Quarantined or Hidden?

QUARANTINED OR HIDDEN

Shelter in His wings

 

We’ve basically been stuck inside here since 3/15/2020.  Being in a metroplex area, there’s little opportunity for getting out.  We’ve joked a lot about this quarantine, sheltering-in-place event of 2020.  Not that we don’t take it seriously, we do, but laughter helps.   We’ve got friends and family out there who are considered essential, and are doing their best to keep things going.  We admire them.  We pray for them.  We appreciate their sacrifice.  No matter the opinion of the quarantine and everything surrounding and leading up to it, those out there on the “front lines” are valued and respected.  The world is hurting and little of it makes sense.

Like most of you, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect, read, pray, etc.  Lately, I’ve been pondering this word hiding, or hidden.   In the initial days of all of this, the majority of the body of Christ was praying Psalm 91 which opens with, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”  This is a place of hiding.  In Psalm 17:8 David prays, “hide me under the shadow of Your wings.”  And in Psalm 31:20 he declares, “You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of men.”

This led me to think about the significance of hiding, not as those who shrink back in fear, but as those who operate in wisdom.  I thought of some of the biblical heroes who were in hiding.  Because Pharaoh had commanded all male babies be killed, Moses was hidden by his brave and loving mother.  Moses, as we know, later led the Israelite slaves out of Egypt as an army of people with great wealth.

David hid in a cave, the Cave of Adullum,  (1st Samuel 22) when Saul was pursuing him. God would eventually use David in numerous and mighty ways in bringing about His divine purpose in the earth.

Here’s an interesting note:  Wikipedia states that the term “Cave of Adullum” is used by political commentators to reference a small group remote from power but planning to return. Hmmmm…

Paul Keith Davis of WhiteDove Ministries recently said God told him, “I do not want my people to come out of this season out of shape, confused, and grumpy.”  He proposed to his listeners that we use this time to get ourselves in proper physical and spiritual health.

Most of the body of Christ feels God is allowing this season for His divine purposes, and stand firm on God’s Word that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28.   Could it be that God has allowed the government to impose this shelter-in-place to protect and prepare His people to be led forth as a victorious army to accomplish His purpose in the earth?

No doubt, we are in the end times.  We are seeing the Bible played out before our eyes.  At no time in history have we the major pieces in place as they are today.  This quarantine is not fun.  Sheltering in place is not fun.  When the children of Israel left Egypt, they grumbled and complained against God constantly, and He just left them wandering for years.  Is it possible this time could be shortened simply by us getting in our hiding place, not complaining, and allowing God to do what needs to be done in us to make us ready for His next move?  How exciting that He is allowing us to be a part of this glorious unfolding.  The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Matthew 9:37 NKJV   Then I looked and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sickle. And another angel came out of the temple crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”  Revelation 14:14-15 NKJV

The time is drawing near.  Let’s take full advantage of this opportunity to slow down, spend time with Him and make ourselves ready.

 

Spiritual Spelunking

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Adventure. Who doesn’t love the excitement and intrigue of adventure. The discovery. The mystery. The wonder.  We all have our own sense of adventure and what we consider adventurous. Spelunking has never been one of mine.  I’m not so fond of caves.  They’re dark.  They’re musky. They are full of, what seems to me, danger.  I don’t particularly care for things that want to kill me, like the rats, spiders, snakes, and hideous four-legged creatures I imagine in caves.  When I think of caves, I think of darkness, death, and fear.

As much as I dislike caves, I have to admit, some of my greatest moments with God have been in the “cave” seasons of my life.  I don’t like those seasons of my life any more than I like caves, but it is in those times that I have had some of my greatest growth and revelation.  In his book, If You Want To Walk On Water, You Have To Get Out Of The Boat, John Ortberg makes the comment referencing David and the time he spent in a cave, “some of God’s greatest work is done in caves.”  It’s one of the only things I remember about the book, and at the time that I read it, I had no idea the “caves” that lay before me.

I have always been a person of perpetual hope and belief in all that is good.  Life is beautiful, love and good and truth prevail, and hope never disappoints.  I’ve been the cheerleader.  So this cave season has not been easy.  It’s been hard.  It’s been very hard.  I’ve come face to face with emotions, revelations, and fears that it never occurred to me I would ever face.  These things that seem to have such a strong grip on me and are hell bent on defining me run so contrary to who I know (think) I am and shaking them has been difficult.

I often try to be an island unto myself, taking care of me, never asking for help (pride, lack of trust, something to prove) There have been times when I’ve tried to explain to God I need to prove myself, make something of myself before I can ask for or accept help.  I picture Him standing there like Melanie Carmichael (Smooter) in Sweet Home Alabama when Jake told her he needed to make something of himself before trying to win her love, saying, “You ’bout done?”

Recently I kinda hit the end of all of my strength physically, spiritually, and emotionally.  I wanted to run away, just give up completely, and disappear.  Instead, I cried out to the only “friend” I felt I could trust and absolutely didn’t trust at the same time (Lol) because I KNEW, if nothing else, this friend would pray.  Understanding and support might not be there, but what I needed was prayer and I could trust this friend to pray.

