Reformed? Charismatic? Reformed Charismatic?

I am currently pecking out intentional words  in a memoir and one of my life shaping sentences writes like this, “Charismatic expression, hellfire and brimstone are a mess of twisted sticks in my roots.  I’ve sorted through that tangled mass of doctrine, and by an invisible and mysterious grace kept the truths they taught,  and with some hard work and prayer sweat managed to dig out and discard the rest.”

I am burdened and pressed flat, rolled over and squeezed out as I write.  I find myself praying for revival continually. Wrestling like Jacob. Hoping like Abraham for Holy Spirit fire, for God to renew His wonders in our day, for an Acts 4 experience where walls shake when sons and daughter’s gather to pray and an anointing power pours out that empowers us to live a bold and ragged-raw gospel. I find myself praying for the body to operate in all of the gifts of the Spirit so that we function at optimal health,

so that not one is lacking,

and I am a five point Calvinist.

Yet, I long for the God of experience.

I burn.

I cry with Moses, “show me Your glory!”

 I want to walk roads of dust with Jesus,

and Peter,

and John,

and James,

and see miracles, touch his robe and be healed,

see the enemy defeated where it seems he has trespassed on holy ground, and I can’t help but believe,

it’s coming.

I believe there is a great divide that has left us fractured, as a global body of believers, in the magnitude of a 7.9 theological quake.

On one side we have charismatics with a fiery faith, believing in the God who responds while we are still praying (Daniel 9:23), and still grants words of prophesy that are meant to encourage and strengthen those who are disheartened, weary, feeble.  Words that reach out and gently lift a downward head toward Christ and say, “March on, Saint, the battle is the Lord’s, take heart,

The lion of Judah has roared!

Have we forgotten that we belong to an ancestry of those who bent for hours in ragged prayer, interlaced with unknown tongues on floors in intercession for the perishing and persecuted? The ones who still believe in the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever and still heals real life threatening diseases, abnormalities, deformities?

I envy their freedom to believe, and yearn for such childlike faith that knows,

their daddy can fix anything.

I love my Sovereign God who does whatever He pleases (Daniel 4:35)

and…

I believe in the hope of those who long to see Him renew His wonders in our day (Habakkuk 3:2).

I dance like David within the safety of my four walls free from judgmental staring and fear-filled stoicism.

I writhe on my floor in prayer and intercede in ways that leave me in awe of something beyond my humanness that believes God is responding to hearts He has already positioned to pray in faith, like this…

because He delights to answer and bends low to listen when we tell stories of answered prayer between miles and worlds,

riches and poverty,

 loneliness and belonging,

sickness and health. 

And in our lowly posture we grow ever more in intimate relationship with Him through aching knees and heavy hearts.

These words I pen stem from the fingers of a life that has shared in some of the sweetest of sufferings with Christ, and in my suffering hope rose,

out of gray dust and taught me to sing,

“whom have I in heaven but You, and besides, You I desire nothing on earth” (Psalm 73:25).

Still I pray the words of truth that have tattooed themselves on my frontal lobe in order that I will remember to pray them…”and God gave him rest on all sides… “(2 Samuel 7:1).

And I dare to believe in the God of Job,

who restores.

I pray with longing for the day when all is restored, and the curse is broken.  Yet there are caverns in my heart that echo, “I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:-13).

On the other side, could it be that we are indoctrinated to a fault so much so that we suffocate ourselves in the systemized study of theology and forget the supernatural God who revealed Himself through human hands that healed and gave Divine authenticity to the Jewish carpenter’s son through miracles and wonders?

This God who shook walls in prisons in response to praise, and cast out demons, and raised the dead, and healed the blind and the lame, and made well the sick.

We say our foundation is firm, but the one man has built upon below believers’ feet has quaked because its builders have labored on a theological fault-line that made us choose!

Is this a call to return to the God of the Bible? Could it be both sides are sick? Are we not a people who is to embrace the gospel as a whole so that we may be made whole?

To dance like David undignified with all his might?  He may have looked like one who had gone mad wildly thrusting his body about.  What would us stoic conservatists say if  we witnessed a King do that today?

or even our own pastor?

