My Former Life In A Nutshell…

https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/growing-up-gothard

I am going to link to this guy’s blog post because it summarizes in a nutshell what it was like growing up under the influence of ATI (Advanced Training Institute/Bill Gothard program).

I love how this guy describes his home as a loving home!  Mine was too, and I love my parents!!  They did a lot of good, but we were raised within the ATI culture.  This guy’s article explains a lot of the issues I have with the philosophies of the ATI movement/teachings.

This guy is right on when he explains about the constant pressure to be perfect.  I remember that so well and my twisted view of God, as a result.

I didn’t want to get close to a God who seemed to be always waiting for my next moment of sin/failure and who seemed like He only punished with no full restoration or hope of redemption in sight.  It was taught that consequences were God’s judgment on us; there was no concept of redemption for even our consequences.

It was definitely a place of much fear!  Parents wanted to raise their kids to turn out godly.  So in fear, they pulled them from the world, even from among other Christians, sometimes family members, and society.  They thought that by secluding them, they could produce a more godly generation.

As I wrote in a previous blog post, the issue with this is, they forget that there is evil within not just without.  The heart is what matters!

They also lived from fear.  What they didn’t realize is that reacting to our fears will not lead us into freedom but just into another form of bondage.

We never want to raise our children from a position of fear but from God’s leading.  The safest place to be is always within the center of God’s will.

An interview with a former ATI student that really explains what it was like growing up Gothard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WQy4LGUQRg.

 

What We Fear Reveals Truth About Ourselves

Sunset

(FreeImages.com/Tatyana Khramtsova)

As I was studying God’s Word today, spending time in prayer, and journaling what God was teaching me, God began once again to convict me and to show me some truths concerning a present battle I am facing.

I am facing the battle of fear concerning a particular situation.  Without relaying more details, let’s just say that this situation has been discouraging.  In fact, in referring to the situation, I have used hopeless terms to describe it.

This morning, God began to speak to me concerning this battle.  He began to reveal to me that the battle I am called to fight requires a long-term commitment and perseverance.  It’s not a battle that is going to be won with a few “skirmishes.”  Another way of putting it is that it’s not a “sprint” that I am called to run but a “marathon.”

God was reminding me that so often when God’s timing differs from mine, I begin to look to others, try to “help” God out by “fixing” the problem by my own methods or means, or begin to accept failure and mentally “check” the situation off as being a losing one and then try to find something else that appears to possibly be more successful.

God was speaking to my heart that the reason why I am not having victory is because I have written “failure” across the situation.  I have assumed the battle is lost or losing so I begin to “back pedal,” compromising my belief in God and His promises and as a result, compromising my actions.  Before long, what I fear comes to pass.

I believe God was prompting me to look at the significance of what I fear.

The question is, “What are we fearing today?”

What you and I fear will reveal the true condition of our heart and beliefs.  They will also be a good indicator of where we are headed.

If our faith in God is solid, we will be able to see past the temporary discouraging distractions of our present situations to the eternal or “bigger picture” of God’s purposes and plans.

Faith is the “key” that unlocks our “spiritual eyes.” 

We can know the truth, but until we believe/embrace it, we’ll never recognize or experience the reality of it personally.

Our relationship with God consists not in what we know about God but in Who He is to us.  What is He to you?

You may say and know that God is gracious, just, righteous, compassionate, etc…, but is He your grace, your righteousness, your compassion today?

Who is He to you?

The Connection Between Pride And Fear

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I believe God gave me one of those “light-bulb” moments when I began to realize there is a big connection between pride and fear.

At first glance, they can seem like total opposites.

Pride seems to indicate self-reliance and an over-inflated ego/view of oneself.

Fear, on the other hand, seems to speak of the opposite.  It speaks of self-doubt, doubt of others, circumstances, objects, and events.

The opposite of these two negative qualities is that of faith and humility.

Humility speaks of a sweet submission, a concern for others, and love.

Faith speaks of trust, reliance, and a measure of humility as well.

Just as pride and fear go hand-in-hand so do faith and humility.

When people are self-absorbed, we would call them proud.

What produces an obsession with self?

I believe that a lack of contentment and resting in the Lord brings about a preoccupation with ourselves. 

When we are “complete” in Him, we are secure in who we are in God, and we don’t need the validation of others.  It is insecurity that causes us to be preoccupied with ourselves.

What is faith — the true definition of faith?  Is it not a complete trust in the Lord and submission to Him?

Pride relies or trusts only in itself and will not allow itself to be mastered by anyone else.

It takes faith to humble ourselves before God.  It takes humility to submit ourselves to the care of God.

Faith is submitting oneself to the care of someone or something.

Fear, on the other hand, refuses to completely surrender to anyone or anything other than its own rationalizations or self-preservation.

For example, if I have an improper fear of riding in a car, I will refuse to get in one or will ride in it while anxiety roils through me.

There is no sense of security or peace while I am encountering the object I fear.

When I am proud, I am relying on myself — my own rationalizations, self-preservation, and strength to protect me.  I am my own “master.”  As my own “master,” I instinctively know that I cannot control everything or anything and thus I live in fear of the things that I can’t control.

Let me reiterate that again because it’s worth repeating:

As my own “master,” I instinctively know that I cannot control everything or anything; and thus, I live in fear of the things that I can’t regulate, contain, or dominate.

An indication of both fear and pride being alive in my life is if I struggle with “control.” 

