A Divided World, A Divided Nation, A Divided Church, A Divided Home, A Divided Marriage, A Divided Soul…

Crack

(FreeImages.com/AndrewHildebrand)

There is so much that can unify us, but when I look around, I see so much division!

I see a divided world: first-world countries versus third-world countries.  I see a divided nation: very clearly defined differences in ideologies/beliefs and political systems.  I see a divided church: legalism versus grace versus faux-grace and one denomination against another denomination.  I see divided homes: parents warring against children and vise versa.  I see divided marriages: marriages that elevate one gender against the other and one belief system against another.  I see divided souls: people that walk in confusion, doubts, unrest, and inconsistency.  I see divided identities…

I see a world that reflects nations that reflects churches that reflects families that reflects marriages that reflects souls.

I see so many divided souls because the pains/wounds and mistakes of the past still imprison the present and the futures, unless truth/life is allowed to bring healing.

This can seem to over-simply things, but it is not a simple process.  It takes layers of healing to occur before we begin to stop living from the past and begin to live from the future.

We experience pain in our past, and we decide to live differently.  In fact, we will often pick something very different from our past and think that choice and system of belief will guarantee that we have moved on.

We understand that the systems of our past were broken and faulty, but what we don’t understand is what wholeness looks like. 

Without understanding wholeness ourselves, we will hop from one broken system to another.  They may have a different name, appearance, and message, but the crazy thing is they can often be just the other side of the coin that we had in the past.

Just picking a different system does not guarantee that we are headed into true life, freedom, and healing.

The problem is that when we are wounded, we will choose something different, but the different is not necessarily all whole and good itself. 

At first, the different feels good, safe, and liberating.  It’s a break from those things and people that wounded us in the past.  After awhile though, we begin to realize that throwing off one yoke doesn’t mean we haven’t picked up another yoke with which to replace it.

In fact, the nature of woundedness means we will often pick up another yoke just as heavy or heavier than the one before.  It just looks different and feels different so we don’t realize that it is still a yoke.

And… Freedom is not living a life free of any constraints, responsibilities, expectations, structures, or truth to guide us. 

Something in life is always compelling us.  It’s either others, a system, a belief, or ourselves.

We hear that we are to live freely for ourselves — that we dream our biggest dreams and allow no one to hold us back.

We think that by breaking free from others we break free ourselves.  There is some merit to this.  We don’t want to live to please everyone else, but on the other hand, we don’t want to live to please ourselves or that is the ultimate form of narcissism.

How do we therefore break free from people and at the same time break free from ourselves?

When you have felt the bondage of control and manipulation by others, you often think that freedom means the absence of accountability, structure, or response on our parts.  You think it means that you are free to live and believe however you choose.  To a huge extent, you are.  We are free to choose what we believe and how we live, but we are never free from the outcomes of those choices — just like, thank God, neither are those who have hurt us!

Do we really want a world that is devoid of consequences or accountability? 

Do we really want a world that chooses to live for self in order to liberate self?  Does that really make sense?

Can we be liberated if we live in bondage to the whims and desires of self?

Ultimately, we will also hold others captive to our own selfish desires.

…And… Can we really live free when we merely live in a reactionary state from the past?  Is that not still living under the influence of the past?

The point is we may choose something different because it is different, and maybe we will find something true and good in the process, but maybe we won’t.

If we are simply living from reactionary mode, our decisions are not based on clear and truthful thinking.  Reactionary mode means that we are unable to accurately position ourselves and our beliefs on a foundation of clear and stable thinking.

What then is the answer?

Find healing.  Be aware of your sources.  Find God for Himself rather than the twisted examples perhaps you were shown.  Find Him where He reveals Himself: creation, His Word (take off others glasses when reading it), simply communicate with Him.  Talk with Him, ask Him your questions, and listen.

Know that freedom is more than throwing off bondage.  It’s replacing it with truth. 

Truth is actually the surest form of freedom there is.

I hear though a lot of people who react to the word truth.  There are several reasons for this response: reaction to their past (haven’t healed fully yet), they are still in the state of living ultimately for themselves, they are reacting to twisted thinking that was portrayed as “truth,” and they don’t actually understand what truth is.

If you want to know truth, find God.  Seek Him.  Ask Him to reveal Himself to you and then listen, observe, and ponder.

Luke 20:21

21 Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth:

John 1:14

The Word Becomes Flesh

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 8:32

32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Do It Broken

YMCA Horse Mosaic 1

(FreeImages.com/MichelleRau)

As I was sitting in bed this morning with my journal, Bible, and a devotional, the words began to pour out, and the tears began to fall.  Before long, I was scrambling for my pen to jot down the thoughts God was giving me — thoughts about brokenness and grace…

I was reflecting back on how so many times I have wondered why God would entrust me with five precious children to raise when I am far from perfect.  I am not the most patient person.  Loud noises and lots of activity stress me.  Chaos and messes annoy me.  I get easily stressed over crazy busyness and never-ending activities.  The humor in this is all the above often describes my life.

I seem like the most unlikely choice to being a mom of five kids.  Was it all one big cosmic mistake, or ignorance on my part?  Does that mean my kids and I are relegated to just “muck through” the rest of life until they are out of the home, and I can be back in my comfy place again?

