where are you, God?

And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.

Hosea 2:19-20

I am forever trying to find the formula for an unforgettable moment.

Is it the perfectly rare concocted blend of sensory nostalgia, coupled with an encounter with emotionally evocative relatives, combined with a physical reaction to all of the above? Is that what makes a moment unforgettable?

Hard to say. Some moments are unforgettable, just because.

One of those moments was during the fall semester of my sophomore year of college.

My “college experience” was atypical. At 19, I lived in midtown Manhattan and attended an academically rigorous and politically pretentious private Christian liberal arts school called The King’s College. Our campus held classes in the basement of the Empire State Building, our “dorms” were full-fledged New York apartments adjacent to Koreatown, and our “sororities” were “houses”, bearing a striking resemblance to Hogwarts.

It was weird.

It was also lonely. My freshman year had been full of firsts and friends, friends who were Bible-belt rebels. Most flew south after their first year to finish their higher education at state schools closer to home.

Without them, the city felt lonely, particularly at night.

One perfect New York night in my fall semester of sophomore year, I sat in the Starbucks on 34th between 5th and 6th; and I cried. I cried out to God in a new way – in desperation.

“Lord, I need you,” I remember saying to Him as I opened up my Bible to a random passage and read a few verses. I had never felt such longing, such void. My friends were my world – and then, they left. The city, though wondrous, feels forsaken without friends or family in moments of sadness.

In hindsight, I see that I was at a crossroads.

I had a choice. I could choose to fill this spiritual void with the power and presence of the Lord; or I could allow the desires of the flesh and the world to come creeping in, to occupy that space.

I chose the latter.

As a curious 19-year-old with a fake Jersey ID working as a maitre’d at a popular restaurant staffed by alcoholics in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s, I was bombarded with endless opportunities to let the darkness occupy my space. I let it in; and I let it create a taste for death. This taste led to full on feasts of debauchery, disappointment, and delinquency – otherwise known as academic probation.

Now, on the heels of my 27th birthday, I can look back and praise God for His protection, provision, and peace. I know that I know that He knows everything I did in those years;  and that every single thought and deed has been smothered in the blood of Jesus. I stand, not condemned, but celebrated, because I wear the righteous robes of Christ.

But what if I could go back to that moment? What if, in that moment of longing, instead of giving up and letting the world fill my cup, I instead chose to relentlessly sit at the feet of Jesus and beg for a crumb to fall from the table?

Would that have worked?

Would I have been satisfied?

I’m not sure.

Recently, reading through Hosea, the Lord showed me something.

When the Lord told Israel that He was going to fill their void for love and belonging through betrothal, He wasn’t speaking to a singular person. Though we love to read the Bible as God speaking directly to us as individuals, the entire book is directed to an entire nation. When He says, “I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord,” He’s talking to an entire people group.

But what’s peculiar about this people group is their location. A few verses up, God lays out His plan for winning back his lover:

 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.”

If Israel runs from the wilderness, they run from the place where God can mold her valleys into doors of hope.

I was so afraid of that wilderness.

I was so afraid of how long it would take for God to fill that void that I rushed to fill it immediately with whatever was right in front of me.

But if I had stayed in that place, if I had stayed in that wilderness for longer than a weekend, I would have found that though I may feel lonely, I am not alone. I would have encountered the many others who are too aliens in their own land. Through His sovereign spirit, I would have stumbled upon the nation of Israel – the people of God who are today, sons and daughters of faith, all walking in the wilderness together.

And loneliness would no longer define my association with the Father.

Are you afraid of the loneliness that comes from following God?

Newsflash: God wants to be faithful to you. He wants to be all you need. But if you isolate yourself from the nation of God’s beloved, you cannot expect to be wrapped up in the betrothal of His faithfulness. In order to be betrothed to the Lord, we must be in covenant with the people of the Lord.

Don’t be afraid of the wilderness. It is in the darkest moments when His light shines most brightly.

And when you see in His light, it’s unforgettable.

that’s not my job…

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:24-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Which unbeliever have you been praying for lately?

