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Incurable Wounds

I thought I knew God.

In reality, what he did had damaged deep, and what they did had distorted long, and the choices I made had clouded blurry until my perception of God was    utterly.   messed.    up.

I was a Christian, so I was alive. But I was so wounded and traumatized that I was in a spiritual coma. I could not see or hear or serve in the power of the Spirit.

The thing is?… I was just like the other Christians around me. No one else seemed to be any healthier than I was. We all thought we were “normal Christians.”

Deep inside, I knew something was “missing,” but I had no idea what it was. I was trying to follow God. In terms of service, I was exemplary. So why couldn’t I get it together?

I’m not sure how it happened, how I stumbled across the passage that has worked through my life for the past several years. It was God, plain and simple…how He threw me this life line and pulled me in with it.

It’s part of Jeremiah’s story. Jeremiah, the prophet. The exemplary God-follower. The one who was supposed to have “it” all together. The one who ate the words of God.

“Why has my pain been perpetual and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” Jeremiah 15:18

Well that’s a good question because I can relate. I want to know why too. And if Jeremiah could ask it, I could too.

And blessed Redeemer, He answers!

“Therefore, thus says the Lord, “If you return, then I will restore you…” Jeremiah 15:19a

 For months I study this. I want to KNOW this answer. I want to get it and take it and apply it and finally come out of this coma. I want to SEE again. I want to understand how eyesight is restored.

And Blessed Redeemer, He helps. He tells me that if I really want to “return,” here is where: “If you will return, O Israel,” declares the Lord, “Then you should return to Me.” Jer 4:1

Return to Him.

Repent. 

“Cursed is he whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert…” Jer 17:5-6

I didn’t even know I had turned away. But when wanting to get to the root, the bottom line~ forget all the symptoms, lets get to the core~ that is what it all comes down to.We turn away from God as He is and our understanding of Him is distorted and damaged and clouded by life and we don’t even realize it. It is possible to think we know, love, and serve God when in fact we need to “return.”

Okay, so HOW?

“And if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My mouth.” (vs. 19b)

Our understanding of God is a combination of precious and worthless.

And we’ve got to start sorting.

To return to God and find eyes restored, I’ve got to extract the precious truths about Him from the pile of worthless!

Worthless views of God tend to accumulate naturally in our lives.

In Luke 9:18, Jesus is praying to God and experiencing communion with the Father. He is having an intimate time with God when His disciples show up and interrupt Him. Still in deep thought over what He has been discussing with His Father, He turns and asks His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

What we believe about Christ is paramount.

Many various thoughts and ideas are expressed. Even in the church today, there are many. They sound good. They are positive and happy and powerful sounding. But they can still be worthless.

“But who do YOU say that I am?” He asks them.

When Peter responded with a correct view of Christ, Jesus responded enthusiastically, as if His soul rejoiced in a hard battle won. “BLESSED ARE YOU, PETER!”

 “You got it!”

Then He says something very insightful. “People sure didn’t reveal this to you, but God has revealed it to you.” (Matt 16:17)

Where we get our beliefs about God is even more important.

Because that determines whether we are dead wrong or spot on.

The implication Jesus made here smacked me between the eyes. All of life had sent me messages about who God is.

And they were dead wrong.

We cannot rely on life, people, our past, circumstances, and our feelings to tell us who God is. We must let God reveal to us who He is.

That means we let Him take us through our pile of beliefs, assumptions, thoughts, and feelings about Him and let Him show us which ones are “precious” and which ones are “worthless.”

One of the most amazing things God has done in my life is the privilege of adoption.

We picked up our Chinese daughter on Mother’s Day, 2 days before her 1st birthday. I had high hopes and expectations for this precious life God had intersected our lives with. It became evident very quickly, however, that our daughter’s understanding of life, herself, us ~even food~ were all shaped by her experiences with others and events in her past.

I began fighting one of the most difficult battles of my life- parenting a wounded child through the false messages of her past. We still fight a daily battle to overcome the negative and false messages in her heart and mind.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just my daughter who has lived in a fallen world. We all do. We all have understandings and assumptions about God that are tainted and distorted by sin and its effects. If we are going to return to God and know Him as He really is, we must give Him access to our accumulated views and start sifting. Because you know what?

