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When you’ve messed christian parenting UP

poopoo parenting

 

poopoo parenting

 

 

So last week I began a series on raising spiritually minded children. And since then, I’ve been questioning what I really want to communicate through this series. Posting “10 Ways” is a brand new form of blogging for me and I really need to say something.

 

So here goes.

There seems to be something inherently wrong with most of the Christian parenting stuff I read. It operates on the basic assumption that the parent is  good. For example:

 

We want to spend time with our kids but we don’t know how.

Enter solution: 101 things to do with your toddler.

 

We deeply desire to speak kindly and show patience when correcting our rebellious child; we just can’t seem to pull it off.

Solution: How to stop yelling in 30 days.

 

We receive joy at the prospect of selflessly serving our children, even when they are mean and unlovely; but we lack the time to do it.

Solution: Organize your life and live on cloud nine (!!!!!).

 

But what about when you don’t want what’s right or you don’t desire to deny yourself or don’t receive joy in well doing? What then?

What is inherently missing in the self help sort of approach to writing parenting articles is that it doesn’t get at the root of our most basic issue. It does not answer the fundamental question of “What do I do with my sin?” Because honestly, most of the time it isn’t that I don’t know how to spend quality time with my children; it’s that other things are more important.

Let’s just be honest.

And sometimes I downright resent the demands of my family and am perfectly content to give them my leftovers. What of that?

I am not saying I never enjoy my children or delight in serving them; but there is no point in reading and pinning an article that gives me ideas when what I really need is my sin issue dealt with. No expert can give me 3 quick steps to obliterating selfishness. Neither is there an eBook on miraculously changing my hard heartedness or removing self protection from my marriage bed.

 

That’s because only the Gospel can do that.

 

The last thing I want to do on my blog is give 10 steps without giving real hope. Friends, there is hope in the gospel. Let it be heard in sin-sick hearts everywhere.

Your sin issue? Is dealt with. The gospel tells us that we CAN change and we CAN live godly and we CAN reflect God’s glory and we CAN be the aroma of Christ in our home and we CAN change the legacy of our family line.

Because of Christ.

There is an allure to “10 Ways” and “Top Five” and “How to…” articles to be sure (which is why people write them.) But we need to know where to turn when facing the depth of depravity in our own mom heart- the heart that is supposed to nurture, protect, and selflessly serve your own but, in fact, does not.

At best, much of what’s out there can give tips and direction for us after we lay the foundation of the gospel. At worst, much of what’s out there can give us the appearance of wisdom but offer no help in curbing sin and self.

You need to go back to the gospel when you just used your authority to manipulate your child’s heart because she annoyed you. And when you’re confronted with the reality that you do not, can not, will not parent without using shame or condemnation. And when you are stingy with your affection or lazy in your daily routines and a thousand other times. (And if you haven’t been confronted by the depth of your own parenting depravity, just give it some time… you will be.)

Here’s the thing: we are sinners. We are fallen. Not only that, but our sin isn’t just the “little white lie” variety, the sort that’s cute and seemingly harmless. No, our sin is raunchy, deep, and utterly destructive. There’s no 10 step, 30 day, how-to solution deep enough to fix that.

Friends, I need the GOSPEL, for it is the power of God unto salvation.

I need the gospel that tells me Jesus Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief, and this is a trustworthy statement that I can rely upon when my heart resents being in a hot kitchen serving ungrateful children.

The gospel I need to hear is that God can take an entire day’s worth of mommy failures and redeem them and make all things new and when I wake up in the morning, even before the sun is up, He is eager and waiting for me and runs to meet me anew with buckets full of fresh grace and mercy.

That’s what I need to know.

I need to know that I’ve been redeemed from my own sin and I’ve not been appointed for stumbling when those temptations come and I’ve been set apart for worthy purposes and given everything I need to live godly and that even when I fail… and I will… God Himself is faithful because He cannot be anything else and He will complete what He started and accomplish what concerns me.

And when I do long to display Christ in my home yet fail… and fail… and fall short of that Glory yet again, I need to know that as true as my falling is, it is not the final word because God says it isn’t the one who works who is justified, but the one who trusts God… because He justifies the ungodly.

Day after day.

Friends, I need the gospel.