In answer to those questions, I will share thoughts God has been teaching me and what I want to share with you today…

Religion often teaches us that God waits until we get it all right before He uses us.

Grace is about God using us — not even in spite of our imperfections — but sometimes because of them.  Why?  Because when we are broken, we are pliable — more apt to be yielded and teachable.

Grace is God taking our brokenness and making something beautiful with the pieces.  He puts the pieces of our lives together, and it forms a beautiful piece of art.  It tells a whole new story.

I wrote the following words to the leaders on my business team.  Within our business, we are often required to stretch beyond our feelings, and the following words were to encourage them: (I think they just might encourage a few of you.)

I wanted to share some words of encouragement to you this Tuesday morning. We all go through times when we doubt ourselves and when we don’t feel completely “on top of our game.” The tendency is to then “hang back” and wait for that future time when we feel more successful or like we have it together before attempting to pursue our dreams. In other words, we want our dream before we pursue it. The truth is we have to pursue our dream before we find it.

I am going to blog about this shortly, but I wanted to post this note I wrote to an ambassador for all of you. I am hoping there might be a word of encouragement in it for you…

“I want to tell you, it’s okay to do life ‘broken.’ You don’t have to wait to live life or pursue your dreams until you ‘feel’ them. The best advice I can give you is to ‘do it scared’ and do it broken.

Grace acknowledges our brokenness — not to worship the brokenness — but to give glory to the Supremacy of the cross over our brokenness.

The power of the cross is the fact that God sees you not as you are but as Christ is!!!

Grace is the cross!

Grace is God’s ability to take our anguish, our brokenness, and our failings and to use us still. It is God’s ability to use imperfection and make it perfect because of the User.

The key is our surrender. We surrender to Him and quit trying to be all perfect before He can use us.

He uses us not in spite of our brokenness, but He uses even through and because of our brokenness itself to accomplish His purposes.”

And I want to cry right there…!

I am going to repeat this powerful statement once again:

Grace acknowledges our brokenness — not to worship the brokenness — but to give glory to the Supremacy of the cross over our brokenness.

So often, we get this idea that grace is slapping a “happy face” sticker over the world’s ills and telling everyone, “You’re great where you are.  Just be happy.”

The reality is Grace sees the depths of our anguish and brokenness and then says, “Give it to me, and I will take your brokenness and give you My Wholeness.  Your brokenness will become My wholeness because I will take those broken pieces, and I will bring healing to them and make them whole.”

Today, as you return to your chaotic world and the reminders of your own brokenness, I want to encourage you to stop looking at the brokenness and start looking at the cross.

The cross is a picture of brokenness and wholeness that melded into One Perfect Being so that you and I have a future, a calling, a tangible peace, an inexplicable joy, and an eternal hope that is a reality!!!

Give God your brokenness because He wants to weld His wholeness to it.

The Adulterer

(Picture from womeninthebible.net.)

(This post was so impressed on my heart this morning that I had to write it.  I feel that there must be someone who needs to read this.)

It had been too many years to count…  Too long since she had dared to believe, to hope…

Somewhere in the distant past, she remembered that there was a time when she had dreamed…  Dreamed that someone would truly love her — love her for herself…

She was still young in years, but she had already lived a lifetime of pain, regrets, and broken dreams.

She had given up hope, closed her heart so tightly that no one could penetrate it.  It was better to feel “nothing” then to keep feeling the crush of broken dreams.

To protect herself, she had erected a barrier of anger, calloused disregard, and daring defiance to all who questioned her.

“Better to pretend indifference than to reopen wounds too crushing to bare.”

She had decided that the best way to get back at those who had hurt her was to expose their own weaknesses — to see how weak they really were.

She had learned to blatantly tempt, to flaunt her ability to expose their own weaknesses and hypocrisy…

When she passed them on the streets, she could feel their utter hatred seething beneath the surface of their self-righteous disgust.  She could expose their weaknesses, their hypocrisy…

Their hatred covered their fear — fear of exposure.

That night had been like all the other endless nights… a night of pretending passion…  Trying to make enough money to feed a tummy while a starving soul felt the gnawing ache of  emptiness…

Then in the midst of this mockery of life, familiar faces stormed into her room, disrupting the throes of passion, roughly pulling her from tossed bedding and yanking her out into the harsh light of morning.

There she stood, rippling masses of hair falling down around her shoulders, wild in all of its glory.

She stood there, anger causing her to hold her head up, nostrils flared.

As the words of her accusers poured forth, a different emotion began to work its way into her belly.  Her old nemesis, called fear.  It mocked her, mocked her weakness as a woman.  Her partner in crime…?  He’d fled the scene.  There she stood, alone, exposed, mocked.

No one knew what had brought her to this place — this place of utter desecration.  No one cared. The voices of her accusers rang out, loud and discordant, harsh and ugly.

“Perhaps, it’s better this way any way.”  She was tired of the fight.  Tired of pretending to live when her soul had given up long ago.  She was tired of fighting for survival.  She was tired of pretending to be strong and desirable, when all she felt inside was incredible hatred — hatred most of all for herself.

