The Silent Voice

Microphone

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Growing up, I experienced the nurture of loving parents, but I also grew up in and around a culture where it was expected that women were to be the quiet, affirming, supporting ones.  In fact, a strong woman was perceived as a threat to most men in our spheres.  I remember wishing I was a guy… because I did think and wanted to be able to contribute intelligent thoughts and insights.

In and around some of those spheres, a “child” was considered a child until they had a home of their own.  As a female, my parental authority was then transferred to my spouse’s authority.

There is an element to this that is true and healthy: children are under the protection and authority of their parents until they reach adulthood.  It’s the parents’ job to train their children to take increasing responsibility until they are able to make the transition into adulthood.  Husbands do have a responsibility to protect and give spiritual guidance to their families, but this is not to the exclusion of the wife’s influence or voice within the home.

In my growing up environment, there were many families that took the authority issue to an extreme.  Children were considered “children” until they were given permission to marry, but they were also told whom and when to marry, where to work, what jobs to work, etc…  There were many adults I knew who still were not marrying the ones they loved because it was not allowed (in their 20’s and 30’s).

You might wonder why didn’t those adult “children” just do their own thing.  When you have been raised to obey and not question your authorities or you are considered rebellious, you dare not question the system.  Who wants to be guilted or called rebellious because you dared to question something?  The stigma would be too harsh.  My voice was controlled and “silenced” in some of those circles (not trying to reflect this back on my parents; this was the environment of the families and teaching in which I lived).

I remember going on a mission’s trip to Russia.  During my stay there, the wife of the main guy in charge of the entire operation in Russia pulled my sister and I aside and told us one day that we talked too much and that guys don’t like women who talk.  Again, my voice was shamed and silenced.

Within a number of church circles with which we associated, the women were also told to keep silent.  There was not a lot of opportunity for women to have a vocal presence within the church.  The result was I envied the men who had the honor of vocally getting to share because I had to silence so many thoughts that were brimming over in my heart.  I did share them with the Lord and even when appropriate with fellow women.  My voice though felt disqualifed.

[Note: The point of this blog is not to discuss what the Bible does and does not say concerning the roles of men and women.]

My husband is a quieter guy.  He also learned to be quieter, but that is his story…  Because he is quieter, I remember people accusing me of “wearing the pants” in the family.  Again, I taught myself through the continued experiences of my life to hold back, shut down, silence my voice because some male might see me as a threat.

[Note: I had no intention of being dishonoring of my husband, but I simply had an opinion that was articulate and insightful.  Somehow, wisdom and insight coming from a woman was a threat to some people.]

My longing to be heard, to have a voice led me to blog.  Some might be misinterpreting what I am saying as being a self-absorbed preoccupation with a need to be heard.  My motivation for blogging though was that God had given me a voice to be heard and somehow it needed to be heard so I began to blog.  The “voice” He gave me was to share the things that He is teaching me on this journey, called life.

There are times that I can be in a group of women and will even share a few things, but still feel not “heard.”  Part of that is because sometimes we are all so desperate to be heard that no one is really listening.

Sometimes, we are all so desperate to be heard that no one is really listening.

Why is being heard so important?

Why is it so painful to feel like no one hears or cares to really hear you?

Have you ever been in a room brimming with people, the noise is deafening, but in the middle of the noise, you feel unseen and unheard?

Is there more to “seeing” and “hearing” than the physical sense?

Is it more the sense of feeling loved, validated, wanted, respected, appreciated, and noticed for which we are really looking?

What are we desperately desiring in the pursuit for validation, respect, and appreciation?  Isn’t it about connection, love, and belonging?  Isn’t that where we truly find purpose?

Yet, we look for purpose sometimes in the very things that disconnect us from connecting, from receiving and giving love, and from really experiencing the stability that comes from truly belonging. 

There is commitment that is required to really belong.  Yet, those who need that sense of belonging the most are the most likely to “shy away” from commitment.  It is frightening, risky, vulnerable.

