Tag Archives: forgiveness

2 Strange, Miraculous Gifts

Our guilt and pain . . . can even become avenues of life and light and love.

That’s the statement with which I ended last week’s post. So how can guilt, pain, flaws, and brokeness lead to something good? Something beautiful?

true storyI believe there are 2 strange and miraculous gifts we are given in and through our experiences of guilt, sin, pain, and failure. The first is the gift of conviction, and the second is the gift of a grace-story. And of course, we are given these gifts in and through the grace of Christ and his redeeming work on the Cross.

Read these 2 excerpts from my new Bible study Surrender Your Guilt and consider how God might be prompting you to receive and to respond to these gifts. (Excerpts are ©Kelli B. Trujillo, published by Wesleyan Publishing House, used with permission)

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Conviction vs. Condemnation

Jesus’ interaction with the woman caught in adultery (John 8) provides us with a powerful snapshot of the difference between conviction and condemnation. Did her sins deserve condemnation? Absolutely—and Jesus’ gracious actions toward her in no way “excused” the sin of adultery. But Jesus did not condemn her—the person she was. Instead, he spoke convicting truth into her life: “Go now and leave your life of sin” (8:11). Jesus directly acknowledged the sin and told her to leave it behind. Rather than the hopeless, dreary, ever-worsening, and (for this woman) even deadly future of condemnation, conviction offered her hope, clearly envisioning for her a new way of being. God’s gift of conviction helps us see that we can be set free and start anew! Continue reading

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On Fissures and Faith, Cracks and the Cross

I shared last week about the importance of letting go of guilt—and embracing grace.

dry cracksNow some of you may have read that post and muttered under your breath, that’s easier said than done. Because we don’t have a magic-miraculous-memory-marker that can scribble out the mistakes we’ve made as if they never happened—even though we’re forgiven, we may still remember them. And also there are times when we know we should feel guilty—when we’re deeply (and healthily) aware of our shortcomings, flaws, propensity to hurt others, self-centeredness . . . our sin.

And so we must see that “letting go” is part of the conversation rather than the final statement on guilt and grace.

Another critical aspect of experiencing grace—of really living in its power—is courageously seeing our flaws and failings, acknowledging them, and even (strangely) treasuring them.

Wait, what? Was that a typo?

Nope.

Because here’s what I’ve been learning from some amazing, spiritual writers. In What’s So Amazing About Grace?, Philip Yancey discusses what happens “when I begin to see myself as a sinner who cannot please God by any method of self-improvement or self-enlargement. Only then can I turn to God for outside help—for grace—and to my amazement I learn that a holy God already loves me deeply despite my defects. . . . Our wounds and defects are the very fissures through which grace might pass.”

And Max Lucado evokes a similar imagery: “Grace. Let it, let him, so seep into the crusty cracks of your life that everything softens. Then let it, let him, bubble to the surface, like a spring in the Sahara, in words of kindness and deeds of generosity.”

Fissures. Cracks. Fractures, chinks, rifts, and wrinkles. The lines that mark our living. The painful memories. The dogged habits. The heavy regrets. The spur-of-the-moment ugliness.

Our guilt and pain, our failures and flaws, are the means through which we experience the grace of Christ. They show us our need. They bring us to the Cross in penitence or desperation.

And they can even become avenues of life and light and love. 

On Guilt, Grace, and Letting Go

This month journey with me through the theme “Surrender Your Guilt.”

stones handSo often we go through life holding on to guilt, burdened by secrets, harboring hidden pain, or listening to the scolding voices of self-condemnation. We let false messages about ourself, our worth, our failures, and our inadequacies dog us through life. We carry around lies, sins, failures, weaknesses, and all kinds of assorted junk.

And we need to let go.

In honor of my new book by the same title, we’ll explore how God’s grace enables us to do just that. Grace is so much more that we often see; it’s deeper, more expansive, challenging, life-giving, compelling, absolute and complete . . .

My list could go on and on! But to start things out, let’s focus on 5 amazing truths about grace that have been heartening me, changing me, healing me, inspiring me, and calling me.

1. Grace forgives us.

2. Grace convicts us.

3. Grace costs us.

4. Grace empowers us.

5. Grace sustains us.

I wrote an article exploring these 5 critical ideas in depth — it’s FREE on Today’s Christian Woman.com.

Here’s the start of the article, “Freedom in Forgiveness.”

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If you would have asked me two decades ago as a Christian teenager about God’s grace, I could have easily explained it. I might have told you about the acronym “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense” or maybe I would’ve explained the idea of “unmerited favor.” I may have outlined some of the theological squabbles about grace and salvation among various Christian traditions. And I definitely would have quoted Ephesians 2:8–9 to make sure you understood that it’s free.

