love

Do I Even Need To Go To Church?

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I’ve been in church my whole life. Some of you who are familiar with my story know that, when I was a child, parts of our journey had devastating effects on my family. I’ve also been hurt more than once in the church as an adult, and have personally journeyed alongside my husband and family towards discovering what church truly is. I’ve wanted to quit more than once, both as a church-goer and as a woman in ministry. But I’ve stayed. I’ve kept at it. I believe in the power of the local church, not because it is perfect, but because Jesus loves and believes in the Church, and calls us to both build the Church and be the Church. I’ve given this quite some thought, and I want to share with you, both from Scripture and from my journey, about why I’ve stayed and continue to build the Church with passion.

What’s The Point?

Many times people don’t quit Jesus- they quit the church and its imperfect people. However, I believe that we as a people have lost our "WHY" for "temple worship", and it's meant to be simply this: to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. 

"11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." - Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV

Corporate gatherings, Sunday services, and the like, no matter how big or how small they are, if they're held in a YMCA, someone's home or a state-of-the-art auditorium, are all about EQUIPPING the SAINTS (simply put, followers of Jesus) to go out and DO the work of the ministry. To be UNIFIED in faith and the knowledge of the Son of God.

You may be thinking, "I can get just as equipped, if not more, reading a book at home on my own on Sundays rather than at a church service." Now, that may be true, but our gathering together goes beyond just equipping.

Can we do things like be equipped and worship outside of a church setting? Yes, and we should do those things,  but Hebrews 10:24-25 cannot happen if we do this alone, "24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Gathering together is for more than just equipping; it's for worship, encouragement, and spurring one another on toward love and good deeds. It's for being a part of something bigger than yourself, for a purpose that resonates beyond yourself, for being a part of a community that will value you and, for better or worse, see you for who you are and push you to become an even better version of yourself, a.k.a. more like Christ.

When we isolate ourselves, we can become self-centered, seeking our own desires while spouting our own ideas before seeking understanding in a multitude of wisdom. 

1 A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;
He rages against all wise judgment.
2 A fool has no delight in understanding,
But in expressing his own heart. - Proverbs 18:1-2 NKJV

Jesus didn't isolate; He had intentional solitude. Isolation is self-protection from society, whereas solitude is preparation for society. We have to know the difference. 

If you’ve been a believer for a while, you’re probably aware that corporate church gatherings aren’t all about you - they’re about being equipped to spread the Gospel to others. Lately, I've observed that there are multitudes of disgruntled millennials (to be clear, not all millennials), as well as hurt, angry and bored church-goers of every age that are dissatisfied with the "monotony" of going to church on Sundays. Recently, I have had one too many conversations with people that are saying, "I'm just not sure I believe in going to church on Sundays because I am the Church wherever I go." 

Of course WE ARE THE CHURCH wherever we go, but we cannot miss the integral part of gathering corporately in community. Sure, if Sundays have become the mark of "Christianity" for you, then you've been sold a watered-down Gospel. Go and read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and the book of Acts all over again to see what we as followers of Jesus are all about. We're not simply "Sunday church-goers."

Before you throw Sundays (or gathering as the church corporately) out like a baby with the bathwater, consider its purpose in serving the body by preparing us to live out the Gospel in our daily lives.

As of late, I've been having great discussions with our good friends Tyler and Hannah Pines, sparked by having them look through the doctrine in my coming book, to be released this Fall. In a recent email discussion, Tyler wrote this powerful statement pointing to the "why" for corporate gathering:

The purpose of the Church, therefore, is not to save the world. That is the mission of the saints, who have been given the ministry of reconciliation (see 2 Cor 5:19-20). The purpose of the church is to equip the saints (Eph 4:11-13), to gather to stir each other in love and good works (Heb 10:24-25), and to worship God corporately in spirit and truth, as in the days of the tabernacle of David (Amos 9:11, John 4:24). - Tyler Pines

New believers and followers of The Way in the book of Acts were so desperate to be equipped and discipled that they gathered corporately in the temple DAILY and in each other's homes. 