Knowing God cures incurable wounds.


And I’m out to live a life that proves it.

 

 

Forming the Habit of “Know” This Week:

Every Monday for the next several months, I am sharing from my journey and (trying!) to articulate the spiritual habits that God has been weaving into my life.

This month, we are developing the  habit of “know.” We are taking baby steps, walking this path one leg at a time. We are doing some hard work this month, digging trenches, making space for Truth, so that next month and the ones following, He can come fill them with Himself.  This week, let’s “know” where to start sorting. Where do those worthless views come from?

Turn to Psalm 45:10-11.

According to this passage, we have to “forget” impressions about God imparted to us from two sources. What are those two sources?

Our culture (even if it is Christian) and our family cannot be the main sources for our understanding of God. As you consider this passage, answer these questions:

1) Think about your childhood and upbringing. What are the major messages about God that you came away with? (Note: while many of the messages may be ones that were verbalized, the majority of them are the ones that were not. These are the un-conscious and un-spoken assumptions that we make about God based on our environment.)

2) List the 5 most influential people in your life to date. What message about God has each of them given you?

Can you identify any messages/beliefs that you know are contrary to what the Scripture teaches? Prayerfully ask God to expose the worthless for what it is. Be willing to let Him gently pry it from your fingers…

Unspoiled

I drove home from evening church early. The kids had reached their “point” and so I took the little ones and headed home.

I looked for stars, but there weren’t any. It was a night that belonged to darkness. The heavens were muffled with clouds.

I saw something moving in the road ahead and slowed. I approached and saw and my stomach lurched and my heart did too and I felt stunned and sick all at once.

A raccoon, on his back, shaking and trembling and clawing at the empty air, eyes wild…living his last few moments in the throes of death.

Alone in the dark.

On a cold asphalt road.

I know it sounds sappy and a long time ago I closed my heart to being sappy; but since I’ve reopened my heart to life and love and joy and pain, I guess to some I’m considered sappy again and that’s okay…but raccoon dying in such a terrible way hurt.

I felt it inside.

And I didn’t know what to do with it.

I guess I’ve never quite known what to do with pain.

Next morning I read this story of tremendous heartache, and when I pray on knees and tears for this family, I feel it again and wonder, “How do we do this? How do we live in a world of such heartache?”

Do we just pad our lives so that we don’t have to face pain? Do we seek as much comfort as possible so we don’t have to be acquainted with the real, terrible suffering of others? The poor? The oppressed? The lonely? The taken- advantage-of-ed? The ones without recourse in this world?

Or do we focus on pain, isolate it, encase it like a shrine, make it an idol? Do we think that by worshiping it in this way we can keep it at bay, as if it will do our bidding?

What if we can hurt healthy?

Pain tells us there is only one road to pursue: Be an Untouchable.

Put yourself out of pain’s reach.

The pain of rejection…”Be untouched by pleasing people.”

The pain of failure…”Be untouched by not risking.”

The pain of insignificance…”Be untouched by putting on pretenses.”

The pain of desperation…”Be untouched by not putting yourself in that position, whatever the cost.”

The pain of being robbed of dignity, voice, “rights” …”Be untouched by becoming strong. Self-reliant. In control. Independent. Become a person of means.”

The Words come then…”Not untouched, but unspoiled” … and I know that is what Jesus can do.

The simple truth? All of us are guaranteed some pain in this life and I’m tired of being afraid of it, letting that fear curl me up and close me off and I’m ready to know how to hurt healthy.

History, both world and personal, show that we will each be touched by pain and heartache. We can be knocked down by it, dragged to the stake by it, offered up as a living sacrifice on it.

But we can still be unspoiled.

Which do we really want? Untouched or unspoiled?

My friends, I know what my new choice means. I know that pain will come and shake me to the roots and do everything it can to spoil me.

But when choosing between untouched or unspoiled?… well I’m changing from the first choice to the second.

‘Cause Untouched is Impossible.

Untouched is really a deceitful lie, a temptation to curl off and close up and not engage and spend yourself and all you have trying to live a life that doesn’t really exist anyway.

Choice #2? Well it is possible. It can happen. It can be reality even when pain touches, scalds, sears, enters, and scars.

Still, unspoiled.

