Is Religion The Only Offender Against Women?

praying woman

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I recently saw a friend’s comment on Facebook about how a lot of issues within the church are based on gender issues.  I understand the validity and even pain of what she is saying because I certainly saw the reality of some of this personally.  Yes, the Church has allowed some of those false ideas and lies from the past to remain.  They are just labeled with “religious-sounding” terms so it sounds better or more Biblical.

Just because I call a dandelion a flower doesn’t make it so.

So often, terms have been falsely defined, and so we reject the term without understanding that within every lie, there is often a nugget of truth.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he took God’s Word but twisted it and misapplied it in the wrong context, making it a lie.

There is the term submission mentioned in the Bible, but it has been often twisted and misapplied in the wrong context.  Within the same passage as submission is also God commanding husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.

How did Christ love the Church?

How did Christ love the Church?  By domineering, forcing submission, commanding their service while lording His position over them, devaluing them, ruling with harshness and unrelenting pride…?  No!  Rather, Christ served.  He laid down His life.  He listened.  He healed.  He cried.  He restored.  He forgave.  Everything He did, He did for them.  Christ did not come to the Earth to be served and but instead to serve.  His was an example of humble, servant leadership, always seeking the best for the other person.  He saw the value of the weakest, most vulnerable in society and acknowledged them and gave them His time and attention.

What Scripture shows is not one ruling, and the other serving and submissive/subdued.  What Scripture shows is both husbands and wives are called to lay down their lives to love/serve another one.  Both are called to put the others needs first.  Both are called to Christ’s example of Agape love, which is the most selfless and humble love of all.  Both are required to lay down their life for the other.

I wrote the following in response to my friend’s FB post, with some additional thoughts:

It is sad the way religion has abused women. It is also sad the way the world abuses women. One tells us that we are inferior to men. The other often continues to promote the same thing by taking it from a different angle, telling us that to be important we have to prove we are like men or better than men, which only says, “We are only important if we can prove our worth by being like a man or better than a man.”

What if the truth is, our uniqueness is part of our amazing, beautiful package of worth?!!! It’s not in being like a man or better than a man, because that actually feeds into the lie; it’s merely a reaction to the lie rather than the authenticity of the truth.

It’s also not about us being a sub-category, inferior, subdued, oppressed, or dominated.

The truth of what I see in Scripture is God restoring the broken image — the bad rap. women got at the Fall (false teaching, BTW). In religious circles, women are often blamed for the Fall.

God always noticed the down-trodden, the wounded, the vulnerable, the oppressed, and the undervalued.  That is why I believe He made sure He restored that broken image by how He demonstrated His thoughts concerning women in His life on Earth.

Jesus revealed Himself to women who in that society often felt unnoticed, unloved, undervalued. He demonstrated that He saw, heard, and honored them.

Jesus allowed women to be the first ones present to testify of His resurrection. Women were the first ones to see and hear Jesus in His resurrected state.  Interesting how the very things that women seem to feel within in religion — not seen or heard — are the very things Jesus did for them.  He saw them and revealed Himself to them.  He spoke to them and heard their cries.

God speaks of many women in the Bible whom He showed He valued, regardless of how society at the time regarded them. By lifting these women up and telling their stories, God shows that He heard and saw their worth. (See Abigail, Hannah, Sarah, Rebekah, Eve, Esther, Miriam, Jochebed, Rahab, Bathsheba, Deborah, Lydia, Priscilla, Dorcas, Mary Magdalene, Mary, Elisabeth, Mary and Martha, Samaritan Woman, woman caught in adultery, Tabitha, Damaris, Naomi, Ruth, and the list goes on.)  Entire books of the Bible were dedicated to telling some of these women’s stories.

He showed in the Proverbs 31 woman a woman of amazing dignity, strength, resourcefulness, honor, and trust. She made the decisions for the running of her household, for doing business, for buying land. By sitting with the elders, her husband demonstrated great trust and respect in her abilities. She had freedom, responsibility, and the trust of her husband.

That’s the kind of woman God has called me to be, and I am thankful that His picture is of strength, dignity, honor, trust, resourcefulness, intelligence, wisdom, etc…!

God has restored in me so much of the image that was broken. God alone knows what our purpose looks like — religious doesn’t, and the world doesn’t. Each are just vying to react against each other — too busy pitting against one another.

The authentic image steps out and away from the mess and is secure in knowing her worth.

Religion rejects our image and undermines it.  It says we are inferior and meant to be controlled and dominated by men.

The world rejects our image and tells us there is no value in the way we were created unless we compete to be like a man.  This is nothing more than once again undermining our image.

Christ shows the Father’s heart, and what we see is that women are unique, a glory to God, they are clothed with strength and honor, virtuous, and our voices are heard.  We are seen, we are heard, and we, as women, are valued.  We don’t have just a place in God’s Kingdom.  We are an integral part of His Kingdom!

If we want to know our value, we won’t find it in the world, and we won’t find it in religion.  We will find it in the God who made us, who loves us, and who shows the greatest servant-leadership by lifting us up and calling us into positions of amazing influence and honor.

We don’t have to be more or different to be validated!  We already are of infinite worth!

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The Message That Keeps Resonating With Me

All this feels strange and untrue
And I won't waste a minute without you
My bones ache, my skin feels cold
And I'm getting so tired and so old

The anger swells in my guts
And I won't feel these slices and cuts
I want so much to ope...

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=2262824&searchId=bc0e09031dae94ae6ee2ea1ed81dcd6c&npos=20)

Surrender.

Submit.