Those who are able to put their trust/faith in the Lord and surrender to Him (in humility) experience the greatest peace and flexibility.  They understand that relying on themselves is the greatest position of weakness, but relying on God, the Great I am, is their greatest source of security.  They are confident and “relaxed” because they are “resting” in God — in Who He is — rather than in who they are themselves.

Pride produces fear.  It’s that simple.  It’s also a good chance that if you “suffer” with pride, you “suffer” with fear.  The opposite is also true: if you “suffer” with fear, it’s a good chance you “suffer” with pride.

Humility and faith are two of some of the best characteristics for walking in freedom.

Humility frees us from the bondage of self.  Faith frees us from the bondage of everything else, including ourselves.

Knowing the above truths have caused me to look more closely at my own heart and life and to be convicted of more areas that need to be yielded to the Lord.  It’s not from fear or “self-righteousness” that I confess these things but because I desire to walk in greater freedom in my spiritual walk.

What Does “Fear of God” Mean?

Scanner Fear 3

(http://www.freeimages.com/photo/scanner-fear-3-1251133)

In Scripture, there are dozens – more like hundreds – of verses on “fearing” God.

When my husband and I were recently discussing this topic of “fearing” God, he was saying, “People should fear God.”  My response was, “If the only response this fear produces is to run from God rather than submit to God, it is pointless.  It’s a sinful fear that produces nothing good.  If though people fear God correctly, they will repent and turn to God.  That is the only kind of fear that is good.  In other words, not all fears of God are good.” (BTW, we both agree on this.)

Let me explain in more detail…

Is all “fear of God” correct or good?

What does it mean to “fear God”?

In the beginning of time, we see when Adam and Eve first “feared” God and what was the cause and result of that fear.

Genesis 3:6-10

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Here we see one type of “fear” of God.  This is what I would call “sinful fear.”  This kind of fear causes us to recognize the power of God, but instead of yielding to it, we run from it.

When confronted with the righteousness and power of God, we have a response to make.  We either repent and submit ourselves to God, or we reject Him/rebel and run from Him.

There are many verses that talk about the right type of “fear” of God.  Perhaps, this is better described as such overwhelming respect/awe that we are humbled and surrender our own wills to Him.

Deuteronomy 10:12

The Essence of the Law

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

Psalm 89:7

God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints,
And to be held in reverence by all those around Him

The wrong kind of fear trembles at the power of God, still clings to its own self-preservation and will, and runs from or opposes the will of God.

The following verses describe the wrong kind of fear that the world has:

Philippians 2:10

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,

The world will “bow” before God but not in reverence/submission.  (At the confrontation of His Power, there is no physical strength left to stand in His Presence.)

Revelation 21:8

But the cowardly, unbelieving,[a] abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Psalm 67:7

God shall bless us,
And all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.

The world will “fear” God but not to submit to Him.

James 2:19

19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

The demons “fear” God.  They fear His power but not in the “right” sense — that which leads them to submit or to repent.

To simplify this, godly “fear” leads us to repentance.  Sinful “fear” causes us to run, hide, rebel, just like we saw Adam and Eve do.

I believe that sinful fear is inter-connected with pride.  Rather than repenting, we run from God, which means we are relying on ourselves.

I believe that self-reliance is the definition of pride.  It is independence from God, which is sin.  See my earlier blog post: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/the-simplicty-about-sin.

God had shown me earlier that rebellion comes from distrust.  God then posed the question to me: “From where does distrust come?”

Distrust can come from wounds, but it can also come from learning to rely on ourselves (self-reliance) which is pride.

This is the key thought:

Self-reliance is the flesh’s sinful response to lies about God as a result of the hurts we have experienced. 

We all experience wounds in this world — some to a greater extent than others.  It is how we respond to those wounds that changes everything!

There is one more aspect in regards to the “fear of God” that we need to discuss.  It’s the concept of consequences.

In the past, what I thought was “fearing God” was really more about fearing the consequences of my sins.

When I was walking more in fear of my consequences, I would confess quite regularly, but my motivations were fear-based.  I was “obeying” to the extent that I wanted to avoid the consequences and was terrified of them.

When I wrongfully fear my consequences, what am I in essence believing?

I am believing that I have gone too far or made too big of a mistake for God to redeem them.

The truth is so long a I am truly repentant and have submitted my new set of circumstances to God, He can redeem even them.

The fear of consequences motivates the more “fleshly-minded” Christian.  The “spiritual” or God-filled man is motivated by relationship — his/her relationship with God.

When I fear my consequences more than I fear God, my consequences themselves can become a “god” in my life.  They can become “larger” than God in my heart.  This becomes obvious when the fear of my consequences leads me to fear them more than believing God is in control of them.

When I truly repent and submit myself to God, He can redeem even the most horrific consequences and use them to bring good.  (See Rom. 8:28.)

Nothing is beyond the reach of God.

God is not mastered by anyone or anything.  Satan nor us can “put one over” on God.

He is Sovereign!

 

When Life Seems To Be In The “Hold Pattern”

The clock on the mall.

According to my digital camera (which has never lied to me in the past), this picture was actually taken at 10:33 p.m. - NOT at 7:48, as the clock would have you believe. In fact, I can say with 100% confidence that it was ...

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Maybe, you clicked on my blog because life right now seems to be at a stand-still for you.  Your dreams don’t seem to be coming true.