As I seek to find my voice, I am also aware of the pitfalls.  It’s easy to try to find my voice and in the process I forget about everyone else’s voice. 

Do I enjoy my “shining moment” at the expense of others? 

Right now in my journey, I am still learning to find the courage to be heard, to not apologize for being heard, and to also in the process learn to listen to the silent cries of all the voices around me, longing for someone to care enough to truly listen.

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What Is Our Identity?

Handprint

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As I was studying I John chapter 2, I was amazed once again by the depth we see in Scripture!  The topic of identity has been greatly on my heart because how we perceive ourselves is how we will live.  This is why it is so important that our thinking is truthful when it comes to how we see ourselves.

As a Christian, I know that my identity is in Jesus Christ!

Who He is is my position and also is what He is revealing, transforming within me (because of Him).

The following verses reveal the nature, the premise, the foundation, and the purpose of our identity:

1 John 2:10-15

10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

Their Spiritual State

12 I write to you, little children,
    Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
13 I write to you, fathers,
    Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    Because you have overcome the wicked one.
I write to you, little children,
    Because you have known the Father.
14 I have written to you, fathers,
    Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I have written to you, young men,
    Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you,
    And you have overcome the wicked one

1. First, we need to know that we are forgiven.

The forgiveness Jesus offered to us at the cross frees us from Satan’s and sin’s dominion.  Sin and Satan no longer have authority over us because Jesus defeated them at the cross.  This means, Satan has no authority to condemn or accuse us.  We do not need to listen to his lies/false accusations.

2. Second, we have “known the Father” is emphasized several times.

The point being made is that we need to know our Heavenly Father.  Children will often talk, walk, eat, and have similar personalities and even posture to that of their parents.  The same is true with us.  We need to know our Heavenly Father so we pick up on the “family resemblance” and know what it means to be a “Christian.”

Who we are is completely tied in with who He is.  We need to know our Heavenly Father so we can understand better who we are.

3.  Third, we need to understand that we can overcome the evil one.

“God’s truth had a place in their hearts.  And that truth made them victorious in the spiritual battles they faced.” (from Community Bible Study on Christian Living)  God’s truth illuminates the “darkness” and strengthens our faith, keeping us rooted and grounded.  We can overcome by understanding the authority we have in the name of Jesus and in the promises of God’s Word.

4.  Fourth, the Word of God needs to abide in us.

The Word of God will give us insight into our Heavenly Father, into our inheritance, into our standing as His Beloved children, into His promises towards us, and into right thinking in order to have our thoughts transformed by the light of His Word.

5. Fifth, we need to understand the new natures we have been given as His children.

In First John 2, the young men are told that they are strong.  This reminds me of when God called Gideon out and called him a mighty man of valor when Gideon was actually living in cowardly fear.  Once God called Gideon into his new calling and into his new identity, Gideon actually began to live out the truth of what God was actively creating within Gideon.  The same is true with us.  God calls us “children of light” and calls us His beloved.  He says we are overcomers.  It is our inheritance and our new natures to overcome, to live victoriously, to understand we are forgiven, and to understand that Satan and sin no longer have the right to have authority over our lives.

What does this new nature look like?

The distinctive characteristic of God’s true children is the love that they manifest and live out towards one another. 

To walk in light/truth means that we are walking in love.  The truth/light can only be correctly discerned through the eyes of love.  Authentic truth/light is never separate from love.

We receive abundant love from Him that we in turn pour out on others.

When You Want To Quit

Vertigo

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“I feel like giving up!”

This is what I felt recently…

I am not a quitter so quitting simply isn’t a word in my dictionary, but you can quit without quitting. You can lose the passion, lose the drive, lose the desire.

It’s okay to not be gushing passionately about something. It’s okay to admit that you are going through a tough time. Just be careful you don’t begin to live out your feelings.