I need to know the same God that gave Abraham a promised son is the same God who gives life to dead things even now, even here, and calls into being things that are not. There is, in fact, hope for me. (Romans 4:17)

I need to know that the God who feeds the birds every morning and directs them where to go promises to multiply my seed for sowing today and will produce a harvest of righteousness in me. (II cor 9)

That’s the kind of parenting article I need. That’s the hope of the gospel.

Sure, I can learn from 10 steps and 30 days and 100 tips, and heaven knows I need those menu plans and recipes… but not without the foundation of the gospel. The gospel foundation tells me I CAN eat healthy because God has redeemed me from the worthless. The gospel foundation tells me I CAN relate with my children on a deeper level because Christ is there, whispering in my ear “this is the way, walk in it.” The gospel foundation says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Not because I am good and need some self help, but because I am horribly evil and have no hope of helping myself whatsoever and don’t ever have to. Christ has done it all and because of that, I can change.

Hallelujah, we have the gospel!

For the Christian, there’s no such thing as self help. Yes, there’s an allure to it but the real hope is the gospel. Oh how deep, rich, and sufficient it is! This depraved mommy heart needs it.

Desperate momma, get to the gospel! What you need pumping through your veins isn’t Pinterest. What you need in your face isn’t Facebook. Your secret sauce is not in the kitchen and your biggest help isn’t somebody’s blog. Momma, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly… because the gospel is the power of God for your salvation, the moment by moment redemption of a momma’s life.

 

Priceless

leahadams

 

 

 As we are in the skies today, a special blogging buddy, Leah Adams , is here on the blog. Leah shares a practical gift you can give yourself or prepare for another…

 

Recently a friend gave me a gift that has become incredibly precious to me.

It is a priceless gift, yet it is intensely practical.

The gift is very, very old—an antique, in fact; yet it is relevant and significant in my everyday life.

This gift is personalized, making it unique and very special. However, it would be a perfect fit for almost anyone.

I began to use it the first day I received it and found it to be exactly what I needed. In the midst of a day that brought feelings of being forgotten, this gift reminded me how loved I truly am. How could my friend have known? It is almost as if someone told her my needs.

What was my gift, you ask?

It was an email with an attachment that included Bible verses personalized with my name. I’ve prayed Scripture for years, but seeing the Word with my name inserted into it as a personal promise from God was almost more than my heart could take.

As I allowed the words of one of the verses to minister to my heart, I was reminded of the truth of the first part of Hebrews 4: 12 when it says, “For the word of God is living and active.” The living Word of God spoke deeply into my heart and situation.

May I share a few of the personalized verses with you?

• “Leah, I will not forget you! See I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.” Isaiah 49: 15-16 (NIV)
• “Be confident of this, Leah, I will complete the good work I began in you until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1: 6
• “Leah, My love for you is so great and so deep that I sent My only Son to die for you. For you, Leah, so that by believing in Him you may not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3: 16
• “Leah, call upon Me and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find Me, when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you, and I will bring you back from your captivity.” Jeremiah 29: 12-14a (NIV)
• “I am the Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, who saves; I will rejoice over you with gladness, Leah. I will quiet you with My love, I will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3: 17 (NKJV)
• “Fear not Leah, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

Now, go back and try it with YOUR name inserted into these verses.

Do you see how powerful the Word is when it is personalized into your life and heart? When you and I truly believe and put our faith in the Living Word of God our lives are transformed and we leave a legacy of faith everywhere we go.

MEDITATION MOMENT: What verses can you personalize for yourself that will help your faith grow? I’d love for you to share them here with your name inserted into them.

 

Leah Adams is not exaggerating when she calls herself ‘the prodigal son’s sister’. Raised in a Christian home and saved at the age of 15, Leah made the choice to walk away from Him in her 20’s. After years of living to please only herself, she heard the call to return to Jesus in her 30’s. Leah’s speaking and writing ministry, The Point Ministries, focuses on the grace that Jesus offers to anyone willing to ask for it.

Leah is the author of a six week Bible study entitled, From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest: Creating a Godly Legacy. She is currently writing her second Bible study from the book of Hebrews. Leah has spoken to groups large and small about the legacy we are leaving for the generations that come behind, as well as other topics. She writes for Internet Café Devotions, CBN.com, and Christianparenting.org.

