Unoffended

A few months ago I attended a special event coordinated by the singles ministry at our church. This singles event has prompted a journey in my life I could not have dreamed possible: the journey to discover what it means to live unoffended.

The Monday after Thanksgiving, a man known in charismatic circles as one of powerful healing came and share his story of how God redeemed him from a destructive pit and delivered him into a life of love. Todd White doesn’t believe that God won’t heal someone he prays for… Does that mean everyone gets healed? 

I don’t know. But, I’ve seen and experienced the powerful way this man administers the gifts God has entrusted him to express and offer. He ministers the Gospel of Jesus and walks in signs and wonders. Believe it or not – he reads his Bible and refuses to believe that what he reads about God is not relevant and valid today. He goes to malls and walks the streets of cities around the world offering God’s healing power to anyone who will receive it. He does not give up until he sees God move.

And if that were all, would that be enough? Todd was so radically healed and set free when he met Jesus that he walks the earth, advancing the Kingdom and giving away what he so freely received at salvation.

Todd’s testimony is amazing from FUGITIVE to GOSPEL FREEDOM FIGHTER. A prodigal, if there ever was one, now walking in victory as a son of the Most High God. I will refrain from indulging my desire to tell his entire story because it really is not the point of this article.

You know, I have come to realize in my life that you can argue points of theology, doctrine and the interpretations of learned scholars (men), but the one thing you cannot argue with is the good fruit that comes from one person’s testimony about God’s love, goodness and grace. Based on what I’ve seen of Todd White I cannot argue with the testimony of his faith.

That night as one of my favorite worship leaders stood on the stage and poured out her heart like oil before the Lord, my heart opened to receive. As Todd took the platform I realized how much God must delight in this man who donned a Hawaiian shirt, Fivefinger shoes, and lots…

Did I say LOTS?

Yes, Lots. and Lots. Of dread locks. He’s a simple man who walks in the simplicity of his utter faith in God and walks also in great authority and power. Not puffed up with pride, but doused and immersed in love and humility.

Where was I? Oh yeah... He took the stage, and this man who looks like he has lived some rough, rough life steps up and starts to speak.

“Whoa! That was worship. Do you feel that? I mean…” He begins to weep. “You shouldn’t sing that stuff if you don’t mean it. Don’t sing it if you don’t believe what those words say… You shouldn’t sing it, man. It’s sick if you do.”

I found myself nodding in agreement and crying along with him. So true.

If I tell you Todd White got all up in my business with his next point, I would not be lying at all. HE. GOT. ALL. UP. IN. MY. BUSINESS. Y’ALL. 

He said, “I am unoffendable. I cannot be offended. I walk in love. I live by love and I choose not to be offended. Forget about boundaries, forget about protecting people – if you walk in love – you cannot be offended and you won’t hurt people.”

Uh-huh. If you are shaking your head, you are beginning to get how I and a number of my friends in that audience felt that night. It’s one of those moments when your heart says, “YES!” And your head says, “NO WAY!”

A tiny bud springing to life is the heart of one newly saved and abiding in Christ,  the Liberating King. Do you know Him?

A tiny bud springing to life is the heart of one newly saved and abiding in Christ,
the Liberating King.
Do you know Him?

I remember thinking: I didn’t know that was even possible! 

Yet, as Todd shared his story I could not get past that one thing. I began to ask God, “What does it look like to live unoffended? ”

As the few weeks that followed led to Christmas I wrestled with God much like Jacob did at Peniel. I came under conviction for all the judgments and offenses I continued to carry. All the times I have uttered the words, “Well, I don’t know about that, but you know she…”

Yeah, that’s me, guilty. I’ve done it over and over. Yes, I eventually move to forgiveness. Forgiveness, and not just in the sense I say what they did doesn’t matter or that it is okay, but forgiveness as in I sit before God and acknowledge what the specific person did that offended me. I acknowledge how that made me feel, and I confess any judgments I’ve made against them as a result. I also acknowledge that in and of myself I have absolutely no power to forgive. At the end of all of that, I choose by an act of my will to give every bit of it to Jesus, who earned the right to take that offense and all of its effects along with my judgments off of me and put them on the cross. Then I ask Jesus to give me something in exchange.

