Category Archives: grace

Reckless Love

Reckless Love

This new popular Cory Asbury song has really gotten me thinking about what it means to be reckless.  In our simple human spectrum, to be reckless is to be careless, thoughtless, hasty, impulsive, or irresponsible (Google dictionary).

 

But in God’s realm, reckless takes on a totally new meaning and significance.  God is all about the audacious – with His love, His compassion, His care, His forgiveness, His grace, and His mercy.

 

He gives in abundance.

He gives continually.

He gives unconditionally.

Without question, without qualm, without quibble.

 

He has great care for us, wanting to touch and transform our hearts.  He has much thought for us, allowing us to use the gifts He has given us to be part of His purposes.  Nothing He does or allows is impulsive or without consideration of the consequences.  Everything is filtered through His grace to bring glory to His name.  He is a guardian of our hearts, never irresponsible with our soul.  He knows what we will allow to touch it, and He will use everything to refine us in the image of Jesus and reform us by amazing measures of grace.

 

He gives to us, and it will be without measure and with great pleasure as long as we allow it.

 

So much different from us simple humans.

 

I keep thinking how we are reckless – but usually not in the same unconditional and forgiving ways as God.

 

Because we tend toward selfishness instead of selflessness.  We often do what will help us advance or succeed instead of loving like Jesus did (perhaps at personal cost).  We often speak to help our agenda or defend our “rightness” instead of listening, praying, or considering our impact.  We often think in terms of judgment, pity, or condemnation instead of seeing a beloved child of God who needs grace.

 

We are often people whose importance is “me”.  What have I earned?  What do I deserve?  What will you do for me?  We focus on ourselves.  We center on what we need and want.  We lean in only because it benefits us.

 

When God has called us to reckless – aka audacious – love and grace.  How can I help you?  How can I encourage you?  How can I show you that you are important?

 

And I readily admit that it is HARD for me to be so reckless.  To take my eyes, my heart, and my mind off me – at times it is almost impossible.  Because in those moments my flesh has taken control, demanding everything it thinks I am lacking and driving me constantly back to me, to make all I say, do, and think all about me.

 

And in those times it takes God’s audacious grace to pull me out of the quicksand of “me” and set me right again.

 

So now I stop and consider what I am audacious about.  Is it mostly me and my well-being?  Or am I on alert for opportunities of grace God surrounds me with?

 

Loving Father, thank You for Your audacious love toward us, which never gives up on us and always encourages more of You in our lives.  Help everyone reading this to become more reckless for and with You.  Help us to see each opportunity for audacious love and grace You put in front of us – and to recklessly go after it, for Your glory.  In Jesus’ almighty name.  AMEN!

 

 

An extra nugget:

Here’s the great irony: as much as I am for and about me, how much more is God!  He is reckless for me and with me and about me, wanting me to benefit and be blessed.  He wants me to experience the FULL measure of His love – in having abundant joy, peace, hope, healing, forgiveness, and contentment.

 

Marie Fremin.  5/19/18

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Decisions and Grace

We are in the Easter season, and it is easy for us to say “don’t do that” as we read the reactions and bad decisions of the disciples after Jesus is arrested.  It is easy because we know how the story ends.

 

But, standing in the middle of everything, the eleven didn’t.  They thought their beloved Teacher was the answer to everything.  He had walked on water (Matthew 14:25) and then called Peter out with Him (Matthew 14:28-29).  He had cured numerous people.  He had brought several dead back to life, including His good friend Lazarus (John 11:43-44).  They had watched Him perform miracles and change the world around Him.  Then, He does something completely unbelievable – He allows Himself to be arrested by a large group of temple guards.  He does not protest.  He does not resist.  He quietly goes with them, proclaiming God’s purposes are being fulfilled (Matthew 26:56a).  And the disciples are stunned.  They can only react one way – panic and run (Matthew 26:56b).

 

When Peter is asked three times that same night if he knew Jesus, he repeatedly denied any relationship (Matthew 26:59-74).  Because if they took Jesus, whom Peter and his fellow disciples thought was untouchable, what hope was there for common fisherman and former tax collectors?  Their lives were in danger, and they each responded out of fear and desperation.

 

But if any of them had realized what would happen over the next week, how would their reactions have been different?

 

What would Peter’s denials have become in light of the possibility of His resurrection?  How would Peter have answered if he ever believed the truth of the resurrection Jesus told them about?

 

But Peter is much more relatable – and so are his fellow disciples – because he didn’t know what was coming.  And they all reacted exactly as we would when they had a difficult decision to make in the middle of a crisis.

Decisions and Grace

Decisions are so much easier to make when you have all the facts and a perspective beyond the moment.  But we often have little information and limited perspective.  Yet God trusts us to make decisions.  Even thought we see very few things clearly.  Even though we don’t realize or even care about how much we will hurt people.  Even thought we cannot understand all the possible outcomes and consequences.

 

Yet God loves us enough to let us choose.  We get to decide if we will help or harm.  We get to decide if we will lead or follow.  We get to decide if we will trust or turn away.  We get to decide if our words will be good or bad, life giving or life destroying.

 

Because if we didn’t get to decide, how would we understand the power of grace to completely change a life?

 

Peter decided to deny Jesus three times when confronted.  And Jesus decided to redeem these decisions at the Sea of Galilee by giving him the same opportunity to declare his love (John 21:15-19).  And Peter was able to redeem his decision and undo his previous denials by saying three times “You know that I love You” (John 21:15-17).  In that moment, Peter understood finally and fully the power of grace and the freedom of forgiveness for bad decisions.  Because after Peter was able to express his love and loyalty, Jesus commissioned him to take that love and go share it by helping people know God.

 

How do I know Peter got it?  Because Pentecost comes, and Peter stands up and preaches to the over 3000 people there about his beloved risen Savior.  He calls the crowd to repentance and baptized “about three thousand” (Acts 2:41) to celebrate their life-changing decision.

 

Yes, Peter made a tragic decision.  But Jesus didn’t leave him to wallow in regret and pity.  Jesus picked him up and gave him a great purpose.  And because Peter knew regret, he could better preach Christ and the power of His love.

 

So too will he do for us.  He doesn’t want us to waste our time wallowing in regret over the wrong things we’ve done.  He wants us to come to His waiting open arms and accept grace.  Because every decision can be rewritten to showcase His goodness, glory, and grace.  Just like Peter.

 

What decisions will you give Him today?

 

Marie Fremin, 3/25/18

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

Jonah

“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).

jonah

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.

how-big-is-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?

GRACE.

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.

grace-gone

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