Two words that keep resonating with me because this is a message that God has been impressing so soundly on my heart over the past few months.

Both words can sound offensive or frightening, depending on how they are interpreted or applied.

There have been so many misuses and abuses of the word “submit” that it can evoke a lot of unpleasant memories for some of us. 

How amazing it has been for me to relearn the true meanings and proper usages of these words and to find within them, not a place of weakness, inferiority, insecurity, or failure.  Instead, I have found these words (submit and surrender) to become synonymous for victory, strength, peace, protection, and guidance in my life.

In my Bible study book, Discerning the Voice of God, I read the following quotes:

“What hinders me from hearing [God speak to my heart] is that I am taken up with other things.  It is not that I will not hear God, but I am not devoted in the right place.  I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes, but I do not hear Him.  The child attitude is always, ‘Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth‘.” — Oswald Chambers

Most of us spend more time emphasizing our bodies and souls than our spirits.  We want to do what feels good, appeases our emotions, seems rational to our mind, and suits our will — with little thought to what the “control tower” is saying in us … How do we begin focusing on the control tower [His Spirit] within?  We begin our day surrendering ourselves to Him and asking Him to heighten our spiritual senses to see and hear Him throughout the day … You can cooperate with Him through obedience and spending intimate time with Him.

As you yield to and obey the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life, He conforms your soul to the image of Christ and uses your body as the instrument to carry out His purposes.

Paul didn’t say to experience victory in this area, you have to fight really hard.  He just said to present, yield, or surrender your body.  (Roma. 12:1-2.) Through Jesus, you have already been given victory as a gift (see I Cor. 15:57.)  You experience it by presenting your body to God as an instrument for Him to use.

The Holy Spirit is always busy making us like Jesus, but we must cooperate in this effort.  …every part of our body has been given to us not for our own gratification but as a “tool to do what is right for the glory of God” (Rom. 6:13).  Give your hands to Him for His work, your feet to walk His path, and your ears to hear Him speak.

Often the Spirit’s leading will contradict our logic and feelings; but when we submit, we will experience a deep-rooted peace about our decision.

The words, surrender and submit, have become precious to me now because I know how they apply in my relationship with the Lord.  Those two words are the key to walking in peace, righteousness, grace, obedience, joyfulness, and faith.  They are the answer to experiencing the peace and joy and life I’ve always wanted.

I have written numerous past blogs on this topic: of my Christian walk being so much of a struggle.  I know that I am not alone in these struggles.  I have heard so many Christians state or write almost the exact same thing.  Life for myself and for so many Christians is so much of a struggle to do God’s will.  God’s will often seems more synonymous with work, a struggle, difficulties.

Jesus though says:

Matthew 11:30

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The Christian walk only becomes burdensome and a struggle when we attempt to do it in our own strength, in our own efforts.  If we sense a struggle, then we have a good indication that we are not resting or submitted to God’s will. 

The struggle is an indication that we are trusting in ourselves, in our own reasoning, our own faith, our own sense of timing or justice or whatever.

When we are submitted to God, we have surrendered ourselves — all of us — to God. 

Surrender means we are yielded to His purposes, to His timing, to His will.

The struggle indicates a battle.  It’s a battle between walking in our flesh, trusting in ourselves, and between trusting in God enough to submit and yield ourselves to Him.

If we are not fully submitted to God, I can guarantee you that there is a lack of trust.

The “root” to that lack of trust is a fear or lie you have believed that is keeping you back from being able to fully submit to God.

Submission to God is crucial in our walk with the Lord.  When I am at a place of complete surrender to God, I have found the greatest source of peace.  I cannot even begin to describe how amazingly beautiful this kind of serenity of soul is!

Being surrendered to God enables me to be fully “connected” to my Power Source, fully receptive to His leading, fully guided by His Spirit, fully at rest (peace) in Him, fully “engaged” to act as He directs, fully protected by being in the center of His will, fully filled with His Holy Spirit so His fruits are manifested in my life.

Surrender to God is where you find true and lasting victory.

Submission to God is where you find power to act decisively, guided by His Presence.

Are your actions, attitudes, words stemming from your own purposes and guidance, or do they come as a result of spending time with the Lord, waiting on Him, listening to Him, submitting to Him, resting and trusting in Who He is and in the infallibility of His good will?

When Waiting Seems To Be The Only Action Occuring…

Pete's a German shepherd-chow mix.  I took him for a walk one morning.

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=767402&searchId=cb05cab65afefab8fd3831d92cfc68be&npos=18)

Those minutes that drag into hours…  Those days that drag into weeks… Months… Years…  Prayers that seem to go unanswered…  Pain that seems to never release its hold…  Regrets…  Old habits…  Difficult people…   Painful wounds from the past…  Loved ones who still remain enchained to themselves…  So many dreams that seem to be fading, dying…  when the waiting seems eternal… and hope is fading…

Perhaps that’s you today.

When waiting seems to be the only action occurring, let’s look at the apparent action.  What’s happening while we are waiting?

Corrie ten Boom said the following regarding waiting:

If you want to hear God’s voice clearly and you are uncertain, then remain in His presence until He changes this uncertainty.  Often much can happen during this waiting for the Lord.  Sometimes, He changes pride into humility; doubt into faith and peace; sometimes lust into purity.  The Lord can and will do it.

Anne Graham Lotz says the following in regards to waiting before acting:

I never make a major decision, especially one that will affect another person, before I receive direction from God.”

Priscilla Shirer said this about her friend Anne Graham Lotz, “…she is resolved to wait on Him for guidance before coming to a final decision on a matter.”