What happened to having the Spirit of David shape our hearts so that we do not move unless we first inquire of the Lord with an expectancy that He will answer and go before us?

Are we paralyzed with fear that if the Spirit shows up in an unfamiliar way people will run? But if we so embrace the Sovereignty of God then what could we possibly fear about that?  If we, reformers, believe nothing happens apart from His will, can we not embrace what might feel uncomfortable to us, trusting He does whatever He pleases on earth, turning men’s hearts any way He desires to?

If a man’s heart is turned to prophesy, are we not called to test the spirits and to keep that which is good, encouraging him in his gift? If one were to speak in an unknown tongue over us, would we tremble in awkward fear or wait expectantly for an interpretation from another?

If we say we have enough faith to believe in the sovereignty of God who raises up kings and tears them down and believes all suffering is for His glory and our good, can we not believe in the God who manifests the Spirit given to us as a pledge and a seal and with a power beyond reasoning? If we are truly filled with the power of God, why are we content to only see that which is humanly attainable?

and not dare to believe in the God who is able to do more than we can even ask or think?

Oh to believe like David who didn’t hesitate to listen for the Lord marching on the tops of balsam trees believing this Mighty God was on His way before him in order that he may slay an army and experience rest on all sides for a season. (2 Samuel 5:24).

And are we not a people to follow Paul’s example in shipwreck, in hunger, in poverty, in sleeplessness, in little, in prison, believing with a supernatural faith that the gospel is not imprisoned? And all this spins itself out in cracked jars so we see glory filled power housing itself in earthen vessels. Are we not the ones to share in the sufferings of Christ refined through molten fire?

Oh believer, God created us with a longing for more of Him.  For some, that means to long for more theology that they are lacking,

so that they may know God!

For others it means to long for more experience so that they do not shrivel up and die of thirst and hunger despairing because they have not heard, felt, tasted and seen His goodness pulled down by gravity, reaching through the body,

trembling in His presence.

We are to thirst for the living God.  If He is living, does that not mean that there is a divine energy within and around us that is meant to be experienced and known in Spirit manifestations that are meant to edify and offer hope?

The christian life is a complexity of blessing and suffering.  Gain and sacrifice.  Seasons of rest and seasons of an exhausting weariness.  Calendars of sickness and health,

like marriage.

Are we not betrothed to a Holy God who does whatever He pleases yet cares for us as a loving, cherishing and protecting husband?

Within this holy union between believer and Heaven’s King there will be times of ease and rest and renewal and blessing after blessing,

and times we are called to walk a dark road of suffering trusting Him for strength for each step, even when all we can do is crawl to the cross.  But the crawlers need the faith to believe that God is a God who heals and restores and meets needs and that Holy Spirit power will be poured out and fanned afresh if we consecrate ourselves to our living God and repent of our unbelief.

If our heart’s collectively cry with expectancy, “Show us Your Glory!” Resonating between the reformed and the charismatic, in humility gleaning from one another more riches of His glorious grace, may we then reach across the divide

extending  an invitation

to dance with one another, swaying to a holy harmony,

healing under Christ’s triumphant crescendo,

so that we may run like gospel warriors together conquering in Holy Spirit power.

whatever that looks likes.

praying for revival, burning with Holy Spirit fire,

trish

hidden treasure in chronic illness

This week has been one of those weeks…

a week where the new roll of toilet paper sits on top of the empty roll until the new roll runs out.

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It’s unlike me not to change it, but I have been distracted.  I have had to preach to myself in order not to give in to a theology of fear that threatens to rob me of my steadiness in a Sovereign God who reminds me that “all the days He ordained for me were written in His book...when as yet there was not one of them (Psalm 139:16).  

And that “He performs what is appointed for me…and will accomplish what concerns me.” (Job 23:14, Psalm 138:8).

