God is Not Mad at You


When hard things, bad experiences, challenging situations occur, how often do we wonder if maybe God is angry with us? Did he cause the problem? Allow it to teach us something so we’ll finally get our act together?

I’ve entertained these thoughts.

I used to wonder if God was disappointed in me or angry because I did something wrong or bad again. Was he punishing me? Judging my behavior and actions?

If I could just do better, would my life work out or would things become easier?

A couple of messages I recently heard, along with what I’ve learned is true about God reminded me of a most important truth.

God is not mad at us.

It’s true that evil brings up his righteous anger. He is a just God and does not tolerate injustice. He hates what hurts us and his children who he loves.

That’s you and me.

One day, those who don’t want anything to do with him will answer to him. We will have to account for our actions. But that day isn’t today.

Today, God is calling to us in love.

He sent Jesus to carry all the sin on him. Every bad, wrong, evil word, thought, and action. Because God loves us and wants us to be reconciled to him. To live with him forever in peace and his glorious presence.

The Bible tells us that while we were still sinners, he made a way for us to come into his presence. Through Jesus. Because of his grace for us. Jesus died so we could be righteous. When we accept his gracious gift of taking on our sins, we can stand in the presence of God covered with Christ’s righteousness.

Because God isn’t mad at us. He loves us.

The enemy will tell us we aren’t worthy.

True. That’s why Jesus died in our place. To make us worthy.

The enemy will accuse us of needing to be perfect to approach God.

Jesus grants us his perfection so we can go boldly to God.

The enemy lies about us and who God created us to be.

But we are God’s creation, children—he calls us a royal priesthood!

It’s time to stop listening to the accuser. Stop agreeing with a liar. Quit entertaining shame and guilt.

Acknowledge the truth that we aren’t good on our own, but gratefully accept Jesus’s sacrifice for us and turn our hearts humbly toward God.

He delights in us. Sings over us. Embraces us.

When I run to him, even in my sin, he welcomes me and reminds me that he knew and had a plan for that.

He’s not angry. He rejoices.

Now, that’s good news!

Moving Out, Moving On, Moving Up Part 3


Today God showed up again.

He always does exactly when I need him to.

The morning started beautifully in worship, prayer, and reading the Bible. We received a response to an inquiry on a rental place with the same words we’ve heard over and over.

“I already have numerous applications on that one, but I have another one available in two or three months. When do you need to move in?”

“Yesterday. LOL” I texted back.

But, no worries. God knows. This is no surprise to him. Carry on.

We worked on hours of compliance requirements for our business. Prayed some more, and then went to go get a box of my books out of storage since someone wanted to purchase my new series.

No problem I thought.

I was wrong. Big problem.

Simply being at the storage unit, seeing the mess of our remaining belongings, and searching for the elusive box triggered those frantic days of moving three and a half months ago. The uncertainty and exhaustion, the sorrow, grief and confusion. It all came rushing back.

I paced the hall while Brendan replaced the things he’d moved to search for my books. And then I remembered that the last time I was at the storage unit, that overwhelming day of despair, was also the day God did a miracle. He healed my broken foot.

It happened like this:

Brendan and I had the final load to put into the unit. The clock was ticking and time running out. The truck needed to be returned in five minutes, and we still had the largest piece of furniture to unload. Our bed frame is a solid wood, canopy bed with four-inch square posts attached to a substantial headboard. Our very strong son and Brendan could just manage it, but our son was at school so that left Brendan and me alone to navigate this extremely heavy piece.

I’ve mentioned my limitations. Something like rheumatoid arthritis has rendered the joints in my hands and wrists barely moveable – I can’t even drive – so lifting and maneuvering the bed with Brendan seemed impossible.

Somehow, we managed to figure out a way to position it on our dolly. It was a great plan.

Except for the fact that we didn’t realize the space it would rest on the dolly had precisely the same opening as the post. We slid it over, dropped it in place and it slipped through all the way to the ground.

On top of my foot.

Excruciating barely describes the pain that shot through my leg. I screamed. Brendan probably swore – I’m pretty sure I did. I knew my foot was broken. Fumbling to get it off my foot first, and then out of the way, we both cried.

But we had no options except to push forward and get the thing moved.

Gritting my teeth and praying for help, we muscled it into an open space. We watched a massive lump develop on my foot, but I told Brendan to go take the truck back. I would continue to move things the best I could.

He left reluctantly. I limped, dragging my broken foot as I loaded the cart to take things up to the second floor. Trip after trip, I cried and prayed, stating that Jesus is my healer and I would not let this injury be the final word of a terrible day.