Her dreams had died so long ago.  Why not her life as well?  It was a farce anyway.

Then as she looked at the pair of dirty sandals that drew nearer, she realized that this person to whom her accusers were appealing was to decide her fate.

It wasn’t even curiosity that drew her gaze upward — that too had died so long ago.  It was His voice…  In the middle of raging voices, His was the calm.  He spoke, and the rage seemed to still.

All of life seemed to hold its breath.  She could see the waves of heat rippling across the tiled roofs in the court-yard.  She could see little clouds of dust swirling around the sandals of those who had minutes ago been yelling.

There He stood.  Calm.  Resolute.  She looked at his eyes with a slight taunt, daring Him to condemn her … to get it all over with.

As she gazed into His eyes, she stopped.  He held her gaze.  There was no leering, no loathing, no rebuke, no embarrassment.  His eyes just held her gaze and measured her…

His gaze held recognition and “could it be sorrow and something else?”  It was an emotion she wasn’t even sure she wanted to define — something so foreign that it made her uncomfortable, made her vulnerable.

He turned, bent over, and wrote in the dirt…  A message so simple but so profound that her accusers silently walked away.

All else seemed to blur, except Him.  She could see every detail about Him with crystal clarity: feet dirty and roughened from walking miles, rivulets of sweat trailing from His hair-line to His beard, calloused hands holding the rock He had used to write, a particle of dust clinging to his eye-lashes, lips curved in the slightest of smiles, and those eyes…   Eyes that beckoned her to look again into their depths…  Eyes that seemed to tells stories and to know a depth of wisdom and years that she couldn’t begin to fathom…  Eyes that seemed to know her and to understand her… Eyes that knew the pain, the fears, the hurts, the anger, the self-loathing, the hopelessness…

Looking into those eyes, each wound, pain, despair, and sin when recalled was healed.  It was as if He was opening each door she had closed; and with a look, was cleaning and healing each room in her soul until there was nothing left but this feeling of complete and utter peace, contentment, and rest.

She stood there, no longer aware of her own indecency.  She forgot that she was the condemned.  She forgot that she had once known nothing but hopelessness.

With breath suspended in time, she waited… for once anticipating what He might say.

He asked her a question, perplexing and yet almost too good to be true…  His answer robbed her of breath.  She didn’t even realize that tears were trickling down her face… an emotion so foreign to her that at first she didn’t even realize what it was…  sorrow… but not a hopeless kind…

This time, her sorrow was the kind that healed all the broken places that she didn’t even know were there.  And in their place the tears left behind another raw emotion that again was something she wasn’t even sure she had known what it meant previously… it was this feeling of serene joy!  It was a feeling of buoyancy, as years of anguish faded into a distant memory…

Then, He said ten final words before turning and walking away:

“Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Ten simple but profound words.  Words that would echo themselves in a constant refrain in the years to come.  Words that would reassure her when people reminded her of her past…  Words that would encourage her when times were tough, and she wondered how she would make it without returning to the old ways…

They were five words that spoke a new message to her heart — a message of hope, redemption, reconciliation, and healing…  It was a message that told her she was no longer her past.  It was a message that told her she had a “fresh tablet”, a clean “scroll” on which to write her new life’s story.

She was an overcomer because she had been forgiven.  She had been condemned but was now cleansed.  She had been abandoned but was loved.  She had been accused but was accepted.

Later, when that same man was left hanging on a tree, beaten, exposed, and mocked, she was there in the crowd at His feet.  This time, she was crying for Him. This time, it was the innocent that was condemned.  He who loved was abandoned.  He who had accepted was accused.  He who had forgiven was rejected.  He who had healed was broken.

As she gazed at the blood pooling at the foot of the cross, her eyes alone seemed to read a message — a message written in His blood — the message of eternal love…

John 8:10-11

10 “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

Overcoming The Fear Of Rejection

Less than 12 hours to our Persian new year....
Wish you all my friends a new year full of beauty and peace, and specially a year without war for my dear homeland - IRAN.

باز كن پنجره ها را كه �...

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2134595&searchId=12a032ce9179c32a6c7ab397b9d871fa&npos=7)

I am one of those people who struggles with fears.  In fact, I am reading through the last chapter of Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson and Rich Miller.  Excellent book!

God has been working on me to bring healing from these fears.  It’s a fight though.  It’s a fight for me to choose to want to walk in the truth and to fight the fears/lies.  It means allowing God to reveal the truth to me instead of just accepting the lie or surrendering to the lie.

One of my fears I have struggled with is the fear of rejection.

  • It’s that fear that causes us to pathetically try to please everyone, to the loss of our own dignity in Christ. 
  • It’s that fear that causes us to avoid those we presume or perceive will reject us. 
  • It’s that fear that causes us to withhold transparency from others and to have difficulty admitting true faults. 
  • It’s that fear that causes us to be overly sensitive to the way others treat us or our perception of the way they are treating us.

Fear of rejection not only causes the individual to have a hard time admitting faults, but that individual may admit to silly, surface issues to distract from the true issue(s) to make it appear like there is honesty and repentance.

Where there is a strong problem with fear of rejection, the individual will have difficulty taking responsibility for wrong actions and attitudes and will avoid repentance.