It Was BOTH-AND

"42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 EVERY DAY THEY CONTINUED TO MEET TOGETHER IN THE TEMPLE COURTS. THEY BROKE BREAD IN THEIR HOMES AND ATE TOGETHER WITH GLAD AND SINCERE HEARTS, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." - Acts 2:42-47 NIV (Emphasis added)

The "temple model", if you will, is simply an opportunity for believers to be equipped. It is not the whole picture, but it is a fundamental part of it.

We gather corporately (Sundays, worship nights, prayer nights, conferences, etc.) to be equipped by the apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors and evangelists. For Jesus, this was from a boat on the lake so His voice would carry to the multitudes, going to the temple (as was His custom - Luke 4:16-21) and reading from the Torah or from a mountainside; really anywhere a crowd could gather and hear His voice. He created spaces for people to hear about the Kingdom of Heaven. After Jesus died, rose again, and had ascended to the right hand of the Father, they didn't destroy the temples and tell everyone to stop meeting there; they continued to use the space to gather so that new converts could be equipped to be followers of Jesus. We also see that they would then break bread in each others homes to disciple others and become disciples; it didn't just happen in the temple. Every day of the week, they had countless opportunities, as do we, to carry the Kingdom of Heaven living within to their every sphere of influence from neighbors to workplaces, to their own families, to the grocery store and beyond. 

But What About Discipleship?

Let's not be fooled. Discipleship is a slow burn over a lifetime, through every season, in loving community, coming in from countless facets. It’s not just a hot topic; it’s for a lifetime. We are never "perfect disciples" of Jesus. There is always more to learn and do. Just look at Jesus, and how He lived life intimately with 12 people over three years, and all the ways in which they learned from Him. They watched Him preach, teach the Torah and prophesy in the temple. They had front row seats to His life, often scratched their heads, gleaned from Him, were challenged by Him, listened to Him speak to the multitudes and also have time for the one. They watched Him heal, deliver and make whole the least of these. They were activated in their faith, but also confronted and challenged in their unbelief. And when He ascended, He left it to His disciples to do what He had modeled for them -  to continue to be taught by the Holy Spirit and to disciple others in "The Way". 

In our modern-day context, activation of our faith should be taking place all the time within community. If we're equipped on Sundays, then what are we going to do to activate what we've learned? Activation can take place in our own time with God, in small group/discipleship settings, corporate gatherings, and as we do life together as Followers of Jesus. There was fluidity to the way Jesus discipled; it was all-encompassing. Sundays can be a part of that, if you take what you learned and do something with it, but that's entirely up to you.

We Are One

We are ONE body with different functions. If we could stop talking about who's right and who's wrong when it comes to "styles" or "models" of church, and actually just start doing the work of the ministry, we'd start to see more of His Kingdom bring light into the darkness. If we could stop comparing ourselves amongst ourselves and actually start loving one another, we'd begin to see a lot more unity in the church. If we could open our eyes and see that we are all ONE body with many DIFFERENT parts, whether we execute the Gospel through the equipping and making of disciples in a house church, mega church, underground church or community church, we'd get a lot more done. We'd stop hurting one another, and instead, learn from each other.

Often, when we’ve been hurt in the church or disagree with they way someone else expresses the local church in their setting, we can swing our beliefs to align with another extreme. The problem with extremes is that we begin to live in reaction to what we don't like instead of being led by the Holy Spirit into everything we ourselves are called to, without judgment of others and their method of spreading the Gospel. 

So What Is The Fruit Of Your Life?

Dad and Mom baptizing Giles. 

Are people becoming disciples? Are they being transformed around you and walking in their identity? Are they discipling others? Are you being transformed and walking in your identity? Are the lost coming home? Are you seeing signs, wonders and miracles following those who believe? If you can answer "yes" to all of the above, then great! Keep lifting up your eyes and stay about your Father's business in the lane to which He's called you.

