Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

The Battle With Doing It My Way

Letting go is just never an easy thing to do! What I mean is that stinkin’ pride sure makes it hard to surrender the “it’s all about me” areas of my life!

We had just completed a stressful couple of weeks at work. Preparing for an audit is never what I would call fun. Then there are my the two days when the accountant visits, well…he’s a great guy but he is still our accountability guy. You know what I mean right? Stressful!

So the weekend was coming and it was going to be oh so nice to stay home, get some much-needed things done. You know how it is when you work all week, and the weekend before, because you had papers to find and reports to print out! So I had even planned to start some minimal purging to prepare for the spring cleaning thing. (I get this way after the new year!)

Well, I received a txt from a loved one inviting me to take him to watch his son wrestle in his first tournament. Now, of course, I wanted to see this young man who I seldom see, but I also wanted to have my long anticipated weekend. Argh, now what am I going to do?

So there it goes…those nudgings of the Holy Spirit, saying to my heart, “you need to go.” Well of course I do, I know that but…oh how selfish I saw myself being!

Well, of course, I knew what I needed to do, I knew I wanted to see this guy who I hadn’t seen for almost a year and a half. Yup, we were going.

The long and short of it is that when God wins the wrestling match, you can bet that blessings will follow. Click To Tweet We had a fun day watching all these little kids modeling their coaches and parents. And I was so surprised to see the little girls that were also wrestling with the boys. Wow, times have changed. Finally, after four hours, our guy was up. He had been a bit nervous but by his third match, he was getting into the swing of it. His dad was heartily cheering him on. Nah, he didn’t win his matches but toughed it out like a young lad should, shook the hands and was more than ready to get out of there! It was off to get a sweet treat before we headed back home.

Thank you Lord for your prompting and prodding and thank you Lord that I saw how I needed to say yes. For whatever reason, we were meant to be there.

And my reward? That was spending time with a young lad I seldom get to see and that was very sweet. But I have to say that the blessing came from time with the Lord the next morning.

I brought a magazine home from work that comes from a ministry we carry on the radio. The cover intrigued me with a shepherd and some sheep on the cover and the words, “They hear my voice and they follow”. Ah yes, that goofy reality that we are His stupid sheep desperately in need of His shepherding.

Well, the first article was my gift from Him by Mike Lee, on ‘Giving Up Control’. Okay Lord, another reminder that I am that work in progress that still has so far to go. But as I began to read…and it wasn’t long into the article I read the words the Lord used to touch my heart deeply…

“You see, He didn’t have the one and only thing He really desires. He didn’t have my heart.

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Oh goodness, did that one do a number on my spirit. I knew He was again pointing out that my pride was what was keeping me from giving over my heart to Him.

Would I have wrestled so much when the opportunity arose to see a grandson I hadn’t seen for so long if not for my selfish desires? Of course not. I would have jumped at the opportunity to go. I would never have second guessed that offer, shame on me! But I did go and I was blessed with the day. And with my time with the Father the next morning.

Then as I continued reading, Mike gave some thought-provoking questions. So I grabbed my journal and proceeded to let the Father have my heart as I answered and soul searched
for the answers to the following:
1. Is there anything God wants me to start doing?

2. Is there anything God wants me to stop doing?

3. Is there any reason not to do what God wants?

I was brought to Psalm 51:10-12 NASB

“Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation
And sustain me with a willing spirit.”

Man, that will bring you to your knees!

Mike then concluded with these application points:

1. Begin with what you already know from God’s Word. Not to learn something new, but to obey something you’ve already learned.

2. Say yes to the next obedience opportunity. You will encounter an opportunity to say yes to God, whatever that might be.

3. At the next T-intersection, go God’s way. You’ll know it when it comes–when you could go either your own way or God’s way.

It is at moments like these that a person realizes the forfeited opportunities lost to the pride of going my way instead of following after the Shepherd.

You know, as crazy as it sounds, this was a  lesson that almost felt good. Maybe I am tired of fighting and ‘doing it my way’! It does get old believe it or not!

I am anxious for the next set of instructions like when you play the scavenger hunt. You get to each clue and it propels you onward the next and finally to the prize!