While I don’t doubt that you have been praying for them, what if there’s something missing?

What if your actions towards the people in your path directly influence their chance at repentance?

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

“Oh please, Gina. God’s going to save who He’s going to save. And people will have to make up their own mind. I can pray that God softens someone’s heart. That’s all I can do.”

Sorry, you’re not going to like this. But I disagree.

As we study this text, I encourage you to imagine we are referring to an unbelieving coworker, friend, or family member who has been the subject of many of your prayers.

Let’s break down this passage backwards, starting at the end; because at the end, we see the goal: “they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

What enables one to come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil? A knowledge of the truth. A divine hand flipping the switch, causing spiritual light to flood unseen eyes.

Suddenly, she knows that she knows that God is real, and that He is good. She knows that something supernatural has shifted her perspective. Now, the same narrative she’s always told ourselves no longer brings comfort, but conviction. She needs to get out, but she doesn’t know how.

In walks repentance – the hope of true change.

Who birthed this hope? God. According to the passage, God grants repentance! God is the one that turns on the light. And once He does, what naturally follows is a divine reordering of her understanding of right and wrong.

What part does the unbeliever play? She must simply make a conscious choice to accept that God knows better than she does, to believe that the blood of Jesus is enough to cleanse her and protect her, and to choose to let His spirit and His word define her reality.

Let’s move on.

Question: How do you learn that you’re wrong about something?

Answer: Someone corrects you.

Who corrects the unbeliever in this passage? God?


The Lord’s servant. You. Me. Us.

Do we correct them immediately? Hm, look again. Before we correct, we must patiently endure evil. 

This one hit me straight in the heart. The moment my friend told me she was ready to come to church with me was the moment I foolishly believed my work was done. And like most things in life, once we’ve resolved that we’ve come to the end of something, only to then learn that we haven’t, we have significantly less patience for it than we once did.

We need to patiently endure evil. 

The moment your friend admits that she’s ready to come to church does not mean your work is finished – it means your work has just begun; for it is also the moment that the enemy steps up his game. Forget not, my friends, that we fight not against flesh and blood.

In other words, you are not fighting against your unbelieving friend; even though it may feel like that sometimes. You fight against the evil that is surrounding her from all sides. How do you fight against it? By patiently enduring it. Patiently endure the overflow of the effects of sin in her life. Patiently endure the complaining, the misunderstanding of the way the world works, the refusal to see her sin for what it is – sin.

Once she’s earned your trust, you may begin gently correcting her.

How else do you fight against it? By teaching!

The Holy Spirit gets all the credit for this. Listen, if God is not doing a current work in your life, you can’t teach. Who is our teacher? The Holy Spirit. You must be attentive to the Holy Spirit’s voice in order to teach the person in front of you. Your ability to teach is contingent upon your ability to hear the voice of the Lord.

Teach her the gospel. Teach her the love and commandments of Christ. Teach her what it looks like to give sacrificially, to worship unashamedly, to cast all your burdens on the Lord. She can’t know unless someone teaches her.

But first and foremost, before all else? Be kind.

Have you, somewhere along the way, lost sight of kindness? Has your cynicism with today’s hostile society caused a quarrelsome spirit to dwell within you? Have you forgotten that kindness is the entryway to evangelism?

Conversation cannot begin without kindness, trust cannot be built apart from kindness, patience cannot stand without kindness. The Church cannot exist without kindness.

Now, for the difficult question we’ve all been waiting for:

If we do not walk in kindness, if we do not teach, if we do not patiently endure evil, if we do not correct our opponents with gentleness, will God still grant them repentance?

Maybe. Who knows.

What we do know is that the word of God is always right and true and worthy of following; and that we shouldn’t rush to create caveats around the unchanging nature of an uncreated God. Whether God needs us to do all this other stuff isn’t the question.

The question is simply this: Will we simply obey?