Now, it would be nice to sit here and confess right after that moment when I receive from Jesus life-giving power to overcome offense that the issue never arises again. But, that would not be true. I remember one particularly difficult year when I was nursing a broken heart and a particularly grievous offense that threatened a vital relationship in my life. I chose by an act of my will to engage God’s heart of forgiveness early in the journey through that valley of betrayal. But, before I even got to that forgiveness prayer, I sat in my car the night I learned of the offense and prayed, “God I cannot forgive ____________ right now, but You can. I don’t even know what is going on yet. But, You do. So, God I ask You to forgive _____________ and then work that out in me. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

I believe had I not set my heart on forgiving this loved one that very night this story would have come to a very different conclusion.

But, after that day a few weeks later when I engaged my will to embrace God’s grace and mercy, the wound remained like a surgical incision working through the process of healing. Stitched as it was, if you got to close and bumped up against it – it bled, it ached, it throbbed and it even tortured my heart. I would run into the one place I could be alone – the “toilet closet” and sit there on the closed lid of our commode rocking and praying, confessing Scripture until the moment passed. I would say, “Remember… God. Remember, I forgave ___________. We did this. Help me, God. Help me to heal.”

That season changed my life. But, not like this new season is changing my life. 

Right after Christmas an offense rose up between someone else close to me. And God used that as an opportunity to bring Todd’s words from a month earlier home to me. What does it mean to live unoffended? 

After several days, I remembered something that had helped me through the earlier episode where forgiveness became so relevant and healing to me. A pastor I respect and admire sat in a board room and shared about grace.

He said, “God’s grace is what it is. You can’t out-sin it. You can’t undo it. You can’t earn it. You can’t take advantage of it. It is what it is. Once you receive it you cannot lose it.” 

Powerful. Right? I sat there as revelation poured over me like a soothing wash of anointing oil. I knew he wasn’t saying that grace is a license to sin – but, that it covers sin and forgives it. As he spoke I began to feel this awareness come over me so I raised my hand.

He smiled and nodded for me to speak.

“So, what I hear you saying is that if I try to forgive someone out of my grace, they can take advantage of that, they can hurt me with that – because my grace is not unconditional, it is not free. But, if I forgive someone out of God’s grace at work in me, then they can’t take advantage of me or hurt me with it because it was never mine to give in the first place. It is up to God to take care of that – and He is a God of grace.”

The pastor smiled. He picked up his pen and said, “Would you say that again?”

I did.

He then responded. “So, what I hear you saying is that you are not going to be codependent on someone else’s response any longer. You’re not going to live codependent anymore.”

I just nodded and smiled. “That’s right.”

I needed to immediately let go of the thing that hurt me in what my loved one had done. So, I chose not to let it offend me.

Wait. What was that? You read that right. I chose not to let it offend me. 

You are probably asking what I asked that night when Todd White first illuminated this topic for me. “Can you choose not to be offended?”

And, my testimony, is yes. Yes, you can.

In the days that followed God showed me that His heart is that we remain unoffended so we need not forgive. You see, I cannot control what other people say and do to me or around me, but I can control how I respond to it.

Bitterness, prolonged unforgiveness, is like a weed in a lush green lawn. If you let it go unchecked, soon it will take over the entire yard and destroy the beauty that is planted there and instead replace it with dry and drab unsightly scrags that creep along the ground choking the life out of everything around it. Oh… I know I may be stepping on some toes, but it is just where I am in all of this.

If I allow offenses to take root in my heart, at some point I have to go and dig them out. If I don’t they become a root of bitterness that covers up all the beauty God intended for me to receive in this life and contaminates the lives of all those around me. Can I just say weeding the garden is a LOT of work?

So what if we tended the garden by choice, and refused to allow those weedy seeds of offense to enter in the first place?

What I have learned is this… I can walk unoffended, unaffected, by the choices and offenses of others. I must guard my heart and take responsibility for what I allow to take root in it. I am only responsible for what I allow the actions and words of others to do to my heart. I cannot change them, but I can change me – and if I remain unoffended I can pray for them and what it is that is hurting them to be revealed and healed. AMEN?

Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. ~Proverbs 4:23 (The VOICE)

In Full Bloom,

Michelle sig

 

 

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Just before Easter I ran across the following video that moved me beyond what words can adequately expressed. It is powerful! Life like that.

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Speakin’ a Good Word

Holly
Have you ever had someone speak a good word over you? I have, and it changed me. At least it led to changing me. I have pictured it to the left.