It’s how the early followers all died…

John exiled on Patmos

Stephen stoned to death

Matthew stabbed to death

Mark pulled in two at the legs by horses

Luke cruelly hanged

Peter, Philip, and Simon crucified on a cross

Bartholomew skinned alive

Thomas pulled apart by 5 horses

James beheaded

Little James cut in half by a saw

James the brother of the Lord stoned to death

Judas tied to a pillar and shot with arrows

Matthias’ head cut off

Paul martyred under Nero

Not one was Untouched. But all died Unspoiled.

It is Deceiver who says, “Oh, see? You must try to live a life untouched! You must fear. You must do all you can to be Untouched. Maybe you can escape it.”

And he is happy to give us his plans of escape, too.

Life and Truth says, “It’s a lie. There is no such thing as Untouched. Open your eyes and you will see. But there is something better than Untouched… It is yours if you want it.”

And I do.

I do.

Youngest one falls and bumps his head and feels pain. I give him the only thing I can and in that moment I get it. I get why deceiver wants to lure us with “Untouchable.”

Pain’s companion is Presence.

It’s what I gave youngest when he felt pain. It’s what we all look for, what we all really need. It’s what makes pain endurable.

It even makes pain worth it. “That I may know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings…”

Presence.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. When you walk through the waters, I will be with you…” See Is. 43:1-3

Instead of fearing pain, I will seek Presence… For I must walk through the valley of shadows, but I will fear no evil.

I will not be Untouched, but I will be Unspoiled.

For He is with me.

Injecting Mud

It didn’t  start out that way. It never does.

At first, she just didn’t feel good- ever.

When she talked to family and friends about it, they brushed her off and told her she was fine. Eventually they told her she was paranoid- a freak- “so stop talking about it already.”

She went to the doctor. In his stoic, professional manner, he let her know she was healthy…at least her body was. Her mind?…

The shame and condemnation she began to feel from others for a problem she couldn’t identify began to stoop her shoulders. The messages were sublte: “You’re crazy.”

“Worthless. Nobody believes you. Nobody cares.”

“You’re about as valuable as mud.”

Mud.

Mud. Mud. Mud.

The word became a chain, slipped silently around her soul, and squeezed the color of life from her being.

Slowly. Ever so deadly.

She got a wild idea that maybe she should get some mud.

She did.

Maybe she should put it in a vial.

She did.

Maybe she should carry it in her purse.

She did.

Maybe she should inject it, just a little.

She did.

She began injecting mud.

Anytime she felt worthless, she would inject a little bit, reaffirming her value. “You’re dirt. Maybe you’ll kill yourself and do everyone a favor.”

Her body began to respond to the poisons she was pumping into her system. She lost feeling, suffered from nerve damage. Her already deteriorating health worsened- she couldn’t climb stairs and limped when she walked.

When I read her story in the comment section on a ministry site, my heart almost stopped. How I longed to rescue her from the lies- the poison- that ensnared her!

She was asking for help. Was it too late for her? After all she had done to her body, would God still give her a chance? Could God forgive her?

Even now, nearly a year later, I cry. I’ve asked the same thing. I’ve believed deadly lies- injected poison- and I’ve done terrible things to myself and others and I’m the outcast who is worthy of shame, contempt, rejection. Mud.

And the last lie of them all is the deadliest, intended to be the final blow to the soul: “Even God doesn’t want you.”

But God…

But God…But God…But God!

But God, when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, made us alive together with Christ- for by grace we have been saved.

Maybe you’ve never injected mud. Maybe your spiritual veins are squeaky clean and you shudder and run from the thought of such darkness. Good for you.

But maybe someone reading this relates. Maybe someone isn’t so clean and wonders if God can forgive you?

My friend, He has.

Those aren’t Sunday School words, they are words spoken by the Someone Himself who left the glory of heaven to dwell in dirt. He came down not just to speak those words but to prove He meant them.

He said it. Woman your sins are forgiven you.”

He lived it. “..Forgiving one another even as God, in Christ Jesus has forgiven you.”

He gave it. “In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

He died it. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

And then, just to make sure we got it, He proved it. “He was delivered over because of our transgression but was raised because of our justification.”

Start injecting that, my friend.

Start. Injecting. That.

For you are alive from the dead, raised up with Christ. The enemy came and knocked you down and kicked your teeth out and dealt you a blow that sunk you deep and robbed you of life.

