Romans 5:8

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Free Advice Friday: What are some good worship songs when you’ve messed up big time?

Published September 21, 2012 by joypatton

It’s the first ever Free Advice Friday on my blog!  Every Friday I’m turning this blog into an advice column.  Ask me anything from dating (didn’t date much, but have lots of interesting opinions), marriage (been married 15 years), parenting (have 4 kids), friendships (have had some good and some bad) or spiritual life (I have one).  I’m not sure that I will have great answers, but I know Someone who does.  My hope is that together we can carry our burdens into His presence and lay them at his feet.

Last week a friend texted me this question and I thought it was a good start for Free Advice Friday: What are some good worship songs when you’ve messed up big time?

My favorite worship album right now is Jason Gray’s “A Way to See in the Dark.”  I bought it because I heard the first song “Remind Me Who I Am” on KLove Radio in Nashville.  “In the lonely places when I can’t remember what grace is, remind me who I am to you.”  This is my new theme song.  When I get stuck in my Ice Queen and Orphan thinking, I need him to remind me that I am His Princess, his beloved.  “I’m the one You love.”

Another one of my favorites is “I Will Find a Way.”  In the beginning it talks about a woman is who so broken and afraid that she has shut the door of her heart.  “How should I come to the one that I love?  I will find a way.”  He loved her so much that he found a way to reach her and come into her heart.  I’m reminded how much the Father has loved us to send His only Son.  My other favorites on the album are “No Thief Like Fear,” “Nothing is Wasted,” and “Fear is Easy, Love is Hard.”  You can see why this is a great album for all my Orphan girls out there.

Another song that must be on this list is “One Thing” by Kristian Stanfill. “Your Love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.”  When we sing it in church, it sounds almost like a chant.  When I’ve messed up, I need to believe that his love is there, no matter what.

The problem is that when I mess up, it’s really hard to believe that God still loves me.  This exposes the lie that I believe that God loves me because of what I do.  Because I obey him or because I serve him or because I read my Bible and go to church.  None of those are the reasons that he loves me.  He loved me before I knew how to do any of those things.  He loved me while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8).  So now that I’m “righteous,” has his love grown or changed?  By no means!  God’s love has no levels, no more and no less.  It has always been and will always be 100% plus infinity.

If Satan can get me to believe that God doesn’t love me, he can keep me from the cross, the ultimate sign of love.  When I doubt God’s unconditional love for me, then I am slow to repent because I don’t believe he even wants me back.  Eventually I stop repenting all together.  I stop going back to ask forgiveness again.  I stop bringing the things I did in the dark into the light.  And then I’m right where the enemy wants me, isolated, alone, in despair because I have no remedy for my sin.  This is the place where he is able to steal, kill and destroy this little lamb of God (John 10:10).

But when I am reminded of his great love, that his love for me remains, then I am free to run back to the cross and repent.  When I confess and agree with God that I messed it up again, he is faithful to forgive (I John 1:9).  I can agree with Satan that I am all those horrible things he has called me, “weak, pathetic, unworthy of love and disgusting.”  BUT GOD loves me!  I don’t know why, and I know I don’t deserve it.  This is the great mystery. But I do know that he loves me.  Because I know his love, I can trust that my sin is forgiven.

When I mess up and repent, I invite God in to be the solution.  I can ask him to show me the patterns that keep putting me in tempting situations.  I can ask him to show me the root beliefs that drive my sinful behaviors.  I can invite him in and ask him to heal those wounded places that I keep trying to heal myself.  I can live in the light and be in relationship with others because I know that I am deeply loved.  There is power in repentance because I admit that I am powerless over my own sin, that I cannot save myself, that I need Someone bigger than myself outside of myself to rescue me.

So my beloved, dear Princess, beautiful child of God…know that you are deeply loved today.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16)

What songs have helped you when you have messed up?

If you have a question for Free Advice Friday, email me at joy@joypatton.com.  If I answer your question in my blog next week, I will send you a copy of my book The Myth of Enuff.

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My Love Hate Relationship with December

Published December 14, 2011 by joypatton

While there are some things I like about Christmas, I’ve realized that what I don’t like about December is that it is the month of not enough.  Not enough sunlight.  Not enough time.  Not enough money,  Not enough family…. Maybe it’s too much family who make you feel not enough.  It seems that everywhere I look I’m reminded that I’m not enough.  But the ironic thing is that is the exact reason why I love December.

