WHOSE Blood Bought Me?

I’m reposting this from four years ago, on another Palm Sunday, because I need the reminder and you may, too, so that we don’t take Jesus’ sacrifice and this Holy Week for granted or make it less than the monumental move of God’s incomprehensibly great mercy, grace and untiring love that it was and will always be. That Almighty God not only puts up with us, but gave Himself bring us back into living relationship with him through the costliest offering ever made makes me fall on my face again, just as I did in  the teachers’ workroom where I came upon Vy Canis Majoris and it threw me to the floor,  and then in my living room where this thought exploded in me four years ago and put me on my face in totally sold out wonder and gratitude.  I admit fear of man threw me off track a month after this, but I come again to look to the ONE who’s kept me in the last four years despite my stumbling. THAT is the unmerited merciful GRACE OF GOD!

How I treasure those brief flashes of deep, gut insight that hit me much less frequently than I long forDo you know what I mean: times when you feel for a Nano-second that you’ve touched a deep truth about God, and you wish with everything in you that it would engulf you so you could immerse yourself in its power? Frustratingly, those moments never linger long enough.

The latest one that grazed my consciousness on Palm Sunday, March 24th, entered the orbit of my subconscious during the week before as I searched YouTube for some exciting video and information about relative sizes of objects in space for the third grade class I assist in. Some facts about VY Canis Majoris absolutely astounded me: a red hypergiant, it’s one of the largest stars we know of, with a diameter of 1,227,000,000 miles (that’s billion, if you don’t want to count the place value yourself), or 1,975,000,000 kilometers.

To give you a better sense of that immensity, if VY Canis Majoris was at the center of our solar system, its surface would extend at least beyond the orbit of Jupiter, and perhaps as far as the orbit of Saturn. What grabbed my attention in the video was the comment that if you could fly in a jet at 900 miles per hour, it would take you over 1,000 years to fly around the star! It’s so distant that the light of VY Canis Majoris takes 3,9000 years to reach us.

I sat in bed at 5 a.m. that Sunday and tried to cold-start praise to the King of Kings as Holy Week began.  A realization rose slightly above the horizon of my consciousness: WHOSE blood bought me? WHOSE blood?  Yes, Jesus’ blood – that rolls of my tongue almost tritely sometimes – but WHAT blood is his?

“And God said, ’Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night,’ . . . And it was so. God made two great lights . . . .  He also made the stars. . . . “  Genesis 1:14-16

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? . . . On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”  Job 38:4, 7

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Psalm 147:4

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God . . .. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John1: 1, 3

“I, Jesus, . . . am the Root, and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16

The “gestalt” of VY Canis Major fused with these Bible verses and blazed into a whole much bigger than the sum of its parts. The Blood that bled for every speck of sin in my life coursed through the veins of THE ONE whose voice spoke the inferno of VY Canis Majoris into existence. THAT blood! The most precious fluid and outrageous gift in the universe because it was the Blood of the ONE who imagined, then spoke blood itself into being and who bound the vastness of himself within the confines of a completely human body to spill HIS blood instead of requiring mine.

And HE, PURE LOVE, PURE RIGHTEOUSNESS, PURE HOLINESS, PURE LORD OF ALL CREATION,  willingly gave it for me.

Oh, I wanted to grasp the enormity of that love in every cell of my body and neuron of my understanding!  Like a meteorite, infinite love tore through the atmosphere of my finite comprehension. Why in the world do I think I’m not loved? Why do we think we have to, or ever could, earn that love? And engulfed by that love, why in the universe am I ever afraid?

“His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns . . . and his name is the Word of God…. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!” Revelation 19:12,13,16

Even now I feel like I’m writing an ionic plasma breath of truth with hands and understanding of concrete, but O God, let me burn with that reality one day! Brand my heart with it now: I AM YOURS! YOU SOUGHT ME AND BOUGHT ME! 

I WORSHIP, ADORE, PRAISE AND LOVE YOU!