Visit Leah at her website (www.leahadams.org), on Facebook (Leah Colwell Adams) and Twitter (@PointMinistries).

To those afflicted in mind or emotion

They say still waters run deep and I’ve always been deep and still. But sometimes words bubble up, don’t know where to go, crash around inside.

So I get up and bang a few out here in this space.

My aunt, she lost her mind. Emotional weakness has always been part of my family, that and the mental. The older I get, the closer to me it seems to come…and I’ve wondered if I’ll be plumb swept away in the torrent.

And yet.

I’ve pondered long on great men and women of the faith, men like Charles Spurgeon and Martin Luther, women like Mother Teresa. Those who deeply struggled internally, fiercely fought depression, grasped at faith with phantom claws.

And I’ve come to a conclusion or two.

We understand and even extend special graces to those with physical, relational, or health-related afflictions. We assume they have learned hard lessons and we grant them our time and attention. We believe that God uses affliction and surely their lives must be a mural on which He is painting a sacred story.

So we listen. We honor. We watch in awe. We learn.

But when it comes to emotional or mental affliction, we recoil.

It’s part of our American mind-set: if you are “spiritual,” then you will be “happy in Jesus.”

If you aren’t happy in Jesus, going through your days on spiritual cloud 9, then you are not spiritually mature and you have not found the secret to living the Christian life.

There is a lot in the Scriptures that talk about the mind, no doubt. Such as instruction to live transformed by renewing it; and we are kept in perfect wholeness by fixing it on God.

However, nowhere in scripture is there implication that keeping the mind stayed on Christ is simple or quick. Or painless for that matter. Neither does the Bible say that our adversary will quietly allow us to take mental and emotional territory from him without any sort of onslaught!

The truth is that when you have learned and lived by poor habits in thinking and have been ruled by your feelings, conquering that spiritual battle is all out war and there is nothing easy or convenient about it.

This I know.

I am absolutely loving reading through David’s life in my One Year Chronological Bible), because it intersperses the Psalms he wrote at the place in his life scholars best guess he wrote them.

In this way, with a simple read-through, you see him fighting Goliath…then singing a psalm….running from Saul…then fighting for faith in composing a psalm…hiding out from enemies…then pouring his heart out to God in song.

It sort of sounds like a man mentally and emotionally afflicted.

Why did God allow, even ordain, David to live so many years running from Saul, moving from cave to cave, no safe place to settle down? He was God’s elect! He was God’s anointed! He was royalty.

God’s chosen, living the nomadic life of the outcast.

Why? Because affliction of all sorts are meant to train us in the same thing:

“And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” I Sam. 23:16

“David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered…But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” I Sam. 30:6

And to the two women who labored hard alongside Paul but who struggled relationally, Paul told the body to “help these women!” How? By coming alongside of them and showing them how to “rejoice in the Lord always.” (Phil. 4:1-4)

Paul himself gives this testimony: “For we do not want you to be ignorant of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
“Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” (II Cor. 1:8-9)

It is clear to me that our mental and emotional afflictions can serve the purposes of God just as much as other types of afflictions, and they all boil down to one aim: finding our strength, hope, very life itself in nothing but Christ.

Are you afflicted today? Don’t add condemnation to your affliction! Accept your affliction as the tool of God to bring you to a place where He is the sole object of your trust.

Instead of fighting against the affliction, Practice strengthening yourself in the character of God (which is another fight of sorts, but don’t lose heart! You are now fighting with purpose.)

Then rejoice! For this is the place of great strength, the place
where you walk in Christ on your high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Live Loved

It’s a hot Thursday afternoon in June when I take the kids to the mall because the back yard is off limits due to an invasion of bees.

I’ve got 5 dollars to spend and we go to the carousel, the one where 3 years and under can ride free. Except after I pay my $5 and we go to get on, I discover they’ve done away with that provision and I owe $2 more dollars for all of us to ride.

“You only paid for 3 kids and you have 4 riding.”

“I’ll skip,” I tell the lady with white hair, a grandmother no doubt.

“You can’t skip. You have to ride with the young ones,” she says.

“Okay, I’ll see if one of them doesn’t want to ride.” They all do.

“I don’t have any more money,” I tell her. “Don’t the young ones go free?”

“No.” She pauses then says, “Do you want to change your mind?” Her eyes are a cold hard blue as I look into her face.

