I love to give gifts to people. It’s a joy to hunt for just the “perfect” thing that I hope will bless the receiver.
It’s part of who I am, and what I do.
Years ago, when someone was praying was praying over me, they said, “You can’t “out-give” God.” From time to time, I remember that, and I ponder what it could mean.
But lately— the last few weeks— that has been swirling around in my thoughts.
This past Christmas, I was given the opportunity help a dear, dear friend get special ornaments to someone else, in a different country, to bless and minister to others.
Normally, this wouldn’t have been an issue. But— Covid caused major changes in the mailing system.
At first, someone else was supposed to get them from me, and then mail them. But— that didn’t work out.
So, with some help figuring out what to do, I was finally able to learn how to do it.
The process of figuring it out— it was frustrating! I was tempted to be annoyed, and may have given in to that a little… 😳😔
But— this friend who was asking for my help— if you knew her, you’d know what I know about her. She’s probably the most giving, sincere, kind person I’ve ever been blessed to meet.
So— I figured out the process.
Then I found out there was a deadline for getting it to my friend’s friend! Prayerfully, I got it mailed, and it arrived just in time!
All that intimidation and worry about language barriers, how to pay for it and difficulty physically for me were found to be pretty ridiculous— It was such an easy process, once I figured out what to do.
I felt happy that I got to be a tiny part in blessing others, to help share the Gospel message.
My dear, dear friend messaged me today. Her friend had passed away.
I’m sitting her marveling at how God used me to bless someone who just wanted to be a blessing to others.
Gifts that now serve as a special memory of a selfless, beautiful sister in Christ, that I never got to meet— but I will get to meet her, and rejoice with her, in Eternity one day.
This time I had no part in hunting for the “perfect” gift. This time I was just a messenger helping get the perfect gifts to another destination.
Funny how things impact us that we never expect will.
We cannot out-give God.
His purposes are as mysterious as they are fulfilling and more beautiful than simple words can ever describe.
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12 NASB
I think we all have well-meaning people in our lives. You know the ones that are quick to redirect our honest, heartfelt, deep moments of transparency, into something that makes them feel more comfortable.
The ones that think they know us well enough to correct us.
But reality is— they just don’t get us at all.
They don’t realize the wall they are putting up, or the signals they send.
Maybe this is why God is often the only One I feel comfort in, or safe confiding in.
God has never left me feeling like something is wrong with me.
He never leaves me feeling like I’m stupid, or over-sensitive, or misunderstanding His Word or calling on my life.
He never tells me to push myself farther than I know is too much for me.
He tells me to lean on Him, that He is my strength.
Not that I have to do things in my own strength or because it’s what people are expecting me to do or be like.
God has never made me feel like I don’t know what I’m talking about.
God never makes me feel like I’m a burden.
I am often confronted with things I see others have that I just don’t have.
Relationships I’ve just never had access to, for whatever reason.
I’ve spent my life working to be for others what I’ve wished I had.
Someone who hasn’t been in my shoes can’t understand my perspective.
That doesn’t mean my perspective is wrong.
That doesn’t make me a target for mocking and sarcastic opinions.
That makes me normal.
I have been broken.
God has chosen to repair some things, but He has also— for His reasons— chosen to not repair other things.
Giving my life to Christ has not fixed anything about me to perfection.
I have been conditioned to feel ashamed, to feel “less than” everyone else.
But Not by God.
God has been working deeply in me to re-condition me. To fix ungodly beliefs about me being deserving of nothing more than being under the feet of others. Ungodly beliefs that I deserve to be the scapegoat carrying the shame of others.
That is not what God has created me to be.
I have grown children, and I’m still struggling with a belief system imposed on me as a child— the belief that things would be better if I just weren’t born. Belief that I’m supposed to take the blame for things others have done.
Belief that my reputation, my feelings— my life— don’t matter like everyone else’s does.
Undeserving of the life God chose to give to me.
Those are lies of the enemy of God that people who claim to be Christians have imposed upon me.
It’s not often, anymore, that I reflect upon these things.
As I do now, I recognize God’s Hand upon my life.
God moved me away. He has provided for me and nurtured me.
As The Potter, He has been deep at work reshaping the ungodly beliefs others have bestowed upon me. People I have striven to impress, to gain the attention and affection of.
Even today, decades later, the striving is in vain.
It’s exhausting being the only one that cares about nurturing relationships I’ve wanted to desperately hang on to.
I am exhausted.
So— I am letting them go.
I’m not expecting the same effort I put in. In fact— I’ve already experienced the evidence that I can fade off into the distance, and just be gossip, but no relationship.
Experience has taught me I’m not someone others will put that effort into.
Emotionally it has always been a taxing thing for me. It has caused anxiety, stress— worry…
Physically I am just as weak as I am emotionally, now.
My reaction wants to be to just not care.
But that’s not how God made me.
God made me to not only care— He made me to empathize with others who have similar experiences.
There are those I’ve tried to share things with that will tell me to calm down, that I’m too sensitive, that what I’m feeling or understanding isn’t real.
Those people are wrong.
And I’m done hitting the walls they put up out of intolerance for what is just me.
God placed them in my life. I don’t believe they are fulfilling God’s calling for them in my life, and I do think God cares.
Often my spirit feels weighted down with a sense of grieving. That is just fact.
It’s not depression.
It’s not self-esteem issues.
Grief over the ones who helped instill those ungodly beliefs God is working to fix my understanding of.
Grief as He calls attention to them, as He focuses on making sure I recognize each one of them, and He shows me what His Truth about each one is.
People are fallible.
I just want to be malleable under His Hand as He works out all of those mars and lumps.
NF – All I Have Lyrics excerpts “All I ever wanted was somebody to hear me And all I ever wanted was somebody to feel me And everybody wanna tell me that I’m out of my head…” “And you better get ready cause you might find I’m from a different place and my kind It’s a little bit different than yours is…” “I don’t live for the world I live for the King, I live for the King, focus Wrote this with emotion You do what you wanted but you can’t contain me…”
Don’t tell me that this isn’t real, don’t tell me it’s not how I feel…”
“All I ever wanted was somebody to get this…” “I stand behind these words. I’m a Christian but I’m not perfect Don’t tell me to calm down. I’m calm now,…” “Yeah it might take a minute to get it but once you get it everything will be crystal clear I don’t think they see my vision here. I don’t think they see my vision here! Don’t tell me that this isn’t real Don’t tell me this ain’t how I feel This is all I have. All I have.”
Something from a song I listened to today has gotten me thinking.
I believe most Christians are familiar with, or have at least heard of, the “Roman’s Road“ for simplifying the Gospel Truth.
That’s just one example of an effective way to help guide others through what can be an overwhelmingly large task in learning about Jesus and God’s plans for each of us.
That’s also one example of something we just do. We simplify, we go out of our way to find a way around difficult situations or long term plans.
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “cookie cutter Christian”— the idea that we have to conform to some pre-made mold, to look like and act like everyone else in our “religion”.
I am a bad, bad cookie.
I just don’t fit into any of the pre-made molds I’m “supposed to” fill.
I never have.
Truth be told— I’ve never wanted to.
Even now, I’m struggling with a few things because I still have it in my belief-system that I have to be something God didn’t make me to be. For other things— there are reasons, experiences— even traumas— that have steered my reactions in a different way.
I know— I’m supposed to be conforming to Christ. And— I am. Just not in the way many in my life have tried to push me to do.
Their mold for me is not a good fit. The edges are too sharp, the design is too busy, the sizing is way off.
I don’t want to conform to what I should according to anyone’s opinion.
Their mold doesn’t look like the Jesus I adore.
Often, their mold is missing Grace.
It’s missing Peace.
It’s missing the Individualism God has specifically placed in each design of each person. Unique talents, gifts and interests.
It’s missing the Free Will God has gifted us all with— but far too many try to take that away from us.
The pre-made paths of doctrines, expectations, and behaviors don’t work well with everyone in the same way.
My path is continually being paved by God with kindness, graciousness, understanding, forgiveness,patience— yes, PATIENCE.
I’m so sad to say, I find these things to most often be lacking in any pre-made road anyone has ever tried to persuade me to walk down.
I need help to conform not to this world, but to Jesus.
How many times has humanity missed the mark because we are too distracted by someone else?
Time for us all to wake up. Before God has to cause a shake-up.
2 Timothy 3:5 holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; avoid such people as these.
My path is narrow, continually being laid before me, Thy Word Is A Lamp Unto My Feet, A Light Unto My Path.
I’ve heard many people, throughout my lifetime, tell me I should thank God for the difficult things.
This has never sat well with me.
Just like I’ve heard some say that everything that happens is because God wants it to happen.
The God I serve doesn’t make bad things happen.
The God I serve allows bad things to happen.
These are notone and the same.
The God I serve made sure His faithful servants, Shaddrach, Meshach and Abednego were protected in the fiery furnace.
God did not put them inside of the furnace. He did not light the fire.
God did not make Joseph’s brothers sell him into slavery, and make it appear to their dad that he was dead. God knewbefore it happened, He warned and encouraged Joseph. God then led Joseph, He protected Joseph, He raised Joseph up to a place where he demonstrated God’s mercy, His forgiveness and His provision for some of those people who made the bad things happen to Joseph.
God tested Abraham’s faithfulness with his promised son’s life. God provided Abraham with another way— He gave him a ram to sacrifice, and through his obedience Abraham proved to God that He trusted Him, Isaac proved that he trusted God through his father. God proved He is trustworthy.
Paul was warned that bad things were going to happen to him by someone who worried for his safety. Bad things happened to him— but God did not make the bad things happen. God led Paul through every situation.
As I’m thinking about Paul, before God renamed him, I do remember God inflicting him with blindness. Why? Because He needed to get Paul’s (then Saul of Tarsus) attention. As Saul, he was persecuting severely—to the death— God’s chosen people doing God’s chosen work. Through the blindness Paul was inflicted with, God showed him that he was behaving as an enemy of God— no matter how “righteous” and pure-of-heart his intentions were. He humbled him, made sure he was able to hear, to see, the truth about Jesus and everyone preaching that Jesus was the promised Messiah.
I realize God can do whatever God wants, whenever God wants, and He doesn’t ever have to make sure any of us understand why.
I believe He has gone to great lengths to do just that.
Everything we ever need to understand God’s unchanging character is written for us to study.
Before I knew I needed to follow the example and words of Jesus, I did things and said things that most likely made me God’s enemy.
I can’t think of even one bad situation I believe God ever made happen in my life.
Even at my worst!
I will never believe God made people hurt me in the multiple ways I’ve been hurt.
Many of those situations I walked right into, eyes wide open, and it was people— not God— that hurt me.
But God was with me in every single situation.
He made sure the right things happened, the right people of Hischoice helped me.
He has been right there, protecting me— undeserving, frustrating, mis-guided me— every time.
All of the time.
There is not one bad thing in my life that I can ever thank God for.
I don’t believe Scripture teaches us to blame the bad things on God in order to then thank Him to glorify Him.
I just can’t do that.
My God is Good.
My God is kind.
My God is understanding.
My God is my comfort.
My God is my Healer.
My God protects me.
My God neverforsakes me.
In every fire, every troubling situation— He is my Rock.
The Rock that those hard places try to crush me against— He shields me, never crushes me.
No matter how much I have deserved to be crushed.
I can always thank God for turning bad things around for my good, His Glory, because I love Him deeply and I am called according to His purpose.
Intentionally doing something, on purpose, has consequences. Often, lasting consequences.
I write on my blog, on purpose, with purpose.
What is my intention, intentionally?
Well, for starters, it helps me organize my thoughts. I have found, if I just leave them all jumbled up, they tend to drag my emotions into a big, complicated, tangle of a mess.
I guess, it helps keep all of that in check.
The second reason is to work through stuff. It’s, I guess, a form of “self-help” therapy.
But why do I do it online, where pretty much anyone could stumble upon it or be directed to it, and may actually read it?
My answer to that is— because others are also going through “stuff”. Maybe my processing through my own issues could encourage someone else going through something similar.
I have learned, and I believe sincerely it was God’s Spirit Who has been teaching me this, that whatever I hide in the darkness of my fears, my pride, my heart— will just pop out in some other ways.
Obsession for control.
All symptoms of holding stuff in, not finding a way to address things.
The Devil wreaks havoc wherever things are hidden.
God shines His Light on everything we surrender to Him. The enemy of our soul finds plenty of ways to get footholds into hidden situations, emotions, decisions, thoughts, fears, relationships— every aspect of our lives.
It’s so important to allow God to shine His Light into everything in my life!!
While I blog to accomplish all of these purposes, I also believe this is one of God’s intentionalpurposes for me.
My struggles are real. I’m learning how to surrender them to God, so they don’t consume me.
Maybe someone else can find encouragement in that. Maybe someone feels alone in their own struggles, and these posts help them know— they are notalone. There are others going through similar things.
It expresses understanding.