But God stepped down from heaven, took on the form of a babe, reached out with Carpenter’s hands, and rubbed the mud from your face, gave the antidote for mud pumped into your veins. “Live!” He uttered. “Live!”

Do you hear His voice? Does your soul stir awake? The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”

You who are so good at injecting poison, start injecting Life.

One Mina

We traveled to Texas and stayed in a room next to the couple on Viagra.

All during the night I feel sick. I feel my insecurities, my inadequacies, I wonder if my husband wished I’d take a pill.

Morning comes and he knows me so well. “I stopped being desirous of sex a long time ago,” he says it soft, and it shocks me because I know him too, but he wasn’t done. “I’m desirous of you.”

Oh how I know it. Oh how rich those words are, how full of life and love.

How he shows me every single day and how I grasp for it and why can’t I just accept it and let it shape me? Why can’t I let go of the past?

Ever since before Christmas, he’s been telling me. He’s a January birthday and he turns 40 this week and he’s been telling me what he wants for his present: 100 Days.

It scares me. I have issues. I think, “I’m not up for this,” but then I pray, “God, I want to be.”

“I want to be for him. For You. For our relationship. For me.”

Is it possible? Can someone like me find healing and grace and “energeo” for 100 Days? I mean, I’ve made a lot of progress, am still making it. But 100 consecutive Days?

If I could only believe…

If I could believe this is for more healing than I can think or imagine… if I could only believe He will take this and do above and beyond all I ask or think…if I could only believe that with God all things ~ even 100 Days ~ are possible.

I think of Ann’s 100 day calendar I’ve downloaded but not printed. { Somehow I don’t think this use for it ever crossed her mind? }

I push the thoughts away for the day, knowing I’m running out of days before THE day, and I say a weak prayer. “Help me, God. Fill in the rest of these thoughts, write the rest of this story. And please, PLEASE, don’t let me miss out because of unbelief.”

Later I go back and print that calendar…because I’m afraid of missing out on something BIG… and I put it with his birthday card. With, but not in. I’m not committed yet. I’m still waiting. Still terrified. Still praying for something.

Can I do this? Can YOU do this?

I go outside and trample more snow. I go to the edges, where there are no footprints…unclaimed territory. I walk back and forth, making long furrows in the snow. I think of the gift of this snow and all it has shown me this week and I know He is for me. “You are for me,” I thrill over and over out loud as I tramp and tread and claim new ground.

I think of the conquests Joshua led. Victory was never in question; only finding God’s strategy for each battle was essential. Relying on God, not growing self-reliant, not ever forgetting that Victory is a Person.

Strategies are tailor made and I have no clue what the strategy for this particular giant should be and I dare not go into this without a strategy from Him.

“If You’ll give me the strategy, If You’ll go with me each step of the way, I’m in. But I’m not going without You.”

I search scriptures, I cling to promises, I touch my toes in the waters. Will they part?

3 days left before The Day I do a Bible search. Is “100 days” anywhere in the Bible?

It is. Once.

At first I don’t get the connection, think it is just a grasp at straws. Then I see it.

I’ve been given a mina, 100 days worth of provision.

I’m to invest it. Not bury it out of fear. I’m to give it my dog-gone all, no holds barred, come what may.

Maybe I’m not a servant with ten minas, but I’ve been given one and will I invest it or will I cave to fear? The question is not whether I can do this or not, but whether I will see this as a gift, as something entrusted to me. And with the gift come the provisions.

One mina.

I recognize the battle is against fear and will I learn His strategies for overcoming it? Will I let Him teach me?

Hands shaking, I go get the card, the calendar. “The Lord is with me. I will not be afraid. The Lord is my helper.” I say it out lout, tasting the words, testing them. I’m familiarizing myself with the strategy. I’m going to need to know it inside and out.

I fold the calendar and place it in the card. “If God spared not His own Son, how then will He not also freely give you all things?” More strategy, spoken out loud.

I am more convinced that this is about fear and He wants me to conquer it.

In the shower I try more strategy: “Do not be afraid! I will help you! Surely I will uphold you with My right hand.” 

I know what I’ve got to do. I exit the shower and go sign the card, slip the calendar inside, and seal it. Three days of waiting in anguish, with fear breathing down my neck seems like doom.

