess my best friend and I would sit on swings and hash over our current favorite book reads and imagine what we would do when we were grown up – anything from European princesses, to journalists, to doctors curing disease. Watching everyone one else on the playground run around us.
 
Running the mile in gym class…pure torture. “Why would anyone ask this of awkward adolescents?” I complained. I circled around that track four times and consistently came in at my 12 minute marker. Gag. It was anxiety producing and embarrassing.
 
At 14, I decided to face my running “fear” head on. I joined track and ran the 400 for about 3 weeks. By the end of which I embraced my new general life rule of – Why spend time doing something you hate so much?
 
And so I didn’t. I quit, but unbeknownst to me I began simultaneously running in another way, looking and searching. I ran to everything else, instead of what I really needed to be running to… that empty tomb, that risen Savior. I ran to be the best academically. I ran to boys that I thought might love me. I ran to adventures and folly and anything that hinted of excitement.
 
So, this Easter, sitting in the pew listening to my husband speak the Word, these verses jumped out to me.
 
Both of them were running together…”
The other disciple outran Peter…”
 
Instantly in my head I could see myself in those disciples running toward something that mattered. I realized that God’s grace was in the running. That with Christ, I was no longer running from something, but I was invited to run towards something.
 
I remember one glorious spring day in college, my husband-to-be flippantly asked me to go for a run with him. We weren’t dating, I’m not even sure at that point I was interested in him. God reveals all that good stuff in His time. But I was shocked to hear my own tongue say, “Sure. Meet you in 15 minutes in the Triangle.”
 
 
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Looking back, Dave was safe. His gracious spirit and tongue that constantly dripped words of encouragement, spoke grace in my life in a way that was new and fresh and sent me running to find an empty tomb, a unneeded burial cloth, a new day.
 
Who has been that person in your life? Who has spoken Jesus afresh to you in this season of your life?
 
Can you walk to the tomb? Of course. No need to take up running as a hobby to cement your relationship with Christ. That’s not the point of this message. The point is, for me running was fear. Running was anxiety. And Jesus offered me gifts beyond what I could even see, which He revealed this Easter day, March 2016. I was made to run to Him, no matter the darkness or the daylight, the sorrow or the unexpected sweetness.
 
Jesus’s Word, His empty tomb always offers healing, sometimes in very specific ways. Where are you in need of healing? What anxieties surround you? Run them to Him. Run, run, run. Let His grace seep in to every little place. And then rest in His presence. Assured of His marvelous mercy.

Rising up from the dust

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Day 5 – Rising up from the dust

 
When I was a sophomore in high school my parents took me out of class to go to the 10AM Ash Wednesday service at church. I can’t remember the reason, but something prohibited us from going in the evening and this was how my parents rolled.
 
I came back to school about lunchtime, completely unaware of the cross blazed across my forehead. But instantly one of my male classmates, who shall remain nameless, walked up to me and stammered, “What’s on your face?” and proceeded to rub my head vigorously to remove the cross.
I stood in shock, all systems shut down from the basic humiliation, turned on my heel, walked to the bathroom, entered a stall, and promptly burst into tears. I didn’t know what to think. At that space in my life, I couldn’t recognize the spiritual significance of what had happened to me. All I knew was that something about his actions rocked me deep in my core.
 
I said a prayer of empowerment, gathered myself, and walked out of the bathroom stall, directly to unnamed classmate and said quietly, “You may not touch my personhood again. You may not defame what I hold dear. His name is Jesus and you should probably get to know Him.”
 
This girls, was a Holy Spirit moment, if there ever was one.
 
In my youth, I dutifully followed the religion of my parents, I embraced Lutheranism head on, not because I believed it at that point, but because I needed it to reign me in. Sophomore year was my worst and my moral compass was all over the place, laced with feminism, hedonism, and many other -isms thrown in for good measure. I knew Jesus because He called me in my baptism, but I didn’t trust Him enough to include Him in my life and I surely, at this point, wasn’t introducing anyone else to Him.
 
All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return.” Ecclesiastes 3:20
 
Dust and ashes on my forehead were what woke me up from a youthful spiritual stupor. I started searching for Jesus with everything I had, to find out that He had found me long before and my heart was alighted with just how shockingly deep the Father’s Love is.
 
Dust isn’t our whole story, but it certainly is a huge component of it. Ecclesiastes shares the message that dust reminds us where we come from and where we are going (Ecc. 3:19-21, Ecclesiastes 12:1-8). The writer of Ecclesiastes, I’m sure, was just as wowed by God’s full plan, when He saw Jesus for the first time in heaven, as we are when we read it in His Word. Let’s take a minute to be wowed, sisters.
 
Let’s follow the trail of God’s dust from creation to purposeful destruction, to resurrection and on to restoration.

Everything is beautiful in its time. This is what our study, if anything, has taught us.
 
First – Creation…
Let’s read Genesis 2:5-7
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 
 
Formed from the dust, by the hands of our Creator. Our first breath, His breath. I wonder at the conversation between the persons of the Trinity at this moment. Matthew Henry tells us that the Hebrew noun for Creator in Ecclesiastes 12:1 below, is plural. How beautiful is that!
 
 
Second – Purposeful Destruction
Genesis 3:17-19
 And to Adam he said,
Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
 
Underline or circle every reference to the ground or dust above. Sin brought destruction to our world, but God would use it for His purposes. Even this, He will make beautiful. You could also look at the Babylonian captivity to see God’s work in purposeful destruction, of His temple, of His people, of the way people thought it would be forever…all to lead us to Him. (Check out Isaiah 17 or Daniel 9.)
 
 
Third – Christ in the dust.
Christ is born among the dust of animal feed (Luke 2:7). He bends down into the dust to lift up weary souls burdened with the weight of sin, oppression, and judgement during His time on earth (Psalm 113:7, John 8). He let His face be ground into the dust as He took our sins on Himself and bore our iniquities (Matthew 26). And He was eventually laid in a dusty tomb, carved out of the rock (John 19:41-42).

Fourth – Christ is risen from the dust.
Let’s read it fresh…Matthew 28:1-7 –
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

Verse 6 proclaims beauty from the ashes, beauty out of the dust…
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.
Come, see the place where he lay.
 
See where he lay. He’s not there. He did what He said. Thank you, Jesus.
 
Fifth – Restoration from the dust.
Whether we’re talking about personal restoration or the restoration of the whole of creation, Jesus is surely faithful.
 
Isaiah 61:1-3
he Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
 
A beautiful headdress instead of ashes. Comfort, freedom, praise.
 
Acts 3:18-21
But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the thingsabout which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.
 
Restoration…everything beautiful in it’s time. In His time.
 
What does this mean for you? What has Jesus restored or what are you waiting for Him to restore?
 
How will all of creation look different in the Restoration? The Last Day isn’t just about judgement and terror. For Christians, it’s about the culmination of all time, being eagerly restored by a God we know intimately.
 
Praise be to Him, girls! That day in high school years ago, I had no idea why my forehead dust meant so much. Today, when I go to Him in prayer and worship, when my husband places the ashes on my forehead and proclaims, “From dust you came, From dust you shall arise!” I know. When I heartily reply, “He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!” this Sunday, I praise Him for using moments of humiliation, moments of destruction, moments of struggle, moments of joy, moments of peace, moments of confusion, moments of understanding.
 
Everything beautiful in His time. Every moment, all in Him.
 
Oh, I will miss you girls! Thank you for taking the last 9 weeks to study with me. I have learned and been stretched and I pray you have been too. 
 
Until next time, in Him, much love,
 
🙂 Heidi