Let ’em know, we gon’ rise, we gon’ shine.

“Do you think Jesus is better off with you as one of His followers?”

That’s what my The Gospel of Mark Bible study just asked me. Like talk about a loaded question. If You had asked me when I started this study, my answer would have been different. My walk with You has changed so much since then. I stopped carrying all that baggage around, ya know that guilt, shame, all the hot mess. It’s a whole lot easier to walk when you’re not carrying baggage. And my hands are open and free to help others now too.

The pastor reminded us yesterday that the Promised Land is wherever You are and we belong to Your Kingdom. He said the Kingdom of God is present now and we are part of a greater Kingdom than anything this world has to offer us. He continued preaching with even in the battles, there is still a sense of victory, so keep laboring. Even when we don’t see the Heaven advances, there is still a sense of victory, so keep laboring. The war has always been won, we’re on the winning side, the deck is stacked.

This was a continuation from last week’s message. Where he said we are ambassadors of Christ. We need to act like we’re members of another Kingdom. He said we are not the warrior, You are. We can’t force others to follow You, even though I tried once, totally failed. I just wanted my friend to know the love and grace that I know, but I said the wrong thing and sent her running scared. I was like 15, my heart was in the right place, but boy my words were out of order. The pastor said we are called to communicate the message of the One who sent us. Now that I spend actual time in the Word, studying, my words are more clear. I have been given authority now.

The pastor always ends the service with Matthew 28:18-20 which says: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The fact that You gave me, of all people, authority to make disciples kinda blows my mind. Like who even am I? Oh that’s right, I am a child of You, God. I am Yours. I am blameless. I am holy, righteous, and free (instantly singing Blameless by Dara Maclean in my head now). I belong to the Kingdom. Lord, You fight for me. The pastor said the same grace that brought us to the Kingdom is the same grace that keeps us in the Kingdom. This cannot be taken from me. No matter what I do, because it never depended on what I do. It only depends on You, God. You are the One who sent me. You are the One calling me. You are the One fighting for me. You are the King, the One True God. I am a disciple maker because You are the disciple keeper.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I continue to make disciples. I pray that I keep laboring. I pray that I keep studying, growing, and walking with you. I pray that I repent and keep my eyes focused on you daily. I pray that I remember whose I am. I pray that I remember who you are. Thank you for unpacking my baggage. I pray I help carry other’s baggage to the cross too. I pray that I am your hands and feet. I pray I never stop moving forward for your kingdom. I pray I bring chairs to the table. Thank you for fighting for me. Thank you for the grace you have extended me. Thank you for calling me. Thank you for saying my name. Thank you for putting my name in the book. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I will boldly come running straight to the One.

Blameless. I used to hate that word. Because I couldn’t even fathom how You could make me blameless. I carried so much guilt and shame that it created this backwards sense of false humility. I couldn’t possibly be blameless. I couldn’t even say the word.

This week I was craving some time with You, Lord. I was feeling pretty unlovable this week, but knowing it was a lie. So, I started reading: You’re Loved No Matter What by Holley Gerth. I needed someone to speak some serious truth and life into my pretty little stubborn, lie-believing head. And boy, did I get it.

The section on switching from the guilt cycle to the grace cycle, hit me right on the head. Control is not safety and love is not earned. And that’s the truth. I can hear You whispering straight to my heart: my dear child, you are safe and you are loved. Father, sometimes, I try so hard to feel safe and earn love through obedience and service that I lose all track of You and the whole point of obedience and service.

I run from relationships, from intimacy, from love, from security, from peace. The very things I crave. Because of shame and guilt. Because of that pesky blameless word.

That word blameless does not mean that I get off scott free, without consequences. In fact, I was taught as a child that as a Christian, I will be held to a higher standard. I will not be able to get away things like it appears others will. The book I’m reading reiterated that message with the word: conviction. The book re-taught me that childhood lesson. Conviction is a call to stop the negative behavior, it is not guilt and shame. Conviction is a pull on the heart to stop seeking the dark and stop running. Because of conviction, I can do a heart check and ask for forgiveness. I can hear that still, small voice. I can seek the light. I can seek light. and love. Because I am forgiven and free. I am holy and righteous. I am worthy. I am blameless. I am loved. I am Your child. My name is written in the book. I am Yours.

As I read the end of the chapter, the last section is called: Stop Apologizing for Who You Are. I literally wrote in my book: say it again for the girl in the back. Then I realized I was the girl in the back, trying to minimize my successes, trying to downplay my gifts, and trying to skim over my strengths with, “Oh, that was nothing.” I thought the smaller I make myself, the less I could get hurt. Which in reality, hurt me and those around me that I was hiding from. But really, I was only making You smaller, Lord, by minimizing what You’ve given me. I should be shoutin from the mountain tops that I am Yours.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I let those around me carry my heart to you even when I can’t. I pray that I help carry the hearts of those around me to you too. I pray that I spend my whole life carrying my future husband’s heart to you even if I haven’t met him yet. I pray I show appreciation and gratitude for the love I am given. I pray that I remember that John 3:16 verse that I’ve been repeating since the 90’s. I pray that I remember I am so loved. I pray that I start walking like I’m loved, talking like I’m loved, leading like I’m loved, breathing like I’m loved. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.