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Are You Rooted or Held?

Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7 NLT

Appearances can be deceiving.

This morning while watering my outdoor plants, I noticed a withering vine. I couldn’t tell anything was wrong with it until I stood right next to it. From a distance, the entire plant appeared to be thriving, the little shoot disappearing into beautiful cascades of green blooming with bright pink flowers. But when I got close, a cluster of withered leaves drew my attention.

They hung there—limp—entwined and hiding among the healthy leaves.

A little investigation uncovered the cause. Strong winds from a recent storm had broken the vine at the top, disconnecting it from its life source. True to their climbing nature, leaves from the healthy shoots had wound around it, holding the broken piece in place, but their grip couldn’t offer the life it needed.

Being held in proximity to the root system is no substitute for being rooted yourself.

As I looked at the little broken piece, my heart began to stir for the church. I saw how the enemy has sent storms, strategically designed to sever our connection to Jesus. He has succeeded in more ways than we have realized.

Hidden within our churches, detached hearts languish and wither. From a distance, they appear to be growing and thriving alongside everyone else, but their prosperity is an illusion.

They are held, not rooted.

Instead of connecting to Jesus themselves, the arms of rooted believers hold them close to Him. They receive some level of strength from the people supporting them, their corporate experience of worship and fellowship offering periodic comfort to their wounded souls.

But it can’t restore them.

So, although they’re held close by loving members of the body, they continue to wither. Without personally connecting to Jesus, they will never thrive, no matter how entwined they are with the people who know Him.  

Unless we are rooted in Jesus ourselves, we forfeit our ability to bloom. Click To Tweet

Jesus said in John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

Jesus wants you rooted, dear one. He wants you to personally experience the depth of His great love for you. Only knowing that love becomes an anchor that sustains His life in you, even in difficult times. In Christ’s kingdom, storms shouldn’t destroy and deplete us. When we draw from the Life Giver, they only serve to strengthen us and establish victories over the enemy we didn’t know were possible.

Open your heart to the reality of God’s desires for you, beloved.

…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-18

God wants to fill you with the complete expression of who He is. It begins when you personally encounter His love for you and dare to return it. In that place of unbroken fellowship—rooted in His vast love expressed toward you—the Life He brings will begin to revive and restore what pain has left dead and broken in you.

Oh, dear one. Regardless of the condition you presently find yourself in, you can take hold of this miraculous promise. In Christ’ kingdom, broken and detached branches can be grafted back in!

And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. Romans 11:23

Precious one, don’t settle for earthly expressions of divine fellowship. Go to the Source. Dare to surrender your heart to the One who made it. Offer it to Him freely, and He will give you His in return. Confess your unbelief and invite Jesus to lead you.

And experience the love that will leave you overflowing with thankfulness.

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My Journey into Glory, Part 2

Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:2

Grace can be a tricky thing.

We toss the word around a lot in Christian circles, but most of us don’t really know how to live in it. We don’t even really understand it, but we want it. Desperately. So, we keep striving to attain what we’ve already been given. Then we end up frustrated, because we never seem to reach the thing we’re striving for.

Can you relate, dear one? I can.

According to Scripture, only two things give us access to God’s grace and manifest the power of His promises: faith (Romans 5:2) and humility (James 4:6). No amount of striving can acquire it, only faith that submits our hearts to believe in what God has already done.

Faith and humility give us access to God's grace. #graceandglory Click To Tweet

But here’s the real root of our struggle. The deceiver tricks us into believing that we’re trusting God, while underneath, hidden from our own awareness, our faith remains firmly established in a lie that he fed us. That lie—anchored to a painful life experience or old wound—serves as a dam, blocking the flow of power that grace provides to manifest God’s promise. And while our hearts still hold onto that lie, we’ll never believe the truth we’re reaching for—and never realize the fulfillment of that promise. Beloved, your heart can’t believe two opposing things at the same time.

We always reject one to make room for the other.

That’s where I got stuck. Thinking I was leaning into the glorious image of myself God had revealed to me (see My Journey into Glory), while actually resisting it. And I couldn’t understand why I felt this growing distance from God.

I began to cry out in prayer, asking Him to reveal the obstacle I felt between us, and again I saw the image He had shown me. Only this time, I saw cracks fracturing the image, like seeing my reflection in a cracked mirror. When I asked Jesus about it, I heard, “You still pass judgment on what I’ve forgiven. Your slate is clean. The image I showed you is true. The cracked glass is a deception.”

