Tuesday, August 4, 2015

I Can Do Something!

I saw this quote pop up several times on Facebook today:
--Edward Everett Hale

It comes at a really good time, because my heart has been conflicted about speaking up or staying quite. I am impressed by God that there is always a BEST way of doing something. My heart should be right and I should pray before I post. I haven't always done that in the past. Sometimes I react, before I pray. It's all a part of the mess I am.

I know I'm a mess. I've said it before and I'll say it again. But, I don't say it as shamefully as it sounds. I say it with awareness that God has given me another opportunity to grow closer to Him in my messiness. I can struggle through the unrest in my spirit because I realize I've not allowed His Holy Spirit to go before my own reaction to things. I can be still and know that He is God and that He will give me peace as I keep my eyes on Him and trust Him to work all things out for His Glory. It's in this process that I learn hard lessons. He convicts me; then I surrender and ask for forgiveness. He forgives me and shows me His way.

God has road signs for me to follow His path all throughout His Word. Sometimes I cruise right along and, sometimes, I see a squirrel and do the off-road thing. It's usually only a temporary detour and I am thankful that when I get back on His path for me that He provides rest stops along the way. It's at these rest stops where He replenishes my soul and allows me to rest in His promises. He re-fuels my soul and gives my spirit and heart the boost I need to be as bold as I can be with as much humility as I can muster.

One of my sweet pleasures is to read the Psalms of the bible in the Message version. I don't exactly like every translation it gives in some of the more instructional books of the bible, but I love the prose and the beauty that is brought to life through this version of the Psalms. In Psalm 119 there is a verse that says, "I'm single-minded in pursuit of You; don't let me miss the road signs You've posted. I've banked Your promises in the vault of my heart so I won't sin myself bankrupt". This speaks loudly to me. I'm always tapping into the vault of my heart to remember and live in God's promises. Every time I sin, I'm reminded of the cost. I don't want to continue on that road. I don't want to bankrupt my soul, so I pursue God very purposefully so I can follow His road signs.

I've needed to reconcile my heart and soul with the heart of God. My heart was in accord with His, but my delivery was a detour from His chosen path. As always, I am drawn back to the road to reconciliation. That is one of the things I've grown to love about the Holy Spirit living within me. He points me in the right direction; He points me to the Father, always. And, He is patiently leading me back to the path He has me on.

Recent cultural events have left me distressed in my spirit. My heart wants to rise up in defense of certain things: for what I know to be good and right. My heart aches for the helpless and injustice makes me want to spring into action. Unfortunately, I often use my head and tongue instead of my heart and prayers. I try to rally support and I end up doing and saying things that were all me and less of what God intends. It affects my soul and it affects my spirit. It is a detour to what God intends.

This happened recently as I "liked" and "shared" many things I'm passionate about on Facebook. I cannot even wrap my heart and mind around the concept of the abortion business in this country and in the world.  Even when revealing facts came out to expose it, recently, people continued to deny the evil it portrayed, and some even rallied to defend how noble people in this industry were. I thought my head was going to spin around and explode in fury as I read about the rationalizations that people have to defend those in this industry who seem to be immune to the plight of helpless children in the womb. They say the good outweighs the bad. I say that we should dig for truth and examine the evidence. I'm fully aware of "Talking Points" that are in place by communication departments of organizations to be utilized when speaking to the press or public. In cases of publicity crisis, you will see the same rote talking points used as a defense to fend off the crisis. We have seen that with the recent response to the telling videos that came out to expose the practices of Planned Parenthood. What they deem "good" is made to look much better than it is and it is inflated to appear to be a necessity to women's health. There are so many more and better options, but people don't look any further to find out for themselves. They simply believe the talking points manufactured by the organization.

My heart has been, and still is, to speak out for the helpless, but I allowed my flesh to react to the injustice of it all. I should have been driven to intense prayer. Instead, I was driven to intellectually amassing as much information as possible so I could know the truth and defend it. My thought was to make people aware of the injustice. When they saw it, how could they continue to keep their heads in the sand or turn a blind eye to such atrocities? Indeed. I'm not really sure of the human psyche, but I quickly realized that people will ignore you and give you the cold shoulder if you speak out about things that are not politically correct. They will deem you negative to even bring it up. They will judge you for sharing such things on Facebook. Everyone seems to be free to post about whatever cause or issue they deem acceptable on Facebook. I have learned that killing babies for profit and asking people to look for truth in politics are not among the things people find acceptable. I honestly feel ostracized for even voicing an opinion. I'm aware that people didn't ask me to be their educator and I quickly realized I needed to step back and pray more than post.