A “…BUT…” to pray: Oh FAther God, Everlasting  Love, Jesus my LORD, I’ve believed you died for me to pay for my sins, but today I’masking YOU to help me feel the enormity of this truth in my heart, in my spirit, in the core of my being. I need you, ABBA Father, to invade my intellectual understanding with the visceral fact that I NEEDED to be saved or I’d be bound for Hell,  because in and of myself I have no righteousness AT ALL to stand before HOLY GOD, the Refiner and Fire who created the infernoes of the stars. And yet YOU LOVE ME! Invade, penetrate,  speak through my spirit into my heart, Holy Spirit. Here are my words of worship inviting you in __________________________________ In Jesus’ name, amen! (And the AlmightyGod your Father smiles and replies, “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me this….. I’m glad you did!) _____________________________________

 

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No At-a-Distance Relationship

I simply can’t sit on my hands to worship or want an at-a-distance relationship with God.I have no criticism or judgment of people who feel comfortable in very traditional liturgical churches – and I do in fact come from a “Call to Worship, Responsive Reading, first-third-and-fifth verses of traditional hymns” faith background, but my deepening intimacy with Jesus puts such a passionate desire to connect with Him into my worship that I can’t sit down to sing or fold my hands in my lap. Out of town at a conference this morning, I attended a congregation of the denomination I grew up in. As familiar as it all was, and as wonderful as the people are, I couldn’t ignore the tugging in my heart to really receive from God in a powerfully personal way.

I cannot keep God at a distance, and I hope God isn’t comfortable with that kind of relationship with me, either. It hit me at a second service I attended today in a Full Gospel church, cut loose to get real and a bit wild with Jesus: I WANT a God who “gets in my face” and “messes with my business.” How else can I be changed, challenged to grow, transformed into the ME God created me to be and the ME I desperately want to be if He doesn’t get intimately involved in my life? Intimacy is messy and boundary-crossing and comfort-zone rattling. Frankly, I pray that the Lover of my soul loves me enough to not WANT me to remain less than the best and greatest I’m meant and created to be. I’ve touched the relentless longing and heard the passionate beat of God’s heart for me. Oh, to be loved by a jealous God who desires a vibrant relationship with me!

“Listen, O daughter, consider and give ear. Forget your people and your father’s house. The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord.”  Psalm 45:10-11

“Oh LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when i rise;you perceive my thoughts from afar . . . you are familiar with all my ways. . . You hem me in behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139; 1-5

And why would I want to? This is the God who spilled his own blood in agony to secure my relationship with Him forever!  Early last Sunday morning I was sitting wrapped in a comforter in a chair in the loft of my older son’s house, leaning into the dim light to read the Bible in my morning quiet time. Suddenly my six-year-old granddaughter crept up, crawled under the comforter with me, took my small travel Bible in her hands and began reading from Psalm 27: “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple, for in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his ta . .. .” She stumbled with the word, and I guessed “Tabernacle?”

“Yes,”Elsa replied. “Tabernacle.”

“Do you know what a tabernacle is?” I mused.

She did. “It’s the place where God lived.”

“The tent where the people worshipped Him in the desert,” I added.

“And,” she went on, not missing a beat, “I learned in chapel that it’s like God’s wings. God’s wings are soft and strong.” Those beautiful blue eyes looked up into mine and she snuggled closer.

“Hey Elsa, do you remember the shawl that you and Evan and I hid under the last time I was here?” I asked.  And what she said next so sincerely, innocently, frankly, took my breath away, the Word of God out of the mouth of a child: “Yes, and those knots on your shawl are so tight that nobody could untie them.”

The knots, representing every promise God made to His people, extended to us: so tightly promised that no way will God ever “untie” them!

“Hey, Elsa, you’re right, God is tight with us! You and I are ‘tight.’ ” I drew her closer in a fun wiggling hug. “Do you know what it means to be ‘tight’ with someone?” She shook her head, and I whispered,”It means nothing can ever come between our love.”

Why on earth would I want to keep a “respectful” emotional and liturgical distance from the God who wants to be so “tight” with me that His promises will NEVER fail: he’ll NEVER untie them!

So this morning I figuratively leaped into the lap of the King of Kings, held His hands and danced a little Salsa with him (Wasn’t that exactly what we were singing?) and invited Him – heck, implored Him –  to be”tight” with me, get in my face and mess with my business as much as He wants to and needs to, even when it’s uncomfortable like the ways He’s causing me to recognize and face my fear and impatience and submission issues, to grow me into everything He wants in me, for me, and through me.

