Jesus

All posts tagged Jesus

Easter: A Reason to Rejoice

Published December 15, 2013 by joypatton

Easter LilyHave you ever had one of those seasons in life where  “the hits keep coming?”  It feels like lately every time we turn around, it’s something else.  A kid that needs eye therapy or an expensive car repair.  Employees that leave and clients who decide not to be clients any more.  Rejections from publishers or, even worse, being rejected by friends.  Having to decide whether to pay your taxes or pay your mortgage.  Days when you don’t feel good at any of your jobs, and you feel like a failure.  Sometimes the hits just keep on coming.

But even when everything falls apart, I am reminded that my greatest affliction, my biggest problem, has already been taken care of.  All of the other problems are small compared to my biggest problem.  Sure, those other issues make life difficult and very uncomfortable, but because my greatest affliction has been removed, I have hope that it won’t always be like this.  I can know for sure that things will change; I will experience peace and rest.  My greatest affliction, the problem I can not solve on my own, is my sin.

When I approach God with my list of all the things that I think I need…better health, more money, more time with friends, more wisdom in parenting…I am reminded that my greatest need, the thing I need the most to make it through this life, has already been provided for.  My greatest need, the deepest ache of my soul, is peace with God.

This Easter I remember that my greatest affliction has been removed…permanently.  That my greatest need has been fulfilled…once and for all.  Because of the work of Christ on the cross, my sins can be forgiven.  I don’t have to be good enough to be in a right relationship with God.  Because Jesus chose to be the sacrifice that would atone for the sins of the world, I can be at peace with God.  He loved us so much that He made a way for us to be with Him forever.

So when I stand in worship, singing of his love, I will look at all of this week’s “hits” from a different perspective.  I will remember that my greatest affliction and my greatest need have been provided for.  If He is big enough and loving enough to take care of those great problems, then surely He is able to take care of all the “hits” that come my way.  I will be grateful for his love; I will rejoice in his provision; I will know that he is with me; I will trust Him more.

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Free Advice Friday: What does it mean if we are “offended” by something someone does or says?

Published March 1, 2013 by joypatton

First you need to understand your own heart. Were you hurt by what they said or offended? If someone does or says something that hurt your feelings, then you need to own that. Sometimes it’s easier to say we were “offended” than to say we were “hurt.” Kind of like saying “I’m frustrated” rather than “I’m angry.” Using the terms “offended” and “frustrated” allows us to save face and maintain a “stronger” position. But to say that I was hurt or angry, takes courage because it makes me vulnerable. I’m vulnerable because I got my feelings hurt.

What I learned from counseling and from one of my all-time favorite books Voice of the Heart by Chip Dodd was to speak my feelings in simple honest terms without hiding them. Now when someone does or says something that hurts me, I can tell them I was hurt. Your feelings are your feelings and no one can tell you how to feel. Whether they meant to or not doesn’t change the fact that I was hurt. So just tell them, simply and honestly without an expectation of an apology. When I tell someone how I feel, I tell them because I want to be known by them. I let them see me as I truly am, and I let them be who they truly are, sorry or not sorry.

As Christians, we are so quick to use the word “offended.” Many were offended by Beyonce’s Superbowl Halftime Show. Many are offended by what how the liberal media reports the news. Many are offended by how common swear words are in our culture today. The list of things that Christians find “offensive” is extremely long, never-ending and quite varied. But my question is what offended Jesus, the person we are all supposedly trying to be more like?

Was Jesus offended when they flung a partially dressed woman caught in adultery at his feet? Was he offended when he ate in the home of Zaccheus the tax collector? Was he offended when Simon the Pharisee had him over for dinner and didn’t properly wash his feet? Was he offended by the rough life of his fishermen disciples who sometimes didn’t wash their hands before they ate? Was he offended when the disciples tried to turn away the little children? Was he offended when the friends of the paralytic man destroyed private property to bring their friend to Jesus? Was he offended when the woman at the well asked him theological questions all the while avoiding his?

