Redeemed from the Past

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The past. There are times we look back on the past with nothing but nostalgic feelings of good times. We look through scrapbooks of pictures that show happy faces, memories of places we have been, things we have seen. These memories stir up joy, happiness, and even longing for the times where things seemed easier.

The past. Some are still stuck in it. And not the happier moments. Stuck in the pain of past hurts. Past choices. The person we were before. Some may even be people who won’t allow us to let go of these choices. Friends. Relatives. People with whom we work, and navigate through life daily. Not willing to let go of a person we may no longer be.

You know who else won’t let go of the past? Satan. He knows your triggers. He knows your past sin. And just as some people can’t help but remind us-he can’t either.

There are some mistakes we have made. Some jumps we have taken. Some falls. That we don’t want people to know about. And if they do know about them, we don’t want them to be brought up again. Because they aren’t cool scars. They aren’t the kind that make you feel tough. They are the kind that only remind you of a past you thought you escaped. That everyone had forgotten. 

Until something reminds you again.

And I found myself here in the last two weeks. Triggered by so many things from my past. And it was stupid, little stuff. But it was enough to nag at me, until I started focusing on the scars that the past left behind. My sin scars. Not my grace scars. 

So, first-maybe you are wondering what are grace scars? 

Those grace scars. They are the nail-pierced hands of Jesus. They are the scars that bore the sin we try so hard to hide. Others try so hard to remember, and can’t seem to forget. Those are grace scars. And when the past kept coming back to me, I kept forgetting this grace that was given to me because of those scars that Jesus carries.

Because see, this new scar I now have, I don’t like it. Satan uses it to beat me down and make me believe that I am no longer who God believes me to be.

It is on my right wrist. It’s courtesy of surgery I had to have after I broke my wrist from a fall back in October of 2020. I don’t really like to talk about it much. Falls happen. I have fallen before, never broken a bone. But, 2020…right?

But this fall was also different. A bit harder. It happened during a time when I was really doubting God’s purpose in anything going on in my life. The people in it. The things going on. Nothing was adding up or making sense. I spent more time screaming angry prayers at Him, and asking Him why, and didn’t like any of His answers. Nor did I like any of the waiting. So…I did things my way, and ultimately got in the way. I tried to play God. I forgot who I was. And, well….I guess God knocked me down, so to speak.

So I don’t like this scar. It’s angry looking. And when I look at the jagged “S,” that now lives there, I don’t hear the voice of God. I hear a different one. The one that reminds me of my past sin scars, and not my grace one. That tells me this jagged “S” is for words like “shameful.” “Sinner.” “Stupid.” “Silly.” “Soiled.” Some I don’t care to even mention, just want to forget. It’s like I’ve been branded with a scarlet letter of anything Satan wants to use to help me doubt my salvation or self-worth.

Of course that is what Satan wants me to believe. But His word says in Micah 7:18-19:

You will not stay angry with your people forever,
    because you delight in showing unfailing love.
 Once again you will have compassion on us.
    You will trample our sins under your feet
    and throw them into the depths of the ocean!

Which means-He gave us Jesus. To pay for those sins. To cover all those scars. So God has forgotten. Those mistakes. All of them, were buried somewhere in the sea. We ask for forgiveness, and repent. He forgets. The only one remembering any of it is Satan, and maybe a couple earthly people.

 And when we profress our belief, we hear new words. 

Words like:

Saved.

Set apart.

Seen.

Secure.

Smart.

Strong.

Redeemed.

To others, your scars may be a reminder of your checkered past, but to God they are the a reason He extends to us His grace and mercy. We have the choice to receive it. Are we going to walk in His grace, as one redeemed, or keep letting others remind us of those things He has forgotten?

Me? I choose grace. I choose mercy. I choose to believe the things God tells me that have nothing to do with my past.

I do not own rights to music, lyrics, or video.

Love and Marriage…

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:14

Love and marriage, love and marriage…that’s the theme song to one of my husband’s sitcom guilty pleasures, and it doesn’t have much to do with this post, except that today’s verse from Colossians 3:14 is a reminder from Paul to “clothe yourselves with love.” It’s also our anniversary. The 16th. And in many of those 16 years, he has been known to wear many a shirt in reference to many movies and sitcoms. Al Bundy references are just one.