I repent of fear. I get on my knees and I repent of the selfishness fear demands, the retreat, the inward focus.

The card is ready. So am I. Finally.

When husband comes home, I ask if he wants to open his birthday gift early.

Update**The snow is melting now, liquid love dripping. It came, a gift, and ministered. And today His mercies are new and the mina’s provisions continue…we are over 2 weeks into our 100 days!

This post is humbly linked to Ann’s Walk with Him Wednesday where today we are talking about the Gift and Practice of Marriage. Care to join in? Check out this chocolate (with giveaway!!)

Think you Know God? Think Again

youngwomanoldlady

**Joining us for developing spiritual habits? May I include a disclaimer?

This material is based on my life. I share this to serve, not preach. It may serve you or it may not. I pray those who will be served by it will be those who find it.

Take a look. What do you see?

Depending on your perspective, at first glance you either see an old woman or a young maiden. Some have a hard time switching between the two and can only see one. {I had a hard time seeing the old woman. If you are like me, focus on the choker, which is the old woman’s mouth.}

Just as our physical eyes perceive and interpret our surroundings, our spiritual eyes perceive and interpret life, ourselves, and God. It is our spiritual perspective (or “eye”) that interprets and explains God to us. It is how we understand God.

It can be accurate or dead wrong. It can be immature and underdeveloped or mature. It can be healthy or damaged.

Jesus tells us the condition of our spiritual eye is vitally important.

“The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is healthy, your whole body is also full of light. But when it is unhealthy, your body is also full of darkness. See to it then, that the light within you is not darkness.” ~ Luke 11:34-35

Jesus urges us to make sure our spiritual perspective is healthy. Yet the shocking reality is that most of us have never challenged our spiritual perceptions. We have never questioned our assumptions about God, ourselves, or life.

I didn’t. Because I grew up in church and became a believer as a child, I assumed I knew Him. The fact that I knew a lot of scripture, had planted a church, and had God’s call on my life to overseas missionary work caused me never to even consider that I might not truly perceive Him ~ KNOW Him~ accurately.

We interpret all of life through our spiritual eye, but the most important thing we view through it is God. It is possible for us to think we know and serve God when in fact we are serving an image of Him that has been created and shaped in the likeness of man.

In fact, the Bible teaches that this is not only possible, but without divine Words enlighting our eyes, it is probable. Paul is a chief example of this and the book of Galatians tells this part of his story, written for our instruction.

The premise of this study is that some of us need to challenge our understanding of God and, with the Lord’s blessing upon us, do some work getting our spiritual “eye” healthy.

Let’s begin by

Realizing that God’s Own People are frequently the ones who do not know Him.

When God began doing this work of exposure in my life, He used several passages to do it. One was the book of Ezekiel, where He speaks to His people, the Israelites. In this book alone, there are no less than 65 occurences where God says, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

God’s people can “know” God in a surface sense without “KNOWING”  Him, His heart, His intent, His nature, His rich goodness.

The most profound scripture God used to expose my lack of understanding Him was Isaiah 42:18,19:

“Hear, you deaf! And look, you blind, that you may see. Who is blind but My servant, or so deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me, or so blind as the servant of the Lord?”

According to God, who is blind?

Who is deaf?

Who is He clearly talking about?

{ If you want a NT reference, check out Revelation 3: 17-19. }

Whoa. That shook up my white picket fence Christianity. As a missionary, I fit the category. “Messenger.” “Servant.” “One at peace with God.”

It was the Spirit that drove the truth home to my heart: I was blind and deaf. I didn’t really “get” God.

God began to work this passage into my heart while at the same time working the circumstances of my life to bring me to a point of desperation. I needed answers and my then-current view of God wasn’t providing them.

For example, God brought someone into my life that I had a really difficult time loving. I knew I should love this person. I knew God wanted me to love this person. I knew this person needed my love and could be transformed by my love. Yet all the self-condemnation, shame, self-lectures, prayers, and confession did very little to increase my love for this person.

Then God used a simple verse to open my eyes to the root issue: “The one who does not love does not know God. Because God is love.” I John 4:8

It was as if God was telling me that my root issue was not a lack of love, but a lack of understanding… of God.