I believe that’s a lie that many of us get caught in. We know what Jesus says about us, but we see it as a “someday” promise.

I’ll be that someday…when I get my act together.

I’ll be that someday…when I get past…

Beloved, the truth is, Jesus already did everything that needs to be done. The only thing left for you and me to do is believe He did what He says He did. And He made that pretty clear in 2 Corinthians 5:17,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

According to Scripture, you and I have already been made new. We are presently new creations in Christ. The old version of us has passed away, and the new one is already here. I knew those Scriptures—and I thought I believed them—but this nagging feeling of separation from God continued to rob me of peace.

Eventually, I attended an intimate weekend retreat to set apart time with the Lord. After dinner the first evening, I discovered that a believer in another state had been praying over my name and had received a word from God for me. I’d never met her or even heard of her, yet God met me profoundly through her as the retreat hostess shared what God had given her for me.

She began by saying, “Welcome to your healing.” Those words alone set my heart beating with fresh hope. She went on to say that when she asked the Lord about me, she saw my hard-working hands bandaged and wrapped. Then she told me the Lord wanted to “heal the scars, swollenness, and open wounds one by one to reveal unblemished hands.”

Tears surfaced as I listened to these words and other encouragements spoken over my life by this precious stranger, relating to many of them. But I didn’t understand it’s full meaning until the following morning in worship when God showed me another vision.

This time I saw Jesus holding my limp body in His arms, my head leaning against His chest. And I saw my bloody hands, red streams trickling down my forearms from the torn flesh of my knuckles. Then the image of my cracked reflection appeared again, and I knew. I had bloodied my own fists smashing the glass, rejecting God’s image of me for a lesser one.

That’s how the enemy works, dear one. He deceives. He binds our hearts with his lies so we can’t believe the truth of what God says, and only truth sets us free. I realized I had been held so long by his lie of rejection that I had become it, pushing away the very thing I believed I was reaching for.

What happened next still astonishes me. Jesus set me down and knelt before me, preparing to dress my wounds. Only before He washed and bandaged my bloodied hands, He took them in His own and did something unthinkable. He kissed them.

Can you imagine it? My Jesus—King of Kings and Lord of Lords—sullied His own lips on the blood of my rejection. He had every right to be impatient with me, to judge my heart for rejecting His provision for me. After all, I’ve been serving in ministry for 11 years, leading others into His promises. I should’ve seen it. Should’ve known.

But He didn’t choose any of that. Instead, He simply loved me. Right where I was. In the mess. In the pain. I didn’t need to clean myself up to receive that love. He was right there, willing to give it. Kissing me in my brokenness, before He ever washed my hands.

Jesus never judges our brokenness. He restores even our self-inflicted wounds. #KnowHisHeart Click To Tweet

That’s the real Jesus, beloved. Kind, merciful, loving, and yours—if you’ll have Him. He is a King with authority to command. He brings victory in His wake. And He loves like no other. But you and I won’t experience that victorious power if we never experience Him.

We need to know Him, dear one. Not just His words, but His heart.

Love makes all the difference.

 

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Broken and given away

Broken and Given Away

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:51

We spend a lot of time talking about the Bread of Life. But very few of us eat it. And we wonder at the absence of heaven’s life.

But life doesn’t come from hearing about the bread. Bread only nourishes when we partake.

“It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.”~ A.W. Tozer

Taste the Bread, beloved. Don’t just nibble on it. Feast. Until you become the very Bread you consume.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29

You and I are also supposed to become heaven’s bread. Jesus came as the first Bread of many loaves. Bread that multiplies as it’s given away.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus’ miracles that fed hungry crowds both centered around bread?

You may recall that Jesus fed a crowd of over 5000 with a few loaves of bread and two fish.

When the disciples came to Jesus about the late hour and the people’s need for provisions, He responded with an impossible request.

“You give them something to eat.” Luke 9:13

 I imagine you and I would have been as perplexed as they were.

They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” Luke 9:13

But Jesus didn’t want them to buy food for the people. He wanted them to feed the hungry with what they already had.

 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.  And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. Luke 9:16-17

Blessed. Broken. Given away. Multiplied.

Jesus was pointing them to the cross, dear one.