So fair warning: even if I’m holding a hymnal and standing still next to you to respect the traditions in your worship . . . I’ll be dancing on the inside. A little Salsa on Sunday is a very good thing, so mess with me, Holy Spirit!

A “. . . BUT . . .” to move:   Oh, God, really I’d like to hide my issues of ____________________________ from You, BUT deeper still I don’t want to be held back and crippled by ______________________, made less than the best You want for me. So I give you permission to get in my face and mess with my ____________________________________.

One Thing I Know

One Thing I Know

 

This is just a quick post, but so important for all of us. 

 Two weeks ago God woke me in the morning with the words “You are worth fighting for!” immediately in my mind and heart. So true, not just for me as a woman in terms of relationships, but for all of us as the chosen and won by Jesus. God fought for us with the greatest,most powerful weapon in His arsenal: His love for us incarnate in Jesus!

 Those words were on my lips when a friend called not two minutes later – literally just after I turned my cell pone on -to cry out to me with a desperate need that had her ready to take her life.  Thank you, Jesus, that you made the connection between us and gave me resources to help! Yes, when we call to Him, He will answer! And we,set free, are his answer to another’s cry for help to know they matter to God.

 Isaiah 62:4-5 tells us: No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah (My delight is in her) and your land Beulah (chosen, married); for the LORD will take delight in you . .. as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

 To say I am worth fighting for would sound arrogant except for this truth from God’s own mouth! He backed up this word with his own blood, Y’shua, Jesus!

 Knowing my value, I can give value extravagantly even to those whose actions toward me don’t put them in the “deserve it” category. Because I am fought for and won, I can fight for the value and validation of others. In terms of marriage, this is what gives a wife the power to love with unquenchable fire.The way to the depths of a woman’s heart is not through gifts and dinners, but through valuing and honoring her as someone worth winning and protecting. Men,this gives you a woman whose heart will never fail to support, encourage,and fight for you as the warrior heart in her rises. 

 It amazes me how God fashioned us for each other – yet it’s only out of knowing how GOD values us that we are truly set free to be what He means us to be to and for each other. I embrace this truth as my identity, an identity no one’s actions or words or attitude toward me can take away. How that sets other people free from the requirement to be my validation! 

 We give each other a priceless gift when we take our identity from God.Not arrogance,but bought and set free receiving!

My “. . .BUT . . . ” to move: Other people have failed me, cut me down, and rejected me when they placed their demands on me to be their source of value. I’ve done the same thing to others, BUT GOD you tell me I am worth fighting for, and because I embrace your truth, I am set free to _____________________________________________________

Fragrance? Free!

Has someone you passionately love ever treated you like an enemy? Ever sat across a courtroom facing someone you longed to give your life for, who was set on destroying yours for the sake of his or her own perceived happiness? My heart has cried out, “God, do you have any idea how much this hurts? Do you have any idea how I feel?” And then I remember in a certainty that stills my cries that yes, he does, because in answer to my first questions, he both was, still is, and did.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past three years, it’s how broken God’s heart is precisely because he ferociously loves us, we who are bent on doing things our way for our own ends and would be quite happy if he’d look the other way, or better yet, go away, and let us. As much as I love Jesus, more often that I’d like to admit I ask him (without realizing I’m doing it) to vacate his throne as Lord of Life and let me call the shots.

That’s why Jesus had to come, why there is this event called Christmas, and why it is inextricably tied to the crucifixion and the resurrection and Jesus as our King and high priest of a new covenant. In short, yes he knows exactly how I feel because he felt it.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4: 14-16.

I need to remember that truth. One year after Christmas I asked my husband to split a piece of the trunk of the aromatic fir-tree we’d admired for weeks and turn that log into a cross-shaped candle holder for us to use on our table at both Christmas and Easter, looking forward and looking backward to see both as one astonishingly loving whole, offered by a heart of wholeness who wants that wholeness for each of us.

Can a heart be both broken and whole? When it’s God’s, yes, and here is my disclaimer: in no way do I measure or explain God by my experience. Rather, I understand or at least try to make sense of my experience through who he is.

