I Am Justified

Many aspects of the flesh are disarmed and eliminated by a deep
apprehension of our justification by faith. Faith in Christ cures unbelief,
anxiety, and insecurity, and in so doing it cuts the roots of envy, jealousy and a host of related egocentric fleshly patterns

Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life

No Such Thing...

Psychology has proven what the writer of Ecclesiastes always knew...that there is no such thing as a "state of arrival". We set goals, we aspire, we pursue...all great things to do. But by the time we attain whatever it was we wanted so much, by the time we arrive at our longed-for destination, the "getting" is never all we imagined it would be. We want the next thing. This is human nature. There simply is no changing it, unless you can change your hard-wiring. It is a result of the fall...we work, we sweat, and then we must do it all again, because this world and all that is in it is passing away - in perpetual entropy.

Please hear me: Now is the good part. All "later" is, is a "now" that has not happened yet. You will never be happy later, if you are not happy now. If you do not learn to savor and love "now", you will not even recognize the "later". Today is the best day, because it is the only day you have. You won't be satisfied - fully satisfied - until heaven. In this life, on this side of eternity, the best days are always the season you are in now.

Why? By the time you reach the goal you have set, your brain has already annexed the property. What once was the thing that would make you happy when you finally got it, now becomes one more thing in a long list of attainments, small and large, that continue on and on. And if you never reach the goal you set, if you never attain the thing you wanted...well, what then? The eyes of man are never satisfied with anything but their Maker.

The goal of singing a song is not to finish it. Think about that. The idea is to simply sing. To enjoy singing.

"Let my life be like a love song."

This time next week, the last of my two daughters will be married. This time next week, the wedding will be over, and Tim and I will be cleaning up the church sanctuary, preparing it for Sunday. My thoughts, no doubt, will be a mixture of lingering over the beautiful events of the day, and looking ahead into Sunday, mentally preparing for what comes next.

There is always a "next".

Now is all there is to take joy in. All of this process, before the wedding day, is the best part of it. Next week, as I busily decorate the church and clean out the gorgeous post-and-beam barn for the reception - that will be the "fun part". As I hear the soft music and my son seats me in my place at the front of the church as mother of the Bride, and I then stand up to welcome the Bride to the strains of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring"....that will be the best part.

When Sarah walks down that aisle, into the arms of her beloved, that will become the best part.

And when I, at the end of the day, sink wearily and gratefully into the arms of my beloved, and we switch off the light for rest, with a lingering kiss and a whisper of "mission accomplished"....ah, that will be the sweetest moment, too.

Life goes on. Always, it goes on. Now is the best part.

Sarah's Wedding Shower

Her present from mom and dad...
I was married twenty plus years before I got one of these!

My fiesty "little girl" will be a married wife in less than two weeks.

::happy sigh::

And he's a good man - talented, Godly, a summa cum-laude art school graduate, and a man who understands the importance of the local church. This young man never dated until he met our daughter. Never. He waited for her, with all his heart. She is the only woman he has ever cared for, or kissed.

How uncommon is that? I told you he is one in a million. A good man.

Sarah's wedding shower was yesterday. Suddenly, in the wake of a long, cold winter...out comes the sun. Wouldn't you know it? Even the sun marks his calendar for The Princess's Special Day, (Sarah's name means "princess") and comes back from his vacation earlier than orginally planned.

My sister did it again! She planned and executed Hannah's wedding shower last April, and then planned and executed Sarah's shower yesterday...she has a sparkling, amazing gift of hospitality and event planning. I'm telling you, this woman could do this professionally, and name her price. She's that good.

She reserved a special room for the party, and we all walked in to a feast in every sense of the word....a feast for the appetite and the senses. The fragrance of vanilla candles filled the air, and all was decorated in the browns and "soft metals" that is the color story of the wedding.

such beauty...

Sweet couple!

Party favors...

Food tables...


...and more gifts...


Did I tell you that my sister is talented?

Hand calligraphied by a local artist-friend, and member of our church (Need one? Contact me!)

The bridesmaids Emily (in pink) and twin sister Hannah (snapping a photo)

Lifting a heavy box of SPICES! (I keep reminding myself "thou shalt not steal"...or covet.)

It was such fun...so special.

The book is a running joke between Sarah and her twin...(Hannah is a fashionista - Sarah is not.)