But now, decades later with some life under my belt? I’d tell you today that grace is bigger, deeper, and more expansive than a simplified acronym or a theological transaction. It’s like that saying, “The more you know, the more you realize all you have to learn.” I’m discovering that grace is much more and does much more than I was able to understand in my youth. And I’m certain that decades into the future—when I’ve walked through more joys and heartaches and hopes and fears—my experience of grace will be even richer.

The God of Grace

So what is grace? In Scripture, “grace” draws together several key biblical concepts. In the Old Testament, it’s the “favor” God shows (hen in Hebrew); it’s being merciful and compassionate (hanan); it’s steadfast love (hesed). In the New Testament, the Greek word charis builds upon these concepts to communicate the favor of God understood, particularly, through the lens of the forgiveness and redemption we find in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE ON TODAY’S CHRISTIAN WOMAN.

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Join me in conversation this entire month as we explore how to live guilt-surrendered, grace-enriched lives!

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Cherish Your Family

What words would you use to describe family life? For most of us, it depends on the moment we’re asked! We might say joy, laughter, bonding, closeness, cuddles, smiles, wonder,  joy, love, delight, acceptance. Or we might say exhaustion, frustration, end-of-the-rope irritation. Or we might say pain, hurt, betrayal, loneliness.

cherishHidden behind these words are other realities of family life that we may not realize as we hum through the busy nature of daily life: the testing, the opportunities to grow, the conviction and means to change we find in family life.

“Family” looks different for each of us. It may be a decades-long, empty-nest marriage. It may be marital singleness but, of course, an ongoing connection to siblings, parents, nieces, nephews. It may be a marriage and a house full of kiddos. It may be a house full of kiddos, but without a spouse at one’s side. It may be marriage without children. It may be beloved grandchildren. It may be some other arrangement of relatives, of friends, of loved ones that make for us a home, a family.

However you define your “family” one thing is certain: Mixed in with the joy and delight, there are hurts, misunderstandings, frustrations. And through it all is a challenge — an opportunity — to more deeply love the loved ones in your life. To stretch far beyond instinctive self-interest. To choose forgiveness over bitterness. To choose hope over discouragement. To choose appreciation over that ever-looming temptation to take others for granted. To treasure. To embrace. To cherish. Continue reading

What (Really) is Joy?

laughingJoy. Can you picture it? What image comes to mind? What memory from your life? What does it sound like? Feel like? How would you define or explain it?

Merriam-Webster defines it as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune; a state of happiness or felicity; a source or cause of delight.”

The dictionary is onto something here. Joy certainly is associated with these feelings—and I love the idea of “felicity” and “delight.”

But joy, for the Christian, is something that runs a lot deeper than feelings or emotions. Dallas Willard explained joy as a “pervasive sense of well-being.” Something deep down within us, throughout us, that touches each part of who we are, echoing that we are well. In fact, in Christ, we are well even when life is going completely wrong. This is circumstance-defying joy.

In my research for Restore Your Joy, I came across something really cool. Here’s a short quote from the book: Chairo  is an important New Testament Greek word that means ‘to be glad and full of joy.’ Chairo is most often translated as ‘rejoice’; chara, a related word, is translated as ‘joy.’ Both are closely linked etymologically to charis which means ‘grace.’ As linguistic cognates, these three words ‘share the same root and therefore the same core (fundamental) meaning.’” 

Isn’t that awesome? Joy, rejoicing (worship), and grace are linked in their core meaning—they’re interconnected in the soul of the Christian. Joy can be present even in dark times because grace is there even in dark times. Grace itself defies the darkness—illuminates it and pushes the shadow into the corners. The brilliant grace of God forgives fully, offers hope, picks us up, renews our strength, affirms our worth, and empowers us to live fully. Continue reading

Trash or Treasure?

Enrich Your Marriage

My friend, writer Darcy Wiley, explores one of the concepts in my book Enrich Your Marriage over at her fantastic blog Message in a Mason Jar. Click here to check it out and to think a bit about the marriage-trash we often treasure.

Road Trip Lessons

Family time.

These two words summarize my summer. Because my husband is a teacher and I’m a freelancer, we’re blessed to have flexibility in the summertime to do things out of the norm. And this summer, for a full 6 weeks, we went on a family-time adventure as we drove out west to visit my in-laws in California. (Yes, I said drove. . . from Indianapolis. . . to California!)

