Am I a Friend of Sinners?

With all the troubles going on in our world only getting worse as time goes on, a verse keeps coming to my mind:

For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10

It’s so much easier to judge unjustly. To pick out sin, point to our Bibles, and wield judgments left and right. No questions asked. No understanding offered. After all, what they’re doing is SIN. They’re wrong to sin like that. If we are kind and understanding, they’ll think we condone their sin. We can’t do that! They need to be told how wrong their sin is so they will be ashamed and repent.

But Jesus didn’t do that, did He? He hated sin, but loved the sinner. He offered the hope of redemption to those lost. He came to redeem, not condemn.

My favorite example of this is in John 8:

 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.  Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”

This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

The Pharisees wanted to test Jesus, to condemn the woman, to prove their own righteousness. But Jesus saw the woman just as He sees every single other person: as a broken sinner who needs Him, His love, His free gift of salvation. He saw her not as someone who needed to be condemned, but as someone who needed forgiveness and salvation. He sees us as we are: broken, dirty, far separated from Him, and He stretches out His hand to us. The difference between Christians and non-Christians is simply that we as Christians have already realized our need to be saved and accepted the gift of God’s grace. Non-Christians have not, and they won’t until they see our love for God and our love for them–despite their sin.

It’s such a difficult balance: loving without condoning.  Which is one of the reasons I love the song Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns so much. This song has been challenging me lately to be kinder, more merciful, and yet at the same time more just.

Isn’t it interesting how loving with God’s love, rather than pointing fingers, helps strengthen your convictions and your genuine desire to point others to Christ and His saving power? Shouldn’t we be heartbroken over the souls on their way to Hell because of their spiritual blindness, rather than condemning them for being a sinner just like you and I?

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 6:23 (emphasis added)

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

Boldly but lovingly speaking truth–of sin’s penalty and God’s justice, mercy, and love–is what God called us to do. Not to back down because we might hurt someone’s feelings or offend someone. Not to judge unjustly as we shout and wave our picket signs over our heads. Not to forget our own past sin and the extent of God’s saving grace.

It’s time to take the planks out of our eyes so that we can clearly see to actually help people and point them to Christ. We need to remember Jesus’ love, grace, and mercy for us, and then seek out those still lost in sin to share God’s love, grace, and mercy with them.

“Oh Jesus Friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours.”

Single With Purpose


Despite the title, this is NOT your typical single’s post…


Single With Purpose | Hearts for Purity

I have heard it said so many times that:

  • “As a single person, you have so much opportunity!”
  • “You can reach the world in ways a married woman can’t!”
  • “Singles have the power to change the WORLD for  the glorification of God!!”

Even I’ve said some of those words. Believed those words. And I’ve found that holding fast to those words just leads me down a path of disillusionment and discontentment.

Now, I’ll admit that there is some truth to such statements (well, some of them, anyway).  After all, a single person does not have the same commitments and responsibilities that a married person has; therefore they have more freedom to up and relocate on a whim, or volunteer in multiple areas of church service.  And that’s a good thing.

I think what gets my goat about such statements is that it gives us the impression that a single person’s purpose and a married person’s purpose are two very different things.

But they’re actually not.

The truth is, you have the same purpose as married woman with three kids and two gerbils. Your purpose, her purpose, my purpose is found in Jesus’ own words:

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31 NKJV

Them’s Jesus’ own words, m’dear. And they don’t specify a relationship status.

Your purpose is not greater than my purpose, and vise versa. The result of my loving God with all my heart/soul/mind/strength might  be different than yours, but that doesn’t make me better than you. If you and I aren’t following God’s commandments,  then regardless of our current season of life, we’re not honoring God. It’s just that simple.

Because if you can’t serve God right now, you can’t serve God in a different season of life.

And if you’re not content right now, you will not be content in another season of life.

Being single can be difficult, can’t it?  We  ache and long and get discouraged.  We miss our friends who’ve changed their relationship status and now don’t have as much time for us. We feel the sting of desires unmet whilst scrolling through social media, viewing post after post after post about  everyone else  moving into a season of life we’ve so desperately  wanted to be in ourselves.

