Part 3: Uprooting a Besetting Sin

Alright, we are at the end of this one! I promised you I saved the best for last. These were the things that made the biggest difference in this battle:

5. Realize that many sins are a distortion of something good of God’s.

I read Gary Chapman’s book: Anger, Handling a Powerful Emotion in a Healthy Way. If you are looking for steps one, two, three and really practical hands-on stuff to do, this book is it. What it did for me was open my eyes to the fact that anger in itself is not wrong. God gave us the ability to be angry for a purpose ~ to help us to take action. However, there are justified situations for anger and there are situations that aren’t. The things I was reacting to were not justified situations and I wasn’t reacting in the right ways. So like I said, the enemy will take something God intended for good and distort it. If, anger is part of your “personality" then learn how to use it in the way God intended you too.

6. Identify Trigger Points

I realized that there were certain situations that would set me off. Understanding what those trigger points were helped me to make changes entering those situations. One for me was trying to get out the door. I know it sounds so dumb but I like to be on time. It seemed like “meltdown” time always came when I was trying to leave and get somewhere on time! This is where the eternal perspective really helped me. I also tried moving “leaving time” 10 minutes earlier so it really wouldn’t matter if a meltdown took place I would have the proper time to deal with it.

7. Understand where God is in this whole thing!

  • Invite Jesus to fight for you! This came from a sermon by my pastor Tom Flaherty (8/19/07 A Pleasing Sacrifice starting @ 43 minutes). He talked about the enemy knocking at the door of your house and you always going to the door to answer and getting beaten up. He said the whole time Jesus is upstairs waiting for you to ask Him to open the door. If you would let Him open the door you wouldn’t have to deal with the enemy. So the next time the enemy is knocking ask Jesus to answer the door. This really worked for me and made a difference, so try it!
  • I told you I put a rock in my rock bowl October 2007. I put the rock in after hearing a sermon by Brian White called Free Indeed. It is an hour long and I would definitely recommend that you take time to listen to the whole thing. This is where I understood where God was in all of this mess. I used to think God was at the end of my journey tapping his toes, with his arms crossed waiting for me to get it and that He was disappointed in me and didn’t understand why I didn’t get it. After this powerful sermon, I saw that God was the instigator (and I love Him for it!). He wanted my enemy DEAD. God was NOT going to be satisfied with second best, He was not going to be satisfied with me taking care of part of it but leaving the rest for my kids to deal with. God wanted this sin dead so He was willing to keep the fire burning until the enemy was DEAD. God wasn’t away from me tapping his toes, He was behind me, beside me and in front of me saying let’s kill this thing! When I realized that I was all for kicking this thing where the sun don’t shine! And I was using my anger in the right way now ~ to defeat the stronghold of the enemy.

So thanks for letting me share. I am so excited now. I can’t tell you what it is like to actually sit back and say, “Who is this responding now?” because I am responding with gentleness and patience. I still don’t think it is “me” but now I know that it is God working in me to do His work and it feels so good! So beloved if you’re struggling don’t get bogged down with the journey. Get God’s perspective and go for it! God purchased freedom for us and He wants our enemy dead, so keep fighting until he is dead!

Part 2: Uprooting a Besetting Sin

Part 2 of 3: This blog will come out in more of a list form because that is the way that I think. I do what to restate, however, that I am just sharing my journey and not a “do these 10 things and you will be over anger list.” I firmly believe that our Christianity is about a journey of walking with God in the midst of our mess. We can learn how to walk effectively by looking at others but even in that we need to take what we learn from others back to God and see how it applies to our lives. So the next 2 postings contain some of the things I learned in my journey:

1. First, I had to acknowledge that I had a problem.

  • This may seem obvious but there are a few routes I could have taken instead of acknowledging my problem. I could have said, “I am making too big a deal of this. It’s not like I’m hitting my kids ~ I’m just using words.” Jesus likened lust to adultery and hating your brother to murder. In God’s eyes, sin is sin and it is serious! I was sinning against my kids and God and I needed to acknowledge the seriousness of it.
  • The second route I could have taken was it wasn’t my fault. I think I could have stayed there for a while. To me, it was my kids. If they would just learn to obey and wouldn’t test me I wouldn’t have to yell at them. This is a slippery road. Yes, my kids need to learn to obey but that was a totally separate issue than the way I was responding and it did not justify my behavior.
  • The last route I could have taken was, “that is just the way I am, it is part of my personality.” I will address this more in depth in another point below. It may be a part of your personality but when it crosses the line it is NOT okay and it is not an excuse for you to remain in that place.

