Friday, February 29, 2008
When she came her life was in crisis, she had been caught up in some devastating sinful habits. Her openness and bluntness about her sin life was actually refreshing. She was able to look at herself honestly and believed that she was beyond hope. Her situation required endless hours of counseling, sometimes daily input that amounted to thousands of small little encouraging communications, and hundreds of hours of prayer. In the end, the ideal was not achieved and "life" did not go the way we thought or hoped it would. However, she remains obedient to God in leaving the sin of the past behind. In spite of her newfound freedom in life, she has continued to be faithful to God and He been glorified by her response to the Truth and by her commitment to Him and living for Him.
In her posting to me today, she shared with me that she is passing on what she has learned in our time together as she ministers to someone who is struggling in a manner similar to the way she once did.
She is repeating the same truths she has learned, "Your job is to first honor God", "you must HOLD THE LINE of righteousness", "You must honor God in this with your actions and thoughts. Not only turning from the sin but doing good (to others) in the process and loving (others) regardless of what (they) do (does) for you!"
This is the essence of what our lives are to be about: Honor God, hold the line of righteousness, do good to others, love others regardless of their response to you. What utter joy this brings to my heart to see this lamb who once was so lost and wandering is now following Christ. In addition, He gives her the opportunity to minister to another hurting person!
God is so faithful....why He cares about us and draws us to Himself is a testimony only to His goodness and mercy for none of us deserve anything at all from Him!
I often say that my goal is to work myself out of a job; to have so many people who know how to pass these truths on that places like Reigning Grace Counseling Ministries won't be necessary anymore. My desire is that we all develop such a love for the Savior and love for each other that we are willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of others. Investing yourself in people is demanding and sometimes it is troublesome.
When I get emails like the one I received today I am reminded of this: It is infinitely worth the cost.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Yesterday we began to look at how to deal with the past. Today I would like to begin by reminding you that God has freed us from the past!
Therefore we have to reason to be bound by it.
Some of the most encouraging words in the entire Bible are:
Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the
There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NLT)
Do you really understand what this means? That regardless of what you were before you were saved, regardless of your prior sinful habits, you have been changed. Isn’t this tremendously encouraging to you? The Bible, which does not and cannot lie, tells you and I that we are not slaves to our past, and we have been freed from the power sin had over us in the past.
Obviously, we all still sin as believers, we are not yet perfected. This is part of the progressive nature of the maturing of the believer. The understanding that although we still sin, our relationship to those sinful habits is now different.
Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness. Romans 6:18 (NLT)
Sometimes women tell me they have done that and they still struggle with guilt. Can I urge you not to do that? Don’t wallow in the confessed past. Since God has forgiven you in Christ for your past sin stop attempting to add to His complete sacrifice!
Christ has opened the cell door and told you to go free but for reasons of your own, you are choosing to remain in the cell as a prisoner! This is what you are effectively doing as you regularly go back and remind yourself of sins you have committed in the past.
You have confessed them- stop beating yourself over the head with them. Do you see how moody you are? Do you realize that this makes you discouraged and depressed? Stop it! :)
If I gave you the opportunity to give me your life story in 15 minutes, what would you say?
When you think about your past, does it bring back warm and fond memories, of a loving and caring childhood gentle and loving a parents and siblings? Or would your story contain memories of a past that was primarily bad? Would your life story revolve around how you have been mistreated in the past; what has been done to you by someone? What was said/done, or not said/done? Maybe you have very few memories of your past, but regardless of what you remember, you have one!
Therefore, I believe it is imperative that we understand what God’s Word has to say about properly and biblically handling our past. God gave us our memory – He gave us the ability to retain and store information in our brains. Therefore, He must have a purpose and plan for those memories.
All you need to do is pick up the newspaper or turn on the nightly news to see that the issue of dealing with the past is primary in how the world deals with interpersonal problems, marriage and family issues, and behavioral matters such as in a legal trial for assault, or murder, or neglect.
Although it is not a popular view, I do not like to excuse poor behavior done as an adult by blaming families, and what happened to us as children. Yes, we may carry scars from our battles; we may have a sore or weak spot where we are especially sensitive, but ultimately, I believe that all of this can be overcome in Christ.
