No Room For Shame

We've all felt it. The overwhelming tidal wave of shame that crashes down on us the second we give into the enemy's glamorized version of what we, as humans, have been fighting against since the beginning: Sin.

Though I wish I could say I didn't, I know this feeling all too well. Because of our human nature, not one of us is perfect. And I'm about as imperfect as they come.
Sometimes we find ourselves believing the lie that, after we mess up, we are required to suffer (alone) through an undetermined agonizing period of shame before we finally see ourselves once again fit to approach the throne of God. But where is the Grace in all of that? You know, the Grace that our entire faith in the Gospel is based on? We can't just avoid God because we are too ashamed to approach Him. We can't think to ourselves, "I need to get my life together before I can go back. I need to fix this, and then I will be worthy of His forgiveness. THEN I can come to Him with my head held high in pride because I changed."
If we wait until we are "good enough" to approach the throne of God, then we will be waiting in the darkness of ignorance until our hearts bleed.
Who do we think we are?! More importantly, who do we think God is? Have we simply put God in a display case surrounded by twinkling lights and glamorous adornments all but screaming "Look at what a wonderful person I am! Look how I have my life together because I 'put my faith' in God! Look at all of the good things I've done!"
Is God our trophy wife?
We need to stop.
We have to face the facts that we will never be worthy. We will never earn forgiveness. And we will absolutely never be alone.

There is no room for shame in the presence of Grace.
We have to let go of our pride and our sense of self-liberation, and allow God to do what He has been waiting to do since the thought of sin entered our minds.
God wants to give us grace.

- /giv/ -
v. To freely transfer the possession of something to someone.

let's review.
The definition of give is
"To *freely* transfer the possession of something to someone."

Grace isn't earned, it's given. Grace is a gift from the most loving father we could ever ask for.
"...While we were still sinners Christ died for us" Romans 5:8

The Love will never run out. No matter how bound you feel or how blinded you are by the darkness in your life.
To quote Judah Smith's sermon Jesus Is Loving Barabbas:
"God, I'm so ashamed."
Give Me your shame.
"But what if I do it again?"
I'll still be here.
"God, I don't want to hurt you. I love you. I don't want to do this anymore."
Give me your sins, beloved.
His Love is gentle and understanding. He will never grow weary of welcoming us with open arms of Mercy. He knew from the very beginning that we would fight it, but He patiently awaits the moment that we turn to Him and say "God, I'm broken and hurting. Please fix me. Please comfort me"
"Finally," He seems to say.

What a beautiful gift we have been given. Let's not waste it by trying to earn it.


Elevation Church, Son of God,


Why We Should Probably Stop

Nit-Picking Each Other

As many of you may have noticed, Elevation Church and Pastor Steven Furtick have been the focus of quite a bit of media attention lately and even more frequently in the past. Also, with the release of the movie Son of God this past weekend, there has been a lot of buzz as to its Biblical accuracy.
But here's the thing:
We need to stop nit-picking and attacking each other, and start focusing on our own relationships with Christ so that we can share that love with others.
I'm speaking specifically to Christians here.
We spend way too much time criticizing the mistakes and short-comings of others when we could be using that time much more effectively by coming to God with our concerns (Remember Matthew 7:3-5). Is He not great enough to work in the hearts of others to change their ways when He sees fit? Can He not guide us all back onto the path of righteousness when we all-too-often fall off? The answer to both of those questions is yes. He can.
Everyone makes mistakes and does (or says) things that they shouldn't. That includes me. That includes you. And it includes everyone else in the sin-diseased world that we live in. But criticizing others when we are in the midst of wrongdoing ourselves only makes us like the Pharisees (Luke 18:9-14); who exalted themselves and viewed others as filthy, sin-ridden creatures unfit for the presence of God.
Let us not become like these misled religious leaders. Let us instead see the example of Christ and use it as a compass for our own lives (Hebrews 12:2-3).
Now please don't mistake this as me telling you that we should not correct one another (brothers and sisters in Christ) in love, which is a Biblical and honorable act (Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 5).
No, what I'm talking about is Pharisee-like criticism of others with the sole intention (whether we realize it or not) of bringing them down, not building them up.

I have been hoping to address some of the issues that have been brought to light by Christians who are less-than-pleased with the Son of God movie.
But first, I want to give praise to God and thank Him for the Holy Spirit experience that I had after viewing this movie last weekend.

I've experienced God in my life, but never quite like this. There was something about the truly loving nature of Christ portrayed so well in the film that opened my eyes to His grace like never before. I was impacted greatly, and decided to talk to God on my drive home. I told Him that I was hurting, and that I was confused with what He wanted for my life (uncertainty is not my strong suit. I struggle with the unknown and letting go of control in my own life). That's when He spoke. He opened the flood gates and poured out His love into my heart. I have never so strongly felt the desire to be close to Him. I knew in that moment that I didn't need anything else. I only needed the love of God and the presence of His Spirit in my life. That's not to say that I don't still want certain things in my life, but it's so overwhelmingly comforting to know that the only thing that I really need will never leave my side.
I've struggled (and still do) with unforgiveness and not being able to let go of my past sins. But I clearly heard the Spirit of God speak all of that away that night. It's like He came in and power-washed the walls of my heart. And that is what I believe is the ultimate goal with this movie and any like it. To allow for a new way of experiencing Christ for those that are seeking Him.

I've seen reviews bashing the accuracy of this movie, and it hurts to read. Although I do acknowledge that there are some changes made (most likely for dramatic impact and cinematic excitement), none of it alters the outcome, and I don't believe that any of these changes would negatively affect anyone's walk with Christ. The movie is not intended to be a sole means for salvation or a replacement for an authentically developed relationship with God, but I believe it is intended to open the eyes of many and lead them to the treasure trove of Christ's love: The Bible.