If we walk in kindness, if we teach our unbelievers how to walk in a manner worthy of the calling of our lives, if we patiently endure the effects of evil, and if we correct our opponents with gentleness, can we believe that God may perhaps grant them repentance – a chance to believe that they don’t need to continue to live the lies they’ve always lived? Can we believe that God may give our unbelieving friends a chance to breathe in the air of the gospel?

What do you say? Wanna give it a shot?

Good. Let’s get to work.

the first daughter of faith

Ruth. The 8th book of the Bible…and every Christian grandmother’s favorite love story. If I have to hear my grandmother ask me one more time, “So Gina, did you meet your Boaz yet!?”…I’m going to lose it.


Who was Ruth?

Ruth was a Moabite woman who lived in the country of Moab. Her first husband was a Hebrew man named Mahlon. They met in Moab. Why was a Hebrew man in Moab? Well, Mahlon was in Moab because his parents, though originally from Bethlehem in Judah, left their homeland during a famine and trekked to the country of Moab. They settled there. He grew up and married Ruth.

Eventually, his father died. His brother died. Then, he died.

At this point, Ruth is now a widow and is living with her sister-in-law Orpah, and her mother-in-law Naomi. Naomi hears that the Lord has visited His people, so she decides to go back home to Bethlehem in Judah. She tries telling Orpah and Ruth to go back home to their mothers, and Orpah does – but Ruth decides to take the journey with her mother-in-law.

Once in Judah, Ruth gets a job gleaning wheat in the fields for a man named Boaz. Boaz was a distant relative of Naomi. In chapter 2, Ruth says, “Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor.”

Spoiler alert: she does just that. She works hard and catches Boaz’s eye. He makes it his mission to find out who she is. Her workers let him know that she is the Moabite woman who came back with her mother-in-law. Boaz goes to her and tells her to stay close to his women, and to help herself to water when she’s thirsty. She responds in gratitude and grace; and Boaz pronounces a blessing over her.

In fact, most of their conversations appear far too dramatic for reality. Maybe that’s what love is like.

I digress.

After Ruth had been working for Boaz for some time, Naomi offers a radical suggestion to move things along. She tells Ruth to wash herself, anoint herself, and go to the threshing floor – a place where a bunch of men will be drinking alcohol and winnowing barley. She tells her to observe the place where he lies, and when she finds him, to go uncover his feet, and to lie down, with her head near his feet. He will then tell her what to do.

She did exactly that. And guess what? It worked. She asked him, to “Spread his wings[a] over his servant, for you are a redeemer.”

What does she mean by that? By calling him a “redeemer”, Ruth is referencing an ancient custom in which a brother would marry the wife of his deceased brother if he died without children. The first child born of that union would then be considered the child of the deceased brother, and would inherit all of his properties. However, this was radical because Boaz is not the brother of Ruth‘s dead husband. Plus, there was a relative closer in kin to Ruth.

While he was impressed that she chose him, in his honor, he knew that there was one more person that was closer in kin to her who would be the rightful redeemer. He told her he would check to see if that other dude wanted to redeem her.

He checked; and the dude said, nah, I’m good.

And so, it was settled. Ruth and Boaz, together forever.

What is the purpose of this story?

Is it to give us a formula for winning our husbands?

I don’t think so. I think this story is about faith.

Ruth teaches us that Spirit-led direction will not be comfortable, nor will it comply with social obligations. Ruth had no obligation to Naomi. It was not her duty to restore the family line. But she chose to have the faith to believe that God could use her in bigger ways than she could imagine. And through this little book, Ruth connects the family of Israel to the nation of Israel. She is a first fruits of what Paul talks about centuries later in the book of Romans – The nation of Israel – for the promise that God made to Abraham, is that he will have many sons and daughters of FAITH. Ruth is the first Daughter of Faith!

How do we know that? How do we know that she is not just a foreigner that got to marry a man of God? After Ruth and Boaz’s marriage, the townspeople praised her for her boldness, comparing her to other women in the line of Abraham.