16 years of wedded bliss. I sincerely hope no one believes that statement. I sincerely hope anyone embarking on marriage, or any long-term relationship doesn’t assume that any marriage is filled with only bliss.

It may seem that marriage and this verse above would be appropriate at first glance. Perhaps as a stand alone verse. Yes, certainly…because love is the language of those who follow Christ. But this isn’t all Paul is instructing us to do. This verse can’t stand alone. 

And while Paul is writing to the church in Colosse, a church that had become saturated with many false beliefs and thoughts about Christ, warning them to remember who was their true connection to the Father and to His love, these principles don’t just apply to the people we encounter in the church pews. They are paramount to any relationship. Especially the intimacy within a marriage. The love from Christ we receive is to be displayed to others, and definitely towards our spouse.

Is it easy? No. 

And it encompasses so much more than lovey-dovey words and phrases, or romantic overtures. 

In the verses proceeding number 14, Paul mentions the following: 

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. (v. 12-13).

Now…how does this apply to our spouses? To the day to day grind of living with another being day in and day out? Especially those who have a propensity to quote Al Bundy?

First, tenderheart mercy. We display tenderhearted mercy when we choose to not lament and bring up the fact that our spouse did not load the dishwasher again. Or that they threw the socks on the floor, right next to the hamper. We don’t scream, kick, and shove when they snore too loud. We offer them mercy, even though we want to offer them a peace of our mind. We do the dishes, we lean over to pick up the socks, and we reach for the ear plugs, as we gently tap them to roll over. And then we gently remind them we love them.

Next, kindness. Let’s talk about this making fun of each other stuff. You know, if you like to joke…cool. However, have you ever watched the look on your spouse’s face, or listened to the hurt in their voice when you know or felt when it went too far? Saying cruel things about someone’s appearance, intellect, mental health, character, or ability; and then following it up with, “I was only joking,” is still cruel and unkind. The Bible is clear about the ways in which we are to speak to others, in such a way that the words we use should “encourage and build up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Over time these “jokes” hurt more than provide humor. Speak words of kindness, and encouragment. If you wouldn’t want the words spoken to you, or to the children you may have together-don’t say them to your spouse. Speak words you would want to hear.

What about humility? This one be can hard to understand for some, so I am going to simplify it. You are not better than your spouse, and your spouse is not better than you. One supports the other. One helps the other. Selfishness has no place in marriage. Are we, as humans, are prone to it? Of course, we crave our independence. We don’t want to be dependent on another person, or feel we are constantly having too much asked of us, but we were created-man and woman to help each other, encourage each other, and support each other. This requires at times we put our needs to the side to serve our spouse-in sickness and in health…and all that jazz.

Gentleness. Now, let’s go back to tenderhearted mercy for this one. Think back to those dishes, socks, and that snoring. We did the dishes. We picked up the socks. And well, at this point…there is really nothing we can do about the snoring, but get better ear plugs. We really can’t let the chores go. At some point, accountability is OK to address. However, with kind words, and with gentleness. Our natural bend is to stuff all the months of dishwashing and sock grabbing up, and then blow-up with harsh, and mean words. We say a lot of things we do not mean (or maybe we do mean them), and then we have to double down with an apology later. We can address the lack of help with chores, with a gentle conversation about our need for help. Speaking the truth with love is a biblical response that can go a long way in saving two people a ton of hurt in many conversations over a number of years. Trust the one who has slammed many a cabinet and dish in the sink just to get my point across in the past. The slamming rarely does it. The gentleness usually will.

Last, yet certainly not least-forgiveness. Yes, I know. It is hard. It is a long road that is bumpy and filled with potholes. Forgiveness in the institution of mariage is something no one wants to talk about because it sounds a lot like failure. The question someone wants to ask when you talk about forgiveness is: What did you do to need that? Perhaps the question should be: What didn’t we do? There will be SO many things that will occur within this intimate of a relationship that will require little and large acts of forgiveness. Some of the forgiveness journeys will be easy, and some will be much harder. Some will require small acts of patience; and others will requre large acts of compassion and large doses of mercy. Yet, we must remember there are times we have needed the same. Even slights we forgave and forgot. Things we thought we would never forget.

However, because of the capacity that God has given us to love, we were given the ability to endure through those pains we thought we could not get through. Annoying movie-quotes. Long nights in hospitals. Stupid arguments over goodness knows what.

Bound together in perfect harmony through Christ.

For 16 years and beyond.

