Tag Archives: Jesus

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

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.

SurrenderYourGuilt-CVR1* * * * *

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

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The Miracle!

All the waiting, all the yearning, all the longing . . . all caught up into one spectacular mystery. The fullness of God entering into humanity, taking on the limitations of flesh and bone and breath. With divine compassion, experiencing our frailty. With grace spanning eternity past to infinite future, entering into finite time and limited space.

incarnationThe miracle of the Incarnation.

When God answered the prayer, “O Come!” When the promises of the ages appeared in a strange and hardly recognizable fulfillment: the King of Kings, the Desire of Nations, in the wrinkled palms and piercing wail of a suckling, swaddled infant.

This is the miracle and the mystery: That in the first Advent, Emmanuel came. And that we await his Second Advent in which all these promises bloom into ultimate fulfillment.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
REJOICE! REJOICE!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel! Continue reading

The Second Advent

This week in my TCW Advent devotional calendar I encourage readers to focus on the theme of waiting. We often tend to think of the people in the Old Testament awaiting the Messiah — and this is a crucial aspect of Advent. But traditionally Advent is also about our waiting. We too are part of the great Story!

colorful lightsThe word advent means “coming” or “arrival.” While God’s people in the Old Testament waiting the coming of the Messiah, we await the Second Advent: the culmination of our hope. This Second Advent will usher in Jesus’ kingdom of peace and justice!

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4). 

Focus this week on your own waiting, your own hope. Jesus shall reign!

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15 Ideas for Observance

How can you make this Advent and Christmas season a meaningful one for you and your family?

candle flameI’ve got 15 ideas for ya.

Ideas #1 through 10: In 2007, my dear friend Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence & I wrote an article for TCW describing 10 fun & meaningful ideas for Advent. Though TCW shortened the article, you can find our full, longer version here (FREE!).

Idea #11: One resource I LOVE and personally use most years during Advent is Preparing For Jesus by (my creative writing prof from Valpo & National Book Award winner & pastor) Walter Wangerin, Jr. This unique devotional resource envisions the people and events of the Nativity story in a deeply enriching way.

Idea #12: OK, it’s sort of cheesy, but I LOVE this YouTube video of “Mary Did You Know?” from The Bible TV mini-series. It’s been a great discussion-starter for me and my kids, opening the door to talk about various events from the Gospels (& Acts) and the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ birth. Watch it with your loved ones to open up a spiritual conversation.

Idea #13: A new experience for us this year is reading through The Christmas Mystery by Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder. It’s a whimsical Advent-themed novel with a mini-chapter to read each day (starting December 1). We’ve only read the first few chapters so far, but it’s amazing!

Idea #14: Check out my TCW Advent Calendar with day-by-day ideas to deepen your spiritual experience all this month.

Idea #15: Just in case you missed it, you can click here to find some fun winter/Christmas-themed recipes to enjoy with your family.

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A Deeper Advent, Day by Day

cold morningAdvent — the four weeks preceding Christmas — begins this Sunday, December 1. I’m excited to share with you a day-by-day devotional calendar you can use on your own (or with your family) to delve deeper into the meaning of this season. This devo calendar includes Scripture study, contemplation, service to others, interaction with prayers from church history, music, creative avenues of worship, fun food and crafts, and other hands-on experiences.

Check it out here at Today’s Christian Woman — and be sure to share it with friends and family.

Happy Thanksgiving . . . and blessed Advent!

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Liberty

What does it mean to shine as a light of the world? How is justice part of that life proclamation? What does Jesus reveal about a light-shining life? Consider this excerpt from my new Flourishing Faith book Shine Your Light.

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chains“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Jesus, here, identifies himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies and teachings about God’s justice, compassion, and welcome. Quoting from Isaiah 58:6 and 61:1-2, Jesus launches his ministry by proclaiming this as his mission. Following directly on the heels of his baptism and temptation in the wilderness, Jesus boldly declared that this is what he’s all about. According to Jesus, God’s concern for justice and his compassionate love for the vulnerable are essential to our understanding of the “good news.”

How often do you hear these kinds of ideas reflected in the way people normally talk about the gospel? Have we lost sight of a critical component of Jesus’ teaching and proclamation? Do we really understand how central these values of compassion and justice are to the good news? . . .  Continue reading

Come Away With Me . . .

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? To follow him? Does it mean we need to be just like him? (Bad news: Won’t work.) Does it mean we need to do, do, do (ministry, spiritual disciplines, and so much more)? (One word: burnout.)

Of course we do aim to be more like Christ and, through the work of the Holy Spirit within us, we cultivate God-honoring character in our lives. And yes, we practice disciplines, minister to others, and model our lives after the actions and values of Jesus. But there’s another way Jesus beckons us to follow him. And this following? It blesses. It refreshes. It’s what we truly need. (And of course, Jesus knew that all along.)

blog. alone

After a time of crazy, exciting, exhausting, and intense ministry, the disciples came back to Jesus to report on all that had happened. What did he say? “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).

Jesus himself made a regular habit of withdrawing for time alone: time to pray, to recalibrate, to commune with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. (For example, see Mark 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44; and 5:16.) In these times of quiet and solitude there’s a kind of rest that’s deeper than mere physical sleep: It’s the rest our souls really need. Continue reading

The Miracle

All the waiting, all the yearning, all the longing . . . all caught up into one spectacular mystery. The fullness of God entering into humanity, taking on the limitations of flesh and bone and breath. With divine compassion, experiencing our frailty. With grace spanning eternity past to infinite future, entering into finite time and limited space.

incarnationThe miracle of the Incarnation.

When God answered the prayer, “O Come!” When the promises of the ages appeared in a strange and hardly recognizable fulfillment: the King of Kings, the Desire of Nations, in the wrinkled palms and piercing wail of a suckling, swaddled infant.

This is the miracle and the mystery: That in the first Advent, Emmanuel came. And that we await his Second Advent in which all these promises bloom into ultimate fulfillment.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
REJOICE! REJOICE!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel! Continue reading