I don't believe I was wrong to share facts that can educate others, but I do believe my reactions of disgust for these people were not surrendered to God. My heart was not exactly right towards them. That is where I felt my spirit in need of reconciliation. I will always continue to advocate for those that are the least of us. I will always give a voice to those who aren't allowed to ever have one. I will always rally to champion a true and deserving underdog. What I will not do is continue to try to do it in my own strength and in my own way. I am one person and I will continue to do what God gives me the grace and peace to do. I will speak only when I have prayed about it long and hard. The truth remains - somebody has to speak. It may not be me, but, if God allows me, why not me?

I believe I can effect the most change in this world through prayer. That doesn't mean I won't "like" things that spur passion within me or "share" things that can educate people with truth about important issues. It does mean I will have my heart in the right place before I do it and I will pray for God's direction. It means that I will yield to God's direction on this journey I am on. I will look for His road signs and I will purpose to be reconciled to Him and His ways so I can be someone who builds bridges instead of one that puts up road blocks in this Road to Reconciliation to our Savior and His ways.

I know I will never argue anyone over to the way I see things. But with the right heart and attitude, I may just be able to pray them into the Kingdom of God!

Friday, July 3, 2015

God's Plan for our Supernatural Life

God created the world. Then He created man. He created a woman to compliment the man. He gave these humans free-will to choose to love and worship Him on their own. The humans chose to rebel against God and left us all in a big messy broken world. (Side Note: We could have had it all, but we chose to fall…story of much human history, unfortunately). In concert with this, God created angels in heaven and to minister to people on earth. One angel, Lucifer, got a little greedy and wanted God's job. God threw him and some other rebellious demons out of heaven. Lucifer is also known as Satan and he and his demons create havoc in our world of confused humans, chaos and sin. God gave them permission to do so until He puts an end to it all. Oh what a tangled web we have woven in this fallen world. Sin separates us from God…but He did….and still does….have a Plan to redeem us. That Plan of redemption can translate into pure LOVE.

So, the only way to atone for the sin of the world and its rebellious people was for God to present a sinless sacrifice to pay for the sins of humans. Jesus, the Son of God and the Savior of the world, is God's redemption plan. Jesus is one of God's trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit - three, yet One. It's complicated, but its a Genius plan to bring about the Divine Supernatural in a limited natural world. Jesus came as the Messiah. He taught the love, grace and truth of God and invited disciples to follow Him. Jesus is the Catalyst for every good change in the world because it is only through Him that we can truly know the Father and be forgiven for our sins. He taught His disciples to follow Him so the world would still know about Him after He left the earth. As part of God's redemption plan, Jesus was crucified as a sacrifice for our sins. He rose again in 3 days and proceeded to rally His disciples to be world changers. To help them effect this change, Jesus spent a short time with the disciples and then ascended up into heaven to be with the Father. But He promises to return some day and bring us all to heaven with Him. That is our Hope and Promise. But, God did not leave us alone to figure out how to navigate this fallen world. He left His Word so we could know His heart and His ways and He placed His Holy Spirit within the lives and persons of the disciples and every other person who chooses to put their trust in Jesus Christ and be forgiven for their sins. Again, complicated in a natural sense, but brilliant in a Supernatural sense!

Now, before God sent Jesus to this earth, He used many humans to bring about His plans. God is still in the business of using people to bring about His plans. We read about great heroes of the faith, but we can also be used by God to be great disciples and heroes of the faith. The requirement is saying "Yes" to God, agreeing with Him and following His Son, Jesus Christ. The bonus factor is that His Holy Spirit is still our gift for those who trust Jesus and invite Him to be our LORD and Savior. We are not alone when we become adopted into the family of God. We have the same power within us that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. We have the power of the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and help us in every way. We are born as part of the natural world, but we are adopted into the Supernatural world of the life of Christ when we choose to live a new life in the forgiveness and power of Christ. Do you think a second birth or being born again is unnatural. Again, it is complicated. It is God's Supernatural way of making us His children. We were children of the world, separated from the life and love of Christ, but He made a Supernatural way for us to be reconciled to Christ and to Himself. Just Brilliant!

One of the great heroes of faith was Moses. In the Old Testament, God recruited this 80 year old man who had floundered his way into the desert of life to be a World Changer. God's people, the Israelites, had been taken into slavery by the cruel Egyptians. Moses was overwhelmed at the prospect of the calling God had on his life. He thought He couldn't do what God was asking, but God gave Him His power to complete the task. It was a hairy ride, but Moses ended up leading the Israelites out of captivity. They were headed to the promised land that God had promised them, but human nature overtook the memories of all the Supernatural miracles that God had demonstrated by delivering His people from bondage. People began to forget the awesomeness of God and look to their own human efforts or to place hope in little false gods to help them on their way. Because of their lack of faith and rebellious attitudes, sin - in short, they wandered around aimlessly in the desert to 40 years. We humans have always made it harder on ourselves than we need to, but we do it because we think we have better ideas than God on how we can get where we need to go. The inner Israelite is alive and well in all of us, still today.