Then God led me to do a little spelunking.  I found great men of God hiding in caves, even my favorite Bible character, Elijah.  After an AMAZING miracle proving God’s power and authority, Elijah is hiding in a cave in fear of a woman! God comes to him and asks, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  I felt God asking me the same thing, and I had NO answer, so off we go on another adventure.

David.  There is MUCH to be learned about David’s time in a cave. WOW!

First, yes, David was hiding in a cave, but it wasn’t long before God sent others to him.  Funny thing, though, the people God sent weren’t heroes.  They weren’t people who had it all together. They were, according to 1 Samuel 22:2, people who were distressed, in debt, discontented, and bitter of soul.  (I was in that bitter of soul category)  The next thing you know, David is providing safety for others who have come to him out of love and out of need.

David had already been anointed king at the time he found himself in the cave, but he had not yet been appointed king. (In the thinking of modern Christianity, we would think David should have it all just a little more together and act just  little more perfect and godly.)  He had some things to learn before he could step into this God-given role. God sent him common people, not only to comfort him, but to also give him purpose.  If David was going to lead and minister to common people, he needed to know what their lives were like.  What were their fears, needs, worries, concerns?  What was it like to live day to day as a commoner? David wasn’t just leading them.  He was walking hand in hand with them with a mission and a purpose and a calling.  His cave was his training ground.

If you will read the book of Psalm, you will find that psalms David wrote during his cave season. (Psalm 57, 142) David was very honest with God about the hurt, the fear, the anguish, the anger, and the despair he felt.  He didn’t pretend it didn’t hurt.  He didn’t pretend he had it all together.  He poured out his heart honestly to God. And even in those Psalms where he seemed to be whining and complaining, he always found his way back to honoring, praising and trusting God.

This is what God wants for us.  He isn’t put off by those cave seasons in our lives, and  He hasn’t left us to handle it all on our own. If we will trust Him in these times, and give them to Him, He will use them to teach us and grow us in ways we never imagined.  And in so doing, we will be better able to bless and help others who find themselves in similar situations.  Nothing is ever wasted in God’s hands.

If you find yourself in a cave, don’t despair. Put it in God’s hands and it will become an adventure of growth.  Turn to Him and let Him show you the great treasure that lies within! Look around and see if there might be others He’s brought across your path for you to bless, encourage, and grow with during this season.  Trust that He will see you through and it won’t be long before He is leading you out of the cave into a new season of purpose and wonder.

 

 

A Crisis Of Faith!

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Crisis: an unstable time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending, especially: one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome, as defined by Merriam Webster.  It has also been defined as a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.

I’ve seen hard times in my life, but I don’t know that I’ve ever described any of them as a crisis until now, and I question if this could even be called a crisis.

I am having a crisis of faith.  But what exactly is that.  Is it even a real thing? If so, how do you reconcile it?

So let’s define faith.  Going back to Merriam Webster, faith is defined as a strong held belief in something for which there is no proof. Other internet sources define it as complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

I personally think faith is something much deeper and less superficial than that.  Faith is something that penetrates our soul and engrafts itself into the very core of who we are. It is the truest part of our identity. Whether religious or not, it is what defines our truest self.  So when something shakes our faith, it is a deep, penetrating identity crisis.  It is an earthquake attempting, not just to rattle us, but to crack our foundation straight through to the core, forcing us to delve deep into the heart of our being and define what it really is to be who we are – who we truly are.

As a Christian, my faith is established in the Word of God.  I fully believe the Bible is His Word, inspired by Him, God breathed. I believe this Word is truth.  I believe God IS who He says He is in this book.  I believe He can do what He says He can do.  My faith allows me to have a living, active, loving relationship with Him.

And my faith is in crisis!

Hebrews 11 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God.

The devil would love to have us think that when we face these moments, we are alone.  Shame. Shame. Shame.  What kind of Christian are you that you would have a time when you question God, are dissatisfied with God, and question.  A joke! A fraud!  That’s what kind you are.  He didn’t earn the title of accuser of the brethren for no reason.

If you have had moments where you’ve struggled with God, let me assure you, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  As a matter of fact, you are in good company.  Obviously Job had a crisis of faith.  He prayed faithfully. He believed.  He lived his life for God, and lost everything – EVERYTHING in a day.  But there are others.  Great men of God struggled with Him at times.  Jonah. Mad about having to share God’s message with people he felt weren’t deserving of God’s grace.  Elijah.  What a mighty man of God he was.  After an amazing miracle in 1 Kings 18 where Elijah is boldly declaring the Lord before all the people to include 450 prophets of Baal, we find him running from Jezebel in fear in 1 Kings 19.  He just watched God miraculously reveal himself, and now he’s depressed, running from a woman and praying for God to take his life.  What happened?  Jeremiah.  A great prophet of God also found himself wanting God to take his life.