Meet together, however and wherever you may gather as a church - movie theaters, homes, gymnasiums, parks, schools, beaches, rooftops, warehouses, state-of-the-art auditoriums, and the like. It doesn't really matter as long as the Gospel is being preached and people are doing life together in the "slow burn" of the discipleship journey, and we are finding ourselves, and others, becoming more like Christ and transforming society as we see the Day He comes again approaching.

“19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” - Hebrews 10:19-25 NIV

Put Some Clothes On

Have you ever looked in your over-full, bursting at the seams, can’t get the door shut closet and said these words, “I don’t have anything to wear.” Guilty as charged.

The truth is we all have a closet full of countless combinations of wonderful things to put on, but a lot of times we simply just want something new. Something better. Something more interesting and vibrant because we’re bored with what we have.

If we’re not careful, we can treat the Word of God like a closet full of dull, lifeless, boring, outdated clothes when really it’s a closet full of colorful amazingness!!! We can stand there asking God to give us something else, when everything we need is right there under our noses. 

What did you get dressed in this morning? Anger? Jealousy? Unforgiveness? Fear? Pain? Rage? Worry? Anxiety? Shame? Bitterness? Offense? 

I love the Word of God because it tells us exactly how to get dressed in the morning and even what to wear! You don’t even have to choose an outfit anymore, the word of God does it for you - but it is a conscious choice to get dressed in the right things. 

So what are the right things? Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love. LOVE! All out of Colossians 3:12-14. Put those things on and just watch how your day turns out! Watch your relationships flourish. Watch unity and peace come flooding into your life, in your family, workplace, friendships, marriage and even within the body of Christ. Choose the right outfit! 

“12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 312-14 NIV

If you don't feel like you're looking your best today, ask yourself what you put on before you walked out the door? You may just need to change... 

Please, for the love of God - literally - stop acting like you don’t have access to this incredible wardrobe! You have access to ALL that God has provided through His Son Jesus!!! So please, PLEASE, stop blaming others for the way you choose to dress yourself and don't say, "I don't have anything to wear" when you have a closet full of amazingness to put on.

So here’s my advice to you, choose wisely and then go and put some clothes on.

LOVED People LOVE People

When Paul and I were first married, I remember a particular time where I was SO mad at him. We lived in Maroubra, a beach in Sydney, Australia at the time. That particular morning I was taking a walk during the sunrise and praying which was my ritual at the time. I was venting to God and spouting of all of the justifications for my anger when the Holy Spirit cut me off. "Andi, I only require you to love Paul as much as I love Him."

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I remember yelling at the air, head tilted towards the sky, "THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!!!"

And Jesus replied, "Yes, but loved people, love people."

It is impossible to love others and serve others unless we first let ourselves be loved. It is impossible because we need Jesus love in us, permeating our lives to love others.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. - 1 John 4:19-21 NIV

As verse 19 says in 1 John 4, we have the ability to love others because we ourselves are first loved.  What is the premise for this love? How do we receive it?

"7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." - 1 John 4:7-12 NIV

Now to some of you this may seem elementary, but let's go there anyway. To receive this love, we must be born of God, or "born again". God delights in hitting the restart button of your life, that's why it's called being born again. When we receive Him, we get to start over! We are made new and the slate of sin is wiped clean! God made it possible for us to receive His love by showing His love among us through His Son. God took His word (John 1:14), wrapped it in flesh and sent it to earth in the form of His Son, Jesus. He was here, in flesh and blood and He felt what it's like to live, love, and overcome.  He gets you. He feels you. He's walked a mile in your shoes.

Now a big key comes next in verse 9 of 1 John 4,"He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."

That we might live THROUGH Him. At first we receive Jesus as a conscious decision, but then what? Sometimes we have no idea how to live our lives THROUGH Him. What does that even mean?

Take a pair of glasses for example, when you put them on, you can see clearly again as you look through their lenses. Well to live a life with 20/20 vision, you need to put on Jesus and live your life through Him.

How?

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Well a few simple tips would be to start by reading the whole book of John - this guy loved Jesus something crazy. He walked as a son and a friend knowing he was loved and intrinsically part of the family.

