Guilty, yet Free

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She knelt in shame, fighting back the tears that threatened to spill upon the dirt packed road. The judgemental cries of the crowd stung more than the slaps across her face.

She was guilty, yes. She knew full well that she deserved the bruises, cuts, and death that the stones would bring. Justice must be served. Covering her scarfed head, the young woman waited in nervousness for the warranted death.

The cries for justice grew louder as a man, a so-called prophet approached. “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (John 8:4-5)

The convicted woman stayed in her crouched position. Surely this perfect one would follow the law. Surely he would punish for the great offense. Yet, great silence followed except the sound of someone drawing on the red clay.

All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7) With fourteen words, the self-righteous and judgmental individuals dispersed. Leaving only the teacher and the accused.

The girl raised her head to the one who stood before her. He was a young man, around the age of thirty. His hands were those of a carpenter, yet he walked with the sway of a warrior. Though he dressed simply in a hemp tunic,  he walked with the dignity of a king.  His piercing topaz-brown eyes were kind, yet fierce, all at the same time. As he looked at her, she felt as though every secret was laid before him. He seemed to know her whole story; the years of abuse, the longing to be loved, the acceptance of the invitation to follow her desires. He knew her, and yet he did not condemn her.

Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” He asked.

No, Lord,” she replied.

Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)

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Jesus’ Enduring Love

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Enjoy this beautiful post by Moriah Simonwich. I pray that it encourages you as much as it has for me.

Tears spill for the first time in months.

All I can cry, “Jesus it hurts. But you’re near, I know you’re near. Help.”

The pain of my parents’ separation and my past scars and the new normal felt suffocating, hard to swallow.

I want to sob the ache away. For life to be anything but the way it is.

But it isn’t. And that’s okay.

Twice that afternoon I hear it from faithful friends:

“The enemy attacks the hardest before a breakthrough.”

“There is often dark before the dawn.”

I believe their words as they encourage me to keep trusting Jesus, keep clinging even when my feelings don’t sense him near me.

“He’s unchanging.” I hear my friend’s words repeat, it gives me a renewed picture—truth—of Him my Rock, my Refuge. The unwavering hope, an Anchor for my soul.

When the world crumbles, he is constant. When my soul aches and bleeds, he promises to be near, to bind those wounds up. Being brokenhearted is a guarantee of that close, attentive, healing care from Jesus.

He won’t leave me to wander away, wither away. He seeks me, his lost, wounded lamb and lifts me in his arms, near his heart. He doesn’t leave the weak me to the wolf. My shepherd fights for me, he protects me, keeps me safe.

His love endures. Past the searing anxiety, which he soothes. Beyond drowning doubts, which he discounts. Right past dying hope, which he coaxes into flame again.

His love endures—forever. For me.

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Moriah Simonowich is a 21-year-old who loves porch swings, wide open skies, lattes, lab puppies, and the crispness of October. It’s rare that she misses an opportunity to slip outside and quietly capture sunsets. Writing is like oxygen to her heart. In addition to fulfilling her role as staff writer at Top Christian Books, she writes for her column Hope for Weary Hearts at PURSUE Magazine. You can connect with Moriah on her blog, delightinginhim.com, and social media accounts: Instagram, FB, and Twitter.

In the Wilderness, but not Alone

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Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.
Hosea 2:14

Have you ever felt alone; spiritually, emotionally, physically? And not just the simply lonesomeness of having no friends, but the dreaded loneliness of not feeling seen, known, appreciated or even heard. It is that ache in the soul to be cared for by others, but mostly by God.

This past month has been a very lonely and dry season. I would spend times laying in my bed, simply crying out to God, yet hearing no reply. “God where are you in all of this pain?” My heart pleaded, with every ounce within.

With every unanswered prayer, my heart began to drift from the One who had given His all for me. I barricaded myself with busyness and sleep, attempting to drown out my questions of where my Lord had gone.

Yet, He never left me. This whole month, He was by my side. Whispering comfort…

My Dear One,

Perhaps you feel like your sins are covering you, making you scum in my sight. They aren’t. I see beauty in you. I saw your tears streaming down your face as you called to me last night. Even though I feel so far at this time, I am here.
When you are breaking… I will hold you.
When you are alone… I am not leaving you.
When you are scared… I am not letting you go.
When you can’t walk on… I will carry you.
When you afraid of the night… I will walk with you.
When you can’t hold yourself together… I will be your steady song.
Much love,
Your Father

 

I don’t know what this past season has been for you. However, I know this one thing, He is still by you and isn’t going anywhere.