Mighty men of God.  We hale them as the heroes of our faith. We seem to forget they were human.  They had great moments of success in their faith journeys, but they also had very real moments of struggle. Why?

I think pride, a lack of trust, fear, and selfishness are some of the most prominent reasons for a crisis of faith.  We think we know more than God.  Our way is best. We don’t understand God’s timing. We want what we want when we want it. We isolate ourselves, too proud to share our struggles with others.  We take our eyes off God and become primarily focused on our circumstances and surroundings rather than refueling our souls with the Word and the refreshing of praise, so we become tired.  Tired, hungry, cranky infants in desperate need of a change.

But here is the beauty of a crisis of faith.  God is there.  He will send refreshing. He will allow us to throw our fit and scream and cry like it’s all His fault and He can’t be trusted.  He’ll give us our space, and then just like He did with Elijah in 1 Kngs 19:9-13, and with all the others who have gone before us, He will say something, send a friend to say something, that will redirect our focus, remind us who we are, remind us who He is, and remind us We Are His, We Belong, and We Are Of Great Value To Him, Treasured, and Loved Beyond All Measure.

So maybe I am not in crisis at all, because I know the outcome will not be undesirable. IF I listen to Him, follow His lead, get back in the Word, turn up the praise,  the outcome WILL BE a stronger faith, renewed trust, a more secure belief, and greater love, because I KNOW He will NEVER leave me or forsake me.  Even when I feel like He isn’t there, He is an ever present help!

 

Let’s Talk About Sex

alonelonely

Single.  People say it like it ‘s a dirty word, like you are damaged goods or something.  Single can be hard at times.  Single can be lonely. And while there may be damage involved, YOU are not damaged goods.  You are very valuable.  And yet, as singles, we often give our value away in search of the feeling of being valued.  Let’s talk about sex!

Churches have come a long way when it comes to ministering to singles and single parent families, but there are times when it feels like no one truly understands the struggle and like church is designed for those married with children while the rest of us smile, pretend we’ve got it all together, and try to figure out exactly where and how we fit.

As singles we face a lot of challenges, but the one no one seems to want to address is sex.  And when they do finally address it, it is so watered down you aren’t even sure that it was even talked about.  It’s almost as it they are afraid talking about it might encourage the sin.  God sure wasn’t afraid of talking about it.  He put Song of Solomon right smack in the middle of the Bible, and the subject matter there is off the cuff!!!

Here’s the deal, if we are gonna be real about ministering to singles, especially those who have already been to the S buffet, and helping them navigate these murky waters successfully, we are going to have to quit tip toeing around the subject and talk about sex.  We cannot pretend that they aren’t struggling with issues in this area just because they are in church or in a Christian singles group, and we can’t be effective in ministry if we are not confronting this issue head on and giving them the tools they need to be successful.

Sex is very real.  The desire for sex is very powerful.  The longing for that type of intimacy or just raw passion will keep you up all night and frustrate the daylights out of you.  It doesn’t take a rest just because you are single.  It doesn’t skip town just because you got divorced.  And it feels like the longer it goes unmet, the stronger the desire gets.  To think that Satan won’t target you with this sin because you are a Christian is a joke!  All the more reason he will target you, and all the more reason we need to be talking about this.

Well meaning friends will tell you to be sure to date Christian men/women, and this is great advice, but it is not foolproof.  I’ll be honest with you, I’ve often been shown more respect and honesty from men outside the church.  The men (and women) in church come packing scripture and seemingly godly wisdom to tempt and manipulate you.   You’ll hear them say things like, “God made us physical beings.  He gave us our sexual desires.  He knows our needs.  He understands we are only humans.  Sex is natural.  Sex is fun. God wants us to be happy and have fun.  Sex is from God.”  There is no way I am the only woman out there who has heard these lines from Christian men.

You can’t deny, everything they said is truth.  But just like the serpent twisted the truth when he tempted Eve, this is twisted truth intended to manipulate.  No, I did not just call men snakes.  It’s not just men playing the manipulation game.  Women are doing it too.  They’ll send the risque selfie.  Honey, do you REALLY think you are the only one sending him scandalous pictures?!  They’ll send the over-the-top flirtatious text followed by one that says, “oops! Did I say that?!  Lol ;)”  Or they’ll “have just one more drink” and blame it on the alcohol.  Once you’ve crossed the line, the guy will say something like, “We fell into sin.  I was weak.  I’m sorry.  We need to just put it under the blood, receive His grace, accept His forgiveness and let it go.” (PLEASE, NO ONE start singing that song!) Or if its the girl, she is likely struggling with a respect issue.  You led her into sin.  Sure, she let you, but…she’ll play nice, be friendly, and totally give you the brush off.  These are CHRISTIAN men and women I am talking about.  How do I know.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve done it.  I’ve been there, and I am quite certain, as much as Satan would like to shame me into thinking I am the only one and keep me feeling condemned, I am not the only one.  I can tell you this, it takes two to tango, so I can’t be the only one.