When I was 20 years old, I married my Chris. I was a junior in college and transferred from University of Texas in Austin to Texas A&M. I found that at UT, Campus Crusade for Christ was a life-source to me and led me to know Jesus in a way I never had before known. He became my Friend there. I learned to pray there, too. It literally changed the way I approached God. So when I got to A&M, I began going to Crusade and joined a Bible Study there.



One friend in the study, Christa, did this calligraphy for me. Here’s what she wrote: “Holly …your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. I Peter 3:4”

I read that and the first thought in my head was, “OH, she does not know me well at all!”

In the Amplified Bible, it says that this gentle and peaceful spirit is not anxious or wrought up. Well, I was, very much so. I freaked out every time I had a test. I worried about money. I worried about everything really. I was content in two things–that Chris loved me and mostly that God did. That was really all I knew. There was nothing gentle about me, but perhaps I “posed” well.  I know I did.

 

So when I read this good word, and I thought I wish I was like this, I prayed to be. The good news is that today, posing aside, I have become much MORE gentle and quiet in my spirit. Isn’t that amazing? All Christa did was speak the Word over me, and it changed me.

 

Today, I will speak two over you–it is a life-changing, two-part Word. No matter who you are or where you find yourself this day, these words are true for you :

 

Leviticus 20:26 “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.”

 

Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

 

Speakin a Good WordHere’s what I want you to know today–You are His treasured possession, set-apart, holy, and chosen.

 

Do you feel like that today? ‘Cause if not, like me, you need to ask Him to make you MORE and MORE like that Word.

 

Now will you speak a good Word over those you love today? How about those who drive you crazy? How about over people who don’t ever BLESS you?

 

Maybe it will be to them a cup of cool water and bless and change them. Speak it in Truth and Speak it in LOVE.
Holly sig2

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Engaging Culture with Discernment

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.                                                    -Romans 12:1-2

Well, it seems that the pot has been stirred yet again.  The opening of The Hunger Games movie this weekend has Christians visiting again the issue of how to deal with culture.  So what’s a Christian to do?  How should we think about and engage culture? How do we know when to flee, and how do we keep from being simply reactionary?  How can we learn to be critical and discerning regarding culture?  How do we train our children to be leaders in critical and discerning thought regarding culture?  I have a few ideas.

1. Flee the obvious in light of Scripture.  What do I mean by obvious?  Books, movies, video games, and music that by the genre they have been put in obviously are set apart by Scripture to be avoided because by their nature they are meant to lead one into sin.  Examples would be porn, erotica, or any other genre of sexual deviance. Other areas not sexual in nature should be considered as well.  Be sure definitions of what is sin are Biblical definitions.

2. Filter out those things that you (or a family member) are susceptible to.  If your child cannot read a fantasy novel or play a certain video game without having a major disassociation with reality, then remove those things from his use until you deem him more mature and discerning. Also be careful to not make a blanket generalization that just because you are avoiding something, everyone else should as well.  We want to be careful not to fall into legalism as we seek to make wise choices for our families.

3. Test the rest. Test it how?  By engaging it – reading it, watching it.  Watch it with your mind.  Pay attention to the message being sent because there is always a message. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but usually it’s mixed.  Be willing to pull apart the subject matter and find what might have been dropped in there just because we are all made in the image of God.  Look for themes of redemption – everyone wants to be saved, fixed, or found. What is the message the author or movie maker ultimately wants to leave us with?  How does it stand up with Scripture?  If it’s not a Biblical worldview, then what worldview is it?  Postmodernism?  New Age?  Secular humanism? (Ah, yes, we have to know what those are, don’t we.)  Take every thought captive -2 Corinthians 10:5.

4. Do engage in material “from the other side” knowing your own limitations and sinful inclinations.  If you have a friend who needs to check her horoscope everyday, you may want to become a bit more versed in the “language of the Babylonians” in order to show her from Scripture how what she is doing is leading her away from God.  Usually, in order to have these conversations, you need to know something about the subject so that you can have the credibility that comes with knowing what it is you are saying to stay away from. We do our non-Christian friends well to be able to intelligently discuss their views with them. More than a few have come to know Christ through those avenues, C.S. Lewis being an excellent example of this.  Do this with much prayer and  accountability.  Let someone you trust know that you are reading a book to learn more about what your friend believes and have that person pray for you as you research and engage in conversations with unbelievers.