We are bent on thinking we know better than God. Remember that evil little trouble-maker, Satan, and his bothersome little demons? They were the original minions, but not quite as lovable, by any means. Yeah, they are very instrumental in biting at our heels, infecting our minds and influencing our hearts with false dreams and lies. We fall for it all, just like the Israelites did. Because of it, we are in bondage and we keep running around in circles, stuck in our own sin. You would think we could take a history lesson and spiritual inventory to get us on the right track. We could, if we invited the Holy Spirit to have His way in our minds, hearts and lives. Ah yes, that is the rub. We have to surrender our thinking and living into the hands of an Almighty God if we want to be free of sin and reach our promised land. God's people eventually reached their promised land, but Moses messed up and had to turn over the mantle and, consequently and very sadly, never got to see the Promised Land for himself. God used another willing servant to lead His people. Only a few were willing to be led by God. They enacted the promises of God. They chose the Supernatural over the natural. Then, they realized the promises of God.

There are so many other stories in the bible of God using people, all imperfect people, to carry out His plans. Please delve into the pages of life and learn about the goodness of God. Love does win when it is a love that is redeemed through the grace and truth of God. Sometimes it doesn't seem natural, it is difficult to understand and follow, but that is because we are not meant to follow the natural. We are meant to follow the Supernatural.

I leave you with one of my very favorite passages from the bible. Many people quote Jeremiah 29:11 and talk about God's great plan for their lives. They grasp it with both hands and declare that God has a plan for their lives. It is true. God does have a plan for the life of every single person on this earth. That plan is for them to realize the beauty of knowing Him and living their lives for Him. The subsequent verses of Jeremiah 29:12-14 hold the key to the Plan. I love that the Holy Spirit revealed this plan to me. He told me that my own plan did not resemble His plan for me. I think it's safe to say that His plan for us may look way different than our plans for ourselves. Yet, His Plan is a Perfect Plan. His plan is one that brings us out of the bondage of our sin and into beautiful communion with Him. His Plan is that we know Him and walk with Him. His Plan is that we experience the true Joy of the LORD, by surrendering to His Plan and letting Him lead us into the promised land of blessings. There will be sufferings along the way. That is life. But His Plan always includes His Presence. That is more than enough for me. It is also more than enough for you. I pray that we can embrace His Plan and walk in true love and freedom in the wonderful Supernatural life He has for us.

Jeremiah 29:11-14New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[a] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Looking at Pride

As a human, I struggle with pride. Truth be told, so do you. Pride is the thing that got Satan thrown out of heaven. It was a pride that led to jealousy and greed. Satan wanted God's power. He wanted to be the boss. He wanted to be God. He failed. He never will be God, but he continues to deceive our human minds and hearts because he knows we have that tendency to do just as he did; he knows we also want to be our own boss and play God. We can try, but we will always fail, just as Satan did.

So what is this inherent struggle with pride? It is a spiritual battle that is bigger than we could ever imagine. It is a daily battle. A healthy dose of pride in things that are good and right can quickly turn into an overdose of entitlement. We can choose to follow our feelings, our intellect and the world, and soon be embedded into the fabric of every emotion that tells us we should be proud to have autonomy in any area of our life that we perceive to make us or others happy. What may have initially been innocent can turn into a power struggle and we want to win at all costs.

In short, pride that is used in the wrong way is like a twin sister to following our own selfish desires, regardless of what God says about the matter. Pride tells us we can make our own rules, because, after all, aren't we the boss of our own life? We do make our own choices, but we have to live out the consequences of those choices. Happiness is not always at the end of this fallacious rainbow that we have concocted. There is seldom a pot of gold in our future as consequences play out in the lives of those of us who try to play God. As a matter of fact, playing God can never end well. It will likely get us thrown out of that which was good and leave us suffering the consequences of our pride. Satan roams the earth looking for those whom he can devour. I can often identify with feeling like I've been his main course for many a meal. It could have been avoided if I had not let pride be my guide. Indeed, my way is often a result of being tempted and devoured by Satan.