Some of you are shocked at the idea that December might not be the happiest season of all, and some of you know exactly how I feel.  It’s the time of year that I have to come to grip with the fact that I am not enough.  I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be good enough.  I got straight A’s for the first time in 2nd grade.  I always tried to do the right thing…tell the truth, not steal, not kill anyone.  I describe my 20s as the decade where I tried to live the best life I could that would be pleasing to God.  I worked hard professionally, served in our church, tried to be the best mom I could.  I went to Bible studies and prayed.  Every day I laid my head on my pillow disappointed that the day was not perfect.  I would analyze what went wrong and what I needed to do better.  I woke up the next day hopeful that today would be the perfect.  The day that I would finally be enough.

You might have guessed that by the time I hit 30, I was exhausted and still not perfect.  Still not enough.  I found myself depressed, and not just because it was December.  I had been fired from a teaching job and was in marriage counseling every week with my husband.  We were dealing with some major life issues.  Life was definitely not perfect.

I was in despair because all of my efforts to be a good enough wife, a good enough mom, a good enough person, weren’t working.  I had messed up, and what could God do with the mess I had made?  I had to admit that I wasn’t perfect and never would be.  I had to admit that everything I tried wasn’t working.  I was at the end of myself.

But then God reminded me that there was a person who lived a perfect life, a person who was standing there waiting for me to accept the free gift he was offering.  Basically I remembered what Christmas was all about.   Christmas was when God sent his only son, not as a rich warrior king who came to judge the world, but as a poor, tiny, vulnerable baby born into questionable and difficult circumstances.  This tiny not-enough baby was born into a not-enough barn where he was greeted by not-enough visitors, especially considering that he was the creator of the universe.

But the tiny baby grew into a man who was God’s only Son.  He lived a perfect life, and when he died on the cross, his sacrifice was enough to cover all of my sin.  When he rose from the grave, he overcame death.  He became the person who made it possible for imperfect, unholy me to have a relationship with a perfect and holy  God.  The really good news is that he did this even while I was drowning in my not-enoughness.  I didn’t have to figure it all out or make it all right before he could be in relationship with me.  The Bible says in Romans 5:8, that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, [while I was still not-enough], Christ died for us.”  It goes on to say that we have been justified, made right, made enough, by his blood.

When I  believe that his enoughness, covers all of my not-enoughness and accept his death on the cross as payment for all my wrong-doing, I am accepted into a new relationship with God, not as an enemy, but as a daughter.  When I turn and see that the blood he shed on the cross was all I need to be righteous, then I can stop earning my way into heaven by trying to be perfect all the time.  I’m even able to admit that I’m not perfect, that I am not enough.  I can stop hiding and trying to be someone I’m not.

So even though December feels like the month of not-enough, the reason I love December, the reason I need December, is that Jesus Christ is enough to cover all of my unrighteousness.  I know that my life would be completely different if the first Christmas never came.  Because God sent his son in a not-enough package to become enough for me, I am free.  I am free from death because even after I die, I will live with him forever.  I am free to love other people well because I know what it is to be loved.  I am free to give grace, compassion and mercy because God showed me immeasurable grace, compassion and mercy by having a relationship with me.  I am free to make choices.  His Spirit gives me strength to make right choices even when I don’t feel like I can.  I am free to admit that I am not perfect, that I am not enough.

To me, this all sounds too good to be true.   But I know it’s true because someone bigger than me outside of myself says that it’s true in the Bible.  So even on the days when I don’t feel like it, I can know the Truth of God’s Word.

Do you realize that you are not enough?  Do you know that you are not perfect, never have been and never will be no matter how hard you try?  Do you know that God loves you even when you aren’t good enough, even when you’ve messed it up?  None of us is good enough on our own merit to be in relationship with God.  Some of us can look really good on the outside.  We look like we are doing the right things, like we are good enough.  But when I’m really honest with myself, I have to admit that there are things I think about in my heart that are wrong, imperfect and unholy.  Do you have the courage to admit that?

If the answer is yes, will you choose to believe that Jesus is enough?  Maybe in the season of not enough, you can confess to God that you have been trying to make yourself enough.  And maybe in this season we can all find rest from our striving to be enough.

Dear Jesus, I admit that I am not enough, that I am not perfect and that I have messed it up.  I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and that his blood is enough to cover my sin.  Thank you for your grace that will never run out.  Thank you for forgiving me all my sin.  Thank you for loving me so much that you made a way through the gift of your son for me to be in relationship with you.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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