2. I had to walk in humility!

  • Again this may seem obvious but it was hard. I had to say sorry to my kids and every single time. I would take my kids and sit on the floor. I would look in their eyes and say sorry that Mommy was wrong and she should not have reacted that way. I would ask them to forgive me and then we would pray together. To me, forgiveness is one of God’s most powerful tools and our kids are so willing to use it. Yes, I know what was happening was hurting their spirits and I needed to stop but I was sooo thankful for the power of forgiveness as I walked down the road to freedom.

3. I surrounded myself with truth.

  • Check out my posting called Put your clothes on! This talks about putting on the Spiritual Armor on a daily basis. I realized in trying to uproot this sin that I was in a spiritual battle. I also realized God had equipped me to fight. This was one of the most powerful tools to protect me during the fighting.
  • The second set of verses I clung had e putting more clothes on (I personally find them more beautiful to wear than wearing the armor!)
    Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

4. Get to the bottom of it!

  • Anger and most behavioral sins are just a symptom of a bigger problem (remember the posting The Overflow of the Heart). I could chop off the anger but it wouldn’t be getting at what was causing me to be angry. I wish I could say there was this huge revelation, or an incident from my childhood that caused me to be this way. I can’t. I wasn’t raised the way I was acting so that one didn’t work for me. I think sadly enough what it came down to for me was I like to be in control, I don’t like being challenged and I don’t like to fail!
  • I had to learn to not take myself so seriously and realize that I was going to be challenged by my kids.
  • I had to accept that my kids were going to sin and that was okay. What I mean is they are sinners too, to expect my kids to always obey and always listen perfectly was an unfair expectation. I wasn’t failing when they disobeyed me and so I didn’t need to “protect myself” by lashing out at them.
  • I had to take on an eternal perspective. Really, in the light of eternity the little stuff that would cause me to blow up really was not important. The only thing involved that was eternal was their little spirits and that was what I was harming. The fact that we were going to be late and they weren’t cooperating with me was not going to have a lasting effect on eternity!I had to refigure out what my job was. My job was not to control these little creatures who had their own free wills! My job was to train them to make wise choices. I guess that helped me to release this idea of control and take on a new perspective of my job.
  • As a side note: For those of you who know my family I am so grateful that my first child was compliant and that I began battling this anger issue before my second one came along! Her name is Mercea Grace (which means Mercy and Grace). I thought we named her that because she was going to be an example of Mercy and Grace to the world. But at least thus far it has been to teach Mommy how to be merciful and graceful! She is one strong willed little girl and I realize that I am probably the one to blame for that! She has a power and a fire to her that I can’t wait to see released for the Lord, but until then…

So that's all for today. There is a little more to the list for tomorrow! I saved the best for last so that you would have a reason to come back.

Uprooting a Besetting Sin Part 1

Well, I told you a few weeks back that one day I would try to blog about my journey out of anger. The next couple of days I will try to do that.

Before I start, let me tell you what I am not doing. I am not giving you “10 steps” to overcoming anger (or a besetting sin). Instead, what I am doing is sharing my journey with you and the things I have learned along the way. Hopefully, whether you struggle with anger or some other stronghold you will be able to glean some new truths that will help you in your journey to overcome.

I guess before I had kids I never really considered myself to be an angry person. But when my son was about 6 months old something seemed to “snap” inside of me. A frustration arose in me and I began reacting angrily. Luckily for me, I had a very compliant first child and so the incidences of anger were far between. But the older he got the more I was being “challenged” and the more I began reacting to him out of anger.