In contrast, the bible teaches us that we should boast only in that which glorifies the Lord Jesus. Whatever we do that is good can only be attributed to His grace and the power we have through His Holy Spirit. Daily surrender and dying to our selfish desires means that we can wave the banner of Jesus with the right motives, but we cannot take any credit for what He does in and through us. There is a fine line sometimes, as our human nature struggles with the need to be significant and accepted. We can easily start to feel "accomplished", when we should be careful to put on the armor of God daily, lest we become swallowed up in our own accomplishments. Putting on God's armor, our intentional act of arming ourselves daily with His truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and Word, and utilizing prayer to help us resist the temptations of Satan, is key to helping us fight the daily spiritual battle and become victorious in living a life that glorifies Christ.

I am aware that this type of talk sounds mysterious to so many. It is mysterious because it is foreign to those who do not know God or study His Word. I don't say that as a condemnation. I say that as an awareness that God provides wonderful resources and tools for us to resist the temptations of Satan, for us to resist pride and choose humility, for us to die daily to our flesh and put on Christ. That translates into living a life that honors Christ and obeys His teachings, a life that "gets to" follow God - not one that "has to" follow some legalistic rules. It is in that truth that we can learn to resist the lies and temptations that bombard us. We can appropriately utilize pride to boast in Jesus, to be bold in and for Him.

And that leads me to another thing that has been happening to Bill and I for years in ministry. To many onlookers, especially if they don't take time to talk to or know an individual, boldness can be mistaken as pride. My husband will be the first to tell you that he struggles with pride, but he will also be the first to boast only in Jesus and continually pray that God helps him surrender to humility. But, is he bold? You bet your sweet bippy he is! He is a New York Italian - not an excuse, but definitely a revelation! Every place we have been in ministry, we have experienced judgment of his bold personality. If they could only see his family and fellow New Yorkers, they may begin to understand that he is a bit like a church mouse compared to them…lol. Anyway, all that to say that he has been severely mis-characterized for his boldness. It just happened again recently and it was extremely vicious this time. It's not new to us, but it is hurtful. We can only view it as spiritual warfare. He was accused of being prideful, among other serious accusations, but I have watched my husband respond, yet again, with great humility in the face of criticism. Honestly, I wanted to respond in a way that would make my Hatfield ancestors proud of their spirited descendant - but I quickly realized my fleshly reaction was a bit prideful and would be just what the enemy wanted. I resisted the temptation to respond and put this guy in his place. I resisted the temptation to set the matter straight. I surrendered it to God, just as my husband already had, and trust that He will fight for us. Bill took the proper steps to meet with this individual and allow him to direct his criticisms to him in person and aim for reconciliation. That, by the way, is the biblical way to deal with conflict. I don't know what this person's motives were to do and say what he did, but he made sure he did it in a very public way and he has never even talked directly to Bill. I do know one thing. Once anyone takes the time to talk to and know the person who is behind my husband's boldness, they will see Jesus in him, because he boasts about Jesus all day long and starts afresh with each new day. There, I got that off my chest!

I know this has been lengthy, but that's no surprise to anyone who reads what I write and listens to me "talk out loud" through my writings. God put this subject on my heart today and I just wanted to share it. Pride seems to be all over the news these days. Let's make sure it is used appropriately. When Jesus and the disciples went to the Mount of Olives, before Jesus was seized for crucifixion, He gave the disciples an instruction to "Pray that you will not fall into temptation". What did they do? They fell asleep. I think Jesus is urging us today to also, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation".  I don't want to fall asleep and be oblivious that Jesus wants us to be bold for Him. I don't want to take pride in anything but Jesus Christ. I don't want to be tempted by Satan to follow the crowd. I want to do exactly what Jesus wants me to do. I want to pray and resist temptation. He will show me how to do the rest. He will show us all if we can surrender our own pride and put on the armor of God.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Hooked on a feeling!

We are a society rooted in feelings. Feelings are real and feelings are important, but feelings can be downright deceiving, also. I cannot tell you how many times I have come to my senses after an emotional crash or outburst and wondered how I ever got so wrapped up in my fleeting emotions. I've had arguments; had my feelings hurt; hurt others; attended one too many pity parties; been sucked into the enemy's lies that my feelings are all that matter - in the moment. Thank God for eventual moments of clarity. And thank God that He reached into my deceived heart and mind and continues to show me that His truth trumps my feelings.

The bible talks about taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. Yes, that darned obedience thing! Translated, that means that, whatever I feel, I should stop and ask the Holy Spirit of God to help me weigh it's validity alongside His truth. My feelings are real, but do they reflect truth and do they honor God?