Two verses concerning waiting from God’s Word:

Habakkuk 2:3

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Psalm 27:14

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Proverbs 8:34

34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

Proverbs 8:34

34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

We also see the word “endure” in God’s Word — another word that speaks of a steadfastness in waiting.  It speaks of carrying a “load” while waiting.  It speaks of not getting “bogged down” in the waiting but the waiting actually accomplishing something within us.

John 6:27

27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

1 Corinthians 13:7

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

2 Thessalonians 1:4

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

2 Timothy 2:3

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 6:15

15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

James 1:12

12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

These verses indicate that something is being accomplished while we wait.  In my previous blog, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/whose-leading, it speaks of how God was doing something that was so wonderful that it couldn’t even be imagined.

 

While we wait, we need to believe that God is working.  It might be a work that needs to be accomplished in us while we wait so we are prepared to receive the manifestation of God’s answer.

Sometimes, the purpose for our waiting is to prepare us for God’s answer. 

It may be that we are not ready for the immediate outcome of God’s answer; thus, we must wait so that He can change us so we are prepared to properly receive and respond submissively to His answer.

I love what Priscilla Shirer says in her Bible study book, Discerning the Voice of God:

The process of waiting for a message from God can be just as important as the message itself.  In waiting, my faith and intimacy with the Lord grow.  Often something I learn while waiting prepares me for the message so that I am not as surprised by it as I might have been otherwise; thus, I am more willing to obey.

Discerning the Voice of God goes on to say:

The value we place on an object or person dictates the amount of time we are willing to wait on them … we should be willing to wait patiently and not move until we have received it [the answer or direction from God].

Did you get that powerful challenge?  The value of an object or person dictates the amount of time we are willing to wait. 

Whom are we waiting on?  God!  How important is He really in your life?  That will determine how long you are willing to endure and to wait patiently.  That will determine how patient your waiting is.  That will determine the outcome of your waiting.

Perhaps, the action that needs to occur is ours — yours and mine.  Perhaps, there’s something that needs to change in our own hearts in relationship to God. 

Do you trust God enough to wait on Him — no matter how long the process takes?  God is Almighty and all-knowing.  He knows the perfect timing for the completion of His will in you and in the events of your life.  Perhaps, the problem with your waiting is with your trust.

What lies are you believing about God that are holding you back from fully submitting your will to Him and from resting in the perfection of His will?

I love what Discerning the Voice of God says in the following quote:
Habakkuk purposed to remove himself from the depression and anxiety of his ground-level circumstances and get above them.  He took his eyes off his circumstances and watched only for God.
What about us?  Are you and I still wallowing in the immediate ground-level circumstances in which we find ourselves, or are we keeping our eyes fixed on the “Author and Finisher of our Faith”?

I love what the following verses say in regards to waiting:

Habakkuk 2:3

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

These verses remind us that God’s plan will be accomplished in due season — in His season.

We wait on God while our waiting serves a purpose. 

Our waiting teaches us to rest on Him, which requires humility, submission, and trust.

The timing of God’s answer is just as important as the answer itself.

Discerning the Voice of God says the following:

While the righteous man trusts God will fulfill His Word, the proud man (self-reliant) depends on himself to bring things to pass.  When we seek God in faith, He promises us great reward.

Our waiting reveals whom it is upon which we rely.  It is either ourselves or God.

Upon whom do you rely?

 

Who’s In Control?

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Two days ago, I went to the Christian bookstore and eagerly purchased three different Bible study books.  I couldn’t wait to begin a new chapter of growth in my relationship with the Lord and walk with Him!

My study yesterday led me to Habakkuk 1.  It drew my attention to verses 2-4:

Habakkuk 1:2-4

O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!

Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.

Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Habakkuk assumes that God hears and will answer.  Yet, Habakkuk is questioning and doubtful as to when and why not now?

Sounds familiar!

How many times do we doubt if God is personally involved or cares about each minute detail of our lives?  How many times do we question whether God is speaking because we doubt our own ability to hear Him properly?

Sure, we all technically know that God cares, but we live as if He isn’t concerned with every detail.  We live as though we need to take charge of certain details, “just in case God doesn’t bother to communicate His will or give us His strength for the specific situation.”  So, we “charge ahead”, forcing our own will on ourselves and others.  Then, we wonder why things begin to turn rather “ugly” and why people are hurt or offended.

What if instead, we stopped.  We waited.  We rested.  We prayed.  We “fed” ourselves with “manna” from being in God’s presence?

Doubting our own ability to hear God correctly has some definite truth and wisdom.  The Bible warns about deception, and our souls are still affected by our sinful nature.  (Which nature, I might add, God is transforming.)  We can and are easily deceived.

Yet, we have to be careful that our fear of our ability or inability to hear God is not based on our own abilities to hear Him.  This fear might indicate that we are relying on our own abilities to hear.  For example, we might think, “If I am such and such a way, I will ‘hear’ God or understand what He is saying.”  Again, there is some definite truth to this.  Yet, truth/God’s Word is not dependent upon our ability to perceive it. 

Don’t rely on your ability to hear Him.  Rely on His ability to speak truth and on His desire to speak it to you.

He speaks to us through His Word:

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

He speaks to us through creation:

Luke 19:40

40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Romans 1:20

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Psalm 19:1-3

19 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

He speaks to us through His people:

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

2 Timothy 3:10

10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

1 Corinthians 10:11

11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

James 5:10

10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

He speaks through His Holy Spirit dwelling within us:

1 Corinthians 2:13

13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Ephesians 3:5

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

1 Corinthians 2:10

10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Habakkuk questioned God, wondering and doubting when God was going to answer.  God answers Habakkuk with the following:

Habakkuk 1:5

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.