You can recognize a person who is growing in grace by their willingness to be transparent.  This doesn’t mean “airing dirty laundry”, but this means that person will share with humility and honesty personal examples of how God is working in their own lives.

Fear of rejection is also a root cause of most self-centered people.  When one is consumed with fears of rejection, it is almost impossible to truly reach out to others and to be willing to listen to them when we are self-absorbed by our own constant need for affirmation and validation.

The person who fears rejection will constantly be looking for affirmation from others.

The root cause of the fear of rejection is based on a lie.

All areas of spiritual bondage are always based on a lie we have believed about God. The lie in this case can be rooted in past hurts.  Those past hurts may have caused us to then associate those painful circumstances or harmful earthly relationships with a faulty belief about God. 

The faulty beliefs about God may be that God is uncaring, distant, disinterested, stern, demanding, passive, cold, insensitive…  Those are the lies.

In order to have freedom, we need to first recognize a wrong belief we have about God.  

The truths (answers to those lies) regarding God are the following, taken from Freedom From Fear, by Neil Anderson and Rich Miller:

I joyfully accept the truth that my Father God is…

  • intimate and involved (Psalms 139:1-18)
  • kind and compassionate (Psalms 103: 8-14)
  • accepting and filled with joy and love (Romans 15:7; Zephaniah 3:17)
  • warm and affectionate (Isaiah 40:11; Hosea 11:3.4)
  • always with me and eager to be with me (Hebrews 13:5; Jeremiah 31:20; Ezekiel 34:11-16)
  • patient and slow to anger (Exodus 34:6; 2 Peter 3:9)
  • loving, gentle, and protective of me (Jeremiah 31:3; Isaiah 42:3; Psalm 18:2)
  • trustworthy and wants to give me a full life; His will is good, perfect, and acceptable (Lamentations 3:22, 23; John 10:10; Romans 12:1-2)
  • full of grace and mercy; He gives me freedom to fail (Hebrews 4:15-16; Luke 15:11-16)
  • tenderhearted and forgiving; His heart and arts are always open to me (Psalm 130:1-4; Luke 15:17-24)
  • committed to my growth and proud of me as His growing child (Romans 8:28-29; Hebrews 12:5-11; 2 Corinthians 7:4)

In order to be healed from the fear of rejection, you must accept the truth and choose to reject the corresponding lie regarding God.  This has to be a constant practice because the lies can quickly “crop up” in our lives, bringing us back into bondage again.  When there is a long-term habit of believing a pattern of specific lies, it will take a long-term commitment and practice of learning to reject those lies and accept the truth in regards to those lies in order to find healing.

Freedom can and will occur as we begin to accept the truth and reject the lies.

“Every Christian needs to learn that Christ is the only defense he or she needs.  Realizing that you are already forgiven and accepted by God through Christ will help free you up to place all your dependence on Him.” — from Freedom From Fear

Learning to walk in freedom from the fear of rejection is still something I am learning.  I have much more to learn, but I can truthfully and joyfully say that by God’s grace, I am growing in this area.  One of the most freeing areas for me is that I have such a different concept of God than what I had a decade ago.  Not fearing God’s rejection of me means that I actually find it a happy thought when God convicts me.  I am not happy about the sin, but I am thankful He is convicting me because it means that God’s Spirit is working in me and because He loves me enough to want me to grow more and more into His image.

“How Can It Be”

I am guilty
Ashamed of what I’ve done, what I’ve become
These hands are dirty
I dare not lift them up to the Holy OneYou plead my cause, you right my wrongs
You break my chains, you overcome
You gave your life, to give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be? Yeah
How can it be? YeahI’ve been hiding
Afraid I’ve let you down
Inside I doubt, that you still love me
But in your eyes, there’s only grace now

You plead my cause, you right my wrongs
You break my chains, you overcome
You gave your life, to give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be? Yeah
How can it be? Yeah

Though I fall, you can make me new
From this death, I will rise with you
Oh, the grace reaching out for me, yeah
How can it be, how can it be?

You plead my cause, you right my wrongs
You break my chains, you overcome
You gave your life, to give me mine
You say that I am free, yeah

You plead my cause, you right my wrongs
You break my chains, you overcome
You gave your life, to give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be? Yeah
How can it be? Yeah

by Lauren Daigle

Freedom From Shame — When The Hardest Person To Forgive Is Yourself

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=987163&searchId=d5aa1729c8c253e5d917a5264855eab8&npos=317)

Shame.

It debilitates.  It chains us to the past, chokes our ability to live fully in the present, and suppresses our hope for the future.  It causes us to hide, to avoid.  It tells us that we are the past — that we are and will always be what we did wrongfully in the past or what was done wrongfully to us.  It tells us that we will never be more than the lie.

If you have ever felt those waves of guilt and remorse sweep over you — those feelings of regret and wishing you could take back those words, attitudes, or actions — then this is for you.

If you have felt like you will always be unloved, a failure, wounded, the person of your past, then this is for you.

“When we experience shame over our sin, our natural tendency is to hide from others.  We shut people out of our lives, we avoid praying or Bible reading, and we cover up the evidence of our sin … We hide because we feel shame … Shame tells us to hide, but joy spills out in praise to God for His salvation.” (Glimpses of Grace)

How can we be free from shame?