The Bible clearly says that in Christ you are a new creation. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) You have a new family, the family of God. You have a new father, who is God. You have a new spirit, the Sprit of God, who lives with your very being. You have a new nature, given to you by the Lord Jesus Christ.
I refuse to be in bondage to the philosophy of the world that says we are all a victim of something. I refuse to blame my upbringing for my poor behavior.
Even though I have had some very difficult circumstances in my life, I am not an emotional wreck, I am not a victim, and I am not co-dependant, alcoholic or mal-adjusted, I am a victorious, blood washed, born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am Victorious! And so are you!
How did I get from victim to victor? Because I learned and applied what the Word of God has to say about the past. Because the Bible has been talking about a person’s past for thousands of years.
And the message we get from God’s Word is that a person’s past definitely affects her present and her future.
He who covers his sins (in the past) will not prosper, (in the present and the future) Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV)
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7 (NKJV)
These are some pretty clear statements about the past and future.
Have you ever noticed how many stories there are in the Bible? There are so many life stories of those who have gone before us, of their lives from beginning to end. There are stories of their families, battles, triumphs, tragedies.
Why has God given us these historical records to read and review? Is it because He is a good story teller? Does He want to give us something to read beside doctrine?
The answer is that those records are there for us to learn from, so you and I don’t make the same mistakes in our own lives. You all are familiar with the saying hindsight is 20/20, well through the Bible; we have the benefit of seeing how decisions at one end of a persons life have affected them at the other end. Sometimes they have had drastic results, and sometimes glorious ones.
Your past can be of great benefit to you because you can look back at your decisions and learn from them all! The great decisions and the ones that turned out not so good in the end.
Your past also helps you to accept new trials in life.
Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”
Job 2:10 (NKJV)
Job was able to honestly say this to his lovely wife because he remembered the goodness and the kindness of God. He understood God’s faithfulness, and this carried him through the otherwise unbearable trials of the present.
How much do you apply the truth of what you know to your life? Do you take Bible verses such as Romans 12:1 and practically apply them? Do you consider yourself a living sacrifice? Are you excited about growing and changing? Does progressive sanctification excite and energize you?
I hope you are, because the degree to which you are not excited about growing and changing; that is the same extent to which you have been a poor steward of your memories and the lessons of your past. A woman who focuses on all God has done in her past is applying truth today out of love and thanksgiving.
I will have more on this important subject tomorrow!
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
When the weight of all my dreams are resting heavy on my head,
Tonight the weight is heaver than it was a few hours ago. The things that have been placed before me are challenging, yet not new. I have done this before and God has been faithful to surround me with people who fill the deficits I have in all areas. And yet, the weight is heavy because the responsibility is great. I know to mess this up affects more than me; it affects those I serve by His grace. The weight is made of having an understanding of the challenges of unity, the challenges of change, the challenges of cooperation, the challenges of leadership.
And the thoughtful words of help and hope have all been nicely said,
There is plenty of encouragement to go forward with this plan, compliments that I am the gal for the job, I have the right idea and message to take...
But I'm still hurtin' wondering if I'll ever be the one I think I am...I think I am...
This is dangerous and scary territory for me. There is personal risk because people can be so difficult! It has been said that ministry would be easy if it were not for people, and to some degree that it true. Ministry is tough business, because we are all still sinners. Sinners serving sinners. Serving sinners like myself I know that there is opportunity for criticism and rancor, disagreement and divisiveness, even viciousness and hatred. And everything rides and falls on leadership.
How will I be received? I am who I am- very imperfect and flawed.
Then You gently re-remind me that You've made me from the first,
God is in charge of my spiritual growth, He is in charge of "what" I am. Psalm 139 details for me how intimately He knows me and how He created me to be exactly who I am and He has brought me to this time and place and to this point of spiritual growth and maturity.
And the more I try to be the best the more I get the worst
I cannot hurry Him along in the process of my sanctification. It is not up to me how quickly I am sanctified. I am complete in Him positionally - and the changes He intends to effect in me will be accomplished in His timing. I have seen the results when I take matters into my own hands i.e. trying to produce the Fruit of the Spirit, trying to be "better," trying to force the changes by my own will...How could I suppose to conjure up in my sinful flesh what can only be wrought by the Spirit of God? I am revealing incredible pride when I attempt self-sanctification.