We can continue this game and it’s feel good sexual moments followed by the beat down of guilt and condemnation and having to hide it from the church, or we can get real with God and deal with it.

We can start right now… 1 Thessalonians 4 tells us God’s will is for us to be sanctified. To avoid sexual immorality and learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like those who don’t know God. ..and in this matter, NO ONE should wrong or take advantage of another person.   So there you go right there, this game of manipulating and using each other…God’s not ok with that AT all.

You can play games and make excuses, but you are not fooling God.  Yes, He knows your loneliness, your pain, your guilt.  He understands your desire for passion and intimacy.  He understands your need for validation and acceptance and He loves you right where you are.  Yes, His grace will cover your sin EVERY TIME, but He wants so much more for you.  He doesn’t tell us to avoid sexual immorality to be a killjoy.  He knows things we don’t.  He ALWAYS has a reason for asking us to do something and usually it is because it will hinder us from receiving His very best.

The Bible makes it very clear that we are not to use grace as an occasion to sin.  There is absolutely nowhere in the Bible where we are given permission to hang up our salvation while we roll in the sheets for the night then cash in that grace card the next morning.   Christ did not die to provide us a way to sin.  He died to free us from the slavery of sin and it’s consequences.  Romans 6 tells us we are dead to sin, no longer to be slaves to sin. And in verse 21  we are asked, “What benefit did you reap from the things you are now ashamed of?”  Romans 12 tells us we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the Lord – doing so is our spiritual act of worship.

1 Corinthians 6  is probably my favorite on the subject.  It tells us in verses 12-20  the body IS NOT MEANT for sexual immorality.  Your body is a member of Christ Himself, the temple of the Holy spirit.  We are told to flee sexual immorality.  It is a sin we commit against our own bodies.  No wonder we are sick, tired, and just plain worn out.

BUT, the verses just before this, 9-11 are very interesting.    These verses say that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Oh, but we aren’t wicked.  We are Christians.  We’ve accepted Christ as our Savior. We are forgiven.    Verse 9 continues – Don’t be deceived!! Neither the sexually immoral, the idolators, the adulterers, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders…will inherit the kingdom of God.  But what about forgiveness?  What about grace?  Well, it continues – that’s what some of you WERE, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified.  Are we living this way?

But let’s go back to this kingdom of God.  What exactly does that mean?  According to Strong’s Concordance (which I’m not the best at using) it is of the royal power of Jesus or the power and authority of royalty.  To inherit is to receive the portion allotted to you.  And when talking about the “things of God” it is the counsels, interests, and things due to Him.  So when it says we will not inherit the Kingdom of God, it is not referring to heaven, but to the counsel of God, the interests of God, the power of Jesus that is given to us as Christians.  When we are operating in sexual immorality, we cannot receive any of that.  We don’t get that portion that has been allotted to us.  What happens to it?  Is it given to someone else like in the parable of the talents? I don’t want someone else having the portion of the power of Jesus that has been allotted to me.  I don’t want to miss out on God’s counsel.  But I don’t get it if I chose to continue in sexual sin.  This world is not one I want to try to navigate outside of Jesus and the authority He has provided for me through the Holy Spirit.  I want to operate in the fullness of His kingdom.

Colossians tells us to put to death those things that belong to our earthy nature – sexual immorality, lust, impurity, evil desires, etc.  God is serious about this issue.  He hits it in almost every one of Paul’s letters.

Listen, we have to stop putting the cart before the horse.  The man/woman God has for you will not lead you into temptation.  God’s best will not come clothed in sin.  Relationships cannot be based on sex, and sex isn’t to be played with.  Sexual desires, interests, and abilities will eventually fade and you are left with just the person.  Sex comes with STD’s.  And the one no one wants to talk about is feelings.  You keep playing with sex and someone is gonna develop feelings.  Someone will get angry.  Someone will get hurt.  Friendships will be destroyed.  Is it worth it.  What benefit did you reap from the things you are now ashamed of?    And forget about asking God to bless the sin so it won’t be sin anymore.  He doesn’t work that way.   1 Corinthians 7:19 tells us keeping Gods commands is what counts.

God does have a beautiful love buffet with all of it’s passions and fruits prepared for you.  On your way to the buffet, don’t keep stopping of at McDonald’s.  Sure the fries are great, but not compared to the prime rib or the sweet juicy souffle’ God has for you.  And if you continue to stop at the McDonald’s, you will be full by the time you get to the buffet.  You will have had enough.  You’ll find that you are too jaded and bitter.  You’ve allowed yourself to be hurt too many times to open up and trust.  Or you’ve used and hurt too many to truly believe in you or them.

You know what, you may fall.  But don’t look for opportunity to fall.  If  you know when he kisses you like that it weakens all of your defenses, don’t let him kiss you like that.  He knows what he’s doing.  He wants to weaken you.  He wants to pound his chest of manhood.  GREAT!  Sign the papers and you can pound away…But remember, the man God has for you will be a GODLY ROCK, not a godly version of what you have had in the past.