I still struggle with feelings. And I still struggle with sin. God has saved me, not yet perfected me. But He delights in loving me and teaching me His ways. It's how I get to know Him and love Him more. I think of my own struggles and God's grace to make me aware of the devil's plan to destroy me. Satan used my feelings to hurt me and string me along for so many years. He almost did me in. But God!!!

God has shown me a better way. I can listen to His voice and know His truth, instead of being led astray by my feelings. And when my feelings are on point, He affirms me. That's when His Holy Spirit whispers to me and I know the sound of my Savior's voice. If I'm gonna be hooked on a feeling, it's gonna be a feeling of gratitude that my God is in control of my life and I am not.

I'm no better than anyone else who gets sucker-punched by our feelings. I'm compassionate to the havoc left in the wake of an emotional train wreck. But I do know that God gives us all an opportunity to choose His truth over our feelings. It's our option to follow our feelings or to follow our God. It's not always easy, because we often have to deny ourselves in this choice. But it is possible to choose God and His truth. He makes it possible. When He says that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, it includes surrender. We can surrender our feelings to God's truth and ways if we choose to do so. Following our feelings can lead to mistakes. Following God's truth can keep us from making mistakes. Choose wisely.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

All Creation Sings

Today's personal bible study took me to the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 19, where the later verses in the chapter talk about Jesus' triumphant ride down the Mount of Olives and into the temple of Jerusalem. The whole crowd of disciples had begun joyfully praising God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen. This upset the Pharisees of the law and they demanded that Jesus rebuke His disciples. Jesus' reply to the attempt to silence the praises of His followers is one well worth re-visiting.  We could very well apply this scripture to our hearts in view of the attempts from people in the world today who want to silence Christ followers. In verse 40 Jesus said, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

The works, deeds and person of Jesus will be praised by those who have seen Him and know Him. When we experience His Presence in our lives, we must share the pure love, joy and beauty of how spectacular that is. Hopefully, our lives demonstrate the outward presentation of an inward miracle. Though many may be able to see, others are still blinded. Hence the need to tell others our story of the miracles Jesus has done in our own lives.

Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem. He knew that many had been presented with the opportunity of knowing and following Him, yet their eyes were blinded. They did not see. They missed the opportunity. He knew what was coming for Him, what He must do for those who would come to believe in Him and follow Him. And He knew what was coming for these people who had not believed. Jesus' heart breaks when we don't recognize who He is, when we don't follow Him.

Even today, Jesus' heart must be breaking as this world continues to fall into moral, spiritual and complete decline. It's as if we are on a train and we will soon reach our destination. Many of us are shouting praises because we know who the King will be when we reach our final destination. Many are oblivious with their earphones in or their noses into their respective digital devices. Yet others are demanding that the people of God be silenced. Yes, Jesus is sad to watch a world where many still don't recognize Him. He knows many never will, yet He still prompts us to tell our stories of His miracles for those who still may hear and believe. I think He is still saying, "I tell you, if they don't cry out, the stones will cry out."

I won't be surprised some day when all of creation starts to cry out the praises of our King Jesus. I've already heard whispers and, if I look and listen intently enough, I can witness the shouts. I will continue to praise Him aloud and chime in. I will not be guilty of causing the stones and God's creation to cry out by themselves. All creation sings. I will forever sing along!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Spotlight on Co-dependency

I was grateful to see a spotlight on the issue of "co-dependency" this weekend at church. There were other things, like hope, that were really the highlights, but it is always good to expose the truth about our tendencies to have co-dependent behaviors that threaten to derail our lives on a constant basis. Honestly, some of us have derailed long ago and we are still in denial, or even ignorance, that co-dependency may be at the root of our collision with life that leaves us a perpetual walking, or limping,  wreck.

What, you may ask, is co-dependency? Isn't it a thing that only people involved in relationships with people who have drug or alcohol issues deal with? Well, not really. It's complicated. It's that thing that makes us want to fix others; that thing that makes us want to be in control of everyone and everything; that thing that makes our happiness hinge upon what another person thinks of us or what they do or say in relation to us; that thing that keeps us in cycles of insanity because we cannot imagine ourselves outside of our relationships with people we either try to fix or have come to enable; that thing that gives us worth because we want to help others; that thing that ultimately keeps us stuck in an unhealthy place and tends to affect our decisions, our relationships and everything in our lives; that….and so much more.

No wonder people don't understand it. It tends to take us by surprise. It tends to take on a personality of it's own. It tends to morph into character defects that we try to justify. I mean, we are doing all of these things for the right reasons, aren't we? Yeah, right! How's that working for you? It has never worked very well for me. I doubt it does for you either. And, if you think it does, then I suggest that you may still be in denial or you haven't noticed the havoc this silent relationship killer tries to play in all of our lives. Chances are, you are no exception. Co-dependency is not a respecter of persons, just a common issue of most all people - whether they know it or not!

