Friday, September 11, 2009

The Blessings of Obedience

Let me start by apologizing for the length of time since my last post. My life has been filled with "nesting". I have spent the last couple of months preparing for my groom's homecoming. If you are new to my blog and do not know my story here is a blog entry of a short testimony:

I'm currently overwhelmed with the peace, joy, and blessings of obedience. I told a friend today, "I feel that if God sends one more blessing I will go crazy with JOY!"

In Deuteronomy 28:1-3 it states. "If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country." I wish I could say that I "fully obey", but honestly I still have areas in my life where I struggle. These are areas I'm working on and they remain me I'm a sinful human in need of a graceful God. However, 14 years ago I chose to obey Him in one area of my marriage. God asked me to stay and I did.

Obedience is a hard walk. It is a path filled with little stones of irritations and big boulders of doubt and obstacles. There is a secret to walking the path of obedience....You have to know your God. I'm not just talking about your salvation knowledge. I'm talking about KNOWING Him: His character, His purpose, His strategies, His love, His ways, His discipline, His motives, and His power. THEN you understand the secret: the walk of obedience is about HIM, not you. The result is He uses your walk to show Himself to others. Again, It is about Him.

There are blessings for obedience, but those blessing are to show once again who He is. In the past five years Mark and I have had so many blessing in our relationship, which I know are the direct result of our obedience to Him. However, in the last four weeks the Lord has poured overwhelming blessings out on us. He has done more then we can ask or image. I'm not boasting to bring glory to myself or my husband, I'M BOASTING FOR WHAT THE LORD HAS DONE and TO GIVE HIM ALL THE GLORY!

"My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice." Psalm 34:2

"In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever." Psalm 44:8

"This is what the LORD says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD." Jeremiah 9:23-25

The best blessing is to able to shout out what the Lord has done as you have walked the path of obedience. My friends trust me...take the road less travelled. It is full of wonder.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Healing Hand of God

I have done this teaching at several women's retreats. I'm going to use excerpts of it, because it is so apparent how much emotional and spiritual hurt woman are dealing with. It is a long entry, but I pray that it will be valuable to you or for someone you know.

The healing of emotional and spiritual wounds are often more painful than what actually caused them, because we have neglected them for so long. Your wounds may be from family: a raging parent, a parent who demands perfection, abandonment, divorce, or even death. Perhaps they come from your own choices: alcohol, drugs, low-self worth, bad relationships, or sin. The wounds can come from others who have inflicted them: physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. There could be wounds you have forgotten about or that you may consider "small wounds" something like name-calling…I had an uncle who would always say to me, "I rather be dead than red on the head." For years I hated my hair. In fact I only began to like it in the last several years when it became popular to have red hair. Wounds large and small are painful and if left unattended will grow and affect other areas of our lives.

Let me share with you about a friend of mine. At the age of 26, she began to have memories about a neighbor who sexually abused her when she was six years old. God revealed in her heart that the memories were true and the forgotten wound began to open up. She chose to ignore the emotional wound. As a result it grew bigger and bigger. The wound began to infect her life. When a wound is infected it contaminates or corrupts. However, there came a day when she decided to deal with the pain and accept THE HEALING HAND of GOD.

There were four phases she experienced in this healing process with God:

Participate in the Healing
Matthew 9:20-22
"Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the edge of His cloak. She said to herself. If I only touch His cloak, I will be healed. Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart daughter", He said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed that moment."

Do you see it? The woman participated! She reached for the cloak, she had faith. When we read about physical, emotional and spiritual healing in the Word someone participates in the healing along with God. The woman touched His cloak, the father ran to get Jesus for his daughter, Zacchaeus climbed a tree, A Samaritan woman was vulnerable at the well, the men lowered the cripple down to Jesus, and the thief asked for spiritual healing hanging from a cross.

Let me make a couple of side points here: First, We participate we do not heal. The great Jehovah-Rapha does the healing. That name for God means - the God that heals. We participate by going, believing, and applying what He gives us.

Second, too many times I have caught myself participating in other people's emotional/spiritual healing and ignoring mine. There is a time for us to be supportive of others and help them out. But are we so busy mending everyone else that we are neglecting our own wounds. The world calls this avoidance, denial, co-dependence, and enabling; but God calls it disobedience. If you want God's healing hand to work in your life you have to go to the source, ask from the source, and believe in the source. In other words participate.

Evaluate the Hurt
Once we decide to participate there comes a time when our wounds need to be evaluated and examined. This is where many people run away and try to ignore the wound. The wound has to be probed, pulled, scraped, and scrubbed to get it clean and ready for the healing to begin. We have to evaluate and examine our hurts for the healing to begin. If we don't we end up with scars that remind us of that pain each and everyday.