Next I would suggest reading through 1 John and 2 John. In particular study chapter 4 of 1 John. Dig deep. Ask God to show you how to live IN His love and THROUGH His life.

Practically you could also order a "Journible" online (I got mine on amazon), and I would recommend the book of John or the Journible including 1, 2 and 3 John if it's a deeper revelation of love your seeking. It's an amazing and simple journal where you write out the word of God on one side of the page and then write your revelation on the other page.

How great would it be for your 2016 to be a year marked by love?

Loved People, love people and make the love of God known.

Thank you William Booth

Call me strange, but I love a good warning. Especially a warning that opens my eyes and causes me to cry out to God for the solution. This particular "warning" from William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, an honored general who has gone before us, has opened my eyes and won't leave me alone.

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“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”  - William Booth - Founder of the Salvation Army

This whole quote is enough for each of us to meditate on until its so deep within us, that we can’t help but be moved to action to see this changed in our lifetime.

When I look around the church today, I do see this. But more than seeing the problem that faces our generation, I see hope. I see the answer. It is in God and His inexplicable love, and it is within you and I. Christ in us the HOPE of glory! We can change this. But we have to wake up.

So often I see Christians who are saved but not free. Saved but unactivated in their faith. Saved but not empowered. Saved but in countless ways tolerating their pain and chains as a normal part of life. Saved but lacking the knowledge or understanding of their God given authority… I see Christians “doing” Christianity without actually following Jesus Christ. We’re willingly following Jesus to heaven, but refusing to get out of our Christian high towers. Instead we're filled with opinions (that we freely give behind the safety of our computers), but often times those opinions lack the knowledge of the word of God, or are void of any action to actually live by the "convictions" we've so freely shared with the world. At times we've hemmed ourselves in with the safety of our Christian surroundings (I've been guilty of this), while we're beckoned to be freedom facilitators that see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. That my friends is an uncomfortable life... A life truly crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20). One that calls us out to understand our position of “royalty” and authority is given for the sake of others.

"23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." - John 14:23-24 NIV

Notice it says "obey my teaching", not "quote my teaching",  or"know my teaching better than anyone else", it simply says obey, and then the promises follow. We can quote scripture, know scripture, use scripture out of context, have an opinion about scripture, but until we live it and live in it, there is a point of inactivity in our faith. And I would go so far to say that we're acting as disobedient kids.

I want to focus on one part of this quote for this particular article, and that is salvation without regeneration.

Regeneration is to be renewed or restored back to our original purpose. We were never meant to only be saved. Don't hear what I'm not saying, salvation is the point of entry, and the greatest, most mind bending miracle into our new life with Christ to which everything He has is ours. This is the front door into the palace of our new life. This is adoption into the greatest family ever! What a position that we live from!

From the point of salvation, we have a mission of renewal and regeneration of ALL things. First to be renewed and restored in our own lives (because WE ARE a new creation, this is not semantics, it is our reality), and then to facilitate the same thing in the lives of those around us, and the atmospheres we occupy - to be saved AND free, and then give what we have away.

We are each called to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), and see the kingdom of heaven infiltrate earth (Matthew 6:10)whilst we occupy the planet. We don’t just sit here and occupy till Jesus comes back for us, we are facilitators of the freedom and power of the Kingdom of Heaven. And we have been given all authority from Jesus to do so, and are enabled by the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit to execute the mission.

We are at war and we win. So we must fight accordingly.

"There may be breaks between battles but it doesn't mean the war is over. You can take that time between to nap, or, you can take it to re-equip. Victory is yours, it's just a matter of how long you want the battle to go on before you take it." - Kris Vallotton, Spirit Wars

Salvation WITH regeneration is our responsibility. Satan will try everything in his power to usurp (take a position of power or importance illegally or by force) what has been freely given to you. Don't allow him the pleasure.

If you're okay with going to war, freedom and restoration are yours. And then you have the privilege of giving it away to all you meet.

So thank you William Booth for going before us and opening our eyes. May we take heed and make an eternal difference on earth while we're alive.

So you want to be fruitful?

