Are You Ready To Drop Your Fig Leaf?

“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

There is not a good deed, a job well done, a self-sacrifice, or a self-condemnation that can cover our sin.  There’s not a fig leaf fancy enough that can atone.  It is God alone.  His boundless love for us propels Him to relentlessly pursues us.  He can’t help but to call for us.  Our job, our sacrifice, is to humbly accept His offer of forgiveness and allow Him to restore all that we have forfeited.

He can & He does!

Moses murdered a man.  David had an affair, got the girl pregnant, and then had her husband killed.  King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon, was an arrogant and bloodthirsty man.  He liked to watch people burn alive!  Peter walked side-by-side with Jesus, his friend, and still denied Him when things got a little scary.

BUT GOD!

God passionately pursued them all.  When a heart repents and turns from wrong, God restores.  God gives new hearts.

After 40 years of living a quiet hidden life, stripped of all titles, Moses was chosen to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt.  God even allowed Moses to see His glory.  God sheltered Moses in the cleft of a rock, because our physical selves cannot handle the weight of His full majesty, but God still allowed Moses this intimate moment.  He was Moses the murderer, but now he is Moses the forgiven and the redeemed.

There were some tough consequences for David’s sins, but there was also amazing redemption.  When David repented, God continued to bless him with many victories.  David, a mighty king, was named by God with an honorary title, “a man after God’s own heart.”

God loved the wicked King Nebuchadnezzar so much that He stripped him of every earthly blessing, all his social status and his power, to get his focus on what is truth.  Through the storm of losses, God already had a plan in place for Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom to be restored.  After 7 years of eating dirt this earthly king lifted his eyes to heaven, and then his “understanding returned”.

“My reason returned to me…  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.”  Daniel 4:36-37

Can you see now?  Do you realize that you and I are not so special that God cannot redeem us too?  It’s pure arrogance to think we’re beyond His reach.  But do you also understand just how uniquely valuable we are?

“Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?””  –Genesis 3:9

God came walking in the garden like He did every day.  God already knew the choice that Adam and Eve had made, the choice to ignore His warning, the warning any loving parent would give a child, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,”.  God tried to protect them from harm, but instead they chose to listen to the voice that led them to believe a lie.  Thinking God was holding out on them, they reached for what appeared better than what they already had, and they ate.  Their eyes were opened.  That voice did not tell a complete lie, because now they did understand more than they had before, now they knew the weight of shame.

So often we trade the whole garden for the knowledge of shame.

Shame’s voice always sounds just like the voice that reasoned us away from God in the first place – the voice of the thief.  The thief’s voice also mocks us after we concede to his tempting.  Why does he temp us?  It is his hatred for God not his want for us.  God loves us, so the thief reaches to take from God what God holds so dear – YOU!

BUT GOD!

But God already had a plan in place to free Adam, Eve, and all of us who’ve been tempted and shamed.  The very moment He comes calling, “Where are you?”  He’s ready to show us the way back to fellowship with Him.

“But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom. 5:8, (amp)

“Where are you?”

At one tree we picked shame up.  At another tree we can lay shame down.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” ~ Jesus

Are you ready for a new heart?  Are you ready to drop your fig leaf?

Fig Leaf

It doesn’t cover much anyway!

God already knows where you are.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  Love stands waiting for you.  Are you ready to follow the voice of truth?

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” – John 3:17

Jesus left heaven for you!

We’re not so special yet we’re so uniquely valuable.  So let’s drop our fig leafs and come home.

Are you ready yet?  Are you ready to allow God to restore all that’s been forfeited?

~ Shannan

~ A big thank you to my editor, Kimberly Wyse.  I could not be so clear without her.

Stop Being So Humbly Noble

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best… and put it on him… Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” – Luke 15:22-24

A few years back a friend came into my life who had so much potential at greatness.  He is creative in ways that make some of us jealous, but he forfeits his talent and hides behind a smokescreen of success in the business world.  As our friendship deepened, I realized he was overcome with guilt and shame over his past mistakes.  He felt paralyzed, unable to move forward with his life.  Although he was a Christian and had repented for his sin, he refused to receive the redemption Christ’s sacrifice offered him.  Sadly, he continues to wander today, refusing God’s great love and forgiveness.  He has, not God, condemned himself to a prison of loneliness, and keeps those who try to love him locked outside the stonewall he’s built around his heart.  He builds his walls with the excuse that others deserve better than who he really is, but in reality he’s buying into the lie that he’s shameful instead of redeemed.  It’s as if he has said, “Christ’s sacrifice is enough for everyone else, but not for me.”

I wonder how often we forfeit our blessings because of fear or self-condemnation?  How often do we become a martyr for self in the name of nobility, or try to pass off the good that comes our way with false humility?  “But you don’t know what I’ve done and the places I’ve been!”  We chime.  It’s true that there are consequences for our actions, but there is also redemption.

Have you been The Prodigal Son?  Don’t stay in that mindset.  The Father stands waiting to receive you and ready to bless you with all the abundance heaven has to offer.  Your gifts belong only to you.  In God’s kingdom, which is here now and tangible, there is more than enough for all of His children.

Redemption – To release from blame or debt.  To get back.  To change for the better.

Bag Over Head

Why do we run?  Why do we hide?  Are our decisions fear based or are we being a martyr for a less than noble cause?  Passing off our blessings to someone else simply because we feel unworthy is handing them less than God has for them.