I would normally say yes, get my money back and go my way, but something in me prompts and it is out before I can stop it: “Do you give grace?” I ask her softly and smile. The kids have already found their animals on the carousel and can’t wait to start.

“Not today,” she says and turns and walks away.

And I know this woman doesn’t owe me anything but it is funny how old feelings are so easily and oddly triggered. I suddenly feel anxious, a twinge of rejection, like my survival instinct button was pressed. The same I felt as a child when I was helpless and asked for rescue from the adults around me and was walked away from.

The grandma with white hair, walking away with her back to me, triggers old baggage. I can’t buy my kids a ride on the carousel. I feel like a loser. And the fact that a strange woman won’t have grace on us somehow really cuts. If I was prettier, she would have. If I was more suave and charming, she would have. If I was more gracious, had softer eyes, had better hair, had whatever it is I’m always deficient in, then we would be allowed on.

The lie hisses and targets my heart, then unfurls with a strike: Something is wrong with you to make her not let us on the carousel. Something is wrong with you.

“We’ve got to go, kids,” I call to them.

They don’t understand. I told them we could ride. My inner anxiety caused from the triggered lie makes me grow impatient with them. “I don’t have enough money for us to ride,” I tell youngest daughter, who is upset to have to get off her horse.

I glare a threat at her whining face and tell her to “Come on already.”

Then I stop.

I fear rejection from a stranger because I somehow think it reflects on my value and worth? Don’t I know that we each bow down to what we fear and that is why we are to fear nothing and no one but God Himself? And I’m bowing to this fear of rejection and I’m offering children up on the altar of past pain?

I’m really going to bow down to this?

No, I will not. It is unacceptable. I know that a lie is behind all of this and I am only hurting those I love the most by not facing it head on. Even though it feels like the lie is true, that I am somehow deficient, not good enough, I must choose to believe that this in fact is not the truth.

“Don’t be a Saul,” I remind myself.

Hadn’t Saul been chosen by God? Hadn’t he been hand picked, set apart and Spirit filled for the task? Yet when they cast lots and Saul was shown to be the one selected by God, he was hiding out in the baggage. Instead of believing and receiving the position of honor God had given him, he was hiding in baggage.

“Stop hiding in your old baggage,” I counsel myself. “Old junk makes a poor cover-up. Accept your royal robe of righteousness.”

And didn’t Saul fail as a king because he shrunk back? He never did live up to the promises God had given him. He chose to be a coward.

It’s a temptation women face too, at the oddest of times.

I call to mind how Samuel hosted Saul at the very beginning:

“Then Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall and gave them a place at the head of those who were invited… Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the portion that I gave you, concerning which I said to you ‘Set it aside.’” Then the cook took up the leg with what was on it and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, “Here is what has been reserved! Set it before you and eat, because it has been kept for you…”" I Samuel 9:22-24

 

And I counsel myself with the words of a prophet. I have been reserved a portion. There’s a leg that’s been set aside just for me. I am loved and cherished and nourished and well tended. I am cared for. The Lord is my Shepherd and I will not be in want. It is against His nature to neglect His own.

“Live loved,” I tell myself, “Because you belong to Love Himself.”

And I know I will never be able to convince myself that I am worthy- for years I tried that- So instead I bring to mind the nature of my God. I’ve found the secret is in His worthiness, never mine…and He offers Himself to me, calls Himself “Yahweh, your God.”

I recount the ways in which He has expressed His tender care for me. The ways He has called me out, spoken tenderly to me in the desert, carried me in Shepherd’s arms.

And that old hissing lie that struck my heart is routed and I’m safe in the arms of my Yahweh, the One who teaches me to prosper and leads me to green pastures and beside still waters.

He restores my soul, and from a silly carousel incident!

I reach my arms out to crying little girl and say, “Hey! We’ve got 5 dollars! Let’s go see what we can spend it on!”

I’m determined we’re going to eat every bit of our portion. And it’s good. It’s good.

**A personal word for you? Live loved, my friend, not on the basis of your lovability but on the basis of His limitless love abundantly poured out. He choose to lavish His love on you! Take your portion with relish. Live loved.

