Tag Archives: The wrath of God

Turn Around

It’s been 7 weeks since my miracle occurred.  Now that all of those accusing voices of guilt and shame are finally gone, they’ve made room for a new voice that says, “You’re a heretic.  It can’t possibly be that simple.”

I feel a little like Bart Millard from MercyMe in his song “Wishful Thinking“:

But now my eyes are open wide
If this is wrong
I don’t wanna be right

But I do want to be right.  I know you can be sincere, but still be sincerely wrong.  I get that.  But I want to be accurate.  I want to be Biblically accurate.

My post called “Moment by Moment” was about how I had turned away from God.  I was so convinced that He was angry with me, and trying harder wasn’t getting me anywhere, that I had turned away and stopped asking for forgiveness.  At the beginning of the post, I said that nothing in my life had changed, but yet EVERYTHING had changed, leading me to ask “what changed?”  I concluded the post with a Henry Ford quote and the answer to my question:  my mind was changed.

It didn’t strike me until after I had posted the blog, but that’s exactly what God told me about sin and repentance.  My “sin” was that I had “turned away” from God.  And “repentance” means “to turn around” and “to change one’s mind.”  That’s exactly what happened.  My mind was changed and I turned around to embrace the God who loves me and is not mad at me.  And all of those condemning voices were silenced.

I heard it explained this way before.  If I am walking against a strong wind, I may feel that “the wind is against me.”  And if I turn around, I may feel that “the wind is now with me.”  But the wind didn’t change.  I was the one who changed direction in relation to the wind.  God doesn’t change either (Psalm 55:19).  But we have the ability to change our direction in relation to Him.

The problem comes when we’ve turned away and we think He’s angry with us and that He’ll punish us if we turn back to Him.  Or that we have to somehow “make it up to Him” and “do better” before He’ll take us back.  Our pastor, Chris Zarbaugh, explained it this way.  Chris said that no matter how far we have traveled from God, how far we have gone in the opposite direction, even if we’ve walked 10,000 steps away (or 10,000 miles away), it only takes one step to turn around.  Even though we walked away, God didn’t go anywhere.  He’s always been right there, longing for us to turn around.

God is always pursuing us, but He’s too much of a gentleman to tackle us.  He wants real love, not robotic love.  So He’s patient with us.  The Apostle Peter said that is why God hasn’t sent Jesus back yet: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

He wants us to repent – to change our minds about Him and to turn around.  He’s waiting for us.  He loves us.  He’s not angry with us.  Maybe we had an earthly father who was  angry with us, so we figure our Heavenly Father must feel the same way.  But He doesn’t.  If you haven’t read “The Face of Grace“, check it out, especially the picture that Jordan Rose drew last year.  Every time I sing “Christ is Enough“, I think of that picture:

I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back
The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back

And if you’re concerned about the “He does not want anyone to be destroyed” part (what kind of a Good God would destroy people?), I was too.  Check out Reconciling Wrath.

And what about that voice yelling “heresy!”?  Jesus redeemed that.

This is what the Sovereign Lord,
 the Holy One of Israel, says:
 “Only in returning to me
 and resting in me will you be saved.” Isaiah 30:15 (NLT)

 

 

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The Whole Story

In 1994, Jesus saved my soul, but in September 2014, he saved my mind.  I posted the story as a 6-part “series”, but I want to respect your time.  I know you probably can’t sit down and read the whole thing, so I included a line about each part below.  Please feel free to read whatever jumps out at you.

Here are all of the parts, including the “prologue” and the “afterword”, in order:

Prologue: Urgent Questions/Deepest Needs (this is VERY long – please feel free to skip it)

#1: Redeemed – Part 1 (where it all began – Beth Moore & Third Day on 9-13-14)

#2: Redeemed – Part 2 – He’s Greater (God speaks thru coupon codes & MercyMe songs)

#3: Two “churchy” words (what Dave W & Chris Z taught me about “sin” and “repent”)

#4: The Tyranny of the “Should” (trying to “pay back” Jesus for all he’s done for me)

#5: The Face of Grace (Do you think God is angry with you?  Check this out)

#6: Reconciling Wrath (“Good God” or “Wrathful God” – will the real God please stand up?)

Afterword: Moment by Moment (what does it mean to “Let Go and Let God”?)

If you remember my very first blog post from July 16th, “If they asked me, I could write a book“, I think this “series” could be the beginning of that book.  If any of this speaks to you, I would be so honored if you would share it with others.

Just a side-note.  If you’re reading this on a desktop or laptop computer, you can probably see links to all of my other blog posts along the righthand side of the screen.  However, if you’re on a phone or a tablet, the links probably don’t show up.  But if you scroll to the bottom of the post, you can most likely get to newer posts to the right and older posts to the left (it should give you the title and an arrow to click on).  I’ve also included a link at the bottom of each post to bring you to the next one.