If you know it makes him crazy and gets his motor running when you dress that way, then have enough respect for him, yourself, and God to not dress that way.   Be in control of your own actions.

1 Corinthians 4 tells us the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of power.  You can walk in here and talk the talk all day long, but are you walking the walk?  Maybe you are fooling a few people or a lot.  Maybe you are fooling yourself.  But you are not fooling God.  It is time to get real with God.  It’s time to do business with Him in this area.  It’s time to come clean.  1 John 1:9 tells us if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.  We are also told in James 5:16 to confess to each other and pray for each other and we will be healed.  He wants us whole and healed in this area.  Now, this is just my opinion, but I firmly believe, women should confess to women and men to men.  Give no place to the devil.

Sin separates you from God.  It hinders you from hearing Him, knowing His counsel, and receiving the portion of His power allotted to you. You are His beloved and the apple of His eye.  He loves you so much.  He knew you before you were born.  He has numbered the hairs on your head and He has bottled your tears.  He hears every prayer, every cry, and He does not withhold any good thing from you, but we have to do it His way.  He is after our hearts and He will continue to pursue us until we catch Him.  He is worthy of nothing less than total surrender.  We are worthy of nothing less than total surrender…. it is time to let go in this area of sexual sin and give it all to God.  He will not reject you.

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This entry was posted on June 14, 2014. 2 Comments

Disappearing Woman

disappearing-woman        Many years ago, a pastor said in church (it was a small church), “You can always tell where Sister Dawn is.  Just look for where the crowd is gathered and she will be right in the middle.” Then he looked at me and said, “God will use that.”  Several years later in a different church a pastor said, “There always seems to be a crowd gathered around you.  It could be children, adults, teenagers, newcomers, doesn’t matter.  Wherever you are, there is a crowd and you are in the middle of it.  You have a way of making people feel welcome and valued.  God will use that.”

Both pastors meant their words to be encouraging, and they were.  But I allowed them to become heavy and burdensome.  They began to feel like this obligation I was responsible to make happen.

Years later I found myself in a new town.  I was the outsider in a church where everyone employed by the church was family, and I think all the members were family as well.  It wasn’t a big church.  It wasn’t a small church.  The people there were comfortable.  They’d spent years together.  I don’t think they intentionally excluded people.  I think it just did not occur to them to be inclusive.  They had been the only ones for years, and now the area was growing, so the church was seeing a lot of visitors and potential growth as well.  I would see visitors come and not one soul would approach them.  So I, a visitor myself, began to approach them.    One day the pastor came to me and said, “There always seems to be a crowd around you.  I don’t believe we’ve met.”  I met the pastor and before too long, he was offering me a job.

“I want you to develop a children’s ministry.  I would like for you to develop a Mother’s Day Out program that can grow into an eventual preschool.  I would love to see parenting classes and things supporting and encouraging new moms of all ages and situations.   It will be part time at first.  I will pay you ____ (it was a pretty good part time salary) plus an additional ____ as a book allotment to build a library that you may take with you if the Lord calls you elsewhere.  This seemed like a dream come true.”

The day before I was to start this dream job, I went to the pastor and turned down the position.  I shared with him all the guilt and hurt and question I was carrying.  He said he never would’ve guessed I was carrying so much alone.  People were drawn to me because I made them feel important and valuable and understood.  He never would’ve guessed.

Within months, everything in my world seemed to fall apart.  Guilt birthed guilt birthed sin birthed guilt birthed condemnation…and eventually I found myself pulling away.  I didn’t want to be that person surrounded by so many people who were just drawn to me.  I had nothing for them.  I felt like a fraud.  There was too much pressure to “perform” for them and be who they expected me to be.  I couldn’t wear the mask any longer.  I was indeed always surrounded by people but no one ever saw me.  What if I stumbled and fell in front of them?  What if they actually did see me?  I mean, I could make a fool of Jesus.  What if I made a fool of Jesus?  If they really KNEW my rap sheet, would they still be drawn to me?  If I wasn’t drawn to me, why would they be?

bw-worldThey more I pulled away, the more comfortable I became with my altered reality.  It was easier.  Less pressure.  Less expectation…Less TRUE fulfillment.

I went from hiding in the church through involvement in ministry to hiding from, running from the church. Running from me.   I’ve said it before; I was running from God, hoping He would catch me.  The faster and further I ran, the less satisfied, the less fulfilled, and the hungrier I became, until one day I found that I had turned and I was walking back.

It wasn’t as if He saw me from a long way off and ran to me.  No.  He had never taken His eyes off of me.  He was there all the time.  He knew what it would take to turn me around.  And when I finally did turn, He was there with open arms saying, “Welcome home.”

People are drawn to me, but it isn’t about me.  They are drawn to Christ in me.  I do not have to BE anything for them.  I just have to be His.  It’s not about how I perform.  It’s not about what I can do for them.  It’s about just living a life out loud for Him.  It’s about a heart of worship.  All of Him and none of me.  If He can use that, then I will let Him.