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

Friend, can I tell you from experience that the battle of the will and self is just not worth it? Can I also say that it does get old as you fight to hold on to that prideful reasoning that gives the ‘right’ to win and do it your way. You know the Bible talks about our hardened hearts opposed to our hearts of flesh, gentle and pliable and willing to surrender. Which will you choose?

Oh Momma, are You at Peace Today?

John16.33Is your contentment contingent on another’s happiness? Whether it is our children, our spouse, our our boss, too often unless they are happy then we will want to or tend to do cartwheels to make them happy. When they aren’t then we may have trouble settling in and being at peace.

Too often our thoughts and the things that we do are perpetuated by what another thinks or by how they may respond. I think we call that walking on eggshells! Boy that can make us one miserable and sometimes neurotic person!

I want to encourage you to look inside and ask yourself just what it is that gives you peace and contentment. If you find it is in pleasing others then “Houston, we have a problem!”

So where do I go and what do I do to find true happiness?

First of all let me ask what is it that causes you to feel content?

Where do you derive that sense of peace that makes you feel ‘real’ joy?

I know that for myself, it didn’t come until I was willing to let go or cut off every string of a someone else “if only they…” that drained life and peace from me. I did so someone else would be happy or see value in me. I controlled so that someone else would not get upset. And on and on the vicious cycle would go. Family, loved ones and our friends can be wonderful, because relationships are extremely important! Part of who the human race is and why we exist is to be relational, by God’s design. And of course ultimately pointing to Him. But when we can’t find contentment apart from others then we really do need to purpose to know why not.

When I came to Christ as a troubled young mom who was extremely co-dependent, I was not a very happy or peace filled person. My joy was too contingent on others. For thirteen years I struggled to be content. I was never truly happy and my world basically fell apart, not to mention that my marriage came pretty close to a disastrous end as well.

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I remember a time when my husband and I had words that weren’t good or healthy. I was so upset and of course the first thing I wanted to do was run to the phone to talk to an older wiser woman of God. I am not kidding you when I say that when I went to pick up the phone the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Put down the phone and call upon me.” Wow, I did, and I prayed and talked to the Lord and felt more at peace than I had for some time.

You see our tendency is to run to others to solve our problems or to gather our troops. To prove our case is right and that our ‘enemy’ is wrong. Way to solve a problem…not!

It wasn’t until I continued to run to my Abba Father and cry on His shoulders that I could finally find contentment and peace in the midst of my storms. Hey, I had to learn the hard way and it really was a slow process for this hard-hearted woman.  I could no longer keep looking at people to make me happy, to solve my problems so I could have peace. I realized that it needed to come from within, from listening to the Holy Spirit to guide and show me my shortcomings and sin which when confessed lightens the heart!

You may have guessed that this verse in John 16:33 is one I lean hard into…

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

How does knowing this help my situation? I have said many times that I purposed long ago when I came to Christ to although not understanding much of what I read in the Bible, I would choose to believe even what I couldn’t understand. That the Lord would reveal to me what he wanted me to know when I needed to know it.

I have peace knowing that God is sovereign, omniscient and that in spite of His greatness, He cares greatly… Click To Tweet

In trusting a God like that, I can have peace that passes ALL understanding, even when my world is crumbling apart.

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Oh momma…I want to encourage you to not doubt the God who loves you. Did you know it is a sin not to believe? This isn’t some wishy washy, comme ce, comme ca, kind of God who is in and out, here or there, maybe I can trust Him maybe not. If we don’t believe in what He says then why are we pretending to “Believe” in Christ?

Will you ponder these first three verses of Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea;

Though its waters roar and foam,
Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.

Let your heart find rest not in people, for they can disappoint and let you down. Not in the doing all the right things, to be affirmed (you won’t make it anyway or you will make yourself sick trying!) How about simply allowing yourself to rest in Him. To be comforted by Him. To be surrounded and loved by Him?

The last four verses of Psalm 46 should give way to reassuring your troubled heart:

     Come, behold the works of the LORD,
Who has wrought desolations in the earth.

He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariots with fire.

