Visiting over at #the Loft today with a wonderful bunch of girls who love God!
When I was a new believer in Christ, I sure didn’t think that God could be very pleased with me. After all I had a jaded past full of regrets and loathsome sins that the enemy of my soul used to lord over me and make me feel unlovable, unforgiveable and fairly weighted down by my burden of regret!
I began to read through the Psalms and especially the ones written by King David. Oh my, to learn that he was once a youth who God Himself had pegged as a man after His very own heart! I was touched to learn as well that in his seeking of God that he was also a worshiper and really maybe that is a given when you are a seeker of God? Those who run after God and draw near to His heart worship Him!
So the Psalms intrigued me and this man David who became a king was interesting to observe. And then I watched him fall…big time, as he slipped into his affair with Bathsheba. Not only was he now an adulterer but he became a murderer devising the plan to kill off Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband. How did this man after God’s own heart fall so hard?
Interestingly enough, as I struggled with forgiving myself in light of being forgiven by the Lord I saw God’s love and grace for this fallen king poured out upon David as he repented, acknowledging his sin, and then he moved forward. God continued to bless his kingdom.
Now I am in no way saying I am a David but…the biggy is that David was loved by God and forgiven. This gave me hope to see that I could be forgiven of my sins and that now as His child I walk and continue on as a saint who sometimes sins (Neil Anderson, Freedom in Christ Ministries).
In many ways David is a hero to me, and his life–although not the happiest ending–was still used by God to usher in the Prince of Peace. God knew David’s heart and he knows mine. Oh I am grateful to know that although I sometimes struggle, God will never dispose of me because He knows my heart and how much I love Him!
For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.
Visiting over at #TheLoft today and thrilled to be with some excellent women of God!
Has anyone ever said to you “Oh just let it go!” I heard it today and shared it as well. There are times when an issue needs to be resolved, a theft or a murder, absolutely! But what about the seemingly little things that come and go throughout our day that can drive us crazy to no end! This girl has had to receive and heed her own advice, to just let it go.
The ‘some ones’ in my life seem to be part of my most difficult choice to abide by that rule of thumb. In and of myself, I cannot make someone respond by what I would call ‘correctly’ whether it is to own up, or apologize for an offense or wrong doing. In my mind I play that game of ‘justice’ and the harder I play at it the more convoluted things begin to look.
Now I know what Matthew 18 says about those who ‘may’ have an issue with you and by gum, somehow I am suddenly carrying the thing I am trying to get rid of! What??? And I know about the 7 x 70 rule that Jesus expects us to live by but I always get in the way of it!
So intentionality has to come in to play here where I look at what I am able to control…that would be me and my emotions! Maybe I am making more out of a scenario than I need to? And my assessment wants to scream ‘but they did…’ and then I hear those words, just let it go. Yup sometimes it really is the best choice to make instead of allowing myself to get bent out of shape over something hardly worth picking at. Like a scab you know!
Seems like a cop-out but friend, a lot of the time it can spare a lot of bickering and wrong thinking toward another. Rather let’s just choose to just “Let it go!”
Father wounds are very painful and they can take a very long time to heal. We have been airing a program on our radio station that has naturally–because of upcoming Father’s Day–made father the focus. Rightfully so!
One day a year we can honor the man (in some of our lives) that served to be that marvelous example of love, provision, admiration and respect. As I said, in some of our lives. I think it is truly wonderful when people speak of their fathers with the utmost of respect and admiration. But on the other hand, there have been too many poor examples of that fatherhood role exhibited by those who claim the title of Father, Dad, Pop, Papa, etc.
I don’t mean to sound sarcastic about this, I really don’t, I am however standing in for those of us who either had poor examples of fatherhood inflicted upon them or didn’t have a father at all such as myself.
Did you have a father who was in the house but didn’t show his love for you?
Was your home dysfunctional where your father was missing or maybe you were afraid of him?
Maybe you were like me, no father in the picture at all that you can remember?
