Category Archives: grace

No Condemnation Under Grace

Am I the only one who hears the sinister voices in my head?  You know the ones –

  • “Oh, you didn’t pray for ___ like you should have.”
  • “You really said that out loud?!?!”
  • “How could you think something so bad/crazy/sinful?”
  • “Wow – did you see how fast she pushed your buttons? What an easy target you are.  Some Jesus follower you really are.”
  • “Do you really believe Jesus loves you after ___?”

No Condemnation under Grace

All these words condemning me …

  • Judging me down to the core of who I am and what I believe.
  • Criticizing me of unreal, ungrounded, and insincere faith as a follower.
  • Accusing me of being full of sin, led by emotions, and completely unable to change for the good.
  • Pushing me to self-pity, self-loathing, and self-criticism … for being human.


All these words have one great flaw – there is NO GRACE, the very foundation of who God is.


“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).


Condemnation skips over grace, erases forgiveness, and ignores compassion.  All the things Jesus died to give us – freely and in full.


Condemnation isolates us from connection and intimacy with others, declaring that our illnesses are beyond healing and idiosyncracies too crazy to be around others.  It drives us to exhaust ourselves and our resources to be made “normal” (Mark 5:25-26).  Condemnation pushes us the outskirts of the crowd, hiding and cowering for fear of being discovered and judged (Mark 5:27).  Condemnation drives us to extreme and outrageous measures to feel whole and find acceptance (Mark 5:28).


Condemnation attacks our identity as a beloved child, removes our armor that secures us to God, hits us at our deepest hurts in our heart, and leaves us so wounded and defeated that people flee from us instead of helping us (Luke 10:30-32).


Condemnation tells us to waste our time, our life, and our resources on ungodly pursuits so that we suddenly wake up to find little to nothing left (Luke 15:13).  Condemnation tells us that we are not good enough for even the most disrespected job but drives us to pursue it out of desperation (Luke 15:15-16).  Condemnation convinces us that forgiveness is out of reach and we are crazy to hope for acceptance, yet it drives us to beg in a menial and demeaning way for any scraps (Luke 15:17-19).  Condemnation looks through eyes of selfishness to see only “self sacrifice” to the point of self-righteousness and self-importance (Luke 15:29), so that judgment and loathing flow through every word and deed (Luke 15:30).


Condemnation makes us feel like we are standing in the center of society’s attention, being judged for every sin with no recourse to hide (John 8:3-4).  Condemnation demands a harsh word, a hard heart, and a heavy hand – all ready to throw stones (John 8:5).


Condemnation distracts us from all God has for us.

Condemnation distances us from all God has for us.

Condemnation dissociates us from all God has for us.


And God has grace.  A lot of grace.  God is all about grace.

  • “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right” (Psalm 84:11).
  • “Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins” (Romans 3:24).
  • “For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17).


Grace allows us freely into God’s space and draws us closely into God’s embrace, touching every area flowing with shame and sorrow and filling it instead with God’s healing.  Grace prays “Go in peace. Your suffering is over” with the great hope that we accept the complete freedom and restoration God has waiting for us (Mark 5:34).


Grace sees us when all others have passed us by, applies God’s love to our broken places, and sets us on the course for complete healing and restoration (Luke 10:33-35).


Grace never stops watching and waiting for us, hoping for and eagerly expecting our repentance.  Grace runs with love and purpose toward us at the first sign, ready to celebrate our return and shower great compassion on us (Luke 15:20).


Grace holds its tongue, evaluates the wounded heart, and says “Neither do I [condemn you]. Go and sin no more” (John 8:6,11).


Condemnation shouts “you can never be good enough, no way”.

Grace whispers “you are worthy, even as you are – come”.


Both are calling to you.

Which one will you choose to listen to?


Marie Fremin.  1/19/18, 1/21/18, 2/18/18


God’s Grace

I was definitely a target this past week, because hell came against me in all its fury.  Somehow I survived this week of being hit with one fiery dart after another after another.  It was non-stop, and it was draining.


And now I stop.  Because did I really just say “somehow”?  It’s not somehow.  It’s never somehow.  It’s never an unknown, nameless force.


It was grace.  It is always grace.

God’s amazing grace.

God’s uplifting grace.

God’s encouraging grace.

God's Grace

God’s grace.  It kept fists at my side when I was assaulted by a mistimed encounter with a disgruntled sibling.  Way too early in the morning.  Before I was ready for work, had breakfast, or was even fully dressed.  When the conversation was predicated with a repeated “I just have one quick question” – that was neither quick nor singular.