“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The LORD of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

“Cease striving and know that I am God”…another version says, “Be still and know that I am God…” Tonight when you lay your head on your pillow to sleep or hope too, remind yourself of your commitment to Him. Your commitment to trust Him in ALL things, to put your hope in Him so that He can fill you with faith, trust and confidence in Him.

Lord, when my heart is in panic mode and I don’t know where to turn I know I can turn to you! You are the only One who can show me true peace which allows me to truly rest in You. Thank You for loving me and caring for me like nobody else can. There is none like You Lord and I am grateful to be Your child…amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6eDvl4Xbh8

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God’s Divine Appointments!

I was involved in the Bible Study, “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer and we had an assignment to respond in obedience to the nudging of the Holy Spirit–in other words, to act upon the promptings we can get that may seem a little ‘out there’.  You may have had those promptings like I have and you may have received incredible blessings from being obedient to the call.  However, I have also sometimes ignored them and not responded to that nudging with the justification that “I can’t do that” or “What would that person think if I did that.”

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-tattered-background-image9202084When I sing “Here I am to Worship…,” I know that to worship God is to revere, adore and acknowledge Him for who He is.  But there is also another part of worship that encompasses what we do with our life on the horizontal plane.  My mantra continues to be “Love God and love others” but I need help with all that entails.  I do not necessarily need to round up the troops to head over to India to be on the mission field.  That could be the call to some but I have a mission field right here in my own backyard.  Wherever I am and whatever I am doing provides an opportunity to make a difference in my “sphere of influence”.  However, I want to take this to another extreme only because every time I have let an opportunity go by without sharing the gospel when the door was planted and opened right in front of me, I knew that I blew it!  I felt such disappointment with myself and had to ask the Lord to forgive me for cowering away from such a prime moment.  I am reminded in the book of Esther when Uncle Mordecai admonished Esther that if she did not respond in obedience to the call placed upon her to confront the evil plot against the Jews God would raise up someone else to do the job! And, Esther herself might perish with the rest of the Jewish people that she had been called to rescue.  Strong words! Well, Esther did heed the warning, asking the people to fast and pray for her opportunity to go before the king.  It was her obedience that saved a nation!

On a recent return trip to Minnesota with my daughter, we did not have a direct flight and I was grateful that we could just be casual about the extra hours of waiting and flying without having to run to catch our last leg of the trip.  We finally boarded in Dallas and, since I fly a little bit more often than she, I gave her the opportunity to sit by the window before I sat down.  The isle seat remained open until the gentleman in the row ahead of us (after helping my daughter stow her carry on) was booted out of his seat because he mistakenly read his seat number when someone came to claim the seat he was in him in our row.  He was a quiet man who busied himself with reading the newspaper.  I waited until after he had read his paper, because there is nothing more annoying than being interrupted by someone asking you questions when you are reading!  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a rather large ring on his hand which I soon discovered had Vikings imprinted on it.  Hmm…and, of course, I got my daughter to notice without too much fuss.

We began our conversation by my asking about cab service out of the Minneapolis airport.  I have never needed to take a cab before, but our Monday return had our friends working and unable to pick us up and take us to our car.  I will spare you the details of a two hour conversation, but I have continued to thank God for opening up a door to share a message of hope to a man who had some stuff going on in his life from serious physical issues, a pending divorce and some personal stuff he was trying to work through.  I was able to share Scripture with him because I could sense some uncertainty about his future.  Philippians 4:6,7 is certainly where I go camping when things look obscure, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.”  I also encouraged a relational walk with Jesus.  He seemed like so many of us who find ourselves at the end of our rope with no way of turning things around and wondering what the point is in going on!

I have since prayed for this man, his health and marriage and I can only thank God for the fulfillment of this Scripture in 1 Peter 3:15 “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” Peter makes it very clear to me!  Now, on to my next assignment. So simple; just take the step of obedience instead of wondering if you should because God has already paved the way!

Unashamed of You

There Are No Excuses!