Some things are hidden and stay hiding in dark places reeking of must or damp cardboard.  These things got put away with a heart that couldn’t let them go, wanting them to be remembered, relived, re-read, framed or even put on display.   But they didn’t mean as much to the ones who came later,

passing through marked decades...

these items laden with layers of our existence…

dust…

remind us of where we came from and to where we shall return.  They speak a language of fragility, that displays our human weakness.  Pictures fade, ink seems to disappear into the yellowing of aging paper of letters written by hands that ached to touch the one they were sending words to. Silver and brass tarnish…and the fingers that marked them and souls that took pleasure in them have since absconded,

while bones lie down in dirt.

But if we studied them long enough,

we would learn that there are invaluable treasures in the dark places.

Boxes that house years, that keep a steady moving in sync with seasons, that turn into centuries of unknown value.  Lives that beared an Image. Hidden treasure meant to be discovered.

So one day we climb stairs, or descend them, searching and rearranging and find ourselves disappearing into hours and afternoons remembering with sighs and tears and hope and spark and new discovery.

Eyes scanning, souls sinking deep into a life that was here…

and glistened in reflection of the Author of it all.

Invisible prints of feet in wet dirt walked here and then blew away.

But in the blowing,

the wind obeyed it’s Master’s course.

Not one life escaped His notice.  Nothing they left could stay hidden for long, even if that’s what they wanted.

They lived, they breathed, they ate, they drank, they touched what we now touch, remnants of their story, portions that leave us aching for more. They got sick, body rejecting, healed…returning.

And we are better for the remembering… savoring…

the discovery.

So how does a chronic illness remind us of treasures in dark places?

I was 30 when a routine blood test exposed hiding cells that tried to flee back into angry veins with every sharp stick of that shiny point.  But the plunge of the needle into skin and stubborn blue pathways found them,

the ones that work for our bodies when we get cut deep and bleed long.  They work to clot our blood, rushing in and swiftly adhering to each other,

saving us. 

But I had too many…way too many,

and the risk of a sudden clot lodging in my heart, lung or brain was too high. My bone marrow had kicked into overdrive and couldn’t shut itself down without help.

The bigger needle used to suck up marrow extracted from my hip, strong and hard from my year of running miles alongside mornings, would prove a challenge to the one who extracted its gelatinous substance.

And then we waited two weeks to hear words like,

benign, leukemia, stroke, heart attack, small doses of chemotherapy every day the rest of your life, small chances of cancer forming, and oh yeah, we don’t know the long term side-effects since we typically don’t use this medication for someone as young as you.  Twenty years long might not be desirable, but when your 60 and start it, its ok. Most of our patients are over 60.  

I was 30.

My blood disease kept hiding though…symptoms remained nameless and kept to themselves.  If they wanted to see this rare condition they had to keep sticking that same scarred over piece of peachy flesh covering one  ungratefully stubborn vein, so they did,

every eight weeks.

“And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me…”.

In His weaving of me, in a dark place inside my mother’s safe and tiny womb-house, He knew the day would come when this chronic illness could no longer hide, and that  He would bring it into light,

shining through aging cracks of an earthen vessel.

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That day would come drowned in tears and a fear chasing it back to yesterday where it didn’t exist, yet it would tenderly lead my trembling soul through a doorway of tomorrow that would unveil my greatest Treasure.

That door would open into a world of sight, taste, touch and sound my senses had not been aroused to.  Like the God who calls us into a living breathing relationship with Holy and discovers that even mutated blood flows intermixed with the divine energy of the One who breathed new life into me.

The Creator of time and light, and me and the worker bee, and the human-like emotion of the dolphin,  and lines drawn for seas, would continue to reveal Himself  to me through the lens of chronic illness.

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I learned that though I suffered loss in three miscarriages, that were probably all a result of my run-away marrow, He still appointed me two more babies to smell, and to press warm skin against mine.  To show them Jesus and see how He marked them and set them apart, and to show them how to live believing,

every day of their lives were ordained and written in His book.

When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, everything you thought you controlled rolls away from you like mad thunder and strikes lightning in your soul that awakens a helpless dependency.  This dependency fights hard against natural desire and it bends you under its fierce wind.  This is an intentional bending…fashioned by Holy, formed by Love, shaped by gentle power,

clothed with gospel intention.