Promises of God: A New Heart

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ezekiel 36:26-27

The heart. One tiny organ with a very large job-to pump blood and provide oxygen to the other major organs of the body. It’s one of the smallest organs that carries the toughest load. Any problem with it can cause a number of physical problems.

I’ve learned lessons about the heart in the last several years that I didn’t think I would have to learn. Like-did you know the heart has an electrical system? This system controls how the heart beats, and any malfunction in this system can cause a number of issues. Too many beats can even lead to death.

When our heart is not functioning physically, we do what we can to fix it. To repair it. We change our lifestyles. We change our routine. We listen to the experts who are equipped to take care of and maintain the healthy function of our hearts.

That small organ with such a large job, also houses more than blood pumping chambers and electrically timed beats.

It is also the holding center for the effects of our emotions. When we feel joy, happiness, and connection our heart is also happy. But when we feel sad, lonely, angry, or anxious the heart rate quickens, it works harder, and its health begins to deteriorate.

It’s the same with the spiritual health of our hearts. If we hold onto anger and bitterness, unforgiveness, and unhealthy lifestyles-our heart is not open to the amazing experiences God has for us.

He knows how important the heart is, and He wants to give us a new one.

God wants to clean up that system in our body, heart, and mind that is pumping in evil thoughts and behaviors. Spewing out harsh words. Filling us up with bitterness.

When we seek God to remove the hurt and pain that lives there. When we seek God to help us forgive others. When we seek God to change our lifestyles just as we do with our physical health, He delivers. He cleans up all the malfunctions of our hurting, cold, and bitter heart; and He begins to pump love, compassion, tenderness, and mercy through it.

Is it time to take your spiritual heart health as serious as you take your physical heart health? If so, God has the answer to your heart troubles, and He is ready to give you a new one that beats like His.

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As He Has Loved You

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. John 15:12

There are ten commandments provided by God. Spoken through Moses. Then there is the commandment given by Jesus, not canceling the first ten; but making them all possible to do.

Through love.

In John 15, Jesus is speaking to his disciples. This isn’t one of his many lessons or parables he was teaching throughout his ministry. This was THE message. His last to them before he would sacrifice himself for them. Display the ultimate act of love.

Is Jesus instructing us to die for others? Not necessarily. He is asking us to make sacrifices for others in order to demonstrate his love. To give up our own desires. To deny ourselves. Not our values, but our pleasures.

How do we love as Jesus loved us?

We encourage. We speak kind words to others, over others, and about others. We walk away from gossip and conversations that seek to tear others down.

We listen. We don’t always need to have the answer or last word. We don’t even have to agree. But we can simply be an ear for someone who needs to be heard.

We help and we give. Of our time. Our resources. Our talents. Our wisdom. We don’t keep these things to ourselves, and for our own personal success and gain, but to give to others. And sometimes this means we have to give up something “fun,” to be Jesus to someone.

We forgive. We don’t have to die to offer forgiveness. Nor do we have to continue to allow abuse and disrespect. We do have to pray. For the salvation of those who hurt us. For our hearts to heal. Then we move on. Loving from afar, with this in mind: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34)

That’s what Jesus did, and it is what we are called to do.

Go out and love like Jesus-today, tomorrow, and the next day. Just as he loves you!

They Don’t Know You; God Does

I woke up distracted this morning.  

I make a vow during my time with God to not use my phone, but I found this morning I spent a large amount of time on it. Good things had happened in the last couple days. A new energy was all around. A new “stepping into.” Prayers that had been prayed it had been revealed, had also been prayed in the “meanwhile” elsewhere.

So…my distraction was most certainly a rouse from Satan. An attack. A countermeasure for me to not move into what was coming. What lies ahead. What good was before me.

In the distraction came doubt. 

If you think after you accept Christ, that Satan leaves you alone-think again. If you think because you are a pastor, you are immune to an attack from the evil one-think again. In actuality, you are more susceptible. You are the one he really wants. You are the one he loves to get to. Because if he can get to you, well then he can get to more of God’s people. 

He uses distraction to get to me often. And it occurs frequently on my phone. With social media. Not all social media. One in particular. That ole place where you find the people you are supposed to know. And you connect to them. In the hopes to what? I’ve only just begun to really figure it out.