Recently I have found myself bugged. Someone has acted inappropriately and it really began to fester and annoy me. Frankly, I have wanted to get opinions on the situation and build my case as to why this behavior is inconsiderate and wrong. Back and forth I go and finding it a real struggle to let go of this situation that I have kept it to myself. Because I really do want to do the right thing instead of what I am tempted to do, that is to point out the flaws of another.

Cover Mouth
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I have been praying about this tendency in myself to react this way and psychoanalyzing why I get so bugged sometimes. I know it is wrong to point to another’s character defect, after all would I want that done to me? I know it is wrong to gossip about that scenario that took place and riled me up, because I don’t want that to happen to me. However, what I want to take place in me is the appropriate response to another’s inconsideration to others.

I remember memorizing this scripture long ago when I first became a Christian and it is indeed one of those that we need to remember because temptation comes to all of us…

 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Although I am tempted to…I don’t have to go there! And I am leaning on the scripture above to remind me. God knows why I am bugged but I can leave it in His hands and not transfer it to the hearts of others so that they can form an unbecoming opinion of that one, because that is slander! So the scripture covers all situations that come our way and It also gives us the avenue of escape to depart from our wrong thinking and reminding us that we do not have to respond to our natural tendencies or in the flesh as Paul reminds us.

Galatians 5.16

So friends, no excuses, Kimberly, no excuses! Today I choose not to give in when I am feeling pressed by temptation, but will choose to surrender my natural desires to the Lord and escape before harm can come to me and or the one I am bugged with. No cranky responses, gossipy tongue and judgmental thinking! It just has to go! God’s Word is again the reminder that I have no excuses, but will make the choice to have the right response…”I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”–and you can too!

 

 

Abiding in Him

I have this little piece of wall art that hangs on my wall and it says ‘Abide in Him’.  Using wall art that include words or Scripture speak loudly of my convictions and beliefs.  But the word abide (in itself) is such a descriptive of the Spirit-filled life that I desire to live, yet struggle to attain.  

I was plowing through a book by Francis Chan, called “Forgotten God”, and in his convicting fashion I was challenged by one of my favorite chapters in the book of John, chapter 15.  Chan issues a challenge by asking a profound question, is my life too loud, to which I could readily say “yes it is!”.  Then Francis proceeds to encourage us to put down his book and pick up the Book and read a few chapters in the book of John.  Right to some of my favorites in John, chapters 14, 15 and 16.  

The verb “abide”, according to Merriam-Webster means to wait, endure without yielding, to bear patiently.  It also means to remain stable or in a fixed state and to continue in a place.  In John 15 where the picture of the ‘vine’ is used to describe our life in Christ–we being the branch, Christ being the vine and then the Father addressed as the vinedresser–John uses the word “abide” ten times: 

John 15:4-11 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

Do you think maybe there is a point to be made here? There are ten references to the word abide in the verses above that are being used to drive home some profound points:

The imperative to remain in Christ;

We aren’t fruitful if we don’t;

If we refuse to abide in Christ we can be thrown away for we aren’t fruitful;

There is an invitation to remain in Christ’s love;

By walking in obedience we partake in His love.

So when I am restless, when I am struggling through (with my own resources) and forgetting that apart from Him I can really do nothing, instead of being frustrated with myself I really need to stop and remember that I am a partaker with Christ.  I really sell myself short and settle for less than His best by “trying” or “trying to do it myself”.  I am sure my Father is thinking “Oh foolish girl”, as I expend efforts that amount to little when in Him I can accomplish great things or at least what He desires and that spells success!  

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I don’t believe if you are a driven person that there is necessarily an easy way to submit your efforts for His peace that only comes from abiding in Him!  God desires that we would “remain stable or in a fixed state” by abiding in Him walking in the Spirit-filled life.  But from one who has been there…stop striving, try it and see.  Then you can appreciate these words from the Psalmist, Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8 (ESV) Abiding in Him is where we fulfill the Spirit-filled life that God desires we live out for Him and His glory!

Father, I remember that this battle to ‘do’ in my own efforts is a winnable battle when I walk with you! I will make the choice today to let You lead via Your Spirit which is living in me! The rest that comes from giving You the reins of my life is well worth the concerted effort it takes to hand them over. So thank You Father for the gift of Your Holy Spirit who allows me to quit my striving by abiding in You!