Here’s a bit of frank truth for your heart today, my friend:  You are not a failure. You are not sub-par. You are not an outcast. You are not better than or worse than the woman next to you, or the women to whom you keep comparing yourself.

YOU are God’s precious creation. YOU were formed and designed for a specific, beautiful purpose that only God could give to you. God loves YOU so much that He gave His only Son to die a horrific death, just   so that you’d have a chance at eternal life(John 3:16). YOU have been called to give God your all, regardless of your relationship status or life season–now and for the rest of your life.

So how about you and I start living like we actually believe that truth today?

Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:2 NKJV

One Word 2016

One Word 2016 | Everyday Encouragement

A few years ago, I started the tradition of picking  one word to ‘define’ my year. Or rather, asking God to give me a word to study in the year to come. This word is meant to  help guide my  devotions, helping me grow as a follower of Christ and helping me to learn more about  God. It’s a teaching/learning thing, and it’s challenging and convicting

In 2014, my word was FAITHFUL. (you can read more on this word here.) By the end of the year I thought I’d failed God in learning about  and practicing this word, but God hadn’t failed me. He was…faithful. And I saw His faithfulness in new ways every day that year. Through it all, He was faithful with love and forgiveness.

For 2015, God gave me the word HOPE.  At first I thought maybe He would give me a potential spouse in the ‘here’s-some-hope-for-your-future’ kind of way. And maybe He did, but the young man hasn’t stepped forward yet. I don’t know. What I do know is….a lot of things seemed to go wrong in my life in 2015. Almost to the point where I overlooked the good and forgot to appreciate the beautiful, like new and lasting friendships forged.  And as I was crying out to God about how unfair it was for Him to give hope to some and not to me this year, He ever so gently reminded me that through all of this, I have the Hope–certainty–of eternal life with Him. I have the Hope–certainty–that He is with me always, no matter what happens in my life. And maybe, just maybe, He allowed all those things to go wrong in my life so that I would find my Hope–certainty–and security in Him alone.

So as 2016 approached, I once again prayed and asked God to give me a word for the new year.  The very next day, I heard the song Thrive by Casting Crowns.  After that there was no doubt: 2016’s word would be THRIVE.

This year’s verse is John 10:10-

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

And this year’s goal? To develop a stronger prayer life, possibly inspired by War Room 🙂

This year is fresh and new like the snow outside my window. I don’t know what this year holds, but I know Who holds this year…and my life…in Hi hands.




Merry Christmas!


Never been a huge Francesca Batistelli fan, but I heard this song a few weeks ago on the radio and it was too good not to share 🙂

Also, I found this picture on facebook last night  and in it’s simplicity, it describes why we celebrate Christmas.

(click picture to go to source)


And the Word was made 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

Merry Christmas!

Cookie Cutter ~ a guest post

Cookie Cutter { guest post } | Everyday Encouragements

Hi all! This is post was written by my wonderful cousin Kristina. I loved her perspective and style. She really hits her point home using  storybook-type analogy. A great reminder, especially to singles, during the Christmas season. Enjoy!


Not as long ago as you would think, in a quaint village with cobblestone streets stood a bakery. Light from within glowed from the kitchen, filled with warmth from all the baking done earlier in the day.

Clanks and clinks echoed from within the bakery mingling with faint humming as the baker went about preparing to make his sugar cookie recipe. He assembled the ingredients, readied the oven, prepared his tools, and in they went; butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla—all in the mixing bowl, stirred together by the strong, skilled hands of the Master Baker. Once combined, the baker placed the dough onto a floured, thick wooden countertop to be rolled out. Gently flattening the mass of dough with his hands, he proceeded to dust his rolling pin with flour. Then he rolled—pushing and pressing, pulling and stretching—until the dough, while of no recognizable shape, became smooth and even, ready to be cut.

Setting his rolling pin aside, the Master Baker reached for his bucket of hand-made cookie cutters. The metal clinked as he moved the bucket to the countertop. Now the Master Baker was never one to use a cookie cutter twice in one batch of sugar cookies and never decorated two cookies the same. Each one of his cookies was one of a kind.