Of all the people who ever walked this earth, Jesus, the perfect, unblemished, holy Son of God, had more reasons to be offended by the unrighteous filth of our world than anyone else. And yet these are not the things that “offended” him. None of those things could diminish or tarnish or take away his righteousness. An unclean woman washing his feet with her tears and her hair does not make him any less righteous. The Pharisees however criticized him for letting him touch her. They would never let her unrighteousness come near to their righteousness lest she tarnish their holiness. They failed to understand that righteousness is a matter of the heart, not something you maintain on the outside.

Jesus’ harshest words were reserved for the Pharisees in Matthew 23. He says “Woe to you!” seven times in this chapter directed at them. He calls them hypocrites and fools. It seems to me that these were the people who “offended” him the most. These were people who valued their righteousness more than justice and truth and love. They treated righteousness as something to be earned, deserved and protected. I think we fall into the same trap when we rant and rave about all the things that are offensive to us as Christians. Typically people are offended when their sense of right-ness is transgressed. They fear that what they have seen or heard will tarnish their righteousness.

But the truth is that I am righteous not because of what I do or don’t do. I have been declared righteous when I trust Jesus’ perfect righteousness to cover all my unrighteousness. Therefore I don’t get “offended” by the unrighteous things of this world. The world and the people in it are simply acting according to their nature. Jesus’ righteousness was not “offended” by all the unrighteousness of this world. Rather he was moved to compassion and love for the sick and dying, those headed toward eternal damnation.

My hope is that when someone in this world acts according to their fallen nature that I will not be “offended” and judge, but rather that I would be moved toward compassion and love. Lest I become like the Pharisees, truly offensive to the One I love.

Lessons from the Wasteland: The Ache

Published February 26, 2013 by joypatton

The Ache is the gap between how life is and how I think it ought to be.  The gap between Eden and reality.  The longing for perfection and justice that is never fully satisfied this side of heaven.  No matter how much I hate it and want it to disappear, the ache never goes away.  I tell myself if this happens, then life will be good.  If my life were better, then it wouldn’t hurt so much.  But the Ache never goes away.  In so many moments and situations, the Ache remains.  Will ever stop?  Is its defeat even a legitimate goal?

In the life of Jesus it seems that the Ache was constantly with him from the very beginning to the very end.  He was born in a stable and his mother felt the ache of wanting a warm, safe, clean place to bring him into the world.  And yet God’s provision was a stable.  The Ache of wanting the whole world to know, but his arrival only known by a faithful few.  Everyone in the story instinctively knew that this was no way for a King to be born, and yet it was exactly how the King was supposed to come.  The Ache is the gap between how we think it should be and how God made it to be.

As he chose his disciples, the Ache of knowing that Judas would be the one to betray him.  And yet, he chose Judas.  He walked with him.  He ate the Last Supper with him.  We see this gap in John 6.  He asks his disciples if they too would turn away.  Peter makes a beautiful declaration of belief, and yet Jesus feels the ache of knowing that one of them is a devil.  The gap between good and evil.

And how does Jesus deal with the ache?  Does he run away from it?  Does he pursue happiness hoping to remedy the ache?  Does he exert his power to force people to change, to make them right?  Does he cut off and cast out those who add to the ache?  No.  Instead he pushes in.  He stays consistently true to who he is and what he is called to do.

This is so contrary to everything inside of me.  I chase happiness and peace and perfection.  I cut off anyone who threatens that.  I run away from hard relationships and hard conversations because it’s just easier to ignore the ache.  I am satisfied with moments of happiness from my favorite escapes that take me out of the present: shopping, television, movies, and fancy parties that make me feel important.

And yet Jesus seemed content in sadness, chaos and imperfection.  He is at peace because he has submitted all things, including himself, to His Father.  He asked Judas to be one of the Twelve because that’s what the Father asked him to do.  He knew the Father had a purpose for the ache: His glory.  The Ache is what makes Jesus beautiful, unfathomable, supreme over all.

Jesus shows us that we don’t have to be afraid of the ache.  We don’t have to run away from it or try to fix it.  That the pain of life is mixed in with the joy.  Like the joy of sharing a good meal with good friends and the pain of knowing that it will be the last time.   The joy of feeling life in your womb and the pain of knowing it will be short lived.  The joy of being who you were made to be and the pain of being rejected and misunderstood.  Both exist in life simultaneously.