Something in my own past I’ve wished I could find.
It’s not for everyone.
In fact, it’s not what many are interested in— at all.
That’s ok. It’s not the quantity, it’s the connection. It’s the chance to share my process in surrendering all to Jesus.
Sometimes, that can be helpful.
And, if not— I still work through my own things in a healthy way, for myself.
This week I’ve been preparing for a special worship service we have scheduled for tonight.
Sitting here now, attempting to build a difficult puzzle, I’m realizing my thoughts and my heart are kind of all over the place, like my puzzle pieces.
Absolutely not the “attitude of worship” I feel I need to be in for tonight.
Besides changes to the service due a main member being placed into quarantine, there has been extra busy-ness for me this week.
I’m finding it difficult to just rest my mind that is cluttered on so many unimportant things, just on Jesus.
The picture I chose at the beginning shows so much how I’d define me at this moment.
The setting reminds me of being in the high places. It seems so peaceful. Yet instead of soaking it in, I’m striving at something unnecessary, not interacting with the environment around me at all. I’m making things harder, not appreciating God’s Spirit within me.
My mind is working so hard, exhausting the rest of me. It isn’t listening when I tell it to quiet itself— to be still and know…
In my heart, I know I need to set everything aside and just focus my attention onto Jesus— Who He is, how He is, why He’s so necessary to me.
To just worship Him in spirit and in truth.
My mind is scattered in many directions, like the puzzle in front of me now.
In the end, each piece forms a complete picture.
Each of my thoughts, with their jags of emotions, depth of colors and partial images should form the complete picture of Jesus in me— if I reign them in and put them together correctly, as I grab hold of the heart and mind of Christ.
While the chaos of thoughts, concerns and mental “todo’s” get under control, I’ve started to feel that peace. It’s not swirling around me— it just is.
It is always there.
I just get lost in the unimportant things that need to be taken captive unto Christ Jesus.
He is worthy of my purposeful, intentionally focused attention. Everything else is not.
I’m stepping out of my comfort zone to share my story of what God has done, and is still accomplishing in me. I’ll be honest— I’m recognizing a deep, breath-constricting anxiety as I set out to share this here. I have family that won’t want me to talk about it, some who still don’t even believe what I experienced. Fear or worry about what they think or feeling like I have to defend myself, have been my boundaries in the past. Being called a liar, or treated like a liar has been an anxiety-riddled prison. So much so, that just speaking in normal settings about everyday things triggers an anxiety that I “talked too much”.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts here, or if you know me personally, you may already know bits and pieces— or large chunks— of the circumstances that started out as my mold. The mold that God broke when I surrendered it all to Him as I finally hit my rock bottom, and circumstances, mistakes, and unGodly beliefs tried to crush me.
The picture I chose above is significant to me. So many things I can glean from it that describe my personal experiences. The water can represent so many things, but I see it as God wearing through the hard places to forge a path forward for me to follow. My path has been rocky, twists and turns threatening to cause me to get lost or stuck, or even follow a wrong path. Before God— it was just rock. No path. No safe place for me to set my feet, no clear guidance. No water.
My story starts with me as a child. Let me preface this with— this is not in anyway a “bash” attempt. Things happened that were out of my control— like everyone has had happen to some degree. For me, mine were devastating. Through them God made me a strong person, deep rooted in Him. He has proven Himself to me over and over, so many times.
He is trustworthy.
He is Worthy to take the reigns of my life and be in control.
As a child, I don’t remember much. There are so many “holes” in my memory.
My dad struggled with mental illness, sometimes mis-diagnosed or misunderstood as he was a guinea pig of the VA. Had they understood more and accurately diagnosed him, maybe things wouldn’t have been as bad as they were.
Parts of my childhood are like memories of terrifying nightmares. Not all of it. We had fun family times, with lots of laughing and fun family vacation times.
Over the years I have gotten to where the nightmare things are being forgotten. I find myself wanting to cling to the good things.
I’m not going to get into the ptsd-invoking events, except to say I was in an abusive environment. My dad was a bit of a Jekyll-Hyde type— either angry/enraged, or joking and fun. He had bouts of depression, in there as well.
I never felt that security of stability with him. I was terrified of making him angry, or being spanked by him. I never felt loving type of discipline from him— he beat me.
At some point the sexual abuse started, but I can’t remember much about when. There are things he told me, and things he never told me. The most recent time he addressed it, about 15 years ago, he told not me, but everyone else in a mental hospital community room. Things I did not know. My husband heard it.
I was beyond devastated. Embarrassed and humiliated.
My mom tried to say what he said probably wasn’t true— but no way either of us could know for sure. That feeling of not even knowing what happened to me, or for how many years, is crushing. My dad saying those things about me— proudly— to strangers and my husband isn’t something she could even begin to understand.
That night I went back to my parent’s house and at the prompting of The Holy Spirit, I wrote my dad a letter, telling him that I forgave him.
When I think back, age 10 is where most of the memories start.
That’s when the eating disorder began.
We started spending summers living with my mom’s parents. My grandma poured her love into everything meal or dessert she made.
I needed love.
I ate so much “love”, I gained a bunch of weight the summer before. My dad made fun of me. We already had a dysfunctional relationship— making fun of me was salt in my deep emotional and mental wounds.
He was so vocal about women.
So, determined to not be made fun of or noticed, really, food became a type of poison, and my RN grandma had a poster on her bathroom door for what to do if I ate something poisonous— throw it up.
It started out once or twice a day. Then turned into food avoidance.
Over the next 10 years it developed into all-consuming rituals, every meal, every time I ate.
I am not going to regress back into describing in detail those rituals.
God has delivered me from those rituals, and from that “poisoned” mentality.
After a couple of years, it developed into more of a Bulimia, as God brought someone into my life that helped encourage me to eat.
By the time I turned 20, I was purging so much I started throwing up significant amounts of blood.
One particularly bad time, I called the ER and told the nurse I threw up blood. In the discussion, I mentioned making myself do that, and she said to me, “ Stop doing that!”
Let me tell you— that was so powerful!
In all those years, I never considered I could just choose to stop.
So, I stopped.
I never did it again.
In that time-frame, I was assaulted. Then I married someone who abused me, neglected me then raped me in my sleep.
And so, while the purging and rituals had stopped, my binging habits had not. Reaction to trauma made that all worse.
I gained weight.
Most would view that as bad. But here’s where I believe God’s deliverance began—
Fat did not kill me!
It was not the worst thing that could happen to me.
In fact, I began to find a comfort in men not paying attention to me.
My husband didn’t like that I gained weight. He was mean. He made humiliating jokes about me to our families. He did things that threatened my life. Then, he divorced me.
Devastated as I was— God saved my life, and then my soul through that divorce.
I turned to God.
I had missteps. My mind was still very much in the world, I didn’t understand God’s ways being different, or transforming.
Eventually I walked away from everything and every person I knew. After seeking God for His direction for my life, for weeks, I became convinced He was making a way for me by joining the military.
I enlisted, I traded my first military assignment to move overseas.
I completely left everything, and put my trust in God.
That was 28 years ago.
He provided me with a new husband. He promised and provided me with a beautiful daughter. He gave me 3 sons.
I never returned to the rituals of eating disorders.
I did however become a food and sugar addict.
God is in the process of both delivering and healing me from this, while raising me up to help others walk in His freedom.
It’s been a long time since I’ve felt hope or excitement.
I have all hope, and I am so excited for the future path God is continuously carving out for me now.
In America, our culture is saturated in self-confidence. It’s embedded in every aspect of our society, to have faith in our own abilities, to live with a measure of success because of some wisdom, knowledge or ability we possess.
I have slowly begun to realize that this whole doctrine for American life is contrary to God’s Word.
We are instructed in Scripture to be in the world, and yet not of the world.
What a balancing act that becomes! There are so many human obstacles to trip us up as we learn how to walk God’s narrow-ing path.
The closer we follow after Jesus, the more narrow our walkway in this life becomes.
With God’s Spirit as our Guide and God’s Word as our compass, we can constantly learn new ways— His ways.
The “don’ts” become more clearly recognized as some of the wisest bits of protected information we should be clinging to as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
This is where I’ve been learning in recent years that confidence in myself gets in the way.
When I trust in my own abilities, I stop relying on God.
When I lean on, or into, my own understanding, I stop leaning on God.
When I seek inside of myself for answers, I stop trusting God for answers.
It cannot be both ways.
Recently my self confidence has been deeply shaken. It’s not a new thing for me to go through stuff that I can only talk with God about. He’s the Only One Who knows me from the inside out. He knows where I have come from, and the direction He wants me to go in.
He doesn’t force me to go any specific direction, I have freedom to decide.
The thing is, I’ve learned that when I don’t seek Him for the direction He would prefer I go in— wow do I end up in some crazy places or circumstances!!
Even when we are following Jesus, we can make missteps. It’s when we lean on our own abilities, wisdom, knowledge or understanding that we fall. When we misstep while leaning on Jesus as completely as we can, we don’t fall.
My walk with God throughout my life has been my lifeline.
Where people have failed me— and they always do— Jesus never fails. God’s love for me never fails.
My path has been uncluttered with human interaction at various times throughout my history. That used to make me feel lonely and unsure.
Now I can look back as see how God has always filled those gaps.
In the last 2 years my personal confidence has been going through a type of threshing. This may seem horrific, but it’s actually become comforting to know that God has been deeply at work separating that chaff from the wheat of everything I have known.
He has been refining my faith and my confidence in Him in every way.
My confidence does not lie in what the world teaches me. It does not rest in people. It does not reside within me, is not something I can ever possess.
My confidence thrives in Jesus, the perfecter of my faith.
My purpose here on earth is to learn about His ways, to empty myself so I can be the vessel He pours out into the world at His will, in His way— not mine.
I have full confidence in Him. In my weakness, He is strong within me. Where others see the outward and what they would opine as laziness or failures, God is patient with me. He allows me to take my time, He never rushes me or pushes me into accomplishing anything. He works through this unattractive, plain vessel humanity disregards. His expectations never weigh me down, I am not a disappointment to Him. He doesn’t place value on the things this world does.
I think Mary understood this as she sat with Jesus while He was with her, even with the pressure of Martha trying to pull her away to do what the world expected of her.
The world will always be pulling, tugging, expecting…
Thankfully when I turn my eyes toward Jesus, all that’s in this world fades away, and I can be in it while not being of it.
Have you ever dealt with a Christian who refuses to demonstrate Grace, refuses to extend forgiveness?
That sting is worse than the death of a loved one.
Jesus was so clear when He told the Disciples that if we don’t forgive others, Father God will not forgive us.
This is such a big deal for our Salvation.
Eternal Life altering.
I believe this is the main obstacle causing the need for us to walk in fear and trembling down our narrow road towards our Salvation.
The two defining trademarks of Christianity are Grace and Forgiveness.
Grace and Forgiveness are the refreshing water our spirits thirst for. They cut through the hardest of hearts like water cuts through and wears down the hardest, sharpest of rocks.
No other religion practices those two things. When practiced carefully, they create this amazing domino effect of all the other attributes of Christ becoming part of our spiritual growth to become more like Him.
For ALL have fallen short— God forgives everyone who becomes appreciative and accepting of His forgiveness through the death, resurrection, and then Ascendance of Jesus.
God demonstrates Grace.
Who are we that we would refuse to do the same?
I will not remain where Grace and Forgiveness are not freely demonstrated towards me from anyone claiming to be Saved.
Because that is so toxic, that puts my own Salvation at risk. That affects my relationship with God— because in my anger I may fall into that same sin of unforgiveness.
I choose to walk in Grace.
I choose to walk in Forgiveness.
I know my true brothers and sisters by their own fruit of Grace and Forgiveness.
Not hardness of heart.
Not mean spiritedness.
There is a sin that grieves the Holy Spirit.
I believe that sin is Unforgiveness.
It sure grieves my own spirit.
As much as someone has hurt me, and i have had many, many opportunities to practice forgiveness to unforgiving, ungracious Nonbelievers— but lack of Grace and Forgiveness from a Believer is what I willfully choose to walk away from.
When Grace and Forgiveness are extended to me in a Christlike manner, I will return. Until then— I have to protect my own Salvation with fear and trembling to keep myself from my own heart hardening in Unforgiveness.
Then that peace that passes by all earthly understanding of how peace is even possible, will flood my soul.
I pray that same peace will flood their soul, cut through hardness of heart, wash away jealousy and disappointment— and heal what I believe God wants to make beautiful.
🎵”I walk Salvation’s road, with fear and trembling Your way borne as my own As Christ is formed in me If ever I should lose my way If ever I deny Your grace Remind me of the price You paid Hallelujah I’ll live in remembrance…”🎵 Remembrance— Hillsong
I’ve heard church described as a group of sinners. Saved by grace, yes, but emphasis on sinners.
If we are people who claim to follow after Jesus, shouldn’t we instead refer to ourselves as repentant sinners saved by grace?