Please allow me to explain my own struggles with the co-dependency demons. Maybe it will help you see where I'm coming from. Maybe you will relate. Maybe your experience with the demons falls in another corner of the vast co-dependency universe. At any rate, let's take a closer look at what my insanity looked like and even a look at what I can still struggle with today when I let co-dependency traits guide my life, instead of giving my will and control over to God. He is so much better than me at handling me, my problems, and everyone else's problems. I'm just slow at getting that memo sometimes, or maybe I just try to ignore it. So, here goes…

My control issues present themselves in my assertiveness with my ideas to and for those I love. After all, I feel that I know what's best for them and I'm only doing it to protect them. Sound familiar? Yeah, it can ruin a relationship really quickly or it can hang around like a chihuahua nipping at the heels of a relationship. It really bites, though! My perfectionism issues come into play when I compare myself to others and feel like I'm not going to measure up or I'm not going to be good enough. What will people think about me if I'm not the very best; if I don't do a great job? Many times, I don't even try out of fear of failure. I cannot risk disappointing people or having them think I'm not good enough at something. Sound familiar? My classic co-dependency is more veiled, or it was for many years early in my marriage. I was conscious that something was lacking in my relationship with my husband. However, I couldn't put my finger on it. We would argue because I was disappointed in the expectations I had put on him. He couldn't live up to them, of course, but he also had no desire to be at my beck and call as I tried to fix us and control a marriage I felt was slipping out of my control. Why wasn't he present for his family? Why did it seem that he always had something to do for his own interests? Why was I so unhappy? My questions did not translate very well as I argued with him and tried to get a handle on why things just weren't right. He would tell me what I wanted to hear, that he loved me, that he was sorry and would do better. He would give me a sob story about his disappointments in life and how he was entitled to a little fun with the guys here and there. I rationalized that his views were reasonable. We would have calm waters in our relationship for a few weeks and then the storm would hit again, as we both soaked in our own disappointments and crashed again after riding the waves of unmet expectations. We crashed about on those waves for years and had the bruises to prove it. Looking back on it, it was an obvious train wreck, a clear cut cycle of insanity. Yet we had no idea when we were living in the spin cycle. It took God getting hold of us many years, and many tears, later to recognize and own our own follies, and to see how co-dependency played such a huge part in it.

I'm so thankful for the healing God has brought to our marriage, our relationship, and to both of us individually. We are blessed to have served in a Celebrate Recovery ministry for several years and gained many truths and tools to identify our pitfalls and learn how to let go and let God. It surprises people that our largest groups are for co-dependency. But, I've learned that codependency and the breakdown of relationships that often occur when we operate in our co-dependent tendencies are often a root cause for the habits or hang-ups that we may have developed over the years. We often get angry, even drink too much or medicate our pain with some drug because we just cannot stand to feel the pain of our feelings. Oh, what a tangled web the demons have woven into the framework of our relationships…and sometimes with our permission. All along we thought we were in control, when all along we were falling into a trap, a pit of epic proportions.

I still wrestle with my human nature, with my feelings that want to take me down a rabbit hole. I wrestle with wanting to control my husband - for his own good - lol. I try to do God's job all the time, but I've gotten better at stopping and recognizing the signs of co-dependency. I've learned how to take my thoughts captive and look for God's truth and weigh it against my real, but fleeting feelings. I always get into trouble when I lead with emotion, but if I can lean into God and ask Him to comfort me and show me His ways and give me His thoughts, I can have peace and let God do His job all by Himself. I've realized He doesn't need my help. I sort of mess things up when I assert my way and my will. I ask Him to help me not to fall prey to perfectionism and fear of what other people think of me. When I look for His affirmation, alone, I'm far less likely to look for that affirmation in people who weren't meant to do that job for me. It's a continual process, but I'm so glad I've learned everything I have learned about giving God the reigns of control in my life.

So, what about you? Does any of this ring familiar? Does it make you feel a little too good to rescue or help others, to be needed by them? Can you go from zero to one hundred emotionally, based solely on what another person in your life thinks or says to you? Do another person's actions dictate your happiness? Do you have relational arguments repeatedly and feel like you are never going to get off the roller coaster of insanity? Or have you even realized that the ride you are on will soon derail or already has? Do you need to start picking up the pieces of your reality?

