Sin Radar

On the way home from the gym this morning I was praying and asking God what I should write about today. I have a million things in my heart and it’s hard for me to know where to start at times.

As I rounded the curve in the road I noticed out of the corner of my eye a sheriff car parked on the opposite side with a radar gun out. Instinctively I looked down to see how fast I was going. It’s not so much that I have a lead foot; it’s just that I wasn’t really paying attention. I was relieved to see I was only going sixty in a fifty-five and I smiled to myself and thought “Ha- you didn’t get me.”

Immediately I felt that still small voice whisper “That’s how many people feel about me.” I felt sad for a moment, as if I could actually feel how the Lord feels about his people having such a wrong perception of him.

It’s true though. I have had many conversations with both Christians and non-Christians that hold a view of God that is contrary to who He is. They picture God on the throne with a sin radar gun just waiting to nail someone. They believe God hands out sin tickets in the form of lack, disease, hardships, and suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I remember a few years ago I had a boss say to me “I have had a horrible morning. I was fighting with Kelly and then on the way here I got a huge rock chip in my windshield. I guess that is what I get for being a jerk. God isn’t going to let me get away with that.” I asked him if he seriously thought God sent the rock chip as punishment for fighting with his wife. He said yes, and he was just thankful it wasn’t a bigger rock.

I tried to tell him he was wrong and that God doesn’t deal with us that way but I could tell he wasn’t buying it. The Truth sounded too good to be true and didn’t make sense to him. It didn’t help that he was raised in a denomination that pretty much taught him things like “You better watch out, God is watching you” and “You get what you deserve.”

It was no surprise to me that he wasn’t living his life for the Lord. Why would he? Why would anyone want to serve a God that might nail them with the sin radar at any moment? After all, we all know how sinful we are- even once we are saved. We still fall short of the glory of God and we still stumble. The last thing we need on top of a failure is a ticket with a huge fine.

The truth is all of our sin tickets and all of the fines that go with them were paid in full at the cross. You may experience natural consequences from your mistakes, but rest assured they are not fines being handed down from God. Jesus was nailed to the cross so that God would no longer need to sit on the throne with his sin radar pointing at us.

God still sits on the throne watching us, but it’s no longer to nail us with a sin ticket. Look at what it says in Psalm 33:13-15, 18-9:

The Lord looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine.

God knows our hearts. He knows our flaws and our failures. He knew we could never pay the fines for our sins and so he sent his only son to pay the price for us. Now he looks down on us with love and when he sees us he sees the words PAID IN FULL. There is no need to ever hand out another fine.

I pray you let the Truth of Gods grace for you sink deep into your hearts as you come to a deeper understanding of his love for you.

Grace, peace, and a paid in full day to you all,

Jen

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The Comparison Trap

After I posted my blog yesterday I went out for a ride on my paddleboard. You will be hearing a lot about my paddleboard in the days to come but for now all I will say is that it was a strenuous ride. Perhaps you remember the perfect kite flying conditions yesterday? Most people do not paddleboard during perfect kite flying conditions, but my tendency towards doing these kinds of things is a topic for another day.

I keep my paddleboard down at my neighbor’s beach. I do this because there is a colony of snakes that has established residence at my dock. Though God has not given me a spirit of fear, He also has not given me a liking for snakes.

As I was walking up the neighbors yard my neighbor came out on her deck and said “I just got done telling Ali that today is not a good day to paddleboard and then Ali pointed out the window and said ‘Isn’t that Jen going by on her board’?” I say this only to confirm what I said in the first paragraph ☺.

We went on to chat about a variety of things. As she was talking I found myself thinking the same things I often think while we talk. Things like “She is so gorgeous, and fit, and full of energy”. From a distance I often cannot tell if it is her or her gorgeous eighteen year-old daughter. Even more than her external attributes, she is one of the nicest, most generous, creative, and talented people I know. She is an amazing career woman that goes from wearing six-inch heels and a power suit, to Under Amour shorts and flip-flops and looks completely natural in both.

Did I mention her house is perfectly decorated? Her family was even on a DIY television show a few years ago as they remodeled their basement and turned part of it into an amazing theatre and game room complete with theatre chairs. I say this because most of my house is still the same eggshell white that it was when we moved in thirteen years ago.

I asked her what her plans were for the day and she said she was going to paint some new canvases for the house. The canvases were so big she had to bring the trailer up to Michaels to pick them up because they did not fit in their SUV. I then learned that most of the amazing art work in their home was done by her. I finally looked up at her and said, “I don’t know why I even stop to talk to you. I always leave feeling like I need to go decorate my house- or at least clean it. My house is still the same eggshell white it’s always been.” We laughed and she assured me that the apartment look was very in these days and I was good.

I walked home smiling at the irony of the morning. I had just written about being comfortable with who we are and two hours later I am faced with someone that is everything I am not. There was a day when I would have spent the rest of a beautiful Sunday not only wishing I was her, but feeling like I SHOULD be more like her. I also would have stared at my colorless undecorated walls stewing over my lack of desire to change them.

Thankfully I did not experience any of those negative thoughts and feelings. I have come to learn that comparing yourself to others is a surefire way to end up feeling as though you do not measure up and are not good enough.

