A Love that was Fought and Won for Us

March 25, 2016

By Laura DiFatta

I love Easter.  This time of year brings a breath of fresh air to my winter-weary soul.  And I love Easter egg hunts and new flowers and warmer temperatures and bunnies and cute little Spring outfits on cuter babies.  All of it.  And then– just when I’m feeling the “all-is-well” vibe of new life springing up everywhere— screech!!  Good Friday.  A day I’m supposed to reflect on a death.

In the past, Good Friday, made me feel guilty.  Honestly.  The problem I had was personal.  Because I was asked to take His death personally.  My religion asked me to acknowledge that He died for me.  I mean, that’s heavy.  I haven’t lived a raucous, racy life.  My life story would not be all that interesting to most people.  And I was being asked to believe that my sins put Jesus on the cross where he died an agonizing death.

So, basically, for most of my life, I was walking around functioning as a Christian who believed in my own goodness,  all the while,  minimizing my need for what Christ did.   After approximately 40 years of trying to prove my goodness was good enough to earn God’s love and acceptance and trying to hide my junk from Him, I was done.  Despair had crept in like a home invader and was suddenly large in the spaces of my heart and mind.  I became so weary.  Just so dang tired of trying.  And so, I cried out to God from down in that hole.  And He answered me and I have never been the same.

Like a quiet revolution of the soul, God poured a fresh understanding of His love into my heart and mind.

Out with the old, in with the new:  I finally understood, that my best wasn’t even close to good enough to earn my way into God’s approval.  A fatal flaw is that most of us are convinced that we aren’t all that bad.  Thinking that way, has us propping ourselves up on our own merit before God.  We prefer to think of ourselves as “good” people.  But, our standard of “good” is flawed and prejudiced benefitting ourselves and is ever-changing to fit our needs.  God’s standard of good is set and is exemplified in His Son Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Jesus came because our standard because our standard could never be good enough.  And so,  He did—with His perfect life—what you and I could never do:  He earned our way to God. He made our way to God. He became our way to God.

Sin comes in all shapes and sizes, but it carries the common denominator of deserving the wrath of God.  He is so holy, so pure, so perfect that sin has literally no place in his presence.   Sin always carries an intrinsic price that must be paid.  It’s ultimate price: our eternal condemnation and separation from God.   That is heavy.  And Jesus knew that.  And so he carried it for us… to the cross.

Jesus willingly died a death He did not deserve, for the past, present and future sins of people who didn’t even love Him or seek Him and want Him, so that we would have reconciliation with God.   He and Father God agreed from before time began on this Rescue plan.  And the Plan was carried through on that Good and terrible Friday: the day of Jesus’ death.

The Rescue plan was finished when Jesus said, “It is finished,” and breathed his last breath.  That day, He experienced the horror of a complete separation from God so we would not have to.  And He did all this before we knew Him.  Before we knew we needed Him.

And here is where great good news rushes in like the life it is:   When we base our merit on what Christ did on Good Friday—through trusting in Him, no past, present or future sin will ever be used against us again.  Incredibly, He imparts His perfect record onto us!!  We are no longer condemned!

Now, when I face the ugliness of my own sin, I run to God, knowing the precious price that was paid for me to be able to.   I run to Him, grateful, knowing His specialty is loving and forgiving.

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of the sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”  (Colossians 2:13-15) That is life-giving, life-encouraging, worthy of our shouts of praise!

I recently talked to a Muslim man who said, “We all are trying to please God and He will sort us all out at the end.”  That is a harsh and uncertain way to live.  I told him, “I know a way to  peace with God.  It is not based on our human efforts or merit.  There is not one day, I could present myself perfect to God by even my own flawed standard.  But God, sent His own Son, Jesus, to be our standard bearer.  He has taken the wrath we deserved and through our faith in Him, He imparts His perfect record onto us so that we can experience peace with God.  Jesus is our living Savior, who—the Bible says—“ is able to save completely those who come to God through Him and that He lives to intercede for us!”  (Hebrews 7:25)  I continued, “I am not trying to introduce you to another religion, to another set of rules to follow.  You have enough rules now, right?”  He nodded.  I continued,   “I am asking you to take a fresh look at Jesus.  You revere him as a prophet.  I tell you, He is the Savior.”

Will you take a fresh look at Jesus?  Will you let this compelling and dramatic love story settle into your heart?  If you doubt him, will you ask Him to show you who He really is? If you are already religious, will you ask Him to help you fall in love with Him, to remember and reflect on and be compelled by His love for you?  Get ready, your life will never be the same!

*Delivered:  A Memoir.  Janet Gillispie with Sammie Jo Barstow

Spring Break Finds Under $40

March 22, 2016

By Buffy York

I had almost decided to ditch this post, but a friend of mine asked me last night at our children’s choir performance when my next Target post was going to be.  Thanks Jamie for the nudge.

Next week is Spring Break and everyone in my house is going to be gone except me.  Tim’s girls are headed to the beach with their mama, my two are headed to NOLA with their grandparents and Tim is headed to Vegas for a conference.  There is not a bitter bone in my body knowing that I am going to have this house, and basically town, to myself.  I have big plans, I’m not exactly sure what they are, but they are BIG!

I’m sure most of you are headed out of town too, and if sunny and 75 is awaiting you at your final destination next week, I know you will be headed to Target for some last minute essentials. I thought I would hook you up with a few things that I have found recently at the Big Bull’s Eye in the Sky.

I bought the girls this beach bag which is huge and this bag reminds me of my much more expensive MarYsol bag.  We love Sun Bum sunscreen at our house because it smells awesome and Alice particularly loves the face stick for the fragrance and I love their SPF lip balm.  I have seen pricier versions of this tassel pouch in boutiques around town so I had to snatch up this one.  Since music is a must on any trip, I thought this Bluetooth speaker from Bauble Bar for Target was a way cool.  The t-shirt isn’t from Target but I could not resist!

make-up bag || beach bag || sunscreen || tassel pouch || Bluetooth speaker || gladiators || t-shirt || bathing suit

Totally not beach related but if you are looking for a cute Easter Basket filler for your little girl check out these adorable band-aids.

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