I don’t know at what point I started feeling lonely. Unsupported. Inadequate. Shamed. It may have been a post about alcohol. And the things I knew had been said about alcohol in the past. It may have been the people I “knew” here who I didn’t really know anymore. Who I didn’t really feel much support from. Who didn’t really hype me up in the way strangers often did. 

Who knew my past, and the past of others I know, and for whatever reason remained stuck there. In the past. 

But, the people we knew in our past don’t often celebrate the fact that you have cast-off your old life and chosen a new one. Why? 

They want to remember the person they knew. The person that was chained to poor patterns and toxic behaviors. The person who allowed them to be, too. They are so tied to the old you, and their own patterns, they can’t accept that a new person can be made from that old mess. They remember your Saul.

Those other people? The people who didn’t know that old you. They see something of inspiration, and they want more. They support you. As you are now. You don’t remind them of a past they can’t seem to get themselves out of. To them, you are Paul.

I was asked this question recently: “Why do you want to become an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene?”

I realize I can go online and be ordained for 50 bucks. I can do that all while continuing to live in the sin and shame I had been living in before. But God didn’t want that for me.

If someone had told me in my teens I would one day be a pastor, I would have laughed at them. I didn’t go to church. I can count on one hand the times I did. I didn’t particularly like God. I made many a wrong turn, and yes-just like most in my hometown some of those wrong turns led to shameful decisions. 

But God.

He made me new. Those decisions don’t shape me anymore. I am still January at the core. I am just not led by my desires. My impulses. But by my Father. His desires. His will. My only gain is to inspire someone to see that if God can do that for me, He can do that for anyone. Anyone who doesn’t want to be defined by their past. Anyone who doesn’t care who knows what about them, but wants to be known by a God who knows everything about them and approves and loves them anyway.

Don’t get distracted by those who knew you, and only talk about your past. Get distracted by the God who knows all about you, and wants you to know Him, too. 

You Never Know Who’s Talking to Jesus About You

It’s not a conversation I was expecting. After preaching my first “main worship” sermon in what turned out to be a rough couple of years, I should have expected most anything at this point. 

I had just spoken about the power of prayer. The call to pray for those who had hurt us. Even if we never get an apology. Even if we never see them again. To always answer the call to pray through the anger. To pray for God to forgive anything we did, and forgive them, too. 

I expected a comment on how prayer had worked in this person’s life. I knew we had drifted in our own relationship. Through the years we weren’t as close. Ministry priorities had taken us in different places, but I never expected to hear this: 

“You know I prayed for you, too. I prayed for you everyday.”

I hide many things. I must not have been hiding some. They knew I needed prayer. Because there were times in my dark periods I didn’t think God was listening to me, but maybe He wasn’t…because He was listening and answering their prayers for me. 

It was just what I needed to hear to confirm my belief that prayer is powerful, even if we can’t see the fruit of what we pray for right away. Even if we don’t know exactly why God may be asking us to pray for someone, we do it anyway. Because He knows we will, and He knows what they need. He will provide it at just the right time. We don’t give up the asking. Even if we don’t feel like it-we pray anyway. 

We never know exactly who may be praying for us. It may just surprise you. 

I heard this song a couple months ago, and I stopped to play it over and over as I headed to work. It speaks to the legacy that I want to leave-of a woman who people knew talked to Jesus. I want people to see it. To see and know its power and be inspired to do the same. 

You may find yourself, after preaching your heart out on a Sunday morning, finding that without you knowing for sometime…someone was praying for you. 

I do not own the rights to this video or music.

WWJD: Do Good Anyway

Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:24, NLT

David. David was the chosen King. Anointed to be King as a young boy, at the surprise of his brothers. His brothers who all believed they should be chosen. They were older. Stronger. David was just a shepherd boy. A runt.

David. The man with a colored past. An adulterer. Who covered up his sin by sending the woman’s husband to be killed. A murderer. Yet, still chosen.

The writer of many Psalms. Both beautiful and angry. He was hunted by men who believed he should pay for his past. Who believed he was unworthy to be a king. No good. That God had made a mistake.

Saul believed God had made a mistake. But David and God knew differently.

See, David had failed in many ways. He knew he had. But, prior to his writing of his many praises. His many songs, he has his reckoning with God. He came clean. David confessed his sins.