Fruit... Maybe we don't consciously think about it too much, (or at all), and maybe this sounds like a statement from Captain Obvious, but fruit is a sign of health from a life giving tree or vine. We landed on the island of Capri this last Saturday, and as we drove up to our hotel, there were vineyards and lemon trees everywhere. It's breathtakingly magical here, so much so, that it seems as though we were dropped straight into a romantic movie set. Our journey took us up the island to 'Ana Capri', and as we drove, on the side of the road, at fruit stands, shops, and entry ways into many of the restaurants, were trays of some of the biggest lemons I have ever seen in my life - some of them nearly the size of my head! Everything here seems to be in season, and flourishing beautifully.

When you or I look at a tree, and see that it's full of fruit in due season, we know it's a healthy tree, planted in good soil, pruned at the right times, watered, cultivated and nurtured by its owner. We are much the same as a fruit tree, or vine - either bearing fruit in the right seasons, or drying up and withering away due to lack of connection to the TRUE vine. If the latter is your portion, it's critical to ask yourself just what you are connected to.

Success in life = Fruit. Not achievement, big numbers, status, being known, or even faithfulness. Yes, some of those things might be considered fruit, but hopefully, our achievements, status, and faithfulness (ect.) to Jesus bring the right, lasting fruit. If we are truly successful in life, we will be known as, and be remembered once we're gone, as true disciples of Jesus Christ, and the proof will be in the pudding, or in keeping with the analogy, the fruit. You will live a life with nothing to prove, and nothing to hide, whilst enjoying the process of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

In John 15, Jesus draws this parallel as an illustration to make it clear and obvious to us how to bear fruit in our lives.

John 15:1-8 NIV 

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

We all want to bear fruit, but when the Kingdom process commences, we want to bear fruit another way... Or Maybe that's just me?!?! We can see from John 15 that it's a choice to remain. Remain in Christ, in the true vine... Not in our thoughts, or our safe places, but in Christ. And when The Father starts the cutting off and pruning process, take it as a compliment. He wants MORE for you. He even cuts back the good stuff so you can bear MORE of it. And if  certain things are being cut off of your life, take a look at them. Maybe they weren't bearing fruit in the first place. Our Father knows what we need, when we need it. We just have to trust Him and trust the process.

Stop for a moment and take a look at the fruit in your life? Do you see any? Are you aware of your season? Are you being pruned to bear more fruit in certain areas? Are things being cut off that aren't bearing fruit?  What have you been remaining in, or connected to? Because apart from Jesus you can do nothing, and He strongly says that the things that we do apart from Him are like a branch that  withers and is thrown into the fire. Harsh, but true. So often, we remain in the muck of our situation rather then repent, turn from our ways, and step back into the arms of Jesus. Maybe we're remaining in the negative prophesies that someone spoke over our lives that are just lies, and it's time to come back into agreement with the truth. Sometimes we remain in, or stay connected to people or environments that don't cultivate truth in love, and instead we're seeing bitterness, un-forgiveness and anger as a withering branch in our lives. Maybe there are thought processes you are allowing to germinate in your mind, that are becoming unhealthy thought patterns, that have sunk into your heart, and come out of your mouth as a belief system.

I would say, if any of the above are true, it's time to make some changes...

  • It's time to take thoughts captive and make them obedient to the mind of Christ. Even moment by moment if need be... But be transformed inside and out by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2) You have to consciously do this.
  • It's time to trust God and allow things to be cut off that we have been holding onto, that have caused a withering effect in our lives.
  • It's time to change our relationships and environments to be connected to the one and only true vine - Jesus Christ.
  • It's time to come into agreement with the truth of the word of God, and break agreement with lies that we have allowed to become a part of who we are. Lies are not our inheritance. Everything that Jesus has is. (John 16:15)
  • It's time to be pruned in areas where maybe we've become prideful, because of the harvest of fruit that we have already seen, and God is saying... "There's MORE!". Pruning brings humility, and allows us once again to see who The Farmer is that cultivates our lives.

Why is bearing fruit so important? Why does this even matter?