Chronic illness forces us to slow down…to slow down enough to hear that Voice without sound interrupt plans and schedules and dreams and work and play. It can force us to invest into people and places, like the sanctuary of home, and hostile relationships that  once seemed to run second or third or fourth in our all-in mad sprint toward being the winner, because we matter more.

If we are willing, chronic illness presses us to give up first place, come in last, and serve others who keep trying to win.

Chronic illnesses force us to not only be dependant on a Sovereign God, but to be humble enough to say, “no,” or to admit we need more rest, or listen to professionals that God uses to help write our stories for His glory, or to take medication we think we don’t need.

To not to listen could be to sin as we try and prove our invincibility that shapes itself into a destructive idol.

You hem me in…and have laid your hand upon me (Psalm 139:5).

Fifteen years of a powerful drug counting platelets, teaches me tomorrow does not belong to us and to not live-tomorrow-today/ .

Chronic illness taught me to breathe,

and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them, 

and live it without fear of the last  chapter, the last page, the last sentence. the Author is my Father, and He gives to me what is good.

My life verse has become, “Whom have I in heaven but You, and besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26).

There is a treasure in this cracked jar of clay that houses this chronic benign blood disorder, and it is the reminder that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to me.

The theology of fear and the sovereignty of God simultaneously whisper, tomorrow does not belong to you…one steals joy, the other settles the future steadying you today.

So which voice will become your Treasure?

held, consumed, crazy in love with Jesus,

trish

don’t forget to join the conversation.  Tell your story…leave a comment, or subscribe to this blog!  Thank you for reading, may He bless you richly!

Sisterhood

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It was the deep freeze of the first month when they asked me to speak. There is a certain tribe of female descendents of Abraham that have let their hearts bleed into mine in a way that made us kin. Our messy pools of heart spill just sort of ran together that way and like a river flows into an ocean, we found our trails of blood intermingling and flowing into a sea of grace at the base of wood where Jesus hung. It is there where we were given a new language, holiness unspoken,

with every embrace

and softness of lips on cheeks…

and touch of aging skin wrapped around fingers…

that echoes “you belong to me now…”

These beautiful disciples, woven with softness of femininity, have been Sovereignly knitted to me.  We are colors without names, for who can describe the brilliance of the One who wove the dull, worn and faded threads of our lives into His…in order that this patchwork of polka dotted sisters might reflect a sort of radiance like a diamond captures color.

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And I think that’s what happened in the season where leaves rust, and twenty degrees lower blows in cool, but the sun…

the sun’s glow still heats earth, in the same way we are warmed by the fiery heat of a God who commands the morning,

and chases the runner. 

This God who scatters frost…

and fills up heaven’s storehouses with snow…

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Has appointed times for icy hearts to unfreeze and be kindled afresh

until bones feel fire.

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It was the entrance of autumn when I spoke…and we, like the blowing leaves with crisp edges, tapped out a holy rhythm…a Sovereign song composed for us, and for them and our retreat went like this…

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He taught us about a woman who sold her body again and again to hungry men that wore her sin.  It was civil robbery, for they robbed her of more than she was selling, yet her heart deceived her and offered services she thought she could separate from her soul,

until she heard about

the carpenter’s Son.

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She had heard He preached good news to the poor, the ones destitute of Christian virtue, lowly, afflicted…unable to save themselves.

and her soul awakened out of its sin-sleep

and she ran…

and fell…

and wept…

and shattered her most valuable treasure…

at His feet,

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in front of the rich, the astute, the law teachers, and the righteous,

and they all

hated her.

It is there where she risked everything to get to Jesus and declare in silent posture,

THIS IS GOD,

DOES YOUR SOUL NOT KNOW IT?

as she wept and washed His feet with tears and hair.

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and then the women who came to retreat,

traveled to the cross,

with their pieces of shattered Alabaster stone marked with sins now being laid at the cross…heard,

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“your sins which are many have been forgiven, for you have loved much, go in peace Luke 7:47-50).

And then He told us He had a secret place for us.  For just us and Him and to find it and return their day after day after day and enter into familiar conversations with Him and to recline on His bosom like John,

so that we may have an unwavering assurance like the beloved disciple,

who felt the scratch of His beard,

and the beat of His heart strong

against his back,

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and heard words wrapped in warm breath.