God’s grace.  It kept frustration at bay – and hopefully out of my voice – when a customer ripped into me about her dissatisfaction and demanded money back.  Without providing any information on who she was and what exactly happened.  She insisted on talking and expressing herself in demands without giving me much opportunity to speak.


God’s grace.  It kept insanity from bubbling over.  It said “get up” when several crazy things happened at one and I was completely overwhelmed.  When the screams inside my head threatened to expel from my lips and I felt my last good nerve snap because there were too many things at one time coming at me.


God’s grace.  It kept tongue in check when no one paid attention and then no one took responsibility for a call that should not have happened.  When the finger pointed in every other direction than toward self and it was always someone else’s fault.


God’s grace.  It stayed back exhaustion each night until I could get home safely and collapse into bed.


Because I know without a doubt that I would have imploded or just stayed in bed without the hope and uplift of God’s grace.  Because grace reminds me that God is wise beyond my own human understanding.  That God will help me find balance in the middle of my chaotic emotions and crazy reality.  That God loves me through all the messes, the meanies, and the wrong messages.  God’s grace.  So beautifully explained in Isaiah 43.


God’s grace.  Which reminds me of His love unconditional and true.  “… I have called you by your name; You are Mine …” (1d-e).


God’s grace.  Which reminds me that He is always with me and will keep me safe within His purposes.  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.” (2).


God’s grace.  Which reminds me that I have a loving Savior who purposely chose me and has a great plan to redeem me.  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you … For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (1c, 3a-b).


God’s grace.  Which reminds me I am completely precious to God.  “Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you” (4a-c).


God’s grace.  Which reminds me that fear and frustration only invite darkness in and keep me from hope and peace that want to envelope me.  “Fear not, for I am with you” (5a).


God’s grace.  Which reminds me that I am uniquely and wonderfully made by His loving hands for His glorious purposes.  “Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him” (7).


God’s grace.  Which reminds me the impossible is never out of reach when I trust in the God of the impossible.  “Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea And a path through the mighty waters … I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” (16, 19d-e).


God’s grace.  Which reminds me that there is always a new opportunity, a new possibility, and a new chance.  “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?” (19a-c)


It’s grace.

It’s always grace.

When you think there isn’t another step you can take, grace nudges you forward.

When you think there is a word you have to say, grace encourages silence.

When you think your strength is gone, grace infuses you with a little more.

When you think there is no way out, grace shines a ray of hope through the darkness.

When you think God has forgotten you, grace whispers “never!”

When you think God’s love has run out, grace whispers “impossible!”

When you think God isn’t working for you, grace whispers “watch!”


So this past week reminded me the importance of leaning into grace.  It will get you through.


Marie Fremin.  4/29-4/30/17


“This is what anger can do: shatter things – a relationship, a reputation, a promise, a hope.”  – Carol Knapp, Daily Guideposts 2017, February 15th


That’s what it did to Jonah.


Jonah, the prophet famous for trying to run and hide from God (Jonah 1:3,5) because he did not want to go to Ninevah.  The prophet who compelled the sailors to toss him overboard to save their ship from the violent storm destroying it (Jonah 1:12).  The prophet who “was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17) getting right with God before “it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jonah 2:10).


The prophet who humbly proclaimed “… But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit” (Jonah 2:6).


You would think the man who just went through all that would just go with God’s flow and accept His purposes.  But not Jonah.


Now this humbled prophet has wandered outside Ninevah and angrily prayed, “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:3).  The same man who just experienced three days of compassion and forgiveness with a big dose of redemption is very upset at God (Jonah 4:1) for extending the same things to Ninevah after the entire city, including the king, heard Jonah’s message and truly repented for their evil ways.


The same man who just a few days before was begging for mercy – “In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me …” (Jonah 2:2) – is now outraged that the city of Ninevah did the same thing – “ … Let everyone call urgently on God … ” (Jonah 3:8).  And it was right that God heard and answered him and gave him another chance.  But it was totally wrong for God to do the same thing for Ninevah (Jonah 3:10).


And when I think about it like that, it’s crazy.  I totally get Jonah’s point of view.  I can see him sitting there thinking, “God, are you serious?  You made me spend three days floating in every gross thing imaginable to get my attention and get my apology.  This city hears eight words about their coming doom, makes several grand gestures about being sorry, and You say ‘never mind’.  Are you serious?  They don’t deserve anything good.  I get the fish, and they get nothing?  I had to suffer for the grace you showed me.  Why aren’t you making them suffer too?”


And I’ve rowed that boat before.  In fact, I find myself often rolling my eyes over certain things at work.  Like hiring a new shop manager, a man, and offering him more money than I was currently making after being there 4 years.  And thinking it was okay on several levels.  But here’s what I saw – it was wanting the experience he brings at the expense of my 4 years of hard work, long hours, and extreme dedication.  And knowing I bring something to the company he never will – the ability to be able to do my job and his.