 

 

Out of the Desert…

I have had my dry times–spiritually speaking–where it seems as though I am crawling  through molasses. Have you ever experienced that? Everything is just as it always is and I then begin to sense the growing barrenness in my life. That 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!Those times have been too often and frankly I do not like being there. It is a pathway that is weighty and bordering on sorrow and dare I say depression? 

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 can be just 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 usually a pretty 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. 

However, it is in these valleys where my sorrow is caused by my own poor choices. If you are a relational person like me, you know how important people are in your life, 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 a quirky communication takes place and an offense comes along and suddenly the joy has been robbed. I have reacted by making provision for the flesh, and harbor bitterness or jealousy in my heart and wham, down I go and it is time to linger in the desert for a few 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! It is amazing what we will try to justify! 

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 poor, miserable me. If I dwell too long in that place I become dryer, harder and more and more lifeless and 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-nessmentality. 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 make no provision 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. God says 7 times 70 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 parched 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? The Lord would have us walking in the fruit of the Spirit which is right where I need to be so I want will exhibit those attributes toward others. It is through a victorious life that this fruit grows and is used to show others the love of Christ.

 Galatians 5:22,23

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 those things that keep 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 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 sweet Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ Name, Amen

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It’s the Right Thing to Do!

I recently received a revelation dealing with relationships. More specifically in dealing with relationships between believers. I am pretty certain that we all have been in the situation where we have either had an injustice done to us by a brother or sister-in-the Lord or we see these things being done to another. I don’t know about you but my first reaction is “how could they, and they call themselves Christians.” Honestly, like it or not we have all been on either side of the situation.

Before I continue, I want to put in a disclaimer. As I was laying in bed last night the Lord prompted me to do so because some of you are going to react negatively to this…I am not referencing people who have issues with being abusive, neglectful, or controlling. I do address the issue of confronting one caught in sin later. I am saying that all of us at some time or another have either mistreated or observed one who has mistreated or taken advantage of a brother or sister-in-the-Lord. If you want to discuss this further with me please feel free to email me personally. I do understand!

It really takes a person that is mature in their walk to respond correctly–in love and with grace–to a situation like this. Most of the time we begin to rally the troops, spread the scenario around like jam so it gets good and sticky and makes the offender out to be a horrible person. Even though they really aren’t horrible but have treated another horribly.

You have to love when the Holy Spirit does a number on you as you enter into the battle zone and suddenly you are heavily impressed upon to see the error of the way you are thinking and responding toward an offender. (I will call the person an offender simply because they mistreated another brother or sister-in-the-Lord.)  In a particular situation, my first reaction was to stir the pot of gossip…do you know what so-and-so just did…I can’t believe they treated _______ like that!

Don’t we typically think that Christians wouldn’t treat each other that way? Come on, that es a wrong assumption. Let’s face it, we all walk in the flesh from time to time but the bottom line is we shouldn’t. Here is a passage of Scripture that hits this on the mark:

Galatians 5:13-16

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

And the fruit of the Spirit is, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…It is so easy to ignore some of the fruit, “longsuffering”, “kindness” and especially (for me that is) “self-control”. If we believe our instruction manual, it rather looks as though we have an obligation to one another, don’t you think?

Let’s go to an interesting story in the Old Testament where we see Noah enjoying the fruit of his labor, from his vineyard.

Genesis 9:20-24

Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.

At this point Noah has done something foolish and been found out by his youngest son Ham. Ham then goes and make issue of it with his brothers Shem and Japheth. But they, instead of embarrassing their father, chose to cover his nakedness. As a cross reference to verse 21 we read in Proverbs 20:1 that “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.” The two brothers were looking out for their father’s reputation and they wouldn’t even look upon him in his embarrassing state.

Let me ask you, have you done foolishly as a believer? There are many scenarios in my mind that I can replay that I sure wish weren’t there. Times where I opened my mouth and inserted my foot and wished I could take back what was said. You see, if we love God and love others then we need to take this new command and live it out, first with our brothers and sisters. In our own eyes we might look better, we might be a better “Christian” or maybe we are the somebody that really needs to set that person straight! This from Proverbs really speaks loudly to me

Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV) “There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers”.