And I realize the good in me is only there because of who You are- who You are!
This is known to me with crystal clarity! I am aware that within my heart is the blackest darkest pit of sin and only Christ brings any "goodness" to my being. You, Lord Jesus Christ are the Goodness, You are the Light in my darkness. You take me, change me, from what my idolatrous heart wants me to be to some sort of representation of You! It is all You Lord, it is all You...
And all I even have to be is what You've made me, any more or less would be a step out of Your plan
Oh Lord, I struggle here...I desire to be one who can serve, one who will be accepted and loved by all. A most unreasonable desire I know. You have not made me to be one who is fuzzy and cuddly, You have made me differently- Factual and tough. I cannot be anything less than who I have been made to be. To even want to be different than who God has created me to be in personality or person hood would be as though I am telling God He has not done a good enough job putting me together. Should I presume to tell God He somehow has made an error in my construction?
I am a strong woman with strong opinions and my strong opinions are based on what the Word of God tells me about me. The book of Ephesians tells me what I need to know about myself; what I once was (Chapter 2) and who I am now because of what was done for me before I even existed (Chapter 1). It tells me how to live (Chapter 4) and tells me how to fight (chapter 6).
Then why (you may be asking) do I struggle here? Because I know that I do not always please everyone. Because I know that not everyone appreciates how God has put me together. Because like everyone, I long to be loved.
As You daily re-create me help me always keep in mind that I only have to do what I can find.
What I have found now is to take up the next challenge and go forward in faith. I did not create this idea, I am following the lead of my Savior. He has given me desire and ability. I trust that He will surround me with faithful people who will answer the same call. I am not to take over the world or conquer a tribe for Christ; I am simply to minister to those who He has placed in my path and in my sphere of influence. I will trust Him for the rest.
And all I ever have to be~ All I have to be~
All I ever have to be is what You've made in me
Lord, if the days grow dark and dim and the way is not clear, please lead me forward. Help me to follow Your lead and to discern Your will for this endeavor. Give me wisdom and the ability to understand those who think differently than I do. Give me the endurance to withstand what is ahead, and the love I will need to overcome the inevitable differences that will surface. Take my heart and conform it to Yourself. I remain Your servant Lord, make me Your humble servant.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and Psalm 42:5
We find ourselves at the crossroads of life. Most of our children grown and gone, and one nearing that precious point in time when he too will leave to begin to fulfill his own destiny.
I have always believed that you raise children to let them go, so that is not so much causing the disturbance within my soul; it is much more what comes next.
We are, or actually I am in the "Sandwich Generation" as I care for my elderly and ailing parents and finish raising my family. God has richly blessed me with all these people to love and minister to however I know that these days are rushing to a close on all accounts.
My spirit is disquieted within me as the "then what?" question. It is not as though my ministry opportunities will be gone, as the counseling and discipling of women never ceases, I will have my husband and family to love until we all go to the Lord. There is just a quiet ache today.
Perhaps it is because we are preparing to sell the home that we raised all our children in. The only home our youngest has ever known. The old walls of this home have heard a lot of laughter and seen many wonderful events of our family. The sounds of births, graduations, new spouses, friends and loved ones have all echoed through our home. These walls have also witnessed tears and pain as we struggled mightily through dark days and nights of fear at things we could not control and as we wondered at times what would become of us.
Perhaps it is because we do not know where to go next. Our desire is to minister as full time as possible. However as our older years are getting closer we realize that we must make provisions for those days when we may be unable to work due to illness or simply being old.
Perhaps it is because I know my youth is behind me now. I can see that clearly as I look into the mirror and see little lines around my eyes. I used to console myself by saying it was from decades of pulling on them while wearing contact lenses. However, I have a sneaking suspicion there is more at play here now...
Perhaps it is because what I want, I may not be able to have. God may exercise His sovereignty over my life and steer its course in another direction entirely. Away from this State, away from the ministry I love so dearly, away from people and all that is familiar to me. Stretching me again in the realm of change--something I dislike overall. I console myself by saying that should not happen soon (if at all) because I have responsibilities here. I am still in the middle of the "sandwich." But these things can change in the blink of an eye...
