IMG_1131

Unhitching From The Crazy Train

Shame loves nothing more than to be my shadow.  I am so prone to beating myself up over choices, (right and wrong), that have resulted in uneasy circumstances.  Sometimes when I forget the gospel, it manifests like this, if I had done, (blank) instead of (blank) life would be more comfortable.
 Whether as a mom, wife, daughter, friend or child of God, I can look back on so many examples of situations I wish I handled differently.  When I allow myself to go down the road of regret, condemnation is waiting on me with open arms.  Accusation always breeds self-pity, and both are fruits of unbelief.
Despair over my choices sheds light on the subtle sediment of unbelief that wrecks my peace and contentment.  When I believe I alone am responsible for how my story goes, I am maximizing myself and minimizing God.  Yes, there are consequences, both good and bad, for my choices, but if I profess to believe in a sovereign God, I cannot leave Him out of the equation.  For all the decisions I have made, right and wrong, God was in the midst and on the throne at the very moment of decision.
Emancipation day from the supremacy of my choices was a lot of years in the making.  I have a very vivid memory of sitting in Julie Sparkman’s office one morning and giving her a tearful litany of all the things I had done right, yet there I sat shattered because life was not reflective of the pictures I developed in the euphoric realm of my expectations. The reality that my “goodness” was no guarantee from pain had come crashing down around me.  Oh boy, did I have a lot to learn!
Chapter four of Julie’s book, Unhitching From The Crazy Train, is one of my favorites.  It is titled, The Deadly Theology of Good Choices.  Does this sound familiar?  If I do A+B, it will =C.  If I eat all the right foods, I will not get cancer.  If I raise my kids right and make sure they have good friends, they will make right choices…   Notice the keyword?  I.  If you believe something along these lines of thinking, you need to read this book.  If you know this kind of logic to be untrue, you, too need to read this book!
Below is from chapter 4:
“Good choices can lead to good outcomes, and alternatively when we make choices we know to be disobedient, there will probably be natural consequences of those choices, and we are called to repent. However, the redemption story God writes cannot be rewritten by our choices. We are held accountable for our choices, yes, but God is bigger than our choices, so they cannot trump God’s overarching plan.” ~Julie Sparkman/Jennifer Phillips
Friends, I have no incentive for highly recommending this book other than I believe with all my heart it will enhance your life in so many ways.  I love you all and earnestly long to see more and more people brought into the freedom that the yoke of Christ offers.  Please do not misunderstand me.  This book is not a self-help, quick fix guide to all of life’s hardships.  It is a better way through them.
We work so hard and bear so much responsibility, no wonder we never feel like enough.  John 1:51 reminds us that Christ already did the work and paved the way.  He is the way.   “I tell you the truth; you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” ~Jesus.  Notice He does not say I am at the top of the ladder so try your hardest and climb fast.  He is the ladder.  Jesus has bridged the gap between Heaven and Earth for us.
I sincerely hope you will read Unhitching From The Crazy Train.  You will laugh, I promise.  You may cry.  I know for sure, though you will be able to identify and you will find freedom and rest regardless of your current circumstances.
Unhitching From The Crazy Train will be available for order February 5th.  Amazon.  Lifeway.  You may pre-order now from www.newhopepublishers.com.
Julie counsels clients at Restore Ministries in Birmingham, Alabama.   www.restore-ministries.org.
Jennifer writes a blog at www.jenniferphillipsblog.com
IMG_1131

At The Foot of The Cross

Every day I must wake up and remember who I am in Christ- loved, accepted, redeemed, worthy and righteous. When I forget or mistake my identity, and I often do, I spend my day resolving, grasping, controlling and exhausting myself trying to secure that which is already mine, procured by the sacrifice of my Savior not the striving of myself. Jesus did die for my sins and yours, but He also forfeited everything to impart His perfect record to us. I can work so hard attempting to achieve that which I only need to surrender and receive. Friend, this week I am praying for the grace to leave our debts, failures, and insufficiencies nailed to the cross where they have been rectified. There is a shady spot waiting for us at the foot of the cross.

Jesus did die for my sins and yours, but He also forfeited everything to impart His perfect record to us. I can work so hard attempting to achieve that which I only need to surrender and receive. Friend, this week I am praying for the grace to leave our debts, failures, and insufficiencies nailed to the cross where they have been rectified. There is a shady spot waiting for us at the foot of the cross.

There is a shady spot waiting for us at the foot of the cross.

You are loved!♥️

IMG_1131

Opportunities to Repent

The older I get, the more opportunities I see where I need to repent.  I thought it would be the other way around but not so for me.  I am choosing to think of it as the sharper my “spiritual vision” becomes the clearer I see the junk that is there.  In light of that, I guess it is a positive thing.

Isiah 30:15~In repentance and rest is my salvation.

IMG_1131

One 


A leader of a prominent world religion said these last three words before dying; strive without ceasing.  Jesus said these last three words just before dying, it is finished.  One says work, one says rest.  One says earn it, one says it was earned for you.  One says it’s up to you, one says it was up to me.  One says keep working to be enough, one says you are enough.  One has a central concept that translates, incapable of satisfying. One’s central theme says I satisfied it all on your behalf so you are free to do good out of love not law.

IMG_1131

The World Says Run, Wisdom Says Rest

Being a whole person can feel like being an overwhelmed person.

Time is two sided. It can be sluggish, and it can be swift. On days when our to-do list, responsibilities, and commitments weigh heavy; time is more elusive than enjoyable.  Remembering and desiring to rest is not indigenous to our culture or our conscience.