Thirty-nine years of loving someone who would turn against and reject me makes no sense. Yes, interject the concepts of co dependence and misunderstanding motives and differing love languages, and the destruction can be explained, but it still makes no sense. There is no victory, no glorifying God, no ”happily ever after” that ends any truly satisfying story – and we all want out stories to end well. I will not dishonor anyone by verbally patting you on the head and tritely mouthing, “Well, if you learned something, it was worth it.”

“Better luck next time” still sounds like second place or a limp consolation prize, and all of us want desperately to be winners. The only thing that makes this make any sense for me is if I’ve somehow come to know and experience more deeply the immeasurable love of the Heart who was rejected so I truly and eternally never would be. A friend recently told me – and yes, I did know this, though I wish I didn’t first-hand – that a rose gives off its greatest aroma when it’s crushed. From my vantage point stuck here in this time, honestly, that stinks.

This only makes sense and I only bear it if what comes from my crushing is the pure fragrance of Jesus’ love that can somehow linger as the scent of truth and validation in other people’s lives. For that I’ll taste the tears; for that I’ll be “hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed and hang on to the promise that “God, who said,’ Let light shine out of darkness,’ WILL MAKE his light shine in (my) heart to give (me) the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  2 Corinthians 4:7-9, 6

Did God do this? Did he destroy our marriage? No, all that junk that people write so many self-help books about did. Selfishness did. Thinking of a lover like an enemy did. Can God make anything good come from it? I still fervently hope for much better than I can ask or imagine, but for starters I gladly take this essence and oil and fragrance of how relentlessly God loves me and desires relationship with me. He did, still does, and always will. Now that’s validation and deep reward, a “happily ever after” that does come true for me and for you if you let Jesus take his throne and welcome you to sit in arms that felt what you feel for the sake of  forever with you.   That’s the ending I long for: to be a winner just by letting Jesus love give me deep wholeness! 

 

With a smile I hear him say,”You want a piece of me?” and I shout ,”Yes!”

 

Your  “…BUT …” to move: Jesus, this _______________________ really stinks. You know it; you felt it yourself, BUT you felt it so that I can know _____________________________________________. Truly, make my life a Designer fragrance, and you can call it ________________________________________________________!

Move Your ". . . but . . ."

Rose Jackson ©9/21/2000
(Roller coasters make me queasy, but I can and do have fun on this one. Can you find Ethan and me?)
Yet another post on the power of truth. This is more or less my signature message.

“Yes, Mom, but . . . ”
“I will, Dad, but . . .”

Every parent knows these phrases are actually kid-speak for “No.” ” Yes, . . . but . . . ” is camouflage meant to disguise, “I don’t want to, and this is why. . . .” or “I won’t, and this is why. . . .” The little word “but” is a simple conjunction and a powerful word we use to negate and contrast. Significantly and subliminally, it shapes our thoughts and attitudes, raises our emotional fists for a fight, and rationalizes our bad behavior. More dangerously, “but” can place a gate in the way of God’s blessings and our intimacy with him. ” . . . but . . . ” dismisses whatever comes before it and zeros in our emphasis and focus on what comes after it. Our “but-s” become our priority and overshadow everything else. Our “but –s” get in the way of our peace and contentment and even living faith-full lives.

Though I knew this intuitively as a parent, I never recognized the power of this little word in my own life until one day when I was complain – I mean, explaining to the Lord why I was feeling so unhappy with my circumstances:“Yes, we have friends here, BUT all the other people I care about are all the way across the country.” No thunderous voice rang out from the heavens, but I heard distinctly in my mind a soft “Ahem,” followed by a firm, “You need to move your but.” Startled, I instinctively cried out loud, “What? What did you say? Was . . . was that you, God?”


A settled spot in my spirit told me it was God’s Spirit speaking to me. Once I recovered from my initial shock and confusion, I slowly realized that both halves of my complaint were true, but I was focusing on the second phrase and disregarding the first. Where I put my “. . . but . . . ” profoundly influenced my attitude. It determined whether I would be grateful or miserable, agitated or at peace, doubting or believing. I understood that I had a choice to make. I had the liberty to choose where I would put my “. . . but . . .,” my focus, my attitude, and, as a result, my faith.

All that truth bundled itself up in one simple shift: “You need to move your but . . . ” !