The Psalmist says, "Put your hope in God for I will yet praise him." He is my only hope for all of life. I do know that what His will is for us will be done. I do surrender my plans to Him, believing that His plan is greater, wiser, and more wonderful than I could ever imagine. I do praise my God, even when my soul is downcast for I know He loves me, and all His plans for me are good.
I can trust Him with my future and where I shall live and who I will minister to when I get there. He has seen the end from the beginning before time existed and His ways are perfect. I will trust You, oh my God! Bless the Lord oh my soul!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
This is an expression I recently heard at a training conference I was attending. Living in Saturday is in reference to the Saturday after Good Friday and before Resurrection Sunday. It is a place all of us dwell.
Many Christians appear to be spending their time on earth treading spiritual water. They are not living totally in the world nor are they practicing holiness. Christian disciplines are lackadaisical and are done halfheartedly. There is little devotion to the imperative of “Be holy as I am holy” (1 Pet.1:16) therefore very little spiritual growth. This Christian lives a rather defeated life frequently looking at the lives of other believers in comparison to their own and evaluating that they come up way short.
Does this describe you today? It has from time to time described me. I get so lazy sometimes! The thought seems to be that I can somehow “skate” through my days without Him, as though my continual connection with Him is somehow optional! What a fool that makes me! That is when I live in Saturday. I live as though Jesus is no longer in the picture that He is gone and I am once again living for myself. This leads me to think and then act as though I am no longer a slave to righteousness, that I have been released from my bondage to Him.
The disciples were there…although they had heard Jesus tell them plainly, and in various more obtuse language of the parable that he was going away, that He was going to the Father, that He was going to die on the cross and more importantly that He would rise from the dead they did not believe Him. After Friday, they were convinced life would go on as before. That their obligation to Christ was done, and that He was gone. We know this because on Sunday, they did not go to the tomb. They did not go to the tomb…they did not go to the tomb on Sunday!
These guys hung with Jesus 24/7 for 3 solid years and heard from His own mouth what was going to happen, and yet---they did not go to the tomb. They were living in Saturday. Living in the perceived defeat of all their dreams, believing it was all over.
How different are we, really? When you blow it, return to some old sin habit, or forget who you are in Christ then you are living in Saturday too. “Saturday” is a desert-like place. It even has an emotional feeling attached that we can describe- lonely. God graciously allows us to be in Saturday for a time. He uses this time to remind us that we need Him. That we are not so all fired independent, that we have been created for Him and that our complete identity and worthiness is found in Him.
Saturday makes me long for Sunday. In Sunday I find hope renewed! The lonely desert becomes an oasis of overflowing grace. I realize a fresh start and I come to my Lord and Savior and know that I am accepted and loved and that He will welcome me into His arms once again. The Disciples realized this as the resurrected Christ stood in their midst that Sunday morning.
This is the journey of the Saint on the road of progressive sanctification. We understand that this is a life long sojourn full of many peaks of faith and valleys of sorrow. I find myself there today, trudging along the road and looking unto Sunday when we will see Him- our face to His beautiful face.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
The example I used was if I were Amish and I lived in that culture then my behavior would be very different because the expectations on me would be very different. The life of the Amish is very structure and confined. Living free in Christ in a decadent society gives me all the latitude I want to reveal the thoughts of my sinful heart as I expose them through my speech and actions.
I ask myself what makes certain things "OK" in my thought life? Is is because I think no one ever really sees these things? How can I so callously forget that the Sovereign God of the Universe is allways aware of what is on my heart (Psalm 139:4) before I am!
I meditate often on Romans 6:1-2 "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?"
This speaks directly to this issue of respectable sins for me. I know better to say or believe that I am powerless to stop these respectable sins "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." 2 Peter 1:3. I have the ability to stop these things (and so do you), I know they are wrong (and so do you) and yet I continue to act as though I am a slave to them, that I am controlled by my sinful lusts and desires, as though they still own me!
What does this say about the power of Christ in me if this is the case? It says that the power of Christ is not sufficient, and that is a lie from the pit of hell. If is not the case, if the power of Christ in me is not enough for me to overcome sins like lying, swearing, gossiping, coveting, impure thoughts, cheating, anger, selfishness, laziness, slandering, immorality, idolatry, and any other sin you can think of then what is?! To say He is not enough, and that His power is not enough makes Christ a fool and a liar! He is either enough, or He isn't and if you believe (and I believe) He is enough then we ought to start living like it!