Busyness is often our temporary escape, and so we run, and we run until we have nothing left to guide us.

The world does not call us to consider that which we are running from but The Father does.  Pausing long enough to respect the discomfort that dwells within our souls is not considered modern popularity.  It forces us to face the foes that threaten our comfort, but we have a God who offers promises that will turn those scary places into sacred spaces if we will just lean in.

The world says run but wisdom rest.  

May we relax our hustling hands and slow our hasty hearts so that amidst the chaos of our calendars we may find a stillness within ourselves that comes from the peace granted by the Author, not the pace gained from the activity.

IMG_1131

In Rememberance We Find Rest

img_06891.pngJesus’ last three words before giving up His Spirit on the cross were, it is finished.  As believers, those are three of the most significant words that are so easy to forget. I often find myself losing sight of that truth, and I end up in a position of Jesus plus me or Jesus plus something else equals fulfillment.  My failure to remember that Jesus completed everything for me on the cross only leads me down a path of trying harder, idolatry, guilt, self-condemnation and ultimately shame and exhaustion.

It can be hard to believe and thus accept that it is just that easy; someone who owes me nothing died to make me right before God and to provided eternal life.   It feels much more natural to want to work off my debt.

There is something oddly comforting about pulling the products my sins, (guilt, shame, self-condemnation, self-pity), back down off the cross and wearing them like a warm, comforting coat on a blustery day. 

Continuing to feel guilty, shamed or condemned is an illusive form of self-righteousness.  Ouch!  It suggests Jesus isn’t enough and I need to help Him secure my salvation.

Isaiah 30:15 says in repentance and rest is my salvation.  That is good news for you and me.  When I go to The Father in repentance, I must not only repent for what I did but also what I failed to believe that led me astray.  Like the prodigal father, Jesus is always scanning the horizon to run to us with open arms and a forgiving heart.

It is finished, friends! 

I pray you remember to live from that, and when you forget like I sometimes do, turn back to your Father and rest in His grace!

img_1222

The Best Is Yet To Come

Last week I had the great honor to speak at my grandmother’s funeral service. I wanted to share a short piece of that with you. As I was preparing yesterday, God led me to 2 Corinthians 5:1-5. After reading that verse I felt prompted to read the message version. This is a portion from my message today. I hope you find encouragement here.

2 Corinthians 5:5-1: The message version says~ For we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

Family, friends, I know some of your tents are worn and weary. Life has been hard, but if you are a follower of Christ, we have this great hope that is not an earthly aspiration born of this world but an eternal assurance brokered by The Savior of the world.

Be encouraged today that the best is yet to come. Because of this great inheritance we have been given, we can leave here today knowing that we are not saying goodbye, but see you soon in paradise.

Whatever you are facing tonight friend, God is in the midst. He is going before you and working in ways you cannot begin to imagine. You never walk dirt roads alone. Ask Him, seek Him and find Him. He is waiting to give you rest. You are loved.

IMG_1131

Be a Self-Hugger Not Hater

Good morning,friend! How you think today will dictate how you feel! Don’t feed on the lies of shame, feats on the love of your Savior. Reject the deceit of guilt and rest in the donation of grace. Train your thoughts to be huggers not haters. You are loved!

IMG_1131

Open Hands, Designed Hearts

fe3beed03d166e8c0267c2d1efcd2a07Good morning friend.  Never lose your hope but lighten your hold.  We were never meant to cling so tightly to our people, our ideas, our dreams, or our desires.  God has been teaching me this lesson over many years.  It has not been easy learning, and at times it is completely painful.  I will never master remembrance of this under the sun, but while excellence is not possible, evolution is.  Our desires are not wrong, but when they morph into demands, they become problematic.  Lay that which is monopolizing your thoughts, managing your mind and forestalling your freedom at the feet of Jesus.  He longs to give you rest, but until we get out of the way, He cannot work.  Psalm 37:4 says~ Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Do not misunderstand as I did for so long; those desires will be His desires chosen for us that he will knit into our hearts so sweetly and softly until we realize them as ours.  Father, may we all open our hands today, letting go of our “perfectly” painted portraits so we may walk guided by your ethereal authority, not our erroneous aspirations.

IMG_1131

I Will Try Again Tomorrow

Yea, it is the end of one of those hard days when you feel beaten, battered and bruised, sometimes literally. Your heart has been spun up and wrung out.  Emotions have swirled through your body like a tidal wave leaving you feeling washed out, weak and worn.  You have been fighting all day for this person, praying like the persistent widow for that situation, enduring physical pain necessary for healing, and filtering waves of grief and gratitude that amidst it all, curiously still co-mingle.

There is finally a lull of silence with the parting of the sun; your soul settles slightly, and you know you must choose to either concede or conquer the day’s chaos.  Then comes a gentle reminder that you aren’t in this alone.  He’s in the midst of your pain.  He is present with your people, and he is bigger than that situation.

At the end of days like this, I am so grateful that the Psalms are in the Bible.  Many days I am living them as sure as I am breathing; crying out for relief, reassurance, direction, strength and forgiveness.  Then, when the commotion begins to settle slightly I reach deep within to find despite it all gratitude, thanksgiving, worship, and redemption slowly start marching along to the beat of my broken heart.  I take a breath, and each one becomes a little deeper, a little deeper, and finally I enter a state of ailing rest, remembering that tomorrow, should she come, holds new mercies, strength, grace and fuel for the road ahead.

Today must be released to the past, and it is then when I hear the soft but resolute roar;

I will try again tomorrow!

And you friend must courageously commit also to engage again tomorrow with a fresh mind and hopeful heart!  You are loved.