John saw, tasted, heard, and felt

everything our hearts long for.

And we learned that the secret counsel is for those who fear Him…(Psalm 25:14), and that is where we feel Him hemming us in (Psalm 139:2).

and where we know that our “valley of Achor, (trouble)

is a door of hope,

as He reminds us who we have been betrothed to in the holiest of marriages (Hosea 2).

On the Celebration Sunday of retreat, I shared for the first time, my story of how I was left splintered, hanging off the edge of reality, slipping into insanity, and finally completely shattered.  My cracked words flowed out alongside tears as I sniffled my way through tie-me-to-you.

We learned that we are invited into His chamber and that the kiss of His mouth is better than the sweetest of lingering wines…(Song of Solomon 1:2),

and that we are to drink deeply and be intoxicated with the fragrance of His love, and when we are this love-sick for Him, His name will drip like honey from our tongues and our gardens will breathe out a gospel fragrance.

We learned He found us when we were ripe for love, like so many of the women there, and that He covered our nakedness and gently bathed us and poured healing oil on our wounds (Ezekiel 16:8-9).

And we heard,

Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come along.  For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone.  The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.  The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.  Arise my darling, ,y beautiful one, and come along!” (Song of Solomon 2:11-13).

We traveled to the-cross/

We learned He was waiting for us to come and meet with Him in our closets or living rooms and feel His power like Moses did in a tent of canvas,

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where he had Holy conversations with his familiar friend (Exodus 33:7-11).

We returned to our First Love.

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I am humbled, broken, and overwhelmed that God led me to women I could share my broken alabaster story with.  I know He has knitted my heart to yours and I continue to pray for each. One. Of. You. We are a sisterhood washed in blood, and scrubbed raw in mercy. He has knitted our souls to one another.  We are kin.

held, consumed in Holiness I do not deserve,

trish

dont forget to join the conversation! Subscribe to this blog, or leave a comment! I want to hear how God met you, continues to meet you and rescue you!

The fight

imageIt’s a dark, cold morning that came wrapped in fall.  The wind howls outside my window like a lonely ghost. I hold in my hands words entrusted to me to guard for I know Whom I have believed and Who wrote them. I press them to my face and breathe in deep. I believe, like the rise and fall of my chest, the inflating of my lungs, the rhythm of red that reminds me I’m alive pulsing out a prayer.  I have one thing to say as my fingers tap dance out words to a Holy script,

we are not alone…we are never alone.

He said trouble would find us. He said we would have to fight like soldiers, ambassadors, run like athletes. He said a promise formed on lips builds a fortress around a heart, when we know there’s an enemy.

There’s always an enemy.

 He said we would fight against ourselves and our wanting and craving would leave us hungry sick. He said our tongues would kill us. He said we no longer belong to ourselves but to the one He tied us to. He said we would have to carry our cross,

and like Simon of Cyrene, carry our spouses, too.

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He said we would feel a slow tearing and unraveling like a favorite shirt, well worn and loved, now unsaveable, the hole too big. If the two who were one were left to themselves, the hole would divide, threads blown away in yesterday’s wind.

And so we watch.  We have watched five pairs of geese, you know the ones who mate for life, at least they say they do, fly hungry and alone, in less than two years. We are filled with a sorrow strong as death; a swallowing grave.  We are filled with a fear that our nest may grow cold without the other to warm us. We are filled with a trembling that dares to look up with expectation to a Holy God that presses into us and keeps His joining of two, knowing that apart from Him we will end up as one, scarred from the jagged tear of divorce.

We’ve begged for papers transcripted by man to lead us out of this holy union. We’ve blown words like poisonous darts at one another, aiming to kill. We have withheld touch, affection, encouragement and worst of all prayer from one another.  We have sought freedom from the other who wore our blame in layers and layers until they stunk to us. We believed our lies

that we would be better apart than together.

That our children would we better and recover from angry ripped pieces of their lives searching for a holy stitching. Craving the tender kiss of God to awaken stony hearts.  Hearts once soft trusting, moldable.