I could have been like Jonah.  He was “righteously” angry and chose to dwell there.  He set up camp.  He wallowed until he was covered in it.  And he threw a temper tantrum, begging God several times to just let him die.  He refused to extend grace.  He refused to allow grace.  He refused to accept grace in action.


And God in that moment could have read Jonah his resume and reminded him of his choices.  He could have rubbed Jonah’s nose in his running away as just page one.  But that’s not who God is.  It’s not who He was with Jonah, and it’s not who He was with Ninevah.


But despite personally knowing God’s love in action, he couldn’t accept it for anyone else.  He was convinced God would change His mind, so much so that “he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city” (Jonah 4:5).  Why?  Because “Angry people stir up a lot of discord” (Proverbs 29:22a).


He could not get past their reputation to accept their repentance.  When that was what God wanted.  His great concern was the people.  Jonah’s great concern was vengeance.


So what happened to me at work?  I didn’t seek vengeance.  But I did speak up.  In a somewhat joking manner with a serious undertone.  I wanted it to be known that I did expect to be acknowledged for my years of dedication and hard work.  And I was.  And I’m convinced it was because I was honest without being angry or hostile.


The choice was mine, and I think I chose wisely.  Just like the choice was Jonah’s, and he chose selfishly.


And today is a new opportunity for us to choose.  We can be Jonah, angry and pouting with our hands tucked securely under our arms and refusing to allow grace.  Or we can be like God, gracious and good and forgiving.


Who do you want to be?

Who will you choose to be today?


Marie Fremin.  2/15/17 and 3/5/17

How Big is Grace?

I have really been thinking about grace this week and what it means.


Because I had a friend come back suddenly into my life.

After almost a year of silence and distance.

And I struggle with how to respond – if at all.

Ignore the reach?

Make a snarky comment (or two) and walk away?

Or have a conversation?

And if you have the conversation, how far to go?


And my head says “be brutal and be honest” – and basically show no mercy.

Lay the cards of truth on the table and let the chips fall as they may.

But my heart says “give as you have received” – from God.

God is generous.  God is forgiving.  God is merciful.


And the battle rages.

Just as Jacob wrestled God for a blessing, I too wrestle with God.

And as my mind battles my heart, I think about grace.


And I wonder … Does grace have boundaries?

Does grace give an automatic out?

With no apology or acknowledgement?

Does grace sweep everything under the rug?

With no conversation?

Does grace ignore all that has been wrong?

With no recompense?


Or is grace more than this?


And I think … Surely grace has to be more than this.

Because don’t we find grace at our lowest point or hardest time?

At the place of difficulty?

At the place of offense?

At the place of indecision?

At the place of doubt?


And I know grace is always waiting for us.

Where our options are limited or our movements are restricted.

Where our questions can easily overshadow our faith.

Where we want to shove the “truth” down someone’s throat.

Where we want to keep our words uncensored and unchecked.

Where our will outweighs the truth of love.

Where we want to fuss and fight to be right.

Where we are not overcome by hope or filled with peace.

Where our circumstances seem too big to handle.

Where our prayers seem too insignificant to be heard.

Where we are led by our thoughts instead of our heart.

Where our emotions are loud and demanding and out of control.

Where our obstacle looks bigger than anything (or Anyone) else.

Where our challenge seems insurmountable.


Because in any of these circumstances, we come to a place where we need help.

Where we are beyond our human abilities.

Where we are powerless to move or think or do.

Where we are desperate for hope.


And what do we find?


Just at the place we need it most.

Just at the time we need it most.

More abundant than we ever imagine.

More powerful than we ever expect.

More merciful than we ever deserve.


And so the battle within me continues to rage.

I am not in that place (yet) where grace abounds.

I am still walking through the valley.

Where it is grace versus guardedness.  Grace versus grumbling.  Grace versus grudges.

Where grace is good enough for me but not good enough to share.


So far, the battles continue.

Grace has won at least one victory so far.

But it has also lost at least one as well.


I am pretty confident grace will eventually triumph over grudges.

Because God is good.

Because God is walking with me as I consider the extent of grace.


And God is able to break through every emotion, every wall, and every hard-hearted area currently holding me back.  From unleashing a wave of grace that will surprise even me!


Marie Fremin.  12/30-12/31/16

Grace Gone

I had a bad day yesterday.  I don’t deny it.  I don’t sugar coat it.  I don’t white wash it.  I am up front honest about being a hard person with a horrible attitude.