If you are like some of my friends, you are suffering through chemotherapy, waiting for your husband to get a job before you get kicked out of your house in a week or few, you are longing for a baby to hold in your arms and heart, you are wondering when the guy you love will finally awaken to the fact that you can be something other than his best friend, you are wondering when your spouse will finally be awakened spiritually and will be able to share in all the blessings of knowing Jesus personally, you are clinging to hope that your rebellious child will finally surrender their life to God, you’re wondering when all the physical pain will finally end or if the doctor will finally discover something to truly help…  I hear all of those cries…  I know how hard simply waiting can be — perhaps it’s one of the hardest things we have to do at times.

Perhaps, waiting is so hard because waiting requires us to surrender and to trust.

Waiting means we have to let go of our own plans, our own timing, and we have to submit to and wait on a Higher Power.

When we grow anxious in our waiting, we have to camp ourselves — our minds and hearts on the truth of Who God is and of who we are in God. 

God is Jehovah Jireh — our Provider!

God is Jehovah-Shalom — our Peace!

God is Jehovah-Rophe — the God Who heals!

God is Jehovah-Tsidekenu — our Righteousness!

God is Elohim — the Sovereign One!

God is Adonai — Lord and Master!

God is Jehovah-Shammah — the God Who Is Present!

God is Jehovah-Tsebaoth — the Lord of hosts!

God is El-Shaddai — our Abundancy!  God is the One who abundantly supplies all of our needs.

In the blog, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/when-waiting-seems-to-be-the-only-action-occuring, it is mentioned that God’s timing is just as important as His answer or His specific will.

So often when we are waiting on some future dream or hope or relief, we seem to think that our present is just an “empty” time that needs to be filled, endured.  We think we are just “passing time.”

God though is concerned about your now.  Your now is not outside of His Presence or care.

I love the following quotes from Discerning The Voice Of God by Priscilla Shirer:

God has invited you to join Him in His plans.  The purposes of God not only include specific plans but also very specific timing.  He orchestrates both events in your life and their timing.

The timing of the call was just as important as the call itself… I would have tried to rush ahead of God instead of waiting for His timing before I was emotionally or spiritually equipped for the demands I currently face.

God will use the appropriate means to reveal His will in His timing. 

Much of the heartache and frustration I have encountered in discerning God’s voice came because I wanted it before God was ready to give it.  I wasn’t willing to trust God’s timing in revealing His plans for me.  I tried to place my time constraints on God.

His timing is best.

Knowing too much too soon can be detrimental.

When we feel rushed and hurried to make a decision not rooted in a deep confidence of inner peace, God probably has not spoken.  Nowhere in Scripture does God tell anyone to rush into making a decision.  On the contrary, He patiently and persistently gives us clarity before requiring obedience.  If you feel an overwhelming urge to act spontaneously, pull in the reins.

I love that quote!  “God has invited you to join Him in His plans.” 

When life seems to be in a “hold pattern,” it’s not because God is keeping you from something good or that He is unaware of your plight.  It means that God is doing something good in you while you wait, if you surrender to Him.

Discerning the Voice of God also says, “Our shepherd leads, He doesn’t drive.  One difference between the Enemy’s voice and the Shepherd’s is that Jesus doesn’t coerce us with fear or intimidation.  He gently encourages and woos.”

John 10:2-4

But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

In John 10:2-4, it says that Jesus, our Shepherd, calls us by name and leads us.  He shows us the way we are to go.

  • God invites us to be a part of His will.
  • He leads us and guides us in His will.
  • His Presence accompanies His will.

There is protection and provision for the sheep that follow their Shepherd.

There is joy and peace when we traverse the paths that our Heavenly Shepherd has for us.

Dear friend, no matter your circumstances today and when things seem hopeless right now, believe the truth.  The truth will anchor your soul and keep you secure in the midst of the tumult.

One final excellent quote from Elisabeth Elliot:

My acceptance of His timing was a rigorous exercise in trust.  I was tempted to charge the Lord with negligence and inattention, like the disciples in the boat in a storm.  They toiled frantically until the situation became impossible and then instead of asking for Jesus’ help, they yelled, “Master, don’t you care that we are drowning?” They weren’t perishing, they were panicking.  It was not too late.  Jesus got up and merely spoke to the wind and sea.

“They weren’t perishing, they were panicking.”

Today, when you feel the drudgery of the monotony, the worries for tomorrow, the pain of today, hang on to the truth.  God is not too late for His will. 

His will is always accomplished in the perfection of His timing.

Is It Fear God Versus Love God?

<b>Happy Eid to you, this is my gift (عيدي) for you :)</b>

We didn't pick that lovely rose. She just held it between her hands (huged it!) and I shoot this for you!

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There seem to be two camps of thought when it comes to God: those who focus on the fear of God and those who focus on the love of God.

Is it possible though to have both the fear of God and the love of God?  Or are they mutually exclusive of each other?

Does fearing God contradict loving God?  And does God’s love contradict His justice?

When it comes to loyalty to God, which of these two (the fear of God or the love of God) produces unwavering loyalty?

These are all questions that I have been mulling over for several weeks, probably years really.

First of all, is there a Biblical basis for the fear of God?  If so, what does the Bible mean when it says “fear God”?

Exodus 20:20

20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Leviticus 19:14

14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.

Proverbs 2:1-5

My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

Luke 5:26

26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.

2 Corinthians 7:1

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Hebrews 12:28

28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

In the above Scriptural passages, we can see that “fear of God” is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments.

What exactly is this “fear of God”?

Psalm 22:23

23 You who fear the Lord, praise Him;
All you [a]descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,
And stand in awe of Him, all you [b]descendants of Israel.

Psalm 33:8-11

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it [a]stood fast.
10 The Lord nullifies the counsel of the nations;
He frustrates the plans of the peoples.
11 The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Psalm 119:120

120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
    I stand in awe of your laws.