Thank you so very much and happy reading!

Reconciling Wrath (Part 6)

This is the last part of my “redeemed” mini-series.  How about a recap?  Here’s what I’ve known for the last year:

1) Sin is simply us “turning away” from God
2) Jesus took on our “turning away” on the cross
3) God loves us and isn’t angry with us for being imperfect

So, what’s the problem?  Why has my fuse gotten shorter and shorter all year?  Why have I become increasingly irritated and frustrated, hopeless and annoyed?

One thing still didn’t compute.  If “God is good, all the time” and “All the time, God is good”, what’s the deal with “the wrath of God”?  The Bible has a LOT to say about the wrath of God and I couldn’t see how a Good God could be so full of wrath, yet so loving at the same time.

However, what I was beginning to understand, on Saturday, September 13, 2014, was that I had been redeemed.  God made that very clear all day.  When I sat down at church the next morning, after the pity-party that never materialized, I felt like God had me on “download” mode and I had better get my pen ready.  The first thing I wrote was “Jesus redeemed that”, referring to my desire to have a pity-party.  Then I wrote this:

“What is the wrath of God?  His wrath is the natural consequence of turning away from Him.  It’s MY CHOICE.  Jesus redeemed that.  God wants to love me and He does, but I keep choosing to turn away to hopelessness, self-pity, indifference, whining.  That stuff is His wrath.  Jesus died for that.  He took on my “turning away”.  He turned away from God ONCE FOR ALL.  He redeemed that.  He bought it.  It’s no longer mine.  When I turn away and feel that WRATH, the devil tells me I deserve it.  I turned away and it’s my fault, I’m bad, I SHOULDN’T do that and I SHOULD turn back.  NO!  Jesus redeemed that.  I GET TO turn back because Jesus redeemed it.  I OWE NOTHING.  I don’t owe it to Him.  It’s DONE.”

Sunday afternoon, I watched the “redeemed” part of the Beth Moore simulcast where it had frozen on Saturday.  It was cool, but God kept nudging me to go do my Beth Moore “Children of the Day” study.  My friend and I have been working through that study since July, very sporadically.  When we watched the video for week 4 (out of 9 weeks), we realized that our timing was perfect.  Every session has spoken to us exactly when we needed it.  I’m only on week 5 of the study in the workbook, because there’s really no need to be any further ahead.

Sunday afternoon, I followed the nudging and opened my workbook to the next homework assignment, which was Day 3 of Week 5.  Get this.  It was titled “Wrestling with Wrath“.  Beth had already done the research and gave me lots of scripture about God’s wrath.  His “wrath” in the original Greek is actually, “desire with grief and sorrow”.  Man’s type of wrath is translated from the Greek as “the outburst of a vengeful mind”.  God’s wrath is not like ours.  It is a profound sadness that the people He created can choose to turn away from Him, knowing that our turning away is not what is best for us.  We were made to be in communion with Him, but He is a gentleman and won’t make us.  And robotic love is not real love.  It has to be our choice.  But I was convinced that I owed God something “for all He’s done for me”, and I was so sick of trying that I had turned away.

Since Sunday, September 14, I’ve been telling myself “Jesus redeemed that” with every thought that I think that has anything to do with “should” or guilt over what I did or didn’t do or thought.  AND I BELIEVE IT because my theology is finally reconciled.  It’s not a conflict.  Bard Millard, MercyMe’s head man, said that he got to the point where he couldn’t sell the gospel.  It wasn’t good news.  That’s where I had gotten to.  I couldn’t sell Jesus.  He wasn’t good news.  He was more work.  How could I sell that with good conscience?

I’ve walked around with more LIGHTNESS and joy for the last three weeks, I can’t explain it other than the perfect gift of God.  I can laugh and joke and I don’t have this heaviness that I have to keep dragging around, trying to do better and be better, but always feeling guiltier and guiltier about how I REALLY feel.  How I really feel now is REALLY good news.

Check out the lyrics to MercyMe’s “Wishful Thinking”, which they sang at the concert that Saturday night.  I especially love the first verse and the “better late than not at all” verse.  This song spoke to me so loudly after my 20 year journey with Jesus.  Thanks for reading!

“Wishful Thinking” by MercyMe

Lord is it possible to get this far
And just now understand who You are?
I’m feeling foolish yet relieved as well
Cuz what I bought before, I just can’t sell

But now my eyes are open wide
If this is wrong
I don’t wanna be right

Could it be that on my worst day
How You love me still will not change
What if it’s really not about
What I do but what you did, oh what if

This ain’t wishful thinking it’s just how it is
This ain’t wishful thinking it’s just how it is

Well, I guess I’m better late than not at all
Or did you plan it this way all along
Cuz without suffering grace is hard to see
So maybe I’m right where I’m supposed to be

And now, I’m seeing You so differently
And only I can say is finally

Click here for Part 7