Examine my complaint again and see the difference one small shift makes: “All the other people I care about are clear across the country, but we have good friends here.”

In any circumstance, usually more than one thing is true. Even in the worst of circumstances, one of those truths is always God’s positive truth. Changing what comes after my “but” to God’s truth – to what is in my situation working for good – puts my focus on what I have, rather than on what I lack. It shows me God’s faithfulness when things aren’t going the way I expect or want. It makes my priority what is eternally true, rather than what’s of fleeting value. Maybe you can identify with one of my examples:

From: I know you’re doing good things in my friend’s life to show her you love her, BUT she doesn’t recognize them.
To: I know my friend doesn’t recognize them, BUT I know you’re doing good things in her life to show her you love her.

From: I know I should and can respond with love, BUT he always talks to me so sarcastically.
To: He talks to me so sarcastically, BUT I should and can respond with love.

From: We do have a roof over our heads, BUT it’s one repair after another lately.
To: It’s one repair after another lately, BUT we do have a roof over our heads.

From: I know you have a plan for good, God, BUT I certainly don’t understand how this fits in that plan.
To: I don’t understand how this fits in your plan, God, BUT I know you have a plan for good.

Do you see the difference? If I move my BUT in front of what’s true and positive, my focus will follow. Think that semantic shift doesn’t really change anything? Oh, yes, it powerfully does! That move re-directs my thoughts and attitudes, and my thoughts and attitudes influence how I live out my day.

“Okay,” you say, “that’s great, but (there’s a . . . but . . . ) you don’t understand how bad my situation is. What if the only truth I have is negative? What if I don’t have anything positive to move my BUT in front of?” Hey, I have some pretty stinky things going on in my life, so I understand where you’re coming from. The truth is, life is sometimes downright awful, BUT the truth is also that we always have a true and positive “. . . but . . .” to make our priority and focus. I just learned I have no cartilage and such bad arthritis and bone spurs in my right wrist that I need hand surgery, and my left wrist will soon follow suit. Genetics strikes again! BUT my doctor and physical therapist are amazed that I have such mobility and strength in my right hand. Do you think it matters to my attitude and in my daily walk where I put that . . . but . . . ?

If you think there can’t possibly be a positive . . . but . . . in what you’re facing, just look at these BUT’s in the Bible:

“. . . BUT you are a shield around me, O Lord, my Glorious One, who lifts up my head.”
Psalm 3:3

“. . . BUT the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.”
Psalm 9: 18

“. . . BUT those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.”
Isaiah 40: 31

“. . . BUT I (Jesus) will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
John 16: 22

“. . . BUT take heart! I (Jesus) have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

What I hear Jesus saying when he contrasts and asserts, “You have heard it said . . . but I tell you . . . .” is, “Life may seem like this, but with me in the picture, it’s actually like this . . . .” Jesus -all he means and does and is – is the positive truth that’s always in every circumstance and relationship in my life!

Feel free to appropriate any of these but-s for your own life today! Try a little experiment. First, think about something that’s bugging you or putting a negative focus on your life. Look for a positive truth there, too, and flip those two truths in that circumstance in your life. Next, dare to claim one of Jesus’ . . . but . . . ‘s for what seems impossible or unlivable:

It’s true that __________________________, but _______________________________.

Jesus, you know that ____________ is ______________ in my life today, BUT I know that you promise ___________________

Oh, my family would tell you what a pain I have frequently been in my “but-s” and their lives. The great news is that we can stop being pains in and creating pains from our “but-s.” Once we see this truth and are willing to move in a faith-affirming direction, the Holy Spirit can remind us to move our “but-s” away from negative, destructive thoughts and attitudes that hold us in bondage,and move our “but-s” in front of God’ unchanging truth. I know God wants that peace, liberty,and joy for all of us. Ask him today to show you where you need to move your “but,” then expect and experience a liberating change!

Heavenly Father, I see I’ve been focusing on ________________ instead of on all that you are, all that you do for me, and all that you promise to do in me. Show me your truth and promise in this area of my life, too. I want to live in liberty,hope, faith, victory, compassion, passion, and love. Thank you for helping me move my “but” in your direction today! In Jesus’ name, Amen!