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Children shaped and formed by a love that marked them with a personality, a mole, a laugh, a mop of curls or thin strands, smooth and straight.

Children taught not to throw stones, now bending, gathering,  building a wall round their hearts. Laying one stone atop the other, with every fight. Every  argument. Every selfish desire. Every wandering eye.  Every, in between the minutes, fantasy that there is something more satisfying than this.

Another stone.

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This marriage has seen trouble. This marriage has been wracked by the forces of greed luring us into a deep that drowned out hope

that forgot how to laugh.

This marriage has left scars on hearts

and holes in walls,

shards of glass on floors.

This marriage has seen financial collapse.

This marriage has knowing sickness, benign blood cancers lurking

threatening to steal tomorrow,

alcohol robbing.

This marriage has been shoved into frayed and damaged brains of a child and forced to navigate through a kind of death of a child we once knew, and embrace someone new and frightening emerging.  Someone we didn’t know,

Who scared us.

This new person would continue to surface ten years strong after the tree stopped 70 mph in a hunk of twisted metal.

This marriage has seen, felt, heard, touched and tasted GOD.

For I know whom I have believed…

and the heavy hand of the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob….the One who leads out captives, the One who took a boy out of a pasture and crowned him king of a nation, the One who promises to accomplish what He has appointed for me,

This God, 

drives my soul unto its knees to pray and to weep and to beg for those being torn, right ripped and left jagged.

I want to fling open my doors and say come! Come and drink and learn and refresh yourselves in His rivers of delight. Come and know the sweetness in suffering and let Him apply healing oil to your wounds.

Carry your cross and carry your spouse!

Carry them when they cannot stand.  speak for them when they lose their words. Pray for them when their hope gets crushed with the steel weight of life.

Don’t stop reaching across the bed

when all you feel is their back.

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Touch their face and look into their eyes and tell them you’re staying and you won’t push away from this table set for two. Tell them you will keep rebuilding the nest when unforeseen storms of sickness, depression, anxiety, financial collapse, pressure and work ravage it and leave it in a mess of twisted sticks.

Lay down next to them and stretch your wing over them and warm them

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until death separates.

Keep serving…keep loving…

NEVER STOP PRAYING.

Find -the-better-in-the-worse.

held, consumed, known by God,

trish

Don’t forget to join the conversation. Gather hands and mend hearts through an unseen grace and love.  Open your doors. Share a story of healing and grace!

Scripture references: 1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 1:12, Hebrews 13:5, John 16:33, 2 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Corinthians 5:20, James 4, Proverbs 18:21, 1 Corinthians 7, Matthew 27:32, Ecclesiastes 4:12, Isaiah 64:6, Ephesians 4:8, Job 23:14, Psalm 36:8, Ezekiel 16:8-9.

The cross

The Cross by Trish Pederson @trishpederson

So I wanted to try something different this time.  Instead of you just reading my words, I thought that I would read them to you in a video blog.  I chose a narrative that I had written for women’s retreat this past weekend and was able to share with a group of beautiful and beloved women who are desperate for more of Jesus.

However, it is important that we truly understand the cross and what that old splintered wood where Holy restrained in skin hung off the edge of heaven, dangling above hell from means.

Here is my narrative. I hope you enjoy it and share it. I hope you pray and ponder on these words. I pray you want Jesus more than any one thing on this earth.

What do,you think repentance looks like? Do we still need to be brought to Jesus on the cross, be washed in blood and scrubbed in mercy? Join in the conversation in the comments!

held, consumed, made whole in Christ,

trish

Do you like me for me?

I asked a Friend a question the other day not sure of how He would answer,

and then I waited

and stayed still in wonder…

“Do You like me for me?  Or do You just like me because of Jesus in me?

Cuz I really want you to like me!  I mean you made me before I felt it,

that mysterious wind that swaddled me in hot breath of Holy sending a shiver up my neck, awakening my sense of touch in bumpy skin…

and then the barely whisper “you belong to Me,”  when everything inside of me woke up ready;  ripe for Love.