It is because of Jesus that the biggest ache, the biggest gap between God’s righteous perfection and my unrighteous imperfection, has been bridged by the blood of Christ.  Every other ache is temporary.  Every other ache will be remedied in His eternal Presence.  This is the hope we have: that because of Jesus, it won’t always be like this.

But for now…it is.  Like Jesus, I must trust the good hand of the sovereign God who is working all things for good.  In the ache, I remain true.  I pay attention to my heart.  I push in to hard relationships and hard conversations to know Him more, to follow in his steps more closely.  So rather than run from the ache, try to fix it or change it, because of His example, I embrace it.

Free Advice Friday: What’s the Biblical definition of self-love?

Published December 7, 2012 by joypatton

This question came via text this week.  Often the basis of this question is the teaching on the passage that we must love others as we love ourselves.  I have heard it taught that you can’t love other people until you love yourself.  I think that we have to able to receive love before we can give love.  But when I ask myself what Biblical self-love looks like, I have a hard time finding examples, especially when I look to the life of Jesus.

I don’t think there is such a thing as Biblical self-love.  The Bible doesn’t directly talk about loving ourselves as something we ought to do.  I’ve been studying John and particularly how Jesus related to the Father as a model for how a Princess relates to the King.  We never see Jesus trying to love himself more.  Rather we know that he loved the Father and that the Father loved him.  His one desire was to do the will of the Father (John 4:34).  He sought the glory of the Father, more than glory for himself (John 5:41).  We also know that he entrusted himself completely to the will of the Father (I Peter 2:23).

Jesus didn’t model self-love, but he did model self-care.  He withdrew and took time for himself, but I believe it was because the Father told him to.  Everything he did was submitted to the Father.  The people he healed and the teachings he taught came directly from the Father, not from himself.  (John 7:18)  He didn’t heal every person, cast out every demon or raise every person from the dead.  How did he know where to go?  How did he know when it was time to minister to others and when it was time to withdraw?  The Father told him.  Jesus modeled a beautiful submission to the Father and what it looks like to abide in Him.  When he died on the cross, it was not self-love or self-glorification (Ice Queen) nor was it self-loathing or self-hatred (Orphan).  Rather Jesus obeyed the Father to the point of death on the cross because he loved the Father and trusted him completely.

Likewise for us, the Princess loves the King and desires to please him.  The Princess loves what the King loves, and the King loves her.  But it’s not that the Princess tries to love herself, to protect herself or take care of herself.  Rather she trusts that the Father loves her, that he protects her, that he takes care of her.  In a practical sense, I trust the Father to give me time to refresh.  I trust the Father to give me strength when the list for the day is overwhelming.  I trust the Father to help me know what boundaries to set with others.  I do this because I know that my time, my heart, my emotions are worthy of protection because the Father has made me worthy of love.  I can trust the Father even in the midst of suffering when my world is falling apart because I know that discipline leads to righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).

Maybe the struggle is not in loving yourself, but believing that you are already loved.  John says, “We love because he first loved us” (I John 4:19).  He is the one who shows us what it feels like to be loved and how to love other people.  We must “come to know and to believe the love that God has for us” (I John 4:16).  Brennan Manning in Abba’s Child challenges us to “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.  God’s love for you and his choice of you constitute your worth.  Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life.”

So my dear Princesses, the love you have for yourself does not come from yourself or your own desires.  Rather you can love, accept, value and cherish yourself because the King Father first accepted, loved, valued and cherished you.

If you have a question for Free Advice Friday, you can email me at joy@joypatton.com.

Three Final Warnings – Purpose Part 6

Published July 9, 2012 by joypatton

Finding your purpose sounds like a really great thing.  But I have to warn you that it is not smooth sailing.  You don’t punch it into the GPS of your life and have clear direction at every turn, advance warnings of detours, and safe arrival at exactly the time predicted.  In this sixth blog on purpose, I have three final warnings.