 

Life… Through Mountains and Valleys

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I often think of life as an epic novel. Overflowing with different sentences, different times, different chapters, and different moments.

Some paragraphs in life are delightful, such as a camping trip in Rocky Mountains or when you win first place in a tournament.

Others, we long to rip out of our past and cast them deep into the sea, never to be seen again. Times when closed ones died, or we were stabbed in the back.

Hearts ache in remembrance. Even now memories, tears, joys and fears maybe playing in your mind. Yet even with this, would you hear me to the end. 

I don’t claim to know why things happen the way they did or didn’t. Yet, I know the One who does.

Before you cried your first cry, He was writing your story. Before your first breath, He was breathing your history. I am not saying that He caused the pains that you endured.

 But, I know that some way, somehow He can make good from the past.

Whatever your story, whether filled with darkness or light. Would you let the Author write?

 I look to Him.

The perfect Author.

Trusting in His timing.

Believing in His character

Resting His plans.

 

The Mask of Safety

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In life we walk past many walls, many hidden people. Far few desire to be real with anyone, so with everyone a wall is built. A wall of protection, yet a wall of death of isolation. A mask placed over one’s eyes to protect, to conceal, to not be real. Yet, those very masks turn into gags and those walls, well, they just turn into a prison. 

Masks, though sadly true, are possessions of us all. For some of us, our mask is our identity: our makeup, hair, weight, and shoe size. Others, their accomplishments, be it a job promotion, GPA or a wonderful marriage.  

Yet that should not be what the church is known for. Jesus is not a God of walls. While here on earth, He saw what lay behind those masks. 

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13, NIV) 

Walking past Matthew, our Lord saw his heart and didn’t hasten to call him to follow. He didn’t see the hatred or stigma that Jews had for tax collectors. Jesus saw the heart of Matthew, the longing for more.  

Church, what if instead of trying to be fake, and we play it straight? What if we admit to each other that we are human? What if we are honest that we are a work in progress? That we are still struggling to live this life on earth, and that Jesus is changing us.  

Beloved, leap over those walls that you have hidden behind for so long. “With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” (Psalm 18:29, NIV)  

Today would you dare to be bold by being genuine and by being true about your heart?  

The Washing

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 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Growing up, every child within my family was given a daily chore to complete. For my twelve-year-old self, dishwashing was my dreaded task. Each morning, I would stand at our kitchen sink scrubbing away the oatmeal from pots and grease from pans. It wasn’t that I hated washing dishes, but I didn’t like the fact that the dishes would simply dirty themselves again.
Have you ever felt like a dish? You come to Christ and are washed in His forgiveness. Yet soon afterward you are found once again in the “sink” of Christ’s mercy.
Maybe you are a little like me and wonder if Christ ever becomes annoyed at our dirtiness and feeble attempts to walk out this Christian life. Sometimes I struggle to know if I have fallen too far from His love. Sometimes I fear that maybe this time, His mercy won’t be new for me.
Friends, we serve a God who is great in mercy and love. He is waiting and eager to wash us clean from all that entangles us. Go to your Maker, humble and ready for his cleansing. He isn’t tired of your failures. He longs to forgive and cleanse your soul.
He is waiting with arms open
Run home, run home
He is waiting with his own blood to cleanse you
Run home, run home
He is waiting
Run home, run home

He Sees

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“Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.”

Psalm 139:7-10

This week was one of pain and heart ache. One where I didn’t want to keep fighting and cried out to God for strength time and time again. Maybe this past week was a dreary time for you. Or maybe you had a mountain top experience with God and could feel His very love for you in the mundane moments.

Either way, whether this past week was filled with highs or lows, God sees all that you are walking through.

Not only does He see your pain, but He is within it with you. When you laugh because of a positive pregnancy test, He is there rejoicing with you. When you weep uncontrollable because of a recent break up, He is there too. When you are up late into the night in pain, He is there. When you accomplish a daily chore or simply task, He is there in those moments too.

He sees

He knows

He sympathies in our weakness

He rejoices in our victories

He is here