Ruth Chapter 4 verse 11 and 12 tell us, “Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem, and may your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring that the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

And Who is the offspring that will eventually be birthed by this woman? Jesus! In face, Ruth is King David’s great grandmother. That’s a pretty cool title, if you ask me.
In following Naomi back to Bethlehem, and making her confession of faith, Ruth chose to identify herself as one of God’s chosen people. She chose to make the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob her God. And because of that, God chose her to be a part of the lineage of Jesus.

Ruth teaches us that faith-filled obedience connects our life story to the never-ending story of God’s kingdom. However the Spirit may lead us to act in our lives, I pray that we too may respond in courage, loyalty, and love.


sincerely sanctification


I love you.

When did I become the strong one?

When did I become the one that others look to?

How do I keep my eyes on you when others start looking at me?

Will you give me more grace now?

Will others’ expectations of me define me?

Do I tell myself, “people are counting on you to stay strong.” to help me stay strong? Is that a good thing to say to myself?

Can I celebrate this turning point? Or should I just pretend it isn’t happening?

Because there’s one thing I know for sure…I felt a breakthrough.

It wasn’t a microwave breakthrough. It was a breakthrough that only You could manufacture. It was a breakthrough bred in Your word, birthed in brokenness, and brought when I least expected it – after I sinned.

So what do I do?

Just keep doing what I’m doing?

Just keep worshipping You?

Okay, cool. Will do.

I love you.


Your Daughter

look up

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. “

Colossians 3:1-3

Where are you?

Are you searching for yourself? Have you recently, or not-so-recently, committed your life to Christ? Do you find that you don’t quite know where you are, because the places where you used to find yourself are now empty?

This passage gives us a beautifully clear picture of where to find ourselves – and why we cannot continue to find ourselves in places of the past.

You’re no longer there.

You died. And now, your life is hidden with Christ in God.

That’s why Paul says to align the cries of your heart and the dreams of your mind to feel and see things above – not just because that’s where Christ is, but that’s where your life is too. For your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

This is difficult for many of us to grasp. Most days, we still feel like our old selves. Most days, we feel too dirty to be found in Christ. We still listen to the same lies. The same temptations continue to crouch at our doorstep. Only this time, when we succumb, gut-twisting guilt pulls our hearts and spirits down to the pit. We’re stuck in a pattern of old behavior with new consciouses; and nothing really changes. Why is that?

It’s because we haven’t taken the time to find ourselves.

Our very nature has changed. We were once fish; now we’re birds. We used to swim in water. Water was once air to us, but not anymore.

Now, if we want to find ourselves, we must look up.

Above. That’s where Christ is.

And it’s where we are, too.




red skies, blind eyes

Recently, I had a dream about a red sky. I remember standing outside, holding my cell phone to my right ear, my neck long, eyes looking up to crimson clouds. My mouth bragging to my father over the phone, “Daddy. You’ve got to come see this sky. It’s red!”

I wake up to a quick Google search. “Red sky bible verse”. Matthew 16. What will I find there?

Well, what’ya know. Jesus schooling the Pharisees, again. Surprise, surprise. Let’s see what He’s saying.

“When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”


What are you saying Jesus? Is it evil to seek signs and wonders?

No, that can’t be it. After all, just a few lines earlier, we witness miracle after miracle. In Matthew chapter 15, Jesus heals “the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others.” Then, after spending three days healing and teaching, Jesus couldn’t bear to see His followers starve; so, He multiplied seven loaves and a few small fish to become a massive meal that would feed well over four thousand people. This mysterious God man who performed wonders with such regularity cannot possibly say that signs are evil.

But He is rebuking them. What exactly did the Pharisees do to set Jesus off?

Let’s look at the text. Chapter sixteen verse one says, “And the Pharisees and the Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from Heaven.”

Why did the Pharisees come to Jesus? They came to test him. They facetiously asked the Word for a word from Heaven, refusing to believe or acknowledge that He came from Heaven.

Next question: what’s the difference between a Pharisee and a follower?

We find our answer in Chapter 15, verses 30 and 31.