That same incredible, Jesus-example friend I mentioned in a previous post, picked Brendan up from the truck rental place and brought him back to storage to get me. Our son arrived to help Brendan.

I decided not to go to ER, even though our friend insisted I probably should. I had faith that God was healing it.

“Let’s just wait and ice my foot,” I said to my friend.

Within an hour, the swelling receded, and I could move my toes again. Soon after that, I could put weight on it. A purple bruise spread across my foot, but faded quickly to yellow over the next few days.

I realize that without an x-ray, there’s no medical proof that my foot was broken and healed. But the evidence based on the weight of the bed, the pain and immobility, and the way the bruise spread and dissipated so quickly, indicated a miracle to us.

Today, I needed that reminder at our storage unit.

And as if that wasn’t enough, when we went to pick up our mail afterwards, we opened a letter from our previous mortgage company to find a check. A refund. Really?

God paid our house off, gave us money, and now was sending us another unexpected check?

Tonight, as I write this, I’m freshly reminded of the goodness of God. Even in the telling, there is a refreshing revelation that he has our back. He sees our pain. God knows exactly what we need when we need it.

I might think I need a home, but what I really need is that sweet grace of Jesus.

To be continued…

“Well, I Never…”


by Laura Bennet

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Joy Wurshop yanked on the handle of her rolling briefcase. For the last time. The handle came off in her hand. The impact nearly threw her off her black high heels. Walking was no longer an option. She’d have to call a cab. Ten minutes before her meeting started. Only a miracle would get her there.

“Taxi!” She scanned the crowded street for yellow while attempting to shove the bag’s handle back in place.

You’ll have to be aggressive in the big city. The unsolicited advice from her previous boss incited her to take a step off the curb. Without looking. A cab screeched to a halt inches from her black pencil skirt. Joy’s free hand flew to her mouth while her purse slid off her shoulder and down the grey and pink floral silk blouse adorning her arm.

“Lady, what the heck’re ya doin? Trying to get yourself killed? Do you want a cab or a coffin?”

“Cab, please.” She let the coffin remark slide. Gripping her broken briefcase and purse, she fumbled with the door handle. The driver turned, facing her, and yelled out the passenger window.

“Come on, lady. I ain’t got all day.” His booming expletive carried over honking horns blaring behind him.

Joy threw her belongings through the door and slid in beside them.

“Where to? Where to? Let’s get a move on.”

“27th Street. The Town Center Building. Please hurry. I have a meeting, and I’m already late.”

“Oh, miss fancy-pants wants me to hurry now. Dawdled getting in my cab, and now I’m the one to get her to her meetin’…”

Joy closed her eyes against the pooling tears as the man carried on. Not what she needed. Not today. Not when her career hung by a thread.

Drawing in a deep breath, she dug in her purse for a tissue, settling for a wadded piece at the bottom. By the time she removed mascara smudges and reapplied lip gloss, they turned onto her street. Joy prayed she had enough cash for the fare.

Flipping through all her cards, her heart plunged. Bank, credit, medical, pharmacy, Sam’s Club, library. Nothing. Opened her change purse. A couple of folded up ones and two pennies. They were pulling up to her building. Praying for a miracle, she peeked in a little, side pocket, fully knowing she never kept money there.

“That’ll be $17.50. No charge for not runnin’ ya over back there.” He howled a laugh.

Tucked inside the pocket was a folded bill. Thank God! But when she pulled it out, the sight elated and crushed her. A fifty. Since when…she never had that kind of money. But she knew what she needed to do. She closed her eyes with a sigh. A moment later, she opened them and handed the bill over, offering a shaky smile.

“Here. Keep the change.”

As she closed the door, she caught his muttering.

“Well, I never…”

And she guessed he never had.


With so many ways to be offended these days, it takes patience, guts, and the Holy Spirit to make us able to act and speak in the opposite way. Stumbling on this short piece I wrote years ago, reminded me to choose grace rather than offense.

Reverse the Order


We’ve been conditioned to believe that DOING rather than BEING is the key to our lives. But the truth is that doing doesn’t make us who we are. Who we are makes a place for what we do.

It’s all about identity.

God created everything in the world to be. Each of us is created uniquely special. Our identity is being his child. His son or daughter.

And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Cor. 6:18

That is our identity. It isn’t in what we do, it’s in who we are.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works [what we do], so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork [his unique creation], created in Christ Jesus to do good works [as a result of who we are], which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Emphasis mine

Who we are leads to what we do. Not the other way around.

DOING equal WHO WE ARE

WHO WE ARE > WHAT WE DO (our purpose in God)

This should be good news for someone like it was for me. Even though I knew the truth, this reversal of the order allowed me to see that any striving to do more in my life is only that – striving to do more. But when I rest in who God made me to be and allow him to lead me, what I do comes as a result of who I am.