Now I can hear someone say wait a minute. Are you saying that we don’t expose their sin? There is a mandate on how to handle that. In Matthew 18 it talks directly of confronting one caught in sin. But before I go there I better be sure that the log is out of my eye and my motives are only out of love and for the betterment of my brother or sister.

I wonder what happens when a non-believer witnesses the correct response to the outrageous behaviour of another beleiver? I would like to think they see one who loves God and loves others. Not bringing shame to the offender and not being antagonistic or a false witness. Although, I confess that this is still not easy stuff to appropriate! For the worldly way and our natural tendency is self-motivated but the Christlike way is selfless. The world says to expose, embarrass and sling the insults because it makes us appear better and they the fool. Christ’s way is just the opposite, we do not damage the reputation of our brother or sister.

So I’m certain I won’t pass every test that comes along in this area. But, when I do act correctly and look out for the well-being of a brother or sister-in-the Lord, as obnoxious as they can be, I have peace with myself and God.  And interestingly enough even with that offensive person.

Father God, these aren’t easy lessons to learn but this is a battle I want to win for Christ’s sake. I ask for wisdom and discernment to quicken immediately within me so I can see when I am headed in the wrong direction with my thinking. When I feel like I have every right to be angry at someone for whatever reason, let me hear Your still small voice speak “not I, but Christ..” We are not in this to win battles but to win others to Christ and to exhibit Christ’s love in all kinds of situations in life. How else will they know we are different? Like the old song says, “they will know we are Christians by our love…” Thank you for teaching me these hard lessons and giving me the heart’s desire to love You and love others. I surrender once again my right for Your will. In the powerful, life-changing name of Jesus!

You BUGG!

Green is not one of my favorite colors, although some of the off shades like sage, some chartreuse hues and the darker spruce green blends I find pleasing.  However, for some reason the color green is used to depict an emotion that is not friendly and can even be deadly and cause many problems.  I am certain you have heard the sayings,  ‘green with envy’ and ‘bit by the green-eyed monster’.

BUGG

Perhaps, if in all honesty, we could admit that we have dealt with jealousy at some time in our life.  From the childhood, “I want what so and so has” or “How do they get such good grades” to “Wow, I’d do anything to get a car like they have,” some incidents are certainly more subtle than others.  Nevertheless, jealousy stirs up something within us that is not healthy indicating our dissatisfaction and insecurities.  As an only child for the first ten years of my life, my competitive personality was usually motivated by other’s successes.  How disappointing to find that it still creeps in once in a while!

When you are my age, having been through some stuff while learning through my many mistakes, I would like to think that I am maturing as I continue on this faith walk.  I am one of the somewhat ‘older’ women who can enjoy being available to help younger women along on their journeys.  However, I was quite taken aback when I found myself bitten by the BUGG!

When a gal I know was going through a difficult season, she asked me if I would mentor her along.  We have similar ministries, both very strong personalities and determined.  I was surprised she had asked me but agreed, and so I began to pray for her and asked the Lord to grow all that she gave to Him.  I realized that this girl had God’s favor all over her and she seemed to walk through open doors without a hitch.  Her speaking ministry really opened up for her as did her radio ministry.  I was so amazed at the way everything fell into place for her as she pursued her God-path.  I was amazed and happy for her until I realized that I, too, was on a similar journey but seemed to remaining very stagnant.  The growth was very minimal and all of a sudden I was bitten and began to be envious of her favor.  I began to compare myself with her and wondered why it seemed I was unable to have God’s favor.

That transition within me cause a few things to take place and I was now uncomfortable around her and our relationship got strained.  A gap grew between us and our friendship became reduced to formality.  The next few years amazed me as I watched her grow and become ‘successful.’  The reality hit me that I was jealous of her.  But wait a minute, I am the ‘spiritually mature’ one here, so that can’t be, I reasoned with myself.  I was getting very tired of the battle raging within me and the Holy Spirit just would not leave me alone.