But God was not at all pleased with what David had done, and sent Nathan to David. Nathan said to him, “There were two men in the same city—one rich, the other poor. The rich man had huge flocks of sheep, herds of cattle. The poor man had nothing but one little female lamb, which he had bought and raised. It grew up with him and his children as a member of the family. It ate off his plate and drank from his cup and slept on his bed. It was like a daughter to him. “One day a traveler dropped in on the rich man. He was too stingy to take an animal from his own herds or flocks to make a meal for his visitor, so he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared a meal to set before his guest.” David exploded in anger. “As surely as God lives,” he said to Nathan, “the man who did this ought to be lynched! He must repay for the lamb four times over for his crime and his stinginess!” “You’re the man!” said Nathan. 1 Samuel 12:1-7

Nathan proceeds to tell David all he had done, letting him know what God planned to do about this sin David had committed, and David replies in this manner: “I’ve sinned against God.” (verse 13). David confesses. God forgives. David then sins no more.

And here in the Psalms we see that no, David doesn’t die just as God promises in verse 14, but he is tormented. Just as the Word promised, He was punished by God. His son died, and later on his other turned against him. He did not live a life without trials. However, he did something that was especially important-he did not sin again. He did not repeat his past. And God never brought it up.

It’s why he was known as a “man after God’s heart.” He vowed to be holy. He vowed to live a life that God would be proud of. He wanted to live a life that was worthy of the lineage of Jesus.

See, David understood this:

Turn from evil and do good,
    and you will live in the land forever.
 For the Lord loves justice,
    and he will never abandon the godly. Psalm 37:27-28,
NLT

God gives us the opportunity to ask Him for another chance. He gives us the ability to walk in righteousness again, not because we are good. Not because we even deserve it, but because HE is good. And see David? He was called a “man after God’s heart,” because he knew what it was like to be separated from Him. To live tormented by the pain he had caused God for not doing what He had asked, and he never wanted to do it again. He only wanted to do good. He decided to turn around, and walk a different way.

And people didn’t like it. They didn’t like that he could make mistakes, and still be seen as “good.”

You know why? Because we judge the past of others. We judge people based on their choices, not on their hearts. The Bible tells us this: The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

It’s true. We judge. And appearances are not just what others look like. We judge the past. We judge failure. We judge mistakes. Whether they are overcome or not. We hold onto the sins of others as if they define that person forever. Even if they repent and never do it again.

But there is good news. God doesn’t do this. No, once we do as David did, no matter the sinful deed-big or small. When we say, “God, I confess. I sinned against you.” He offers us forgiveness. In fact, God will have compassion on us. He will trample our sins under His feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! (Micah 7:19)

We may be slandered. We may be mocked. We may still have our sins held onto by people. We may be cast out of certain places. People may not believe we have changed. May continue to only see us as a mistake, but it doesn’t matter, because God knows we are after His heart, and because of this, we can continue to do good anyway.

Myths and the Truth about Christians and Boundaries

I want to be a woman who is known for her love of God, and because I know just how much a lack of boundaries can hurt us physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually, I have made it one of my professional and personal goals to establish some better boundaries in my life. This means figuring out the lies I believed about them, and what are the actual truths I now know. The road to boundary setting, both with my clients and in my life in general, has truly been an eye-opening journey. One that revealed that I was tolerating some very toxic behaviors in the “name of love,” that were not very loving, and only teaching others how to take advantage. Not to love at all.

Some of those myths I believed, and that you may to-I am hoping to dig into today. These are the most common that demonstrate how the call to love and show compassion can get oh so twisted.

Number 1:

We are to allow and tolerate all kinds of behavior in the name of love.

Forgive, turn the other cheek. This comment will be used to justify poor behavior, but Jesus has some clear directions when addressing poor behavior both in the church and outside of it.

Number 2:

You can’t block people on social media, or in general. That’s rude and mean

It’s mean if the intention behind it was to be mean. But if the intention was to create distance, to remove a lifestyle trigger, or maybe you did out of respect for someone else, then it’s not mean at all. It’s a personal boundary that needs no explanation.

Number 3:

If I say “No,” I am being disobedient.

Did you lie about your “No,” or did you just decide you didn’t feel like helping? Or were you truly busy? You CAN help later. That is acceptable.

Number 4:

Setting limits shows intolerance.

Setting limits is teaching them how to treat you with respect, dignity, honor, and with the values you have decided matter to you and your household. One of these limits will have to be your desire to serve God over the world, which means some people will have to go.

