#livefreeThursday: do we even know what grace is?

grace

I’ve been a little at a loss lately.

There’s so many conversations taking place and it seems that we are at odds at how to define this word, “grace.”

Some say it’s love without borders: Love everyone. Love like Jesus. Love ourselves. Love our neighbors. Love those who are on the fringe. Love the rejected. The downtrodden.

Lord, help me love like that. 

Some say it’s acceptance. Going deeper than the labels that separate us.

Lord, help me to see the person standing in front of me, really see them. 

Others say that grace means that there’s not really such a thing as sin.

And that’s where I struggle.

Not with a person or a particular sin, but stripping grace of its beautiful power.

I’m a sinner.

Saved by grace.

That means something, right?

When I’m caught in the crosshairs of a cultural conversation, all I know to do is to climb into the Word and settle there. It’s where I’ve been for the past several days as Facebook posts go viral, and people (good, loving people with all the right intentions) debate back and forth.

I settled in Hebrews 4.

This passage reminds me that we have a Savior who gets it.

It says that Jesus knows what it feels like  to be tempted or to be impacted by sin. He went into face-to-face combat with the enemy and came out ragged and battered on the outside, but overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit inside.

 

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Hebrews 4 says, “Come boldly to the throne of grace.”

This isn’t depicting an actual throne, but the deity of God Himself as a safe place where I walk in with all my humanity showing and I find what I need.

Grace teaches me to love, because I am well loved by God.

Grace leads me to accept people right where they are, because God meets me right where I am.

Grace rescues me from sin as mercy meets me and grace covers my soul, which allows me to show mercy in the same measure.

But let’s not stop there because scripture doesn’t stop there. We are sinners in a sin-battered world and grace was hard earned on the cross for every single one of us.

Those sins He took upon the cross were weighty. He carried them so we didn’t have to, and too many of us want to hold on (me included) when He offers what we need.

In grace, God gives nothing less than Himself.

And in return, we give Him the same.

That’s where real change begins for every single one of us.

There’s no cultural conversation that can strip this of its power. Maybe we should just stop talking and debating and experience this beautiful gift all over again and watch what God can do.

Suzie


Live Free Thursday


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#livefreestory: finding a miracle in the hard places {{giveaway}}

christina calk

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Today my friend, Christina Calk, author of the newly released book Perseverant Parenting, joins us. Christina is a family counselor, speaker, author, and family minister.

She wrote Perseverant Parenting to inspire parents to flourish in parenting, even in devastating hardships or tragedies. Each chapter is filled with scripture, quotes, and real-life illustrations designed to encourage parents.

She offers a giveaway to one of you leaving a comment below. Thank you, Christina, for sharing your story. ~ Suzie

 

 

I love Biblical stories about Jesus, especially when there is a miracle.

Even as a young child, I was drawn to accounts regarding the profound miracles Jesus performed.

In Mark chapter 5, a woman presses her way through a crowd just to get a glimpse of Jesus. Out of faith she touches his clothing and immediately Jesus asks, “Who touched my garments?”

After discovering who it was, Jesus assured her.

Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering. 

What a miracle!

In a chaotic and frenzied setting, Jesus not only acknowledges the woman’s humility and faith, but instantly performs a miraculous healing in her body.

Discovering this story strongly impacted my faith. This gracious healing assured me that the nature of Jesus in itself is miraculous.

He knows the hearts of those who love him, even when those hearts are burdened.

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He desires to bring complete wholeness and healing.

When our world feels chaotic and turbulent, following Jesus wherever he leads — willingly carrying out whatever He asks, and expectantly awaiting whatever miracle He desires to do in or through us — remains the same as when he healed a woman who simply touched his garment.

I have personally experienced miraculous healing through Jesus, yet in ways I never expected, through one overwhelming tragedy after another.

I suffered through a difficult and complicated pregnancy, and delivered premature twins at 32 weeks gestation. One of my babies did not survive.

Doctors told me that our surviving preemie daughter would likely not walk, see and may be deaf. She remained in the NICU for months struggling to survive, yet proved to be a fighter.

A few years later my husband was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle. He suffered multiple injuries requiring over 27 corrective surgeries, numerous doctor’s visits, and years of recovery.

Not long after his accident I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. I went through numerous rounds of invasive testing, procedures, and several cycles of immunosuppressive therapy.

Needless to say, we were anguished, languishing in strength and often felt hopeless.

There were two common threads that existed within each of our struggles. First, every battle we faced required extensive treatment, long stays in the intensive care unit and a fight to survive. We were individuals that the enemy wanted out of commission.

Second and most important, every battle was hard fought at the feet of Jesus.

We never wavered from calling out to the Lord asking, believing and claiming healing in Jesus name. Every effort thrown at us by the enemy was meant to destroy us, yet God was doing a work within us that was much greater!

We faced arduous circumstances and to this day still face battles, yet through Jesus we are victorious and more than conquerors!

Healing arrived in the complete physical healing of our daughter.

Healing came in the form of emotional and spiritual healing of my husband’s wounded spirit.

And in me, healing from hopelessness and restoration of joy is ever present as I minister to those who suffer.

Each of these are miracles through faith in Jesus.

Christina

Connect with Christina Calk

christinacalk book

From Suzie: Isn’t it amazing how Christina found the strength to persevere as she followed Christ. This isn’t for the faint of heart, the things that Christina has walked through, but perhaps you relate. I’ve been in those hard places too.

Yet there is  joy and miracles to be found — even in the hardest of places. That is a miracle.

Let me tell you a little bit more about Christina!

She’s from Fort Worth, TX. She has been married to her husband for over 24 years. She’s an author, a speaker, a board-certified Biblical Counselor, Ordained Minister, Certified Special Education Teacher and Christian Speaker. She has served as a family pastor for over 20 years and ministered to hundreds of families.