The Path of Life (with Chart)

Computer crashed this weekend, so not able to do much online until I’m back up. However, A reader asked me to expand on my testimony, the one included in the Core Lies book. I include it here for anyone else it may benefit?

One day I realized that if I was to overcome the past and become the new me in practice, I had to get intentional.

God had shown me that the root of my issue was core lies. This is true of each one of us because a lie is the only tool the enemy has…but how to identify them and where to begin? I had no idea where to start, except with the junk that was coming out- my emotions and how I was feeling. All the turmoil and the expressions of anger, grief, fear, panic, etc were actually outflows of beliefs. And obviously, those beliefs were lies because they were not expressions of peace, joy, love, patience, gentleness, kindness, self control, and the other Spirit fruits.

It took some time and hard work, but I began reflecting upon my emotional outflows. I began to identify why I would lash out (even if just internally, like someone cut me off in traffic I would feel angry. I asked myself why? Why is that such a big deal? The answer is that I felt my security threatened. I felt my safety and worth wasn’t valued by another.)

So I really got serious about deciphering my emotions and what they were telling me. Surprisingly enough (or not), they were telling me what I believed, and I was believing a whole slew of lies! About God and His nature, my worth, my abilities, my needs, etc.

I was off to a great start. Identifying the source of negative outflows was a huge accomplishment, but God and I weren’t done yet. I was going to have to start stemming the flow of gunk and tap into a different source, the River of life.

That always means war.

The enemy strikes hard and when it comes time to fight, who can win without a weapon?

“Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears. So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan…” I Samuel 13:19,22

Yet surely God has given us weapons of warfare, weapons for the tearing down of strongholds, even those inherited from the forefathers. The word of truth is our weapon! After identifying source lies, I was in a position to begin preparing very specific and thus very effective weapons.

This step was and is crucial to victory.

So I found some scriptures that applied very directly to my source lies, words of truth that counteracted the poison. However, I kept being defeated. I kept finding myself responding in anger or withdrawing from relationship or giving in to panic and fear.

I was at a stalemate. What to do?

I realized that the moment I became aware of negative internal emotions was the moment I needed to do battle…but that was not when I was strong. I was weak at the very moment I needed to be strongest! The best way to prepare for these times was to give myself a “cheat sheet.”

At the moment of battle, I was weak and confused and left floundering. But I wasn’t accepting that as final!

I sat down and wrote out a game plan, a cheat sheet, a strategy for victory for when the battle was on. I included a little pep talk for why this was so important, a reminder as to why it was worth the fight. My cheat sheet was called “The Path of Life.”

It was clear that I would have to machete my way through, but finally I had the tools to do it. God was working in me both to will and to work.

So when I became aware of one of my internal emotions, say a gnawing, irrational fear, I would immediately go to my chart, look up and name the lie I was up against, declare war, and would begin reciting the truth. I would thank God for the truths that counteracted the lie and praise Him for His good character.

I still do this, though thankfully, my cheat sheet came down many months ago from my cork board where I kept it. None of us will ever outgrow spiritual warfare and combating lies. But we will grow in our ability to discern them and defeat them quickly.

“The mature…because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14

Practice. It’s the key word.

Sometimes we give in to laziness because practice is hard work. It just seems easier to go with the flow and hope for the best. But once you understand the death and destruction your thoughts and inner beliefs are causing, you find the motivation to start practicing!

I am including my “cheat sheet” here for anyone who is interested. Your issues, lies, emotions, etc will be different, but this may provide you with an idea for making your own. If you do make your own, will you email me a copy? I would love to learn from you and perhaps I can share here with others?

God bless you, sisters (and brothers?) I am praying today for you who read these words to be strengthened and encouraged in your faith walk…

Path of Life Chart (Cheat Sheet)

Loose Thoughts Doth a Loose Momma Make

There are days.
There are days when I’m on top of the ball. I’m in the God-groove and we live victoriously and the home reflects it and it’s good.

Then there are days. You know the kind.

Days when I’m a wrecking ball momma, loose in my game, and everything is spinning out of control and I am too and I just want everything to stop and let me get. a. grip. please.

Those are the days I’m not quite sure about. They spin so fast and happen so quick and things have gone to pieces before I can blink an eye and what’s to be done about it all?