Having turned away from the sin that has affected every person ever on earth— except for Jesus— God in the flesh.
This is why someone still blinded and bound by sin shouldn’t be a role model in a Believers Meeting. Because it’s meant to be for repentant followers of Jesus. That’s not to say everyone shouldn’t be welcomed. But, there has to be an open repentance standard for role models and leadership.
We may not like it, but God’s House needs to have strong Believers who choose Him and turn away from the sin that caused Him so much pain and anguish in our place.
He died the death we deserved, and then He provided the way to turn away from that sin, and is offering each one of us Eternal Llfe— with Him.
We lack God’s love.
We lack compassion.
We lack surrendering to accountability to one another.
We lack so many Godly things explained to us in Scripture.
Every person falls short, and messes up. But— isn’t the entire point that we are repentant, and we turn away from the sin that plagues us?
If we embrace the actual sin, what is the purpose?
Loving individuals who are still bound up by sin **should be** the natural actions of repentant Believers.
But— loving them doesn’t mean we should embrace and cater to the sinfulness.
It also doesn’t mean we exact judgement against anyone. If anything, true repentance should humble us, while reminding us of the sinful muck and mire God dragged us out of.
God’s Word specifically tells us Jesus came to set the captives— those held captive by sin— free. He came to seek and to Save the lost.
He did not come to condemn the world, but to Save it.
God so lovedthe world that He gave us His one and only Son…
Harsh judgment is going to come at us from people who don’t agree, but it’s not our place to reflect judgment in return.
We won’t win souls for Jesus if we don’t treat others as God expects.
The first step is humbling ourselves in repentance and acknowledging that there is nothing new under the sun.
God is not surprised by anything.
Nor is He ashamed of the lost.
Neither should we be ashamed.
Here’s the thing— since Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and rose again— conquering both sin and death— why do we focus so much on sin?
Kindness, compassion, gentleness— praying for someone bound in sin is the fruit of a repentant heart.
Our focal point needs to be Jesus.
Not any specific sin.
By the same token, anyone who calls themself a Believer and Saved, needs to repent of everything Jesus conquered through His death on the cross.
For the Believer, church is about becoming more like Jesus— sinless. The only way to achieve that is by rejecting the sin that we sometimes try or want to justify.
There is a difference in the life and heart of someone who **turns sin away**, and tells it “No! Jesus has a better way for me, better plans for my life! I can do ALL things through Christ Jesus, Who is my strength.”
Believers Meetings are for empowering us to do that.
God made Salvation as easy as possible for us. Mankind adds twists, turns and an abundance of complicated expectations.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one, and only, Son that whoeverbelieves in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
Then mankind adds their own “twist”— you’re Saved if you demonstrate the gift of speaking in tongues. You have to prophesy. You need to speak things that are not into being as if they were. You must demonstrate unspeakable joy as though it’s continuous happiness… and on, and on, and on…
I personally believe there are people who are as clanging gongs to God, that believe they are pleasing Him.
Maturity is important in our relationship with God. I do believe we grow in maturity as we get into the meat of Scripture.
I also believe we tend to move away from the Gospel’s simplicity as we “grow up” in Christ.
Here’s the simplicity— am I included in whoeverbelieves?
What should the evidence of that be?
Galatians 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. NIV
I wonder if ministries today are how God wants them to function. It seems as though very few get right to the heart of the simplicity of God’s Gospel message.
1Peter 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Romans 10:9 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
Acts 17:31 “Because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
That seems pretty simple to me.
I am reminded of Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet and hung on every word He spoke.
And yet, Martha complicated it. She tried to pull Mary away from giving her full attention and focus to Jesus. I think, even though Martha’s service was what she believed was necessary and needed— she missed the mark that day. She stepped into a performance role, whereas Mary stepped into a relationship role.
I see these two roles as often being almost in a type of war with one another.
The road is narrow for the simplicity of God’s Gospel. We seem to lose our footing the more we focus on what everyone shouts at us along the way. “You need to do this, be this way, demonstrate that, bind and loose these things…”
I simply need to believe in my heart and confess with my mouth.
Sometimes it’s wise to just drop everything we “know”, and go back to sitting at His feet, absorbing every word He has spoken.
Who can understand how the blood of Jesus can wipe away the sins of the world?
The same God Who created time itself, created a way where He could come onto Earth, and prepare the only way to eternal Salvation for a fallen, disgraced, despicable humanity.
The only way.
Blood is not a pleasant thing to discuss or think about.
Many faint at the sight of it.
How many fainted at the sight of God’s Blood dripping down, spilling out of the body of God in human form?
No one talks about that.
I believe humanity has become desensitized to the Blood of Jesus.
We pray— “I plead the Blood of Jesus” almost casually, giving little time of thought to what that actually means.
At least— that has been me.
I plead the Blood of Jesus…
I plead the Blood of Jesus.
Pleading— to me that’s almost like begging, not casually “applying” it over our lives, our loved ones, our situations.
To me plead has a sound of near desperation— as we remind ourselves when attacked by the enemy of our soul, of our God— Jesus died to cover that sin, and that sin, and every sin of the world. And then we remind ourselves what Jesus did to rescue us— I plead: the Blood of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.
Only God can apply the Blood of Jesus.
We can allow Him to, we can accept that from Him.
I have fallen into that trap of praying pre-made prayers that sound “spiritual”.
We paint very liberally with such a precious gift, maybe giving a quick thought to what Jesus endured and became the Victor of.
We say He did that on our behalf. He did. Because only He was qualified.
Not because we are qualified to be given such an unselfish gift.
“Behold! I stand at the door and knock…”
He applies the Blood over the door posts of our soul.
We walk by faith— not by sight.
By faith, I believe the Blood of Jesus is already applied over my life.
I always need to be reminded of how humbling that is. But, I don’t need to apply it to myself in a ritual.
Jesus has done that.
It’s done. One drop is way more powerful than I could even grab hold of!
After all— it has already washed me white as snow.
So much of our focus becomes what we need to do as rituals.
But Jesus said to follow Him. I don’t recall ever seeing Him demonstrate any of the rituals we hold so strongly to today.
Is the power of God held within rituals? Or is it held within faith?
When we walk in the knowledge of what Jesus has already done— I believe then we walk in the strength and the power of His might.
They’ve started to open before, but then I shut them. Again.
Everything on the surface looks fine, looks good even.
But then something happens, and they start to open again.
In the past, just as they are beginning to focus, to recognize…
I am lulled back to sleep.
This time, I’m staying awake. I’m rubbing my blurry eyes so I can focus more clearly.
I’m making out a shape with some color..
I see control.
I am recognizing when I make any kind of decision without it being discussed and approved, I provoke the frustration and anger that guard control.
When I start to walk in my own decision making, and I begin to feel like my “old” self again, it creates an unbalance in the control system.
As soon as I begin to relax, to just enjoy, being refreshed and confident naturally— the beast begins to wake up, cranky from lack of control.
I see it now. Clearly. With eyes that are awake.
I recognize it.
I see the prison it has created.
It’s not unpleasant.
I’m not unprovided for.
But I’m not free.
My confidence is challenged.
I’m not encouraged to be at my best.
In fact, I recognize I am actually encouraged to not be my best.
I am often alone.
I am often drained of “will” power, exhausted, by reactions.
This is my own doing, for allowing this to overcome me.
The things that energize me are discouraged— subtly, yet effectively.
Being able to just relax and be myself is subverted by the lag of distraction, and the oh so subtle injection of unresponsive disapproval .
A hesitancy to respond.
An obvious attempt to squelch anticipation or even excitement.
Like a bug being squished as it’s headed in a specific direction with an intended purpose.
That’s my ability to make plans without lengthy discussion, or simply do something spontaneously and un-dissected.
My abilities are bogged down by lack of attention or acknowledgement.
My accomplishments are overlooked, or even torn down.
I have taken the path with the least friction, and just laid everything down— because— what’s the point?
But now I have my focus on it.
I see it.
The beast of control will be challenged, openly.
I want my “me” back.
I want my confidence back.
I want all of the appreciation, encouragement, and full support I’ve poured in to now be reciprocated.
I’m not ok with being managed.
Ephesians 5:13-14 “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”
If I could describe my life as a mash-up with how God has always been there, it would go something like the following:
Accidents, mishaps and hospital ER trips— Your protective Hand was covering me, keeping me safe from far worse.
Deepest loneliness, hurts and deep-seated rejections— You’ve always accepted me, held me close to Your heart of hearts.
You are the only One Who has trulyloved me. The only One Who has consistently been there through everything.
There in my happiest times, rejoicing with me.
With me in the sad times— comforting me in Your arms of perfect Love.
Mynorthern star, the compass of my heart…. You are the voice that calms the storm inside me Castle walls that stand around me All this time, my guardian was You It’s Always Been You Phil Wickham Who stood with me in the fire? It was You, it was always You Who pulled me out of the water? It was You, it was always You And who carried me on their shoulders? It was You, I know it’s You, You
You have never born false witness against me, have always encouraged me through Your Word and that still small voice speaking to my heart of hearts.
You have lifted me up, You have had my back. You have been my Guide to get out of the muck and the mire threatening to suffocate the life out of me, draining me of the will to fight, the will to live.
It’s Always Been You.
It’s only been You.
So Will I Hillsong United. You chased down my heart Through all of my failure and pride On a hill You created The light of the world Abandoned in darkness to die.
If the stars were made to worship so will I If the mountains bow in reverence so will I If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I For if everything exists to lift You high so will I If the wind goes where You send it so will I If the rocks cry out in silence so will I If the sum of all our praises still falls shy Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times
The sum of my life is simply— You’re the One who never leaves the one behind.
4 Luke 15:4-7 “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the other ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?5 And when he has found it, he puts it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost!’ 7 I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.
Imagine this is a picture of God’s hand— catching all of our tears (Psalm 56:8), Holding our hand (Isaiah 41:13), pouring His grace, His mercy out over us (1 Timothy 1:12-17)— within our reach, in His grasp (Acts 17:27).
Imagine His hand designing every part of us, every cell’s information center, every detail from the tiniest strands of Laminin to the color of our hair and eyes. (Jeremiah 18:6), (Isaiah 64:8) (Isaiah 66:2)
His hand— that shelters us (Ezra 8:21-23), heals us as He applies His perfect Heavenly healing balm upon our hearts (2 Chronicles 30:12), our eyes (Matthew 26:64), our wounds… (Revelation 1:17) (Exodus 15:26) (Psalm 107:20) (Jeremiah 30:17) (Jeremiah 17:14)
His hand places us (Ezekiel 37:1), directs us ( (139:10), supports us (Psalm 18:35), it beckons us towards Him (John 14:6) fulfilling His purpose for us (Psalm 138:8) (Jeremiah 29:11), warns us to stop what we are doing and turn back to Him. (Psalm 31:15) (1Chronicles 4:10) (Daniel 9:15)
It’s His hand that holds us (Isaiah 41:13-14) (Ecclesiastes 9:1) and keeps us safe (Isaiah 41:13) and keeps us from being snatched from Him. (John 10:28-29)
His hand gives us the opportunity to humble ourselves so in His timing He might exalt us. (1Peter 5:6-7)
It’s His hand that upholds us. (Isaiah 41:10) (Psalms 63:8)
His hand delivers us. (Psalm 138:7)
He has us inscribed on the palms of His hands! (Isaiah 49:16) Regardless of where you stand in the tattoo debate— think about this culture of tattoos, all the pretty (or not so pretty), creative designs humans come up with and want to display on their bodies— for all the world to see. God— Who created everything— has us inscribed on His hands!
All throughout Scripture we read about His hand executing justice on the behalf of very imperfect people. (Ezra 8:21-23)
And that’s just His hand(s)!
Along with His hand, is His attention. His focus. His love.
We have the attention of The Creator of every universe, every planet, every living being!
The imagination of our loving God is on full manifested display for us to witness, across the sky, and across our world!
The One Who’s thoughts are so much higher than we can ever reach or attain, has His thoughts on us, even shares them with us.
Being reminded of these things is humbling.
How is it possible to forget He’s holding me in the shadow of His hand? When I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of circumstances affecting, over-shadowing my life, there is something that is far greater in size and strength.
He is with me through it all.
Even when I am aware of my unworthiness. Even when I think what I’ve said or done— or not done— makes me unqualified for His protective, loving hand.
All of us have experienced the same things, in differing degrees, the past year. Add to that individual, unique experiences— it’s overwhelming when our focus rests on that.
Much like those pictures with a hidden picture we can only see when we let go of focusing on what we recognize— God’s hand comes into focus when we stop looking at everything else.
Have you ever watched someone restore a damaged painting? I find it fascinating, the level of dedication, determination and affection the one restoring it demonstrates. The knowledge of every painted stroke, the understanding of what and how— tedious work, for sure.
Have you ever heard a song that grabs your soul’s focus almost immediately?