"This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:8 NIV

Because it shows who's we are. It glorifies our Father in Heaven without us even speaking a word. Those in your family, workplace, neighborhood, in your sphere of God given influence will see what a TRUE disciple looks like, and will want to have what your having.

Your Worth

How many of us have struggled with our self worth? Since I can't get a show of hands, I'll answer for you; all of us. Last night our family had a movie night. We watched Frozen (I mean, how could you not? It was released on DVD yesterday!), sang our hearts out as if we were in the cast, all whilst eating ice cream and tons of popcorn. All of that was fun, but the moment that got me was after the credits had already begun to roll. Paul swept Finley up into his arms and danced with her... He danced with her like they were the only two people in the room. She giggled with delight as her handsome prince swayed to the music, kissing her and holding her tight. This is one girl that will always know her worth.

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Maybe for you, growing up things were less then perfect and this image strikes a cord in your heart that brings pain. The truth is, things are less then perfect in our house, but our kids know that they are loved.

Love is the framework that we live our lives in. It's what we surround our kids with, so that they know even if they screw it all up, or if we as their parents screw it all up, our lives still fall in the framework of love to be mended and put back together. Love is our motivator, love compels us to forgive one another, it brings understanding and compassion to each other. It brings about miracles... And ultimately love connects us to God, because God is love.

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andiandrew.com

I wonder what framework you live your life in? Is it love, or is it fear? Is it hatred or shame? Is it self doubt, or pity? Or is it striving and laboring for your worth? Maybe you find yourself grasping for your worth in what others say about you, or to you, about your accomplishments or achievements? I tell you what, you will wear yourself out striving for the rest of your life if you can't just find rest in God's love.

His love is readily available to heal you, restore you, deliver you, save and rescue you, and make you whole. His love is here right now waiting for you to let go of your own ways and find yourself in His. His love is relentless, unswerving, uninhibited... His love is after you.

His love is so un-relenting that He wasn’t content to sit on His throne in heaven and watch you be tortured by the enemy. He had a battle plan that would destroy the works of the devil. He put skin on and became like us.

John 1:14 ESV14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

And the Message version puts it this way:

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John 1:14 MESSAGE“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.”

We've got to try to wrap our mind around the fact that Jesus left his heavenly throne to become like one of us. God in flesh. He was born into adversity and trial in the wilderness because his parents were rejected for lack of room at the inn. Life was not easy for Him, and it didn’t start out easy. It wasn’t the cushy life of a king as many would suppose for the savior of the world. The first place He was to lay down his head was a manger full of straw... a place where animals came to eat their food. It wasn’t a sterile, clean immaculate environment fit for a king... it was full of sheep’s dung and dirt... He bowed low and humbled himself to become human, to be like one of us... The word became flesh and dwelt among us... He understands us: He felt the pain of loss when his friend Lazarus died, He actually wept in the moment He stood outside his friends tomb. He celebrated at feasts, hung out with the rich and the poor, the sinners and saints. He was tempted and He overcame. He felt rejection as one of his closest friends, turned on Him. He felt grief as He prayed in the garden asking God if there was another way to save all of humanity, yet still went through with it and suffered pain on the cross for the joy that was set before Him... Us. He was fully human and fully God.

He completely understands you, feels you, gets you, knows your struggles, trials and pain… Will you let Him in?

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andiandrew.com

Amy Carmichael said - “There is no need to plead that the love of God shall fill our hearts as though He were unwilling to fill us... Love is pressing around us on all sides like air. Cease to resist it and instantly love takes possession.”

He is willing... He is waiting.

The truth is Jesus love for you is un-relenting now matter how you feel, what you do, or where you go. You are the object of His love, the apple of His eye, the joy that was set before Him. You are the reason He lived, died and rose again. His love is on the move...

Just like this picture, God wants to heal you, pick you up in His arms, spin you around and tell you how much He loves you. It is already finished in His mind, He only waits for you to reach out and say you want it.

Cease to resist His love... And watch it take possession of your heart.

You're worth it.