Just be careful where and when you say those words so you don’t pull others down, but you can encourage others by sharing the authentic struggle. 

There comes a time when you have to push through/press through the pain.

The mental hurdle is the biggest hurdle of all!

The greatest victories are not seen in the easy times — the times when everything is going our way.

The greatest victories are when we are birthing our dreams.

We birth our dreams in the midst of terrific anguish and pain. We birth our dreams when we press through pain to bring forth the outcome that is on the other side.

I have given birth to five children, naturally, and I know what I am talking about! You don’t think you can do it, but you do!!! You bear down, you yell out, you put every ounce of concentration into expelling a baby from your womb. It’s messy, it’s excruciatingly painful, but it’s exhilarating and miraculous!

True dreams are birthed through overcoming the greatest obstacles!

On the spiritual side, that is what makes our salvation so precious and amazing!!! Our spiritual inheritance was “birthed” through the crushing and agonizing death of Jesus Himself!

It is learning to walk in His victory that we experience the greatest joy!  Learning to walk in His victory is “grunt” work, but it’s “grunt” work that becomes infinitely precious and exhilarating as freedom is found there!

What The Sacrifice Reveals About The Results

Lamb

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Today as I was reading in my quiet time with the Lord thoughts concerning sacrifice and results, some truths stood out to me.  I am hoping some of these thoughts will encourage some of you, as they have me.

In my study, I was reading in I John 2:1-10.

1 John 2:1-2

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

The question in my study was, “Why do sinners need propitiation?”  My response was the following:

Righteousness requires justice.  To excuse sin is to harbor, compromise, and yield to sin.  We would be destroyed though for justice to fall fully upon us.  Because God is not only Holy and Just but also Mercy and Love, He provided a perfect substitute for us.

As a considered the sacrifice that was offered on our behalf in the Person of Jesus what I saw revealed so much about our salvation! 

Our salvation is completely tied up in the sacrifice.

In other words, the sacrifice is completely relevant to the outcome.

The results of our salvation are a direct correlation to the sacrifice made on our behalf.

Only a perfect being could make a perfect substitute.

It’s the nature of the thing/Person being offered that determines its effectiveness.  To avoid confusion, let me clarify.

In OT times, the people would sacrifice animals.  They were to be without blemish.  It was not that God enjoyed the suffering or sacrifice of these animals, but He was revealing some paramount truths to the Israelites.  He was revealing the horrible effects of sin, the justice that is required for sins, and the holiness of His own nature.

The OT sacrifices though were only temporary.  They couldn’t completely eradicate sin or its effects.  They were imperfect, sacrificial substitutes because they weren’t complete, but they portrayed the need that sinners have for a sinless, eternal sacrifice.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to comprehend the requirement of justice.  Yet, when we see horrible evil, we demand justice.  How much more does a perfect God abhor sin!

Because God is also Love and Mercy, He knew that He had to provide a sacrifice that would be complete, perfect, and eternal so He offered Himself.

I want to ponder that a bit longer…

He offered Himself.

Jesus reveals God Himself in this perfect sacrifice.

John 14:7

The Father Revealed

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

The heart of the Father and the nature of God is revealed in the Son.  Jesus reveals that God is the perfect unity of Grace & Truth, Mercy and Justice, and Holiness and Redemption.

What Jesus reveals about our salvation is this:

Jesus was the Only One to fully satisfy the requirements for our sins’ sacrifice because He was sinless, human, divine, had power over death, and is eternal!

What this sacrifice reveals is that our salvation is:

  • Perfect

  • Personal

  • Divine

  • Cancels sin’s power

  • Eternal

2 Corinthians 5:21

21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Acts 4:12

12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Revelation 7:10

10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

John 1:29

The Lamb of God

29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Revelation 15:3

They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying:

“Great and marvelous are Your works,
Lord God Almighty!
Just and true are Your ways,
O King of the saints![a]