My lovely sister, who kept us wildly entertained with a monologue during the present-unwrapping-time. She is hilariously funny.

This will come in handy, will it not?

Sarah is more than able, now, to set up housekeeping. God has been beyond good to my daughter...and her future husband is getting the best of the very best.

Can't wait to see them start their new life together!

A "Guest" Blog Post-Liz Overton

There is something to be said for a pastor-teacher preaching the gospel to his flock, week in and week out, staying faithfully on message as opposed to a topical, "felt needs" approach to preaching.

To further illustrate the impact that hearing the gospel of the free gift of grace for an extended season can have, I am sharing with you a blog post from one of our church members - our journalism grad Liz Overton.

Liz "rocks" this piece. She has even changed the whole name of her blog to reflect her new season of life, and new revelation into the grace of God.

Liz is a beautiful twenty-something, talented and intelligent and extremely conscientious. This young woman loves Jesus, and has for most all her life. Harvest would not be what it is without her...she is so faithful. Enjoy reading her take on things - posted to her blog a couple of months ago:

Perfectly saved by His grace!

My pastor has been teaching on grace--the heart and message of the gospel-- for the vast majority of this year. And while some people might get tired of hearing a seemingly recurring message for several months, I haven't. The heart of those messages isn't something grasped overnight, and listening to those truths week after week has been a life changing experience. I seem to understand God's grace more and more as time moves on--and I know I have only started to scratch the surface of it!

This is going to be my first attempt to write about some of how this message has changed my life and perspective. Writing has always helped me sort things out, so this blog post is probably more for my benefit than anyone else's, but I'll post it here for general reading anyway.

I've grown up in the church and pretty much only remember serving the Lord. I was saved at the age of six and have never strayed from that commitment. Obviously, I've progressed and matured a lot in my faith as I've grown up, but one thing I have never doubted is my salvation. I know and believe with all my heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross and rose again for my sins, so that I can spend eternity with the Father in heaven. However, I have discovered this past year that my understanding of God's grace has been skewed at best and I have been held captive in the chains of legalism for most of my life.

I knew I was saved, but I lived with the mindset, whether consciously or subconsciously, that I had to strive in my own strength to live a godly life and please God. Now I recognize that it was like I was trying to somehow claim to stay in God's good favor by being a fairly decent person. I was essentially trying to say, "God, I deserve at least some grace. Your love and mercy weren't wasted on me. See--I can be a good girl, a good daughter--at least most of the time." I tried to earn his grace, instead of accepting it as the entirely free gift it is, bestowed on a completely undeserving sinner.

Furthermore, I failed to realize that my attempts to "earn" God's favor were pretty much a slap in His face, calling the sacrifice of His son insufficient and not enough.

I knew in my head, but didn't understand with my heart, that God's work of grace on the Cross is a finished work. The Law was fulfilled and we are completely redeemed and justified by accepting God's grace through faith. We are made perfect and completely righteousness in God's eyes through the blood of His Son. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ.

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast."
- Ephesians 2:5-9

As a perfectionist who has always had a drive for excellence, the idea that I could be made perfect and completely redeemed, simply by believing in Christ--no further "works" required--was hard to wrap my mind around. It's so simple, yet so unnatural. My pride didn't want to accept that I did absolutely nothing to deserve God's grace, love and forgiveness and could never earn it no matter how hard I try. Jesus did it all. I did nothing. Yet I receive everything!

I also spent a lot of time feeling guilty or under condemnation for the many, many ways I would fail regularly in my attempts to live a godly life and please God. I have always been painfully aware of my own flaws and mistakes. So while on the one hand, I was trying to earn God's favor through good behavior, on the other, I knew I didn't deserve God's favor. I had a hard time understanding God's love. Because I knew that if love could be earned, I didn't deserve it. So I often felt unloveable. How's that for a confusing mindset?!

But thanks to God's grace, I am completely covered--human flaws and all. Nothing I can do can take that away. And God is so crazy in love with me that he loved and accepted me, even when I was a despicable sinner. Now he sees me as his redeemed daughter, made holy and righteous through the blood of His Son, and still adores me. And even though I am saved by his grace--my salvation is a done deal--he still continues to lavishly pour out his grace into my life, day by day, hour by hour. How awesome is that?!?! The very thought of how much he loves me is overwhelming. We could spend a lifetime of loving God and learning to understand his love through an intimate relationship with Him and still never even scratch the surface of it.