These passages show us that fearing God is being awe-struck with His character.  I love what the book, Freedom From Fear, says about the fear of God:

To fear God is to be awestruck with God’s character and Word.  It is a state of deep reverence that can cause us to tremble before Him because of His righteous judgments.  The fear of the Lord is also joyful praise and worship of His glory, resulting in humble obedience to His will.

Fearing God is not a law-based principle, but rather, it is an eternally enduring aspect of our relationship to God.

…in the hearts of those who fear Him there is an unspoken language of faith, a bowing down with humility before One infinitely greater and more magnificent than self.

The sheer magnitude of His glory and greatness does not diminish over time.  Familiarity does not breed contempt of the Almighty.

We revere God in the sense that we have the ultimate respect for Him…  We also fear God because He has the power to judge and His attributes make Him the only legitimate fear object (He is both omnipresent and omnipotent).  This healthy and balanced knowledge of God provides for us a sanctuary from all unhealthy fears.

Scripture is also replete with verses, stating God’s love and revealing His mercy, grace, longsuffering, kindness, forgiveness.

Is God’s justice in opposition to His grace, or do they work in coordination with each other?  In my blog, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/grace.  In this blog, a key phrase is “God’s grace can only be understood in the context of His justice.”  The question is asked, “What is grace without justice?”  Grace implies that justice was required and necessary.

The book, Freedom From Fear, states this: “…the hammer fell!  It fell on Christ.  The punishment we deserved has already fallen on Christ.”

We fear or reverence God because of both His holiness, justice, and because of His undeserving grace and tender mercies. 

Loving God and fearing God work in coordination to reflect the perfection of both God’s holinesss that requires justice and of His love that offers grace and forgiveness. 

The following Scriptural passages reflect both the fear or reverence of God and the mercies of God — all within the same verses:

Psalm 103:11

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;

Psalm 103:13

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Psalm 118:4

Let those who fear the Lord say:
    His love endures forever.

Psalm 147:11

11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
    who put their hope in his unfailing love.

 It is reverence (“fear of God”) and love for God that purifies our lives, propels us to submit to Him, impassions us to yearn after Him and to follow Him. 

It is the recognition of how awe-inspiring He is and then that He would love us that causes us to be amazed with Him!  It is this awe and this love that compels us to follow Him in faith.  This is the foundation of loyalty.  This is the reason why generations of Christians have suffered horrific persecution out of loyalty and love for the One Who died to save them and who continues to be their All.

When our eyes are opened to God as He truly is, nothing else really matters.  Running to Him as the holy, forgiving, loving sanctuary that He is becomes an all-consuming passion and priority.  Pride, guilt, shame, and fear are swept clean by the fear of God and replaced with humility, forgiveness, affirmation, and faith.  All this happens when we have a truth encounter with the living God. (From Freedom From Fear)

How does “fearing God” actually offer us the peace and protection we all need and desire?

Here’s what Freedom From Fear says on this:

A sanctuary was the place where God manifested His presence to His people.  It was a holy place of communion with the Almighty … His presence would always be a sanctuary for His people.  …The fear of the Lord was the door that opened that sanctuary, which is not a physical location or building at all.  It is the presence of God!  New Testament believers find their sanctuary in Christ, which is a spiritual position, not a physical location.

Why do so many of us react to God’s Presence or His holiness with a type of fear that cripples and enslaves?  Could it be that it’s our response to God that produces two very different types of “fear”?

When we are made aware of our own sins and of His justice and righteousness, we can react in two different ways:

  • We can understand that God is a good and loving God — that seeks to purify us from all that would harm us, and we can run to Him.  The right kind of “fear” or awe causes us to run towards God, understanding the freeing power of His love that seeks to purify us from all that enslaves and cripples us.
  • The other response is not believing God is good in every sense and loving; and so instead, we run away from Him. The wrong kind of fear causes us to hide, to rebel, to follow after all the things that actually harm us rather than free us.

We are most tempted to run from God when we feel dirty or defiled, but that is the time when we need Him the most … It was God who first came to Adam after the fall, and it is God who takes the initiative to come to uswe are saints in the hands of a loving God, Therefore, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (From Freedom From Fear)

The answer to fearing God and loving God is that it takes both. 

God’s love was manifested in how He fulfilled His justice on the cross.  His love and grace is what continues to seek after us and draw us to Himself.  His righteousness is what purifies us and offers us freedom.

It is all of this plus more that causes us to stand in awe of Him and to surrender to a God who is completely trustworthy because He can offer us a true sanctuary that is free from all that is destructive to us.

As Christians, we can stand in awe of God but not from afar.  We stand in awe of Him because we know personally the security of being in His Presence.  It is with joy, we follow Him and look to Him for our all!

Afraid Of My Children… Part Two… The Cause And The Solution

I detailed in my recent blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/26/afraid-of-my-children-part-one, we can fear that which we cannot control and our need for control is indicative of a fear problem.

Our need for control isn’t just indicative of a fear problem; it is indicative of a trust problem.

Understanding the cause and specifics of our trust problem will also lead us to the solution.

Healing isn’t just the absence of the problem, hurt, or sin.  It’s the presence of the opposite: new life, peace, joy, the power of His Holy Spirit.  It’s the Presence of God.

In other words, when we have a problem in a specific area it means that we don’t just have a problem with fear, for instance.  We have a problem with faith — more specifically with our relationship with God. 