I was never pleased with myself for this and I spent many a time at my bed crying and praying to be different and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get control of this thing. At times, I could go for a couple of months without an incidence and then there would be a day when I would break again. For those of you who struggle with anger you might know what I am talking about: a rage would build up inside of me and all I could do was scream to get it out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone while this screaming would happen and my son would be the receiver of the anger. It was really frustrating especially when I felt like there were 2 mes: the one watching this happen and saying stop and the other part of me that was screaming.

In October 2007, after 2 years of battling this thing I put a rock in my rock bowl and from that day forward I knew there would be a day when I was free from anger. I would love to say that I never reacted in that way after that but I still did. I do now think it has been about 6 months where I know that I am different and can say I am free from the stronghold of anger that I was under.

So here are the things I have learned along the way in this journey from anger:

First, one reason we fight to be free is to fighting so that the next generation can be free. I hated how I felt when I was angry and it truly did frustrate me that I couldn’t overcome it. I, however, looked at my kids and I did NOT want them to be stuck fighting a stronghold of anger because I wasn’t able to overcome it. My former Pastor Shane Holden used to preach about being a David for your family line and taking out the Goliaths of your family line. I was well aware that one of the reasons I struggled with anger was rooted in generational sin and I did not want to pass it out to my children. However, things did not seem to be changing. I love the idea of being a David for your family and I think there is a very powerful picture. But one thing I’ve learned from all of this is that not every battle can or will be taken out in just one blow. If your mindset is that you just have to throw one rock and it will be over then like me you will get very discouraged with yourself and think that you are doomed to be under this thing for the rest of your life.

Now I do believe there are times when God can and does remove things in one swoop however there are times that He doesn’t and this is the picture that I did get for this circumstance. Of course, at this moment I can’t find the reference but it is in there! In the OT, God says that He did not get rid of all of the Israelites enemies because He wanted them to be able to teach their children how to fight. This to me is sooo powerful and freeing! As Christians, we get so discouraged when we struggle with sin and we think there is something wrong with us. But have you ever thought that maybe we need to learn how to fight? I am so glad in retrospect that God did not just take my anger away. If He had I would have missed out on a lot of character building (which you will see in the upcoming blogs). It also would not have gotten to the root of the problem because at that time I was just concerned about “anger” and not concerned about what was broken inside of me and was causing the anger. Finally, I think I’ve learned how to fight. I do not expect perfection from my kids. I do know that when they grow up they will not be perfect and they are going to have struggles. My firm belief is that they will not struggle with anger because that stronghold has been broken but they will struggle with other issues. One of my jobs now as a parent is to teach them how to fight. Instead of getting down in the dumps that we struggle with sin we can rise up and know that we can be set free and that we do need to learn how to fight for freedom.

So this is part one. There is more to come so check back tomorrow…

The Overflow of the Heart

For some reason I can't stop thinking about Hardness of Heart. So I guess I consider this blog to be like a "check up" at the doctors. Are you wondering how your heart is doing? A good place to find out is by looking at what is coming out of your mouth:

Matthew 12:34-37
For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

Then in Matthew 15:8-10
Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'

What's the point of all this? To fill you with guilt and condemnation if you look at your words and realize "YIKES! My heart is full of junk and not clean?" No, I think the point is to get at the root of the problem and the root of the problem doesn't stem with our mouths but it stems in our hearts! If you are so busy trying to "clean up" your words and put on a show for men that you are a good Christian then all you are really doing is filling yourself with lies.

Jesus said "what goes into a mouth doesn't make a man unclean, it is what comes out." I would like to add another thought to this then: if what goes in doesn't make a man unclean then "the good" you put in won't make us "clean" either. So before you jump on me and say she is teaching heresy let me explain what I am saying. It will not be the number of hours you spend in the Word and praying that is going to make you a "good Christian." If God doesn't have your heart it will just come in one side and go out the other (that's what Jesus said). Jesus himself also said "they honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me ~ their teachings are but rules taught by men." Jesus is not about us being able to master all the rules. Do you know what He wants? He wants our hearts. And how does He get our hearts? Through us giving our hearts to Him and walking in relationship with Him!

Do you realize what the Bible says: Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He isn't a path to copy He is the path. He isn't a truth to be learned He is THE truth. He isn't a life to look at and try to be like, He is THE LIFE. The only way to the Father is by HIM. So lets get rid of all this religious mumbo jumbo. Let's stop trying to put on a show for men. Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the HEART (I Samuel 16:7).