Do you feel the chains breaking? =)

*all photographs are belong to Laura Bennet

The Joy Set Before Him


“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:2-3

It was for us, you and me, that Jesus endured the cross and rose again to life. Because of his sacrifice, we can be in relationship with the living God now in these last days on earth and forever in heaven. Never underestimate the power of his love and grace for us. No matter where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or who we think we are or aren’t, God created us, has a plan for us, and redeemed us through Jesus.

All we have to do is say “Yes. I want that relationship. I’m sorry for going my own way. Thank you, Jesus.”

Can You See His Beauty?


Today is a little stormy in my town in Southwest Florida. Not really cold, but with gusty winds, grey clouds crawling across the sky, and temperatures in the mid-sixties, I’m reminded that we’re in the middle of winter. I know it’s snowing in other places, but here in our tropical paradise I forget. Looking at the sun streaming intermittently between the clouds today, it’s hard to believe it’s a frigid winter elsewhere, and we’re already half-way through the first month of 2021.

Thankfully, due to our warmer weather, there is a tree in the area behind our townhouse that spans the view of my patio and living room window. The elongated, dipping branches stretch out a handful of magenta blossoms as if it’s handing me gifts. A blanket of fallen blooms covers the ground beneath the tree. I watch as the wind scatters a shower of them to add to the carpet covering the grass.

Beauty.

In the midst of a dark world, beauty still reigns. I’m grateful this morning for the view. Grateful for the sporadic rays of sunshine and the blustery winds. Grateful that God is on his throne seeing everything, knowing all, and in control.

Time doesn’t exist within his realm. We live according to the clock, but he has already been here this day. Already seen the events still to play out. Nothing surprises him. So I can rest and revel in the beauty he offers us.

When I sit in this place of peace, listening for God’s whispers in the wind, I am transported into his kingdom. He placed man in a garden, after all, didn’t he? His desire was for us to walk and talk with him in the beauty of nature. And God doesn’t change. That’s still his desire today.

I know evil in the world rages. Our voices have been silenced by media, social sites, and masks. Lies are being called truth, and truth is repelled as a lie. Children are discarded through abortion and trafficking. Various religious groups persecute those who choose to follow Jesus in his way of love. Political tempers flare. Those who claim tolerance are intolerant of anything having to do with God. Even those who say they love God, show hate across various platforms. As the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:1-3,

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good…”

Sounds like our world.

But God still offers us beauty. Beauty for ashes, the Bible tells us.

God’s grace and mercy reach far past our sinful, prideful ways. His peace reaches out to us when we’re harried, hassled, fearful, and anxious. He longs for us with the love of a perfect father who wants our company, our input, our devotion, and our good. His call to us is to see him, know him, and love him in response to his immeasurable love for us.

He offers us so much. For so little.

Jesus paid such a great price so that we could belong and be with him forever.

Today, when a bit of beauty crosses your path—when the color of a flower, the majesty of a sunset, a blanket of newly fallen snow, the wave of the mighty ocean, or the towering of stately trees shows up—when the hand of God strokes his paintbrush across your landscape, will you take a moment?

Whisper a thank you. Consider the God in heaven who you may have overlooked, ignored, or forgotten? Recognize that in Jesus, you can live in a place of perfect peace in spite of the crazy ways of the current world. It only takes a moment to reach out in response to God reaching out to you. Quicker than typing out a text, we can say,

“Thank you for all you’ve made. Thank you for your love. Thank you for dying on the cross for me, Jesus. I’m sorry I’ve sinned against you. Please lead me into your kingdom today. I believe you. I trust you.”

Will you join me in beauty today?

If you say, “yes,” I’d love to know. Will you give me a thumbs up in the comments, or tell me your story? Or even just click like. I pray for my readers, and we all need prayer in these times, don’t we?

Letting Go of Expectations


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Far back, as long ago as I can remember, I believed perfection was the key.

I remember spilling a bottle of milk on the kitchen floor as I attempted to “help” my mom with the groceries. As a devastated three-year-old, an expectation formed in my soul and proved itself over and over in my life that if I could do everything right, say the right things, act in a certain way, all the wrongs in my life would be miraculously fixed.

No more bad stuff. If I could just get it right.

So my disappointments ran pretty high. Since no one is perfect, and I certainly wasn’t, my sense of achievement topped the charts too. Driving myself to accomplish more each day, and in a more perfect way, a failure to measure up left me spiraling down into a depressed state.

But not for long.

