Sunday, April 25, 2010

Three Rs for a Clean Receptor

I have an electric kettle for boiling water. It's the kind that has a base that gets plugged into an electrical outlet. The kettle part can be lifted off the base without dragging the cord along. There's a little button in the bottom of the kettle that fits onto the base to transfer the electricity. I've had it since I was boiling water for baby food and it works great. Most of the time. Turns out that if you lift the kettle from the base while the switch is still on, a small electrical arc is formed and somehow leaves carbon on the little prongs. If I continue to misuse the kettle in this way, the carbon builds up and the electricity is no longer transferred. There's absolutely nothing else wrong with the kettle--it's ready and designed to function. There's nothing wrong with the electricity. There are 120 volts running through the cord ready to do the job. The only problem is in the receptors.

We're a lot like that kettle. We're designed to receive God's love and be used in powerful ways. His love is available to us in immeasurable abundance. Sometimes our receptors get messed up. That "carbon" builds up between our ears when our thoughts aren't in agreement with God's truth. Believing a lie can keep our hearts from receiving the truth of His love. It's there. We just don't "get it".

One of my favorite verses about the love of God is in Romans 8:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (vv. 38-39

Someone recently pointed out to me that our past is not in this list of things that cannot separate us from the love of God. I can emphatically say without hesitation that our past cannot separate us from the love of God--that's the whole message of the New Testament! What we believe about our past can, however, prevent us from receiving His love. It's not a love problem, it's a receptor problem.

Guilt, shame, and a sense of failure can seriously clog up our love receptors. They're all based on lies--Christ paid the price for every sin and every failure. Yet, we often see the consequences of past choices and it's easy to come under the weight of a sense of failure or guilt. There really is a way to be free.

Repent. Renounce. Release.

Whether we've robbed a bank or lost our temper, we can confess our sin and the penalty has been paid with the blood of Jesus. Maybe you've already repented--most of us know enough to do this, but we continue to carry the weight of shame, guilt, or a sense of failure. It's generally easy to see that wrong choices we've made have hurt people and affected lives. What's may not be so obvious to us is that God is a Redeemer and He can make something beautiful out of the worst mess. In fact, it's a promise. Depression, despair and darkness are tied up in believing that this is not possible.

This is where the "renounce" comes in. The dictionary defines renounce as: to refuse to follow, obey or recognize any further. We need to renounce the lie that our failures are greater than His power to redeem. We need to renew our minds by filling them with God's promises of redemption. It takes faith to hold onto these promises until we see them fulfilled.

Release. This is the word I use to describe the "letting go" process of putting my messes into His hands. He alone has the power to redeem. He wants to redeem. In fact, it's His nature to redeem. I don't know exactly how it works, but I've seen it happen so many times--when I finally get to the point where I release things into His hands, changes begin to take place. It's almost as though I've been in the way as long as I've been hanging on to my sense of failure.

And so these three Rs get rid of the "carbon" on the receptors and once again the power of His love can flow through our lives. Living in the light of His love we find that, indeed, His yoke is easy, His burden is light, and His joy is our strength.

He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord's favor has come,
and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
(Isaiah 61: 1b-3)

Friday, April 16, 2010


What do you think of when you think of "friend"? Your answer will have a lot to do with your personality and your love language.

The first thing I think of when I consider my close friends is that they know what I'm really like and they love me anyway. They've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly (Literally--think green facial stuff at sleepovers.). They know my imperfections but love me and honour me as though I'm always at my best. They call me on stuff and give me a boot in the you-know-where when I need it. They make me laugh at myself and challenge me to use my gifts when I might regard those gifts as "less than" or insignificant. I feel really safe when I'm with my friends. I count them as my greatest treasures after God and my family.

On Easter Sunday I was perusing scriptures about the effect of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I thought on the following verses for a while:
God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him,
the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
He was handed over to die because of our sins and
he was raised to life to make us right with God.
(Romans 4:24-25)

My heart was filled with awe and worship as I considered all that Christ willingly suffered so that I could be right with God. What an incredible gift. I was aware of His kingly majesty and how His nature is good and holy.

I read further on:

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship
with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
(Romans 5:11)


Of God.

I was overcome by the intimacy of that phrase. To be made righteous and right with God is an immeasurable gift--to be friends of God is so personal.
He didn't go through that tremendous suffering just so I could be ransomed--though that's gift enough!--He also wanted me make me His friend.

He wanted to make us His friends.

The Lord of all creation, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One who formed mountains, designed a platypus, scattered stars, and created laughter wants to be your friend. He likes you. The fact that you're not perfect isn't news to Him. (He took care of that for you.) He wants to be with you. He wants to laugh with you and comfort you. All that a true friend is, that's what He wants to be for you. The sacrifice that Jesus gave makes it possible. Rest in His love, rejoice in His gift, receive it!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

He is Risen!

He is risen!! It's all about hope.
"It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to Himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he lived in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!" Romans 8:11

Read it again. And again. It's all about hope. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in you. He was dead. No heartbeat. His body mangled and torn. And the Spirit of God made Him alive again. That same power "lives and breathes in you". That power is greater than any darkness. Greater than fear, anger, depression, anxiety, strife, division, addiction, name it--He is greater and He lives in you!!

If you don't feel it today, if your heart is weary and discouraged, call on Him. Praise Him. Declare that He is Lord. Don't let go of Him until you see the freedom you long for. It's been paid for and it's yours!

He is risen!!

For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many.
But even greater is God's wonderful grace
and his gift of righteousness,
for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death
through this one man, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17

Friday, April 2, 2010


I've had an epiphany about crackpots. It seems so obvious now that I had no intention of blogging about it, but the urge hasn't gone away... Maybe, just maybe, there's a reader out there who has also failed to recognize glory in a crackpot.

Perhaps I should clarify: crackpot is My Unauthorized Version for what The New Living Translation calls "fragile clay jars". The apostle Paul wrote,
"For God, who said, 'Let there be light in the darkness,' has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves." (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)
Shockingly enough, whenever I read this verse I thought it was all about me! I'd read it and think, "Yep, if you see anything good in me at all, it's definitely because of God." And it is about me, but that's not all. You see, God has placed His glory in others around me and sometimes I miss it because I'm distracted by the imperfections or pottiness* of the vessel. Some pots are terribly cracked, some are just odd, and some don't think much of the shape I'm in either!! There are so many things that can seem more obvious than the glory that has been placed within.

God relates to us on the basis of what Christ did for us, not on our worthiness. As His hands and feet on the earth, He wants us to relate to each other the same way. I've definitely failed in this many times. And you know what? I'm pretty sure I've missed a few blessings because of it.

I've had to do some repenting and I've had to ask God to give me eyes to see the glory in some "fragile clay vessels". I love how He's willing to help us do what He wants us to do! I've noticed a difference already. I think when we relate to crackpots in a way that's honoring some of the cracks get healed--in us and in them.

*in case you didn't know, "potty" is British for "slightly crazy" :-)