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

Bread that is blessed, broken, and given away feeds and satisfies the hungry. Christ became the Bread to nourish our hungry souls. He invites us to follow His example.

Taste the Bread, beloved. Consume it so you may become Bread. Then let Jesus bless it and break it, so that you may also be given away.

Life and glory flow out through the breaking. Jesus blesses us beforehand, but the breaking releases the blessing. Like Jesus, we must entrust ourselves to God’s hands, allowing ourselves to be broken and given away. Only then will the Bread of Life multiply.

And then it returns to us.

The disciples gave the bread away, and each returned with an overflowing basket. Do you want your basket full, beloved? Give away your bread.

Blessed. Broken. Given away. Multiplied.

There will be pain in the breaking, dear one. Even anguish. Just look at the cross.

But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1 Peter 4:13 NIV

I have seen Christ’s vision for His glorious church. Beautiful. Spotless. Without blemish. Alive.

And I see hungry crowds in desperate need of Bread.

Jesus placed the very river of life that flows from the throne of God (Revelation 22:1-2) into our hearts through His breaking (John 7:38). I long to release that river. But it seems it will only flow out through the breaking of my heart.

So break it, Lord. Do what you must in me to set it flowing, to release your river of life from within me. Catch the wounded and broken in its flow; wash and heal them.

I trust you, Father. For with the breaking, there will be a mending. But I—and those you entrust to me—will be changed.

I would not have chosen this path for myself. The path of suffering—of watching those precious to me suffer.

But Jesus didn’t choose His path either. He surrendered to it.

And His breaking resulted in glory.

Broken and given away

Broken Bread

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:51

We spend a lot of time talking about the Bread of Life. But very few of us eat it. And we wonder at the absence of heaven’s life.

But life doesn’t come from hearing about the bread. Bread only nourishes when we partake of it.

“It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the Kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table.” ~A.W. Tozer

Taste the Bread, beloved. Don’t just nibble on it. Feast. Until you become the very Bread you consume.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:29

You and I are also supposed to become heaven’s bread. Jesus was meant to be the first bread of many loaves. Bread that multiplies as it is given away.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus’ miracles that fed hungry crowds both centered around bread?

You may recall that Jesus fed a crowd of over 5000 with a few loaves of bread and two fish.

When the disciples came to Jesus about the late hour and the people’s need for provisions, He responded with an impossible request.

“You give them something to eat.” Luke 9:13

I imagine you and I would have been as perplexed as they were.

They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” Luke 9:13

But Jesus didn’t want them to buy food for the people. He wanted them to feed the hungry with what they already had in their midst.

 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. Luke 9:16-17

Blessed. Broken. Given away. Multiplied.

Jesus was pointing them to the cross, dear one.

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19

Bread that is blessed, broken, and given away feeds and satisfies the hungry. Christ became the Bread to nourish our hungry souls. He invites us to follow His example.

Bread that is blessed, broken, and given away feeds and satisfies the hungry. #becometheBread Click To Tweet

Taste the Bread, beloved. Consume it so you may become Bread. Then let Jesus bless it and break it, so that you may also give Bread.

Life and glory flow out through the breaking. We are blessed before we are broken, but the breaking releases the blessing. Like Jesus, we must allow ourselves to be broken and given away. Only then will the Bread of Life multiply.

And then it returns to us.

The disciples gave the bread away, and each returned with an overflowing basket. Do you want your basket full, beloved? Give away your bread.

Blessed. Broken. Given away. Multiplied.

There may be pain in the breaking, dear one. Even anguish. Just look at the cross.

But I have chosen the broken path. I have seen Christ’s vision for His glorious church. Beautiful. Spotless. Without blemish. Alive with the glory of His might.

And I see hungry crowds in desperate need of Bread.

Jesus placed the very river of life that flows from the throne of God (Revelation 22:1-2) into our hearts through His breaking (John 7:38). I long to release that river. But it seems it will only flow out through the breaking of my heart.

So break it, Lord. Do what you must in me to set it flowing, to release your river of life from within me. Catch the wounded and broken in its flow; wash and heal them.

I trust you, Father. For with the breaking, there will be a mending. But I—and those you entrust to me—will be changed.

I would not have chosen this path for myself. The path of suffering—of watching those precious to me suffer.

But Jesus didn’t choose His path either. He surrendered to it.