 

This entry was posted on April 24, 2014. 2 Comments

strength

Often times, when we are in the midst of a situation, we don’t realize how we are growing and developing.  In these situations, we tend to resist.  We refuse to grow.  We refuse to allow God to have His way in us, all the while, talking about how much we love Him.

True love is evidenced in surrender.  As we surrender to God, submit to His leadership, and allow Him to grow us through our circumstances and situations, we become stronger through and for Him.

We will stumble.  We will fall.  His love is constant.

As long as there is a call on your life for the glory of God, the enemy will do all he can to prevent you from realizing and walking in that.  It’s not you he is after.  It’s your identity in Christ.

Do not give up.  Do not give in.  Do not stop.  Keep pursuing that passionate love affair with Christ and eventually you will be overcome by all that His love is.  Only then will you be able to look back and realize that you have grown stronger than you had ever imagined you could be.

Your situation is not the end.  It is simply a training ground for a greater beginning.

believe_in_yourself     If you knew your true value would you accomplish more?  Would you attempt more? Would you tolerate less?

Today a young child in my after school class told me my face matched my heart because it was beautiful and looked like love.  🙂  Now, how sweet is that?!  This is the 3rd time this week I’ve been complimented in regards to my heart.  Compliments like this are overwhelming and often leave me pondering…It’s kind of like when people call me good.  I don’t feel good.  I don’t always feel positive and perky and encouraging, yet this is who people tell me I am.

I had someone challenge that recently by asking if I was really the positive, perky person with the cheerful heart or if I was just hiding. WHAT?!  What could I possibly be hiding from by being nice?  Then my friend asked the three questions asked above.   Uncomfortable questions, because I knew what this person was driving at, and I did not want to go there.   She was polite, but she was far from finished with this conversation.  After giving me a day or two to wrap my mind around the questions and do a little reflective thinking, she came at me with guns a blazin’, no holds barred, and digging in deep.   It sort of felt like the time I had half a tree branch shoved into my shin and they had to hold me down and cut it out.  It was painful, scary, and very uncomfortable, and I didn’t like it one iota! If I could’ve wiggled out of it, I would have, but I’m not very good at wiggling out of things, so all I could do was take it.

She told me I was too nice, too accomodating, tolerated far too much of other people’s crap, etc.  These are good things, right?  I mean, being nice, kind, forgiving, tolerant, keeping the peace, those are good things.  She went on to tell me I do this because I don’t know my worth and I’m always trying to be the good guy, the nice guy, because I don’t feel valuable enough to stand up for myself.   She made the comment that if someone offends me, hurts my feelings or is just a jerk, I always respond with all this positive, perky, cheerful garbage – text “it’s ok” smiley face, smiley face, winky face, “hahaha”!

Well, she was wrong.  I almost never text, “hahaha”.  I text, “lololol.”  If you are gong to bombard me with constructive criticism, get it right!  Lol!!! 🙂

Being the bigger person, smiling when you want to cry, standing strong in adversity, and not letting them see you sweat, are not bad things, but she did have a very valid point that was worth looking into.  She had asked questions that were worth answering – answering honestly.  Now to be quite honest, I didn’t like the answers.  She was right. Very often when I’ve been hurt, I text the, “It’s ok. 🙂 :)” text.  Maybe it’s because I don’t want them to know they’ve hurt me.  Sometimes it’s because I don’t want to hurt their feelings by being hurt.  I often do feel responsible for making sure others don’t feel bad.  I have often assumed blame when I very surely was not to blame, simply because I knew I was strong enough to handle it and I didn’t want them to feel bad.  STUPID!  Psychology calls it codependent.

A person who knows her worth doesn’t do this.  A person who knows her worth will never allow herself to be anyone’s doormat, no matter how bad that makes the other person feel.  A person who knows her worth doesn’t feel responsible for everyone else’s happiness while rejecting her own.  A person who knows her worth doesn’t make 1,000 excuses as to why she can’t pursue her dreams, doesn’t feel she has to put hers aside so she can make everyone else’s come true.

So where do we lose sight of our value?  Life happens, and not always the way we want it to.  Sometimes it hurts.  Once we’ve experienced a certain level of hurt, we begin to develop defense mechanisms.  I guess one of mine is to never let them know you are hurt and do all you can to prevent others from hurting.  It’s like two sides to the same coin.  On the one side, it’s not really a bad thing and can actually be a good one, but on the flip side…