God is saying to Habakkuk that God is doing a work so marvelous that Habakkuk wouldn’t even be able to believe it because it’s that marvelous.

God gives specific instructions to Habakkuk:

  • Look
  • Observe
  • Be astonished!
  • Wonder!

I love what Discerning The Voice Of God, by Priscilla Shirer says:

“While Habakkuk waited on God to answer, God was already answering!  God wanted to restore Habakkuk’s confidence by showing him that He was not idle and uninterested in the demise of Judah.  Even though the prophet wasn’t seeing God respond in the way and timing he expected, God was speaking and moving.  He always is — even in His silence.”

Notice the change in Habakkuk’s attitude, belief, and response after this word from God:

Habakkuk 1:12-13

12 Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

This prayer is a prayer of praise to the One Who is mighty.

This prayer is full of recognition of Who God truly is.

This prayer is full of eager expectation of what God will do.

This prayer is full of personal trust in the Lord.

“Could your level of expectancy be a factor in how clearly and frequently you hear God’s voice?” (Discerning the Voice of God)

Psalm 5:3

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.

Ecclesiastes 5:20

20 For he shall not much remember the days of his life; because God answereth him in the joy of his heart.

Psalm 139:17

17 How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

Amos 4:13

13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.

Amos 4:13

13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his name.

John 8:47

47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

John 10:27

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

How good are we at listening? 

Do we “listen” for what God wants to say to us, or are we too busy telling God what we think the passage means?

Are our prayer times more about us telling God what we want, what we think, or do we spend the time also listening to Him, quieting our hearts before Him and ready to receive what He wants to show us?

I believe one of the greatest “marks” of godliness in a believer is a heart “position” of complete “resting” in the Lord and surrender to Him.  It is an attitude of utter reliance upon God and expectant readiness to obey His promptings.

If we aren’t waiting on the Lord’s leading before proceeding ahead, the questions to be asked are: “Who is leading?  Who is in control of our lives?”

The answer really is our self.

God is certainly Sovereign, and He will bring His will to pass no matter what.  Yet, God gives free will.  Love always allows for a choice.  When we disobey God, this is not His will.  When we hold onto our unbelief, this is not His will.

Every day, we are given multiple opportunities to submit our wills to God — to choose His grace and power to walk in the new “life” He has given us as His children over our own old sin natures.

We though. must. make. the choice. to surrender.

Do you want your own fallible, mortal, limited self as the one to whom you “bow before” — the one you serve?

Or…

Will you acknowledge that there is a God who is good, loving, powerful, holy, and therefore utterly trustworthy?  He is doing a work that far surpasses your wildest imagination.

Oh, dear one, trust Him.  Wait on Him.  Look.  Observe. Be astonished!  He will bring it to pass, in the perfection of His will.

The Second Part Of My Testimony: The Second Most Incredible Experience Of My Life!

 Rose

(FreeImages.com/Marie Jeanne lliescu)

The first biggest event in my life happened when I was four years old.  (I share that part of the story on my blog, under the “About Me” section):

At the tender age of four, I was aware of the fact that I sinned every day and quite a bit.  I knew I was guilty.  I attended a Bible club and became convicted of my need for God’s forgiveness.  I was overjoyed that Jesus died so that I could be forgiven and not need to be entrapped in my sin and punished for it.  I remember the day that I got down on my knees and simply asked Jesus to make me His child and to forgive me for my sins.  Immediately, indescribable peace and joy flooded my heart.  It was like millions of tiny prisms of light were reflecting rainbows into my heart.  I jumped and ran through the house, telling my family, “I’m saved!  I’m saved!”    My life was never the same after that.

The second biggest event in my life happened April 24-25, 2015. Here’s the story:

My husband and I attended a conference at my sister’s church that weekend.  For a couple of years proceeding my attending this conference, my sister kept trying to prompt me that I was not walking in my identity (as my Heavenly Father’s daughter).

I had accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation at age four, as I previously shared.  I thought since I knew it all in my head (the right words) and could say it (could say that I was His daughter) to everyone, that I believed it. I was blind though to what it meant to truly walk in my identity.

You can always know what you believe by seeing how you live.  What you live is what you believe.

[Note: When I speak of “God showing” me something, I am not speaking of some mystical vision or out-of-body experience like John and Daniel speak of in Scripture.  I am a visual learner, and I think in terms of pictures.  God will often give me a picture in my mind of something to help me understand the analogy or truth He is trying to communicate to me.  I also though always pray about each “mental picture” I get and ask the Lord to purify my mind and imagination because I don’t want to imagine something that is not of God. I then always take what I believe God is showing me, and I compare it with truth in Scripture.  Is the idea or concept or analogy Scriptural in nature?  I hope this clarifies any concerns anyone might have.  Furthermore, I do not claim any special revelation.  The only claim I have is this: I am His daughter, redeemed by Him, saved by Him, and being “sanctified” by Him!  What a “claim” that is!]

I awoke at 4:50 a.m. that Saturday morning to God’s Holy Spirit literally pouring over me, speaking to me.  He showed me a picture of waves that were like His Holy Spirit just washing around a huge boulder in my life (representing a huge area in my life that needed spiritual “healing”) and carrying away the dirt, sludge, and moorings holding onto that boulder. I then saw (in my heart/mind ) Jesus standing next to the boulder and myself, and He asked, “[my name], the boulder’s going over, are you ready?” Oh, yes, Jesus!”