It’s a May day when the Order comes down. I’m sitting in McDonald’s, the only one for miles around, and with the flies coming through the revolving door and the husband at home with the kids, I hear. “Completely eradicate it,” He tells me and when He pinpoints the enemy, why am I so surprised that it is a lie?

Then He names it. Just like the Israelites knew by name their enemies~ the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Amalekites, Canaanites~ so we need ours named.

When we know it’s name, we know how to recognize it.

And when we start to recognize it as it comes to devour and destroy, we can take it out. Eradicate it.

My enemy is the lie of the garden. The lie that says, “If-only…., then I would be happy.” The enemy of  “If Only.”
Except mine is the spiritualized version. My lie doesn’t say “If only (blank), I’d be happy” but “If only…. then I’d be spiritual. I’d live up to my full potential in Christ. I’d be more victorious. I’d live more of the abundant life.”

“If only I had some down time…then I could get my spiritual ducks in a row and take them out.”
“If only I could finish a thought, had some support, more quiet, a better night’s rest, the right Bible study plan, or …”

The “If Only” lie tells us we need just one more thing.

If the enemy can keep us believing this one, that there is an ever-changing, missing ingredient to a full life, then he will perpetually win.

If he can convince us that we need what so and so has; or we need to discover the missing ingredient; or we need a good quiet time without any interruptions; well It doesn’t take much imagining to see how this lie sprouts quickly and spreads even quicker.

It is a fine strategy for our defeat.

The truth is that there will always be some forbidden fruit in our lives. While the enemy would have us believe that God has withheld something we need to be fulfilled, the truth is that there will always be something God says “no” to and He asks us to believe that it isn’t the forbidden or the unavailable that we need in order to be complete in Him.

The truth is that we are already complete in Him. Colossians 2:10

And that May day in McDonald’s, I can see how the loose cannon ball days of my life thrive on this one little lie.

“Completely eradicate it,” He says.

The strategy is simple: Guard against loose thoughts that make for loose cannons. Recognize “if only” thoughts when they creep in (having “overwhelmed” or frustrated feelings is a good indicator of loose thoughts). Then replace the loose, wrong thoughts with truth.

So I make some “Truth Targets:” scripture cards directly in opposition to the “If Only” enemy, scriptures that say, “I already have everything I need.” WHAT AN IMPORTANT TRUTH to keep before us!

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Phil. 4:13

“And in Him, you have been made complete.” Colossians 2:10

“Seeing that His divine power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” II Peter 1:3

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” II Corinthians 9:8

“For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

“And who is adequate for these things? Not that we are adequate in ourselves…but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant…” II Corinthians 2:16b,3:5-6

Right here, right now, I am complete in Christ and I have everything I need to live full and abundant. I am fully equipped for every good deed, fully adequate for the task at hand, fully sufficient and backed with all grace. God has made me adequate, whether I feel it or not, whether I understand it or not, whether I believe it or not.

Right now, this moment, is not outside the parameters of “everything,” “always,” and “all.”  Sure, it would be nice to have a full night’s rest, but I already have all I need to live godly and I am complete in Him.

There. That’ll put some loose thoughts in their place and put a loose momma back on track.

Deadly Cocktail

I’m addicted to strong drink.

It started when I was not yet five, a wisp of a girl with long hair and stick legs.

They took me to places I shouldn’t have been. They made me do things I shouldn’t have done. They told me things I had no business believing.  And it all felt so horribly good in a dark, evil way, that when the cup was passed, I drank it too.

I didn’t even think.

I just drank and the numbness set in and the darkness wasn’t so frightening and I was hooked.

I never saw the lies for the poison they were, smoothing over lips and tongue and entering the belly. I only saw the relief they gave.

The lies, the strong drink can become a way of life.

And then something comes along that shakes a stick at you, calls intoxication for what it is and tells you that you aren’t the victim you thought you were, you’re a drunkard.

You’ve done gone and made yourself inebriated on the stuff and you can’t stop. You’re addicted and there are no excuses.

Oh, it gets ugly alright.

It’s happened to me. And as I read Judges 6 again fresh, I see the cocktail.

Right there on the pages of scripture, there’s the deadly brew that has ensnared many and it was my drink of choice and it flows free still to anyone willing to try it. It’s the liar’s deadly mix that he’s specialized in serving up to God’s chosen people, people like Gideon. People like me.