“And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.”

The difference between a Pharisee and a follower is motive. What is your motive? We’ve already seen the Pharisees’ motive – they came to test Jesus. But his followers simply came to Him. And when they saw His great works, they knew who to glorify – the God of Israel. They came to Him out of a holy curiosity, otherwise known as faith. They came not to test Him, but to glorify and experience Him.

And so, what manifested from their faith? Miracles! Signs! Wonders! The things the Pharisees didn’t get to see. They came to see Jesus, and stayed long enough for a miracle. His followers witnessed a divine wrecking of their reality when they came to Jesus from a place of need.

How does this relate to my dream?

Good question.

I think we need to go back to Jesus’ rebuke one more time.

“When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ 

Did you catch that?

The Pharisees interpret a red sky as two different things depending on the time of day. A red sky in the evening means fair weather, but a red sky in the morning means it’ll be stormy.

Huh? Sounds kind of like today’s meteorology.

Or, possibly faulty interpretation? Let’s keep reading.

After His frustrating encounter with the Pharisees, Jesus finds himself back with His disciples. I would imagine He’s a little ticked at the others testing Him. What were his first words to His boys? “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

I love this. Jesus is such a genius – He is so good at confusing His disciples. See, they had just been moaning and pining over the fact they forgot to bring bread in the boat – despite the fact that they have seen Jesus multiply bread twice now, and they’re floating with the bread of life in their boat. They’re still mad that they forgot their lunch.

Uh oh. Now, it’s their turn to get yelled at.

“Oh you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?  Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”

 What are they to beware of? Neither bread, nor a lack of bread. Bread was created by God; therefore it is subjected to the power of God and can be multiplied with just a simple prayer of thanks.

But what exactly is the leaven of the Pharisees? Thankfully, we have the entire Bible in our hands. Two books to the right, in Luke 12:1, Jesus makes it plain. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

See, when you say one thing, and do another, you’re a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is the fruit of contradiction.  Jesus quoted their contradictory interpretation of the red sky to represent their hypocritical lives! Hypocrites cannot please Jesus.

In what area of your life are you acting as a hypocrite?

Here, I’ll go first. I created an online dating profile.

I’m currently single. I have been for a long time. I know that the Lord is using this season of singleness to awaken my love story with Him; that He may be the sole receiver of my attention and affection, that He may continue to hold my hand and tell me I’m beautiful.

I know it’s just a season. I know that’s what season I’m in. I know He’s using it to teach me to trust Him.

But to deliberately create an online dating profile proves me a hypocrite. It contradicts the season I’m in.

In short: Interpret the times. Then, act accordingly. Do not brag aloud about your intuition in interpreting your destiny, and then contradict yourself behind closed doors.

Because, oh yeah, what does the next verse in Luke say?

“For nothing is covered up that will not be revealed or hidden that will not be known.”

For the record, I deleted my profile and I’m trusting God. I’m letting my actions align with my beliefs. I’m praying a prayer of David from Psalm 86: “Unite my heart to fear your name.”

I suggest you do the same.

faith road

Darling…oh, my darling child.

If only you knew the road that you’re on.

If only you could see the unseen air bursting with artillery; spiritual casualties spawn by a cosmic shift in the war for your soul. If only you could see who is fighting for you.

You would give Him the praise that He’s due.

If only.

It’s okay.

You will, one day.

I can’t see your past, but I can declare your future.

I see you in my holy imagination with arms raised to the most High God. I see you floating on peace clouds, releasing your worries like the water that falls from the sky. As you elevate, your fears dissipate; and God illuminates your heart to see Him in all His glory. He lights up your eyes to see your bright and yearning life, hidden in Christ.

He rewinds your design to reflect the moment He spoke you into existence: You are His. Before You were formed in your mother’s womb, you were His. He knew you. And who He knew you as then, is who you are now.

The road you’re on is Faith road. Faith in who God is. Faith in who He says you are. Faith that moves mountains.

Hang on tightly.