When you are grounded in who Jesus says you are, it is easier to delight in the amazing gifts and talents of others. It is easier to appreciate those that have what you don’t rather than feel jealous of them. This morning as I sat down with my Bible and cup of coffee I looked over to the neighbor’s house and smiled. I really am so thankful to have them as neighbors. They are the kindest, most generous and thoughtful people I know. Rather than be jealous of them, I enjoy the benefits of being their neighbor.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I don’t always pass the comparison test. There are still many times when I find myself feeling as though I come up short when compared to another. In fact, if I had not been meditating on yesterdays verse all morning I may very well have fallen into the trap. I guess that is one of the many reasons I love to write. I need to meditate on the Word in order to keep my eyes on Jesus and off of myself. Though I hope others benefit from my words, I know my own family benefits when mom is not stuck in the comparison trap ☺.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Galatians 6:4 NLT

Grace, peace, and a day free of comparisons to you all,

Jen

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The 24-hour Woman

“I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man.” Those are the lyrics in a perfume commercial from 1980, it was sung by a beautiful, sexy woman with pouty lips. The tag line was Enjoli- the 8-hour perfume for the 24- hour woman.

I clearly remember walking around my parents’ house singing and mimicking this woman. I would have been eight at the time. That was just the start of a lifetime of commercials, ads, and worldly influences telling me I not only have to be a 24-hour woman, I also need to be a perfect and complete 24-hour woman.

It’s no surprise I have fallen into the trap of thinking I need to be perfect in every way. I often feel as though I should have a house like Martha Stewart, a heart like Mother Theresa, and a body like Jillian Michaels. Let’s just say I am 0 for 3 and I don’t expect any changes in my stats anytime soon.

I know I am not alone in this. I know it is a common trap for most women. I have seen in myself and in others, the countless hours spent, wasted really, on things that don’t truly matter in an attempt to achieve some level of perfection, or at minimum a level of “good enough”.

But who decides what “good enough” is or looks like? And who are we trying to be “good enough” for? And how will life be different when we finally become “good enough”?

When I sat down and answered those questions for myself, I realized my motives were all wrong and my pursuits were all in vain. I had bought into the lie. I had bought into the need to become the 24-hour perfect and complete woman. I had forgotten that in Christ I have already been perfected forever!

When we give our lives to Jesus, he marks us approved, perfected, pure, and blameless. We no longer need to strive for the approval of those around us. We no longer need to try to fit the ideals the world puts on us. We no longer need to wait until we are good enough to be happy. When we belong to Jesus we are all we ever need to be.

It’s not always easy to stay in that feel good Truth. I still get caught in the good enough trap from time to time. I find myself needing to lose that last ten pounds, or researching the latest cellulite cream, or buying a new outfit that I really don’t need because I need a quick feel good fix. The good news is that now I realize when I am getting sucked in and I can go back to the Truth that says not only am I good enough, I am better than that! I am perfect and complete right here, right now, and so are you.

I encourage you all to take a few minutes to honestly answer the good enough questions. Are you pursuing the wrong things for the wrong reasons in order to impress the wrong people? Are you wasting precious time, energy, and money on things that don’t really matter? Whatever your answers are, I pray you find hope and peace as you meditate on the Truth of today’s verse. I pray you let it sink down deep into your heart and that you go back to it whenever you feel yourself falling into the 24-woman trap.

For by one offering He has perfected forever and completely cleansed those who are being sanctified [bringing each believer to spiritual completion and maturity]- Hebrews 10:14 AMP

Grace, peace, and a perfected by Jesus day to you all,

Jen

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The Day of Small Beginnings…

I have been waiting for this day for a long time- the day I sit back down at my computer and write a blog. A few years ago I wrote Monday through Friday as if it were my job. I had over 600 posts. During that time I thought I was working my way towards being the next Joyce Meyer (or at least a local author and speaker). I believed God put those desires in my heart and I had faith that God would make them happen.

Then life dealt me a series of blows that slowly took the wind out of my sails. It seemed I would just recover from one hurt or loss and another would hit. Sometimes I didn’t even have time to recover from one before the next one occurred. I no longer had the words to write.There were many days that all I could say was “God is good. God is faithful.”, and those words were often spoken in hope more than in faith.

Days turned into months and months turned into years. After struggling so long to keep my faith, I had completely given up on my dreams. I prayed God would take away my desire to write and speak. I refused to get my hopes up anymore.

God didn’t answer my prayer. Instead, He sent people into my life to breath encouragement into me. It was so frustrating! I would get a forwarded email from a friend regarding a writing contest with a message that read, “Saw this and thought of you”. I wanted to respond with “Haven’t you heard? It was all a mistake. I thought God called me to write and speak but I was wrong. I no longer entertain those silly dreams”. I resisted that desire and simply replied “Thank you.”

I cannot tell you how many times people sent me emails about writing contests, self- publishing information, or speaking opportunities. It seemed funny that when I did have faith nobody sent me those things but as soon as I decided to give up then I am flooded with them. Okay, maybe I wasn’t flooded, but even getting something every few months was frustrating. It’s hard to put out even a flicker of faith when God keeps sending people to blow fresh hope and fan the flames!

So here I am, taking a step of faith for the first time in many years. This blog may not contain any of the mind-blowing insights (okay maybe not mind-blowing, but insights nonetheless) I have written in my many journals (gifts that were given to me by my annoyingly encouraging friends ☺), but it does contain the most important part of me. It contains my heart, the one thing I believe God called me to share with others. The one thing I have kept guarded from others and from my dreams for the last few years.

I have decided to believe in my dreams again. I have decided to trust God again. I have decided to listen to the still small voice and the voices of those God put in my life to encourage me, rather than the voices in my head telling me I will never ever be anything more than what I am today.

If you have given up on your dreams, I would like to be a voice of encouragement in your life. Please email me under the Contact or Prayer Request page.

To all of my annoyingly faithful and encouraging friends, I would like to say thank you for having faith in me, especially when I had no faith in myself. I wouldn’t be able to take this first step without all of you!

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin.-Zechariah 4:10a NLT

Grace, peace, and a day of small beginnings to you all,

Jen

ps I feel the need to tell you that the entire time I was writing I had the Gene Autry song Back in the Saddle Again running through my head. It’s good to know I am still as random as ever 🙂

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