5. Represent the subject accurately.  We are all clouded by our own biases and judgments, so, as people of the truth we must make every effort to represent whatever we are critiquing as accurately as possible.  Don’t you hate it hear a critique of what Christianity is supposedly about, only to learn that the critic is entirely misinformed, or worse is intentionally misrepresenting Christianity?  I just read a review of The Hunger Games by a well-respected Christian.  It was not a favorable review – which is fine.  (Remember – a review is someone’s opinion, nothing more.) What bothered me about his review was the fact that his relaying of the story had some major inaccuracies, especially regarding the thoughts and feelings of the characters, which were very much revealed in the storytelling of The Hunger Games itself.  I highly respect this man, so I was left disappointed.

6. Teach your children to do all of the above at appropriate times in their maturity and development.  It is so fun to have discussion with my children regarding culture – what they like, what drives them crazy, and how they see others trying to make life work apart from Christ. They have not always been able to do this.  They had to learn, and are still learning…as am I.  But it has been so encouraging to learn together, to sharpen one another, and to challenge one another to think more Biblically and not reactionary (I’m a mom…yes…it still happens.)  All of this came bit by bit as we engaged age-appropriate content over the years with them.

I also suggest checking out the ClearPlay DVD player.  It has been a wonderful tool for our family allowing us to watch more movies and shows together while filtering out the elements (e.g., gratuitous language) without detracting from the storyline.

I offer these suggestions because it is my desire to see Christians intelligently engaging culture with a Biblical worldview. We belong to Christ Jesus and we have been fully equipped to engage our culture with discernment.  Put on that armor and go forth in the Spirit of wisdom, courage and truth.

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Truth and Love

I have always had many friends who come from a wide variety of denominational backgrounds. We may disagree on some small points, but on the major statements and tenants of our faith we are in agreement and that is enough for me.

However, in the past few years, I have found a disturbing trend among some of the new acquaintances I have made. I find people whose theology seems to be shaped more by men and women they listen to on Christian television or the internet, rather than their own thoughtful reading of Scripture or the teachings of their church. They don’t seem to have a firm grasp of basic doctrine, but have passed through some kind of theological buffet of beliefs drawn by what appeals to them. They seem to have no idea how to evaluate if what they are being taught is in fact sound. They don’t know if the Scripture has been taken out of context or if the emPHAsis is on the wrong sylLABLE leading to distortion.

 Just as disturbing, and maybe in reaction to those who are undiscerning, are the people I have met who approach others with an air of suspicion. They seem to be on heretic patrol and are on high alert until they figure out if you are doctrinally acceptable. For example: In a casual conversation I described our excellent Vacation Bible School curriculum with a woman who was a fairly new acquaintance. It was a very creative and biblically sound program. The children learned so much about what Jesus’ life would have been like as a child. His humanity and His deity were emphasized; the good news of the gospel was clearly explained. I found myself backed against a verbal wall and being frisked from top to bottom. It was a very unpleasant experience as was her final judgment that the curriculum, “went beyond what is written in the Bible.”

So what is my point and what solutions can be offered?

 Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Jude wanted to write about their shared salvation, but he was sensing the necessity to appeal to his brothers and sisters to earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to them. How do we guard against both extremes that I have described?

For those who don’t know how to evaluate teachings that they hear I would suggest the obvious. Read through the word of God and get the big picture. For those of you who are in the throes of motherhood, work long hours, or have never had any success reading through the Bible, you may consider reading the primary foundational books of the Old Testament. Reading these eleven books will give you the basic story and timeline. They are:

Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1st Samuel, 2nd Samuel, 1st Kings, 2nd Kings, Ezra, and Nehemiah.

There are many helpful New Testament reading plans. I even found a plan titled the Bible Reading Plan for  Shirkers and Slackers. I love the good humored title and it looks like a great plan.  http://www.ransomfellowship.org/publications/notes_biblereadingprogram.pdf.

I am currently reading through the New Testament in 100 days. In truth, because life happens, it will probably take me 125 days. If you fall behind don’t get discouraged and quit. Don’t allow condemnation to overtake you. Make it a priority and ask the Lord to help you.

Learn the basics of sound Bible study skills. I am forever indebted to Kay Arthur for teaching me how to study the Bible inductively through developing skills of observation, interpretation, and application. On YouTube you can listen to John MacArthur in a two part series on how to study the Bible. Remember the goal is to know and love the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

The apostle Paul gave us a warning that knowledge in and of itself can lead to arrogance, but love will seek to edify, and to build up, 1 Corinthians 8:1. If correction is necessary and sometimes it is, then let us walk in love, speak the truth in love, and not act like lawyers for the prosecution. We are to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind and our neighbor as ourselves. Let’s keep our heart and mind engaged in learning and sharing His precepts. We can and should earnestly contend for the faith, and we can do it without becoming contentious or mean spirited.