I would be utterly lost without his love and his grace. Lost for eternity, certainly, but also lost in the chains of legalism as I try to live my life for him here on this earth. And the more I realize how much I need his grace to get through even the most mundane days, the more I realize how important it is to keep going before God to ask for His help and guidance in my life, with the assurance that he is not just willing, but eager to be all that I need.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
- Hebrews 4:16

God wants us to turn to him with everything, instead of thinking that we can handle some of it ourselves. The truth is--and we all know this deep inside our hearts, our pride just won't let us admit it most of the time--we can't do anything on our own. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. Like the old hymn says, "I need thee every hour." God is waiting for us to turn to him, and when we do, he is eager and ready to pour out his grace and help us in our need.

This concept is one I'm still trying to fully grasp and apply and I still fail continually. While I may do it more often than I used to, I still don't go to God with everything as I should or fully rely on his grace in every moment. But I no longer feel condemned when I mess up, because I know that I'm still covered by his grace, even when I fail. Blowing an opportunity to obey God, pray or witness isn't counted against me--but I do try to avoid missing the chance the next time, because I want to spend time with my Lord and I do want to tell others about Him.

There's much more I could say, and perhaps I will write more later in another post, but for now, I'll try to wrap it up. This post is long enough.

If you want to understand more about grace, I would encourage you to really dig into Galatians, Ephesians and other books in the New Testament written by the apostle Paul. He wasn't the only one to address grace, but he did it the most extensively. You can also listen to my pastor's messages at our church's web site. Another good resource is the book Grace Plus Nothing by Jeff Harkin.

And finally, some of you may have noticed that I changed the name of my blog. I named it "The Life of a Journalizm Girl" years ago as a fun play on my name and profession, but now that I'm in a different season and have a new perspective on life, it only seemed appropriate to give my blog a new outlook as well. Thus, the new name of my blog is also the title of this post: Perfectly Saved By His Grace.

Thanks for reading, and to quote the apostle Paul, grace and peace be with you!

"Delighted By Grace"

My daughter Hannah has begun a new blog, celebrating her metamorphosis from single to married, from a dutiful Christian to an artful, joyful daughter of God, from a daughter in her father's house, to keeper and mistress of her own.

Check out http://www.delightedbygrace.blogspot.com/

A quote from a vintage book came across my desk today, and it makes me think of Hannah's new angle, it echoes the fresh focus of her blog ~

"This house told more about Mrs. Parker than words ever could. Here were beautiful things . . . Beautiful things were here to be used.

In the midst of this loveliness there was comfort . . . People lived here and liked it.

Mary sensed that this pleasant atmosphere was not because of the lovely things in the house but because of Mrs. Parker herself. She understood now what Mrs. Parker gave [her husband] . . . how she surrounded her husband in his home with all the things in which he could rejoice. She realized now that Mrs. Parker was not just an older girl, for all her unquenchable youthfulness. She was a woman who understood and delighted in the task that was hers."

--Mildred Foulke Meese, Star Light, Star Bright (1940)

Grace infuses everything...it changes everything. Not instantly, but over time. And so very sweetly. It transforms our homes into actual havens for others - not because of the house itself, but because of the delighted life we live there and the grace-ious women we have become.

I would love for my life to be the model and inspiration for such a wonderful book character, and soul-nourishing story!

many thanks to www.pleasantviewschoolhouse.blogspot.com for the above book quote.

If you need home keeping inspiration, home schooling inspiration, or if you ever thought that career home making wouldn't keep you "busy enough"...you have not seen what home making can be. You'd be doing yourself a favor to explore Pleasant View Schoolhouse. This is a rich and beautiful blog. Thank you, Faith, for recommending it to me!

I Feel Sorry For Perfectionists...

...I've been one. I've known a few. I loved them, but they were draining, self centered friends...we're all supposed to either admire their generous perfection, or listen to them endlessly grieve over everything in their life that isn't so perfect, you see.

If you deign to diagnose their perfectionist tendencies and administer the grace-antidote, you must then listen to them lie and tell you that everything is "perfect...wonderful...couldn't be better." Meanwhile, they are intrinsically discontent, almost unable to function.