Do I struggle with knowing my value and worth?  In my head, no.  In my heart, yes, I do sometimes.  I do feel responsible for protecting others from hurt, even when they’ve hurt me.  But I’ve decided to release myself from that responsibility.  There are things that I want- I mean really want, but I’ve been afraid to ask God for them because I don’t feel worthy, as if true happiness is reserved for those who haven’t made the mistakes in life that I’ve made. I’m like the woman in Matthew 15 who was content just to have the crumbs from the table:

she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”  Matthew 15:27
But I believe there is a huge difference between me and this woman.  If you read verses 21-28, you see a mother who is desperate for the healing of her daughter, but also a woman who knows her worth.  Jesus was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  She was not of Israel, and Jesus told her so.  She replies with the statement in verse 27.
She wasn’t just settling for crumbs because she was unworthy.  She knew her worth and more importantly, she knew His.   Jesus’ response to her was:  Let it be as you desire.
28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
He has given you passions, desires, dreams.   He wants you to be all that He has called you to be. It’s ok to be nice.  It’s certainly ok to be forgiving.  But don’t lose sight of all that you are in the process.  You can stand your ground and stand up for you without being rude and immature.  You have His permission to pursue the dreams He has placed in your heart.  You have His permission to be happy and to dream big.  It is not your job to punish you or your sin.  It’ is not your job place yourself in judgement.  It is not for you to condemn yourself to situations He hasn’t required -some sort of twisted suffering to prove yourself worthy after failing Him.  He has NEVER required this of you.  He wants to say to you, “Let it be to you as you desire.”
I don’t believe it is possible to know your true value apart from Christ.  But if you are His, stop belittling yourself.  He paid a very high price for you, so He considers you to be very valuable.  If you are His, your sin and your failures are not your identifiers.  You are not defined by those things of the past.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17.  Your identity is now in Christ, and He makes you worthy.
So I am letting go of responsibilities He never intended me to carry, and I am choosing to see myself worthy to be all that He has made me to be, to have all that He desires that I have, to be all that I am in Christ.
believe-in-yourself-and-all-that-you-are

Contract with a Broken Woman

Contract

Yes, I entered into a contract with a broken woman! It was a little different than other contracts I’d entered into, but it was very valuable.  Just ran across the contract and thought I’d share. . .

1. I will not accept a man into my life who draws his value from me – or from some need or weakness he believes I have.  He will  a. always try to keep me down and needing him or b. be done with me as soon as he perceives I am stronger than him or no longer need him.

2. I will not base my own value on the acceptance or approval of another.

3.  I will not accept a man in my life who I feel needs me to “help” him find his own value or “fix” him.  How devaluing is that to him!

4.  I will not accept a clingy, insecure, needy man into my life. (We all have insecurities, but that is not the same as insecurities having and controlling you.)

5.  I will not accept a controlling, abusive man into my life.

6.  I will not accept a man in my life who perceives himself to be better than or above me in any way.

7.  I will not accept a man into my life who expects to be a priority in my life while only being willing to make me a passing thought.

8.  I will never ever assume I actually NEED a man in my life.

9.  The man I join myself to will be

a.  a man of God

b.  a man who understands brokenness and what it is to be broken, without settling there.

c.  uses his brokenness as a catalyst to strengthen and encourage others

d.  sees beyond failure to possibility

e.  is willing to grow together (and individually) in Christ

f.   a man who prays with and for me

g.  a man who doesn’t quit

h.  a man who forgives, hopes, dreams, believes

i.  a man who is not afraid to communicate (even about the hard stuff)

j.  a man who loves God, who feels the pain and conviction of sin, a man after God’s own heart.

Yep.  A tall order only Christ can fill.

 

Thank God For Epidurals

“It is time to start the procedure, please come out.”  The nurse was standing on the other side of the bathroom door as she begged me to please come out of the bathroom so they could induce labor.

I had been through labor 3x before and I will tell you, I was TERRIFIED!  My longest labor from first contraction to holding baby was 5 1/2 hours.  My shortest, and most recent was 1 hour and 15 minutes, pushing for only 4.  Yeah yeah! There are women who have endured hours and hours of labor who are sitting there thinking, “Lucky you!”  HA!  When you go through labor that fast, you have no choice but to go natural.  And it is HARD pain from start to finish.  Thus the reason I have locked myself in the bathroom.

I remembered, all too well, the pain of childbirth and I was beyond scared.  I’d heard all the horror stories of how being induced was so much more painful.  I can’t explain it, but fear had gripped me like never before.  I sat on the floor in the bathroom saying over and over, “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”  I found out later that the nurse was standing on the other side of the door praying the exact same thing!

Finally, and somewhat reluctantly, I came out and we got things started.  The nurse continued to hold my hand and pray for me.  And I was still scared, but I knew God would be with me, no matter how painful it got and no matter the outcome.

At one point during the delivery, I looked up and all the color had gone out of my mom’s face.  I knew something was wrong.  The doctor, with a rather stern voice (she had been with me in the previous delivery when I pushed for 4 minutes) told me she NEEDED me to stop pushing and relax.  I remembered the last time I was in delivery and she said, “I’ve got the head, now relax just a minute and let’s check everything out real quick.”  I screamed, “NO!!” and I just kept pushing.  No way could I stop.  This time, I just laid back and started telling jokes! I was later told that his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck 2x, so pushing would have been detrimental.  I recall thinking, “Thank God for epidurals.”