My typical approach to life had been do better, try harder, use whatever means necessary to make myself behave and do the right thing. God began to show me that I needed to replace all that self striving with one simple thing: know and understand Him.

I fell in love with Jeremiah 9:23-24 and began to make it my prayer, day in and day out, to know Him. To understand Him. “God, let me “get” You,” I prayed.

When we truly know and understand God, we have a healthy perspective on life. We understand the riches of God’s love. We see His lovingkindnesses expressed to us throughout each day. We have no need to perform. To be depressed. To worry.

Truly, knowing God and understanding God IS something to boast in!

Forming the Habit of “Know” This Week:

This month, we are developing the  habit of “know.” We are taking baby steps, walking this path one leg at a time. This week, let’s “know” what things can distort and damage our “eye.” Awareness of harmful influences is an important step.

For each of these scriptures, answer two questions 1) What negative influence affected the character’s perception and 2) What was the result/ how did they express their distortion? {Tip: Recognizing these expressions is very helpful!}

~ Exodus 6:6-9

~ Exodus 17:1-3

~ Psalm 77:7-12 (Note how the psalmist got his view back on track)

~ Matthew 11:2-6

~ Matthew 18:2-6 (Children can experience things that cause them to “stumble.” The meaning of this word is “to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey.” It is a scheme of Satan to do everything he can to cause children to “stumble.” If he used this tactic in your life, remember that Jesus does not speak “woe” to the one who stumbles but the one who caused it. We can recover from “stumbling!” No weapon that is formed against us will prosper!)

Now, apply it to your life. Has your perception been influenced by loss, grief, hardship, disillusionment, trauma, unmet needs, and the like? How does your life express those distortions?

The point of this is to recognize expressions in our lives that indicate we don’t really “get” God. Then, rather than focus on “fixing” ourselves, focus on FINDING GOD, As He really is.

That “knowing” will change everything.

{ You are welcome to share your insights here. Join in next Monday for another leg in the journey…}

**This post is linked to “Walk with Me Wednesday.” Learning from one another is something I give God thanks for.

Finding Your Voice for Words That Matter

I was in 6th grade when I had the dream.

It was about the roller coaster of life and getting lost in the festivities and how most people who go in to the carnival never come back out.

It was strange, like dreams are, and I’m not saying it was prophetic or even important, but it was after that that I knew I was to write.

I knew written words were to be how I communicated things I couldn’t say otherwise.

So I wrote my first book, in sixth grade.

I’m sure I would have given up altogether because I found putting down on paper what I held in my heart extremely difficult… except that I had found a new friend in this new school, in this new city. His name was George and every day on the bus to school he would ask me what happened next.

He believed in me and my story.  {I’m sure it was a gift from God.}

I reckon I could write a book on how “not” to write…because I’ve tried and tried again and learned a whole lot about what not to do…   And still I wonder if I can write a single post and do it anywhere close to “well.”

And yet I believe we all have words to contribute. We all leave legacy with words. Whether we write words or not, we are each leaving behind a “testimony,” the weaving of threads to form a central message.

“This is the testimony of John…” John 1:19

Testimony means “witness.” We each live a life that is making a theological statement about God. ~~~What does mine say? ~~~

Testimony means “martyr.” We each are giving our lives~ expending them drop by drop, with our time, toil, and tears~ for the “somethings” we value the most. ~~~What do I value? ~~~

John’s testimony was true, his cause was Christ. What can he teach me about words?

 

“This is the testimony of John, when he was asked, “Who are you?”" John 1:19

Words begin with a question. It isn’t so difficult. It isn’t complex or hard to understand. It doesn’t take degrees and influence and platforms and special titles.

Words ~lives~ that matter, find their birth with a single question. “Who are you?”

Why? Why is it so important to know who we are?

Because who we are determines what words we speak. It decides whether our words are Voice or Echo.

Walking in John’s footsteps, we must first know who we are not. “I am not the Christ.”

“I am not Elijah. I am not the Prophet.”

We must know who we are not and allow ourselves the freedom to not be someone else. I am not John Piper. I am not Beth Moore. I am not Sharon Jaynes or Shaunti Feldham or Jane Doe.

That is good. I can’t be me and I can’t speak my words and I can’t live my testimony until I give up on trying to be someone else.