“I was a wretch. I remember who I was. I was lost, I was blind, I was running out of time.”
I instantly remembered.
In the midst of everything I have going on in my life, everything I am struggling with, all I am endeavoring to push through and overcome, I was instantly transferred right back to that moment my soul heard Him call my name and tell me to turn and follow Him.
My life was the messiest of messes. I was being crushed against my rock-bottom.
He saw me. He reached into my soul, He called my name. My name. He knew myname.
He gently helped me to my feet. He patiently cleaned off all the smudges, He worked out all the mars in the clay of my foundation. He tended carefully, lovingly to the tears, the worn spots from the misuse, the abuse, of others who didn’t know how to properly care for me.
He looked into the depth of my soul, found all that is of value to my Creator. He applied the Blood to every detail.
He Saved me for Eternity, He rescued me with the redemptive relationship no one on earth deserves.
I haven’t deserved such Divine, Perfect attention.
He gave it to me freely, liberally— permanently.
I never have to go back. I have continuously walked forward. Sometimes I’ve crawled, and at times I have danced with Him.
My beautiful Savior.
It’s beyond just His love for me.
He sees me— all of me. He knows me better than anyone ever can.
I enjoy watching classics. In many ways, tv, movies— Hollywood really— played a role in “raising” me.
I learned more from seeing actors pretend in relationships than I did from my own day-to-day experiences. I assumed I was watching how people actually interacted in their own families.
I’ve learned since that I wasn’t. The reason those become so popular is they are “selling” ideas that deep inside people think they need.
It’s an illusion.
As I have been watching some older things, ranging from black and white classics to 90’s favorites, I noticed something— in older things, one main common thread was how men talked about and treated women. And women believed it was justified, normal, ok treatment!
There have been judgments made against the Bible, but what I read in Scripture does not verify them at all.
I’ll start with “In the beginning…”
God made women, from man’s rib, to help him suitably. The very first humbling of “manhood”— men need helpers that are suitable.
God provides our needs.
Too many husbands reject the suitable help of their wives.
Why? Well— first because of ego and pride. I mean— how many men will admit they need help? Scripture never says man asked God for someone to help him. God just saw it was necessary— and He took part of the man He created from the dust— and made another being suitable for help, companionship, love, conversation… All things men’s nature seem to reject.
Looking to things our culture tends to put on a pedestal— the “stars”— there is an obvious disdain, maybe even hatred, for wives. Wives are to be insulted, ignored, talked down to, brushed aside, be unfaithful to, etc. The way men talked about and treated the wives in the “classics” is now a disgusting thing for me to see.
It’s no small wonder women rebelled in various ways, and took over the culture, where male “bashing” became a defensive popular theme. Pretend-wives treating pretend-husbands like they are stupid, idiotic, lazy, untrustworthy— etc., etc., etc.
One thing that is never a Hollywood marital theme is— Mutual. Mutual respect, mutual love, mutual consideration…
I’m not sure I would say that’s a focused perspective in Scripture, but I think when Scripture is carefully studied and practiced, the result becomes a natural mutual practice.
Hollywood has taught husbands to hate their wives, to be abusive, intolerant and unfaithful. Whereas Scripture consistently teaches husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church— and what I sincerely believe to be the key— as husbands love their own bodies (flesh).
Hollywood has taught women first, that they aren’t valuable, capable, intelligent, and only outer appearance is worth valuing. Then, Hollywood in more recent years has taught wives to be disrespectful, unhelpful, even hateful to husbands. Scripture on the other hand has taught all women that our value lives in Christ, that God defines us, has created us with priceless value and beauty as we grow closer to God through Jesus. Scripture has taught wives to respect husbands — treat them with respect.
I believe Scripture has put the greater burden on husbands— because they are to love their wife— helpmate suitable— as Christ loves the Church. They are to mirror Jesus!
How did Jesus treat women Believers? Never objectified them! He was not rude, did not talk down to them, always listened carefully and considered what they had to say. He never treated them as though they were unimportant, or had nothing of value to contribute.
Husbands— who are you following the example of? Pretenders following someone else’s scripts, or Jesus and admonishment from Paul?
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. Nasb
Chaos. This is the idea being pushed all around us. Urgency. Fear. We are surrounded by this, wherever we look. The news. Family and friends. The medical community.
We can’t escape the chaos.
There’s a newer song with a verse that says, “The atmosphere is all around. The Spirit of The Lord is here. The atmosphere is changing now. For the Spirit of The Lord is here” Here as in Heaven
While everything around us wants to immerse us in chaos— God remains outside of it all.
How can we get outside of it, as well?
When we pray, when we commune with Almighty God, we turn our backs to it all. Much like Jesus who was so outside of the chaos, He slept on the boat. Fear did not touch Him or cause Him to react. But those He loved panicked, and woke Him to change the atmosphere. He was outside of that fear, but He changed it— told that storm— “Peace. Be still.”
And the atmosphere obeyed.
When I read and remember Scripture— Jesus will be returning once again, to rule and reign for 1000 years. Will every person be dead? Will only His haters survive?
So, that means all the chaos caused by fear pushed by media, by political viewpoints, by climate change purveyors— none of that will affect the second coming of Christ.
So why get caught up in it all?
Why let the media convince us to be afraid, worried, to hate people who aren’t persuaded by their narratives?
We can turn our backs to it all.
We can trust Jesus. We can lean on Jesus.
We can rest in Him.
If God is not moved by it all, why should we be?
We can throw our hands up in surrender to Him, release it all, and confess to Him we have allowed our emotions, words and actions to be manipulated by the pushed chaotic ideas of the day, and release it all to Him.
Because He holds our entire world inside of His hands.
He does not cause the chaos.
He does not get involved in the chaos.
He remains outside of the chaos.
I’m trying to kneel there at His feet, and stay outside of it with Him.
It’s so peaceful and clear outside of the storm.
Or, should we also panic and beg Him to calm this storm?
I personally believe there is a reason— this is the season— for this storm.
I’d rather wait it out while spending the time with Him in His Presence— under the shelter of His wing. I can breath here. I can rest. I can rejoice in Him.
Outside of the chaos, with Jesus— that’s the very best place to be.
We all have some point where we worry about the opinion of someone else— to some degree.
The affects of that worry can be debilitating! How do we react to negative comments from those we value the opinion of?
Because of our documented-through-the-ages reactions to opinions— the enemy of our soul uses this to create stumbling blocks in our intended path. When I intentionally go in a specific direction, especially if it’s to bring honor to God, there is sometimes a stumbling block that causes me to trip, lose my balance, stub my toe, stumble, and sometimes, to fall.
Often we are so caught up in appearances, as well as our reactions of embarrassment, shock, and/or anger, we miss that this is a device and tactic employed by God’s enemy, the same enemy of humanity. We all know who that is. The serpent, and all the names attached throughout history to identify this evil entity.
What we don’t often understand is, we can be set free from the manipulation. Wecan cut the puppet strings. We don’t have to live in the tangled web of fear of opinions of others.
When something happens that causes fear to rise up— say this with me— “So What?” “Who Cares?” “Why Should I Let This Stop Me?” “God, Show Me The Truth.”
This is how we stand back up, brush the dust off of ourselves— those tiny, weightless particles of the opinions of others, with the chameleon affect of feeling heavy—brush that dust off, and start walking again. With purpose. With intention. Letting the fiery darts meant to burn us up and out, bounce off instead.
Because the only opinion that actually matters is God’s. In fact— His opinion is just that— fact. Truth. With no distortions. Since He fearfully and wonderfully formed us within our mothers, in secret, then we are His garden of fearfully, wonderfully made blooms.
This is why the enemy of our souls, the enemy of God, tries desperately to plant seeds of doubt, skepticism, fear, concern, worry, hatred— everything contrary to the fruit and nature of our loving Gardener, into the soil of our paths and the garden of our life. Because God tends to us and we bloom into beauty and life only He can create— empowered with His Spirit, nurtured and cleansed by the very, Holy blood of His one and only Son— Jesus. Our enemy wants to crowd that out, to infest us with doubts, skepticism and fear.
We are all His creation, made carefully, delicately, lovingly— by His hand, nurtured and protected by His hand, watered by His Spirit, cleansed by the blood of Jesus that sin can never corrupt. Ever. It is forever, eternally, so powerfully clean of sin— it actually washes sin away into nonexistence because of forgiveness and grace.
So— we can walk— puppet string free— from everything contrary to God’s Word. His Word is alive, His Word lives within us and has always dwelt amongst us. Always.
Isaiah 40:30-31 Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. NASB
In our culture of Christianity, it’s become easy to sing our promises and confessions of faith.
Do we follow through? When the service is over, do we reflect on the weighty words we’ve sung in praise, adoration and promise to our God?
I can’t say, with a clear conscience, that I have.
When I sing about surrendering it all to God, and beg Him in song to “take it all”, do I really know what I’m asking of Him— what I’m giving to Him?
Lately I have been playing Animal Crossing with my kids and husband. I have this neighbor— Buck— the “neigh”bor that annoys me the most. He’s brash, loud, yells in my character’s face, and he sneezed on her. I mean— the nerve! Lol! In real life, I wouldn’t want a neighbor like that. So, I’ve been trying to get him to want to move away. I give him boots, which he always hands back, saying he doesn’t want my trash.
My point in sharing that is— God *does* want our trash. He wants the worst parts of us— the things we dislike about ourselves, the stuff we hide from everyone else.
He wants our broken hearts. He wants our ugly, horrible thoughts. He wants that anger that seemingly comes out of nowhere. He wants those feelings that cause us to do exactly what we hate…
He wants our trash.
Because then He can make us better. He can make us stronger. He can repair the broken pieces of our hearts and lives. He can calm the storm that rages in our emotions. He can help us see things clearly, without worry, fear or distortion.
But, we have to freely give them to Him. He won’t just take them. He is never forceful with us.
Lately my time, one-on-one with God has been a spontaneous thing, which becomes steered by intention.
Something within me has changed. My perspective, or I guess my realization of the reliability— the consistent stability— of God with me. I never question His willingness to make sure I am taken care of. He has never wavered— though I know it’s certainly not because of anything I’ve earned nor do I dare think I deserve it.
This idea of “first love” is tumbling around in my brain today. Meditating in His Presence, saturating my spirit in the beautiful song Nothing Else, this idea of being taken back to my first love opens up a whole new reservoir of understanding for me.
“Take me back, take me back, take me back to my first love…” Can I say God has ever been my first love? I mean— honestly. Because, of course in “Christianese” that’s what we profess— that God is our first love.
As I just meditate on what that means to me, and question how exactly to get back to my first love when I cannot say that was God, I recognize what I need is to get back to the first recognition of my love for Him, and my first realization of His love for me.
My first time knowing this unique, soul-filling love that heals me, that refreshes me— that holds me close to Him.
“Take me back to my first love…” Take me back to that first moment the veil was torn from my understanding, that first glimpse my spirit had of You.
Take my heart back to being satisfied by sitting in Your Presence, back when things were simplified— back to the safety and comfort, like a newborn babe resting on its daddy’s chest— near to Your heartbeat. Because “Only You satisfy my heart… Nothing else will do— I just want You”
There is nothing like brokenness of spirit and a broken heart to open or change your view of things for previously unnoticed perceptions.
Like the words to songs. As I relived some memory lane through songs I haven’t heard since my most recent bout with brokenness, I realized I’m seeing things differently. Where before I sang them with the confidence of being enveloped by the Love of Christ, this time that same Love permeated into the chasm coated with reactionary numbness that tries to dull the pain. It caused a different reaction, a realization that now I understand more than before, and perspective that grants revelation to a new depth of understanding.
“Clothe me in white, so I won’t be ashamed…” has a deeper meaning to me now. In order for God to clothe me in white, my soul is bare before Him. He sees everything— nothing is hidden from Him. In the past I’ve known this. Now I more than know it— I experience what it really means— He sees me. He sees my deepest shame, my pain, where I have been abused and cast aside. He’s taking the outer garments I thought I had to wear that I believed covered me, but instead caused rejection of me— and He has clothed me in His acceptance. He’s thrown-out the old garments of being shamed, and He’s covered me in His forgiveness, His righteousness, His approval!! And though people may attempt to shame me— I will not be ashamed because I know Who I belong to— no matter what. The not being ashamed, that’s for me to live out. It has nothing to do with how anyone treats me or talks about me— I am not ashamed of who I am, because of Jesus.
When I sing “set a fire down in my soul, that I can’t contain, that I can’t control— I want more of You God, I need more of You God…” and I tell Him through singing that I want Him “…to pour it out…“ I understand that I need to be intentional about what I am asking Him to do— because He will give me more.
What will I do with the more that He gives to me?
When I sing about how “ I will dance, I will sing, to be mad (not angry FYI) for my King, and I will become even more undignified than this…” Baring my naked soul with unskilled dancing is the most vulnerable thing that I could do. I can boldly approach God’s throne of Grace in this manner— it should be an easy decision— casting off everything that weighs me down.