As for Pastor Steven Furtick and Elevation Church:
The amount of hatred and slandering being tossed about in regards to Pastor Steven and the church is baffling. Do I believe that every decision made by Pastor Steven and the church is perfect? No. But here's the thing: neither are most of the decisions that you and I make everyday. Furthermore, I also believe that God can and has used Elevation church and many others like it to reach the lost and do His will. I know my life has been significantly impacted during the nearly two years that I've been with Elevation.
If we could focus all of that attention on God, we would have no need to worry about the perfection of another individual. There is no perfect person. And as a result, there is no such thing as a perfect church. No matter where you go, there will be people wrongfully idolizing leaders, and others making mistakes in the way that they handle certain situations.

Let's all focus on God's greatest command: Love. If we could learn to love one another as Christ has loved us, the world would certainly be a better place. But until that beautiful day of His return, let us pursue a relationship with God so deeply-rooted that even the devil himself would grow weary trying to pluck us from His hand.

P.S. I just love the song in the Son of God trailer, so I thought I'd share it with you!

And this one! Because Phil Wickham is the man.


Hope We Affirm

Last night, I did a study in the book of Hebrews. I was focusing in Hebrews 10, and I truly believe it was God-ordained because it was exactly what I needed to hear. Funny how God does that. Just that evening, my small group was talking about hearing from God and the different ways He speaks to us. Let me back up for a second and give you a look into my life and the reason this passage was so important to me.

I have always struggled with letting go of past sins. I let the mistakes from the darkness of yesterday haunt me today. And that keeps me from seeing the Glory of God and the beauty of His forgiveness.
The author of Hebrews clearly paints for us a picture of our inability to atone for our own sins and our need for complete spiritual dependence of the promise of Christ's sacrifice.
I can't tell you how relieving it is to have a gracious and merciful God to rest on. His forgiveness knows no limits and His love is never wavering.

Now don't mistake His grace for permission. The Bible clearly instructs us to confess and turn away from our sins (Acts 3:19). We must not abuse forgiveness and use it as a crutch for gratifying our flesh and feeling okay about it afterwards because "God forgives me." True repentance comes from the desire to turn away from sin. I'm preaching to myself here. Every now and then I'll find myself making snide remarks about people at work who left me a less-than-desirable tip and angered me into sin. I know that it's wrong beforehand, but I choose to do it anyway. This should not be the case. I should be turning to God in my moments of spiritual weakness and asking Him for the strength and ability to overcome the wicked thoughts bubbling up in my mind. I should be praying for love to flow from my heart like a river, pouring out on those around me so that they might see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in action against all odds.

But let's be real for a second here:
How incredible is it to have a merciful, forgiving, and understanding God?! He knows. He's been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. God understands how difficult sin is to overcome. But He has provided a way, through His Spirit, to stand strong against temptation.

When you're feeling weak and unable, look to God. I promise you will find strength in a close relationship with Him. Just having a conversation with Him and spending time studying His Word always rejuvenates me and gives me an entirely new outlook on life. A much more positive, and uplifting viewpoint.
He so desires to be close to us. He loves you more than you can or will ever fathom. And He is providing hope that we can affirm.

"As for me, I will always have hope. I will praise You more and more." Psalm 71:14


Though My Heart Is Torn

Joanne Bischof

{Book Review}

Title: Though My Heart Is Torn
Author: Joanne Bischoff
Genre: Fiction - Historical
Pages: 334
My Rating: 4.5

Synopsis: Gideon O'Riley has two wives - But he doesn't know it.

Lonnie only wanted her husband's love. Now that he belongs to another, can she surrender Gideon to a God with a bigger plan?

(From the publisher) "Setting into a simple life in the majestic Blue Ridge mountains, Lonnie and Gideon O'Riley have finally found happiness after the rocky start to their marriage. The roguish bluegrass musician has fallen in love with his gentle wife and the God she serves, and Lonnie rests secure in his tenderness for her and their young son. A heartless ruse interrupts their peace, bringing them back to Rocky Knob - and forces them to face the claims of Cassie Allan, a woman who says she is Gideon's rightful wife.
As Gideon wades into the depths of his past choices, Lonnie is stunned by the revelations. She has no choice but to navigate this new path, knowing that surviving the devastating blow will take every ounce of strength she has.

While Gideon's guilt and his bitterness towards Cassie threatens to burn up his fledgling faith, Lonnie wrestles to find the courage to trust the God who brought them together in the first place. Will their hard-earned love be able to conquer all?"

What I Loved: I loved the depth of the characters in this book, and the way that the author portrays the story and characters in such a rich and realistic fashion. I felt so connected to Lonnie and Gideon.

What I Wasn't So Fond Of: I've yet to be able to read books 1 and/or 3 in this series, so though this book was a beautiful story on its own, I believe I could have gotten more out of it had I been able to read the first and third books as well. I don't know if my heart could have taken all that, however ;)
Obviously, though, the fact that I haven't read the first or the third books has nothing to do with the creativity and quality of this particular book. So other than bringing me to tears on more than one occasion, there isn't much that I didn't love!

About The Author
Christy Award-finalist and author of "Be Still My Soul and Though My Heart Is Torn, Joanne Bischof has a deep passion for Appalachian culture and writing stories that shine light on God's grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children. When she's not weaving Appalachian romance, she's blogging about faith, folk music, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life.
*author bio taken from


*I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255


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