This road is tumultuous, terrifying, teleological and telling. But it is the required reality for the child of God. Without it, we cannot please Him.

But you can handle it.

All these years, you’ve persisted, while hoping in nothing.

But what if your hope was living? What if your hope was alive with power and love? What if?

He is.

And He’s yours.

Nothing can keep you from Him now.

Just believe. 

do you know what it means to be free?

Do you know what it means to be free?

A few years ago, I wrote a poem, which then turned into a song. It was called “Be Free”. The verse repeated the above question over and over again.

Do you know what it means to be free?

The better question, I believe, would be, “Do I know what it means to be free?”

The inquirer does not always know the answer of the question which she asks.

What does it mean to be free? Or, rather, what is freedom?

I don’t fully know. God is still teaching me.

With every supernatural, condescending, uninvited intervention from our Heavenly Father of lights, that His mighty hand might forcefully separate me from my favorite sins, the Lord reveals to me more and more of the nature and beauty of gospel freedom. He is both the author and the source of freedom; we cannot grasp it apart from Him.

Here are a few wisdoms I cling to these days.

  1. Freedom is free.

      “It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].”

Galatians 5:1 AMP

                So many of us stay in slavery because we refuse to receive the free gift of freedom. Despite all of our desperate attempts to downplay our sin, or to destroy its destructive evidence, or to definitively decide that we are done doing that thing, we stay stuck. We stay bound. But Christ died to set us free for this freedom.

What is this freedom that Christ died for? This freedom is the gospel. This freedom is rest. This freedom is the freedom from measuring our morality by the law, and instead, to receive free righteousness. This freedom releases supernatural power and blessings as we weave the gospel through the vast threads of life’s tapestry. This freedom is the cataclysmic connection that comes from a union of heart, mind, soul, and strength to love the Lord your God with all that you are, knowing that the work of making ourselves worthy has already been done.

The best part? This freedom is free.

2. Freedom frees.

        “For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the [e]sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through [f]love serve and seek the best for one another.”

     Galatians 5:13             

                 Freedom frees us from sin. Freedom does not free us to sin. 

Furthermore, freedom is both the journey and the destination. Once we receive the revelation by faith that freedom is free, and we begin to walk in this gospel freedom, chains simply fall. Why? That we may be free to free those around us. But if we do not understand the outward-focus of freedom, our flesh will warp it to keep us enslaved in selfishness.

True freedom is both for us, and for others. Jesus is our perfect example in this truth: he surrendered His freedom to fight for ours. He used his freedom to serve and seek the best for his brothers and sisters – us. And He left us His spirit to transform us into His image.

3. Freedom teaches.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

  Romans 8:5-6

               Once we receive the free freedom of the gospel, and once we begin to understand the implications of this freedom on the lives of those around us, we see that this freedom can only come through our teacher, our counselor – the Holy Spirit. Without His guidance, we will get it wrong. We will become prideful in our newfound ability to say “no” to sin. Or, we will wrongly interpret righteousness, and instead, use it as an an excuse to sin.

But freedom is bigger than that.

Freedom wants to grant us new eyesight, new standards, a new scope of reality. Freedom redefines our reasons for living, breathing, sacrificing, waiting, praying. By the power of the Spirit, freedom teaches us about ourselves, about our God, about and His word.

For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.





that’s not me.

Arms crossed. Eyes rolled. Sigh. Ugh.

“What if I just don’t sing? Will they be able to tell?”

“I’m over this song. I’m over this church. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to sing.”

“Man, look at her. Look at her – jumping, waving her arms, smiling, worshipping. Why is she so…happy? Why is worshipping like that?

…That’s not me.

Welcome to the psyche of a half-hearted church attendee at a Sunday morning service – AKA, me at 20 years old.

These were the times when I went to church without wanting to go. These were hard times.

I used to love church. When I was young, I knew all the words to all the songs. In college, while I still knew all the words; I had stopped singing to God. I remembered the words, but forgot how to worship.