It's okay. The first step to healing is realizing that we are not God and that our life has become unmanageable. Does it take work to get healthy? Of course! Anything worthwhile takes work. But we must first get off the ride long enough to start walking in freedom. We must realize our own denial and take a good and honest look at how we've been living and who we've been living for. Only one person can ever truly make us happy and He should be the One we look to for our source of joy. That person is Jesus Christ. It's the one relationship that will bring true joy. It's also the one relationship that can help our other relationships. Psychology is great, and there are many things that can explain the mess we may have made of and in our lives, but spiritual healing and a relationship with Jesus will take us the distance when all other answers fall short. Jesus is simply the best answer to our woes. If you want to be dependent upon another person, let it be Him. His faithfulness endures forever and He will never leave nor forsake us. We can find worth, acceptance and significance in a relationship with our Savior.

I hope you allow God to help you search yourself and look at any co-dependent tendencies and relationships in your life. Whatever He reveals, allow Him to heal both you and your relationships. Being dependent upon someone who is really capable of bringing you happiness will be the best choice you could ever make. Giving up your own control to His control will affect everyone and everything in your life. I hope you give it a try and I hope you truly learn to walk in the freedom He offers.  Trade co-dependency upon others for dependency upon God. I promise you, it has made all the difference in my life and I think it will do wonders for yours!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What am I Ingesting?

As I read various articles, books and news reports, I'm aware that they all influence me. Most are opinions and some even have an element of truth. Just saying that makes me STOP in my tracks. I am reading and being influenced by the opinions of others and some of what I am influenced by may even lack complete truthfulness. I read everything from leadership principles to political views and religious and cultural trends. I think it's time to do a reality check and look to a more consistent source of truth. There is only one place for that, in my "opinion", but also from my personal experience. My source of truth has always been through God's Word; in scripture. It has what this world and its opinions cannot offer.

In scripture God encourages me; He convicts me; He examines me; He excites me; He humbles me; He teaches me; He loves me. In scripture God comes alive to me. He opens my eyes up to the full context of His truth, His love for me, and His amazing grace and relentless pursuit of me.

Oh, I know it is okay to still ingest a healthy amount of information in and from this world because one needs to keep abreast of the times we are in. Being ignorant is not an option in these days and times. However, today's revelation has re-enforced what I already knew. I must ingest far more of God's Word and truth than the world's information. That is a healthy diet and equation. That is a formula for peace. My inner scale must tip in the favor of knowing God and His truth and allowing Him to help my wade through all the muddy waters of anything else that I may ingest.

If my intake of God's Word is consistent, my knowledge of God will grow and my walk with Him will become consistent. My life and my actions will reflect what I read upon the pages of scripture; my Christian walk will be a testimony of grace, truth and redemption. My outward life will reflect my inward content. I have always known this, but it seems as if I go on unplanned diets every now and then. I don't feed my hunger to know God and His Word in a more intimate way. I don't fully activate God's Spirit within me. My bad! I know where my help comes from. My responsibility is to ingest the meal my Savior has prepared, to partake in the full banquet.

So, today, my observations are simple. Why in the world would I waste my time, energy and efforts reading and ingesting such a large volume of things that bring no eternal benefit? And, why, on the other hand, would I not spend so much more of my time, energy and efforts ingesting the treasure and truth of scripture in God's Word? The answer seems like a no-brainer, but I need help remaining consistent. We all do. Left to our own devices, we tend to drift and become complacent. We start to look more to the world for our answers and inspiration than to God's Word, the source of the best answers and inspiration in the entire Universe. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit of God continually prompts me to eat from His table and feast upon His Word. It will keep me satiated and in perfect peace.

So, today I find myself grateful for the way God reminds me to listen to His small still voice. I'm thankful that His Holy Spirit, who lives within me, draws me to a place of introspection and truth, a place where He can teach me to look to Him and draw my views and my truth only from Him. I'm thankful that He will always help me to sort out the rest. First thing's first….maintain a healthy diet with an over-abundance of God's Word and truth. It always secures His Presence; His best plan for me and my life.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Voice in the Wilderness

I don't like being double-minded. As a matter of fact, the bible speaks against it. So, what does it mean when I feel such a disparaging difference between what I am convicted to say and do and the acceptance or rejection I feel from those who will see or hear my words? I really don't think I'm double-minded to want to put forth an important, yet unpopular, idea. I think what I am feeling is more like insecurity. What will people think of me? What will they say about me? Will they call me religious or legalistic just because I believe what God says and want to live by His standards and help others to see the life-giving benefits of doing the same? Will they roll their eyes because I have conservative values and want to share those same values with people I love and care about? Will they say I'm negative when I share enlightening information, either of a spiritual or political nature, that does not go along with the status quo? Will they judge my outspoken-ness as a critical spirit, saying that my attitude and information will do more harm than good to people who don't happen to see things the same way that I see them?