Listen to the full episode and my full thoughts on each of these myths in on Spotify! You don’t want to miss this one.

WWJD: Pray for those who hurt you

I went to therapy the other day. I am not too proud to admit that I am a Christian. A mental health provider. A pastor. And I am in therapy. I can imagine that during this time of upheaval and isolation many people are. As a therapist, I can attest to the growing numbers. So yes, I am one of those numbers. I am also a diligent believer in its ability to bring about change if one does their part in the process.

As I sat in my session, discussing past hurts that played a part in my anxiety when starting new things, my therapist challenged me to pray for those who hurt me. This isn’t a new concept.

In fact, it’s biblical. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:44, “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”

The very next morning I woke up, made my coffee, and sat down. I opened my devotional, and then I saw it. A call to live at peace with everyone, and a prayer to release those for which we were still seeking justice for our hurts. The days assignment even requested that we list them by name.

So I did. I pulled out my pen. I wrote down this verse: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath. Romans 12:17-19

And then I wrote down this prayer: Right now, by faith, I release every person from whom I feel entitled to demand justice. I release……

And after that blank, I wrote down the names of those for which I was still holding onto bitterness. The names of those who still caused me grief every time I simply heard their name. The names of those who I knew had caused this adult “first day of school” anxiety. And I asked God to bless them, and to change their ways so that they would hurt no one else any longer in the ways I had been hurt. And I asked that they would one day know Him as their own. 

It wasn’t easy. And it didn’t make my day easier. I still walked into that new school anxious. I cried all the way to work actually. But my meeting went well. I know that I may not find favor with everyone, for some I’m just not meant to. It’s ok, but with God I have, and I will be immensely blessed for putting aside the bitterness I feel for those who have chosen to take advantage or hurt me.

Maybe today you are holding onto something that someone has done to you. Maybe it even makes you anxious to walk into new rooms, too. I encourage you to try what I did above. Make a list. Write out those names and surrender them to God. Then pray a blessing of His favor over them. 

It’s not easy, but it’s exactly what Jesus would do. 

Leaving the shame behind

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

We had started over. My husband and I that is, in many ways. But in this case, what I am talking about is a devotional we had started afresh. The devotion to intentionally read. One I mentioned a while back here

Which means we started from the very beginning. And so on this night, we had gotten to the story of the woman caught in adultery again. Here I sat, wanting to skip it again. 

“We can’t do it halfway this time around. Just read it.” 

And so I did. About her being drug into the square to be stoned. About the man who was no where to be found. About the people who had to drop their stones because they had sins of their own. About the Jesus who told her to “Go. Sin no more.” (John 8:1-11)

This time as we answered the questions I didn’t have the same reaction as last time. I had worked out that whole “where was the man” question, and it all boiled down to good ‘ole fashioned shame.

Here’s the thing about shame. It’s a spiral. It’s born of our sin, and sometimes we can feel shame because the devil comes back to remind us of sins for which we have been forgiven. We allow those thoughts and the voice of that liar to be the loudest and we forget what Jesus did to relieve of us that condemnation. We spiral back into feelings of worthlessness. Shame begins to defeat us.

I knew, because I had worked through some things, that shame had no place here. Shame had no place in the heart of the one the Father had redeemed. It needed to be left behind.

And the story isn’t over, if the story isn’t good
A failure’s never final when the Father is in the room. Cory Asbury, “The Father’s House

The question at the end of that chapter was answered so differently this time because I was no longer allowing Satan to let shame have a grip on me. The question? “What from this story brings you hope?” See, when I came into my Father’s House, and I walked to the altar for the first time, I asked for forgiveness, and He wiped the slate clean. He didn’t hold my sins over my head like the world did. He didn’t constantly berate me with them the way Satan had.

And, the truth is…there were times I had to come back to that altar over and over because of my own shortcomings and failures, but He didn’t turn me away. He didn’t berate me. He didn’t hold me in contempt, or pick up any stones. He welcomed me. He gave me the chances I needed to get it right.

I realized in reading this story over again, that the shame the devil uses against us, was nailed to a cross. It lays at the altar. It is laid down when we lay our burdens down for Him to carry. It is thrown into the fire when we ask for His forgiveness.

When we enter His house, we leave our shame behind.

When we enter His house, there are no stones that can be thrown.

When we enter His house, we are always welcomed by Him with love.

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