Now listening to the gentleman on our program give the most illustrious talk about the man he looked up to and admired with the utmost of respect, his father, made me long for that missing link in my life. I get pretty teary-eyed to think that there can be an earthly man that fills that mold of ‘father’ so wonderfully as the speaker’s father did. Wow! The respect and admiration was more than evident as he shared of losing his father and spending those last days with his hero.
Okay, you are thinking what is this girl’s problem? Can’t she just be thrilled for a shining example of an earthly father. Really, I do think it is wonderful but my heart has been empty for the father that I longed for and never had. I always heard what a wonderful man he was but funny, that wonderful man couldn’t take care of my mother and me. I am repeatedly told I would have loved him as he was such a pioneer type, rugged and fun-loving…but I have only seen pictures of me with him as a baby and as a one-year-old.
I understand he came from a family of good fortune but mom went to work to support us because that great guy of a father couldn’t hold a job.When I wrote an aunt to find out some information about my father she told me he was a “disgrace to the family and poor excuse for a human being.” Wow, there was no love lost there! Needless to say, my image of this “wonderful” man was somewhat skewed and the whole scenario of fatherhood seemed quite a mystery to a little girl who remained curious and longing for what she thought others had and she did not.It took many years of very difficult circumstances for me to realize that I was looking for ‘love’ (father’s love) but that I was going at it all backwards. In my early 40’s my life took a ‘right’ turn by realizing that I had a root of bitterness that I wasn’t even aware of. And this thing had wrapped all around my heart. If unforgiveness is a stumbling block you might want to read this post on the Toxic Root of Bitterness.
It was 12 years earlier that I had opened myself to the gift of salvation and received Jesus Christ into my heart. But even that didn’t fill my empty heart (or so I thought.) A series of circumstances brought about by my pride, dysfunction and strong will found me miserable and ready to give it all up.
It is remarkable to think that God had a different plan. And part of this journey was acknowledging that the pain in my heart was–for the most part–due to anger toward a man I never even knew. It is hard to fathom how someone you never knew could have such an impact on your life! It was in large part because of the “Freedom in Christ” ministry of Dr. Neil Anderson, that I was able to release that bitterness and begin to see that I really do have a perfect Father now. I still have twinges of longing for “God with skin” like when you want a great big hug from arms that can just pull you in and hold you. So you can snuggle your head into his chest and feel the comfort of all comforts only a daddy can provide. For now, that can’t be, but someday, I am going to run to my Abba Father, my Daddy and He is going to embrace me and never let me go.
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68:5
Friend, if you have that emptiness in your heart, a hole that just runs on empty because there was no father love to fill it up, I have an answer for you. Will you let the Father of all fathers begin to fill that hole with love that will begin to heal as a balm does on a wound? He is the Father to the fatherless, and He will never let you down, leave or forsake you! Cry out to Him right now, something just like this:
Father in heaven, I am longing to have this hole in my heart be healed. I have looked for love in all the wrong places and have paid dearly for my poor choices. I am so tired of running from one thing to another as I look for whatever it takes to keep the pain from overwhelming me. There are times when I just want to kill myself and be done with this life. As I look up to You, will you receive me just as I am and forgive me for doing my own thing as I searched for something to bring me happiness? Forgive me for the mess I have made of my life and help me to have a clean, new beginning with You. Thank you that by Your Son Jesus, I can come to You and You will hear me and answer and You won’t turn away from but will welcome me into Your family. I look forward to the plan that You have had for me since I was being formed in my mother’s womb and I am going to trust You to be my guide as I learn to love and live for You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
You will never regret making this new beginning. Welcome to the family of God, you are now a child of the Most High God! If you made the decision to receive the free gift of salvation will you let someone know? You can even let me know and I will do my best to send you something to help you on your new journey just email your response to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more about knowing Jesus over at Knowing the Father.
Years ago when my youngest (troubled) son was placed in a facility to get help (he was an unhealthy hazard to himself and others), I was sharing my heart with Amy Shreve (she a harpist and her husband are our friends that we traveled with for some radio rallies.)