I’ve drunk it. Not only that, but I’ve been addicted to it. Maybe you have too? Maybe you still are? Perhaps this post is for us, you and me.

Before God could use Gideon to fulfill His miraculous purposes…before God can use you to fulfill yours… He had to expose the strong drink Gideon had been feasting on his whole life. Isn’t this the way it always has to be? God shows up in our lives and it is interesting to note that what we start saying at that point reflects the stuff we’ve been drinking.

“Then Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles? But the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”  Judges 6:13

Let me stop and ask you, has God shown up in your life and given you a vision for something great, something that you are a part of?

And what has been your response?

You see, Gideon’s response exposed the lies he’d been drinking. His answer to an incredible vision from God wasn’t faith but doubt.

This is the first part of the deadly cocktail: Doubt in God’s goodness.

This lie has many faucets. It doubts God’s intentions towards me. It doubts His Presence. It doubts His provision. It doubts His power. Gideon’s response reflects all these things.  The conclusion of this lie is that “God has abandoned” me.

And if God has abandoned me, I’m on my own.

Herein is the set up for the second part of the deadly cocktail, by which our enemy seals our fate and reduces us to blubbering fools, unable to live and lead the victory that God has granted.

“He said to Him, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my father’s house…” (Vs 15)

The first part of the cocktail says, “God won’t.” The second part says, “I can’t.”

Yes, that’s the strong drink I’ve been addicted to. The “God won’t” and “Surely, I can’t” mix.

The mix that rolls over and says, “This is out of my league, leave me alone so I can wallow in numbness some more.”

I for one have had a belly F.U.L.L of this stuff. There’s good news for bellies and hearts made sick with this!

God’s response to Gideon is pretty astonishing if you really think about it:

“Surely I will be with you and you shall defeat Midian as one man.” (vs 16)

The antidote for the deadly cocktail we’ve drunk is “God will and I can.”

Now perhaps it needs to be said that we can only through Christ who strengthens us and that we can do only what God gives, not what we desire for ourselves. This isn’t a blanket statement to pursue either self effort or self interest.

Even so, God tells us He will and we can, for whatever purposes He has for our lives.

Have you drunk the elixir? Have you caved in to thinking you will never…. (fill in the blank)? That you can’t…..? That God has given up on you or that His power isn’t enough for your situation?

Set that strong drink aside, my friend. Take the bottle and smash it.

Pick up this one instead: “GOD WILL and I CAN” and drink deep.

How To Really Change

She told me about the cycle, not the female kind, the human kind.

Sin-confess-sin-confess-sin…

I nod. I know.

As we talk, I see myself and as the conversation goes on the picture becomes clearer…

I’m in the boxing ring, ready to go at it with the opponents that face me. In this boxing ring I never face one that’s easy; it is always the one that knows just where to hit.

I’m not feeling powerful, not thinking very victorious, because I’ve been in this ring many times before.

And every time I’m here, I get busted up.

It gets so repetitive that when the opponent comes out, before the first blow even, I’m defeated. The fall is inevitable. The blood flows.

Again and again.

Then I realize something. I don’t even have my arms free to fight back with. They are tied behind my back. There is no way I can fight without arms. I’m defenseless, on the ground, without a chance.

The opponent comes on and there I go- bam! Down for the count.

I start looking behind my back to see what in the world has my arms tied up. I look. I look closer. I can see the cords that bind:

L              I                E                 S


Lies are holding me bondage. Lies are setting me up for the fall…every time.

Lies like, “You can’t do this.”  “Just give in, you know it’s too hard.”  “You’ll never change.”  “Who do you think you are?” “It’s not that bad.” “You’ll never be enough.” “God is so sick of you.”

These are the ties that keep my arms bound and the result is that I’ve been a plumb punching bag.

But with this understanding comes a new weapon, a way to cut the cords of lies. I can know truth and truth will set free.

So at first, I let truth untie my arms. I’m still getting busted up ~ because these arms aren’t trained to fight back yet ~ but I’m at least starting to block some blows and say, “Oh no you don’t.”

Then, I start using same truth that cut the cords to strengthen my arms. Like a stretchie band, I pull some weight on it, see if I can trust it. I start to find that it works with me, it stretches, it is something I can use to train with. I begin to make lifestyle adjustments around the truth I have discovered.