Line Break

It was my birthday and out of the blue she surprised me by saying she would like to take me to lunch.  I naturally wondered if this was supposed to be the time I would need to humble myself and confront my issue with her.  I so wanted the misery of these feelings to disappear as I was having a hard time believing that I could have allowed this to happen.  The fleece went out; she would contact me to plan our lunch date.  If she remembered, I knew it was God’s timing to own up to my shortcoming.  If she forgot then perhaps it would be another time or God might just let me keep this one between me and Him (ha, ha.)  Needless to say, she called and we we had lunch a few days later.

We had a delightful time chatting away and I got all caught up on her journeys and all God was doing in her ministry.  Then, as we were nearing the end of our time (I knew I had to be on air in 30 minutes), I told her I had something difficult to tell her.  I admitted to being very envious of her success and asked her to forgive me.  This became a God moment, as the huge wall of denial fell and suddenly I had such peace and love for her because that BUGG had been squeezing the life out of our relationship.

1Pet 2.1

Wow!  As uncomfortable as it can be, reconciliation is such a sweet experience.  As Oliver Hazard Perry said, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”  Well, I faced the enemy of jealousy and through Christ he was now defeated!  Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:1 that as we become that “Living Stone and a Holy People…” we must “…put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”

Father, will you help me to see when the enemy is messing with my emotions and help me to see without denial blocking the way to reconciliation.  I really love the fact that You have made me, Kimberly, in Your image and I don’t need to compare myself to anyone else.  May You be glorified as I rest my situations in Your hands to work out all the struggles to Your glory, in Your sweet name!

If We Are the Body…

Maybe like me you have been disappointed in the church, indicating the four wall type of church.  I have been in several church type conference settings where the Spirit of God has been alive and well and moving in an incredibly obvious way, breaking hardened hearts, ushering in a spirit of forgiveness and where healing is taking place physically, emotionally and spiritually.  It is so  where I want my church back home to be!  And when I don’t see God moving in my own environment I do become discouraged!

What a refreshing surprise to get to go to church, help lead the worship which I only do occasionally, and hear a message from Acts 3 where the lame man was healed…the pastor then asks why don’t we see that happen here?  And my question exactly, why don’t we?  I truly believe that there are several elements at play here but I rather like to think that what was stirred up was the question Jesus asked the paralytic in John 5 and that we could ask ourselves as well, “Do you want to be healed?”  Or is it just a faith issue, do we believe that God can do what He has shown He can do in many examples in the Bible or “other” people’s lives?  How about “nah, that was for those early church days all that miracle stuff.”

You know, I came to a place where I had to decide if this church stuff was for real.  I had to decide that even if the move of God wasn’t happening in my church that it is happening in His people and that I wanted to be one of the ones that it was happening in!  I did not want to miss out on a thing when it came to God and the move of His Spirit.  So for me it began with humble beginnings of a time of prayer and praise with a very few close friends.  I couldn’t make a thing happen on my own but I could let God change my heart and indeed he has undertaken to do just that.

So prayer is one of the keys that is unlocking the closed door to God moving in and amongst His people!  People are hungry for more of Him, people are tired of status quo, people are hurting, broken, addicted, living dysfunctionally and miracles?  What does that look like those described?

Prayer = an opening for God to move…and indeed, prayer happened one morning in my church when many people came forward and pastor anointed with oil and we all prayed for one another and I am believing that God is moving in the hearts and situations of this body of Christ.

Psalm 133 says it so very sweetly…

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!  It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes!   It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”

Three precious verses that reveal God’s pleasure when we unite together and instead of fragments of the body we are in sweet fellowship one with another.  Let me ask, can you pray for someone and be disgruntled with them?  I really don’t think I can!  Can you speak life into someone and be disgusted with them?  I want to say it is impossible.

God delights when His church comes together to breath life into one another and it is then that He ushers in a healing balm of forgiveness and heals brokenness and many other afflictions that the body today is suffering with.  We are a crippled, wounded body of Christ but on this particular morning, a body of Christ sought after God, and prayed for one another!  And frankly, I can’t wait to see what God is going to do next!

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Spiritually Barren

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 make no provision 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.

Galatians 5:22,23

“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

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