When we have a problem with our identity, it means we have a problem with seeing ourselves as God sees us.  We have a problem with our relationship with God because you can’t see yourself as God sees you, if you don’t know personally how God sees you.  (I am not talking about what others say, what your church has said, what books say.  I am talking about what God specifically says and what you believe about it.)

All problems stem from the same cause: a problem with our relationship with God.  There may be layers to it, but healing is intrinsically tied to our relationship with God.

Before you think I am just one of many people come to preach at you and tell you something you have already heard or read, stick with me.  I am going to share with you some things that I have learned through the “school of life experience” and what God showed me in the midst of my own darkness.  (To read this in greater detail, feel free to read my blog: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-second-part-of-my-testimony-the-second-most-incredible-experience-of-my-life.  Warning: it’s heavy reading.)

In Exodus 15:26, it says, “I am the LORD, who heals you.”  Julie Ackerman Link says in Our Daily Bread, “…no healing takes place apart from God.”

The reason why so many people are not being “healed” by God is because: they. are. trying. to. do. the. healing. in. their. own. strength.

You might ask, “What about all the prayers I have prayed, all the books I have read, all the sermons I have heard?  It’s not like I haven’t tried.”

Yes, YOU have tried.

When your “connection” to God is “broken” or “clogged,” it is impossible to rely on God’s strength to claim victory over whatever negative patterns (thoughts and/or actions) you have going on in your life.

Just praying a prayer, reading books, and listening to sermons does not guarantee or ensure that your relationship with God is where it needs to be.

Our relationship with God starts in the heart/soul — not in outward actions.  The outward actions will flow correctly out of a correct heart relationship.  (For greater detail on this, see my blog post: https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/being-or-doing.)

For me personally, my relationship with God wasn’t where it needed to be, and I didn’t recognize this at first because I knew (in my head) all the right answers.

The root cause for me began when as a teen I had to face some hardships that I shouldn’t have had to face.  In the midst of those hardships, I began to believe that I had to protect myself.

This was the first and greatest lie Satan tries to get us all to believe.  It’s the lie, called self-preservation.

If Satan can disconnect us from God, he has succeeded in disconnecting us from our source of power, life, healing, peace, etc…

That’s what Adam & Eve did in the Garden of Eden when they ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.  They began to look to themselves to make the decisions for what was best for their lives, instead of to God.  Not only did they become disconnected from their source of life, but they got the opposite of what they “wanted.”  Instead of getting true “knowledge” of good and evil.  They got only their own deceived and twisted view of these things, that only had their own experiences, desires, and logic as its source of interpretation.

When we look to ourselves to interpret “knowledge” and “truth,” we are limited by the scope of our own experiences, desires, and logic. 

For me, I began to believe the lie that I had to protect myself, which meant I turned away from God and became, in essence, my own god.  I did a lot of the “right” things.  My heart was still wanting to do what was right, but my heart wasn’t fully engaged in it.  The problem that I hadn’t recognized was that I was trying to walk in God’s power, while still trying to walk in my own.  It doesn’t work.

When you are trying to do things in your own strength, self is still in control.  When self is in control, there isn’t room for God in your life — not fully.  This can be so confusing because you can still have self as your god and yet still be doing all the “right” things.

When self is in control, circumstances will have a way of revealing this and showing the inadequacy of our god (self).  Take tragedies: natural disasters, disease, deaths, financial ruin, etc…  That’s when people often will cry out to God.  They suddenly realize the inadequacy of their own god of self.

For me, it was the simple situation of not having enough strength and wisdom in myself to know how to deal with two other little people who had minds and wills of their own and so many needs.  I “tried” to look to God, but I had already begun to believe the lie that I was a failure, not good enough for my kids.

The truth is I wasn’t enough for my kids — not by myself, in my own limited resources of power, strength, and patience.

What I didn’t fully believe was that I did have enough Strength at my disposal — the power that comes from being “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”

I couldn’t believe the truth because I was not fully trusting God.  Remember, what you believe is revealed by what you live — not what you know.

In the book, Think Differently, Live Differently, by Bob Hamp, it says:

“Our thoughts have the power to instigate and even inflame our feelings, but conversely, our feelings have the power to reveal what we really believe about a given situation or person.

… I am convinced that our feelings will always tell us the truth; not necessarily the truth about reality, but the truth about what we believe.”

In recent months, God revealed the specifics that led me to believe the lie that I had to protect myself.  Once I finally “saw” when I first believed the lie, I was able to then ask the Lord to forgive me for believing the lie that He wasn’t enough.  I also had to forgive a specific person.  Once I was able to do those two things, I was finally able to let the “little girl inside me” run to Abba (“Daddy”, God).  When I did that, my heart finally came “home.”  My relationship with God was healed, and I was able to completely rest in Him.

It was at that time, I felt complete Shalom (true peace that comes from a well-being of soul).

Having my connection to God healed has meant I have been able to be receptive and responsive to His voice and am able to rely on His power.  I will catch myself beginning out of habit to repeat old patterns, but God quickly reminds me of the truth.  I am able to adjust my thinking and beliefs to accept the truth and to reject the lies.  This means keeping a very close connection with God. 

In Think Differently, Live Differently, it says, “At the root of any fearful thought is the lie that, somehow, God doesn’t love me.”

In a future blog post, I want to address this very important question, “Where was God when such and such happened?”  This may be the key to helping individuals (you) finally be able to trust God.  So often we don’t ask this question because we are afraid…

I asked that question recently, listened, and was finally able to hear the answer.  I was a blubbering mess, following what God showed me.