Brace yourself!  Once you know your purpose and start to live it, you have a target on your back.  After Jesus was baptized, he was led into the wilderness to be tested for 40 days.  After Paul was blinded by the light on the road to Damascus, his new identity and purpose were immediately put to the test.  Paul started preaching that Jesus was the Messiah in the Jewish synagogues, and the people there were amazed because they knew of his previous reputation.  (When Ice Queens, turn into Princesses, people notice.)  But soon the Jews in Damascus decided to “take care of the situation” and plotted to kill Paul.  Paul escaped Damascus with the help of friends who lowered him over the wall in a basket.

Why is it important for a Princess to know her identity and her purpose?  Because some day, her Princess status will be challenged.  It may or may not be challenged by other people, but I know for certain that the enemy Satan will challenge it.  Paul knew where he came from, who he was, and what he was called to do.  His confidence came from his identity in Christ and his belief in the true Gospel.  Paul and the Princess have no confidence in themselves and all the things they are gifted in.  Rather their confidence is in the One who gifted and called them to His purposes.

Remember that suffering was part of God’s purpose for Paul.  Was Paul any less anointed or gifted when he was sitting in a jail cell?  Was he less called when he was under house arrest?  In God’s kingdom, suffering has a purpose.  Are you ready to suffer?  Will the Enemy be able to sidetrack you at the first sign of trouble?

Beware of the box – Sometimes God’s purpose does not look the way we always thought it would.  Sometimes we look at our gifts and passions and we think we know exactly how God wants to use us. A couple weeks ago, I met a girl who loves Spanish and Latin cultures.  Her grandmother was a missionary to Honduras, so naturally she felt she wanted to be a missionary.   But what if God has a different way for her to use her love of Latin culture?  What if she doesn’t ever become a missionary, but instead works in the United Nations?  Would she have missed God’s purpose for her life?  Or maybe you are a gifted singer, songwriter, musician.  When that is your gifting we automatically see record deals and touring.  But what if it’s leading worship in your local church or teaching music in a classroom?  Have you missed God’s purpose if you never get your Nashville dream box?

Maybe you thought you had the perfect guy who met every one of your requirements for an ideal mate.  You thought you would be living happily ever after by now, but you aren’t.  Have you missed God’s best for your life?  Consider other women who have a passion for children, but never marry or can’t have children of their own.  Have they missed God’s purpose?  Is the passion he put in them wasted?  Nothing is wasted in the kingdom of God.

For me, I have a passion for teaching women the Bible.  I always thought that meant I would be teaching in my local church like I have for the last five years.  But that’s not what I’m doing this year.  If I don’t do it through my church, does that mean I’ve missed God’s purpose for my life?  I’m learning that there are lots of ways to teach women the Bible.  I think God is blowing up my box.  This box held my dream in a predictable place where I was safe and comfortable.  However living with purpose when you don’t know the plan is quite terrifying.  But it takes me to the place where I have to choose whether or not I will trust him more.  The Princess must choose to look to him and follow, no matter where he leads.  Will you trust that he has a purpose even when it doesn’t fit your box?

You can’t please everyone – When you live according to your purpose, you will have to say no.  You will have to disappoint some people, especially people who are used to you saying yes.  One of the myths of modern womanhood is that you can be 100% wife, 100% mom and 100% employee.  This will leave you exhausted and failing 100% of the time.  You can’t be everywhere and do everything.  Something has to give.  Someone is going to be unhappy and feel left out.  Someone is going to get less than 100%.

Some days your kids don’t have a home cooked dinner because you go on a date with your spouse.  Some days your husband has no clean underwear because you had a work project that required extra time.  Sometimes you have to take a sick day to be with a sick child.  So how do you know who you should disappoint?  The Princess asks the King.  The Holy Spirit is the one who knows exactly what you should do.  The King is fully capable of filling in the gaps and picking up the balls you have dropped.  Remember it is ultimately his job to make sure everyone, including you, has what he or she needs.