So I am new, yet I am me…

still me.  

So how does that work, God?

Do you like the way I dance all silly in my kitchen?  Or the way I scarcely can catch a breath of wind stolen by wonder when scorched leaves of red join in a lyrical of praise as they tap dance around my feet  on an autumn morn?

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 Do you laugh when I am over the moon bursting like the 4th of July  at new discoveries

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unlocked out of print inspired and God breathed, and I feel Your exhale, warm?

Do you weep when the lines on my face make tracks for tears when visions of the lonely file in and sit center present in my mind? And my whole body wears out, in ragged prayer

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pleading that you make a home for them, reminding you of your heart. 

Do you like me?

I mean, do You like the way I make funny faces at adult children and moonwalk for the thousandth time, just to catch an ear of volcanic laughter, erupting

cuz they like me.

Do you like the way I write? Or the way my voice sounds

recorded?  I don’t.

Do you like the way cheaters and sunglasses sit crooked on the bump on my nose? you know, the one you gave to my rain bird?  They say she looks just like me.  If you used it twice, you like it, right?

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do you like the blooms I choose in May that adorn my front porch through fever heat of summer into fall’s frost?

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when I’m stiff stubborn at the goose, do you still like me?

if I was the awkward one with blemished face in an ugly dress at my first dance, would you walk through the circle of popular kids and stretch out your Hand to me?

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So I could dance with the real King?

Do you like me, Jesus?

if I were alone surrounded by voices wrapped in familiar sentences and familiar faces in a cafeteria where no one wanted to eat lunch with me, would you share your sandwich and chocolate milk?

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Do you like me, Jesus?

Lonely questions, keeping with the greatest of company.

Why do we struggle so with accepting who God made us to be?

Uniquely gifted.  An embroidering of wild colors, subtle tones, intricately woven in a holy patchwork .

Some quiet, shaded with tones of earth.  Some loud, dizzying eyes…so many colors. Some reflective, because processing makes it sweeter, richer, and they savor.  Some creative, stubbornly focused.  Some observant and stoic like Germany’s hills, immovable. Some expressive, joining the dance on thirsty dirt, uncaged on an African plain. 

It’s as if we are sure Jesus likes others, but we can’t quite imagine Him actually liking us.  Like our homeschooling friend who is always gentle and kind to her children, or the friend who always does her bible study homework, or the one who is so humble and sweet and shy,

but does He like me?

What is there to possibly like about me?

To make clear, I am not talking about Jesus loving us.  I am talking about Jesus liking us for us. 

Really liking us.

So He made us, and saw that it was good.  He delighted in all of His creation.  He liked it.  (Genesis 1:31).

Then sin ran rampant and killed us.

but that wasn’t the end. 

Jesus was the only one who could say,

“it is finished.”

And though He could not look upon our sin, He knew what He purposed for us to become through blood, and

He roared.

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I like it when I see people using their gifts that God lovingly bestowed on them, like our worship leader for retreat this weekend.  I love his gifting.  He has been given the privilege of ushering us into the glorious presence of God, and my whole body enters into His gaze, swaying to the watching eye of God, when vibrations line his vocal chords and make a heavenly noise.

love this

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because my friend has been given this gift to capture our hearts through eyes landing on art outlining forgiveness and love.  Let it burn bright in canvas memory.

I love the gifts of friends who keep time and numbers and schedules and crochet together the hanging lost threads like me, who speaks and writes, and doesn’t understand the need for itineraries or meetings.

I know you like all these people,

but do you like me? 

Do you like my words?

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And still wonder, slowly begins to move in beated rhythm to words arranged in heaven’s cadence,

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13) meaning He delights in all of His workmanship that makes up me!

From the spinning of the womb, to the turning with age of every strand from blonde to gray,

You who have been borne by Me from birth and have been carried from the womb; even to your old age I will be the same, and even to your graying years I will bear you!  I have done it, and I will carry you…” (Isaiah 46:3-4).

So He spun me like clay and painted me like autumn.

He wove me like persistent scarlet and fields of purple Irish.

wild with color, like His heart. 

I think now, He likes me.