It’s when I become willing to put truth into practice that my arms begin to be trained. Sure it aches, but I’m learning how to make some punches. I develop an uppercut. I start using my arms effectively and efficiently. { I wonder how to sucker punch? That’s one I want to learn.}

I start gaining some ground. I begin having some victories. I think I just might be able to knock. that. opponent. Out.

I share with my friend that addressing wrong behavior without dealing with the underlying lies is like going into a boxing ring with your hands tied behind your back.

Discovering this changes everything. Every behavior is built on a system of beliefs. Get at the beliefs and the behavior crumbles with them.

“For our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, and against the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world.” Eph 6:12

Victory comes by taking up spiritual tools- TRUTH- and tackling spiritual falsehoods. The steps to change are R-I-S-C :

R- Recognize that at the core of every defeat is a lie(s). This is where change happens, by targeting the lies.

I- Identify the lie(s). Prayerfully ask God for wisdom, ask for godly counsel, learn from others who’ve walked similar paths. This step can take time as God sifts through belief systems that have been built over many years. Persevere! “If you continue in My word, then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

S- Submit to the truth. Discover and Embrace the specific truths that the lies stand in opposition to. Repent of believing falsehoods and humbly commit to reject the old pattern of lies. In the moment of crisis, be prepared to verbally speak your weapon- truth- and consciously reject the lie(s).

C- Change your response to one in keeping with truth. Practice truth with your body, bringing your physical self to bear on the truth. Keep practicing this lifestyle change, making truth part of your behavior, part of your actions, part of your punches! “Therefore do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you.” Romans 6:13-14

The outcome?

“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18

Change starts in the heart by rejecting lies, submitting to truth, freeing up the body to turn from sin and serve Righteousness.

Go knock that opponent out.

Related posts:

Core Lies

Injecting Mud

Core Lies

Okay, so I’m not telling you anything you probably don’t already know, but Sarah Mae has her FREE e-book on Core Lies up at her site.

My heart is blessed to see this resource up because several years ago, God started a process of identifying deeply embedded lies in my belief system. {He began the process with a very dramatic event- a story for another day}

The very first comment I left on a blog was on Sarah Mae’s when she asked for input on core lies back in December. This topic is near and dear to my heart. Here is part of my story as I shared in the comment:

Sarah Mae,

I am a visual person and God is gracious to give me illustrations to show me what He is doing in my life at any given time. As God walked me through the process of sifting truth from untruth in my life, He gave me the imagery of Achan to illustrate the process… You know when he took the goods under the ban and the Israelites cast lots to see who was guilty of the sin. (See Joshua 7)

First, the tribe of Judah was selected. God identifies the large categories first. In my life, the lies stemmed from two main areas: abuse as a 4 year old child, and the religious-but-powerless upbringing I had.

Secondly, the family of the Zerahites was selected. From the large group, God narrows it down, because not all things in that large group were lies. Much of my upbringing, for example, was helpful and good.

He showed me that certain things in my past caused me to “stumble” which means “to cause one to distrust One whom he should trust and obey.” This stage was identifying ways I became reliant on myself and withdrew from God, even “spiritual” looking ways. This stage was recognizing the ways I began “performing” and seeking after other things when I should have been laying hold of Jesus and developing a genuine faith in His love and goodness towards me.

Thirdly, the household was selected. God is getting ever closer to the “core.” In this phase, God revealed to me the misconceptions I held about Him and His nature, the “flesh and blood” concepts I picked up as truth but in fact were lies. For example, God is not a taskmaster but the rule by rod upbringing I had taught me He was.

Finally, from the household, man by man is brought near and Achan was selected. It is at this point that the core was identified, the one that had tainted the entire camp. God identified the core lies in my life as follows:

1. You are not good enough for God.

2. You have to do this by yourself. You are on your own. (Self reliance)

3. God is chiefly interested in your obedience (as opposed to relationship and obedience as an outflow of that- John 15)

Through a very difficult season of parenting my own children, God has used my emotions of fear, inadequacy, anxiety, and anger as triggers to teach me those underlying lies. From there, I have been able to identify them, label them, reject them as they come up, and embrace truth instead.

What freedom!

I am grateful to Sarah Mae for including an additional portion of my testimony in her e-book, which you can download by clicking here.

 

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