I was talking to a friend telling her about my crazy day.  And I readily admitted that my grace tank was completely EMPTY for a certain individual at work.  Not for one isolated incident but for a continued pattern of reckless behavior over the last six month where I keep bearing the brunt of his lack of listening and attention to detail.


So what triggered my sudden outburst?  This Saturday I felt like my name was dragged through the mud – because he did not listen to the conversation we had Friday night and I was accused of giving him wrong instructions.  And I let loose on him.  With no grace.  With no forgiveness.  With no mercy.  With no peace.


And I know it was wrong.  I know I should have held my tongue.  I know I should have prayed more about it.  I know what I should have done.


And I know what I did do.  I let the emptiness of my frustration guide my words.  I allowed my grace tank to be emptied – and stay empty.


I know I need to have grace.  The importance of grace is burning within me.  Grace is the only way to live.


But I am void of grace – for this individual.  There is nothing within me right now.  And I do not know why.  I cannot seem to stir it up.  I cannot get beyond the wall of my frustrations.


And I wonder where to start to be better and to do better.


So what direction did God guide me this morning?  God’s compassion.


God’s compassion amazes me.  As I drove into work this morning, I considered the lack of grace I have.  And God redirected my thoughts back to His great grace.


What if God gave up on us after two mistakes?  Three mistakes?  Four mistakes?  What if God deemed us hopeless and wrote us off when we could (would) not get something right?  What if God deemed us unredeemable when we refuse to do things His way?


And I struggle.  Because I know I should have great compassion on people, just as He has great compassion on me.  But the problems continue, even with many conversations and corrections.  Because the mistakes always outnumber the good and the right.


So how many mistakes should I overlook?

How many days should I choose to walk through with a smile?

How many times should I give grace?


As many as it takes.


To do things God’s way.


Matthew 18:21-2221 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”  22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.


Not once.  Not twice.  Not three times.

As many times each day as it takes.

If it takes every minute of every day, then I need to do it every minute of every day.


And that hurts!  Because that requires me to step outside my feelings and live beyond the moment.  Because that requires me to consider someone other than myself.  Because that requires me to choose humility over righteousness.


And I don’t want to do any of these things.  I want to be right.  I want to be angry.  I want to be self-righteousness.


But God says no.  God says be humble.  God says be forgiving.  God says be compassionate.


So every day going forward will be a new opportunity to get it right.  No, I will not always get it right.  But God will always be faithful to help me, to direct me, to correct me, and to forgive me.


With grace gone I am empty of the thing I need most.  But with God, grace can flow freely.  God, I’m leaning into You to help me do better!


Marie Fremin.  12/13/16

Hand of Grace

Jesus is the epitome of God’s grace.  He brought truth and wisdom from heaven with Him for all mankind.  He also brought grace, the favor of God.  “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).


And God’s grace was like a divine hand upon His life and His ministry.  “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him” (Luke 2:40).


Because that who is God is.  Grace.  The One who bestows favor and blessing and mercy on us that we could never deserve.  “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6)


And He has His gracious hand on our lives every moment of every day.




Then the thought occurred to me – what if God took His hand of grace off of our lives?


What if God stopped forgiving us?

What if God stopped intervening for us?

What if God stopped helping us?

What if God stopped walking with us?

What if God stopped blessing us?

What if God stopped listening to us?

What if God stopped comforting us?

What if God stopped being good to us?

What if God stopped loving us?


There would be no hope.  The world would revert to the pre-flood qualities, where “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).  Because there would be no standard of good and evil.  No balance of right and wrong.  No hope for a good today and a better tomorrow.


So I do not even for one second want to conceive of a world without God.  For I need the grace of God.  Desperately.


Because it is the grace of God that compels me to be a better person, more Christ-like in my thinking, speaking, and reacting.  It is the grace of God that compels me to encourage people and serve people and love people, even when they don’t deserve it.  It is the grace of God that compels me to never give up, because I could be one (brave) step away from my next victory or revelation.


It is grace that teaches me that I need to be:

  • Humble (Matthew 5:3)
  • Grieving over the things that break God’s heart (Matthew 5:4)
  • Meek and compassionate (Matthew 5:5)
  • Desiring God first (Matthew 5:6)
  • Merciful and kind (Matthew 5:7)
  • Sincere and honest (Matthew 5:8)
  • Peaceful and peace-minded (Matthew 5:9)


So what if God took His hand of grace off my life?  I would be destroyed.  For it is the grace of God that keeps me going.


So I am thankful every day that “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” (Exodus 34:6).  Because I need it.  I need Him.  I need grace.


So will you pause with me and thank Him for His goodness in your life and His grace upon your life?