Check out your heart today. What are your words? If they are revealing a dirty heart don't hide it rather give it to the One who can take our hearts of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh (Ezekial 36:26).

Amazing Grace

This blog is from my journal over a year ago, so I don't know how it will come out but the topic is what I needed to hear today. I hope you are blessed.

At the time this was written I had just recently finished watching Amazing Grace the story of John Wilberforce. He was a politician in England in the 1800's. Slavery was legal at the time and many politicians were profiting from the slave trade so they did not want to see it stop. John Wilberforce fought for 15 years to try and get the slave trade ships stopped in England. He had only 4 men supporting him in his cause. Scenes from the movie show him shouting and you can't even hear him because the jeering was so loud it overcame him. Yet he remained persistant in the face of adversity. Eventually, he received what he was fighting for and slave trade was halted in England.

Jesus has truly set us free but the enemy remains very real in our lives. We do have ultimate victory but at times we feel defeated and overcome by the enemy. We forget we are free because of the struggles in our lives. We deal with depression, anger, marriage problems, etc and we forget the truth. The beautiful part of the movie was even though things weren't changing John Wilberforce kept proclaiming the truth even though nobody could hear him.

John Wilberforce is a picture of Jesus in our lives. Jesus is daily proclaiming truth over our lives (Romans 8:34 Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.) At times the situations of your life are louder than His voice, but He keeps crying out and He will not stop crying until your total freedom is granted!

I also think you should see from this example that TIME is NOT an issue for your life just like time was not an issue for John Wilberforce. He fought for 15 years and did not give up. Maybe you have been struggling with an issue for 3 years, 12 years, 16 years or more. You may have been a Christian this whole time too. I want you to know that this message hasn't changed and that Jesus is still proclaiming truth over your life:

You are a child of God.

He wants you to experience total

and complete freedom.

Isaiah 61:1-2 "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor.

So beloved stop listening to the noise around you. Quiet yourself and hear the voice of Jesus proclaiming your freedom and receive it.

Everlasting Gobstopper

I guess I have a set of verses for this year. I have never intentionally set out to "find" verses that would be my theme for a year, but I just realized that I do have some.

I'm calling them my "Everlasting Gobstopper" verses because they are a chunk of verses that are filled with life and are full of something new every time I look at them. It doesn't matter how long I meditate on these verses they are full of something challenging for me. So I guess they are my verses for this year.

Before I share my candy with you I'll tell you where I put them. I like to write out verses that challenge me on an index card. I currently have a recipe protector by my stove and instead of protecting my recipes I put my verses there. Then when I'm in the kitchen, which is quite often, I can glance over and meditate on my verses. My Gobstopper has been there for 2 or 3 months now and doesn't seem to be leaving anytime soon.

Colossians 3:1-4, 8-10, 12-18 (NLT)

Since you were raised from the dead with Christ, aim at what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Think only about the things in heaven, not the things on earth. Your old sinful self has died, and your new life is kept with Christ in God. Christ is your life, and when he comes again, you will share in his glory. But now also put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk. Do not lie to each other. You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before. You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God. God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So you should always clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you. Even more than all this, clothe yourself in love. Love is what holds you all together in perfect unity. Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking, because you were all called together in one body to have peace. Always be thankful. Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and instruct each other by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Everything you do or say should be done to obey Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. Wives, yield to the authority of your husbands, because this is the right thing to do in the Lord.

Here are some of the areas of challenge that I get from these verses:

  • It reminds me of my position in Christ.

  • Where Christ is located and where my thoughts really should be focused.

  • The things I should be getting rid of and the things I should be replacing those areas with.

  • Reminding me that this life is really all about LOVE.

  • The need for true Peace.

  • The importance of singing and thankfulness

  • Thankfulness again!

  • Walking this thing out right where it starts, with my relationship with my husband.

Do you have an everlasting gobstopper this year? If so I'd love to hear it!

PS I love the picture I found because to be FREE is the goal of all this isn't it!

Your Heart

Happy Valentine's Day Beloved of God's!

Today's blog is about the condition of your heart taken from Matthew 13, the parable of the sower.