What methods are we using to try to free ourselves from our feelings of guilt, shame, condemnation?  Are we using self-justification, shifting blame to others, or wallowing in self-pity?

Here’s a powerful and insightful comment in regards to shame:

We will be free from the controlling effect of shame only when we are repenting of our efforts to cleanse ourselves and rejoicing in the saving blood of Christ instead. (Glimpses of Grace)

We often are not experiencing freedom from the past because we are looking to ourselves to cleanse and free ourselves.  It’s like trying to use a dirty rag to clean another dirty cloth, or it’s like asking a blind person to describe to another blind person what they are seeing.  These may not be the best analogies, but perhaps the point is made…

Jesus alone has the power to free us from our shame because He has the power to forgive sins, and He did that when He died on the cross.  Sin was defeated at the cross.

Here’s the truth in regards to our sins and shameful past and guilt-ridden present:

  • “By God’s grace, He is triumphant even over your hopelessness, cynicism, and doubt.”  (Glimpses of Grace)
  • “God in His grace invites us to be continually repenting of our sins and rejoicing in Christ’s provision of righteousness for us.” (Glimpses of Grace)
  • “God’s commitment to save those who believe in Him is to His glory.” (Glimpses of GraceOur sanctification is based on God’s commitment to His own infallible attributes — not our own inabilities to save ourselves.  Our sanctification has always been God’s work of salvation and grace — not our own.  He will be faithful to complete that which He started.
  • “God will not hold sins against you that He has held onto His Son’s dying body on the cross.” (Glimpses of Grace

John 8:36

36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to forgive you from your sins and to free you from the penalty of your sins.  His death on the cross was the final payment for our sins.

When we carry the burden of shame, we live as though we are not completely forgiven. 

When we live as though we are not completely forgiven, we live as though we do not believe that Jesus’ death on the cross didn’t just pay for the penalty of our sins but also frees us from the strongholds of sin in our lives today. 

Jesus didn’t just come to save us for eternal life.  He came to give us His new life today.  He came to change our present and our future.

In order to be changed, you must believe the truth — that you are set free, that He did overcome, that the cross was enough, that His Holy Spirit living in you is enough (more than enough).

‘Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will do something new.’ (Isa. 43:18-19).  The Lord reminded me that He seeks to deliver me from the guilt of the past and move me toward the promise of the future.  His goal is never to bring guilt and condemnation by continually reminding me of the my past sins but rather to bring healing and obedience by turning my attention to my future with Him. (Discerning The Voice Of God)

God doesn’t point out our sin to condemn us.  God’s purpose in lovingly revealing our sin is to encourage us to acknowledge it and confess it so He can change us.  The Enemy’s voice brings condemnation…  The Holy Spirit brings conviction that always provides a road map out and away from a specific sin.  His aim is to lovingly steer us in the direction of His grace.

He reveals our sins to lead us to repentance, but his revelation is buffered with the hope of His grace, love, and another chance.  He has already undergone the punishment for our sin once and for all on the cross.” (Discerning The Voice Of God)

I love that quote:

His aim is to lovingly steer us in the direction of His grace.

Jesus’ forgiveness has never been based on your abilities or inabilities, your worthiness or unworthiness.  His love and forgiveness is based on the perfection of His love, grace, and complete work of salvation.

The purpose of the voice of condemnation is to push you away from His presence — that which is the very source of your victory.  The purpose of the voice of conviction is to press you into the face of Christ.  (Bob Sorge — quote taken from Discerning The Voice Of God)

Wow!  Let me repeat that last line…

“The purpose of the voice of conviction is to press you into the face of Christ.”  (Bob Sorge — quote taken from Discerning The Voice Of God)

Psalm 103:12

12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

If you have asked Him for forgiveness, you are forgiven!

When God forgives you, He sets you free from that sin.  Believe it!

What God says, is.  

Here’s His final authority on the matter:

Romans 8:31-39

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Life-Changing Focus

Remember <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M._C._Escher" target="_blank">M.C.Escher</a>?

What you see is the celebration hall of the columbiadamm cemetery in Berlin, Germany. If you speak german, then you find ...

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=701282&searchId=c77848cc02fefd0c360ce733a4affd93&npos=132)

“Knowing the love of God and who we are in Christ affects how we live our lives, as I John 3:1-3 reveals…  Knowing God is the most important part of our belief system.”  (Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

“The cross was where the work was finished, dealing a death blow to sin and death.  The empty tomb was where the work was vindicated, assuring us of eternal life.  The presence of Jesus in heaven is where the work will be glorified…”  (Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

 When I look at my circumstances, I become stressed or falsely secure.  When I look at my possessions, I either become discontent or proud.  When I look at myself, I become discouraged or selfish.  When I look to others, I can be either insecure or judgmental.  When I look to the Lord, I am made full of His goodness, and everything else dims.

 Who is the Lord and what is He like?