“Who are you then, What do you say about yourself?” John 1:22

 What I say about myself is incredibly important. I must define myself properly. John defined himself by the words that had been spoken over him before the beginning of time, words recorded in the Book.

“I am a voice…” John 1:23

(He found his Words in Is. 40:3)

 When we define ourselves according to Words, His spoken about us, we move from being an echo to being a voice.

Each of us have had Words spoken over us, Words that define us, Words that tell us who we are, Words that give purpose for our individual lives.

~~~Have I identified those words that “belong” to me, that I belong to?~~~

  I do not speak words well.

I do not write words well.

But finally, after doing so many things wrong, maybe I’ve finally started at the beginning: I have identified the Words that belong to me.

I’m letting those Words define me, give me purpose, shape my speech, form my testimony.

And that makes me a Voice, not an Echo.

  How about you? Have you found your Words? Care to share what they are?

  

  

 

Trample

I stand at the door on snow day, watching Husband and children exchange fire.

They are all laughing, eating “ice cream,” as daughter sees it.

“Hey Mom!” Oldest son sees me standing at the door. “The snow is almost gone right here because we’ve trampled it so much.”

It flashes, it ignites, it comes to life, the word “trample.”

Gone because of trampling.

I think of my job with “Little Bit,” as I affectionately call her, the job of helping her pave new paths in her brain, help her override the established path of panic and distrust…of FEAR. Help her trample new paths of love and trust.

Trample.

Could trample be to “tread” over and over? My breath quickens as Spirit gives wisdom and I think of this year and the focus scripture.

Could some of our promised territory be taken only by treading it again and again, by establishing new paths, by learning to reject the old path of pain and rejection and doubt and trample again the new?

To make the old gone because of trampling.

I turn from the door and look up the word “tread” in the original language. I find “darak,” and one of the definitions is “to trample.” God has given us promises,  “every spiritual blessing,” in fact. And it is our job to “trample,” to tread on those promises until the old patterns and habits are a thing of the past and we fully possess the promise and we have “laid hold.”

“Every place on which the sole of your foot treads {tramples}, I have given it to you, just as I promised…” Joshua 1:3

I wonder how much ground I don’t possess simply because I fail to tread? Do I cower in fear, like the Israelites did? Do I not want to put forth the effort and cave to exhaustion instead? Or do I find my strength in the Lord?

If this year is going to be that of Conquest, then I must practice trampling.

The Garbage Truck comes and refuses to pick up our busted trash can, for the 2nd week. It seems we are stuck with a useless can. Something about seeing it tumped over, innards gaping open and mouth broken makes me feel fear. Panic. Vulnerability.

Totally irrational, I know.

But old patterns were triggered. Memories of doing everything possible to get rid of something unwanted and needing someone else to step in, lend a hand, pick up when I could go no further.

But they didn’t.

Panic is the response of one drowning, the rash attempt to save one’s life. The feeling of being overwhelmed, of waters covering the head. I know it well. It is quietly triggered in the strangest of ways.

Yet trample reminds me that even water can be tread.

Suddenly I have a desire to go outside and walk in the snow. I grab my jacket, slip boots on, leave girl on potty and littlest in high chair and others to fend for themselves.

I trample snow. I feel the ground give way beneath the soles, hear the crunch of tread.

I leave footprints and look at the territory I have claimed. I see how much unbroken white remains.

This is the year of conquest and I must trample.

Later, we sit down to dinner and Husband glances over at me, then does a double take. He gets up from his chair, comes near, and cups my face in his hands. “Your face is glowing,” he says.

I smile.

“I’ve been trampling,” I tell him.

2011: Time to Grow Up

I watched the baby kick and reach for the toy in front of him.

To the mouth it went.

I smiled as I thought of all the things my kids have salivated on. Good, bad, nasty, even dangerous things have all gone into their mouths.

A characteristic of infancy is what you allow to be ingested.

I often wonder why the American church seems so powerless.

The condition of the church is no big surprise to anyone; this isn’t “news.” It is a fact that we know and hear about and cluck our tongues over, but tell ourselves it isn’t true of me.

Yet the fact still remains that while materially blessed to the point of obesity, we are spiritual infants. Powerless. We consume resource after resource, attend seminar and conferences, yet  we do not say to the weak, wounded beggar, “In the name of Jesus, get up and walk.”

This troubles me greatly.