 Lord, teach us good discernment and knowledge, for we believe in Your commandments. Psalm 119:66

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Steeped

Early in our marriage, my Chris took me to a very nice restaurant called Oxford Street. I was not yet the coffee drinker that I am today. Hot tea was my drink of choice.

We arrived at our table and I asked my Chris to order some hot tea for me, while I stopped into the restroom. I came back and saw my tea had arrived, steaming and hot, just the way I like it. The dark, brown cup reminded me of some bowls in which my grandmother had used to serve French onion soup.





The restaurant was dark and reminded me of an English pub with old books and antiques on display around the walls. Did you know I love old books? I sipped my tea and thought of how I’d love to visit England one day.


Chris asked, “How’s your tea?”


“Fine,” I answered. Really I don’t know that I had tasted it much. I took another sip.


“So your tea is just right?” he asked again.


This time I knew. He had set something up, the scamp. I looked curiously at him and asked in an uncertain tone, “Whhhyyy?”


He chuckled and held up the unopened tea bag–all self-satisfied.


So I was drinking hot water. It tasted like tea. In the dark cup, it looked like tea. But it was NOT TEA! It was hot water. And I was a fool.


It still makes my Chris laugh to think about the scene.


So today I just have a short and sweet point to make, besides the fact that I am not as observant, as I would like to say I am.


What truth are you buying today that is not truth? What lie have you bought into that has cast a shadow of fear over your life? What water are you drinking and believing that it is somehow going to turn your life around, when really, it’s not the “Living Water” that Christ gives to you, only hot water in a dark cup?


For I will tell you that we can be easily deceived. We become steeped in something called “truth” that is not Truth at all.


Another quick thought? We can become saturated with or subject thoroughly to some strong or pervading influence (from Merriam-Webster) and we begin to taste like the stuff in which we are soaking—bitterness, bile, anger, greed, and the like.


If we were handed a hot cup of what we are steeping in, would we drink it?


Just thoughts on a regular day, where my tea is steeped in hot water for 3 minutes and sweetened a bit with honey. Would you like some? I promise not to trick you.


Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Matthew 6:33 The Message

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Again

Here I am again, Lord.

Seeking Your Face

Longing for Your Touch

Holding out for Your Voice

Heeding Your commands

Feeling completely undone

But I know that when I come,

You bend low to listen

You shine Your light on my pathway

You give me rest

You take the weight of my worries

You exchange my sorrows for Your peace and love and joy

So why is it that I find myself

Fretting?

Anxious?

Afraid?

Alone?

Weary?

Worn?

Perhaps I am not acting as if I believed You are Almighty God.

Perhaps I wish and hope that You are just that.

But secretly I plan for my own way, my own security just in case…

You are less than able.

You are playing a twisted game with my life.

You are not FOR me.

I did not live up to our promise, so You changed Your mind about me.

So I wait. And realign. And remind myself once again of Your Words to me. They are my LIFE. They are TRUE.

Then I bow my head in sorrow. I turn my eyes up in longing. And I say this one word–Again.

Do it again, LORD.

Show Yourself Faithful.

Again remake my icy-cold heart, warm it with Your breath.

Again.

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Buying Up the Season

No matter who you are or what defines you or whatever is your estate, you are in a season. You have come from a season and you are going to a season. Be it the President of the United States to the needy, hungry and homeless one on the street, there is no differential–each person is in a season. I would call that common ground. Wouldn’t you?

It’s in the common ground things of life that God’s Word speaks and is illumined. He inspired it to be so.  His Word touches whomever will listen to it and simply be willing to be impacted by the light of Christ.  I’ve heard some say that His Word means nothing to them and He means nothing to them.  Even this one, this lost sheep, is in a season.

Seasons define us, mark us, change us, fill us, empty us. Seasons are the circumstances of the day–the weather and events and characters that set the current stage of our lives. Some seasons are like a day at the beach–warm, salty wind blowing in our face, sounds of waves crashing and children playing, a plethora of joy, contentment and happiness. Some seasons are like a lonely walk in the desert–hot sand on our blistered feet, sounds of the wind and nothing else, an empty and lonely place that chills our hearts at night.