I didn’t ask this question or receive the answer until the following three things happened:

  • I first acknowledged the lie I had believed: that God wasn’t good enough.
  • I then “allowed” God to replace it with the truth: that He is my Provider, Protector, Healer, Truth, and Life.
  • I then chose to surrender my heart to God — before knowing the answers to the question I would later pose to Him.

I recently read in a book, and I can’t remember which one because I have been reading so many lately, that freedom and healing isn’t the absence of something but the presence of Someone.  Finding freedom from fear isn’t just ignoring the thing you are afraid of or distracting yourself from the fear.  Finding freedom is actually replacing it with the true thing itself: Shalom (well-being of soul). 

True peace isn’t reliant on our external surroundings: music, scents, colors, physical positions.  True peace comes from our spirits being aligned with God’s Spirit, which in turns heals our souls (mind, will, emotions), which in turn manifests itself in our physical bodies.  True peace can happen no matter where we are, what we are doing, what is happening around us.  True peace isn’t physically-related; it’s spiritually-related.

True peace doesn’t come from emptying our minds of fear.  It comes from the Presence of Peace Himself.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post on the question, “Where was God?”  Until then, may you begin to ask the question, “When did I first begin to believe the lie of self-preservation?”

Afraid Of My Children… Part One

Recently as God was dealing with me in the area of fear, He began to reveal specific fears I had.  I knew I was a fearful person in many ways.  It started when I was quite young.

As a child, I can remember hiding behind my mother when meeting strangers.

I remember crying when I had to get my first job.  I know, sounds silly.

There is nothing silly about fear though. 

Fear is very real and very powerful in the way it affects our lives.  It can cripple our living and hold us hostage to its impact.

I struggled with fears about storms, loved ones dying, disease, financial ruin, growing old, you name it…

One of the fears that I began to recognize I had and that God wanted to help me overcome was the fear of my children.

Yes, I was afraid of my children.

My guess is that I am not the only parent who struggles with this, and that’s why I am writing this blog…

It began soon after my first child was born.  All of a sudden, the reality of life “hit me in the face” when I had a newborn who began to display a temper soon after birth.  He was not happy when he had to wait for my milk to “let down” in order to guzzle his dinner as quickly as he wanted.  I quickly learned tricks to settle him down so he could nurse, but I had already begun to feel like motherhood was not so easily controlled as I had envisioned. 

That lack of control was not only something I feared, but my “need” for control was also indicative of a fear problem.

Becoming a mother personally was a bit of a rude awakening.  I had held this “Cinderella” view of motherhood, and the reality just wasn’t like the fairy tale dreams.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a mother and I loved my son, but parenting was so much harder than it looked watching everyone else raise their children.

Then came the birth of my second child.  I had two little ones, born 16 1/2 months apart, and they both were so needy.  I was exhausted, was suffering from undiagnosed and untreated hypothyroidism (for the first several months), and began to feel incapable of being a “good” mommy to these two little boys.

Fast forward a few more years and a few more kids.  The challenges kept increasing.  I would seem to figure out a new technique for each new challenge, and then a new one would present itself.

With some challenges, it didn’t seem to matter how many techniques and methods and principles and advice I heard and read.  The challenges didn’t seem to diminish or even to be improved effectively.

I became weary of bad or ineffective advice.  I became weary of my own inconsistent and/or wrong application of good advice.  Each new thing I heard seemed to be another “nail in my coffin” when it came to my role as a mom.
I felt like one big “failure.”  I also began to fear my children.

You fear what you can’t control, and you try to control what you fear.  Vicious cycle!

There are a lot of you reading this who think that you have never “feared” your children.

Fear though manifests itself in different ways.

  • For some, fear takes the role of victim.  The victim feels hopeless and helpless and unable to ever succeed.
  • For some, fear takes the role of critic.  As the book, Freedom From Fear, says, “The Critic never feels good about himself or what he has done.  He is discouraged and defeated even before… [the fear] hits.”
  • For some, fear takes the role of the perfectionist.  As the book, Freedom From Fear, says, “They never have any peace of mind because they can never achieve perfection.  Their overwhelming need to accomplish more and more makes them driven, stressed, irritable. … they can’t stand to fail, especially in public.”

Fear of your children manifests itself in two very different ways:

  • You either give up, and your children dominate you. Children in this type of home are rebellious, disobedient, lack self-control, and are privately insecure.  The victim mindset and the critic mindset can fit within this category.
  • Or, your fear causes you to have unhealthy control over your children, and you dominate them.  Your children will be very “controlled,” but the control isn’t healthy.  It’s fear-based, manipulative, and will produce either rebellion or unhealthy dependence in your children.  Your children will “appear” very obedient, but the reality is they have never been given the freedom to think their own thoughts and to determine their own convictions.  You have determined them all for them.  The perfectionist mindset fits in this category.

The root of both manifestations is the same motivation: fear.

It was recently said to me that wise parenting teaches children how to be good stewards of their freedom.

This means giving your children freedom and understanding that we must want our children to live freely the plan that God has for their lives — not that we have for their lives.  It means giving our children the tools to wisely steward this freedom so that they can truly be and live the freedom God intended them to have!

My next blog post will address what the solutions are for finally overcoming this fear and finding freedom from it.  Stay tuned.

When We All Need To Feel Victorious

Meribel-Mottaret ski resort, French Alps, France

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=3486745&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=359)

I recently read the chapter on “Jehovah Nissi” in the book, The Names Of God, by Marilyn HIckey.  This name means “The Lord, My Banner of Victory.”