It is so important to remember whom you are trying to please because sometimes, you won’t please the people around you.  Tamar didn’t look like a nice Christian girl dressed as a prostitute waiting for Judah to come along.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, didn’t look like a good Jewish girl when she showed up pregnant and unmarried.  The woman who anointed Jesus with perfume and wept as his feet experienced scowls from religious leaders, even the disciples, in the room.  But each one was declared righteous in God’s sight.  Each one was exactly where God needed her to be to accomplish His purposes.

Sometimes pleasing Him makes us look stupid or even worse, unrighteous.  But Paul lived a life that was solely focused on pleasing the Father.  Jesus said that he did nothing apart from the Father.  His food was to do the will of Him who sent him.  The Princess lives only to please the Father and carry out His mission for His kingdom.  So whom are you trying to please?

Don’t give up!  My hope is that you will know who you are in Christ, that you will know how he has gifted you and that you will make courageous choices to trust him more with your life.  Dear Princess, you can trust the King with your life.  You belong to Him!

Right lyrics, wrong song

Published April 30, 2012 by joypatton

This has been a tough week for me.  One where I have felt the gentle invitation of my loving Father to look at an area of sin in my life.  I know it’s him because just a few weeks ago I was in a ball of shame over what kind of shaving cream I use.  Trust me, it was ridiculous.  That was not the voice of the good Shepherd in my life.  It was the voice of the Enemy trying to get me to compare myself to someone else.  Chances are you’ve had those days too, and that’s why knowing His Voice is so important.

This week God has placed loving friends in my life who are willing to speak honestly with me about some character flaws.  At first, the flesh was on fire, and I was looking for every way I could find to justify myself and be right.  Oh, the drama, the tears and the wailing and moaning.  I was in pain.  But as the fire cooled with coals still burning on the ground, I began to hear the Spirit’s small voice amid the ashes.  I began to see that the Father was inviting me to die to myself once again, and a song started running through my head.

If I die young, bury me in satin.  Lay me down on a bed of roses. (The Band Perry – “If I Die Young”)  It seemed that this song kept following me all week, and I couldn’t understand why.  But when I went to church on Sunday, I realized I had the right lyrics, but the wrong song.

Jason Ingram sang a song he wrote with Chris Tomlin called Lay Me Down.”  I remember when Jason first introduced this song to Fellowship Bible Church, he said it was a joyful song with an upbeat tempo that we should sing with lots of energy.  I was ready to get my praise rock on.  But as we sang the song, I was struck by the irony of a joyful song all about dying to yourself.  I lay me down.  I’m not my own.  I belong to you alone.  In my experience dying to self is not joyful.  It’s painful and generally sucks.

I want dying to self to be romantic like it is The Band Perry song.  I want it to be comfortable and beautiful like satin and roses.  I want it to be sad and tragic, but hauntingly beautiful and right.  But that’s not what dying to self is.  Dying to self is letting go of my pride and giving up all my rights.  It’s not pretty like a bed of roses; it’s ugly like an old rugged cross.  It’s not a peaceful surrender; it’s a struggle to stay on the altar.

However as His Princess, it’s not about what I want; it’s about what God wants.  It will be my joy to say Your will, Your way.  This is what Jesus wrestled with in the garden of Gethsemane.  He prayed, “Let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will , but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)  He was filled with sorrow and grief as he saw the death God was calling him into.  He was so distraught that he literally sweat drops of blood.  The emotion was intense.  Yet he chose to do the will of the Father and walked through the most painful death imaginable.  Even though he knew the joy that was coming, it never took away the pain or made the cross “easier.”  Instead he placed himself in the hands of his loving Father, knowing the end made the pain worth it.

When I want to know what it means to be crucified with Christ and to die to myself, I must look “to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2)  He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8)  And so, as His Princess and beloved Daughter, I must choose to do the same, and trust that in the end, there will be joy.  Yes, it is painful, but it won’t always hurt.  Yes, it is broken, but He is making all things new.

And so I conclude this joyful blog about dying to self.  Hand on my heart; This much is true; There’s no life apart from you. (“Lay Me Down” – Chris Tomlin)

Where is the loving Father inviting you to die to yourself?

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