Jehovah-jireh (The Lord will provide.) Gen. 22:14

El Shaddai (The One Who is mighty to shed forth and pour out sustenance and blessing) Gen. 17:1-2

Jehovah-Sabaoth (The Lord of the hosts of heaven) Ps. 24:10

Jehovah-rophe (The Lord our healer) Ex. 15:26

Jehovah-shalom (The Lord is peace) Judges 6:24

Jehovah-rohi (The Lord our Shepherd) Ps. 23:1

Jehovah-shammah (The Lord is there) Ezekiel 48:35

Jehovah-nissi (The Lord is my banner) Ex. 17:15

Jehovah-tsidkenu (The Lord our righteousness) Jer. 23:5-6

(Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

 

It is so easy to get stuck looking back at the past, with all its failures, hurts, and wounds.  We need to bring those hurts and sins to the Lord, but then leave them with Him.

It is so easy to get stuck looking at our present, and we forget that there is a far greater and broader perspective that helps keep circumstances in proper focus.  It’s called the God of eternity.

It is so easy to worry about the future with its unknown possibilities, and we forget Who controls it.

“…our lives are changed as our minds are changed by the truth.”   (Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

 Who else is God?

He is…

Advocate (I John 2:1)

Alpha and Omega (Rev. 21:6)

Amen (Rev. 3:14)

Anointed One (Ps. 2:2)

Apostle of our confession (Heb. 3:1)

Author and perfector of faith (Heb. 12:2)

Beginning and end (Rev. 21:6)

Beloved (Eph. 1:6)

Branch (Zech. 3:8)

Bread of Life (John 6:35)

Bright morning star (Rev. 22:16)

Chief cornerstone (Mk. 12:10)

Chief shepherd (I Pet. 5:4)

Christ (Matt. 16:16-17)

Counselor (Is. 9:6)

Deliverer (Rom. 11:26)

Door (John 10:2)

Eternal Father (Is. 9:6)

Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11)

First and last (Rev. 20:13)

God (John 1:1, 14)

Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

Guardian of souls (I Pet. 2:25)

Head of the church (Col. 1:18)

Heir of all things (Heb. 1:2)

High priest (Heb. 4:14)

Holy One (I John 2:20)

Horn of salvation (Luke 1:69)

I Am (John 8:58)

Immanuel (Matt. 1:23)

King of Israel (John 12:13)

King of kings (Rev. 17:14)

Lamb (Rev. 13:8)

Life (John 14:6)

Light of the world (John 8:12)

Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5)

Living Stone (I Pet. 2:4)

Lord (John 21:7)

Lord Jesus Christ (I Pet. 1:3)

Lord of lords (Rev. 17:14)

Messiah (John 4:25-26)

Mighty God (Is. 9:6)

Our Passover Lamb (I Cor. 5:7)

Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6)

Prophet (Deut. 18:15,18)

Redeemer (Is. 59:20)

Resurrection and life (John 11:25)

Righteous One (Is. 53:11)

Rock (I Cor. 10:4)

Root and offspring of David (Rev. 22:16)

Ruler (Matt. 2:6)

Savior (Luke 2:11)

Son of God (Rom. 1:4)

Son of Man (Matt. 24:30)

Teacher (John 13:13)

True vine (John 15:1)

Truth (John 14:6)

Way (John 14:6)

Wonderful (Is. 9:6)

Word of God (Rev. 19:13)   (Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

“The main difference between ungodly meditation and Biblical meditation is the object of our meditation.”  (Freedom From Fear by Neil Anderson)

Do we focus on our past, our present circumstances, ourselves (our own faults, insecurities, fears, hurts), others, our possessions (health, looks, physical abilities, material possessions), or do we focus on the Lord?

The truth of God is the key to healing in all areas of our lives.  What truth about Him do we need to replace the lies in our minds and hearts that are hindering us from living the life God has given to us?

Jesus died to save us from our sins — its penalty but also from its debilitating presence in our lives.  Jesus came to give us life — His life that is abundant, grace-filled, peaceful (true kind), joyful (not reliant on our circumstances)!  If we are not living the “abundant” life He died to give us, then we must ask ourselves what the lies are we are believing, repent of them, and then ask the Lord to replace them with the truth.  The truth is found in Himself.

What truth about Him needs to replace some lies you might be living today?

 

Healing For Our Brokenness

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=1045914&searchId=6cad826248cd3f4e93da71e7b49928e3&npos=550)

When it feels like the wounds from our past will never heal..  When we look in the mirror and see the haunted eyes of a victim staring back at us…  When each time we hear a news article that speaks of a similar situation to our own painful past feels like it has re-opened old wounds…  When we wonder if we will ever be anything other than wounded and hurting…

Today, I was just reading in my devotional, Men & Women Of The Bible, the story of the life of Jairus.

Luke 8:40-56

40 And it came to pass, that, when Jesus was returned, the people gladly received him: for they were all waiting for him.

41 And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:

42 For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him.

43 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,

44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.

45 And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?

46 And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.

47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.

48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.

49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.

50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.

51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.

52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.

53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.

54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.

55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.

56 And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.

The devotional summarized the story of Jairus with these words:

“The words Jesus spoke to Jairus — ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe’ — ought to echo frequently in our hearts.  Fear can make for a hopeless outlook, but trust in God keeps hope alive.  Those who trust in God often find they get back what they thought they had lost.”

I love the summary that those who trust in God often find they get back what they thought they had lost.