I must stop making excuses for why I do what I do, stop calling SIN nullifying words like "mistakes" and "whoopses" and "goofs." Stop rationalizing and justifying my sin by blame shifting the reasons for it onto another person or event.
I have to come to grips in my heart that I sin because even after over 20 years of this walk, I am still an idolater...I still worship me... and somewhere in my heart (actually right out there on the altar of my heart) is a mini-me that I worship constantly. It disgusts me at the moment, and I have to hang on to that disgust. The disgust is a blessing because it reminds me of the cost that was paid for me. I am a very valuable commodity in this Kingdom! NOT because I am worth or worthy of anything on my own, but because another gave His life for me. I cost Him everything- everything! I cost Him His very life, breath, and blood.
With this in mind, I go forward. Determined not to remain in this place. "... forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
Friday, February 15, 2008
I have had so many thoughts about how tragic this world has become. The news is just tragic day after day. Pregnant women, little children, teenagers graduating from high school all victims of horrible crime. It seems every single day there is a new report of a missing woman, mother, child, you name it. People being found locked in closets under stairs and in basements..and buried in the backyards of homes. Again another round of school and college shootings! I hear it and see it and to turn it off does not mean it goes away.
I wonder how God views all this. Does He see us as He saw the world in Noah's day?
"Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." "Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth."
I HAVE to wonder how it could have been worse than what we are like today. If God wiped them all out and they didn't have genetic selection, cloning, mass pornography, added to their list of sins, then why does God tarry in taking us out of here and ending his horrible mess here on earth? I have no doubt they had all the rest of our heinous sins.
How this reveals the wicked hearts of men! Can we for one moment ever think that we are incapable of such wickedness? Can we ever again say to another "you have such a good heart" knowing that such evil that lurks in them? Can I recognize it also can lurk in me?
Oh come Lord Jesus.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Wow how priorities change!
Not so many years ago, it was all about "stuff", fixing the house, getting ahead and so on. Now all that seems so foolish. I have been concentrating for the past two years on simplifying life. De-cluttering my world, making time for only what I believe really matters. It has been a good plan. I want to be able to do and be and go where He calls me to, and the "stuff" of life only detracts from that goal.
I have found I spent so many years seeking after fool’s gold....And what is it worth today? Ha. I guess that is why it is called fools gold.
I find it frustrating that the demands of life are so large, and they are eternally worthless demands. In the end, they will mean nothing to anyone, but in the here and now they are seemingly important. Trash day and bill paying and going to a movie- what are they really worth? Is this truly the stuff that life is made of? I think not.
I am so much more content with so much less. I credit Him for that. Since I began to understand Him and His sovereignty and His grace and mercy my whole focus of life changed. I am so determined to tell the world that He is enough! His life in me is really all I need, and I am determined the world will hear this truth!
I have little to no tolerance anymore with the whole "God is displeased with me" theology. It is such bondage to think that way. So many women I know are so enslaved to works righteousness. They don't understand grace; they don't understand justification and sanctification either. So is it any wonder they don't understand sovereignty? I so long to be able to explain it to them all. When I have one that gets it, the changes are dramatic- I can nearly hear the chains falling off their lives as they experience freedom. “Freedom”- what a sweet word! I often think of William Wallace the character played by Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart and how he screams "freeeeedooommmm!" as they take his life. True freedom is so very much like that, isn't it? We give up our lives and the trappings of the world to experience freedom in Christ. How very, very sweet that freedom is to me. The reward is so rich. Eternity means everything
Monday, February 11, 2008
Romans 6: 1 says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” The implication there is that we have been freed from the bondage of sin, and freed from its domination over us- so why do we continue to live as though we are still powerless over sin? Why do we live as though it still owns us?
I would like you to think about this question- who owns you?
You will quickly see the answer to this question as you reflect on the following:
Do you want to glorify God with your life more than you want to breathe?
What decides how you act? Is is the Word of God or how you feel today or in the moment?