Have you ever wondered why you can sit in church week after week and the hear the truth of God's Word and yet have it make no difference in your every day life? I believe one of the reasons this happens has to do with the condition of our hearts. In the parable of the sower the ground represents the condition of our hearts. As a Christian, your heart is not automatically soil 4. As a matter of fact your heart probably has areas containing all 4 soils (that is why you can always be growing in one area but never make progress in another area).

Soil 1: The road

What is a road? A road is usually laid by someone else. It is something hard that cannot be penetrated. In the olden days roads were made by the continual walking over and over in the same places.

Maybe there are areas in your own heart that resemble a road. In your life's story there are areas where people have continually walked upon and stomped part of your spirit down. When God's word comes, it does not penetrate that area of your heart. The Word just sits there and the Enemy quickly comes and snatches it up.

Soil 2: Rocky ground

If you've been a Christian for a while you might have areas in your heart that resemble rocky ground. You saw the rocks from soil 1 in your life and instead of removing them you covered them over with dirt. The dirt gave the illusion to yourself and others that everything was okay but the reality was that you were just hiding the rocks and hard places discussed above. When you are in church and hear God's truth you get really excited and come home pumped to be different but then the next day or only 2 hours later you lose it and are back to your old ways.

Soil 3: Weedy Ground

This refers back to the blog posting on 2/5/09 "Obtaining Freedom Part 2: Relinquishing Control." It gets back to our inability to trust the heart of God. When we hear the truth of God's Word we line it up against everything we see around us and we allow our circumstances to choke out the truth of God.

Soil 4: Ready to Roll Ground

This soil is our goal. Soil that has the ability to receive God's Word and not only receive it but be able to reproduce from it. What does reproduction get? It not only benefits ourselves but if there is 30x, 60x or even 100x more we are able to share it with others! This is the power of God's Word in our lives and in the world.

So now what? It goes back to the first question I asked ~ are there areas in your life that never seems to change? What is that area(s)? My suggestion to you is to take that area of your heart before the throne of God.
  • Decide which soil that area of your heart is: soil 1, 2 or 3.

  • Ask Jesus to take that hard place in your heart and change it. Matthew 13:14-16 "'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them." If we turn towards Him, His promise is to heal us.

  • Cultivate your soil. Especially, if your heart is soil 3 than you will have to be proactive to choose to trust God with your heart when the worries begin to resurface. Continue to read the Word and pray to keep your soft heart.

  • Be patient. When you plant something you know that you won't see the final product on the first day the seed is planted. The same is true in our Christian walk we will not always see the immediate result of the truth of God's Word. Your part though is to submit your heart to Jesus and to make sure your soil is in the right condition. If it is in the right condition you will see the results in time and you will be able to share the fruit from it with others!

Loving Our Neighbor

Before I start this blog I shall give credit where credit is due. Much of my Christianity in the last 5 years has been positively influenced by John Eldredge. He opened my eyes to the spiritual battle that we live in on a daily basis and has shown me the reality of God wanting to speak into my everyday life. So, many of my blogs are my own applications of what I have learned and seen in my own personal life but many thoughts and ideas probably were planted while reading one of John's books: Waking the Dead, Captivating and/or Walking with God. Today's blog was seeded from Page 199 of Waking the Dead which talks about how the enemy uses us to reaffirm lies that he is speaking over other people's lives.

Satan is the Father of lies and the Bible tells us in Revelation 12:9-11 that Satan is our accuser and that he accuses us before the throne of God day and night. The Bible also tell us that Satan masquerades as "light." This lets us know that we are continually being accused before God and that Satan will be speaking lies about us to not only God, ourselves but also to others.

Do you have a person who whenever they walk in the room they immediately get under your skin? Or if you look at them all you can think and say is, "they will never change." History probably confirms this lie because you have watched them for years and they have never changed. But lets look at the "agreement" you have just made, "they will never change." Who is behind that agreement, God or Satan? Let's see: God is the healer of the brokenhearted, nothing is impossible for Him and he took Saul a murderer of Christians and turned him into Paul. So I think when we look at that person and make the agreement "they will never change" we are agreeing with their accuser Satan and not agreeing with God.