I also love the part that tells another story within the story of Jairus.  It is the story of the woman who had suffered for 12 years from a disease.  This woman knew Jesus could heal her so she reached out and touched His garment.

I find it interesting that Jesus’ power to heal her acted it seems of its own volition.  That verse is curious to me.

The verse states that some of His “virtue” left Him to heal her.  She reached, and she received.

Jairus also had a “hopeless” situation.  While he was waiting for Jesus to finally get to his house, Jairus received news that his daughter had already died.

Then there’s the story of Lazarus in the Bible.

John 11 :1-44

11 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

Doesn’t that sound like so many of us?  It appears like God is absent, late, or even worse present and uncaring.  In each of the above situations, people were suffering.  In all three cases, the end result was God did bring good to them.  He restored what had been lost to them. 

The shortest verse in the Bible is found in the story of Lazarus.  It is those two profound words, “Jesus wept.”  Two simple words that communicate so much.  Jesus wasn’t unfeeling.  He wasn’t ignoring the pain and the hurts.

Perhaps today, you are reading this with tears streaming down your eyes, asking Jesus, “Will this pain never end?”  Perhaps, you are reading this, angry, because it looks like another “feel-good” message that doesn’t seem to have any relevance to your life today.  Perhaps, you are questioning how this can change your past.

I do not claim to hold all the answers for you.  In fact, it would be arrogant for me to presume upon God’s role as comforter in your life.  What I do know is this…

I know that God is a loving God and that He personally loves you.

I know that God is a healing God, and that He can heal you from even the deepest hurts and wounds.

I know that God brings beauty out of ashes.

I know that God can take a victim and make you a victorious overcomer.

I know that your past doesn’t need to define your present.

I know that He can restore what was taken from you with something far better.

Dear sister or brother in Christ, will you take all of those hurts and all of those wounds and will you hand them to Him?  Are you willing to reach out to Him?  His very nature is such that when you reach out for His healing, His healing power immediately responds.

Reach out and receive.

You can be a new and “present work” of His grace and power living out in your life.

PLUMB LYRICS

“Restored”

All the fear
All the bitter
Has disappeared
It’s just a vapor now
All the shame
All the broken
That should be here
Has all left me now
I have been made wholeMy heart is so full
My cup overflows
What once was so fractured has been
Restored
And you overcome
All I cannot
No matter how fractured
No matter whatAll the dark
All the distance
Has disappeared
It’s just a vapor now
All the hurt
All the hatred
That should be here
Has all left me now
I have been made whole

My heart is so full
My cup overflows
What once was so fractured has been
Restored
And you overcome
All I cannot
No matter how fractured
No matter what

Oh hallelujah
I’ve been made whole
What once was fractured
Has been restored
Oh hallelujah
I’ve been made whole
What once was fractured
Has been restored

My heart is so full
My cup overflows
What once was so fractured has been
Restored
And you overcome
All I cannot
No matter how fractured
No matter what

Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

 

Forgiveness — A Powerful Key To Healing

  • Forgiveness is one of the most crucial elements to walking in true freedom — the spiritual and soul kind of freedom.

“Forgiving others positions your soul to receive the peace and freedom that Jesus purchased for you by suffering in your place.” (Think Differently, Live Differently)

  • Forgiveness is a powerful component of our spiritual, physical, and soul (mind, will, and emotions) healing.  

  • Forgiveness is a gift that allows us to heal.  From Think Differently, Live Differently by Bob Hamp:

Forgiveness is not a hoop we jump through to make a mad God happy.  Instead, it is a gift that allows us to heal from wounds caused by the behavior of others and to remain true to God’s nature within us.  [His Holy Spirit and the new life we have as His child] in the face of the most horrendous of evils.  A few false beliefs about forgiveness may keep people from receiving this most healing of gifts.”

  • Forgiveness opens the door for God to heal the roots of pain and fear that have maintained our anger. 

(From Think Differently, Live Differently:)  “Until this restoration process begins, the best we can hope for is to swallow our anger, our pain, and our fear.

we cannot experience healing while we still cling to the source of our pain.

When our will makes the the choice, our soul can access God’s supernatural power to forgive.”

 

  • Forgiveness enables the individual to actively engage in true living.

    One can go through the motions of living: eating, sleeping, working, and other bodily functions; but when unresolved wounds are left to fester, they hinder the individual’s ability to heal and thus truly connect the individual’s means of true life and being (God’s Spirit to heal our spirit to heal our souls and bodies).

  • Forgiveness takes responsibility for what we do with the sin of the offender — not for the sin itself.

In Think Differently, Live Differently, it says:

As long as we are holding on to anger toward another, they own real estate in our mind.  The more intense the conflict, and the longer the duration, the more acreage they own.

In maintaining resentments, you have given significant parts of your mind over to others, so you will have difficulty controlling your thoughts until you make the difficult choice to forgive.

  • Forgiveness turns the offender over to God for correction/justice. 

In Think Differently, Live Differently, it says:

“Before they sinned against you, they sinned against God.”

  • Forgiveness is a decision of the mind but also involves the release of emotions from the heart. 