I really wish I didn't care, but the truth is that I care way too much about what others think or about how I may or may not influence them. It comes from fear of rejection. It comes from wanting to be accepted. It also comes from wanting to encourage people as effectively as possible. It's in that vein, that I believe my struggle lies. I want to encourage people, yet I don't want to fill them with fluff that I feel will just make them feel better momentarily and do nothing to really help them improve their life. I want to encourage them with a good, well-balanced dose of truth, grace, love, information and common sense. I want people to explore truth for themselves and have the power and knowledge to reject lies, half-truths, and ideas that would serve to make them and their lives ineffective and unproductive. I want them to be able to raise their hands and eyes and be lifted up out of the mire that keeps them stuck. I want them to embrace God and learn to stand upright, yet lean into and upon a God that can always be trusted to hold onto them. I want them to know truth and apply it to their lives. I want them to have purpose and peace in their lives. I'm not double-minded about any of that. I am just unsure of my delivery.

Am I praying about what I am convicted to share? Is it being presented in the right way with the right motives? Is it helpful and informative? I would love to say a resounding, "Yes" to those questions. It is something I am more and more conscious of and more and more purposeful to accomplish. My heart and my mind, my ideas and my intent, have to be surrendered to pull that off. I have to be brave and bold enough to say what I feel needs to be said, but humble and pliable enough to let God edit it and be my publisher. Essentially, that is less of me and more of Him. It's difficult to put that forth when I am so very human. It's easier to accomplish when I die to myself and put my head and heart, and all that is filtered through them both, into the hands of my Savior. His words and deeds will shine so much brighter than mine. I have to be careful to listen and obey and not lag behind or run ahead of Him.  I have to let Him lead every part of me in a way that is honoring to Him. If I do that, I'm sure I can leave the results to Him.

The Internet and social media outlets are so powerful in putting forth ideas, agenda and efforts. I vow that I will continue to stand by that which God puts on my heart and in my mind to influence others for Him and for good. Please know that I don't take the privilege of my freedom of speech lightly. That is why I want it filtered through the eyes and heart of God before I say or type it. That which He blesses will be far more effective than that which I conjure up and throw out there on my own. With that being said, please know that I am praying to be a voice in the wilderness, to say what is right, when it is right, in the right way. Oh, how I need God to help me and speak through me. He urged us to speak up and teach current and future generations about Him and His ways, so that they may know and remember what is good and right and true. How will they know if we don't use our voices and all relevant means of communication to put forth that view? As much as He gives me ability and wisdom, I'm speaking up and out for the righteousness of the One who has saved me. Any effectiveness in doing so will be credited to Him, because I am as a clanging cymbal, maybe loud - but totally irrelevant and ineffective, without His power to empower me to do and say what He would have me do and say. My prayer is that He would not only speak to me, but speak loudly and clearly through me. Let it be so, LORD!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Time to Obey God and Leave the Results to Him

I'm only a few days into a New Year, 2015, and I'm thinking about all those things we think about at such a time. I'm thinking about starting over and doing better on some things at which I have not done so well. I'm thinking about becoming more healthy, both physically and spiritually. I'm thinking about a new start. I know I'm not in this mode of thinking on my own. At this time of year, most of us at least think about such things. Fewer actually follow up on our thoughts with appropriate actions. Such is the cycle of insanity wherein many of us find ourselves.

Romans 7:15-24 says, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work. When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God' law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death?"

I think I could have very well pinned the verses above, instead of the Apostle Paul, for I have the very same struggles within my own mind and body. Can I get a witness?! Yes, we all have such struggles. But then we read on into Romans 8 and get a glimpse of what the Spirit of God living within a Christ follower can accomplish through that earthly vessel. Romans 8:10-11 says, "But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you."

Hallelujah! My body and mind may not be willing and/or able to do what is good and right, but the Spirit of Christ living within me is more than able to help me stay the course and finish the race He has set before me. I would do well to keep this in mind as I attempt to turn away from that which brings me down or does me harm and to embrace what it takes to be my best for God's glory in 2015. According to scripture, He is ready to help. I just have to give Him the reigns and stop trying to take them back.

So what are some things I want to allow God to do in and through me in 2015? I want Him to massage my heart to beat for Him and the things that are important to Him. I want to obey God and leave the results to Him. I heard Charles Stanley say that long ago. I cannot think of a more effective game plan for my life. I'm camping out in Romans 8 and living by the Spirit. I'll leave the results to Him!