The understanding that Satan will try to influence our perceptions of others has been a huge revelation to me. I will admit there are people that irritate me. Having the understanding of who can be behind these feelings has helped me to fight the desire to make agreements about the individual and to ask God to give me love for them. I also have asked God to see what the enemy is trying to prevent by causing a break in our relationship. I have been at this for a few years now and the results have been astounding to say the least.

I can think of 3 people at least that really used to irritate me whenever they would come into the room. I have had to fight hard and long in order to learn to love them and see them through Christ's eyes. In retrospect I can see why the enemy was trying to keep us apart. All 3 of these people are very influential in my lives and I am influential in theirs. We have had to do great spiritual battle together. They are people who are very dear to my life and I can't imagine not loving them or having them a part of my life. The enemy was trying to keep us apart so that we would not be effective against him. So I've learned to get excited when someone "irritates me" because I begin to wonder why the enemy does not want us to connect.

So here is my challenge to you. Do not accept everything at face value. We are in a spiritual battle and the enemy does try to "secretively influence" us. If we take each other out by not loving our brothers and sisters Satan has less to do because we are doing his dirty work for him. One of the banners over my life is Ephesians 6, "Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers of this dark world." Relationship trouble to me is an indication that the enemy is trying to cover up his dirty work. Make sure you are fighting the real source of the problem and don't make agreements with enemy about the people that are in your life.

Finally, "try to live at peace with everyone as much as it depends on you (Romans 12:18)." In every relationship there are three sides. You do your part and leave the rest up to them and God. I have realized that if I had given in to my feelings and emotions and not fought for the truth, God would not have been able to use me in these battles. To me this is one of thekeys of holiness. Not to be self-righteous and "perfect" but rather to remain a clean vessel for Him to use because you never know when you will be called to fight for freedom especially for those who used to irritate you!

Obtaining Freedom: Part 4 Childlike Faith

I believe this will be the final blog on this series of Obtaining Freedom! I told you I had a lot swirling in my head. Hopefully, it is all coming out in an understandable way.

Luke 18:16-17 ""Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

I think as Christians we all desire to grow deeper in our relationship with God. This verse has caused me to step back and say "Wow! What does it mean to be a child a God? What does it mean to be a mature Christian?" I truly believe that grasping this concept will help us in our journey of walking in freedom with Christ.

It all gets back to what I have been writing about this past week. How do we view God? Do we truly view Him as a good Father? If you can view Him as a good Father you will be able trust your Father's heart and you will come to Him in childlike faith.

I have the advantage of watching two beautiful children everyday. Here are some characteristics that I see in them that point to the idea of what it means to be a little child:
  • No worries: My children do not worry because they know that their parents will provide for them.
  • They easily forgive others: If you say your sorry, they forgive and move on. They do not hold onto things.
  • They get over it: This always surprises me. If they are pouting about something I tell them to get over it and they do! At least, for me it can take me a whole day to get over something (what a waste!).
  • Filled with joy! My kids amaze me. They laugh very often, they always have a smile on their face. They look at life with joy!
  • Huge imaginations: My kids are always dreaming and then acting out their dreams. We have battles going on at our house all the time. They go hunting for huge bears with their swords and shields and they always win!
  • Great confidence: I believe they know they are loved and because of this they head out in the world confident of who they are.
  • Persistent: They are not afraid to ask for something. If they hear no, they keep asking. Often times their persistence works.
  • Caring and thoughtful of others: They share. Yesterday they shared their donuts with me. The last bite of each donuts. Most people would view these as crumbs and gross but they were wanting to give something they enjoyed so I could enjoy too. It was very thoughtful!

Of course this is just the surface of what could be a very long list but I think it gives us an idea. This is how God wants us to walk with Him. This is what freedom looks like and we can have it even in our adult lives. We don't have to get somber, serious and quiet to be mature in Christ. Instead, what is the fruit of the Spirit? Love, JOY, Peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness and self-control.

I think we should step back and look at children to understand how to step forward in our faith. Like I said I think the first step is to ask, "Do we trust our Father's heart?" Once we can say with confidence that we trust His heart then we can step forward in the freedom that trust obtains for us. We can forgive others, enjoy the tasks we have in life and step forward confidently because we know who we are: sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.