It is with these thoughts and this spirit that I came upon this verse two days before we filed for bankruptcy in March 2009. It had been a hard season, ending in a tragic failure for us.  This verse spoke to my heart, for it was as if I were the one needing to be awoken from a very, bad dream…

Therefore He says, ‘Awake O sleeper and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine (make day dawn) upon you and give you light.  Look carefully then how you walk!  Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people) making the most of the time (buying up opportunity), because the days are evil.”  Ephesians 5:14-16 Amplified

So as I meditate once again on this verse and look back over what for me was the last season of my life and not the present one, I am beginning to pull out the meaning of the phrases from the original language.  I want to see if there are any treasures to be had and of course there are!

Beginning with the first word, Therefore, we know that these are verses that point back to the verses before them. You can read the whole chapter in its entirety here (Ephesians 5 Amplified). Basically the passage is talking about how we walk through our life, what we should choose and what we should not choose.

Then it says it is shameful to even mention what some people in the darkness practice in secret. We, by our own behavior, shine a light on them to expose, reprove and convict them. When deeds are exposed and rendered apparent and shown manifestly by the light, they are known.

So picture this…you are in a dark cave without any glimpse of light to be seen.  Your mind is completely confused.  You cannot move from the spot in which you sit, as you shiver in fear.  Not knowing if you are awake or asleep, you have frightening thoughts and in every way you are confused.  There is nothing you can do about your estate. For you are stuck.  There is not one thing you can do to make a change in your circumstances.  For even crying out for help is too cognizant a thought to form into words in such a muddled mind-set.

Then Jesus comes and shines His light upon you, illuminating your darkness.  Not only that, but He speaks to you!  He bids you to waken and rouse from the place you have gone to lie down and sleep. He says, as he once said to Lazarus, “Rise again!  Stand up, you corpse, you dead one, and see!  Behold and perceive.  It is your choice. Then walk around, live, and follow Me as your Companion.  Let us take the most exact and straight path.  You must tread down underfoot this place from which you are walking. Let me set you free.”

He continues to speak, “Walk not as the conceited one, the unclear fool. No!  Walk thoughtfully, discreetly, wisely with skill. For you must ransom, rescue from loss and buy up this appointed season. It is time! From dawn to dusk, you must live redeeming this time, knowing and being aware of the wicked, degenerate, hurtful age in which you live. I am with you, equipping you to live wisely. Shining My light in your darkness. Now walk and illumine the path for others. Tell them I am the light.”

I remember the night, Jesus did this for me.  It was a dark night, alone in dorm room. My choices had led me down the wrong path.  I was in the darkest day of my life. Though I did not know it, as I bowed face down on the floor and coherent of nothing save my pain and sorrow, Jesus shone His light upon me.  He illumined my path.  He taught me a better way.  He showed me a better way to circumspectly walk about every gentle day.

Does that mean I have not needed His light since?  Oh, now that is far from reality.  Reality is that I need my Companion’s (Jesus’) light every moment of every day. Sometimes, I have not chosen to walk in that light. Did He walk away from me or abandon me?  No.  He waited and shed His light abroad on the path, so that I would know how to find my way back to Him. And the important part? It was and is my choice. Daily.

And dear friend?  It is your choice. Daily.

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Ill-fitting Armor

Recently I had an intriguing conversation with a friend, who was struggling.  She told me that she was afraid she was becoming verbally abusive towards her child. She shared that she had been verbally abused, as a child, too. I asked further into the situation and gleaned that  she was not following the footsteps that had been her experience.  But she was allowing certain words to rule and reign in her heart. For her, it was ill-fitting clothing, not suited for her beautiful heart for her family and her root desire to be a godly mother and wife–for she is seeking God with all of her heart.

How many of us are wearing ill-fitting clothing (like Saul’s armor on David that just didn’t suit for his battle with the giant) –the words of others, which have scarred our souls… the words we say to ourselves… the whispers of a very real and unrelenting enemy? Perhaps we need to practice a new way of being clothed.  When we begin to hear certain words in our hearts and minds, and they begin to rule the way we act, a cycle of defeat is sure to come and reign.  Rather we need to ask ourselves, is this the clothing we should put on?  Do we agree to wearing it?  It is the ultimate in what-not-to-wear.

On a similar note, I have been going to the YMCA again.  We have joined three years in a row, and cancelled three years in a row.  It is like a giant wall our family keeps hitting, but with our God, we can scale a wall!  The guilt for me personally is overwhelming.  I feel guilty paying and not utilizing the service.  I feel guilty that nearly five years after the birth of our last child, I am still carrying around pounds.  I feel guilty for so much!  Then I feel anxious and stressed, wringing my hands over so many things that are not controllable. Oh and then there is the shame.  Ah, the shame.