"When people insist on perfection or nothing, they get nothing."

(~Edith Schaeffer, from her book "What Is a Family?")

Nothing. A perfectionist is left with nothing. Every time he or she gets an opportunity for true, warm relationship, every time a place is made for them in the heart of another, they find fault and find a reason to wander away. Serial wanderers, these. Sad. Because they insist on their own opinion (their opinion being their "version" of perfection) they isolate themselves. Perfectionists are self-aware and thus never truly comfortable for long, and they always end up like a bird out of nest.

Like a bird that wanders from its nest is a man who wanders from his place. Pr. 27:8

There are no flawless lovers, friends, parents or children, soups or sandwiches, no flawless homes or gardens, jobs or vacations, experiences or churches. Stop hoping for your version of perfection...or your wandering will never cease.

Grace, Forever Grace, Amazing Grace!

Even though this is my blog, I have refrained from plugging my church or my pastor - even though I love my church and I sleep with my pastor.

(he is my husband)

But yesterday's message is too good for you to miss. He's still at it. Would you like to hear some of what is turning a few lives inside out, getting some healed of emotional conditions and skin conditions and pain conditions...just sitting under the grace message?

Click your way over to http://www.harvestchurch1.com/. Click on "resources". Scroll down to February 28th's message entitled Old Covenant Fullfilled by Jesus, New Covenant Established in Jesus - February 28, 2010 (Download) .

Pour yourself a good, strong cup of coffee, and make sure your socks stay pulled all the way up, because this was some anointed preachin'. I'm just sayin'.

We began in January 2009, preaching grace. Here we are, as a church...well into 2010...and we are still in our "Year of Grace". No end in sight. I'm still thrilling to the theology of the gospel, and still wallowing in the anointing I have discovered when I distanced myself, at great cost TO myself, from the theology of a few analytics who love to have their devotions with dead guys. Actually, that isn't true...the analytics distanced themselves from me. At the time, it felt like a costly loss, but I was not the initiator of the break down in the relationship. I would have preserved it at all costs, short of compromising the gospel. So let's just say, when the distance happened, there was a very real break-through in my life...a release of anointing.

There are writings of dead guys who, generations ago were prone to opine on "Christian Perfection", with one eye on me, figuratively speaking, making sure I was behavin' right....rather than breathlessly gazing on the Son, like everyone knows a real theologian and a truly enraptured heart will do, and then declare, "hear ye Him."

I love to read me some dead guys myself...but only in the context of the gospel as handed down to us in Scripture, through the inspired Word of God. See, Scripture is alive. I'd prefer to base my devotions on the living, not the dead.

Then, on a whole other front, you got the theology of the Hebraic Roots Movement. A true revelation of Jesus Christ and the grace of God will quickly marginalize those doctrines that would have you cling to Hebrew Roots.

And a revelation of the grace of God will marginalize Christian Perfection dead guy doctrine....see, these are 2 sides of the same law-emphasizing coin.

That coin, plus all the obedience to the law that you can muster on your worst day, plus all the perfection you can crank out on your best day, will enable you to buy your very own curse and a cup of bad coffee. It doesn't bring a blessing.

Grace now. Grace ever. Christ alone. Gospel plus nothing.

Here are the lyrics to a worship song we sang this past Sunday...whew. Heaven came down. I'm telling you, amongst preachers and song writers all over this world, there is a gospel tsunami that is moving across the world through these communicators, and my husband and I are called to be one of their ranks. I don't know about you, but we are paddling our board out to ride that glorious grace-wave!

Soak in these lyrics, and get your grace-filled hands on this new CD by Robin Mark:

Just as I am one only plea
In that the blood once shed was shed for me
And drew me to a covenant place
Where I found mercy in the year of grace

No condemnation now for me
Your Word has touched my heart and now I see
In Heaven stands to plead my case
The One who found me in the year of grace

O Son of God sweet Son of Man
The Author of redemption's plan
Eternal God in time and space
O keep me ever in the year of grace

I hear Your voice my soul awakes
Your whispered words have stirred my heart to praise
On love unbound I fix my gaze
Where I first saw You in the year of grace

In life in death whom shall I fear
Closer than breath I feel You near
Oh hold me in Your strong embrace
Where I find rest within the year of grace