    In order to forgive and heal,  it is important to acknowledge the hurt and pain that the offense caused.  Repressing emotions is ignoring a problem that won’t go away until we deal with the problem.  Forgiveness is releasing those emotions to God — every, very real one of them. 

“Forgiveness is not a rigid, uncompassionate demand from a God who does not understand.  It is His gift, allowing us to continue to love and maintain a soft heart in the face of real pain and evil.” (Think Differently, Live Differently)

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?”

The Bully In The Closet

IMG_6722

There’s a lot of interest right now in the topic of “bullying.”  In fact, I recently wrote an article on “Christian Bullying” that got a lot of attention.

Sometimes though, it is so easy to focus on the wrongs among the people “out there” rather than the wrongs within ourselves.

This time, the magnifying glass may need to come a little closer to home.

As I wrote the article on “Christian Bullying,” I found myself re-evaluating my own personal actions and attitudes within my home.  I didn’t want to write about a topic about which I myself might be guilty.

There will be times when we will all struggle with the more “common” sins.  A question to be asked is: “Is this sinful attitude present in my heart?” 

If the answer is yes, I need to confess this before the Lord and to truly repent, which means to change the way in which I was going.

The root attitudes behind bullying are pride and fear.  Both of these sinful heart attitudes are very common and at the root of most sins.  Perhaps even all sins. 

Pride and fear work together.  They stem from the same lie.

Since both pride and fear are very common sinful attitudes, it’s a VERY good chance that those same sinful attitudes are prevalent in our own hearts and influence our own actions from time-to-time.

As I allowed God’s Holy Spirit to reveal my own attitudes to me, I began to see more clearly that “bullying” can be a lot closer to home than I might want to admit. 

I began to hear God’s “quiet voice” (Holy Spirit) speaking to my heart to reveal that I need to be cleaning out my own “closets”, “pantries”, and “sock drawers.” 

It’s easy for us to be so busy pointing out the flaws in our husbands, kids, relatives, and other Christians that we avoid looking at our own personal wrong attitudes and wrong actions.

Why do we shy away from that which is uncomfortable?  Fear? 

Why do we fear God’s “scalpel” that seeks to remove all the “dead growth” in our lives, all the “infectious wounds” from past hurts and lies?  Again, is it because we fear our wrong version of God?  Do we think that by admitting our sin(s), we will be forever condemned?

God knows of our sins.  He is All-Knowing!

Isn’t that the definition of “God” — that He is the most Powerful and All-Knowing Being?  If He knows about our sins already, how does our attempts to hide them help our case at all? 

Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the Garden of Eden.  When they sinned for the first time, they discovered that the “knowing”, Satan (in the snake) promised, was a crushing awareness and personal acquaintance with their own sin.  They “knew” what sin is and the debilitating guilt and fear that accompanies it. 

Adam and Eve had sought life outside of God and found death instead.

God had given them every tree in the Garden of Eden to eat, including the Tree of Life, EXCEPT for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Just like the rest of humanity is often guilty of, Adam and Eve chose to eat the one thing they were told not to eat.  They chose to find “life” outside of God. 

Adam and Eve had disconnected themselves from their true Source of Life and had instead looked to the Knowledge of Good and Evil as its source. 

So much of “religion” stems from that same tree“Religion” is often about trying to find our “spiritual life” from a knowledge of good and evil.  That knowledge will either lead us to personally feeling condemned and living in fear, or it will lead to a proud and/or judgmental attitude — that we are better than those around us or that we are our own source of defining what is good and not good.  The roots are the same.

When Adam and Eve sinned, everything changed!  Their world changed.  Death entered.  Their fellowship with God was hurt.

Then Jesus came.

God’s plan was to send a Savior to fix the problems that started when sin first entered.  

The Savior would connect man back into the True Source of Life (an intimate relationship with God Himself) and would work to separate man from his false “roots” of security (Knowledge of Good & Evil).

The Savior would neither leave the sinner condemned nor condone the “weeds” of sin but would work to replace fear with peace and faith, to replace pride with delighting in God’s character and who we are in Him.

Neither pride nor fear can be present when we are walking in an intimate relationship and understanding of God and Who He is and Who we are in Him.

There is no room for condemning others when we truly understand Who God is.  There is no room for fear when we personally know God.

Fear and pride come when we are disconnected from God — when we seek to find “life” outside of God.

We hang onto these “rags” when God wants to give us the richness of His grace!

Those bullies in our closet, those rags in our drawers, those dirt piles in our corners … let’s open the doors and the drawers and turn on the lights.  It’s time we stopped trying to hide and cover our shame and allow God to purify and heal us from the inside out! 

God’s plan was never to leave us hidden in the dark or to leave us condemned by our own guilt.  His plan was always to reconnect us to our True Source of Life! 

As we are “connected” to Life, we can become a true “channel” to the world around us for God’s love and light to flow. 

“How I praise Thee, precious Saviour,
That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me
That I might Thy channel be.

“Channels only, blessèd Master,
But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.

“Just a channel full of blessing,
To the thirsty hearts around;
To tell out Thy full salvation
All Thy loving message sound.

“Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
A clean vessel in Thy hand;
With no power but as Thou givest
Graciously with each command.”

By Mary Maxwell