You Are Worth It

Today, I’m at a loss for words. It happens from time to time. I keep typing letters onto the page only to delete them and try again. Still I find that my words are insufficient as everything within my heart tries to rush out all at once. The phrases jumble together. Trip over the next. And somehow I can’t seem to say how important it is that you know you are beautiful. That you understand that God doesn’t make mistakes. That you grasp the depth of His love for you.

But the words are missing and and those kinds of words have conditions, anyway. Not that I’m going to change my mind and take them back the next time you make a mistake, but because you will want me to take them back. Because you will argue that if I only knew who you are… What you’ve done…

I could say it all day in a thousand words or more, but until you believe them for yourself, my words are meaningless. Empty. I may be talking to someone in the world, but I’m certainly not talking to you.

Oh, but I am talking to you. You and you only. You’re the one who needs to hear it. And how I wish I could take your face in my hands like the preschoolers I spend time with every weekday afternoon. “Hey you,” I’d say, “you’re worth it. You are one incredible human being.” And I would mean it from the bottom of my heart. “Hey you,” I’d say, “you’re beautiful. You are one breathtaking masterpiece.” And I would pray those words wouldn’t bounce off of the carefully crafted wall you’ve built to protect yourself – the one that is actually harming you instead.

You’re the only one who can penetrate that wall. You’re the only one whose words are loud enough to force truth into the darkened corners of your wounded spirit. So please, take it from someone who sees what you are somehow missing, and tell yourself that you’re worth it.

Overflow

Yesterday, during youth group, Ray played a video that started with the image of a glass of dirty, dark water. Then these two young people opened their mouths and began to speak about who we are in Christ. As the Truth poured from their lips, a faucet started dripping. Drip. Drip. Drip.

The longer they spoke, the more the faucet opened. From drip to steady trickle. From steady trickle to a nonstop stream of clear water. The water poured into the glass until it overflowed, forcing the original, contaminated water out and replacing it with the clean substance that gives life.

I loved the imagery in that video. Because that is exactly what Truth does for us.

There are so many lies in the world. Lies that we hear every day. Many of those lies are easily identified, but others… Others are easier to accept as truth. Others sink more easily into our hearts and cloud the view God intended for us to have of ourselves.

There’s this thing called Truth. And most of us know the Truth, but find it so easy to forget. So impossible to believe. But the Truth remains:

You are a child of God, chosen before the creation of the world.

You are more than a conqueror.

You are redeemed from the curse of the law, delivered from the power of darkness, and free from condemnation.

You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

You are the bride of Christ.

You are God’s workmanship, created to do great things.

You have been given abundant, overflowing life.

You, just like the clear glass of water from the video, have something to offer the world. Something that is pure and beautiful and life-giving. You have Truth.

And though the world is busy pretending that it doesn’t need Truth, there are billions of people on this planet who are aching for what you have. 

So let the Truth sink deeply into your heart. Let it transform the way you see yourself. And let it overflow until it brings life to this dying world.

Prophesy Illusions

They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions.” -Isaiah 30:10

Prophesy illusions.

Those are the words that hit me hardest during my quiet time this morning, both for their poetic ring and their sad reflection of my world today. How many of us are living an illusion – a deceptive appearance of something that isn’t really there? How many of us pretend that all is well in our world when, in reality, we’re on the brink of a major meltdown? How many of us force a smile to our face as we tell ourselves we’re really just fine? We don’t need to change anything – fix anything.

We, like the obstinate nation in the book of Isaiah, ask for an illusion. We paint a mirage for ourselves of roses without thorns, hoping that maybe, if we pretend for long enough, our illusion will become our reality. We reject the truth because we’d rather live a lie, pretending that life is sunshine and rainbows. Have you ever tried to catch a rainbow? It’s impossible. You can see them, but you can never touch one because it isn’t really there. That’s the thing about illusions. They fade. Dissipate. They slip like sand through our fingertips and are gone forever.

I don’t want to be like the people described in the book of Isaiah. I’ll take the roses with the thorns, the sunshine and the rain, the laughter with the pain. I’d rather feel the sting of truth than know nothing but lies. So today I set aside my illusions – my fantasies and disguise – and beg for Truth to infuse my life with it’s healing blade.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. -John 8:32

#4 – Back to the Basics

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I scoff at the basic truths of Christianity. Not that I don’t believe them, but it can seem that I’ve heard them a hundred million bazillion times. Sometimes when I hear the words, “Jesus loves you,” I just want to shout, “Okay, I get it already! Do you really have to remind me again and again?”

As a matter of fact, yes, I do need to be reminded. Because, while I know the truth in my head, sometimes I forget to let it sink into my heart. Sometimes I don’t really believe it. Sometimes I don’t let it reach into the depths of my soul and transform me from the inside out. Sometimes I move to the rhythm of faith completely out of habit rather than passion.

But think about it. Those three seemingly simple words carry a lot of weight. Jesus loves me. Me. The God who created the universe, set the stars in the sky, and keeps the world in motion truly cares about the tiniest details of my life. That’s huge. No other religion in the world boasts a God who loves His creation. No followers of other faiths can revel in that fact. And sadly, most Christians (myself included) don’t really revel in it either. We accept it as a basic truth, a simple rule. It’s as routine as “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’.” We don’t even consciously think about it anymore; we just write.

But the Bible isn’t meant to be a rulebook; it’s God’s love letter to His children. The words “Jesus loves you” aren’t merely lyrics to that first song you learned in Sunday school; they are a reality with the potential to turn your world upside down. It’s time to go back to the basics of Christianity and allow the marvelous truth of God’s love to break through our religious routine.

