Category Archives: truth

Before the World

Ephesians 1:4 – Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. (NLT)

 

Have you ever stopped to consider the first phrase of verse 4 – “Even before he made the world”?

 

This means that in Genesis 1:1-2, when it was God and only God and “The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters” – God was already thinking about YOU.

 

God was already designing your physical being (Psalm 139:14).

God was already assigning your talents (Matthew 25:14-29).

God was already creating your purpose (Jeremiah 29:11).

 

God was already preparing you to be strong (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

God was already preparing you to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God was already preparing you to fight (Ephesians 6:10-18).

 

He had already decided “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself” (Jeremiah 31:3), so He already had “written your name on the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16).

 

Before the world could fathom our existence or acknowledge our presence, GOD KNEW US.  GOD PLANNED US.  GOD WANTED US.

 

So God made a way, a unique way, to be with us (1 Peter 2:24).

For us to find Him, to know Him, and to adore Him.

For us to have no barrier and no obstacle to being with Him.

For us to declare boldly that “we belong to God” (1 John 4:6).

 

Before the sun, the moon, and the earth were spoken into existence, God was already calling YOUR name, beckoning YOU close to Him so He could whisper sweet love and precious grace into your spirit.

 

He was already ordering your life so you would be where He needed you to be (Psalm 37:23) and experiencing things to help further His love and compassion in the world around you (2 Corinthians 1:4).

 

He had already “called [us] according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 

Because He is God, and “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

 

If you can think about all these things and NOT be moved, you are holding back on God, stubbornly and purposefully avoiding Him.  But His love can penetrate the deepest hole, the darkest pit, the dirtiest heart, and the most dire circumstance.

 

Because He is God.  He is “I AM” (Exodus 3:14), the God who always was and who will always be (Revelations 22:13).

Before the World

And when it was just “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1), He considered YOU.  He thought about YOU.  He loved YOU.  He always has, and He always will.

 

Will you think about Him today?

 

Marie Fremin, 6/21/16

Forgive Us

1 John 2:12 – “I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.”

 

The disciple John, the one beloved to the Christ, is writing to the church.  To encourage believers to love.  In the same way Jesus loved them.  Which includes forgiveness.

 

Matthew 6:12 – “And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.”

 

Forgive us our selfish choices, so we can forgive those who have been selfish toward us.

 

Forgive us our thoughtless words, so we can forgive those who have spoken thoughtlessly to us.

 

Forgive us our mistakes, so we can forgive those who have made mistakes against us.

 

Forgive us for our wrong choices, so we can forgive those who have wronged us.

 

Forgive us for our knee-jerk quick reactions, so we can forgive those who have not overreacted toward us.

 

Forgive us for our fits of anger, so we can forgive those who have been angry with us.

 

But it goes so much deeper than this.

God, forgive us.

For every time we have failed to live up to Your image (Genesis 1:27).

Forgive Us

Forgive us for not living up to our godly potential (walking in our godly gifts), so we can be free to help others know You and love You (Matthew 28:19-20).

 

Forgive us for not being the poetry You created us to be (Ephesians 2:10), so we can be a living expression of Your love and grace.

 

Forgive us for being stingy with our love and compassion, so we can be better at being Your light (Matthew 5:16) and measuring out great amounts of Your love (Luke 6:38).

 

Forgive us for not being quicker to forgive or not forgiving completely, so that we may help others find the peace and security they seek (Matthew 6:14) and we can help release people from their bondage.

 

Forgive us for not stepping out of our comfort zones to touch and impact people, so that we find boldness to reach out to people and go the extra mile with them (Matthew 5:41) whenever we are called, despite how uncomfortable it makes us.

 

Forgive us for not trusting You more and for choosing to focus on our problems instead of Your solutions, so we may have big faith that moves mountains and sees the impossible happen (Matthew 21:21).

 

Forgive us for every moment we should have depended on you but didn’t, so we can rise above ourselves and live completely dependent on you (Matthew 5:3).

 

Forgive us for every time we refused Your grace or denied Your love, so we can learn how to trust You completely without reservation, hesitation, or doubt (James 1:6-8).

 

Forgive us for being controlled by our old habits and wrong thoughts, so we can be transformed completed into Your image (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

Forgive us for not allowing You to help us with our concerns, so we can learn to receive Your care and then help others walk through their trials (2 Corinthians 1:4).

 

Forgive us for our lack of humility that keeps us from following You, so that we can learn to fully submit to You with an open heart (James 4:6-7) and willing feet (James 1:22).

 

Forgive us for those moments of silence when we should have been speaking Your truth, so we can learn to speak up with “My tongue … the pen of a ready writer” (Psalm 45:1).

 

Forgive us for every time we gave up and refused to continue, so we can learn to “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31) to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

 

Forgive us for every time we offered You are good works instead of a faithful heart, so we can learn that our heart is most important to You (Psalm 51:17).