Obtaining Freedom: Part 3 Walking in Our Roles

After my last post I still had a few thoughts burning inside of me. I was a little afraid that people would misunderstand what I was saying and think I was saying we just have to sit down and cross our legs and sip coke as life passes by. So hopeful, what I have to say today will help bring a little more clarity to what I am saying.

Just to review our goal is to walk in the complete freedom that Jesus purchased for us when He died on the cross. Part 1 was understanding that Jesus wants us to be released from walking under shame and guilt. Part 2 was relinquishing the control of our lives to the one who truly is in control. Today, I want to write about walking in the roles that God has prepared for us.

The first question I think we need to ask is what did God create us for? I think understanding the answers to this question will help us to walk in our roles. Before I give my "answers" to this question let me preface it by saying this is just my opinion. I understand that God's ways are way above ours and that His reasons for creating us go beyond our comprehension. However, I think with our finite minds we can comprehend some of the reasons why He created us. I have come up with 3 reasons for why God created us:
  1. For fellowship with Him. In Genesis 3 we hear God coming to walk in the garden to walk with Adam and Eve. It appears that one of the reasons God created man was to have fellowship with Him. As I have stated in previous posts we can look throughout the Bible and see individuals who had the ability to walk with God in a very real way and I believe that is something God still wants to do with us today.
  2. For fellowship with others. Genesis 2:18 says "The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Even though God was present and had a relationship with Adam, God felt the need for Adam to have relationship with other human beings. Relationship with others is vital to our lives by the original design of God.
  3. Enjoy and explore creation ~ i.e. work. Genesis 2:19-20 "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field." I think these are intriguing verses. God wanted to "see what man would name them." He created man to enjoy and explore His creation and as we still see today His creation was so indepth and amazing that we still have a minimal understanding of it all.

In order for us to walk in complete freedom today I think it is vital that we understand what was God's intentional design when He created us. Since the fall of man and the curse of the law we had been turned away from the original design. Jesus died to redeem us from the curse of the law and therefore He purchased for us the redemption of the original design of God.

So I wanted to pull out some more verses from the Bible and show what I view as a beautiful picture of walking in the freedom of God's original design. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Jesus' plan for our lives is that it should not be burdensome. If we are walking with Him our burdens will be light. Isaiah 30:20b-21 " He is your teacher; he will not continue to hide from you, but you will see your teacher with your own eyes. If you go the wrong way—to the right or to the left—you will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the right way. You should go this way." Again God wants to guide us in our decisions that we make.

The original design still applies today: We were created for fellowship with others. We need it by God's design. We also were created to enjoy and explore this world and it will mostly happen today in the realm of our work. In order for us to fulfill these "roles of our original design" it is vital that we have the 3rd component in place: to walk with God. Again the hope is that when we understand our design and roles we can walk in freedom. I think at least for me this is important to help me balance my life. If we see that we were designed to participate in all three arenas we can be released from some of the guilt we have when we are participating in one arena and not another.

So keep your eyes open. Invite Jesus to direct your steps and then walk in the enjoyment of your relationship with others and in the work He has for you.

Obtaining Freedom: Part 2 Relinquishing Control

This is part 2 of what I started yesterday. The premise of this series is that God wants us to experience complete freedom in Him, in our everyday lives. Yesterday, I discussed how God wants us completely freed from guilt and shame. Today I want to talk about the illusion of being in control and the need to release control to Him.

How often do you worry? (Take time to answer this question).

Worry is our way of trying to control things. We believe that if we think things over and over enough in our mind we will be able to work things out. I am starting to learn that God wants to pull us back a little and really show us who is in the driver's seat. When we realize who is really driving we will be able to set worry aside and enjoy the ride.

I think pregnancy is a wonderful example of what I am trying to say. Pregnancy to me is an awesome thing. The only participation that I really contributed towards the growth of my children was to eat, drink and sleep. I didn't have to tell my body to do anything. I didn't have to tell it when to start growing which part, how to divide cells, how to develop the eye or the nervous system, etc (Thank God!). A miracle took place inside of me and I barely had to participate. Even though I didn't have to develop my babies my participation was completely necessary. For example, if I had never chosen to eat, my babies would not have grown properly and perhaps would not have survived.

