July 19, 2009

I haven’t written in a really long time. Well, that’s not entirely true. I haven’t written on my blog in a really long time. My journal, however, is filling up quickly. On the suggestion of one of my pastors, I’ve been writing all that I’ve been thinking and learning in the last month. And on the strong suggestion of a few friends, I’ve decided to leave those thoughts largely between me and Jesus. They may be ready for public consumption at some point, but right now, they are private conversations between a girl’s broken heart and her Healer.

But as brutal as the last weeks have been, God has been speaking clearly to me. In my exhaustion, I cry out to Him for peace and rest, He assures me that this season is designed to bring deeper peace and rest. I am already seeing the freedom He has for me as He gently corrects by illuminating the corners of my soul, and asking me to just let go. Apparently there are many corners needing Divine attention.

Basking in the afterglow of one such liberation, I told Lori that I would like to think that I will never face the pattern of sin that landed me in that prison. And it’s not just about me. I have friends that struggle with sins they wish they didn’t face. I know there are times we are freed from slavery, never to face those demons again. We’ve all heard stories of people who, after meeting Jesus never again felt the pull of anger, drug addition or pornography. How we long to be freed from the darkness in our hearts and to never face it again. And the hope we have is that one day we will be free forever. Come soon.

I was telling Lori about my hope that I will never again struggle with this particular bent of my humanity, fully conceding this was rooted more in a consuming aversion to pain than a desire for holiness. I know how quickly I can surrender my freedom for the familiar yoke of slavery. I fear the day I when I realize I’ve walked right back into the prison from which He rescued me. From the work Jesus has done and is doing in her life, she dropped this wisdom. Hardcore.

“Ya know Cheryl, we all want to live in victory. But living in victory doesn’t mean we no longer face the temptation. It just means that we choose God’s way instead. That’s what living in victory really is. And that is ours everyday.”

He is not a victor who never goes to battle.

To the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, be encouraged. He is faithful to continue protecting us and delivering us over and over. Don’t be afraid. The victory has already been won. And He is faithful to grant us victory until that day when the struggle is finally over.


I sat down to write out what God is teaching me, but read this first. Since it says what I’ve been learning, I figured, “why reinvent the wheel, er, blog.

July 19, 2009

Taken from

He is amazing, this Jesus. Where he goes, people are amazed. They are amazed at what he says and what he does. His words open the minds and hearts of people to see life and God differently. With his touch, physical and spiritual ailments are ameliorated and peace and blessing and grace flow into broken lives. So, where he goes, people are amazed . . . usually.

Some people don’t like Jesus; some even in the days of his incarnation didn’t like him. It isn’t that they weren’t taken with him, personally; that he wasn’t a compelling individual. They didn’t like him because . . . well . . . because he did life so very differently than they did.

That’s the rub. Jesus rubs me wrong, at times, because he doesn’t do life the way I chose to do life. And when we end up at odds, I’d prefer for him to see things my way . . . even though, in truth, his way of viewing and doing life is the way it should be.

As Jesus continued to care for people and speak to people and meet their needs, some of the religious people of his day decided he needed to be confronted. They questioned him; they sought to prob his motives. They challenged his thinking; they sought to put him on the defensive. But, time and again, Jesus graciously invited their questions and sought to engage them in discussion and dialogue. Even with his opponents, he was gracious. But every once in a while, it seems like Jesus takes a slightly different tack. One afternoon . . .

The Pharisees came out and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven, to test him. Sighing deeply in his spirit, he said, “Why does this generation seek for a sign? Truly I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Leaving them, he again embarked and went away to the other side. (Mark 8:11-13)

They weren’t merely asking Jesus a question; the word used to describe their approach means they were being argumentative. They were “testing” him; they wanted to subject him to their personal agendas for approval. And Jesus responds to their attempts to test him.

Jesus sighs deeply; this is the only time in the New Testament this particular word appears. It’s a deep, from the bottom of ones soul, kind of sigh. I don’t believe that Jesus is angry or exasperated or peeved; I think it is more the sigh of sadness and sorrow.

You see, Jesus has just, publicly, fed four thousand; everyone knew, even the religious leaders would have at least heard about that “sign,” that miraculous moment. And just after this dispute with the religious leaders, Jesus is going to heal a man of blindness. Clearly, they can’t have missed his countless healings, his gracious works of deliverance and restoration. Sign after sign has already been done; and more will be forthcoming.

Jesus sighs because they refuse to see. And, from what Jesus says to them, we might also conclude that Jesus sighs because of what they are pursuing. He tells them that “no sign” will be given to them. What? What of all the miracles he has already done and all those he is yet to do? Are those not signs? Yes! What does Jesus then mean that no sign will be given to these religious leaders?

Perhaps just this–those who are challenging him are seeking to get him to do a particular sign, the sign or signs they want him to do, when they want him to do it, in the way they pick and choose. They are setting themselves up to evaluate and assess Jesus. They want Jesus to jump through their particular hoop. And that is something Jesus just cannot do.

Although he came as a servant, and although he serves, Jesus doesn’t serve so as to gain approval or jump through the hoops others hold out or to satisfy the whims of self-appointed “approvers” of what is really spiritual. Jesus won’t give them what they want.

It’s easy to conclude that those Pharisees were wicked and hard-hearted, self-seeking pompous trouble-makers, and then conclude that Jesus’ exchange with them here has little to do with me. But that would be misguided. Because all too often, more than I would care to publicly admit, I seek to get Jesus to jump through my hoops, to submit to my tests, to do the things I think he should do so that he can win my stamp of approval. I am much more like these religious people than I would care to admit. And, when I take that approach with Jesus, I can be assured of getting the same result that they did. I will not get what I want. Jesus will not capitulate to my demands, he will not jump through my hoop.

I really need to see that, daily! It is so easy for me to just assume that life should go the way that I think it should; I slip into that kind of perspective much too readily. And, looking at life that way, when Jesus does show up in my life, in my days, I tend to “test” him. I want to find out whether he fits the way I want things to go. I challenge him, insisting that he jump through my hoops, doing what I think he should in my life, before I will readily abandon myself to his care and keeping.

But, I really do like Jesus. I really am impressed with him. And in my better moments I set aside my questions, I abandon my test criteria, and I willingly embrace his way of doing life. That really is better. Although it might seem that I don’t get what I want, in the end I do. I get life with him!