Grace Goggles

by Natalie Fortunato

"For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

The term "Beer Goggles" has been around for quite awhile, but I first heard it several years ago.  It refers to "the supposed influence of alcohol on one's visual perception, whereby one is attracted to people who would not otherwise be appealing".   All I can say is, what a sad substitute for learning good social skills, and a sure way to make some really stupid and hurtful mistakes. 

But in all fairness, heavy beer drinkers are not the only ones who wear "goggles".  We've all had at one time, or still do, see through "goggles" that impair our vision or perception about others.  Some people see others through the goggles of their past, and can't seem to get past their failures.  Some see others through the goggles of what the world deems valuable, and they judge others as invaluable. 

But then there's those who see others through the eyes of grace…like Jesus did. He sees past the outward appearance, the past mistakes, the present mess, and sees a life worth dying for.  When we put on our "grace goggles", we also see others through the lens of the Word.  We see others through the "finished work of the cross".  We see that everyone has capacity and value and a God-given purpose for their lives.  

 

My Pillow

My Pillow.jpg

Mark 4:38 "And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master carest thou not that we perish?" 

Have you heard the pillow commercial on TV and Radio with a catchy jingle that says, "For the best night's sleep in the whole wide world, mypillow.com".  Now, I’m not endorsing "My Pillow", but I love the concept. You probably didn’t know that My Pillow is the official pillow of the National Sleep Foundation.  Founder, Mike Lindell, tells the purpose behind the pillow, "When I invented My Pillow, my dream was to help as many people get a good night's sleep as possible". 

In Mark 4:38, it says that Jesus was in the back of a ship sleeping on a pillow in the middle of a storm. I think most of us would be busy bailing water out of the ship, or screaming for help!  Not Jesus, He's asleep on a pillow in the middle of the storm.  It was the peace that was already on the inside of Him, that allowed Him to sleep through a storm.  It was that same peace that was spoken out of His mouth, "Peace, be still", that calmed the storm.  Jesus shows us a picture of restful increase.  His sleep was evidence of his trust, faith and rest that "all is well".  

We have that same peace, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, on the inside of our born again spirit, that is to be exhibited in our actions and our words. When we rest He works, but when we work He rests.  More happens when we rest, than when we don't rest.  So grab your grace pillow, lay your head down, and rest on the promises of God.  

 

Blank Slate Baby by Natalie Fortunato

Colossians 2:14 (The Message) "Think of it!  All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross".  

In 2014, Taylor Swift wrote a song called Blank Space, poking fun at all her multiple failed romances and the casualties she's left behind.  Though her relationships were at a loss, her song won a Grammy for Song of the Year..crazy! 

I'd like to put a little twist to her song title, to help you remember this very helpful principle when dealing with your close relationships.  Here it is: Blank Slate!  If God has wiped the slate clean with all our sin, how about if we wipe the slate clean at the close of every day with other's sins against us?  

Ephesians 4:26-27 says to “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."  In other words, wipe the slate clean every night and wake up the next day with a clean slate, totally empty, no records of wrongdoing against anyone.  Don't mess up today with your wife, or husband, or best friend, or boss, or neighbor's mess ups (intentional or unintentional) from yesterday.  

Paul said there is one thing that he does…forget those things that are behind and reach forward to those things ahead (Phil. 3:13). If you need to confront something, do it in a godly way, then regardless of the outcome, move on!  Forgive!  Let it go!  Start each day with a blank slate baby! 

 

Say Goodbye to Guilt

Gal 4:17 (The Message Bible)  "Those heretical teachers go to great lengths to flatter you, but their motives are rotten. They want to shut you out of the free world of God's grace so that you will always depend on them for approval and direction, making themselves important." 

The biggest curse in the body of Christ today is the enormous amount of guilt, condemnation, shame, and fear.  These destructive behaviors are totally disarming and paralyzing the people of God. Sadly, statistics have shown that Pentecostals, Charismatic's and full gospel people suffer with guilt and guilt related disorders more than any other religious group in the world. 

The dictionary defines guilt as, the feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, or crime, whether real or imagined.  The reason why is we get hooked on what I call a toxic mixture of old testament law and new testament grace.  Once you mix the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life, it will poison every area of your Christian life. 

For the majority of believers in the church today, guilt is their drug of choice.  For many, if they don't feel guilty, they wonder how they be motivated to serve God!  Some actually think guilt is a Christian emotion. IT"S NOT! Paul calls this mixture "another gospel".  Any time a person tries to earn the love, acceptance, forgiveness and favor of God, it is going to result in guilt, condemnation, shame and fear. God's unmerited favor is the answer that will deliver God's people from this addiction.  God loves, accepts, and forgives every one of us unconditionally.  It's time to kick the habit!

 

It's Worth the Wait

Acts 1:4-5 - "And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 

Jesus didn't recommend or suggest that the disciples not depart from Jerusalem until the "Promise of the Father" had come, He commanded them. After His resurrection, they had spent many amazing days together, He taught them kingdom principles, and He knew the disciples were eager to share the good news all over the world.  But He commanded them not to get started until they had been clothed with the Spirit's power (Luke 24:49).  

In 1 Corinthians it says that He gave this command to about 500 people, yet in Acts 1:15 it says there were only 120 men and women in the upper room filled with the Holy Spirit.  What happened to the other 380?  Perhaps they didn't want to wait.  They wanted to get started doing the work of the ministry…without the power of the Holy Spirit!

When God calls us to do something, we need to make sure that we don't get so excited about the task, that we move out ahead of Him.  Moving out in our own power and timing will actually interfere with what He wants to do in our lives, and interrupt the process.  Our decisions greatly affect the lives of those around us, and the people that God has called us to reach.  Slow down!  Don't worry, you'll know when the Holy Spirit says to move, and He will empower you for the task at hand.  It's worth the wait.

 

Group Hug by Natalie Fortunato

1 John 4:19 - "We love because He first loved us." 

I loved when my kids would say the words, "Mommy sandwich!"...then my daughter gets in front of me and my son gets in back of me and they squeeze me real hard until I cry out for relief!  Even our dog, Benny, gets all excited when we do this!  I feel so loved by them.  You've been there too, right?!  When someone says, "group hug!!", then everyone throws their arms around each other in a huddle.  It feels so good to be loved.  

Years ago, I was spending time with God and thinking about how great it is to "receive" God's love.  I sensed His love so strongly, and I just started saying, "I'm receiv'n Your love, I'm receiv'n it, thank you Father".  Then I imagined Jesus joining us with His arms around me too, then I heard the Holy Spirit say, "Group hug!", and felt His arms around me too, all three just loving me, with smiles on their faces and making that "mmmm" noise when you grip someone tight in a hug!  I know it sounds crazy but, talk about feeling loved, God's love feels SO good and it's so real.  

I can truly understand why God wants us to receive His love...it's the only way we will be able to give it away!