I absolutely loved this section because it was exactly what I needed to believe.  A few weeks ago, I had recently experienced one of those mountain-top experiences that left me experiencing new “freedom” in my spiritual walk and greater peace and joy.

Then after days and weeks, my old nature and the lies began to increase in volume to my ears.  It’s not that they actually had increased, but I began to “hear” them “louder.”  (See blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/the-second-part-of-my-testimony-the-second-most-incredible-experience-of-my-life.)

Being aware of this struggle, I knew that I was called to “slow down”, if that’s possible, in my outside activities and to saturate myself in God’s Word, prayer time, godly music, and reading excellent devotionals.

So began my reading of the chapter on “Jehovah Nissi.”

In the following paragraphs are direct quotes:

“When you look at your image in Christ Jesus, you must look only at the image that is victorious! I don’t know what your weaknesses are, but I know that Jesus can overcome them to make you a victor and a conqueror.  God’s Word says that Jesus always causes us to triumph in Him.  (See II Cor. 2:14).  You must see yourself as being only in Him!  Without Him, you can do nothing; but with Him, all things are possible.

…After the Lord gave the Israelites manna, they traveled on to a place called Rephidim.  At Rephidim, there was no water at all, and the people thirsted terribly … The people said, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

The Lord certainly was among them.  He told Moses to strike a rock in the land of Horeb (which means ‘fresh inspiration’), and it brought forth enough water to quench the multitude’s thirst.

The New Testament tells us that the Rock that provided water in the wilderness represented Christ. (See I Cor. 10:4.)

… Generations after this incident at Rephidim,… King Saul was commissioned to wipe the Amalekites off the face of the earth.  But King Saul’s greed got the best of him, and he disobeyed God.  It is interesting to note that, in the end, an Amalekite killed Saul. Why?  Because he spared what he should not have spared. What the devil tries to put in your life must be conquered and destroyed.  If you don’t kill it, it may return and kill you.

…The word for banner actually means a ‘glistening pole or ensign, a standard, or a miracle.’  The banner or ‘standard’ represented God’s cause.  It was a symbol of His deliverance and mighty salvation that caused His people to be victorious over their enemies.

Jehovah Nissi is the Lord — Israel’s banner and your banner, Israel’s victory and your victory.  Who is Jehovah Nissi He is ‘the Lord our Victory’!

...As long as you say, ‘God is the victorious One in my life,’ you will be on top of your circumstances.  But when you drop your hands and say, ‘I’m defeated; the devil has me down,’ you can count on defeat.  Focus your eyes on the Lord, Jehovah Nissi, and keep your hands up in the air, holding His victorious standard high!”

In the blog post, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/walking-on-water-or-sinking-sanctified-or-small-minded, this truth of keeping our eyes on Jesus is what Peter had to learn when walking on water.  It’s what you and I have to learn as well so that we too can walk in the victorious “image” that we have in Christ.

In the chapter on Jehovah Nissi, the author says the following truths in relation to why we are victorious and how we are victorious.  She says:

“God did not tell you to fight in your own armor. He gave you His armor.  And if you’ll wear it and stand in it, He will bring you to victory. He’s the Lord, your Banner … Righteous Jehovah hates sin.  If you will hold high His standard of victory, sin will not overtake you.

…Because you are standing tall in the armor of Jehovah Nissi, your Victor and Champion, Jesus did not promise you, ‘Well, now that I’ve taken the victory, it’s going to be a piece of cake for you.’ You have to stand.  But if you stand, He did promise that not even the gates of hell itself could prevail against you!  He has made you a victor in Himself!

…To wear His armor, you cannot lean on your own understanding; you have to learn on His Word!

…God says, ‘You’re not a loser!  I am Jehovah Nissi — your Banner, Miracle, and Victory — who makes you a winner.’  That’s why are you are fighting a good fight of faith.  It’s good because you win in the Lord!

…When you allow that strength within you to flow by relying on Him as your Banner, then you will overcome.”

When reading the story of Moses sending the twelves spies to check out the Promised Land, I never really “saw” the story for it’s powerful message on victory.  In the chapter on “Jehovah Nissi,” it says:

“Joshua and Caleb both discovered God to be their Jehovah Nissi.  …When all of the men returned, the report of those two men was wonderful: ‘We can take the Promised Land!  We can do it!’ (See Numbers 13:30.)

But the other men said, ‘There is no way that we’ll take the land!  There are giants there, and the walls reach to the sky.  Those giants would eat us like meat!’

…Those other ten spies had the wrong self-image.  They saw themselves as defeated ones, not victorious ones.  They did not see their miracle-working God or His promises.  They could only see giants.  Joshua and Caleb saw their own true images in God.  They said, ‘We are already victorious because of Jehovah Nissi, our powerful, almighty God’!”

In a blog post from a few years ago, the story of David and Goliath so wonderfully encourages our hearts with the truth that we can’t look at the size of our “giants”, we have to look at the “size” of our God. 

(See https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2013/02/06/how-to-face-your-biggest-obstacle.)

In Marilyn Hickey’s book, I found her statement, “Many people plan to fail” so gripping.

How many times do we come from an experience of victory, and then begin to accept the lie, “You fell in that area so just give it time, and you are going to fail again.”  We hear the “truth” part that we did fall before.  The lie part is that just because we failed in that area before means that we will fail again, need to fail again, will fail again, and are a failure.

I love this truth in the chapter on “Jehovah NIssi”:

“God did not say that you can triumph only in a few situations.  He said that, in Him, you’re always a victorious one!  You are supposed to conquer because Jesus is a Conqueror!