Instead, I lived recklessly. As I purposely pursued sins that broke the Father’s heart, I let the liar tell me who I am. I wasn’t a church girl anymore.

In this state of heart and mind, Church grew increasingly uncomfortable. I loathed it, lonely and alone in that middle school auditorium.

During worship, I pouted. During sermons, I did not listen or absorb any words from the mouth of the preacher; but instead stayed fixated on the movie in my mind – a screen replaying R-rated scenes. Some movies were fabricated fantasies. Some, Saturday night’s sins.

In that season, I knew a woman who attended my church named Katie Evans. She was in her late twenties, newly married, and full of life. Her smile begged you to smile with her. Her expressive presence spread joy like Christmas music. She was – and still is – unforgettable.

What I remember most about her, these 6+ years later, is her worship.

Her worship was her weapon. Her worship did not discriminate between song or style. Her worship was a bubbly overflow of love that manifested into raised hands, a loud voice, and a smile so big it swallowed her eyes.

I didn’t get it.

I remember seeing her and wondering how she could possibly be so excited to sing the same annoying song that we sang last Sunday and the Sunday before. I remember seeing her and definitively declaring that she is not me. Her glee, her energy, her freedom would always be foreign to me. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.

Praise God that I was wrong.

While I was so convinced “that’s not me”, she was, in fact, convinced of the very same thing. Only her “that” was everything. That joy? Not her. That peace? Not her. That hope? That promise? That security? That righteousness? Not her.

Katie Evans worshipped in truth and thankfulness and exaltation effortlessly because her entire life was an eternal partnership with the Holy Spirit. At that time, however, I fervently ignored the Holy Spirit. Dearest 20-year-old Gina, how could you have tapped into the overflowing river of life when you quenched him with every chance you had?

Thank God He saved me. Thank God He let me taste and see His goodness.

And now, that crazy worshipper is me. 

do you want to be healed?

“One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.”

‭‭John‬ ‭5:5-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Do you want to be healed? The answer is more complicated than you think.

Take a moment and ask yourself, “Do I want to be healed?” Then, record your response.

Before your automatic, “Uh, of course! Who doesn’t want to be healed?”, think about this:

What would change if you were healed?

Excuses would expire. Expectations would increase. Routines would be disrupted.

Your life would drastically change.

Let’s look at the invalid’s life. While he seems to have positioned himself in the proximity of a healing angel, he’s also prepped himself with pre-recited pretexts for his prolonged paralysis. He’s so close, yet so far; and his intentions are unclear. So Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be healed?”

Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed because at that moment, the man seems satisfied in his situation. He’s got an answer for the perturbed looks on people’s faces; as they scrunch their eyebrows and ask one another, “He’s been sitting there, how long again? Thirty-eight years?”

“While I am going, another one steps down before me.”

Oh, okay.

His illness, his identity – the man who deserves your pity. And he’s achieved the half-hearted healing that hitches along with acceptance. He’s come to accept his ailment and his perpetual position in the back of the line.

After all, his existence, while stagnant, isn’t difficult.

In fact, it would even be safe to say that even in his current state, he is blessed! It seems God has been providing for him all these years – despite his inability to stand or walk or work, he’s been fed. After all, he’s still alive. He can be grateful in this state! He can rest! He can talk about God’s faithfulness and provision!

But is he healed?

According to Jesus, he isn’t.

Jesus’ questions are always worthy to wade in because Jesus asks us the questions that we need to ask ourselves. When Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be healed?”, it’s because the man doesn’t quite know anymore.

Do I want to be healed? I’m not so sure anymore.

I’m pretty comfortable here on this mat. I get enough food, I get to talk to people every now and then. I enjoy the comfort of predictability. Do I want to change?

Oh, the lies we’ve rehearsed in our minds to excuse away our demise.

On the mat, the man survives.

But with feet on the ground, hands carrying His mat, the man can glorify God.

Are you shooing away your healing out of self-professed piety?

Surrender your fears and be healed. Get up, take up your bed, and walk.

Or, simply let your story of God’s glory pass before your very eyes.