And His breaking resulted in glory.

Unlikely Cherished Things

Confession time again.

Have you ever held onto a promise of God—watching, waiting, wrestling with the time it has taken to fulfill it—and wondered if perhaps you had been wrong to believe it? You reason that God might fulfill this promise for someone else, but what if He’s decided not to do it for you? What if this isn’t part of your blessing?

A part of my heart has been broken for a very long time. Nothing particularly traumatic or extraordinary happened to me to break it. Years ago, I simply made some destructive choices in search of acceptance. Choices that the world offers as commonplace and right, but that God warns will leave their mark. They did.

I had no idea the extent of the damage. Like most of us do, I looked at my life and the progress I’d made with the Lord and thought I was okay.

But God is too good to allow us to settle for okay. After all, His Son was beaten, bled, and hung on a cross to heal what sin’s damage left broken. To restore us. To make us whole.

Still, as much as God has transformed me and poured His grace into my life, in this area, I have not been whole.

And I’ve struggled with God over it.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve cried out to Him in prayer, surrendering this one thing and asking for healing. Yet I remain stuck.

While Living Water flows and empowers so many areas of my life, something has blocked its movement here. This place remains a dry desert.

This week, I revisited Numbers 13. I stood in the desert with Moses and witnessed God sending men from each tribe to explore the land He’d promised to Israel. After forty days, the men returned and reported what they had found.

“We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.” Numbers 13:27

They found the land exactly as God had promised. They even tasted the fruit available to them there.

“But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.” Numbers 13:28

So they determined not to even try to claim the land God had promised them.

Listen, dear one. Twelve men entered the land God clearly said He was giving them as an inheritance (verse 1). They all witnessed the same things. They all saw that the land was good, and they all saw the fortified cities and fighting men.

Two of those men focused on the promises of God and received them into their lives. The other ten focused on the obstacles keeping them from attaining it. Those ten, as well as the rest of the Israelites who believed them, never left the desert. That’s where they died.

It struck me that I have had a similar experience to those Israelites. I have witnessed God’s awesome power to deliver and have left the captivity of much of my sin. Now I stand in the desert looking at the promise of wholeness God has placed before me, that He has promised to give me through His Word. I have even tasted the fruit of it as God has graciously allowed breakthrough moments that have shown me what’s possible in Him.

But those moments always fade, and the obstacles loom large once again. Still, I remain in the desert.

I can’t help but ask the question. Why?

I’m not particularly fond of the answer He gave me.

You see, just like those Israelites, I have kept myself in the desert. Part of me clung to its familiarity, even while I cried out to God to deliver me from it.

Somehow along the way, this very part of myself that I hated and cried out to God to restore became a cherished thing. I wanted God to miraculously heal it, but at the same time, I’m recognizing that I didn’t really want to give it up. It defined me. It was familiar. I actually feared the void it might leave if I let go of it. So I didn’t. I asked God to take it, but I wasn’t willing to hand it to Him. I said I was, but I’ve discovered that my heart didn’t agree.

And that was the problem, dear one. Because God will only take what we freely offer Him.

Yesterday, my Scripture reading took me to Mount Moriah. I wept with Abraham as he placed his cherished thing, his beloved son Isaac, on the altar of sacrifice. He didn’t allow the obstacles ahead of him—death itself—to keep him from believing God’s promise to bless him through Isaac. Hebrews 11:19 reveals that he reasoned God could raise him from the dead.

So Abraham placed his son on the altar, fully believing in the goodness of his faithful God. Expecting a miracle, he chose not to withhold his cherished thing.

And God provided a ram in place of Abraham’s offering. God didn’t take, dear one. He gave. And He multiplied Abraham’s offering. Instead of only the one cherished son, Abraham would have “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore (Genesis 22:17).”

Look at God’s response to His faithful servant.

“I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you . . .” Genesis 22:16-17

What are you withholding from God, dear one, that blocks the flow of His blessing into your life? As I discovered, sometimes the things we’re holding onto aren’t even good things. They’re destructive things. Things we’ve convinced ourselves we need, when actually they are the very things that rob us of the blessing we desire through them.

God doesn’t empty, beloved. He fills. He swears on His own name that He will do it.

“I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld ____________________________ I will surely bless you . . .” Genesis 22:16-17

Will you believe Him?

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