This is the way we should all be with Jesus. It’s a process we each get to face as individuals.
“…that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Eph. 4:22-24
The likeness of God, is Salvation through Jesus. We have the promise of eternal life with God through Christ Jesus. As we lay aside the old life and choices, we begin to understand the why’s concerning God and His Word. The why’s are important, because without that understanding, we will never be able to really lay aside our opinions that don’t line up with Scripture, or forgive the person who may actually be trying to sin against us 7×77 times daily.
The shock is wearing off now. The sting of the jolt that rocked me is beginning to fade. Numbness that covered me fully, almost like a protective layer of clothing from the elements of harsh weather, is beginning to peel away now.
It’s tempting to pull back from some of the most intense, penetrating pain I have ever experienced. But, I’m forcing myself to do what I have always tried to do– lean into it. Soon it will intensify to its strongest point, and then I’ll know the level I need to rise to to move beyond it.
I saw a storm coming, but to be honest– I expected a much different storm, in much different territory. This storm is familiar, but the territory is unexplored.
I’m at a disadvantage– probably more so than I have ever been. I don’t know if it’s the result of being cursed by those I should have been able to trust from a young age, or God just designed me and my personality to be much saltier and independently confident than many others. All I know is– support has almost never been something I could rely on. I’ve dealt with some of the most devastating things alone– often one-on-one with God but never much human support or understanding counsel. For a time I tried to fight for that, but realized it was an exhausting battle with little to no reward for all of my efforts.
As a result, now I find myself in this place where I wish I could have 1 solid person who can or will just walk with me through all the stages, emotions, and healing I will be pushing through as I continue to lean into the pain.
I’ve experienced first hand what so many often try to advise me of. I’m not one who can just settle under opinion or scrutiny, no matter how well-meaning the one doing it is.
I find myself looking for an equal. Not a counselor. Not a Pastor. Not a mentor. Not an advisor. Someone who doesn’t view me as a project or someone who needs their help. Because I know. I’ve already livedit. I’ve already made it to the other side. I’ve heard the voice of God calling out to me, directing my steps. I’ve experienced Jesus strengthening me.
I know how to get through this to that other side where healing will fully embrace me and restore– once again– what the locusts have destroyed.
I am confident in my direction, though I don’t see my path clearly yet. That will come into focus as I take each step forward. I’m not going to fall back– not with Jesus as my strength.
I just need/want someone who can and will walk with me, step with me– listen and respect me and my way of going through a process that I have already gone through successfully more than once. Someone proven that I can fully trust. That’s all. A trusted equal who has leaned into their own painful, devastating situations successfully.
For now, it will be me and Jesus, walking forward with steady, firm, intentional steps. Maybe God will provide me with a spiritual walking partner, too. But if He chooses not to– I’ll be ok. He’ll hold me up just as He always has.
“A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:1-4 NASB
There is this notion embedded in our society that Christian music isn’t reallygood unless it fits in perfectly with what is currently popular. If you can tell it’s Christian then it’s cheesy, it’s less valued than anything not Christian.
I have given in to this in the past, believing I should be embarrassed by any music not accepted by the “in” crowds of the world.
I have pondered this for awhile now, and here is the conclusion I have come to–
Christian music isn’t supposed to sound like everything else.
Christian music has a different focus and purpose. It has a different origin, and if it is written correctly– a completely different target audience of One.
It should always be excellence strived for, but most importantly– it should be Jesus-focused.
That’s why it’s Christian.
If we are embarrassed about a song those who don’t accept Jesus make fun of– are we also embarrassed about Jesus? Are we afraid or ashamed of being His follower– a Christian?
Christian music is supposed to be different. It’s supposed to stand out. It has infused power that no other music can match. It reaches the senses of our Creator– it teaches truth, it can break bondages, and God releases His healing through it. He illuminates truth through it. The music is inspired by Him and directed at pleasing Him.
We aren’t meant to mimic what is “acceptable” and try to fit in– we need to stand out! Shouldn’t our music, as well? So what if someone makes fun of it? There is a deeper, hidden meaning from those who reject the wisdom often injected into the lyrics. The music is inspired from a different area of our hearts and minds– an area only Christians can tap into– experience with God.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 NASB
I love rainbows. Besides being beautiful, they fascinate me. The origin and history are intriguing.
Besides the colorful streams that invoke a feeling of warmth, to me they are one of the many wonders of our world.
Rainbows and I also have a history. My very first memory in our shared history is seeing one outside my bedroom window. Inside my room, inside of my heart, it was raining– tears of sadness. I don’t remember the cause, maybe I’ve blocked it, maybe I was too young. But I remember that rainbow. I remember crying because I didn’t think anyone loved me, or liked me. I remember, fairly vividly, seeing that rainbow and feeling the voice of God inside my heart tell me that He loves me.
I knew He had made a promise to mankind that He wouldn’t destroy all of mankind by flood again. I remember a kept promise being a deeply important thing to me.
That is my first memory of connecting with God. Through that rainbow, having known about that characteristic of God, He brought His Word to life and breathed life into my spiritual lungs. I was about 7 or 8.
When I was 8 I began to learn to play the violin. I don’t think I took learning it seriously until I was 9 or 10. I had a wonderful teacher who took the time to help me find a sincere love for playing it. That’s when I began to practice. I started practicing everyday during the news– I hated the boring news back then!
As I grew in my ability to play, I also grew in my affection for it. At times it became the extension of my inner secrets, those things I couldn’t give voice or words to, things I didn’t understand.
I struggled with learning certain techniques, and I began to practice hours at a time because I wanted to be the best I could be– I wanted to be 1st chair. You see– that violin sounded scratchy no matter how much I practiced. I had to work extra, extra hard to get the scratchiness to not be noticeable.
My parents were kind, they didn’t complain about what must have been awful sounds at times. They didn’t have much money, and that violin was a rent-to-own. It was what they could afford. They gave me something far more than just a musical instrument to learn. They gave me what I needed to succeed, to survive, to feel. I had a way to access a depth and passion I would not have otherwise.
Without that, I’m not sure I would be here today. My violin became my best friend. It was the tool that I could use to help bring healing into my soul. It was the tool that allowed confidence and accomplishment to be poured into my spirit.
As that rainbow I first recall observing became a vehicle for God to reach into those inward places only He has access to, so became my violin. So much so that when, during my first military duty assignment, my dorm room got so hot from the heater I could not adjust, the glue melted and my best friend literally fell apart.
It was as though I lost my right arm.
I think I was in shock that I didn’t have it anymore.
A few months later, after making payments with my meager A1C salary, I brought home a new violin.
Then my dad bought me a special one, that I sincerely believe God set aside just for me. Someday I’ll tell that story, I’ve gotten myself side-tracked.
As I continued to play, a new passion stirred up in my heart, a desire to serve God while playing, an intense need/want to help bring God closer to other people’s hearts. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming, it feels like my breath is taken away, hoping I can be His vessel to pour healing and life through.
Rainbows, to me, are a visual of how God reaches into our inner recesses through music, through His Word, through prayer– through His Spirit.
I’ve been meditating on the song Remembrance all morning, and as I’ve been writing this. There is so much in this simple, short song. The music is nice and it gets intense. The words are nice and they get intense. My memory gets intense as I internalize, absorb, soak in every note and word– saturating my soul. Communion is deeply personal for me, the words remind me to not just take it but to remember Him as Christ is formed in me– continuously, as I take Communion and live my life for Him. He has been so, so good to me– oh the things He has delivered me from, and protected me from. No matter how bad things ever got– they could have been so much worse.
The rainbow seems like an illusion, but science has proven it’s absolutely real. Just like God in our lives. To others He appears to be an illusion to us, but through our personal experiences with Him interacting with us, we know beyond any shadow of any doubt that He is more real than any problem we face. In fact– the problem becomes the illusion and dissipates completely as He takes it and deals with it in His timing and His way.
Yes– He has been so so Good to me. Unworthy as I am, as I have always been– He has not withheld His goodness from me– I would have. He has provided me with all I need, He gave me a husband who reminds me of Him in how he treats me and loves me. I don’t know what He sees in me, but I am Eternally grateful that He does.
I owe Him everything. I have nothing of worth to pay Him back, He has accepted my life. My life.
Some days I do need Him to remind me that He’s not finished yet. I don’t understand why he has not given up on me at times.
I would give up on me.
My life is no longer my own, it belongs to Jesus.
Limited as it is, He still finds ways to use it as a catalyst for His healing Spirit.
“Until I see You face to face, Until at last I’ve won my race– remind me You’re not finished yet. Hallelujah…”
Have you ever stood out on the beach and just yelled into the wind? Did anyone hear you?
Social Media traffic is the online wind, tainted by “deboosting”, “algorithms”, “shadowbanning” and the bias of those enforcing them.
That’s a part of what I’m thinking of as I type this on my Social Media platform.
But, it’s more than that.
For me there has been a recurring theme of a sense of being unheard, undervalued, even unseen.
I found at times I could use that to my advantage in a defensive/protective kind of way– I could leave a room and not be missed. I could stay quiet and no one notices or tries to talk with me.
I can’t begin to describe that deep lonliness I’ve just learned to live with.
Why don’t some people want to hear me?
Some are so engrossed with what they want to say, others are lost under the clutter of words, ideas and opinions.
Writing has been my out-source. Sometimes I feel free to say whatever I want to say.
Except I’m not.
Because what if someone reads something they find offensive or hurtful?
It’s always about everyone else.
What about me? Do I ever get to just talk and be heard?
When can I openly share my heart and concerns?
I could tell some crazy and awesome stories!
I could even share bits of wisdom from firsthand experiences.
I think I’m pretty funny. (Don’t ask my husband though, lol!)
I’m pretty creative.
My topics of passion and pet peeves have “evolved” through experiences, trials and life lessons learned from that popular school of “hard knocks”.
One thing has always gotten me through the silent times, the emptiness, and the “I don’t quite fit ins”.
Because when no one sees me, hears me, or values my input or presence– God always has. And He has always let me know.
I’ve seen Him transform lives. I’ve seen Him heal people– He even healed me! I’ve seen miracles!
It’s sad that some will just never know what God has done because they won’t stop talking and listen to others.
Talking has always been a struggle for me. The anxiety after talking in a group setting is suffocating. Did I say too much? Did I talk too long? Did what I say make any sort of a difference to anyone? My spirit feels anxious, restless, even worried.
I know this problem is not with others– not most of it.
It’s how I react, how I relate, how I believe I’ll be received.
Having been told I was “in God’s way” from someone who’s opinion I deeply valued has had an almost crippling affect on my life.
Having been told that I’m “poor in spirit” has stuck with me through decades of church relationships and church leadership. I think that’s because I’ve heard so little to counter-balance and cancel that out.
Where Scripture has admonished us to build up one another– I’m not a “one another” worthy of that, it appears to me.
Tearing down is for strongholds, not for people. Not ever for people.
I’m guilty of having torn others down in my past.
I guess it’s taken feeling like that outcast that helped me wisen up and learn the necessity of speaking life– and life abundantly– to one another.
This is my invisible enemy that fights me often. I wrestle not with flesh and blood– I know this too well.
I have people I do talk to, though my list is growing smaller by the year.
There will, however, always be One on that list. That is in no way a sad or depressing thing. I have the ear and attention of God attuned towards me. That is humbling– so very humbling.
I just caught a live sermon from Elevation Worship about transitioning. As I listened, it hit me– that’s what I’m going through!
I’m in such a weird place right now.
I don’t mean physically, or emotionally. Not really mentally– just in life in general.
I’m not young anymore, but not old. In my heart I feel maybe 15-20 years younger, but in my body I feel way older than I am. Maybe that’s part of that thing I was diagnosed of years ago.
I’ve got two grown kids, and two at home. I’ve been a spouse and home educating mom for so many years now– much of that kind of isolated.
I think I’ve grown up now. Transitioning into a different mindset, a newly focused one– who did I grow up to become?
I’ve been defined by what I do for far too long now. I’m not satisfied with definitions and labels deciding who I am for me.
I’m caught in the middle of a transition.
And, sometimes that makes me a bit weepy. Sometimes I feel impatient for it to just be finished so I can step into the newness of being transformed into a better, wiser person.
Being caught in the middle feels chaotic, tumultuous– even ugly.
Looking through pictures to post here about transitioning, I found some interesting ones that helped me change my own perspective on being caught in the middle of a transition.
Like this dandelion caught in the middle of transitioning from a wildflower to seeds carried off by the wind.
Or the transition of day into night, with the sun captured, creating a breathtaking view– caught in the middle of the daily transition.
There is always a lot going on in the middle of a transition, but even if it feels awful, when we surrender our control– or lack of control– to God, He makes it a beautiful thing, with a beautiful change.
So, while I’m in this place that feels weird and lonely, often designated as the listener with nothing of value to say– God sees beauty in the process, and hopefully in me.
Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,it isthe gift of God;9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” NASV
My husband had a conversation with someone dear to us that has inspired me to work through some thoughts I’ve kind of held on to for awhile now. I say kind of, because I’ve shared them with him but no one else.
I want to talk about grace– actually– point out a lack of the narrative of grace.
Grace is the difference between Christianity and every other religious belief.
Grace is humbling. Grace removes our efforts from the act of Salvation.
Grace should be easy to demonstrate and practice, a relaxation of criticism and fault-finding. But, in reality, grace is tough.
Grace removes blame. Grace replaces pride and self importance.
Grace removes accusations of other Christians.
We have many, many, many excuses for why it’s not first and foremost in our mindset, actions and view of others.
We look at what others do and we jump to some pretty strong conclusions about them and the condition of their soul, because of their choices that we don’t agree with.
We judge the container of their soul and think we’re in the right.
Only Jesus Saves.
Not doing the “right” “approved” things.
Not going to every church service possible and exhausting ourselves while not being ministered to or admitting what our needs are.
Not having a perfect house.
Not only reading “accepted” books or playing “accepted” games.
We don’t lose our Salvation by watching movies or shows that have garbage in them.
Our part in the Salvation process is confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and believing in our heart that He died on the cross, was buried in a borrowed tomb, rose again on the third day, and He ascended into Heaven to wait for the time to return to rule and reign on earth for 1000 years. And then– go out and share the Gospel of peace and grace.
That is our part.
Jesus makes the changes to the desires of our hearts.
He is continuously perfecting us until His return.
Allow me to clarify: I’m not talking about outright sin. Some things are not in our best interest. Some things are stumbling blocks and we know what we need to avoid in order to have the best relationship with Jesus that we can– like we should also do with others.
Before every Christian there is a measure of grace.
Christians should be so full of grace that it coats every word and deed we do.
So– why isn’t the main narrative grace?
Which narrative will you fall for? Accuser of the brethren, or grace?
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 NASV
As a child until young adulthood, I didn’t expect anything good to happen for me. When it did, I would brace myself for it to be ripped away from me, because then I wouldn’t feel disappointment– because I just “knew” *I* didn’t deserve good things like everyone else did.
I carried that belief with me until I made the decision to stop just letting things happen *to* me.
I had been rejected, abused, trash-talked and the butt of family member’s and some “friends” jokes my whole life. I was convinced I was stupid, good for nothing– worthless– because I was told I was by people I thought knew me best. I thought I had to believe them.
Someone even told me they wished I had never been born. Everyday it was confirmed that I “was just in the way.”
Inner wounds and scars are tricky things. People react with compassion and understanding to outer wounds and scars, but fail to recognize that some behaviors are more than likely the evidence of inner wounds, of deep scars only God Himself can see and heal.
And He does heal them.
This is what Romans 8:28 reminds me everytime I hear it. For me, it’s deeply personal.
It’s evidence of God reaching out for me– to me– because I’m not in the way of His plans and purposes– I am a part of them.
He took my life, and He repurposed it. He refashioned it, reshaped it into something He can use. He has taken all of my bads and made them into part of His continuous story within my life.
He takes all of the bad, and uses it to help others know that He is Jehovah Rapha– The Lord Who heals.
I used to worry that people said things to me because that was how God saw me, but the more I learn His Word, the more I can see He has always had compassion for me, has always accepted me. He carefully made me, and where abuse and rejection had trounced and marred me– He picked me up, reshaped me around all of those circumstances, and He reminds me that if those bad things hadn’t happened, I could never understand the depth of His love for me, and His forgiveness towards me. He helped me forgive those who have acted with selfish ambitions– with little or no concern for how it has affected me.
I still have “people trust” issues.
What I no longer have is God trust issues. He has proven Himself reliable.
9:00 am, Sunday morning eyes close, hearts open– cue the perfect opening song, chosen because it’s upbeat, uplifting, and it gets the blood pumping. Energy surges. Those who practice loudly in their cars are ready to join in corporate Praise and Worship of Jesus, right?
Except, “I” and “me” are used far more often than His name.
“It’s all about You, Jesus and how much You have done for me, how much I have been changed, how much You loveme, how You’ve made a way for me…”
Song one finishes. Cue songs 2 and 3, in similar keys and subject so they can flow into each other smoothly. Hearts and minds are focused on all Jesus has done for “me“.
Cue song 4 for the offering, something catchy and convicting to encourage Believers to give to God freely…
Song 5 helps transition right into the sermon, getting hearts and minds prepared to receive the Word of the Lord and the Preacher’s sermon.
The sermon is deep, convicting, full of Truth and equipping Believers to make it through another week until it can all start over again.
A closing song extending the sermon message, inviting people to let down their personal guard so they can receive personal ministry to help them overcome the things holding them back, keeping them from fully embracing Jesus, God’s healing and deliverance…
And… we’re done.
It’s a set, a church service proven to be a smooth and embraceable formula that the majority of American Church models follow now.
What’s the fruit? Happy people, a love for deep, powerful music, a new determined focus to meet the challenges and difficulties of a week focused around “me”.
Mid-week, there used to be Wednesday night Believer’s Meetings to help get us past the dragging down of our spirits, and re-focus in putting Jesus first and foremost in hearts and minds. It seems many churches have instead poured their entire focus on that Sunday morning gathering. Which is fine, Wednesday night sometimes just adds into another thing that keeps us busy and exhausted.
Which songs in church help equip Believers in how to treat others? How many prepare Believers for interacting with those hurting, abused, or abusive outside of the Church bubble?
What church service songs encourage us to help rescue others from the spiritual muck and mire that acts like quicksand, holding and pulling people farther from freedom through Jesus.
We hear the words “help the dying and lost” so often, we’ve gotten numb to their meaning and impact.
The world that has not embraced the Salvation, Grace and Mercy of God through Jesus– it’s not a friendly, warm place. There are people who hate Christians, hate everything about God. Are we ever prepared to walk in the empowerment of God to not only deal with people that hate us, but also show them Jesus?
We lack transformative power, most often, because I believe we are stuck in a “me me me” rut.
Mefilters everything– how does this song minister to me? How does this affect me?
All fingers are pointed at me. I’ve recently been confronted with my own boundaries of keeping the ugliness of the world out of my perception and eyesight-hearing range.
Choosing what I allow my understanding to be exposed to is a luxury.
The hurting, lost and spiritually dying don’t have that luxury. They don’t have Jesus, the necessity for us all, to protect them, to shield them, to deliver them from the cold, dark world of animosity towards all God has created– which includes them.
I had forgotten where I had come from. But– God reminded me. How can I not go back and help others ? Did Jesus rescue me so that I could become cold-hearted towards others who need Him to rescue them as well?
Jesus told us to go, share the Good News with the world that hates Him, and by proxy– hates us. Share the Good News that they don’t have to serve hatred any longer, they can have His free gift of Eternal Salvation. Before meeting Jesus, after allowing Jesus to give freedom is like night and day. It’s like shackles and freedom, caged and free, oppressed and… free.
Mind-blowing, am I right? The human mind cannot even fathom what that means, and so many reject it because it sounds far-fetched and unbelievable.
We need God to empower us to demonstrate that reality of Jesus.
Where does the neat and tidy American church service infuse that empowerment?
We will never find that power on our own, within ourselves, to reach out to a torture victim. Because they do exist– in America.
How can we help rescue someone’s mind who has been trapped in human slavery– because, again, that exists inside of America.
Jesus left Heaven to be born as a human to walk with us, so He could rescue us– heart, mind and soul. Not just our soul. Not just physical and heart healing.
He came to set the captives free.
Where are we most held captive?
In our minds.
Howcan we ever be ready to help people get free from the ugly hatred of the world if we stay focused on “what Jesus has done for me“? Those trapped don’t care what He has done for me. They need Him to help them, and they need us to stand in the gap while He sets them free.
“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:17 (NASB)
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
I’ve mentioned a few times that I have scars on my scalp from a “friendly” domesticated adolescent cougar “playing” with my head as his chew toy. I’m thinking about that today because they hurt. Kinda bad.
So that got me to thinking– if my physical scars hurt so badly at times, what about those deep emotional scars? Sure I’ve gone through all those rituals of forgiveness, repentance for my part in some things, and trust in God for healing. And He has healed me– so much! (I’ve even felt Him heal my esophagus as I praised Him through singing– what an amazing, warm, wonderful feeling that was!) I wouldn’t be married again if God had not done major surgery on my mind and my heart. We just celebrated 20 awe-inspiring years!
Those of us operating in the American mindset think we have everything all figured out. We put things in neatly labeled boxes, organized by category, decorated prettily with descriptions, definitions and diagnosis.
But what if we’re wrong?
What if we take a box out of the organized line-up, sort through it and realize it really isn’t the way we believed it to be?
What if emotional pain is notalways as explained? What if it’s the manifestation of pain from emotional scarring?
The tough thing about emotional scars is no one can see them. Only the person who lived the experience can feel and remember.
Incidentally– that’s exactly the experience of Christianity. Only the person who has experienced Divine interactions can feel them and experience their reality. That doesnotinvalidate that person or experience, just like it does not invalidate one who has emotional scars. The experiences did happen, they did have an impact on the person they happened to. Jesus didSave the Christian, His actions and the Holy Spirit interactions continuouslyimpact the Believer, though it’s deeply personal.
Do emotions exist? Do memories represent past experiences? Does pain from emotional wounds and scars ever manifest in our reactions, responses, emotions and beliefs?
I think maybe the “professionals” are really just guessing– and maybe they have guessed wrong in some things.
Maybe we look at mental health the wrong way. I don’t think PHD’s have all the answers because I don’t think they have been asking the right questions– many times they are just masking the symptoms, not getting to the core and root of what they diagnose– not looking for a healing solution.
Only God has all the answers, only God knows all things, sees all things and understands the “why” of all things. He has promised in His Word that we can call allto Him and He will answer us– He’ll show us great things we don’t know. Do we believe that?
I think I do. Sometimes. When we step away from the bindings of what has been explained to us with human understanding, and seek Divine understanding, God will show us, Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to teach us, to comfort us, to empower us.
How much of that have we stepped out in faith to embrace?
We cling to our diagnosis, definitions and descriptions as though those have life for us. The One Who holds all knowledge islife. My desire is to cling to Him.
I fall short.
Do my emotional scars manifest sadness through their pain? Anger? A desire to be comforted? A lack of trust in others?
I honestly think maybe they do. Maybe that’s part of their intended function as God has designed them to protect where we once were wounded.
With all the recent scandals from Hollywood and politicians, I’m again thinking about my own past of sexual abuse, and different reactions I’ve experienced about how I do/don’t do things.
First, I’ll share some of my background.
I was molested by my dad as a young girl. That in and of itself is still a humiliating experience for me. I’m still emotionally sensitive at times and in different situations. It’s just the first abusive situation I experienced, but it’s the foundation of abuse in my history, so it’s my focus today.
Bringing it up now and admitting my emotions can still be affected by the memories– at times, the nightmares– does not mean I’m not healed, that I haven’t forgiven him or that I am stuck in the past. These are some of the reactions I can count on getting nearly every time I mention it.
No matter the reasoning behind my dad’s actions against me– it still happened.
So, when I see and hear things people say to others, it frustrates me. Things like– “Pick up the broken pieces, and move on.”
Well– start where in picking them up? To me, this is like telling a person with 2 broken legs to just stand up and walk away.
Everything about me was broken. I say was, because God picked up my broken pieces, and He helped me move forward– towards Him.
But, you know who didn’t? People. The Body of Christ didn’t. Once when I asked for special counseling from a Pastor’s wife, she blamed me for causing problems with my reactions to having been hurt!
Much of my life I have fought to be heard. Most of my childhood I struggled with being seen and learning how to fit in. All of my victim-hood I’ve fought to survive.
You won’t believe the attacks of my mind, my heart and my body that I experienced as a result of what was done TO me. I fought to get away. I tried to run away. I tried to make it stop by taking my own life away from it– physically– forever. Thankfully God intervened and had Compassion for me.
These were my wrong reactions and thought-processes growing up– I cut because I was numb and that made me feel something. I starved myself because I deserved to be punished because I must have been an awful person for that to have happened to me. I clung too tightly to guys I just wanted to love me– I just wanted to be loved and valued. I thought if I removed myself, I would no longer cause problems for my dad– because he told me that.
My mom did all she could to protect me and handle an impossibly difficult situation. She sent me where she knew I would be safe during the summer years of my childhood– to her parents. I don’t know what they knew, I only know I was told to never ever talk to anyone about things. You see– I didn’t even know that my mom knew. I thought I was completely alone, and had to fend for myself all alone. But, she was looking out for me.
“Pick up the pieces and move on…”
When you’re self-perception has been damaged through the mental abuse of someone else that should be trusted to protect and build you up– how do you move forward? Where is forward? Which way is up? Because everything I knew was filtered through that experience and how others reacted to me.