…Jesus took all of your sins upon Himself, and He gave you His righteousness.  I like this comparison: when a lamb dies, the shepherd removes the lamb’s skin and places it on an orphaned lamb.  The mother lamb, who lost her baby, smells her baby’s skin on the orphaned lamb.  Because the skin is draped over him, she’ll adopt and raise that baby as her own.

It is the same way with Jesus’ righteousness.  When He died, He clothed you with the robe of His own right standing with God Almighty.  It’s a garment that smells like Jesus!  When the Father looks at your, what does He see?  He sees you, clothed in Jesus!

...Don’t ever see yourself as defeated; see the devil as defeated.”

How wonderful it is to know that because Jehovah Nissi is our God, we are victorious in Him!  We are over-comers because He overcame.

How do you see yourself?  As “stuck” with your old sin nature?  Or as redeemed and given a new nature — a victorious image as His son or daughter?

Sanctified And Walking On Water

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Para revelar a pureza das �¡guas da Ba�­a de Guanabara... kkk

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=1115491&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=826)

As Christians, we can experience those amazing “mountain top experiences” — those times when God has brought us major healing and freedom in areas.  Right afterwards, we experience such serenity of soul and such an awareness of the outpouring of God’s Spirit.

Our worship immediately following is so heart-felt and beautiful because it comes from a broken heart that has been healed.  (There is no sweeter worship than that which comes from hearts that have recognized their brokenness and have found healing!)

Then, perhaps within hours, days, or weeks, the lies aren’t just heard but we begin to receive themto respond in the old patterns of the flesh, if we aren’t careful.  This can happen through physical exhaustion, when it is easy for our awareness to diminish.  This can happen if we don’t stay “plugged in” to God’s Word, saturating our souls with His Truth so that it can “sanctify” (purify and “set us apart”). 

As soon as we believe the lie, our “knowing” (the way we perceive the truth) is changed.  That is why, two people can read the exact same thing and can see or understand two different things.  That’s why a person can totally “hear” something completely different than what you actually said.  Their way of “knowing” is different than yours.

The way we “know” things is crucial because it determines whether or not we comprehend, receive, and correctly understand the truth.

If we try to “know” things with our fleshly, unsanctified souls, we will not “know” the truth that God is trying to speak to us.

Our souls are our mind, will, and emotions.  In their natural, “unsanctified” form, our souls are unable to truly hear and receive the truth.

It takes God’s Spirit to “quicken” (in Biblical terms) or to “make alive”, transform, renew, redeem our spirits first and then to begin the process of sanctifying and renewing our souls.  It is the sanctifying or renewing of our souls that is what God desires and is doing in our lives as His children.

Once we begin to accept the old lies again, which is easy to do, we begin to fall back into the same bondage we were in before.

The danger is very real!  The lie is often so close to the truth that it is difficult to discern.  The lie often always uses some truth mixed with error so that we hear the “truth” part and don’t recognize the error that has been added.  This additional error or misapplication of a truthful statement brings about a wrong conclusion and is therefore still wrong — a lie.

For example, when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Satan came when Jesus was physically at his lowest.  Jesus had been fasting for 40 days in the wilderness.  He was physically depleted of his reserves and mental and emotional capabilities  Satan then quotes Bible verses to Jesus to tempt Jesus.  Satan takes “truthful” statements but misapplies them.  Jesus, being the Son of God, immediately recognized and rebuked the lies.

This is why, the Bible says (taken from BibleGateway) :

2 Corinthians 10:5New King James Version (NKJV)

casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

We have to be on guard all the time.  Just because we have come out of a major experience of spiritual healing doesn’t mean, Satan is going to leave us alone.  He will try to get us through different approaches to return to our old bondage.  If that doesn’t work, he will attempt to pull us into bondage in other areas.  This is something we should NOT fear, or we are giving Satan too much credit.  As the Bible says,

1 John 4:4King James Version (KJV)

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

The first few moments, days, and weeks following a “mountain-top” experience can be just like what Peter experienced when he began to walk on water towards Jesus.  Jesus had told Peter to get out of the boat.  Peter did and began to walk on water towards Jesus.  What an incredible experience!

Yet, within minutes, Peter began to notice the wind and waves around him.  As soon as Peter took his eyes off Jesus and began to focus on the wind and waves, Peter began to sink.

Nothing in Peter’s circumstances had changed.  Only Peter’s perspective had changed.

So often when temptations come (the wind and waves), we begin to focus on the fear of “sinking”.  The more we focus on the fear of sinking back into the old patterns, the very thing we fear becomes true: we begin to sink.

The more we focus on the problem, the more we focus on the problem (Think about that one.)

Instead, we need to get our eyes off the problem.  (Yes, acknowledge the problem but only so you can find the solution/help you need.)  If Satan can keep us focusing on the problem, he’ll keep us stuck in the problem, drowning in it. 

Instead, we need to focus on the solution. 

Instead, if we look up and look to the One Who told us to step out of the boat (our old ways) and into freedom with Him, we will be back to what got us the freedom in the first place: Jesus!

Jesus is our Solution!  Jesus is the One alone Who has the power to heal, to restore, to redeem, to sanctify, to give peace.  When our eyes are on Him, we become “immune” to the wind and waves around us.

Our circumstances haven’t necessarily changed, but our souls (our ability to perceive) change.

May we continue to walk in freedom and into greater freedom by keeping our eyes on Jehovah M’ Kaddesh, the God Who sanctifies.