Satan knows the clothing that I will most readily let him put on me.  He knows what works.  Truthfully?  He’s not very creative either. Same song, second verse.  He begins on a daily basis trying to undermine my good intentions. I know this.  I live it.  I am beginning to recognize it. I am beginning to set my face like flint and battle it back with the disarming Word of God. I am winning!

Let me be clear here, though.  This is not about weight loss or overcoming family strongholds, though those are both beneficial and good.  This is about yielding to the Truth.  This is about the clothing we wear. Ultimately, this is about the core of our belief system from which we operate on a daily basis–be it lies we rehearse, unforgiveness we hold fast to, bitterness that is deeply rooted, complacently that has us bound, cynicism that keeps us angry or a thousand other responses we have from the clothing we wear.

God is training me and you for Truth.  And GOD is FOR us.  He is FOR me.  He is FOR you!  What does He tell us to be clothed in?

Salvation: 2 Chronicles 6:41, Isaiah 61:10 Praise (Garment of Praise): Isaiah 61:3, Righteousness: Job 29:14Psalm 132:9, Power: Luke 24:49, Humility: 1 Peter 5:5, Love, Peace, His Word, Thanks, Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Meekness and Patience: Colossians 3:12-17

In all of this clothing, Christ Himself will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. He ALONE creates kind of couture we ALL need–He is the ULTIMATE designer. The Bible says that once we believe on Christ, it has ALREADY HAPPENED.  The transformation has already taken place.  We must renew our minds with the truth of who we already are (based on the footnote from the ESV p. 2298). We must choose to put on His clothing every day.

Put it on.  Keep it on.  Battle back with His Word. Run this race like it really matters. Because it really DOES matter. It matters what we believe.  It matters what we are clothed in.  It matters–the place from which we operate. Take time today and consider the clothing you wear on a daily basis–name the battles (the lies) and then begin to equip yourself with His Word (the TRUTH). Throw off what hinders and run this race with me. His clothing of perseverance is just what we need. His clothing of kindness is what we should put on others, too. We have it in our ability to do just that (Matthew 25:35-40).

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When Believing God Takes You *Father On…

I found these words from my journal in 2005 today.  In those days, we distinctly heard the Lord lead us to move to Colorado.  Here we are nearly 6 years later.  Sometimes looking back builds your faith and spurs others on–hope it does that for you today.  Be blessed.  Believe God.  His ways are beyond our understanding, but they are right and good. Jesus is worth the journey it takes to discover more of Him.

So here are some thoughts I had during this time Out There. I do not normally share my journal entries…they are personal, but they will take this point home, I know. Why am I writing this? To spur you on and to remind me to remember How Very Great our God is!

(2-22-05)”You Lord, who formed the peaks of the mountains and yet those same mountains melt like wax before You. Be glorified, Jesus, in my life. Be exalted O God in our family. I want to bear fruit that lasts. I want to steal back what was stolen from me. I want to fulfill Your purpose for me. Only by your blood and Your sacrifice, Jesus, may I even enter in this Most Holy of Holy places to ask, but HalleluYah, because of You, my Precious Friend and Savior, I know that not only may I enter in and ask, but I can know that what I have asked is mine. Like a child, Lord, I say mine over the many promises You have made to me. Only teach me how, Lord Jesus, to remain in You, to write Your Word on my heart, to hear, to understand, to see, to know all the good promises that are mine in You. Then Lord, I will proclaim Your Name in the assembly. I will ascribe to You all that I have, all that I am and all glory , honor and praise! I love You, Jesus.”

(2-27-05) “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
“How can I be insistent of You, Father, and not be still and know? It’s as if I want to see the fruit and it is not even showing nor ripened. Help me then to wait on Your timing. Please, as You did in days of old, send travellers to encourage us on this walk. To say we heard You and know that indeed we did is true; yet, so many doubt and think we are either crazy or deluded or looking for an adventure! Well we certainly are on an adventure, a Wild at Heart one at that. But I believe it is one that You set forth in our lives.”

(3-1-05) “Indeed (Jesus), You are more than I understood you to be when I first met You…not only are You my new beginning, but Your Spirit rests in me–amazing! Can this really be?”