It’s by the Grace of God and my mom that I survived my childhood years.
I am not hanging onto what happened. Talking about it doesn’t mean I’m hanging on to it. Hopefully talking about it will extend a lifeline to someone else who may need someone to look out for and reach out to them.
God has brought me through it, to the other side. I don’t need pity of the stuff of feeling sorry for me, or counseling.
My purpose for writing this is– those “encouraging” sayings do not help real people with real needs.
Picking up the broken pieces for me, at that time, meant the equivalent of picking them up and then walking barefoot through more broken, sharp pieces. I saw no clear path, until God in His Mercy reached out to me and pulled me out of it.
He had to carry me, because I was far too broken to walk on my own.
For those who are broken– you can Trust God. I promise! His ways are gentle and kind– and always perfect.
For those who are unbroken observers– Please– Allow God to work through you to reach out and help the broken with more than cute sayings that often feel more like salt poured into open wounds than healing balm.
Pray at all times, without ceasing, giving thanks to God above for one another. Especially those that you just don’t understand. Don’t turn a cold shoulder, don’t be short or abrupt– that helps no one, but instead often feels like condemnation poured-out on those who might be crushed under the weight of it. God is not in that.
Love is Patient. Love is Kind. Love does not dishonor others. Love is not self-seeking– Love does not prefer its own opinion over the needs of others.
Over the past 20 years I have been moved from place to place, sometimes by God, sometimes for personal reasons.
That is why I’m writing this.
I am no one special. I have no title, no grand purpose or calling. I am like many within your flock, under your care– part of your Divine calling and purpose.
I am a member of the Body of Christ, and that means something more to me than merely being a member of a local church.
I have been given talents by God, and I strive to use them to help further His Kingdom purpose. I have been given a heart of flesh that longs to please God. I love people, I love Jesus, and I love serving God as He calls me to.
I have seen where church leadership has some blindspots. I am asking you, humbly, as one who loves God and people– please– drop all defensiveness and listen.
I believe that God has called Pastors and all church leaders to love His people as He loves His people, not to just instruct us about the Word of God. Not one of us is in the same part of the narrow road, nor have we walked with the same steps or strides. In fact, there are some who are crawling, there are some who are stopped– waiting on God to give them clear direction– direction that oftentimes comes through you.
Every Pastor wants the congregants who are running the race perfectly, with all the energy necessary to carry out the plans and purposes of the ministries churches offer. There are people who are called and able to fulfill those Pastoral dreams.
I want to tell you, many simply are not. Many are trying to work out their Salvation with fear and trembling. Some want to please church leadership, but they are burnt out by doing so. Some feel weighted down by life. Some have been crippled by life’s circumstances, and they can’t “perform” as is often necessary. These are the people you are leaving behind. These are the ones you are hurting. Some of these equate how you treat them with how God wants them to be treated– and that is breaking God’s heart.
I want to encourage you to look at every person as the individual that God has created them to be.
We are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and God has entrusted you with the loving care to help nurture and grow even the most unloveable Christian.
I believe God wants to release His healing within His Body. Hurts caused by our own family in Christ. Reconciliations. Letting go of offenses. Repentance for how we all treat one another.
I believe He wants to begin from the top of the leadership down through the entire congregation.
What does this look like? More ministries for congregants, not just opportunities to serve. Listening more carefully. Being approachable, a healthy relationship attainable outside of jumping through specific hoops to prove worthiness of your time, attention and appreciation.
Removal of any “hierarchy” mindset that in any way belittles your congregants in your eyes.
There are millions of Pastors, and every one of you is a unique individual created by God, just like all of your congregants are.
I pray you will read this, that you will seek God concerning this. Not because I am asking, but because God’s Judgment begins in the House of The Lord. We all need to be far more sensitive to God’s Spirit than we are to the opinions of ourselves and others.
God’s love is not tough, it’s full of compassion, patience and deep understanding.
I’m a former anorexic and bulimic, reformed through Christ. This post has been a long time coming.
To look at me now you can’t tell I was near death at one point from practicing anorexia.
The Spiritual consequence is what I want to get into with this post. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about that before.
Fasting is an important part of our growing relationship with God. When we fast unto God, we deny our flesh to set aside our physical wants and needs temporarily to focus on seeking God. We fast to repent, seek God, grow in our faith and understanding, and to actively put Him completely first. The focus is God, not our body, not the avoidance of food.
Anorexia is a tool the devil uses to corrupt that. Fasting not only becomes an obsessive practice of focus on ourselves. Opportunities open for the demonic to gain footholds in our lives, choices, beliefs, vision, perspective and practices. The devil sells us the idea we can obtain perfection.
When Jesus is our Lord and Savior, God sees us as perfect because Christ is in us.
Through the practice of Anorexia, the devil causes deformity within our spirits and our understanding. The devil clouds our vision, and converts our perception to a distorted view and belief system– the belief that our body is the enemy we need to fight against.
The Bible is clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood. We are transformed through the renewing of our minds, new creations through Christ Jesus.
Striving for perfection, we work hard for acceptance and approval of the world. But like a small kid in a game of Keep Away, or Monkey In The Middle, we never lay hold of it. The constant effort steals focus, energy, confidence– reality. The bar gets raised higher. It’s always just… out of…
God accepts and approves of us because of Jesus. We don’t have to prove our worth to Him because Jesus showed us how much He values us by dying on the cross, and rising up again. We are wanted, welcomed by God.
Jesus made it possible to have acceptance from our Creator. We can have a relationship with Perfection Himself, and He is working to make us the best version of ourselves– for His glory.
We have a choice: We can work really hard for a distorted version of perfection that’s never within reach. Or we can rest in God’s approval and meet Him in the changes He makes as He perfects us His way.
Last night, I had the most wonderful time having dinner, talking, then just listening to a dear friend. I learned so much about her, things I never would have guessed! It’s even easier to see why she is such a beautiful, loving, sincerely kind woman of God.
As is the usual case with me, it’s also hard to not also see that deep contrast between her life and my own.
Again I come face-to-face with why I have often felt a type of rejection from some I’ve hoped to get to know. I’m no Miss Congeniality or Miss Anything.
Often in my lifetime I’ve been left feeling as though I’m not worth people’s time. Some of that is cultural, sure. Some of it is personality-clash. I can be abrasive. I’ve even been described as a “bull in a China shop”.
There aren’t many “boxes” I allow myself to be put in. I tend to fail under heavy-handed expectations. I am as God designed me, also molded from my unique life experiences, which also at times have borne the weight of heavy-handed expectations.
I have learned that not everyone is alike, not everyone does things the same, or reacts to expectation the same way.
I probably will never meet any human’s expectation.
I can only try to meet God’s. And, I fail… All. The. Time.
One of the toughest things to put into practice is listening when it feels like you are not heard by others– that’s where my reaction of defensiveness tries to overtake me.
My life is full of many amazing, even some miraculous testimonies of God’s work.
It’s easy to focus on things that happened because God was not in the circumstances. It’s best to focus on contrasts caused by God’s healing, intervention, love, kindness, miracles and His Mercy.
While the contrast between our lives is somewhat vast, my friend and I have one very important thing that is similar– the knowledge of Who God Is in contrast to who we are and how amazing it is that He loves us.
I have had a lot of experiences in my lifetime. Way too many to write about here. I’ll break it down into two parts: Before Christ and After Christ. I’ll even throw in some Why I CHOSE Christ, for added tangibility.
I was born into a family that loved me, but that love didn’t create a safe, warm, snugly, nurturing environment. We are often hurt the worst by those that love us, and that was certainly the case for me. Do I need to go into details of abuse? Goodness, I hope not, but I’ll touch on a few of the “highlights” of my BC life:
I was sexually, emotionally and mentally abused by my dad. Maybe he treated me better than his dad treated him, but I HIGHLY doubt it because my dad was mentally ill. I don’t mean the catch-phrased quirky kind that seems acceptable, or even coveted by some in our modern society. He was severely mentally ill. I think I can honestly say I’m one of very few who watched their dad try to beat their mom to death as she laid huddled in a fetal-ball beneath him, his fist pounding into her temple. On Mother’s Day. Then there was my dad escaping the mental hospital hundreds of miles away, hitchhiking to try to come back and finish killing her. There was lots of yelling in my house, sometimes my dad even acknowledged I existed and he yelled at me. Once he punched me in the jaw, which made it painful for me to hold my violin for a few weeks.
As a result, I was a pretty screwed-up kid and I nearly died when I was 16 because of my own stupidity.
Let me just say this: I lived in a house of horror because of mental illness as a child. There is NOTHING in Christianity that comes even close to actual mental illness.
Thankfully I got to spend the summers with my grandparents, who were Christians. Things weren’t perfect there, but they were better.
I hated myself for bad decisions I made.
So at 20 I made another decision future me would hate: I married someone I had convinced myself was “my best friend”. The problem was, I only knew him a short time before we married. The other problem I didn’t realize yet was: we were not equally yoked. He was not a Believer.
Trust me when I tell you that, yes, that absolutely does make a tremendous difference. Not only could I not share my faith with him and grow with him in that, he did not value me as God would help him if he were a Christian.
My ex-husband was abusive to me. Much like my dad, though not exactly to the same degree. But, there was also more aspects to the abuse from him. I was cut off from my family. I was locked-down at home, he had to know where I was and who I was with or talking to at every moment. I had to work and it had to be the graveyard shift. My earnings had to pay all the bills while he kept his earnings in a separate account and he bought anything he wanted for him. Never for me. He convinced me to get life insurance, but was angry when I was refused because of extensive damage caused by an eating disorder. When I was sick he treated me like I was faking it, wouldn’t let me call in sick to work or go to the doctor until it became emergencies. Once the car he made me drive nearly got me killed, the lug nuts on the tires he had just worked on weren’t tight.
I wasn’t safe with him. He actually saved my life by divorcing me.
Now I’m thankful he decided he didn’t love me anymore. Not only am I still alive, I am married to a man I am equally yoked with, who really is my best friend and who does value me.
But my divorce was the beginning of my personal rock bottom.
It was at that point I finally began to “own” my relationship with God through Jesus. (Thank God Jesus didn’t return while I self-focused, because after that “blink of an eye”, I would more than likely have been left here.) I got baptized. I began making changes and reading the Bible on my own.
Because I wanted to.
I could feel God healing my life and my heart as I read His Promises.
I went through a tremendous time of grieving the death of my old self. Regret, unforgiveness, shame… God helped me work through each one of those at my own pace. He never gives me more than I can handle as He works His healing, often one-on-one with me, through His Holy Spirit.
My “conversion” did not happen because someone preached a sermon and “guilted” me in to following Jesus and obeying God’s Word.
My life changed as a result of God working in my life. Often without people.
God illuminates His Word.
He teaches me how to be a better human being. He helps me look at people as individuals, not through my own preconceived opinions.
Why I Chose Christ:
Had I continued on my own path, my life would look like the night version of how I am now. It’s like Jesus called out to me through the darkness and despair, and He whispered to me, “I have a better way for you”.
His ways are higher than mine, so much better and healthier. His way is practical. It’s loving and kind. It’s rational. It’s peaceful.
Jesus is the best way. He is the truth. He is the light with no darkness in Him, nothing evil or hateful.
I wish the naysayers would pay attention to the positives Christians demonstrate, because I lived as a non-Christian and was surrounded by non-Christians. It was destructive, mean, harsh, even deadly.
My job as a Christian isn’t to try to convince others that Jesus is the Savior of the world. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job, to do all the hard work of preparing the way of the Lord for people’s hearts and minds to be ready.
My job is to love the Lord my God, and to love my neighbor like I love me. Give them the same benefit of the doubt I give myself. Show the same grace I believe I should be shown.
Some call that cutting people slack…
I just know– I’d personally rather have Jesus than anything this world could ever hold. I have known both– life without Jesus and life with Jesus.
I hate the parts of my personal story that involve my past. I don’t like who I was, I don’t like what I lived through. I abhor my reactions and choices. I despise where I had no choice or that I had no one to help me, to comfort me, or just talk with.
Yeah, I hate my past.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to get my book written. I hate reliving it. I hate thinking about it. I hate how when I am in a group of people and I just want to fit into the conversation, I feel compelled to share my experiences so I can identify with others. And I hate how vulnerable and
I often feel when I tell something deeply personal.
Who really wants to hear about the horror experiences of my childhood and teens, and for what reasons do they want to hear about them?
Who cares? About me?
I loathe feeling like other people think I’m competing in storytelling. I hate how it just feels normal to me that I have gone through so many things, and then I see that look of shock on the face of someone I’ve opened up to- then I realize, my life has been anything but normal.
It’s like a thorn in my side.
The parts I don’t hate about my past are when God shines through, as a warm, magnanimous Light, as if He has given my heart the most loving hug.