Marie Fremin.  9/23 and 9/24/16



When was the last time you drew a battleline?  When was the last time you took a firm stand about something?


I remember distinctly drawing three battlelines.  All have been with long-time friends who questioned the depth of my faith and impugned my relationship with God.  My life philosophy is simple: agree to disagree respectfully.  In each of these relationships, that did not happen.  The first friend was blatant about how she felt – outright calling me a moron because of my beliefs.  When I called her out on her obvious disrespect, she stopped speaking to me.  She changed her email, moved out of state, and cut me off completely.  The second one started a conversation on my Facebook page because she disagreed with something I posted.  When I pointed out that the conversation could be viewed by all our friends and suggested we take it offline of the public Facebook arena, I became a judgmental, unevolved, and angry person.  I repeatedly tried to talk to her about it, showing her what I actually said and assuring her I was not maligning her.  I finally had to draw a battleline about her behavior and her accusations.  I was proclaimed unworthy and hostile, and thus I was banished from her life.  She changed her cell phone number, unfriended me, and moved.  The third was with a friend who made comments in response to emails discussing devotional readings and Bible verses.  Her commentary was that I was unable to read Scripture clearly or with rational interpretation.  At one point I was told that I was “reaching” to find verses to prove my weak point.  When I finally responded with my drawn line, I was positive but firm.  And I finally had a positive result – we are still speaking.  Now conversation is tenuous, but the door is open.


Looking back on all these events, I am sad.  I am sad for the friendships that could not withstand some pressure.  I am sad that there are once close friends who I haven’t spoken to in years by their choice.  I am sad that people once important to me chose not to do life with me.  I am sad that we could not find a way to stay friends – because it had to be all or nothing.


And then I start thinking about a recent episode where the line was drawn for me.  I kept telling myself I was crazy at the beginning of this year, when I felt a battleline was drawn in a group setting after a disagreement.  I told myself that surely I was imagining that teams were being formed and everyone would have to choose a side.  This morning I found out I was not wrong.  The situation was escalated to the point where people were asked to choose sides.  Feelings were hurt when someone refused to declare one of us the “winner”.


I didn’t want the battleline.  I didn’t want the battle.  I just wanted a chance to speak and the respect of being heard.  I wasn’t asking to be right, and I wasn’t trying to prove I was smarter.  I just had something to say, and it was supposed to be a setting where everyone was free to speak and share.  But there were boundaries, and the minute one person got uncomfortable, a battleline was drawn.  It was made clear to me where it was, and it was made clear to me that the support of the group was not on my side of the battleline.  So I chose, for my peace of heart and the peace of the group, to walk away.  To give everyone time to breathe, to think, to consider.


And again I had a moment of sadness.  Because the battleline was unnecessary.  The battleline isolated.  The battleline destroyed.  The battleline glorified the enemy’s schemes.  And we were all left wondering – why can’t we, as adults, get along?


Sometimes a battleline is necessary.  More often than not, a conversation is the better option, and mutual respect is the best way.


The Bible shows us the power of battlelines.  1 Samuel 17 says Israel had a clear battleline – “Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokohand Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.”  Two armies, each on their side of the battleline.  Israel was too afraid to move because the enemy was big and intimidating.  Instead of trusting God, they wallowed in fear and cowered behind the battleline, refusing to engage.  Until young and fearless David came along.  He threw off the borrowed armor of the army and charged the battleline with faith and a slingshot.  His meager size was not an obstacle.  The giant’s size was not a deterrent.  The battleline was the place where God was going to show up and show out.


Jesus also drew a line.  Not a battleline but a grace line.  A woman caught in adultery is dragged before Him, probably half dressed, “as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him” and separating Him from the people’s affections (John 8:6).  The religious leaders wanted Him to point an accusing finger at her or outright forgive her – so they could draw a battleline.  But Jesus knows our every thought, every breath, and every heartbeat.  He knew their scheme and refused to participate.  So “Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger” (John 8:6).  Did He draw a line?  Maybe.  Did He make a point?  Definitely.  “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7).  He sent the adulterous woman on her way, redeemed, forgiven, and (hopefully) changed.


So what’s the lesson?  There is always a line.  It will sometimes be your choice to draw the line.  You are always on one side of the line.  And as you stand at the line, you always have a choice.  What choice will you make today?  Will you forgive?  Or will you foster negativity?  Will you heal and hug?  Or will you hold onto the grudge?  Will you love?  Or will you linger in your pain and hurt?


God doesn’t draw a battleline with you.  He draws a circle of grace to encompass you.  Will you do the same for people today?


Marie Fremin. 7/17 and 7/23-24/16.