The time on the road was magical in its own way: driving before dawn and watching the sunrise; spotting Cars-like Old Route-66 towns; watching armies of giant saguaro cacti “marching” along the highway; listening to a dramatization of Barry’s Peter Pan together in the van. And the best part was getting to Cali and spending blessed time with  the Trujillo familia—good hugs, good eats, good laughs, good memories for a lifetime.

All that time together as a family (and of course, all that time in the car!) provided me a chance to think a bit more deeply about the power and importance of family time.

The serious business of laughter and fun: I could cite studies or psychologists’ quotes here, but instead I’ll just speak from my own experience. Having fun together forms bonds and deepens intimacy – among parents and children, among husband and wife. It’s so easy to lose sight of this in normal, hectic, busy life. We need to make fun a priority! Giggles, tickles, game-playing, joke-telling, face-making, silly-willy fun. It’s like glue. It helps us stick together.

Quantity matters: A plethora of articles will argue whether quantity time or quality time are more important in family life. Unfortunately, both of these arguments can end up making parents feel guilty! So I’m not wading in to that debate. But my point here is that even low-quality time – like really boring time, stretching out for hours and hours in a car in a hot, arid desert – can actually be really significant. In some magical way, time with family forms a sense of identity. Continue reading

Grace, the wind in my sail

Going through the motions doesn’t please you, 
      a flawless performance is nothing to you. 
   I learned God-worship 
      when my pride was shattered. 
   Heart-shattered lives ready for love 
      don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. (Psalm 51:16-17, The Message paraphrase)

The process of changing and growing includes the gift of the Spirit’s conviction in our lives. It doesn’t feel like a gift when we experience it. Guilt, a realization of failure, a shattering of pride — it feels awful.

And if we don’t understand something crucial, then we can distort conviction and misunderstand it as condemnation. We must understand — in head, heart, and soul — that we live within and are sustained by the grace of God. The Grace that suffered alongside a thief on the cross, that forgave his executioners in the moment of death, that triumphed over sin and left it empty as the tomb. Continue reading

15-Minute Formation: Survey the Cross

I’ll say very little here. There’s not much I can add to the stunning words of this hymn. This weekend, set aside 15 minutes to practice the discipline of self-examination by reading and entering into the lyrics and sentiments of this hymn. In your mind’s eye, look at Christ on the Cross. Consider why he is crucified there — how his love for you, and his grace for your own sin, led him to that place of agony and miracle.

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,

Save in the death of Christ my God!

All the vain things that charm me most,

I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,

Spreads o’er His body on the tree;

Then I am dead to all the globe,

And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.


 Isaac Watts, Public Domain

The Bad News . . . the Good News

“Mom,” my four year-old daughter asked me the other day, “Why don’t any of the people in the Bible obey God?”

In my answer, I patiently brought up examples of men and women who obeyed God in Scripture: Joseph forgave his brothers, Queen Esther saved her people, and so on.

But my daughter wouldn’t have it. She shot down my examples with counter-examples of disobedience. She said, “Even those people you said still disobeyed God.”

Her simple observation led to a rather profound theological discussion to have with a preschooler: we are all sinners—and that sinfulness is a profound theme running through Scripture. It’s a truth that has become blatantly obvious to my 4 year-old simply from learning Sunday school stories and listening to Genesis on a CD.

And this “bad news” part of the Good News is central to this discipline of life-change.

Lest I make this month’s discipline sound morose, discouraging, and one to be avoided at all costs, we must recognize a core truth: recognition of our sin, confession, and repentance (turning away from those sins) leads to freedom.

One of my favorite theological writers, Frederica Matthewes-Green, says this: “[R]epentance, is joy. Initially we fear looking squarely at our sins, lest we get overwhelmed. But the reverse turns out to be true. The more we see the depth of our sin, the more we realize the height of God’s love. The constant companion of repentance is gratitude; seeing our sin becomes, paradoxically, an opportunity for joy.”

My daughter’s observation about the Bible is true of my life too—mine is a story that includes disobedience, selfishness, sin. Yours does too.

As we look honestly at our lives—with God’s loving presence and gentle grace—we can find this paradoxical joy and freedom that comes from facing the reality of our brokenness.

This week—Holy Week—may be the very best time of the year for a period of personal self-examination. This week we remember Christ’s determined march to the Cross, the pinnacle of the Bible’s swell of human brokenness. It is the week we face our own sins that he carried with him on that road to Calvary. Yours. Mine.

Let it be a week in which we courageously look at those sins, confess them, and receive God’s beautiful gift of not only forgiveness but of transformation through the power of his Holy Spirit.