Healing me, bringing completeness to my injured, abused soul.
Exposure reveals the miracles and even the heart of God throughout my life.
Hating my past has helped me to love and appreciate God. Living my life, I’ve learned there is no one more trustworthy and faithful than God.
Mark 10:8 “and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (NASB)
Marriage is the most unique relationship between humans. When a man and woman marry, it takes time to learn how to live together. How to agree and disagree. Whether or not to even have children.
Then, if having kids, how to raise them and discipline them. How to encourage them in the midst of parents coming from 2 different perspectives, backgrounds, and maybe even world views.
There are many outside forces to consider. The husband and wife learn they have to set boundaries for outside forces so they can follow the path together that they set out on when they said, “I do”. There are things to compromise on, things to agree on, and times where tongues may or may not be held, when one does things the other doesn’t like.
I learned a lot from my first marriage that failed. I was rejected by a husband who was far from the image he sold me before we married. I was shoved out of the way to make room for another woman. As I struggled with my hurt, I also learned how to become an individual again. I lost “me” completely within that marriage.
When God brought His choice for me into my life, I remembered my previous marriage experience. How bad things were with a man who would have nothing to do with God or church. I realized it would be best to focus on what is right with my second-chance marriage. I chose to not adopt society’s way of focusing on what I see as being wrong, and telling others about my irritations, getting people to be on my side.
We are one flesh. There are no sides.
What I say reflects back on both of us. It points to my character as much as his character.
But although we are one flesh, we are still both individual people. One of the hardest lessons I have gleaned from is: I can’t take his failures personal. Not everything is about me. Sure, his decisions and actions affect me more than any other person besides him. Sure, I am in it with him, and when he makes bad decisions they affect me like they affect him. I am part of the fall-out. My feelings are entangled with his choices. And, no, he doesn’t often remember to think about that.
God gave him to me. To love me, to provide for me, to protect me.
Sometimes I forget: God also gave me to him.
God gave me to him to be his help mate. He may not want my help. He may not recognize what I am trying to do as being helpful.
But, God has given me a mission as his wife: help him.
How am I supposed to help him? The first thing is to let him be the individual God created him to be.
I have to disengage my feelings when he falls off the pedestal I tend to put him on. He is not immune from making sinful decisions. So, how can I help him look to God more? How can I help him be a man of prayer and response, rather than human reactions? How can I help him make decisions best for the whole family, that please God, rather than just decisions for himself?
I need to remind myself at times that God will work out the details for what He sees as faults.
How can I help him be his best for God? Without being manipulative. Without trying to be his Holy Spirit. Without putting my opinion and expectations in place as the standard I try to push on him. How can I just let him be him, treat him with respect and loving-kindness, regardless of what I see as being wrong?
How can I submit to his leadership, in a sense, without losing my own individuality in the process? How can I help him consider my needs and instincts, while balancing myself against things I recognize as not being God’s best for him, us, or our family?
My husband needs me. Whether he acknowledges it or even recognizes it, or not.
He needs me to be encouraging when he feels overwhelmed. He needs me to pray for him. He needs me to help carry his burdens, when possible, and let him handle them his way when I can’t.
He needs me to love and accept him, unconditionally. He needs me to not harden my heart when he doesn’t do things “perfect”, or even when what he does and says hurts me.
The hardest part of being his helpmate is focusing on my mission from God to respect him and be the helpmate God gave me to him to be. Through prayer, fasting, encouraging, silence, sharing Scripture, and being nonjudgmental when he does not do things the way I would.
Individually, we are one flesh. He does not have anyone else like me in his life.
God has given me an important mission on earth. To help one of His children in ways no other person can, with God’s help through my life.
We are 2 individuals that are also one-flesh. Even when my other half messes up, or strays from God. I still have my purpose given to me from the Divine. That does not get cancelled out. If anything, it becomes a more urgent focus.
My feelings and expectations are not the standard I live by. God’s standard is what I am striving to live by.
I can’t just give up and walk away, even if it ever felt like it was killing me.
Jesus didn’t give up and walk away when it was killing Him.
“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV
When I took these two pictures, I had no idea they would fit together like this.
I have been fascinated with rainbows for as long as I can remember.
As a little girl I sat in my room alone and watched through my window as others played. I saw a rainbow, and felt God speak into my spirit “I love you”. I had learned from the Bible that God made the first rainbow as a promise to never flood the earth again, but instead washed the earth with the rain.
In the past when under duress, a rainbow would take me instantly back to that first moment God spoke into my spirit, and instant peace flooded me.
At 24 when I entered a crossroads in my life, having sought God for the very first time as to what He wanted to do with the life He gave me, I asked Him for a sign to know, so I wouldn’t doubt His answer and direction.
The sign He gave me, twice, as I began to doubt it the first time, was a rainbow over an American flag. It was the military He was leading me into.
I had a tattoo of that sign from Him inked above my right ankle, to remind me of where I had come from, and where my journey with God started. I knew God before, but I often just kind of stumbled into His path for me. The crossroads served as an opportunity to follow His path with purpose, determination, and confidence that I would know His direction. I left everything behind, shed off my old life, and followed closely after Him, clinging to His Word and His Promises.
Of course I have stumbled as I’ve learned how to walk on His straight and narrow path, many times. It has been a lonely walk at times, and full of fellowship other times. My vision for my life has not always matched God’s vision for my life, and I’ve had to remind myself to surrender to His purpose, not insist on mine.
As I’ve looked at things not of God that use the rainbow as a symbol, I have found something to be completely ironic.
The Gay Pride flag is a rainbow. I pondered this last night, and wondered if that was done by intent, or completely by accident?
If by accident, it could very well serve as a reminder that we are all, ALL, covered by God’s promise to never flood the earth again. But, Biblical history also shows us that at the time God flooded the earth, homosexuality was rampant. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed as homosexuality was practiced. I don’t believe, personally, it was homosexuality itself that caused God to destroy those cities. It was the heart condition that serving and elevating self caused.
Was the rainbow chosen to dig at Christians, as a source of irritation? I have heard many gay people say they just want to be accepted, but in action, they very often say hateful things about Christians and Christianity.
It seems to me, the heart of this movement might not be just acceptance and peacefully co-existing. It looks very much like they might be thumbing their noses at Christians and the promise of our God. Regardless their flag serves as a reminder to us all that God honors His promises, even if there are attempts to provoke Him.
“The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion.” Numbers 14:18
“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
Colossians 3:12:14“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
There is a phrase in our society I have heard quite a bit. It’s “victim mentality.” I often hear, “Don’t be a victim.” “You’re not a victim.” There is a growing disdain for those victimized who don’t handle the aftermath the way society thinks they should: Jump back into life like it never happened. Forgive and forget. Act “normal”.
There is a complete phase of victim-hood that seems to get ignored: having been wounded.
Supposedly victims of rape, incest, emotional and mental abuse, and other things are supposed to lick their wounds and fit right in with everyone in society. They are supposed to heal their own wounds, invisible to everyone else so maybe that makes the wounds seem nonexistent or unimportant. If they are a Christian, they should expect that God will heal all their wounds without anyone else, they “just need to trust Him”, “need to have faith”. When it doesn’t work out “perfect”, then the wounded are accused they “don’t have enough faith”. Maybe it’s not the fault of the wounded at all. Maybe the members of their church lack compassion. Biblical compassion.
I don’t expect much from the Godless world, they don’t know any better, but they do actually demonstrate a bit more kindness than we Christians sometimes do. I submit to you that within the Body of Christ , there are times we are wounding our wounded by placing unrealistic expectations on them, sometimes we even neglect their actual need. God created people to need people. So, why is the Church sometimes dismissive of the very real needs the wounded have? Why do we tend to see those wounded as whiners, “needy”, or ridiculous? Where is our compassion?
I don’t see this in every church, or even the one we are part of now, but, over the past three decades, I have seen this many times.
Physical wounds need the help of others to be stopped, repaired and healed. Someone applies pressure to stop the bleeding. Someone rescues someone from the vehicle of an accident. An ambulance takes the “victim” – wounded – to the hospital where an entire team and staff work to save the life, repair the damage and stop the bleeding. Careful instructions are given to the wounded victim, and follow-up appointments are made. Prescriptions and bandages are given.
Shouldn’t the Church be more like a hospital? What one-on-one care is given? Who stops the bleeding of the wounded heart, the mind and emotions? Who applies the healing balm? Who helps with the repairing, and the healing? Who gives the prescriptions of Scriptures, and bandages of prayers and encouraging words? Obviously Christians know the answer is the Holy Spirit. But, who are the willing vessels He works through?
I hope I am.
The last thing that wounded people need to feel is left alone to find their own healing. Church, The Body of Christ, is unique from everything in that we give and we get, as members. It’s when things are unbalanced and the giving is stressed, but the getting can tend to be neglected, or vice-versa, that it becomes dysfunctional. I think there should be a healthy balance of both hospital-like and service for God, but maybe my own expectations are too high. At any rate, I see such a need that my heart aches to help fill. I hope others see it, too.
As a young girl, I searched for someone I could trust to bare my soul to. It was years of being alone and afraid before I finally found someone who would listen, and not repeat what I told them, who didn’t treat me nice to my face while saying horrible things behind my back.
Maybe you can imagine the disappointments I have experienced. I grieve the loss of trust more than the loss of loved ones.
Recently I became aware of someone bad-mouthing me, someone I thought I could trust. The hurt cuts deeply, down into my soul. What do I do now? Sometimes, I push people out of my life when the trust tests fail. If they treat me coldly after I share my heart with them, then I close the trust door and lock them out. If they tell others what I share in confidence, out they go. My intolerance for failed trust creates a wall of separation to protect me from making the mistake of trusting them again.
When I see signs of gossip, slander, back-stabbing and bad-mouthing others, I stay away.
As deep as intolerance runs, forgiveness fills the void intolerance creates. Because of Jesus, I have been enabled to forgive. I am able to be wise as a serpent, but gentle as a dove, withdrawing myself from future issues, now knowing the damage this person has caused, and will cause in the future. All I can do is withdraw my trust, let God count my losses of reputation, and grieve the relationship I believed we had.
Now, who will I talk with?
The devil uses our tongue like a scythe cutting through hay, destroying trust, reputations and opportunities for God to work beyond what we can even imagine. There is a reason the scythe is often portrayed with the demonic.
I am desperate for God to build others up through my words. Why is it so difficult to find people who are like-minded and trustworthy?
I try to live by Proverbs 11:13 “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”~ESV
I am so thankful I have God to hand my hurts to. He tends to them carefully and lovingly. But, how I wish people were easier to trust, and cautious to guard that trust.
James 3:2-10 “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. …” ~ESV
When things are changing, like life constantly seems to do, and tense moments take over our reactions and thoughts, our tongue can be our worst enemy. The phrase from Scripture in Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”, has been echoing through my thoughts all day.
It’s honestly a pretty rare thing for my husband and I to fight, I mean really fight. We snap on occasion, we argue, we disagree, but for the most part we don’t really fight. So, this past weekend while we are both going through so much in our own emotions about this whole stressful moving process, well, we got into an argument, and then a full on fight. And I realized: fighting with my best friend really just sucks.
I have been aware for sometime of the necessity to build others up because the world is constantly tearing us all down. And, sadly, it’s not just the “world”. It’s those closest to us who know our vulnerabilities, and in that heated moment of arguing, swoop down and sink their words into the jugular of our trust in them. Seriously. Who doesn’t get into an argument and fight with every motivation of doing or saying everything possible to “win”?
It’s hard to rise above our tempers. It’s hard to forgive so things don’t build up.
Ephesians 4:26 says, “”In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…” Anyone who knows me, knows that when there is a conflict, I try to talk things out both as soon as possible, and as thoroughly as possible. And, those who value me and any sort of relationship with me, they talk with me and pray with me. Because we cannot live at peace with someone when we are hurt or angry, and I sincerely do my very best to not ever let the sun go down on my anger, because then the sinning comes in the form of mean thoughts, hardness of heart towards the person things are unresolved with, all sorts of things. My mind and emotions become the Devil’s playground, and I don’t want the Devil anywhere near my thoughts or emotions.
I have lived and learned: no good comes from harboring anger or not acknowledging it. It leads to the death of relationships. It leads to the death of dreams. It leads to the death of being effective for Christ in our everyday lives.
There is no “winning” when there is death because of what we say and/or how we say it.
My daughter’s youth Pastor had her group do an activity where they hammered a nail through a piece of wood. Then he talked about how that wood was damaged. Sure the nail could be removed, but there would still be a hole. Then he told them that’s what our words can do. You can say something , and even apologize, but it still makes a “hole”. You cannot take back your words.
Atunci când burniţa descurajării mă îngrozeşte, fă ca viaţa mea spirituală să înflorească.. fă să dispară ceaţa groasă care îmi învăluie fiinţa întreagă ! Fii Tu Soarele neprihănirii care să strălucească !