What is the motive for the things you do "for God?" Is it self or the glory of God?
How you answer these questions is the beginning of determining where your heart is focused right now. Are you living for Him or for you?
We have not been redeemed to be self-serving, nor to continue to live as sinfully as one who is in spiritual darkness. God's grace is not liberty for us to sin with abandon. Living in wanton sin is an indication that you have little care for what your freedom cost.
The precious blood of Christ that paid for your freedom has made you His bond servant. He is a gentle and loving Lord and Master. He urges you to take His yolk upon yourself and follow Him. (Matt. 11:29) There is rest in this relationship and Jesus is not a cruel taskmaster. He has already done the heavy lifting by removing the burden of our sin.
Begin to live as though He owns you~It is a sweet kind of bondage.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Friday, February 8, 2008
I had a situation occur in which I was bitterly disappointed. The details are not as important as my actions which were initially not glorifying to God, but the situation is one that God used to reveal my heart.
Over a period of years I had been working to extricate myself from a certain state of affairs that were like bondage to me. I had made progress but this time I had the solution all planned out. Part of the problem with my solution was that I was tempted to be temporarily dishonest.
When I realized where that was headed I was in the moment - sorrowful. The solution meant freedom and I rationalized that any dishonesty would be only temporary.
The scenario that I envisioned did not pan out the way I wanted it to and my expected freedom did not come to pass. Once again, God said “nope.” I did not understand this - not one bit.
I was so angry at God that He continued to frustrate my attempts to gain my freedom from what felt like slavery to me. This enraged me and I gave full vent to my anger at God over how the situation had worked out. My tirade at not getting my way was terribly sinful.
During those minutes I had a flash of thought that this is what the Hebrews must have felt like every time Pharaoh changed his mind about freeing them to go and worship God.
“Yes! You can be set free from your situation!” And there is rejoicing in the land!
Shortly followed by, “No, not really. Ha Ha! Just kidding!”
Discouraging and infuriating...
I had daily prayed about this circumstance for years and God steadfastly refused me the freedom I so desired in my soul. Once again I saw God’s sovereign hand all over the ruination of my grand plan.
Ah, but my gracious God, who is always working, and always active in refining my heart used this to show me another area of sin I had to deal with. An idol had been made in my heart. I wanted freedom from this particular bondage so badly that I was willing to sin to get it and sinned further when I was denied! The fulfillment of my desire was so important to me that when it did not happen I became enraged.
There is a moment of near perfect clarity for me in a moment like this. I am given a peek through the window of my soul and allowed to see a sliver of my heart as God sees it. This is unbelievably gracious of God, to only reveal a sliver of my ugliness to me. God knows I could not bear to see the total depravity of my heart, He only shows me just enough to remind me of exactly what I am and how far I have to go.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?
In the verse following God says “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind…” God
allows and even brings things into our lives to reveal to us the idols we have set up in His place. An idol can be a person, thing, or desire that we serve and worship in place of God. These idols are insidious and they lurk in the deepest corners of the heart demanding to be worshipped. They are exposed by the Light of the world as revealed in His Word. They are toppled by returning to our first love, Jesus Christ.
True freedom is not found in relief or release from circumstances! Freedom is found in serving, obeying, and worshiping Christ. I find freedom as I depose the idols that clamor to be served and work to get my thoughts and desires in sync with His again. I find freedom as I agree with Him that I have sinned and that I am in need of salvation as much today as I was 22 years ago.
This freedom is free to me, but cost Him everything. The knowledge of this freedom leaves me chastened and humbled. Experiencing this freedom leaves me joyous and hopeful!
Thursday, February 7, 2008
God is interesting. The way He deals with me is always beyond my understanding, and I am grateful for that. He allows me to try to find every way possible out of a jam or situation and He just seemingly sits back, arms folded across His chest (I imagine a big smile on His face) and waits for me to be done exhausting my options... and myself.
He already knows the answer, He has had the solution from eternity past.
I continue to pray "Tell me what to do..." and as I pray... I try to figure it out myself.
I fuss and fret and eventually come to terms that I am out of options and I must rely on nothing other than Him. I have nothing but prayer, and faith, and His faithfulness to me. What a wonderful place to be!