I had come to the conference, broken and bleeding. I saw myself as a bird with two broken wings. A recent difficult situation had occurred the two weeks proceeding the conference, and I was left wounded and bleeding. God though was using that situation to prepare me for the healing He desired for me and that I so desperately needed.

As I lay in bed that Saturday morning, God began to open my spiritual eyes, and I finally saw all my self-loathing, all my lack of acceptance, my feelings of inferiority.  I realized that I had seen myself as the dog under the table of the Master, trying to find just a scrap of the leftovers of His love and attention.

I couldn’t picture myself as anything other than at the back of the pack. I would picture Jesus riding in triumphantly for His return, but I was always at the end of the line.

I couldn’t envision my husband and I having any ministry. Since I saw myself as inferior and a “leftover”, I saw my husband as God’s leftovers as well because I was just not “special enough” to get the best. I saw my children as inferior. Everything that I touched, everything that was considered mine, I saw as inferior and unworthy.

I was unable to fully receive love.

I knew that this was the “boulder” so I began to cry out to God, as we drove the second day to the conference, “God, show me what You think of me.” I was begging and pleading (always thought I had to beg and plead to get His attention).

We arrived at the conference to the beautiful sounds of worship music.

I began to sing along to the words of Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave: “I delight myself in you…” All of a sudden as I was singing, it was as if Jesus was singing the words to me. His love was washing over me in waves, and I was trembling.

(I can’t even begin to explain the emotion of that moment.  All I can say is that God was opening my spiritual eyes and ears to experience something I had never experienced before.  He was answering the cry of my heart that I had prayed just minutes earlier.)

I then saw myself as if I was flying through the heavens with Jesus holding my hand. It was as if I saw a few seconds of Him creating the galaxies.  (I could see this as a picture or movie all enfolding in my heart.)   Jesus spoke to my heart, “[my name], you were in my heart before time began. I chose you before time began.”

Suddenly, I could no longer resist His Spirit. I turned to my husband and asked him to go with me to the back for prayer with my sister and her husband who were on the prayer team with this conference.

As I began to pray, I began to pour out everything God was showing me.  I suddenly saw that the night before when I had been able for the first time to lift my hands high to God (during a worship song), I was still the broken bird.  I was the broken bird, waving its broken wing and saying, “Jesus, look at me. Look at me. Is there anything that you can find in me to love?” As I kept praying, it all poured out, God showed me that I had a “wound” from the past that had left me feeling unprotected and a vow that I had made that I would protect those around me. I had become my own god, without realizing it.

God was speaking to me that I had to “step out of the boat” (of my old ways) to walk towards Him into “freedom.”   God revealed to me that He had protected me and that He would protect me because He is a good God.  He showed me that He was protecting me even when I didn’t realize it. He showed me that my husband had been given to me as a protector of my heart, even when it was broken and bleeding and not aware that it needed to be protected.

As I was pouring out my heart to God, I was picturing myself as the prodigal daughter running to the Father. And all of a sudden, I saw that the Father was running towards me.  All I can say is, my heart ran smack into the heart of God, and I had finally come home.

The bird was set free to fly!

This feeling of absolute peace, well-being of soul, wholeness washed over me.

Life was no longer about a struggle to just walk in freedom enough to be free or to just have enough faith so that (my faith) would keep me. I suddenly realized it was about complete and utter rest in the Lord, an attitude of receptivity to Him. Just letting Him be my all in all.

Before this healing, I had trouble submitting.  I had been so wounded by “spiritual abuse” from spiritual authorities over me that I had trouble trusting.  I also had trouble submitting at times to my husband even though he isn’t an abusive type.  I had “learned” to be independent to “protect” myself and had seen so many situations of spiritual abuse from husbands towards their wives that I was scared to trust my own husband. 

When I experienced healing in this area of trust, God showed me one of the main causes of rebellion.  He showed me that rebellion comes from distrust. Once God healed me of my lack of trust, I was able to verbally and literally completely entrust my heart to my husband. For the first time ever, my husband truly and completely had my heart! (Before this, I knew that I was withholding a part of my heart from my husband.)

This area of healing is completely transforming our marriage!  God is showing me how much He loves me that He is giving me this extra special gift of protection in my husband.  It has been a joy to experience this protection.

This is transforming my parenting! I am learning to no longer focus on my children’s behaviors and even on the “performance” of their hearts.  Rather, I am learning to focus on helping them to walk in their identity as His sons and daughters and what that looks like.  I am teaching them to trust the heart of their Heavenly Father.  There is more peace and more love present!

God continues to show me other areas. He showed me that there was a lot of fear in my heart that was a generational sin: it was so large it was like this hideously massive vine that it had become the size of a tree. God spoke to my heart that I was to get my shovel out because we were going to chop away at the roots running into my line of the tree [figuratively — not literal].

The Sunday morning following the conference, I awoke with it being a “resurrection morning.”  [“Resurrection” in the sense that God had done so much “healing” in my spiritual life and heart that everything seemed so new and pure and beautiful — just like I imagine it was like Resurrection morning.]  It was as if Jesus asked me to walk in the garden with Him.  (I could picture it in my heart.  I felt Jesus “wooing” my heart, showing me how precious and beloved and accepted I am to Him.  It was all so tender and so beautiful.)

Earlier as I had been preparing for church, I had some thoughts again that I didn’t feel attractive, and I knew they were lies from the enemy. God prompted my heart to go to my husband. I did, and my husband said, “[my name], you were created in the image of God. You are His image-bearer.”