By this time you should be teachers. But in fact you need someone to teach you all over again. You need even the simple truths of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food.

Anyone who lives on milk is still a baby. That person does not want to learn about living a godly life. Solid food is for those who are grown up. They have trained themselves with a lot of practice. They can tell the difference between good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14, NIRV

The question begs to be asked. Am I an infant, ingesting everything that comes my way, mindlessly gumming and salivating my way through Christianity; or am I constantly training my spiritual senses, learning how to really live a godly life?

 Spiritual maturity comes through spiritual practice, the training of your spiritual senses.

This is more than simply reading your Bible, doing family devotions, memorizing scripture, increasing prayer time, and the like. These things are good and necessary, but training the spiritual senses is different altogether.

Training the spiritual senses means establishing lifestyle patterns of percieving and living life. It means seeing God in everything. It means recognizing quickly those things that will aid and benefit you and those that will harm and pollute you.

This isn’t a five step program. It isn’t a list of things to check off. This is a lifestyle and it takes time to form these new patterns and habits. But boy, I can tell you, it is worth it!

I am beginning a bible study with our ladies at church on spiritual habits and will posting them here as well, hopefully every Monday?? I’m taking one habit a month so as not to overwhelm with too much at once. The goal is realistic: cultivate one habit each month and add on as we go.

Each Monday I will post content related to that month’s particular habit.

This is not about doing, it is about training your spiritual person to be mature. Below I am including a tentative outline for the habits we will be working on.

Month 1: The Habit of “Know”

Month 2: The Habit of “Love”

Month 3: The Habit of “Abide”

Month 4: The Habit of “Grace”

Month 5: The Habit of “Repent”

Month 6: The Habit of “Humility”

**Subject to change at any time, because after all, I am a woman.

If you would like to join in, I’d love to hear from you (and I say that nervously, because there’s likely to be no comments?) And invite a friend too?

If the community- you!-  saw fit to make this interactive, that would be wonderful. I can learn so much from you all. {But you are wonderful in any case :) }

75, the Number of Blessing

Your comment and your’s; Your’s and Rebecca’s and Bree-Anne’s and Kathy’s and Linda’s… all 75 of you, actually.

One word: BLESSING.

One month ago, this place changed. It went from being an unknown online journal, quiet and secret, to being “found” (and liked!) by Sarah Maeand loved on by you.

I am unworthy of the love and kindness you have shown this place. I am amazed and humbled that anyone would come here to see what is written.

And I am a terrible return commenter (forgive me?), for one simple reason: I do not want to go about building a blog and I must say that the temptation to do so could ensnare me so easily that it is best for me not to comment or guest post, etc unless I know for sure it is by God’s prompting or permission.

I do not impose this on others, this is for me and because of my own weaknesses. Arabah is a sacred place to me, a place I hash out life with God, and I dare not ruin it by failing to take precautions, to protect it from my own lusts. If that makes sense to anyone.

So the point of this post is to simply say thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for putting up with me and for believing in me and for undeserved kindness.

Your presence in this place has beautified it and even though I am not sure how to handle guests here, I’m glad for the opportunity to find out.

Thank. You.

Snow Grace

I wake up to a blanket of white outside my window, the first- and probably only- of the winter.

The timing is God.

Because yesterday there were angry words spoken, words that hurt and accused, words that leave marks for a long time.

They stir up things that enemy would keep stirred up, would keep alive. Even today, after words of repentance have been spoken, enemy is there stirring up old feelings of worthlessness. Condemnation. Exposure. Doubt.

But that white out my window…it reminds me of other words: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.”

My sins are as scarlet. I am worthy of angry words. I am worthy of far worse. I can never make all my wrongs right.

But there is hope for me yet.

For there is a God who spoke other words and His words are truth and didn’t He send the snow all night while I slept to make sure I remembered them?

I am terribly unworthy…but ring-from-the-rafters-news! His love isn’t based on worth!

So I will kneel again. I will embrace His love for me. I will stand, fully assured in His intentions towards me. And I will reach, doing my part to lay aside the old and press on to His upward call in my life.

Today.

Just today, for tomorrow is not guaranteed. This sinner will be saved by grace like snow.

“Behold I make all things new.”

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