This brings me back to my point about understanding the significance of our role versus God's role. In our everyday lives there truly is not a lot that we can control. When we sleep our body is doing a million and one things that we are not a part of. Our friends and family are living their lives and events are happening which we do not have any control. Yet we obsess over stuff for hours a day and it really has no effect on the real events. The only effect it probably does have is perhaps a negative effect on our mental health. The Bible says, "Do not worry. Which of you can add even an hour to your life by worrying? Your Father in heaven knows what you need. But seek first His kingdom. (paraphrases from Luke 12:22-32)" We do have a role to play in our lives but we need to relinquish the control of our lives to our Heavenly Father because He really is the only one who can orchestrate things out for us and He does a beautiful job when we let Him. So what does God require of us ~ that we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and that we love others. This sums up the law and the prophets. It sounds simple and I think it really was meant to be that simple. Just like in my pregnancies all I had to do was rest, eat and drink so in our everyday life all we need to do is rest in God, love Him well and love others. I guess the Lord's prayer really does sum it up well: Our Father, which are it heaven, hollowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven (relinquishing control), give us this day our daily bread (provide our needs and let us not worry) and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us (loving others well) and deliver us from the evil one.

Do you know how Jesus summed up the section on worry? Luke 12:32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom!"

So beloved of the Lord's ~ enjoy life, He has given us the kingdom. Let Him who truly is in control be in control of our lives.

Obtaining Freedom: Part 1 ~ Releasing from Shame and Guilt

Okay, just a warning ~ I have a million and one thoughts and they are not all processed so this posting is in "process" so bear with me. Also, this may be part 1 of 2 or 3 or 4 I don't know!

First of all, I think God is on a mission to release His children from the burden of Shame and Guilt. I really mean it ~ He wants us to walk in the reality of FREEDOM in our everyday life. Jesus died to set us free and yet we sit so entangled much of the time.

So here is what I've been starting to comprehend. Well let me go back, I think over the last 5 years the Lord has done a great job of releasing me from striving and living by being guilt motivated. I think I'm finally getting it. My "newest" revelation in this area, however, has freed me up to see "others" in a non-judgemental way and to really just love them.

It is all boiling down for me to the power of forgiveness (and I have to thank my father-in-law for pointing this out to me). When Jesus died on the cross, he forgave ALL sins past, present, future. Not just the sins of Christians but also the sins of non-Christians. The payment has been paid in FULL! 1 Peter 3:18 "For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit."

I think sometimes as Christians we get so caught up in the fact that we still sin, or we see the sin in others and we want to make payment for it. We walk around in guilt and shame because we went down that road that we knew we weren't supposed to go down. We think by feeling guilty about it we will somehow "pay" God back for failing Him. Well guess what, the reason Jesus had to die is because we would NEVER be able to pay back for our failings.

Repentance, therefore, for a Christian is not about carrying around a burden of guilt and shame but it is about coming into agreement with what God says is true. And do you know what the Bible says in Luke 15:10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." I always viewed this verse as "the angels were rejoicing" until one of my pastors preached a sermon on joy and pointed out that the angels are in the presence of joy. Who's joy ~ God's joy! God is thrilled when we turn to Him. He is rejoicing that we finally get it and He wants to celebrate with us. His arms are wide open to receive us.

So my encouragement to myself and others is to throw off the cloak of shame and guilt and our misunderstandings of repentance. You really will want to turn to God when you see how He feels about you and that the payment has already been paid ~ so move on your sins have been cast as far as the East is from the West. Then when you see how much God loves you and rejoices over you in your repentance it will free you to love others freely! At least, for me this has been a huge key to letting go of judgement of others. They don't need to pay me back for the wrongs they have done against me because the payment has already been paid in full by Jesus. I want them to experience the freedom that I have found by coming into agreement with the truths of who God is.

I hope this makes sense to you. It is just the ground level of more that God has been showing me and I'm still learning and seeing but I hope it blesses you.

Daily Prayer

Disqus for For His Glory Alone


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