There’s nothing noble or courageous about denying the good God is offering us.  No, the truth is we are just masking a darker part of our soul that’s stating that the cross is not enough – for me anyway.

Noble – Humbly accepting all that is offered and walking faithfully forward despite what lies behind.  (Shannan’s definition)

Have you trusted God and accepted His Son, Jesus?  Then why disregard any other portion of His word?

“Those who come in through me will be saved.  They will come and go freely and find good pastures.  The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life – in all its fullness. – John 10:9-10

His mercies are new every morning, so accept all He is offering you, a rich and satisfying life.”

What fears haunt you in the secret places of your mind?  What is it that you fear others will find out?  What regrets keep you running from others and from yourself?

Stop

Are you ready to stop letting the enemy lie to you and steal from you?  Then stop keeping a record of your wrongs.  Stop letting pain dictate who you are and isolate you.  I dare you to let Love swallow it up.

Love

“Love will never condemn you for being lost, but love will not let you stay there alone, even though it will never force you to come out of your hiding places… love is opposed to everything that is hurting you and keeping you from being free.” – Cross Roads, by WM. Paul Young

Stop being so humbly noble.  Living takes courage.  Are you ready?

~Shannan

I refuse to rebuild walls.  I choose to risk all again, because every step, every stumble, and every loss, leads me to greater gain – truly living.

~ Love Is Worth It ~

Sweet Vindication!

They Had It Coming!

There are some people who just suck the life from you, the more you give the more they will gladly take.  So, when they get what they deserve for refusing to listen to “the counsel of many”*, the fault is all their own.  When we’re finally free from their self-inflicted stuff – Good riddance!

Have you ever felt like this?  Have you ever felt a sense of vindication when you can say, I told you so?  Now be honest, God knows if you’re lying or not.  There have been many times that I was about to step on platform to minister, frustrated over an immediate issue, and felt that warranted satisfaction to speak on a lesson someone needed to learn.  It was in these times that I was missing the point.  I too had, and still have, much to learn.

Why do we glory in another persons pain?  Why are we so quick to seek out their fault and try to fix them?

We are to lead others to truth.  We absolutely have a responsibility to draw attention to an area that may be damaging, but we are never to use it as a means to elevate ourselves.  W.W.J.D. – What Would Jesus Do?  That is the question to live by, not just to wear on our wrist or on our car as a political statement.  With everyday that passes I am grasping the fact, that the more I learn the less I know.  Maybe the next time I feel that sweet vindication in being able to put someone in their place, I need to ask myself this question, “What Would Jesus Do?”  Just maybe I’m the one who needs an attitude adjustment and a lesson from “the counsel of many?”

Since childhood, I’ve had a heart to be a vessel for God to use.  It’s so exciting to see God touch another heart for the better through you, but I had lost this sensitivity – for the most part.  When I was traveling in full-time ministry, I found myself becoming desensitized to the hurting people around me.  I would get back on the bus and grab my Sharpie pen to quickly cross off another day from the calendar.  I was simply too tired to be able to keep a healthy perspective and I began to wish life away.  When I realized what was happening to me, I prayed that God would give me a burden again for those who are hurting.  Life has been a ride ever since.

I was trying to fly back to Ohio for a funeral of a close friend the day my husband, Warren, was run down by a drunk driver.  From that day on, I faced 3 years of dealing with a corrupt legal system, resulting in failed legal battles, and grieved another 18 deaths closely related to me.  All this took place in the time span of about 3 1/2 years.  Most would think this would cause me to fear asking God for any further “gifts,” but it doesn’t.  Okay, it has caused me to hesitate for a moment, but only for a moment.  After my hesitation, I recall to my mind the fact that I serve the Almighty Merciful God.  He not only took on my burden, but He took all of my “self-inflicted stuff” and promises to work it out for my good.  (Romans 8:18-39)

With the different levels of pain and loss I have experienced over these last few years, I have grown to a place of sincerely weeping for the heartache of others.  I’ve had to learn how to gently hug the heart that is handed to me, then tenderly pass it over to God.  He alone can heal our brokenness and bring truth to those being deceived.

For the record, I do not think “Good Riddance” to those trapped or stuck in a dark place.  I am saddened they cannot seem to grab hold of God’s freeing power.  I am still wrestling in areas myself.  I’m seeking God for His truth to erase the imprint that this deceptive world leaves.  Thankfully, God in His grace, only reveals what needs to change in stages.  Everyone of us would give up if we had to face all of our faults at one time.

One of my favorite childhood songs is, “He’s Still Working On Me.”  The fastest way we can gain compassion for others, is to admit our own doubts, fears, and failures, then work through them.  I’m not talking about self-pity or self-condemnation.  It’s in our own growth process that empathy is developed.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” -Matthew 11:29-30

If Jesus said to do this, then He will gladly trade us our burden for His joy.  We must remember as we read these reassuring words, that we too are called to be Christlike and love our neighbor as ourself.  Jesus extends grace to us that we do not deserve.  Where would we be if He simply said, “Good riddance?”

To The Father...

Sweet vindication to me, is seeing God set the captive free and making me stronger through each storm.  Only He can do this!

~Shannan

2011, Keeping It Real!  W.W.J.D.

* Counsel of many, (Proverbs 15:22)