You Matter

I’m in the middle of a pretty freaky book, but that’s not what had me tossing and turning in bed the other night. My mind kept replaying this snippet of a conversation – this one tiny piece of a testimony:

I was the pregnant 8th grader everyone gossiped about. “That trashy little girl.” But no one ever asked me how I got pregnant. And no one ever stopped to tell me that I matter.

I lay in bed for a long time and cried over the sorry state of my world. Over a people who are quick to judge and slow to extend mercy.

“You matter.”

Those words would have meant the world to this lonely, frightened 8th grader. But the people who were too busy judging a character that wasn’t even on trial were too blind to see the gem underneath.

She couldn’t see it either. She didn’t think she mattered.

I’m thankful to say that, years down the road, she met a God who told her the truth. She finally heard the words, “You matter,” and let them seep into her heart. But what it would have meant to hear those words in 8th grade…

So I’m here to tell you that you matter. No matter how many crimes have been committed against you. No matter how many wrongs you’ve done.

You matter.

And because you matter, your life has purpose. Because you matter, there is strength to face another day. Because you matter, you can hold your head high amidst the jeering of the crowd – against the lies and hatred you encounter along the way.

You matter. You honestly, truly matter.

Please believe these words I’m saying and, because you believe them, tell someone else she matters too.

Back to the Basics

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I scoff at the basic truths of Christianity. Not that I don’t believe them, but it can seem that I’ve heard them a hundred million bazillion times. Sometimes when I hear the words, “Jesus loves you,” I just want to shout, “Okay, I get it already! Do you really have to remind me again and again?”

As a matter of fact, yes, I do need to be reminded. Because, while I know the truth in my head, sometimes I forget to let it sink into my heart. Sometimes I don’t really believe it. Sometimes I don’t let it reach into the depths of my soul and transform me from the inside out. Sometimes I move to the rhythm of faith completely out of habit rather than passion.

But think about it. Those three seemingly simple words carry a lot of weight. Jesus loves me. Me. The God who created the universe, set the stars in the sky, and keeps the world in motion truly cares about the tiniest details of my life. That’s huge. No other religion in the world boasts a God who loves His creation. No followers of other faiths can revel in that fact. And sadly, most Christians (myself included) don’t really revel in it either. We accept it as a basic truth, a simple rule. It’s as routine as “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’.” We don’t even consciously think about it anymore; we just write.

But the Bible isn’t meant to be a rulebook; it’s God’s love letter to His children. The words “Jesus loves you” aren’t merely lyrics to that first song you learned in Sunday school; they are a reality with the potential to turn your world upside down. It’s time to go back to the basics of Christianity and allow the marvelous truth of God’s love to break through our religious routine.

What simple truth are you going to allow to revolutionize the way you’ve been thinking lately?

Picture to Burn

If you browse through your local radio stations, you’ll probably hear a lot of songs about breaking up. It would seem that a lot of artists enjoy singing about sweet revenge. To be perfectly honest, I’ve caught myself laughing at some of the lyrics… but only because I’ve never even considered doing such things. “I pray your brakes go out going down a hill”? Really? Or how about Carrie Underwood’s song about completely trashing her ex’s car?

I’m convinced that love – true love – cannot turn to hatred so quickly. I’m not sure what sort of relationships these artists had with the people they sing about, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t based on God’s definition of love. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 13 and I’m certain you’ll agree with me. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never understood the concept of burning pictures… Except maybe this kind:

The other night, I watched A Snoodle’s Tale. If you’ve never seen that episode of Veggietales, I would encourage you to look it up. It’s a must see – even if you don’t like Veggietales. It’s the story of a little Snoodle who is told time and time again, “You’re puny, you’re silly, you’re not all that smart, you can’t use your wings and you’re no good at art!” With every lie he is told, a picture is stuffed into the pack he carries on his back. Eventually, the small, dejected Snoodle leaves town, escaping to the top of Mount Ginches where he thinks he will be alone with his thoughts and the finches. He comes to find that he is, in fact, not alone. A Man lives there on top of Mount Ginches. The exchange that happens between the Man and the Snoodle is something that I find to be infinitely freeing, but here’s what jumped out at me the other night:

Then picture by picture, He unpacked the bag that bent the poor Snoodle and made his wings sag. “Dear boy,” said the Man, “these look nothing like you.” Then into the fire, the pictures He threw. He rose from His chair saying, “Wait there, you’ll see that what you need most is a picture from me.”

So many people have clung to the lies that have been spoken over them. With every bitter word, the venom of the enemy seeps deep into our souls. I think all of us have certain lies ringing in our ears. Today, God wants you to be set free from the lies that bind you. Today, I want to help you burn your pictures and let God paint a new one.

Today you need to know that you are a beautiful masterpiece created by God Most High. You are a unique individual, handcrafted by the Master Carpenter; there has never been (and never will be) anyone exactly like you. You are loved by the Inventor of love itself. You are the chosen of Jehovah, a child of the King. You are uniquely gifted for a special purpose that only you can fulfill. The world would be lacking something without you. The Creator of the universe has sought you out and called you His beloved. He finds you worthy of His love, deserving of His devotion. He would willingly die for you. He did willingly die for you. You have value. You have purpose. You have a God who loves you more than life – a God who has a great and glorious plan for your life. You have oh so much to look forward to. The Most High God finds joy in you. You are His delight – the apple of His eye. You are so much more than you believe yourself to be. So dream big and aim high, and know that you know that you know, you are the beloved of God. And today He wants to burn your pictures and paint something beautiful on the fresh canvas of your mind. He has given you wings not just to fly, but to soar with the eagles and flit about with the finches. So leave the lies you’ve believed in the ashes, and fly away on new wings.