(3-4-05) “Within two weeks I may be writing that Chris has a job and that we are headed to Colorado!! I’m so excited, I can hardly keep in the excitement, but Lord I cannot share it with people I hold dear and care about–they are not excited, but anxious each time we bring it up. That’s hard, Lord. My heart is so eager and willing to follow You wherever You lead. I know that there is plunder and glory for Your Kingdom at stake. I know that only You can make them (our hearts) thrill to follow You, even when it means leaving ones so dear to us. My heart may feel near to breaking at times in the future, but I know You hold my heart and you will not allow me to be overtaken–weeping may last for a night, but Joy cometh!! Praise You Lord.”

(3-8-05) “I cannot wait to have the truth of what we believe settled and confirmed! It will still be hard, but not debatable. I surrender it all to You, Lord Jesus. You must have felt this way when your mother and brothers questioned your sanity. You just kept walking, didn’t you? Oh, but then when Your Father turned His face as You prayed in the garden?! How did You endure it? For the joy set before you, You saw my face and the faces of countless others and said we were worth it! Oh bless you Jesus! Thank You for scorning and enduring for my sake, for the sake of my family.”

(3-9-05) “I do feel the pressure from every side that says we’re foolish, looking for an escape, even crazy. It seems so incongruous to them that we’d leave–as if we are owned or something. Oh Father, we are! But You are the One we live for and love and serve. We don’t understand the why or when or even how, but we clearly heard you say, ‘Go.’ ”

(3-10-05) “You are so much bigger than the box I place You in Lord. In fact, You are the box. It’s an extraordinary and abounding box that has no limits, no definition, no boundaries, only eternal qualities that reach around all areas of our human understanding and breaks all the rules. God You are so much more.”

(3-14-05) Oswald Chambers from 3-11 “It is essential to practice the walk of the feet in the light of the vision….we cannot attain to a vision, we must live in the inspiration of it until it accomplishes itself…waiting for the vision that tarries is the test of our loyalty to God.”

(3-15-05) “It may be also Lord that we need an angel to close the lion’s mouth…we stand in the name of Christ Jesus.”

(3-26-05) “I am waiting expectantly. I am trusting fully. By the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, I’m giving the reins fully over to the Lord. He began this journey. We believed it. Now we need to step in time to His voice. I had a meltdown yesterday. It was cleansing and revealed my impatience. Lord continue to work this out in me–to change me….Thus far hath You helped us!”

(3-30-05) “What can be shaken has been. What cannot be shaken remains. Oh my Precious Father, consume the part of me that brings You no glory. Though I have nursed it long, remove it and sift every part that does not honor or praise You!…You are near me and clearly at work–turning me inside-out…showing the hidden parts and motives.”

(4-4-05) “If we knew the time we were moving, I’d not be spending nearly the amount of time I am reading Your Word Lord and other books, too. I’m not hurried at all–there is nothing great to be done. But once we know, the work will increase and be very busy throughout until we are settled. Also I wouldn’t be learning from the many trials that we are now facing. The internal work of the journey is just as (if not more so) important as the external.”

(4-5-05) “What I now know is what I need to know. The work I have for this day is the work You have called me to–nothing more or less. I need not go out looking for my calling or grasping for something that in the end is empty. The life You have called me to is full and I may walk in this fullness and trust You to lead me when more or different work is needed. Trusting You to all nature of my worries and anxieties, I may have joy and peace.”

(4-6-05) “I ask this believingly (to go to Colorado soon). But Father, if there is more at stake than my small understanding can take in, then please delay.”

(4-13-05) “Many are watching the unfolding events and hopefully being encouraged in their faith, maybe even they’re coming before You Lord. Oh let it be so! Please Lord continue to work out this testimony and do what ONLY You can do. There is not one thing right now that we could do to make this happen. .”

In fact, we made it even harder–Chris quit his job early and we took the biggest leap of faith of our lives! We ended up in Colorado on October 12, 2005. That’s a long time, when every day you are waiting–believing what you do not see. Here is my journal entry on the last day at our Wonderful home 10-11-2005:

“What do I say on our final day? Praise the LORD! How can I rightly praise You Father? Bless Your Name! I lay down all glory of this journey–crowns at your feet, Jesus. I thank you for the principle of trust You are teaching me…Take us farther on today Lord. May our mouths be filled with laughter and a song of joy overflow–to Your Praise Jesus. We give You alone the praise.”

 

*[sic] Funny, I meant to write farther on, but Father on fits, so I shall leave it.

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