Then a little later while I was taking care of my toddler at church, it was if I heard Jesus say, “[my name], come walk with me in the garden.” In my mind, I could joyfully picture Jesus wanting to spend time with me.  If was as if, we walked together. Again, I saw as if it were that Jesus bent down and picked a flower and handed it to me and said, “You are a flower in my garden.”

On Monday, I awoke to a beautiful song, flooding my heart. The awareness of being “cradled in the bosom” (metaphorically) of the Father surrounded me. That day, it was as if I heard Jesus say to me twice, “[my name], come on a walk with me.”  Twice, He showed me a picture of walking me to the top of a mountain and below there was turmoil all around and coming. Jesus calmed my heart with the truth in Scripture that He will protect me and will walk with me through it all difficulties I might have to face. Twice that day as I was driving, I came upon huge traffic jams. Both times, God opened a way for me to go around and avoid the jams. Jesus then spoke to my heart, “That is what I am going to do for you when the challenges of life arise, when turmoil arises. I will make a way for you around it and through it.”

On Tuesday, the Lord encouraged me with the words that freedom is not about having enough faith so we walk in freedom. If that were so, we would be relying on our own faith to keep us. Faith is about a complete surrender and attitude of receptivity to the Lord. It is about resting in Him, abiding in Him, finding our strength in Him. Faith is just walking towards Jesus and walking hand in hand with Him.

As I was grocery shopping on Tuesday, I could only be amazed at the strength and peace I felt as I just kept resting in Him, allowing Jesus to be my strength, wisdom, and peace! It was a joyful experience to just delight in the Lord and in turn to rejoice in my 18-month-old son’s presence. I knew that God was giving this interaction between my son and I as a picture to people of what His love for us looks like. I could feel Him loving others through me. I would and will be a conduit of His grace to others, and others will see the Father’s love through me as I walk in complete surrender to Him.

God also gave me this picture of Heaven literally being right ahead on a path, kind of like in Pilgrim’s Progress. He showed me that I was there on the path, along with many other witnesses, taking the hands of people and pointing them to Heaven, to Jesus. I was telling them that the Kingdom of Heaven is so close and Jesus is right there. I was pointing them to the Father.

So on Tuesday, as I was fully feeling God’s power flow through me and as I was aware of this joyful calling I have, the Lord allowed me to be a witness to His work in the heart of a young man.

I brought my cart of groceries back to our van and carefully wove between the car parked beside my van. As I did so, my 18-month-old son leaned down to the young man in the car beside us (my guess is the young man is in his 20’s) and said, “Hi. Hi.” The young man then said something along the lines of, “You are a cutie.”

At this point, I felt like my mouth had come “unhinged” there was such a filling of the Holy Spirit. It was literally like liquid gold pouring out of my mouth as the next few minutes unfolded.  [If you have experienced this you know what I mean.  It is a time when you are completely resting in the Lord, and when He is in the one speaking through you, giving you the words to say.]

I felt the Lord filling me to say, “He is incredibly special! [in reference to my son] I am so thankful for the blessing He is to me!” I then turned to the young man and said something along the lines of, “You are incredible too.”

As I continued to unload the groceries, I heard the young man say through his open window to my son Weston (sitting in his car-seat), “You just made my day.”

The Lord then spoke to my heart, “Go to that young man. I have a message for him.”
I walked over to him, leaned into his window, and gently asked, “May I tell you something?” He replied with, “Yes.”

With God speaking through me, I then said, “I went to a conference this past weekend that completely changed my life.” I then told him a summary of what I shared in the first part of my testimony to you.  I then went on to say, “Every boy and girl, every man and woman is longing to feel accepted and special. So, we fill our lives with stuff like drugs and sex and other pleasures so we can try to fill that need in us to find someone to love us and who accepts us unconditionally.”

I then looked the young man in the eyes so directly and said, “God does not make weak men. God does not make inferior people. God does not make mistakes. You were in His heart before time began. He loves you. He has chosen you. He is calling you to Himself. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes unto the Father except by me’.”

At that moment, two people got into the car. Without any delays or pauses, I asked him, “May I pray with you?” There were tears in the young man’s eyes, and he said, “Yes.” I then began to pray, “Jesus, show this young man what you think of him, how much you love him. What do you want to tell him today?” I paused for a little while and then asked, “What did Jesus tell you?” He responded with something that I couldn’t clearly hear because of the quietness of his voice and the traffic noise, but it sounded like, “I am his son.” (In the beginning of our conversation he had already told me that years before he had asked Jesus to forgive him for his sins. )

I then asked him, “Do you accept that [that you are His son, created for a purpose]?”He said, “Yes.” I then prayed over him. As I finished, I looked directly into his eyes again and said, “God is calling you unto Himself for a very special plan and purpose that He has for your life. You have to let go of the little boy to run into the arms of Abba-Father so that the man God created you to be emerges.”

As I turned to talk away, I saw that the people in the car were this young man’s parents. They quietly said, “Thank you.” It was a holy moment.

For when God takes a rod, it becomes a symbol of His power. When God touches a stone, it proclaims His righteousness. When God fills a place, it becomes a sanctuary to His holiness. When God hangs upon a tree, it becomes a symbol of His unending love. And when God fills a human being made from dirt, we become a testimony of His beautiful enduring life of grace!

This song so summarizes it all: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJxw6k_d25Q (“The First Time” by Mercy Me)

Christian Bullying

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The topic I am about to address may incite a lot of strong emotions and opinions.  The subject matter, though negative, nevertheless is something that is worth addressing.