Lamentations 3:40
"Let us examine our ways and test them and let us return to the Lord."
The woman I mentioned earlier who was sexual abused as a child came to this point in the healing process where she had to evaluate what happen to her. She had to say what happened out loud to herself, her counselor, and the Lord. It was the most painful and agonizing thing she had ever done. But she had to do it in order to evaluate it, to allow God excess to that part of her heart she held closed off. A lot of tears flowed, but God is faithful during those times.

"Would it turn out well if He examines you? Could you deceive Him as you might deceive man?" Job 13:9 We can deceive others, but we can never deceive Him. He knows what is under all those "I'm fine" and "Nothing is wrong" we tell everyone. When my husband and I separated it came as surprise to many people, because Mark and I went around pretending everything was all right. What those friends didn't know - God knew. You cannot deceive God, so why hold back from him. Psalm 62:8 says, "Trust in Him at all times, O people pour out your hearts to him. For God is our refuge"

Anticipate the Healing
Once you have poured out your heart and evaluated your hurts with God then you begin to anticipate the help. When we anticipate something we are usually looking toward something in the future-at something to come. But in order to anticipate healing from God's Hand we have to look back to the past. Look back at what God has already done.

Hebrews 13:7-8 tells us:
"Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever."
These verses follow Hebrews 11 "The Faith Chapter". This Chapter reminds us of all the leaders of the past and how God was faithful to them because of their faith. We have all heard the old stories - Noah and the ark, Abraham and the sacrifice of his son, Moses crossing the Red Sea and not to mention all that Christ did. Our anticipation comes from knowing the miracles and faithfulness of God.

"God is the same yesterday and today and forever." Hebrews 13:8
God did great healings in the past- we can anticipate healing for our wounds because of the past. When my husband and I went through those terrible times some people told me to let go and divorce him. However, I knew in my heart God wanted me to hold on. I anticipated that God could heal my heart, Mark's heart, and our marriage. I could anticipate because I knew what God had done in the past. When Mark or others would talk to me about ending it, I held on to the story of God parting the Red Sea for Moses and the Israelites and I would say to them "if God can part the Red Sea, God can heal my marriage." God is the same yesterday and today and forever. In my case the marriage has been reunited, however even if it hadn't been my hurt and pain would have been healed. Anticipation is about faith.

Graduate to Give Hope
There comes a letting go time - Graduation. I remember when I graduated from High School. I felt so excited about what laid ahead. I was letting go of a part of my life and was going to begin a new phase. It is similar when we graduate from our heart wounds. There comes a point when we have to move on.

Many times Christians want to skip through the first three phases and just go on to the graduation stage. If we skip those stages what are we graduating from? The reason many Christian women get stuck in their Christian walk is that they try to move on before they have done the work to graduate. The Bible says that we are to work out our salvation. Everything isn't fixed about us because we have accepted Christ. There is still work to do. Otherwise, we won't have Christians sinning.

Psalms 119:71 says, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." There are lessons for us to learn from our hurts and just like school when the lessons are learned we are to graduate to help others. By the way, that friend I mentioned earlier, was me. After going through these four stages of healing I was a rape counselor in Tampa for about two years. Now the Lord has given me the heart to help women heal from their hurts. It feels great to graduate from the hurts of the past. Will you join me? I promise it is so good on this side of the healing.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Broken and Beautiful

What does it mean to be broken? It is not a pleasant word for us, for many broken means damaged. In our culture we dislike it when things are broken. Junk yards are filled with broken cars. Drive in the city on garbage day and you will see broken electronics and household products discarded for pick-up. Just like the world throws away and discards broken things, it also throws away and discards broken people.

But God does not!! God loves the broken. God’s ways are not our ways. God chooses to take the broken and create something beautiful. What God can do with a broken person? Plenty! It is when a person reaches a breaking point and then chooses to be broken that God can create the work of art He has longed to create.

Watchman Nee says, “Our spirit is released according to the degree of our brokenness. The one who has accepted the most discipline is the one who can best serve. The more one is broken, the more sensitive he is.”

Jeremiah 18:1-4 tells us, “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD : "Go down to the potter's house, and there I will give you my message." So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him." God wants to mend and make us useful for His kingdom.

Some choose to harden. Men like the Pharaoh of Egypt who would not let Moses lead the people out of Egypt. Men like King Saul who did not do what God asked him and refused to seek God’s forgiveness. Men like Judas Iscariot who betrayed the savior into the hands of his enemies. The person you know who cannot move past a situation in their life and has harden their heart towards God.

Some choose to be broken. Men like King David who committed adultery and murder, and when God confronted him with his sin, begged God for mercy and God called him a man after His own heart. Like Daniel who was a slave, but stood his ground and only worshipped the one true God. Men like Peter who denied Jesus and later preached the first sermon declaring the good news about his death, burial, and resurrection. Men like Saul the persecutor of Christians who became Paul the Apostle of Jesus. People you know that have endure a great hardship yet their faith continues to grow.