I find myself in a similar place in life right now.  I’ve been in similar positions before.  I know all to well the pain that comes with life.  I’ve experienced.  It seems to make sense to scream and fight against it or to plant your feet in fear.  I can’t do either.  I know this response comes from somewhere other than myself, as I very calmly lean back against my Father’s chest and relax while He works out the details.  There is nothing I can do.  It is out of my control.  To scream, yell, fight, resist, and do it my way would only cause damage and negative results.

I really do not know how God will work all these things out.  I don’t have a clue what the outcome will be, but I do know that as I rest in Him, He will make certain all things work together for my good.  Yes, He is that trustworthy.

Thank God for “Epidurals”!!

Walking on Water

water walk

Oh what I would do to have the kind of faith it takes to stand before a giant, with just a sling and a stone, to step out of my comfort zone into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is, and He’s holding out His hand.  But the waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me, reminding of all the times I’ve tried before and failed….Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns just might be one of my favorite songs, one I keep going back to.

I once had a friend who told me I reminded her of Peter in the Bible because I had this, “Jesus said, ‘Come.’  I don’t know if I’m gonna walk on water or if I’m going swimming, but He said, Come,’ so I’m going!”  kind of faith. That is one VERY overwhelming compliment!  I love Peter.  I love his eagerness to just go!  Just believe God.  Just stand up for Him.  Peter was a man of great passion, an all in kinda person with an all in kinda faith. I love that.

I often wished, hoped, prayed, I could have that kind of faith.  That someone would actually see that kind of faith in me was extremely humbling.  Too many times I feel the best way I can relate to Peter is in my fear and denial.  I so desperately want to walk on water,  and I have had those, “walking on water with Jesus” moments in my life, but  all to quickly, I feel the weight of the wind and see the waves rising up around me and suddenly I find I am reacting in fear.  I’ve totally forgotten that He called me to step out of the boat and I sink.  I wasn’t sinking because I was somewhere I shouldn’t be.  I was right there where He called me to be, but I surrendered to the circumstances.

Then there are other times when I couldn’t even manage to get to the edge of the boat, let alone put my leg over.  Perhaps  stuck on a memory of that sinking feeling, the humiliation of failure, the fear of circumstances.  Takes a lot to be able to put yourself in a situation similar to the one that brought you under.   And  what if it isn’t really Jesus calling out to me.  What if I step over board and find that I’ve “missed the boat”?  What if I’m wrong…What if I fail…What if I get hurt…What if…What if…What if… We don’t see Peter battling the what-ifs.  After Jesus’ resurrection, we find Peter jumping overboard again and heading to shore.

No, all too often, I feel as if I just lack courage…If you are comparing me to Peter, perhaps it’s better to look at his famous failure – denying Christ.  You know, Peter never stopped loving Jesus.  He never stopped longing for him.  He was genuine and sincere in His love for Christ, and still, he denied Him, too afraid to live for Him in the trying moment when the pressure was on.  This is what I felt my friend should see in me. Why did she see more? And why am I so afraid to see more? Why do I choose instead to focus on the mistakes and allow them to keep me from God’s blessings?

In Beth Moore’s study, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, she says, “If you surrender all you’ve been through to His purposes, you don’t have to apologize if He uses your disaster for your good.  You don’t even have to apologize if He dares to use you shamelessly after what you’ve done. ..humility before God and others does not mean apologizing for God’s embarrassing show of affection over you.  Self punishment and false humility can often create a greater bondage.

No doubt God used Peter shamelessly after He had denied Christ.  He took Peter’s passion and boldness and baptized them in the Holy Spirit, and Peter became a pillar in the church, using the things he had been through to build and strengthen others. No doubt, He lavished Peter with tender love and affection on the beach after His resurrection. Three times He asked, “Do you love me?” and then said, “Feed my sheep.”  In essence He was saying, “I still trust you.  I still believe in you.   I called you, knowing all of your faults, all the times you would fail.  I still see you as a rock.  I still trust you with that calling.  I love you, Peter”   He did not say, “Do you love me? Then WHY did you deny me?”  No, He blessed him.  He nourished him.  He restored him.

Each time you feel (or KNOW) you have failed Him, He will remind you of His unfailing love for you.  Each time He will restore you if you submit to Him.  Each time He will nourish you with His love, His Word, His Truth, if you will just repent and receive.

I think the reason God allows others to see these godly characteristics in us in spite of our failures is to remind us of what He sees in us.  He doesn’t want us stuck in the quicksand of our failure.  Just imagine what the early church would’ve looked like if Peter had decided he was of no use to God because He had failed and denied Christ.  Who would’ve addressed the crowd on the Day of Pentecost.  There wasn’t another disciple with his boldness.  And there is not another child of God with the unique characteristics you have.  Yes, you may have failed.  You may  have made a mistake. Give it to God.  Put it in His hand and trust that He STILL sees great value in you.  Do not allow your failure to keep you from all the best God has for you.  You never know who else may be blessed by you steeping into His blessing.

water dance