The night after a concert here in I-Falls I was so grieved for this son who has had problems since fighting me in the womb, It is true! Too many heartaches and broken promises that he would straighten up go right and that never amounted to success. This mother’s heart hurt so badly to see him fail time and time again. Not to mention the stress it put on my marriage.
How easy it can be to place blame! It’s my fault, the father’s fault, the stepfather’s fault, everybody else’s fault but no one owning up to their own responsibility. Living the dysfunctional life I have lived only helped me take on unnecessary blame for a whole host of things that were only partially my fault.
I believe that we are only responsible for the situations that we directly cause and not the speculative ones (if only you…) If I steal something, I am at fault, not the person who doesn’t lock his door to keep a thief out. “If onlys” are pure speculation! But we can really let ourselves get buried beneath them if we are not wise (or shall I say walking in truth.) Stuff happens, we make mistakes! Acknowledge them, confess them and ask forgiveness of those we have wronged and move on. How sad when we become buried under guilt and condemnation that really isn’t ours to assume provided we have responded correctly like mentioned above. We can become overwhelmed with false guilt.
Prodigals can be used by God to help us look at the truth in our own situations. Click To Tweet Looking back I can now see that there are things that could have been handled differently and with a whole lot more unconditional love. But then the child has a responsibility also. They become runners. Runners from the truth, their pain and anything that gets uncomfortably close to their emotions. They need help to see that their poor choices are what they need to own up to. I am responsible for my choices and my children for theirs, my spouse His, etc. It is a dynamic that I just don’t know how people without the Lord survive and many don’t.
I have attached a link to an Oswald Chamber’s reading for March 24 (linked to the image.) This is what Amy came to show me the next morning when she had been praying for me and my prodigal. It wasn’t even March but she came upon it and shared it with me and it has had a very profound impact on my thinking.
You see dysfunctionality breeds false guilt which in most cases won’t let the wrong assume their sorrows and pain that they find themselves in. He must increase… If God is sovereign and in control and I believe He is, then every thing, large and small is used by Him (He is fully aware of it’s happening) to grow us up and closer to Him. According to Chambers, we can become the very thing that gets in the way of our prodigal learning (yes the hard way) his lessons.
Some of us have to learn the hard way, I have. If someone comes along to smooth out the situation instead of letting the circumstances being used to teach the lesson, then that someone has interrupted the class and the lesson may be postponed until a later date and possibly a more severe situation. The verse for that day is from John 3:30 and it is simple and profound,
So I pray that we would not be in the way of the catylist that the Lord would use to work in the heart of that one who is walking contrary to God’s ways.
Father, I cautiously say, do it Lord, whatever it takes to break the heart of the wander so that they would look beyond themselves and see You! I know You will give me the courage to believe that You hold his or her life in Your hands and that Your desire is to see them come to You and give them the peace they have been searching for. I can even say “thank you” for the hard lessons that I have had to learn because You used them to bring me a bit closer to You each time. I not only love You Lord, but I trust You and entrust my loved ones to You, in Jesus’ Name!
We are all prodigals at one time or another! Recently Louie Giglio addressed some of this in a powerful message He delivered and shared on Focus on the Family at the end of May 2014. If you have some time it would be well worth listening to some of this first part of his message…
Sharing the story of a desperate heart over at the #Loft today to remind us that God is there at the perfect moment, even when despair is ready to consume us, and it is never too late…
I spoke to a lovely group of ladies, where a beautiful young lady was asked to do special music for the event. I knew the song but never really paid much attention to it until that day, hearing it sweetly and gently sung by this precious woman. I hadn’t realized that some of the lyrics in the song really spoke of my story and my journey of coming to Christ and delivering my marriage. I just couldn’t get the song out of my mind. (Interesting how God really does put things together since she and I didn’t even know each other!)
God has given me specific verses that I use to encapsulate my story of being a desperate young mom who had exhausted all her efforts to ‘make life work’ or ‘make sense’. Instead, all I kept doing was digging my hole deeper and deeper with every poor choice and mistake piling in upon me and weighing me down so that every attempt to climb out only felt like trying to pull myself out of quick sand. I was being sucked in and frankly, I was just about at the place of letting go of all hope, figuring I would never find ‘happiness’ and I just wanted to give up. However, that was the place or point where God could finally do the work He had planned all along.
The chorus of the song that was sung by the beautiful guest vocalist was so fitting because I was there, I was a broken, miserable and pretty desperate mess of a woman, failing in all of my attempts to find happiness.
We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of a breaking heart,
Are better than a Hallelujah…
I am reminded of how patient our heavenly Father is with us. He really does know that some of us have to bottom out not only once sometimes more times as we stubbornly keep trying to do things “our way” instead of pleading for help. This only reminds me of how kind our Father truly is toward His wayward children. Another line from the song:
The tears of shame for what’s been done
The silence when the words won’t come,
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
The verse that speaks so clearly of the day that Jesus rescued me from everything that I had attempted to do on my own in an effort to find peace is from Psalm 40:1-3:
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”
God, my Father, could have left me flailing, trying to continue in my useless efforts to get out of my self-made pit…but He didn’t! He heard the broken cries of one who finally let go of trying to “do it on her own”! Instead He knew I was truly ready to be plucked out.
Here is Psalm 40:1-3 once again but from the Message paraphrase:
I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.
My life hasn’t been the same since the day I gave my broken Hallelujah to my God. I am very encouraged to know that the heart song we sing never goes unnoticed by the Father! He never turns His back on our cries. Like the verses above read, He is patient in His waiting for us to finally say we can’t do it on our own, or by ourselves! Help, help me Lord…
Are you at that place today where a broken Hallelujah is all you can muster or where out of sheer desperation your heart is on the verge of failing and you just can’t go another step on your own? Oh my friend, God has been patiently waiting for this very moment when you would lay down your self-made efforts and allow Him to ‘bring you up’, up out of your own miserable pit. He is your rescuer, your deliverer and your present help in times of trouble. I urge you to cry out to Him now, give Him your broken Hallelujah, He not only cares for you but He loves you and He won’t turn His back on you!
But then life happens and things get rough and times get tough and the winds of adversity beat on our united front and we begin to think ‘what am I doing in this situation..it has to be better somewhere else…’
From Matthew 19:5,6 we find common words spoken over bazillions of wedded couples:
‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
As a young mom, emotionally immature and needy I didn’t know how to look beyond my own needs when I finally got married with my one son born out of wedlock, I was looking for someone to take care of us. No faith to sustain me except in myself and that was pretty pathetic. My first marriage ended prematurely leaving me with three children that I didn’t have a clue how to raise and so it was easy to find myself back in another relationship.
Thankfully, God intervened in my life and He began to turn me from upside down to Christ-side up. What a process indeed. However, I will be ever so ready to say that I have made the choice to go it the long haul.
I am done being a quitter and a runner! I want God to be glorified in my life and in the example that my marriage makes in a world gone awry. I am a woman of God, and if I say I believe in Him then I better put my faith into action by trusting Him even when it hurts! And guess what, I’m not talking upon condition either.
Is it stinkin’ hard? At times, you bet it is. Like when we both look pretty ugly at each other and want to demand our way. But life is messy and relationships are some of the messiest stuff out there. But you see, if I’m supposed to point others to Jesus then I better quit pointing at myself and demanding my rights.
Then there is this forgiveness issue…pride says “I’m right and you are wrong!” But love says “I’m so sorry, will you forgive me?”
Remember this familiar description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 in the Message paraphrase:
“Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end.”
I want others to know that it does work. But also, that it may take some elbow grease in the process. Like scrubbing away me to see I am in this with another.
Love this song from Casting Crowns that points to the fact that most times we don’t enter a marriage with the intent on giving up our selves. But if it is going to work it must. Click To Tweet
My question to you is this…will you fight for marriage?
Will you lay aside your demands and get on your knees and ask God to show you how to make a difference in your life, not change him Lord, but in you?
If you have read my blog in the past you might have read my posting on Lessons from a Schnauzer. Oh, that little loving pup of ours is in some ways like my prodigal children have been, in that she is used by God to teach me more about Him.
A few years back over Easter weekend, we had an incident that only happens thankfully once in a while. I am always praying against this happening because I am fearful of the consequences. Elsa, is a Schnauzer who is very true to her calling, she loves children and loves to ‘hunt’. Schnauzers were bred to mind the kinder and keep the vermin at bay on the farms. Even when she hears children on the Television or radio she perks right up and would love to join the kid party. As to her inquisitive nature to hunt and chase after ‘vermin’ she would constantly be off to the woods and who knows that we would ever see her again. She even thinks that she should investigate the deer that are always roaming through the property. So in light of her natural calling we are not able to let her run free. If we are out she must be hooked to something to keep her from doing her ‘Schnauzer thing’. It sounds rather cruel but she knows that is the way it is and the leash has just become a part of her life.
Like our own human nature every now and again, Schnauzers, like ourselves need to have a taste of freedom. Elsa’s last fling without the leash came on Easter Sunday as we were getting ready for church. My daughter and I were the last to head out and I asked her where Elsa was and she thought she was possibly downstairs. Knowing that the kids were not in the house I suddenly entertained a thought that I really didn’t want to think about. I went downstairs with a heavy heart knowing that she was nowhere to be found in the house. I hollered up to my daughter and said Elsa must be outside to which she opened the door and promptly tried to coax her back into the house. All to no avail for all the coaxing in the world was not going to ruin this fling with freedom.
By the time I ran up the stairs and grabbed the leash and headed out doors she was springing for the highway leaping like a lamb through the front yard and I imagined hearing her yelling, “I’m free, I’m free…” I began to pray immediately to the Lord beseeching Him to not let her get hit on the road as the cars were coming up and down the hill. Yes, she leaped across the ditch and across the road she went up the neighbor’s driveway. I continued my praying, pleading with the Lord to please keep her safe and direct her homeward. We were all calling for her as I am sure she continued in her little puppy mind, “I’m free, I’m free…”
Then…(thank you Lord!) she turned around and headed back home, darting past my son-in-law heading right to my oldest grandson, Zachary. I said gently, “Grab her and don’t let go!” Which he did and then they came over to me and I promptly took her and put her on her chain by the kennel. She only uses the chain and kennel when we have to be gone for a short time and have no one to watch her. Or, sometimes just so she can be out and about when it is nice out. Then off to church we headed. I was praising God the entire way to church that He kept her from harm and returned her to home.
Well naturally my immediate application was to see this episode as how a loving God gives us loving boundaries for our good. For Elsa it is the leash and for us it is in the Word. For a long time I resisted some of God’s boundaries because I wanted to maintain my “freedom.” I realize now that I make enough mistakes as it is without thumbing my nose at a bunch of rules, regulations and warnings.
There is this sin nature that we wrestle with that is directly contrary to our Christ-like nature. It is a battle that we will wage until we go home to glory. But if we consciously live our life desiring God’s ways instead of ours we will provide less opportunity for the enemy to trip us up. Or in Elsa’s case become a flat, black furry spot on the road!
Paul tells us himself how he too very wrestled with doing what he was not supposed to do in Romans 7:15
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.”
I am amazed that Paul would openly admit his struggles. And for me it is freeing to know that a man of Paul’s character—although probably not very often—struggled with sin. He understood sin’s character and the impact it leaves behind. (I think we would call that consequences.) Sometimes, we may only struggle with seemingly small issues and the Bible warns us with a blinking yellow light like the following verse:
1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled:“Bad company corrupts good character.”
And search the word fool to see the many places you will find this in the Word. Like in Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 that says only fools say there is no God; Proverbs 1:7 says that fools despise wisdom, and discipline; Proverbs 1:22 says that fools hate knowledge! I could go on and on for there is much for us to learn about fools and foolish behavior. (Actually Proverbs is based on the contrast of the wise man and the foolish!) It is sometimes these grey areas that are not terribly obvious that can be used to trip us up and lead us astray. All for the sake of “freedom”, freedom to choose what I will and will not allow myself to get into.
I know that for years I have struggled with thinking I know best what is and is not good for me. It is just crazy how a little time here or there can leave a lasting impression on us when we spend time where we probably shouldn’t.
In this book called the Bible, there is a wealth of practical wisdom that God Himself has given to keep us safe and to warn us about old behavior patterns. Why? Because in His lovingkindness He wants what is best for us. He wants us to be safe and continue to grow more and more into Christ’s image. It is inevitable that there will come times when we succumb to old patterns or we may take a risk and do something that could put us in immediate danger, not heeded the warnings from our loving Father. We will suffer the consequences from blatant disobedience and hopefully we repent and say, “whew, I am glad I didn’t continue down that pathway.”
So whether it is not ‘completely’ telling the truth, a little flirtation with the opposite sex, watching that thing on the television that stirs old feelings inside of us or reading the same, all of these little blinking yellow lights are flashing when we enter into the danger zones of life. But, there is something that we can do to heed the warning signs. For me it is the check in my spirit telling me that I shouldn’t go there. I acknowledge the danger sign, back out, and praise God for His Holy Spirit that protects us, in essence, from ourselves teaching us how to take every thought captive and crucify our sinful nature. Freedom is wonderful but not freedom that bites back or is only fleeting!
Father, my sweet little girl could have been a spot on the highway in her quest to run to places she had never been before. I confess my desires can be much the same. I ask forgiveness for ignoring Your loving boundaries that are in place for my good. I know those earthly desires that can sometimes screams at me to just give it up for a season of ‘fun and freedom’ but I have done this enough to know how easily I can get trapped and caught up. I am grateful for your Word to me in Corinthians that says that “No temptation has overtaken [me] but such as is common to man and God is faithful, who will not allow [me] to be tempted beyond what [I] am able. And with that temptation will also provide the way of escape also, that [I] may able to endure it.” If we go out a bit too far You provide a way for us to escape. Help me to be listening and willing. Thank you Pappa for Your amazing love that only wants the very best for those You love! Amen.
Romans 1:7 “…to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints:…”
1 Corinthians 1:2b “…to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:…”
2 Corinthians 1:1b “…to the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:…”
Ephesians 1b “…to the saints that are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus:…”
Philippians 1b ”… To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi…”
If you were alive in the first century and part of the early church, Paul would be addressing you as saint! Saint Ann, Saint Kimberly, Saint Zachary, Saint Mary, etc. How does that resonate with you? I am certain that for some of you it sits well. But if you are like me, this really seemed unreal. Forget it; I’m far from a saint! You see, Paul was addressing the church family in the reality of who they were because they had been washed in the Blood of Christ! When I ponder this, I stand amazed and honestly, it took me a long time to appropriate this mindset, and feel comfortable with its implications.
For some of us it has been a long and winding journey traveling the pathway to receive forgiveness from God and then round and around the mountain until I could forgive myself. That is why it seemed just too odd to be referred to as a “saint.” I know that I can’t rely on my feelings or nothing makes sense! So let’s do some extensive traveling around and about the truth, because this is where we need to camp out. I want to examine truth and dispute the erroneous thinking around which we may allow our minds to wind. We are going to see how our emotionally driven thinking can keep us from walking in the truth.
Dr. Neal Anderson (Freedom in Christ Ministry) reminds us that we are saints who sometimes sin. I am hoping that at the end of this particular journey you will be willing to embrace your ‘sainthood’ so to speak, and not push it away as I did. It is vital to understand our identity in Christ and receive it. So on to some truth, and I will refer to Dr. Anderson often because of the impact his material and understanding had in my life as I grew to understand my identity in Christ.
Let me start with a description of the meaning of stronghold:
“…habitual, mental patterns of thought. These strongholds are memory traces burned into our minds over time or by the intensity of traumatic experiences…They are formed in our minds like deep tire tracks in a wet pasture: After the ruts have been established over time, the driver doesn’t even have to steer anymore—and any attempt to steer out of the ruts is met with resistance.”
This should help us to understand that we do not just flip a switch and recover from skewed thinking over night. The truth is there for us but we now have to form new ways of thinking and processing based on the truth of God’s Word. Here is something to ponder as we consider our positioning of being called saints and believers in Christ, and we will camp here for a bit.
2 Corinthians 10: 3-6 “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.”
Using the analogy of the tire ruts, we cannot deny that we all have patterns in which we habitually walk. Some are good but some are detrimental to our spiritual growth. The really amazing thing about this walk is that, as believers, we have not been thrown into the ring with the lions (so to speak) without appropriate weapons for the battle. The Scripture tells us that we have been given weapons for our battles that are divinely powerful to take down and destroy the fortresses (strongholds) that we have unconsciously built in our minds.
Next, the Scripture tells us that we can pit truth against error by weighing the truth found in God’s Word against the erroneous thinking that has embedded itself in our minds. “What does God’s Word have to say about who I am?” In God’s word it says that because I am in Christ I am a new creature, I am righteous and sanctified. But the battle begins when I dispute that truth…“No way; I am certainly not” or no, “I could never be because I _______…” (you fill in the blank.) It is here that we do the warring in our minds and, as the verse above says, we must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ! Now the victory is ours when we make the choice to appropriate what the Word says about who we are and walk in that calling as a saint. Do we do it without error? Of course not, but turn that wheel firmly and pull out of the rut of wrong thinking and untruth to form the new pathway of truth.
Someone I love very much says that they are a Christian yet continues to live a homosexual lifestyle. I realize that it is easy for me to think that if they would only see themselves the way God sees them then they could leave that lifestyle behind. Another loved one has sought after attention by doing lots of wrong things and behaving in wrong ways. This has made for a very dysfunctional life for them. My heart’s cry is that they and others like them would see themselves as God sees them, being made in His image. I cannot help but think what a difference this could make if they would only see themselves through the Word of life. Not that there would be no struggles and temptations because we know from the Paul’s words “…For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do…” from Romans 7.
Realistically speaking here, if we measured every thought about who we are with God’s Word, we might see that what we do or what is lived out is based on what we believe about ourselves. There is some similarity here to the positive thinking process but if we believe in Christ and His redemption on our behalf on the cross, then we should be well on our way to walking as children in the light. Our actions must be the response to the way we see ourselves in light of the Word! Dr. Neil Anderson says that “…satan would like you to believe that your behavior tells you what to believe about yourself, but the truth is that your belief about yourself determines your behavior!”
Here is a great verse to memorize:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who called you is faithful and also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24
Father God, things can sure get mixed up in my thinking and I do forget that as Your child I have received sanctification, redemption and the right to put satan and his lies under my feet. He has done a good job in keeping me from living the abundant life for way too long. Today let me know and believe that my identity is in You and with Christ in me I no longer have to live and walk in darkness. You have called me out of that darkness to live in and be Your light. Let me absorb all the truth Your Word has to say about who I am as a new creature in Christ and let my walk show to Whom it is I belong to. Thank You for loving me and for the privilege of being Your child!
Do you know someone who has been affected by abortion? Maybe you were a man who lost your baby to abortion…poor choices…regretful decisions. Maybe you are a woman who found yourself pregnant from taking just one step beyond where you should have gone with your boyfriend, or found yourself a victim of someone’s abuse and then found out you were pregnant…you were convinced that there was only one thing you could do.
If you or someone you know is living with the regret of having an abortion, I want you to know that there is hope that you can overcome the bondage of making poor choices. Poor choices that are used by the enemy of your soul to keep you from walking in freedom, to keep you from living with joy in your heart. Instead you wear regret as a chains around your neck, one for each sin you have committed and not received forgiveness for. They are heavy and they weigh you down and not only that but they will keep you from experiencing joy. Oh friend, that is not what your Father has intended for you.
I stuffed, I forgot, I ignored my pain for years and pretended that I was just fine. I never talked about it, I never shared with someone close, I kept it neatly packaged in my heart. I became a Christian at 30 and four years later I had to deal with my sinful choice to abort. The lie I believed was that the church would never understand so I still kept very quiet and guarded if I shared at all. You see, I knew how God felt about such things…like murder…I allowed someone to convince me that it was no big deal to abort…after all it was only tissue mass.
But my Father God had something planned to help me understand His marvelous grace…this is myinterviewwith Kim Ketola, host of Cradle My Heart, which aired on Sunday night (Sanctity of Human Life Sunday in 2014.)
At last I had peace knowing I was loved, forgiven, and able to forgive myself…and that is why I wanted to share and let others know that they too could forgive themselves for their sin.
Please, let others know that this program, Cradle My Heart, is on to encourage and help those who have made that regretful choice to abort. Let them know that there is hope and receiving forgiveness through Jesus Christ is the only answer as we lay our burdens down at the foot of the cross. Locally the program is heard at 8:00 PM on 91.9 FM, on Paul Bunyan Television channel 979 or online at www.cradlemyheart.org/radio.
This was my best because it was an offering to the Lord for my wrong and my willingness to be able to finally say…I AM FORGIVEN! No turning back. Enjoy this song by Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be…
Maybe like me you are pondering and wondering just what will be in store for this New Year. Not just for me, but also for our country and world. Will this be the year our Lord returns to take us home? Will we be able to continue to freely worship, unlike our brothers and sisters of the persecuted church? There are a lot of situations out there that are on the precipice of change today, and some are rather scary while others are welcomed. But naturally I am wondering how the year will unfold for my family’s lives.
As I look at the year ahead, I see an opportunity to correct things in my life that are out of alignment and in need of adjustment. This year I can set a determined course to walk in a different direction than I have previously. I have too many areas in my life that are screaming to be altered. I don’t like resolution thing mostly because I am tired of making and breaking them. I want to grow and be transformed, which will take some purposeful living on my part.
Isaiah 43 tells of God’s redemption of Israel and the housecleaning of its enemies as He prepared to wipe out Babylon. Through the prophet Isaiah, God declared that Israel should not look back but be ready for what He has in store for it. Verses 18 and 19 (from The Message translation) say, “‘Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.”
Looking back and dwelling on the could’a, would’a, should’as is a waste of time. It is also used by the enemy of our souls to keep us from embracing the new — which comes through a willingness to change and alter our way of thinking and doing. Getting out of the familiar and into the unknown. Is that hard for you? Well, it sure can be for me, but I am going to give it a try. If I am so busy looking backward, I can’t see what is right in front of me–the new road through the hard places and the refreshing pools that God gives us for our renewal.
Sounds all fine and good, doesn’t it? But seriously, it is time to rise, put aside the old and move into the new. Are you willing? Will you lay yourself on the altar (so to speak) and allow the Lord to cut away the diseased areas in your life? If there is bitterness, can He remove it as He breaks your hard heart and gives you a new heart that is soft toward those you have held in contempt for too long? Will you allow Him to fill the void in your heart that you continue to stuff with excess food, unhealthy relationships, excessive spending or busyness with other people’s lives and judgmental attitudes about others?
Let’s journey together and make this the year that we respond lovingly to the unlovely ones we all know. These are old patterns that God would love to expose in us so that we can move forward, instead of standing still as we grind ourselves deeper and deeper into a rut that seems too deep to get out of. Our God is able!
I can’t wait to see the outcome those responses will bring to those difficult situations. Let’s seek Him with all of our hearts so that His gentle hand of correction will turn us in the direction He desires for us to walk in. I say it all too often–this life is not about me and what I can get out of it. It is about serving Him so that others may know Him and the power of His Resurrection.