Her heart is to serve families challenged by adversity with compassion and understanding. Christina has learned to meet adversity head on with tears, perseverance, faith and victory.

FacebookBecoming a Family of Purpose

Twitter

Check out her new book, Perseverant Parenting: Boldly Face Unexpected Life Challenges with Faith, Optimism and Purpose

Christina’s blog

Is it possible to be a Christian and not be persecuted?

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She looked different.

“You look beautiful,” I said.

I hugged her neck and knelt to play with her little girl for a moment.

I met her when I attended a church community group. She only came a couple of times with her husband. She was cordial, but kept to herself. Many weeks that she didn’t attend her husband asked us to pray for her.

“I just want her to know Jesus,” he said.

She was raised Muslim, as was he. A few years earlier, his father received a Bible in his language and started to read. When his son found out, he was angry. This act placed their entire family in danger.

When his son asked him what he was thinking, he placed the Bible in his son’s hands and begged him to read it. His son agreed, if only to prove him wrong. He stepped into the New Testament, his defenses raised.

Somewhere in the book of Romans he fell in love with Jesus.

[Read more…]

#livefreeThursday: Quieten my quivery soul

13thdiscipleSome friends and I were talking about living “shaken” by the power of God. I asked them what that meant to them.

“It means that I would live in such a way that it would quieten my quivery soul,” one friend said.

That phrase kept coming back to me for days. Quivery like jello? Quivery as in cold and shaky? When I told a few others, they instantly identified.

No, Suzie. Qui-ve-ry. Afraid. Unsure. Trembling. 

We’ve all faced days when we have anxious thoughts, but it’s hard when they consume us. Today, a beautiful #livefree friend, Alisa Nicaud, shares how living as the 13th disciple changed her quivery soul to a brave heart. ~ Suzie

 

 

I am the 13th Disciple

I have to admit that when Suzie first introduced the idea of being the 13th disciple, I was a little intimidated. [Read more…]

What if people saw the inside of me first?

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If you came over from Encouragement for Today, welcome. I’m so glad you are here.

What if people saw the inside of us first?

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Weird question, I know.

Yet it’s who we truly are.

What if someone walked up to us and instantly saw our heart for the oppressed? Or the anger that we hold close and nurture like a new born babe?

What if they knew that we are insecure or that our temper rages just below the surface? What if they saw the child like delight of our faith or the depression we hold at bay?

Some of those are character traits and some of these are temporary emotions, and to be honest a lot of these are seen.

We just don’t realize it.

While I’m grateful that you can’t see every emotion or struggle that is on the inside of me, I love that God can.

[Read more…]

Do we really love people who are different from us?

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Do we love people who are different from us?

As many of you are, I’m struggling today.

There are two incidents that took place this weekend.

A young Christian musical artist, Christina Grimmie, was shot point blank while meeting with fans in Orlando. Some news reports say that the evidence authorities are compiling from the shooter’s computer and his online activity points to a hatred for Christianity and may reveal a sinister plot to end Christina’s life because of her outspoken faith.

In the other, over 50 were killed and 50+ more injured when a man walked into a night club in Orlando. Evidence points to an ISIS link and the fact that it was a gay night club. [Read more…]

That time God’s plan didn’t look anything like mine

following Jesus

 

growthtracLast week my article was featured at GrowthTrac. Growthtrac is a great resource for marriages. I’m sharing an excerpt of the article and then I’ll let you read the rest of the story on their site.

Thank you to GrowthTrac for allowing me to share my story.

 

 

That time God’s plan didn’t look anything like mine

Richard worked at a factory job for nearly two decades. A part of him — the vibrant part that drew me to him in the beginning — was fading. I encouraged him to move from this job that paid well but robbed him of his personality and energy. When he didn’t, I grew impatient. Then there were the moments when I was just sad. [Read more…]

#livefreeThursday: flipping our prayers upside down

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We shared our stories.

Last night my friends and I sat around the table. Our plates were filled. Our Bibles open. We’ve been studying spiritual warfare.

As we talked we realized that many of us were in a battle.

For many, the battle included people — most of them were loved ones.

It’s such a tender place.

One story after another. Not knowing what to do. The real frustration. The real feelings that want to take you to the absolute wrong place.

Let’s flip this, I said.

What?

Let’s flip this. We need a safe place to talk about our feelings, but let’s go the opposite direction that the enemy wants to take us.

The Word says that prayer is powerful and effective. Let’s take that to heart and see what happens.

So we prayed, each one of us, for each person that we were talking about just a moment before.

We didn’t ask God to fix them.

Not to make them change in our situation. We didn’t pray for the hurt or the disagreement or that God would do what we want him to do.

We flipped it to pray for that person. To love them through prayer.

Bless that loved one, Father.

Meet him or her right where he or she is and show your love. 

Draw that one close. Bless that one as they wake up and when they go about their day. Speak to that person and remind him or her of your great love.

One by one we went around the table and prayed.

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Something broke.

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Something significant.

Tangible feelings of hurt and anger ebbed, to replace them with prayer for each person.

The prayers moved from rote to genuine.

As we prayed an invitation emerged for each of us.

To walk toward Jesus, rather than away.

To choose love over angst.

To see that person as loved by God.

Maybe today you are struggling, and the focus has been on you. I get that. I do. Let’s flip it, however, and pray for that person.

Every time anger or hurt tries to take you down a path you don’t want to go, whisper a prayer over that person instead.

Do it as many times as you need.

Let’s start right now.

Suzie

prayingupsidedownIf you are looking for a great resource on prayer, I suggest Praying Upside Down by Kelly O’Dell Stanley.

It’s a beautiful concept of prayer and it’s powerful.

 

 

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