Bullying is considered a serious offense in today’s public arenas.  Thanks to the tenacious lobbying efforts of its past victims, its danger is being recognized and addressed.

Bullying has been identified rightfully as a nefarious conduct in the secular arena.  The religious sector though is a different matter.

Bullying in the Christian sector has taken virtuous sounding names such as “authority”, “leadership”, “submission”, “obedience”, “spiritual guidance” and perverted those names to mean something different than their original design and definitions.  Insidious abuses of these words have spread their nocuous modus operandi to the devastation of their victims.

The religious sector often attaches a “spiritual” name to a personal action and/or personal belief system and think the name somehow makes the action and belief more acceptable.  They then use that personal belief to pressure others to adopt the same standards.

The belief and action may not be actually Scripturally-validated, but because the word chosen to describe the belief is from the Scriptures, the belief or action itself is accepted as being “Scriptural.”  Not enough time and research is dedicated to the actual Scriptural meanings and applications of these words to recognize the difference.

The secular sector has recognized many of the abuses of the above terms within the religious sector.  The result has been that words like “authority”, “submission”, “obedience” are by association often considered negative.

The secular sector has reacted.  Wedding vows often emit the word “submission.”  Parental authority and discipline is often challenged.  Even the word “no” has been considered too constricting and negative to use in response to a child’s wrong behavior.

The problem is not with the correct usages of these words.  The problem is with its abuses.

The perfidious nature of bullying is that it uses coercion, deception, and intimidation to control its victims.  The greater the bully, the greater is the arsenal of weapons it uses to manipulate.

The danger with all deception is its very nature.  Deception is often very subtle in its moves.  It often parallels the truth or is sometimes so close to the truth, that the difference is hardly distinguishable.  That is why the lie is so believable. 

Deception is often truth with some error added to it. 

Christian bullying produces a lot of the same negative results as any other type of bullying: intimidation, fear, guilt, judgmental attitude, pride, false sense of self-righteousness, attempts to prove self-worth or self-righteousness.  There is a spirit of striving and much effort on the part of the victims to attempt to prove themselves.  The motivation of their efforts is fear.

Bullying manifests itself in social pressure to adhere to someone else’ standards or to pressure someone else to adhere to your own personal standards.  It’s more about finding acceptance than it is about encouraging one another to grow in a personal relationship with God.  It’s an attitude that disrespects others.

The “victims” are condemned and live with guilt if they do not completely adhere to all beliefs within the system.

Note: this is to be separated from those who are overly sensitive to anything that speaks of “rights” and “wrongs” and therefore overly react and judge any rule or principal as “judgmental”.  This is speaking of attitudes that are smug in their condemnation of those who are “less.

There is a sense of our efforts equal our worth or our “spiritual” performance merits our standing before God.  In other words, “how we perform equals God’s love for us.” If we perform well, He loves us well.  If we perform poorly, God’s love for us is also affected.  This is not necessarily clearly stated in words but strongly implied.  Subtle.  Very subtle error that wreaks havoc!

Christian bullying uses a combination of man-made rules along with some Scriptural principles, thrown in for validation, in order to indoctrinate its victims.  Again subtle but insidious!

Practical applications of these errors can be seen in specific attitudes:

  • Men are viewed as superior to women.
  • Wives are thought of as not needing respect — only romance.  The “romance” is often bestowed with “favors” for the husband as the ultimate result.
  • If a wife challenges a husband’s decision, she is immediately viewed as “unsubmissive”.
  • Children and pregnancies are used as objects to control the wife.
  • Women are encouraged to be uneducated.
  • Children must obey every rule dictated by the parents without question.  (Children should be taught to not question everything.  The subtle difference here is that children are not allowed to have a divergent view from their parents.)
  • Different view-points are not tolerated within the home.
  • Pastors of these types of systems are viewed as the final authority.
  • Anyone who disagrees or does not fully comply with the system is subtlely discredited and dismissed.
  • Leaders within these movements are held up on a “pedestal”.  There is little or no accountability.  The leaders’ “accountability” are often family members and perhaps a few others who are intimidated or brainwashed into maintaining favorability.
  • An individual’s salvation is frequently questioned if all their beliefs don’t match up with the system’s beliefs (these beliefs are specifically unrelated to salvation itself).
  • “Spirituality” is judged by outward appearances: family size, dress standards, music standards, educational choices, etc…
  • Past sins are regularly held against the questioning individual and/or used to manipulate that individual.
  • Individuals within this system find their “faith” is more about struggling to achieve a feeling of “spirituality” then it is about growing in an intimate (personal knowledge/experience) with God.
  • Husbands can also be constantly criticized and belittled, if viewed as spiritually lacking.
  • Children are treated as inferior to adults.  (Their opinions are not treated as important as the parents’.  Children have much to learn from their parents.  The subtle difference here is the attitude.)
  • Discipline is enacted through “righteous” anger (can take forms of belittling, disciplining in anger, and a parent feeling personally offended).
  • The focus of discipline is on correcting wrongs rather than on discipling the child and restoring the relationship.
  • Adult children are treated as children, needing parental control.
  • Insecurity is familiar  to the “weaker” members.
  • Pride is considered confidence to the “stronger” members.
  • Those who are “higher up” in the chain of authority are deceptive when it comes to their own personal sins but require those under them to be completely transparent for “healing”.
  • It is felt as necessary to address any supposed or actual sins seen among others.
  • Those who are guilty of bullying feel it necessary to act as the “Holy Spirit” towards those they view as weaker Christians.
  • God’s judgement is emphasized over His grace.
  • God is related to as a vengeful God rather than a forgiving God.  The key is “related to”.
  • Salvation doctrine focuses more on God’s wrath and our depraved condition — rather than on teaching God’s love that offers salvation freely because we are in need of a Savior.  (More could be said on this.)