I can trust Him because I know He has a plan, He is aware, and He is fully in charge of whatever the thing of the moment or day is. He reminds me that HE knows the end from the beginning and that no matter how it looks to me, He sees infinitely more than I do. He always wants me to remember that I need Him, that I am nothing without Him, and even though I may plan and strategize the "best" way ~ultimately my life is His- hidden in Christ and He will do with me what He wills. And that will always bring glory to Himself.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
A fitting place to begin this blog I think. This passage is always a part of my testimony when I am asked to give it. Paul's words refer to his activities before he met Christ on that road to Damascus (Acts 9) say so much about me as well. Paul and I share the same disgrace- we were once blasphemers, persecutors, and violent aggressors- and ignorant of the truth.
While I was raised in a religious home, I had no connection with the Head, that is Jesus Christ. My religion was works oriented and empty of anything but guilt and I abandoned it in my youth to serve and even worship the arch-enemy of God, Satan. Living this kind of a life brings one lower than low and I found myself saying and doing things that were degrading and disgusting. What once brought me a feeling of power and control now left me feeling lost, miserable and trapped in a hopeless spiral of sins like hatred, anger and idolatry. Finding no refuge in that life I escaped after a few years.
As an adult I was bound by fear for things I had done in the past and suffered from an aching sense of emptiness. I attempted the usual methods of coping with emptiness; drinking, drugs and losing myself in one bad relationship after the next. I even married in hopes that I would find some security in life. This too was a disaster as the marriage was fraught with fighting and abuse. "Perhaps a child would help" was my next thought, and while my beautiful baby boy gave life meaning I was still desperately alone and frightened.
The knowledge was very real that my soul was in peril. I lived with a constant inescapable terror of death. It haunted me in my waking and sleeping hours and in desperation I attempted to return to my childhood religion. I wanted to be clean and rid of the fears that plagued me. I did not find it there! I found only the same stale rituals that were void of any cleansing for me.
Christ made Himself known to me one December afternoon as I sat on my bed, once again in the depths of fear and depression. A friend who was recently converted to Christ had been begging me to read the Bible, something I had no interest in doing. What did I want with that book? I never found any answers in there before! But this day was to be different...
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:7 through Matthew 7:11
I recall reading that over and over and telling God that I was asking, but I was not sure what I was asking for, I was seeking, but I knew I had no right to be- for what I had been and what I had done. I was knocking on the door, and fearfully asking to be let in! Verse 11, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" was what broke through my heart. I WAS evil, I DID know how to give good gifts to my son...was God possibly saying that He wanted to give good gifts to me, a sinner such as I?
I recall a flood of tears and words as I began to cry out to God and confess what I was and what I had done and how lost I knew I was. I finished it up with, "God if You are real, I need You. I know I don't deserve You, but You are my only hope. Please come into my heart and save me."
"Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life." He carefully brought me to and through each stage of life until I was ready to see that His mercy was my only hope.
My life was different from that moment on. The Word of God became real and as I applied its truths to my heart and life I began to see changes. My journey was not easy, I had many sinful habits to overcome. I still battled the old anger, and I was bitter and did not know how to respond rightly. I tried "doing the right thing" in my flesh but was met with failure after failure.
My marriage ended when my unbelieving husband left me for another and I was a single parent of two little boys for a while. This brought heartache, financial hardship, and fear as I was uncertain about my future. During that time, the Lord was my husband and I continued to cling to Him.
By His grace He brought an old friend back into my life. We eventually married and he adopted my two older boys. To add to the blessing, God gave us another child together. We have had 17 wonderful, joyful years as a family. I am so completely undeserving.
I live each and every day with the knowledge that I found mercy for the sake of others. I found mercy for your sake dear reader. Not that I have an exaggerated sense of self importance- any old pot will do! I am just very aware of the ministry God has placed in my life and the love He has placed in my heart to fulfill my calling to His women. My trials have been for your sake. My hurt and pain and experiences have been for your benefit. I am amazed at the ways He uses my life and testimony to bring glory to Himself and to benefit others.
It is truly the joy of my life to teach His Word and principles of change in discipleship counseling.
It is for Him, His glory that we do all that we do in Christ. He is the source, the power, the enabling force and He is worthy to be praised!
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen