Last October the team from Words to Live By (Radio Bible Class Ministry) came to International Falls and recorded my story along with some others. I am providing a link to that story which depicts the goodness of a God who looks at the unlovely and redeems it for His glory. I want you to know that if you think that for some reason, God would never be interested in you, guess what? That is one big lie that the enemy would love for you to believe!
Romans 5:8 reminds us that we are all an extreme makeover!
“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
When I share and speak to various groups, women thank me for giving them hope, hope for their granddaughter, or daughter who are in a place far away from God. Never give up and never stop praying!
We all have dry times in our lives when there is just nothing happening for us spiritually and it just seems as if we are crawling along in our walk. Everything is just as it always is and it can seem alright for a time but then we sense the growing barrenness in our life. The old feeling of walking alone and out of sync with the flow. Everyone else seems to be alive and excited to be serving God but for some reason, I feel blah spiritually!
I have been there so many times and frankly I do not like being there. Traveling that path for any length of time is very weighty and I certainly mean that to say with a load of sorrow. I have never been in a sand dessert but for a time I did live in the northern part of New Mexico. It is not quite the same but there are some similarities with the hot dry, summers. In a sand desert, there is some life but not a bustling flurry of activity as in a thriving forest. It is simply too hot and dry.
This ugly cactus plant of mine is rather similar to the plants that grow in the desert. It tends to thrive on very little water and it is so ugly that I almost wish it would die so I could get rid of it. I think it is about 45 years old and as you can see it doesn’t get huge. What grows (very slowly I might add) are these ugly long fronds or whatever you call them with their prickly little edges (although not like the usual cacti with its thorns.)
It sits rather lopsided in my pot and obstructs my husbands view of the television if I don’t turn it around the other way.
My dry times are rather like that old cactus, dry, barren, lonely and fruitless. It really is a terrible place to be. I am not even nice to be around because I have no joy, motivation or energy. I just want to hang it up. Interestingly, it even causes those that I am around to get cranky, like my husband. My hard places don’t just effect me, they also have an impact on those around me. My co-workers know when Kimberly Dawn is going through rough times because I am generally a joy-filled person. (Praise God!) But not with the weight of the world on my shoulders, pressing me down! Or a mind preoccupied with relationships gone awry.
It is difficult to own up to but these dry times are usually caused by my own poor choices. If you are a relational person like me, you know how important people are in your life and you need them to interact with and fellowship with and just to enjoy life with. Thank you Lord for creating fellowship with one another. But then the offense comes along and steals the joy. I usually make provision for the flesh and react by harboring bitterness or jealousy in my heart and wham, there I go down in the desert for some rounds about the mountain. My thoughts are possessed with wrong thinking. My reactions are very “me” centered around all my thoughts and hurt feelings. Woe is me, they don’t understand, what about my feelings on the issue and don’t I have a “right” to feel the way I do? Just look how they have hurt me! You really can try to justify almost anything!
When I go to bed at night, I want sweet thoughts and pleasurable memories of my day or week. I want to reflect on the goodness of the Lord and to be able to see His hand in motion throughout my day. If I am in the midst of a desert experience I can’t see any of that, just miserable, poor me. If I dwell too long in that place I become dryer, harder and more and more lifeless because I am getting more and more bitter in my own defense. What an icky place to be!
How in the world do I come to an end of my desert journey? Thanks be to God for the power of the Holy Spirit in spite of quenching His Spirit with my “me-ness” mentality. Something jogs my heart and I begin to see that I am the problem not the other party. I’m the one who is holding on to the bitterness, unforgiveness, anger and resentment because all I can see is how mistreated I have been. God’s Word has sooo…much to say about the above list of excuses we use to stay in our desert land:
This Scripture from Matthew 5:23,24 really sheds a spotlight on relational issues out of sync:
“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
I am believing that my offering to God is not going to amount to anything with resentment at the root of my heart. And I have worshiped and wondered why I couldn’t sense His presence and wondered why He seemed so distant from me.
From Romans 13:14 Paul tells,
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and makenoprovision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”
And this includes along with all sorts of immoralities, strife and envy. And once again from Mark 12:25
“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
You have to admit that forgiveness is a huge issue in God’s eyes. I guess that means that I better make it a priority also. He says (God says) 70 times 7 and that if I cannot forgive then I too will not be forgiven. God forbid I don’t get a grasp on this one! So, what is my excuse now? Can I really justify my situation any longer? I don’t think so! Okay Holy Spirit, show me how to get myself to the watering hole ’cause I am so thirsty and so dry and desperately longing for Your presence once again.
You see, with enough sunlight and just the right amount of water, that ugly old cactus does an amazing thing every once in a while. It unpredictably blooms. Sometimes only one or two but these huge gorgeous blooms come out of the most unlikely places. And like that blooming cactus, I too need adequate time in the “Son” so that I can produce fruit that will please my Father and bless others. How’s your heart today? Are you filled with bitterness and anger? Unforgiveness and resentments? You may know what the fruit of the Spirit is and that is what I want to exhibit in my life towards others. It is through a victorious life that this fruit grows and is used to show others the love of Christ.
“But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.”
Father, will You show me my unpleasantness and its root? I don’t want to be there anymore. I want the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in my life so that when others look at my life they see You. Help me to root out all the negative things like anger, resentment, bitterness, envy and strife that is keeping me in bondage. Set me free and even if I need to go to someone for forgiveness will You give me the grace to humble myself and approach that one so that we might be restored to fellowship with one another and with You? I will trust that You will work out all the details of this in my life and that You will receive all the glory, honor and praise due Your Name. I will lean on Your promises and trust this to be resolved in Your perfect timing. Restore me Lord to Your presence and fill me with Your precious Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name, Amen
“…Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”
So my former co-worker and I discussed the portion of Scripture above. And having gone through some studies that deal with ‘offense’ this came to light again today. First of all how important it is that we have right relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ (not to mention all the other wonderful and not so wonderful people in our lives.)
Here is the Scripture in its context:
“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.
“So if you are standing before the altar in the Temple, offering a sacrifice to God, and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there beside the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. I assure you that you won’t be free agian until you have paid the last penny.”
I am now understanding that I just don’t have a ‘right’ to carry a grudge or to hold on to a misunderstanding with another person. But…why is it so hard to set these things right with a brother or sister I may have offended or royally ticked off? Well, what about that person who observes my actions and sees me as a ‘goody two shoes Christian’ yet can’t get along with my brothers and sisters? What am I showing them? Probably that I am no different from the rest of the world. But I know that I am supposed to be. I am sanctified and set apart. This means I should operate in and with love not being ‘holier than thou’ but holy unto God. I believe this means that I need to look different (responding with actions that reveal a heart of love) to those who observe how I behave, with compassion and being more like Christ!
Father, will you forgive me for my reactions to people, and help me to see we are on this journey of becoming more like You and that means that I need You to teach me how to forgive and ask to be forgiven. These aren’t easy lessons, Father, and my spirit is sometimes very wounded, but I want the transformation into Christlikness to grow and continue even if it hurts. Thank you for Your love and patience towards me, Your daughter who so often times blunders her way through life! I love You, Father and know you are working all things together (in my life) for good. Amen
Maybe the issue of forgiveness and offense has come from extreme circumstances, please know that God can help you work through this situation by handing it over to Him! He will make a way and bring healing and peace to your situation…
“Shackled by a heavy burden, ‘neath a load of guilt and shame…” The the hand of Jesus touched me, And now I am no longer the same.”
The Gaither Vocal Band wrote the lyrics to this gospel song, which after a walk in the woods one morning with the pup, kept coming to mind and I began to sing it. I was admiring the beauty of the freshly fallen snow but as I glanced at the trees they were so heavy laden with that thick weighty load bearing upon the branches. I am sure that some of them were close to breaking and I thought of how familiar that is to us when we are full of unconfessed sin.
Sin is a very heavy load to bear, after all, the Father didn’t design us to carry that kind of a weight around! It is a weight that will eventually cause damage physically and spiritually. Physically we hide our sin and by hiding or stashing it we become unhealthy in our actions trying to cover up our mess. And what about the guilt that we carry around because of our sin? It could be from something we’ve done or said or we might live in denial pretending that we have done nothing wrong yet wonder why our happiness and joy is stifled, only a facade.
Spiritually speaking, we might do likewise as we pretend that our walk is just fine and that all is well. When in fact we for some reason have a difficult time with people, you know, those certain ones who remind of us of a place we would rather not visit. Or those especially nice ones who make us uncomfortable because they seem so clean and right. Finally, there is a void when we don’t know Jesus and He doesn’t reside or dwell within, don’t you just want peace with yourself and with others!
“Then the hand of Jesus touched me, And now I am no longer the same…”
I have learned that sin is a weight that is not intended to be carried. My sin and guilt was so overwhelming that I wanted to die…my load of guilt was nearly unbearable! I am unable to soar bearing its load. God created me and you to fly like an eagle and soar to great heights. But by carrying an unnecessary burden, I become handicapped so to speak, unable to attain those things that God has destined for me! But there is a remedy…
Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart–these, O God, You will not despise.” (NKJ)
God delights when we turn from sin! There is no degree of one sin over another, it is all unacceptable to Him. And there is nothing sweeter than being released from that burden which stood in the way as a road block between me and God! No more guilt, no more shame and one thing is for sure, the world takes on a whole new look when it isn’t skewed with our sin and guilt! You see, God provides enough grace and mercy daily for every wrong we confess. After all, He delights in our fellowship and right standing with Him because of the sacrifice His Son Jesus made on the cross. When Jesus rose from the grave on Resurrection morning, He made a way for us to have life and a relationship with Father God. It was extreme love, given for us!
John 15:13 says it clearly, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (NKJ)
And like the song continues…
“He touched me, oh He touched me,
And oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened and now I know,
He touched me and made me whole.”
So if it is unforgiveness, adultery, abuse, a besetting sin, the sin of unbelief, you just name it and give Him your burden, don’t delay, it belongs at the foot of the cross! Jesus blood covers it and God has already forgiven it!
The church I attend had been planning to have ‘revival’ meetings with Ralph Sutera, who had been to our church years ago along with his twin brother, Lou. When they came to Int’l Falls in the late 70’s (I wasn’t even a Christian), many hearts were stirred and moved and some are even still living the life of faith that was ignited back then. I was impressed that these men don’t come to a church unless they hear from the Lord. Indeed, they are about praying for the Lord’s perfect timing.
Within this past year, unbeknown to many of us, our church was going through some difficult internal things. At the appropriate time, Ralph Sutera confirmed that he would indeed come in the fall and there would be a series of meetings for four days that would be open to the community. These meetings ended up being four very interesting days for yours truly who had never attended “revival” meetings before.
Some background on the Suteras show that these men of God have been serving in this capacity for over 50 years! It was in the early 70’s that Ralph and Lou were use by the Lord in the sweeping Canadian Prairie revival that impacted many lives, including Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God) and Irwin Lutzer (senior pastor of Moody Memorial Church.) Wow, these are names I know and respect. You can find out information about the Suteras.
I have learned that there is a difference between Evangelistic and Revival meetings. One focuses on bringing the pre-saved to Christ and the other deals with the heart condition of the saved. The latter confirmed that as I have been called to step up to the plate (spiritually speaking), desiring to go ever deeper in my walk with Him, God has let me know that there is some business that He and I have to tend to.
The first meeting I attended was actually our Sunday morning service, and as I sat there listening, Ralph began his message. The more he spoke, the more he began to point out the way that the church (corporately and individually) was out of order. Every element that he mentioned I thought, “Boy, I sure hope that so-and-so heard that and I sure hope our youth pastor heard that”…and on and on. Finally, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Kimberly, this is not about them; this is about you!” I suddenly felt quite squashed, or maybe deflated is a better word! That Sunday morning, after Ralph concluded his talk, he was led to call whoever felt prompted to come up front for a time of repentance and prayer. It didn’t take long for me to know that I needed to be up there kneeling at the altar confessing my sins. It was a time of speaking out our sins (not hiding it in silence so that no one would hear), as we were in this mode of repentance. I am reminded that this confession is like our baptism, being administered in public should serve to hold us accountable.
The following nights were sure interesting and I each night I would think to myself, here is an older gentleman, small in stature with lots of white hair and a fiery twinkle in his eye (must be the Italian heritage), using his laptop and some of the original Power Point graphics (dare I say out-dated!) and, let’s face it, one would think that they might have stepped back in time just a bit. But, when the Holy Spirit begins to do His work in a heart, suddenly the seemingly outdated presentation no longer matters. I believe that if Ralph had continued to hold these meetings for many more days (they have held meetings for two and three weeks long!), I would have become completely deflated. Hey, maybe that is the idea! After all, is that not what John 3:30 is all about? “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
My goal is not to squelch what the Lord has begun in this refining process! Going ‘round and ‘round the mountain has grown so old. Every glimpse of Christ-likeness reminds me that although difficult, the daily surrendering of Kimberly leads to more of Christ in me, and increases my effectiveness for the Lord, to Him be all the glory.
Visiting over at Grace & Truth today just in case you need encouragement!
Most of us know the saying “pick yourself up by your bootstraps”–a saying that basically means “quit feeling sorry for yourself and get on with your life.” From a worldly perspective, it sounds like the right thing to do; but it can sure put a guilt trip on those who–hard as they tug–are not strong enough to handle life and its stresses. Let me just say that there are times when life is just challenging and stuff happens. So where do we run when it does?
As a young girl I learned early on to fend for myself. I developed the tendency to depend on no one but me. I left home at the early age of 15, became a mother at 17 and thought I was getting along just fine. However, God did not design us to live independently and apart from Him! I continued to mooch off others and be involved in relationships that were rather one-sided because of my selfish, me first survival mentality. I learned that if I were going to survive, I would have to keep picking myself up and moving along.
My world came crashing down around me as my first marriage crumbled into adultery and alcoholism in an effort to find true love. I became overwhelmed by the fact that I was insufficient as a wife, mother and human being; I was miserable. The only way I could see out of my hopelessness was to take my life. After all, I had made a genuine mess of everything. That became a turning point for me as, thankfully, God began stirring my heart and I finally began to think about somebody besides myself. What would happen to my children?
For the next few years, I sought help by going to church. I felt the arms of Jesus through the sweet women of the church who reached out to me and encouraged me along. My wild, spirited youngest son would run up and down the isles of church and I would just cry because I could not make him behave. A dear saint would gently stop him by scooping him up and holding him through the rest of the service while I sat there blubbering over my inability to control him. Oh, how those women made me feel loved and ‘church’ became a comfortable place to be.
However, this warm and fuzzy place to be did not fill the longing in my heart. I began to do a lot of thinking about church and what this all meant as far as the Bible and what role it would play in my life. I could not really understand most of it and the more I questioned the more confused I seemed to get.
It was during that time that I began to periodically listen to Focus on the Family during the noon hour. I would even tell my youngest son that he had to have quiet time for that half hour just so I could listen. The help for hurting families began to pique my curiosity, so that I would look forward to fitting that half hour into my day as a stay-at-home mom.
Then I discovered Christian television and the 700 Club. When I heard the stories of how Christ had intervened in the lives of people just like me, I began to have hope. I wanted to be helped just like they had been. The turning point in my life came when I prayed with Pat Robertson, extending my hand toward the television and I received Christ as I prayed the sinner’s prayer. This profound moment came at the age of 30.
The most notable difference to me was that the Bible, when I would read it, came alive for me. I also learned through trial and error that I was better off to grab the extended hand of my God instead of the boot straps that kept breaking when I would pull, trying to pick myself up!
Jesus has rocked my world and the process of being turned right-side up from wrong-side down has been a wild journey thus far, not easy a lot of the time but so worth the journey. God has filled me with peace and joy even when the road has been rough and rocky.
Friend, if you are tired of trying to make life work, will you grab the extended hand of the Father? He is waiting. I am not saying it will be easy, but you will begin a journey that you will never regret as you begin a new life in Christ!
Do you have days when you just don’t feel like you are loved?
There used to be days when it was hard to imagine that I was really loved. Because of the many messes in my early years and the fallout, I struggled to believe that I was worthy of being loved.
Have you ever questioned how you could be worthy of love?
I want you to know that God has a heart for you! When you are in Christ you are the apple of His eye!
“Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.
Let Israel be glad in his Maker; Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.
Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.
For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.”
These are the first four verses of Psalm 149 (NASB) and I want you to especially pay attention to the fourth verse. In Christ we can count on the fact that God takes pleasure in us!
Do you suffer with anything? Could be illness, loneliness, abandonment, grief, depression, confusion? Please, take heart. The above Word says that God will beautify you, with salvation. Look what the Lord has done! By keeping your eye on the prize, and your gaze on Christ, God is glorifying Himself in you! You are precious in His sight! But, you must believe it. Say this with me, “I am the righteousness of Christ.” Then keep saying it again and again until you truly begin to ‘walk’ in that reality!
The ESV translates verse four like this:
“For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.”
Maybe you are like me in thinking that God only wants perfect people. Oh friend that just ain’t so because there aren’t any perfect people, nope, we are all in process!
This process we are in could include our issues or afflictions that God uses to keep us humble and wholly dependent upon Him. The hardest thing we can do is to embrace where God has us today! In so doing we will be ready for a promise to come, tomorrow.
I want to give you some truth to counter the doubts you feel when you are in a low spot, when you are not feeling worthy…
Worthy of being loved…I have declared you forgiven of all your sins…Romans 5:1
…I see you as a holy one, a saint…Ephesians 1:1
…your life is complete in Christ…Colossians 2:10
I am significant…I empower you by My Spirit to be my witness…Acts 1:8
…You are a branch of the true vine, infused with life…John 15:1,5
…I designed and crafted you to do good works…Ephesians 2:10
I am totally secure…I have freed you forever from condemnation…Romans 8:1-2
…I have made you a citizen of heaven…Philippians 3:20
…I will complete to perfection the work I began in you…Philippians 1:6
Now what? Say to yourself, I believe! This is who I am, because God has said so for His Word has proved it. God will not renege on His Word. He can’t, it is who He is…”The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
Will you trust God to lead you into believing that His Word is truth?
In so doing, you can trust Him to fulfill His promises.
You can walk unencumbered by doubt that kept you from believing that you matter. You are filled with value and precious because you are loved by God!