Because that wasn’t allowed in my perfect world. Especially as a Christian. Someone who believed in God, shouldn’t feel fear, anger, frustration, sorrow or exhaustion. Right? Only joy and gladness were granted space in my mental box of “rightness.”

My false beliefs bled into other areas of life.

I not only expected myself to get things right, but couldn’t understand why other people messed up too. Eventually, I learned to have grace for them, but not for myself. And if others did things wrong that affected me? Well, that was unacceptable.

Recently, I’ve seen myself from a better viewpoint – God’s.

He’s been showing me the places I expect so much from myself and reassuring me that he loves me for me, not for what I can do right or better or even at all. He’s been helping me rest in his perfection so I can let go of mine.

I’ve had a few opportunities to practice.

Relationships are great for that. Whether it’s family, friends or work situations, God gives us places to work out what he’s freeing in our hearts. I love that he is so kind and caring to point out our “stuff” and lead us into new ways of coping.

He’s teaching me to let go.

In his loving kindness, God’s gently told me that I wasn’t hurt in my past because I did something wrong or didn’t do something right. He’s said that I can’t fix my past by controlling my present or future. I can’t keep bad things from happening by making everything right or perfect.

Instead, I’m learning to expect from Him, not me.

Jesus is perfect. He loves me. He promises that because I’ve believed in him and accepted his dying for me, his righteousness covers me. In everything. Past, present and future. No matter what I do or don’t do right, I’m still covered, loved and delighted in.

That’s good news.

And it frees me to be me. The good stuff, the flaws, the sorrow and joy mingling together. I can rest in that place of freedom. I can choose to rest there. Every day there are places of choice.

You can choose too.

“It is for freedom that Christ sets us free.”  Galatians 5:1

 

Religion vs. Relationship – Which Do You Have?


I’ve read a lot about religion lately.IMG_3527

The other day I remembered an orange button that adorned my leather purse when I was about sixteen. It claimed something like this:

Jesus is about relationship, not religion.

I recall when I saw it in a gift shop at youth camp, the concept grabbed my heart. It encompassed what I had been learning as a youth reading my Bible. Primarily the book of John, which I felt portrayed Jesus’ love for me the best because it was written by Jesus’ best friend on earth. I longed to spend time with my new friend and live in a way that made him proud of me. I didn’t get that his life for mine really meant just that. His blood covered over my sin. There was nothing I had do about it except accept it and be grateful.

But I grew up in an age of religion. Big time.

Right and wrong were about being right, and therefore someone else being wrong. Being right meant someone else had to be wrong. Good guys and bad guys. Church goers and “heathens.” Oh, I knew what the Bible said about grace and all that, but it also had plenty to say about not sinning. I took that to mean that the less I sinned, the more right I was. Which naturally meant other people who sinned more than me were wrong. Wasn’t that the standard?

No, that’s just plain dangerous thinking.

Does that mean I learned not to sin? Nope. I was pretty messed up and did a lot of foolish things based on my messed up perspective and my rebellion. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get it right. Fighting to be right left me frustrated and hurt others as well as myself. Until I learned the simplicity of repentance. That coming clean about my stuff, all of it, with complete honesty to Jesus and those I hurt is the only way to freedom. But that’s not religion.

When God created people, he wasn’t starting a religion.

He wanted a relationship with us. And each other in the same way he, in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), enjoys relationship in heaven. He is love, therefore he longs for us to love him and others. He even tells us that those are the greatest commandments. Makes sense that if we recognize his love for us and love him in return, he will give us the ability to love everyone he created.

His ultimate showing of his love was to come to us, giving himself up as a sacrifice to make a way for us to still be in relationship with him even when we choose to sin – to cut him and others off. Because let’s be honest; we’ve all had thoughts of wanting to do harm to someone at some point in our lives even if we haven’t actually followed through with it. And at some point, haven’t we all decided that our ways or plans were better than God’s?

On that basis, we need God’s love and forgiveness in order to have a right kind of relationship with him and with others.

The problem with religion, whether it’s Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism or Mormonism (name any you want here), is they are all man’s way of trying to get to God when God already made a way for us to be in a relationship with him through Jesus. Even as Christians or followers of Christ, we can cling to our particular denomination and its traditions rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

But we don’t need to figure out a way to make ourselves right.

God did that for us. So all of our rituals whether they be worshiping a particular way or bowing down the right number of times or wearing a specific outfit do nothing to create a relationship with the creator of us and our world. We miss the point if we focus on those things. We miss loving God and each other. Especially when we insist that our way is the right way. Jesus said that he is the way. He is the truth. He is how we live rightly loving one another. And he is the only one who gave the ultimate example and lived again to prove it.

If we chose a relationship over religion, how would that change the way we live?