 

Thank You, loving Father, for Your extreme compassion and expanding grace that cover us through all our human moments.  Thank You that, despite all we do, we can always “come boldly to the throne of grace” to find forgiveness and “obtain mercy” (Hebrews 4:16).  Thank You for helping us to accept where we are but not be limited or stuck there forever.  Thank You for helping us grow beyond our present season and our recent choices into a blessed and prosperous future.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin, 6/6/16.

Philippians 4: A New You

Philippians 4:4-13Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

 

I was thinking about this well-referenced passage, and God showed me it is like a set of stairs.

Philippians 4

One (baby) step leads to the next, until you are truly the new faithful man He has promised in 2 Corinthians 5:17.

 

So what are the steps?

 

A new attitude. Verses 4-5a. An attitude of rejoicing and gentleness.

A new perspective. Verse 5b-6a. Knowing God is with you, so you are never anxious.

A new lifestyle. Verse 6b. Being prayerful and thankful about all things.

A new hope. Verse 7, 9b. Being filled with God’s peace.

A new thought process. Verse 8.   Focusing your thoughts on good, God-filled things.

A new habit. Verse 9a. Doing what you know is right and have been taught.

A new focus. Verse 10. Caring about people and wanting to help (give).

A solid foundation. Verses 11-12. Being content with the blessings (supply) God has given you.

A new life. Verse 13. Being fully confident in God.

Philippians 42

From a new attitude to a new life. It sounds easy, right? If only we could jump from start to finish with one leap or one confession. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to jump from “Hi, God. Nice to meet You” immediately to “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength”?

 

But it’s a adventure of many steps, many lessons, many mistakes, and many retries – as Paul points to in verse 11 (“for I have learned”). It won’t always come easily or quickly. It won’t always go the way we want. It won’t always be a pleasant choice.

 

Because it’s a process. 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us that we are “transformed into the same image [of Christ] from glory to glory”. Not from glory to perfection (maturity, completion), but from glory to glory. From lesson to lesson. From revelation to revelation. From truth to truth. From change to change. From freedom to freedom. From habit to habit. Because it is a process that is never instantaneous.

 

That’s why they call it a faith journey. We walk, we detour, we turn around, we backtrack, we get lost, we stumble, we go the wrong way, and we eventually find our way. But along the way God walks with us, guiding us in the right direction and hoping we’ll stick with Him.

 

Each change we make is progress. Each step we take toward God is a step toward something bigger and better than we are. Each step is another step forward in loving how He loves, forgiving as He forgives, and seeing how He sees. Each step is another step away from our fleshly, self-centered desires (Galatians 5:19-21) to replace them with His godly fruit of generosity and compassion (Galatians 5:22-23). Each step grows our faith to the place of utmost confidence in Him, no matter what is happening to, in, and around us.

 

So are you willing to take the first (or next) step? Are you willing to trust Him more than you currently do?

 

It starts with you reaching out to Him right where you are and giving Him all you are – your fears, your faith, your doubts, your belief, your skepticism, your confidence, your shame, your joy, your past, your future, your laughter, your tears, your hesitation, your assurance, your hopelessness, your hope.

 

In exchange, He gives you the ability to walk confidently with Him with hope because you realize He is all about new. Each step of new helps you become a person of great faith. You boldly declare that God is taking care of you and you are choosing His peace. You are thankful for what you have and trust Him to provide what you need (19). You become a person who looks out to help others instead of being focused on self. And your faith in Him cannot be shaken (1).

 

So be bold and take a step. Start – or continue – your journey to a new you.

 

Marie Fremin.  4/6/15, 5/20/15, 12/20/15

Call a Spade a Spade

I keep running into this same problem at work, and I honestly don’t know how to deal with it.

It goes right along the river where people don’t take responsibilities for their actions, don’t acknowledge their behavior and its effects on others, and don’t allow themselves to walk in self-control and self-denial.

It’s sugar-coating our wrong doings, thoughts, and actions.  It’s layering them over and under with excuses and exceptions and reasons why it’s OK.  It’s trying to soft-peddle and undersell our wrongdoing.

It’s making ourselves feel right by making others feel small, insignificant, and unimportant. It’s calling ourselves queens (or kings) and the rest of the world peasants. It’s declaring ourselves most important by belittling others. It’s feeling superior by purposefully pointing out everyone’s inferiority.

All to make ourselves feel better. All to justify our behavior. All to excuse the inexcusable things we do.

What a big problem! I believe there is a simple solution, or at least a place to start.

We have to call a spade a spade.  According to Wikipedia, “To ‘call a spade a spade’ is a figure of speech which explicitly calls out something as it is, by its right name. The implication is not to lie about what something is and instead to speak honestly and directly about a topic, specifically topics that others may avoid speaking about due to their sensitivity or the unpleasant or embarrassing nature of the subject.”

Call a Spade a Spade

What does this mean?

We have to be honest about our mistakes.

We have to be forthcoming about our wrongdoings.

We have to be transparent in our weaknesses.