And so the cookie cutting began. He carefully positioned the cutters of all different shapes and sizes then pressed to make the cut. Removing all the dough that was not cookie he set aside and moved the newly cut shapes onto a cookie sheet and into the oven. While the first batch baked, he continued to cut out cookies placing them on cookie sheets. The first batch having fully baked, the Master Baker moved the cookies from the oven to the cooling rack, replacing the first batch with the second in the oven, then returning to cookie cutting.

While working he heard a small, quiet voice.

“Why am I not fully baked yet?” came the voice.

The baker looked to see one of his sugar cookies longingly gazing over to the cooling rack.

“Why, it’s not time for you yet,” calmly answered the baker with a grin.

“But those cookies look so much better. They’re perfect inside and out, and I’m . . . squishy,” the cookie responded with embarrassment and shame.

With a warm smile and chuckle the baker answered, “I have a very specific plan and design for each of my cookies. No two of my cookies can be compared, for each has a different design. Each in a unique, unrepeatable way shows my skills and abilities. For why are cookies made but to glorify their baker?

The cookie turned her gaze back to the Master Baker to see a loving smile, and contentedly smiled back laying down on the cookie sheet.

Seeing the cookies were done, the baker removed the second batch from the oven to the cooling racks and moved the third batch to the oven. The sugar cookie was excited for the changes of scenery, though the heat became oppressive.

The Baker going about preparing the cookies for decorations heard the same small voice crying out from the oven. Pausing his work he went over and listened.

“I’m here. I’m listening,” answered the Baker bending down.

“Please make it stop! It’s too much,” cried the sugar cookie.

“I understand it’s hard, but it will only last a little while longer.”

“But I want it to stop now!”

“But if I stop it, you won’t be able to become better.”

“How could this possibly make me better?! It’s so oppressive.”

“That’s left up to you, you can be better or you can be bitter, but you need to trust my plan for you that this is not wasted or that I will leave you in longer or take you out sooner than you need to be. This is all a part of making you the cookie I want you to be.”

The sugar cookie reluctantly calmed down, and though uncomfortable rested comfortably in the baker’s plan.

The baker seeing it was time for the last batch of sugar cookies to come out of the oven, slid the cookies out and walked them over to the cooling racks where they were carefully placed.

He continued his work on icing and decorating the first batch of sugar cookies. One by one with steady hands and great detail, the Master Baker iced and decorated. Finishing up the last few of the final batch, he heard a familiar little voice just off to the side of him. Smiling, he turned his head in acknowledgement.

“Those other cookies are so beautiful with their colorful designs and glossy icing that perfectly forms their perfect shape. While my icing is all runny and it makes my shape look worse. I’m just one big mistake.”

“I have a very specific plan and design for each of my cookies. You are no mistake. No two of my cookies can be compared, for each has a different design. Each in a unique, unrepeatable way shows my skills and abilities. For why are cookies made but to glorify their baker? And as for the runny icing you need only to be patient so it can set up, but I am able to fix what has gotten out of place if you’ll let me.”

The Master Baker drawing on his extensive knowledge and wisdom, with steady hands cleaned up the edges where the icing had run.

Finishing the decorations and clearing the counters, the Master Baker gathered together bags and ribbon for the cookies to be packaged in. Two by two he placed the sugar cookies in a bag and tied a bow around the tops. After completing a basketful of cookie packages, and starting on his next, he got a glimpse of his sugar cookie gazing off toward the baskets.

“Is something the matter?” asked the Baker as he set down his work.

“They look so complete. I feel like only half a cookie,”

Turning his head in disagreement, “Ah, that cannot be, because I distinctly made you whole.

For it is not another cookie that gives a cookie its worth, but the Baker. And it is not another cookie that makes a cookie, but the Baker.

“I have a very specific plan and design for each of my cookies. No two of my cookies can be compared, for each has a different design. Each in a unique, unrepeatable way shows my skills and abilities. For why are cookies made but to glorify their baker?