Many more examples could be given, but time will not lend itself to so lengthy a list.  Suffice it to say, the above examples are tragic situations!  They are harmful both to the victims and to the bullies.

There is a movement of people being awakened to the harmful nature of bullying within the religious sector.  There are still many though who are deceived within the systems where Christian bullying is present.

God, though desires healing for mankind.  The healing starts with His people.  He says,

2 Chronicles 7:14

New King James Version (NKJV)

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

In order for Christians to positively impact our world, we must have that which is different from the world: truth!

It starts with having a proper understanding of God’s nature and our relationship before Him.

We first must recognize that He wants to heal our brokenness, to transform our darkness, to replace our emptiness with his life and love!

God is not the author of evilHe is a righteous God, who only wants what is best for us! 

The truth is always right for us.  At the time, it might be painful because it may mean releasing our hold on false traditions.  Traditions, though perhaps wrong, can give a sense of security.  The familiar, no matter how dangerous or duplicitous, often feels like the safest thing to do or place to be at the time.  Subtle manipulation.

God though asks us to allow His healing “light” of truth to shine into our dark places in order to not just expose them but to cleanse, repair, and transform them!  The exposing is not for condemnation; it is for our redemption. 

As long as we hold onto our “rags” of hurts, abuses, and times when we too have been the “abuser”, we cannot open our hands to receive the richness of His grace offered freely to us.

God brings us to repentance not for the purpose of leaving us condemned.  His purpose is to help us recognize that we need help so we seek and then receive it. 

A doctor may diagnose a patient with an illness and prescribe medication.  Unless the patient acknowledges the illness and his need for the medication and then seeks to obtain the medication, the patient will not benefit from the doctor’s diagnosis.  The purpose of the doctor’s diagnosis is to orchestrate all necessary avenues for the patient to receive proper help.

So, it is with God.  He reveals our natural state in its broken and flawed condition and then works to orchestrate all channels possible to encourage its absolute and comprehensive healing.

God’s love has never been about our worthiness.  It has always been about the fact that He is Love.  Love is “love” by its very Nature — not reliant upon the nature of its recipients.

The very nature of God’s Love and the fact that we were created to be His sons and daughters is what gives us meaning and purpose!  As a result of that love, we freely and lovingly seek a closer relationship with the One Who loves us so completely and unconditionally.

What My Marriage Is To Represent

Most of us wives are familiar with the passages in Scripture that instruct us concerning our roles in the marriage relationship. In spite of my knowledge of these passages, I still found myself challenged and convicted when I read over some of these passages again. A good friend loaned me the book, Becoming A Woman Who Pleases God. This book addresses many issues, but right now, I am reading the section on The Primary Reason Marriage is Significant to God. Anyway, the book reminded me again that our marriages are to represent the relationship between Christ and the Church. I find that sometimes I have a hard time submitting but want to demand my own rights. This passage was convicting because I realized that so long as Jonathan isn’t asking me to sin — something God would never require of us in our relationship to Him — my response to my husband is to parallel the Christian’s response to God: honoring God in all areas of my life (obedience to Christ). It is easy to react to the thought of submitting to our husbands because we live in a society where everyone demands his rights and doesn’t want to yield to someone else’s rights. Our society is selfish, at best. My natural inclination is to want my own way, but that is not God’s way nor the best for me. Neither is it what brings me true joy and peace. An unhappy person is one who has everything the world says will bring happiness and success; yet, finds these “trappings” only bring limited happiness or temporary pleasure.

The book I already mentioned states some excellent quotes. Here is a quote from the book:

“God’s expectation is that husbands and wives will develop an enduring love by keeping their eyes on the ‘marriage’ between Christ and His church (2 Cor. 211:2). After urging both husbands and wives to see their distinct roles defined by the relationship between Christ and the church, the apostle Paul wrote: For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.’ (Eph. 5:30-32) These expectations of God offer great promise for a marriage. They are expectations that lift us above ourselves and call from us the kind of love that has its source in God. These expectations form a basis for the covenant that is at the heart of marriage.”

The book also quotes a Gary Thomas in saying the following: “To spiritually benefit from marriage, we have to be honest. We have to look at our disappointments, own up to our ugly attitudes, and confront our selfishness. We also have to rid ourselves of the notion that the difficulties of marriage can be overcome if we simply pray harder or learn a few simple principles. Most of us have discovered that these “simple steps” work only on a superficial level. Why is this? Because there’s a deeper question that needs to be addressed beyond how we can ‘improve’ our marriage: What if God didn’t design marriage to be ‘easier’? What if God had an end in mind that went beyond our happiness or comfort, and our desire to be infatuated and happy as if the world were a perfect place? What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy? …Your marriage is more than a sacred covenant with another person. It is a spiritual discipline designed to help you know God better, trust Him more fully, and love Him more deeply.” Wow! Great thoughts and exhortations!

Comment: There is a Scriptural basis for getting counsel for a marriage where there are problems. Being selfless doesn’t mean we ignore problems that need to be dealt with. Ignoring problems is not for our husband’s best interest either. We are to help each other become all that God has called us to be. I believe that the above passage though is a great encouragement to be more selfless, submissive, and serving to husbands that are trying to honor the Lord yet are imperfect (meaning not perfect so they occasionally do something selfish too, etc…).