We have to be up front about our sin.

Because we don’t help ourselves at all when we won’t call our sin what it is. And the beginning of being better, healing, and progress is being honest by calling our sin what it is – sin.

But boy does it hurt!

So what’s my problem at work?  I talked to a customer yesterday about the invoice he received in the mail and made notes of that conversation.  One of the issues was that we did not have an email address on the account to email that invoice, and so I noted that I “let him know we mailed a copy for his records because we failed to obtain an email address at the time of the call”.  It was a failure.  Plain and simple.  We didn’t ask.  Was it an epic failure?  No, by no means.  But was is it a failure?  Yes.  A mistake, a simple mistake.  Yet there were consequences.  The consequences included us spending money on a stamp to mail the invoice and time on the phone explaining why the customer received a paper invoice.

Was my wording meant to point a finger or assign blame?  Not intentionally.  Yet you would have thought I had threatened to shoot someone today with the up-in-arms response I received and the chastisement to “soften” my language.

Yes, maybe I could have phrased it a little better.  But in that moment that is what I was thinking, so that is what I wrote.  From all the evidence I saw during that phone conversation, the conclusion was obvious: we failed.  Minorly, not majorly.  Nothing newsworthy.  But we still failed. Because we didn’t put our details in order.

And why was one person upset over such a minor note?  Because she obviously made the mistake.  She did not come out and admit that she made the mistake, but she made it very clear that she felt the backlash of the slap of that word “failed”.  She took it very personally. When there was nothing personal about it all.

But now she made it personal. Because she slapped back. Because she didn’t stop and ask any questions. Because she assumed intent and responded in form. It didn’t help the situation. And it definitely didn’t help her cause, because she created more offense in responding out of her offense.

So I wonder, as I usually do – how are we ever going to grow and mature as a company and an office if we can’t say we failed?  How are we supposed to be better all-around if we refuse to own our mistakes?

So I’m pondering all this today and wondering what it all means.  And I honestly don’t know.  I’m mad and frustrated.  Because I want to desperately to lash out in response (hello, human side that proves how far from perfect I am) and defend myself.  But I don’t.  Because will it help the situation?  Will it make anything better?  Will it even be heard?  Probably not (and that part makes me very sad).  It will just be me, making a vain and futile attempt to “defend” myself against my accusers.

And then the palm of the hand hits the forehead with a gentle “thwap”.  Did Jesus feel the need to defend Himself?  No.  In the face of Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate and all His accusers, He remained silent (Matthew 26:63 – But Jesus remained silent; Matthew 27:14 – But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge).  He did not defend Himself or make excuses or try to explain Himself.  He did not try to talk anyone out of the abuse and brutality heaped upon Him that afternoon.  It didn’t matter to Him if the crowd was on His side, because He had a mission to finish.  He had a destiny to fulfill.  He had a world to save.

And yet again as I ponder life God makes a point.  A valid, straight to the heart point.  Hello conviction.  My name is Marie, and we’ll be walking together for a bit while I work this out.  I’m very grateful that you are conviction, since you will guide me toward Him and the path of righteousness.  Your nemesis, condemnation, is an unholy friend that only leads to misery and shame and blame.

Yes, it is hard, sometimes even painful, to say we were wrong.  But it is so healthy and so freeing.  No more weight of shame or guilt.  No more self-criticism and self-reproach.

I make a point to admit my wrongs with my electricians.  When I forget to call them back, I answer the phone with a more bashful tone and immediately say “I suck.  I’m sorry.”  Which I think immediately releases them from being (or staying) mad at me.  We actually get to laugh about it and talk about our lack of perfection all around.  It’s great.  It creates a better relationship.  It makes me more approachable.  It takes some pressure off of them.

But I struggle with the same thing with other people.  Especially people who are judgmental and hypersensitive and never admit their wrongdoings.  People who accuse quickly and apologize rarely.  People who use broad, general expressions (always, never) to describe behavior and characterize personality.

And today was another great reminder of how far I still have to go. How much I need to let things go. And that I still struggle with calling my sin what it is – sin.

Because I don’t want to be that girl who holds grudges, ascribes blame freely and without guilt, and cannot get along with difficult people. I want to be better. I want to be loving. I want to be humble.

Please, Lord, help me to be less of judgmental type of person and more of the silent Savior, who loved His accusers and even asked You to forgive them as He hung dying on the cross.  Help me, Lord, to be quick to forgive and slow to respond.  Help me, Lord, to untie my tongue when it stubbornly refuses to say “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong”.  Father, I absolutely can not do this without You, Lord, because my flesh is weak and my emotions want to take control. I am believing that every experience is a lesson in learning to love and an opportunity to be Your hands.  I am also believing that You will redeem all my experiences for my good and Your glory. Thank You for Your grace which is new each day and Your faith in me that I can do better. In Jesus’ Almighty Name I pray and believe, AMEN!

Marie Fremin, 7/1/15