Every time we celebrate communion we honor the power of brokenness. Christ had to be broken for our sins. God is calling every one of us to be broken before him. The good news is found in the resurrection, after the brokenness there is the new life in Him. He will bring our life to a point of brokenness so that we may live in his presence, power and greatness.

Is He bringing you to a point of brokenness today? Maybe you need to be broken over your sin and denial of Christ? Could it be that He is breaking you over the addictions, idols, pain, or issues you have not allowed Him access to?

Ask God to do this, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Lord, make me broken before you, so You can create your beautiful work in me.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Content is Imperative

In the last 13 years it has become so important to me to really study His Word (not just read) and take it seriously. I have been blessed to find some good studies that use the Word as the main teaching. I would encourage you to do the same. Stay away from studies that insert their opinion, cute sayings, or popular trends.

Let me give you an example of why it is imperative to study content. A Christian co-worker said the other day, "God will not give us more then we can bear." He said it in reference to his hectic life. I know that statement is popular and sounds good. It is used as if it is scripture. Did you know you will not find that phrase in the Bible?

Here is the closest scripture you will find: "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." I Corinthians 10:12-13

You may read this scripture and say, "What is the big deal? The statement is similar to the verse." BUT it is not when you put it into content and you miss out on so much. Read the whole chapter...go ahead get your Bible...I will wait.

When you read the first 11 verses of the chapter, Paul is giving a short history of Israel. At first he speaks of all the wonderful things Israel experienced from God leaving Egypt. Then in verse 5 things change, "Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert." WHY? Read verses 6-10, Israel turned to evil things and let temptation seize them. They turned to idolatry.

Now re-read these verses: "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." Now, does the statement, "God will not give us more then we can bear." still work here? NO! What it says is "He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear." Even more important: it is about God being faithful and providing a way out of the temptation.

When we shorten scripture to a "cute and easy" phrase we miss out on all that God is saying to us. This is an issue for Christians today...we want it quick and we want other people to tell us. Stop! It does not come quick and you have to study the Word for yourself.

Here is my challenge to you. Find another statement Christians use as if it were scripture and try to find the verses it may originated from. Read it all in content and see how much more you will learn about God. Let me know what you find.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Protecting Boys from America’s War Against Manhood

It is a difficult time in America to be raising boys. Manhood is under attack and that affects the little boys in our lives. Why should you be concern about this? Because as women we have a part in this war. Here is a passage from a website that will help give you understanding and guidance in protecting our boys.

Supporting Our Boys Out There

As we look at the battle that surrounds us, we have come to believe that one of the most important things we will ever do, as daughters and sisters and wives and mothers, is to build strength into men and help make them great.

America’s war against manhood.

There is a crisis facing our nation’s boys. Their masculinity is under attack. This is no longer a debate; it is a copiously documented fact, actually old news. Bold, commanding masculinity has become pathologized and penalized. We’re not just talking about the rise of metrosexuality, either; over the last century, men have been taught that their leadership is oppressive, their protection is insulting, their authority is tyranny, and their position as the head of the household is utterly illegitimate. To read more click the link:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Moms and Daughters

My husband and I were not able to have children of our own. However, I have always loved being around them and try to be a good role model to my friend's children. I would like to share some mommy advice I have read from woman who have been there. So, the next few post will be for moms.

Maryann Loveing gives moms some very practical steps they can take with their daughters:

  • Teach her truth while she is young.

  • Help her establish a daily walk with God. (When we’re getting too busy to take our daughters to the Word, we need to reorder our personal world.)

  • Be “H.O.T.” about your own failures: honest, open, and transparent.

  • Tell your kids when you’ve messed up and you’re sorry. Our kids need to know that we’re not perfect.

  • Date your daughter. Do what SHE likes. (Yes, even if it means spending time in Claires! Ask them questions about their week. What are their greatest challenges? What are they most excited about?)

  • Encourage godly examples (female/male) that promote right(eous) living. (We have to be their first role model. We can’t go home and watch Desperate Housewives and then expect them to be pure.)

  • Do not fear being counter-cultural.

  • Steps to a healthy marriage begin now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Make an Effort

I heard this term one morning this week on a Christian radio station. It was used in reference to: What husbands really want from their wives, but are afraid to tell them. Can you guess what it is?
Make an effort in your physical appearance

The men were not talking about weight, the perfect body, having no wrinkles, etc. Their heart was to express how much it means to them when their wives make an effort to eat healthy, exercise, wear nice clothes, do their hair, etc.

Here are some truths I have come to realize about men:
  1. Men are visual. Like it or not, it is the way God has created them. They love the female form, how we take care of it, and how we "dress" it up.
  2. Most men are not as hung up about our bodies as we are. I say "most men" because I know there are some men who have brought into the lies of our culture about how women should look. Most husbands want their wives to be healthy. If you feel you have to starve yourself or spend hours in a gym everyday you are not being healthy. If you are eating junk food and sitting on the couch you are not being healthy. There is a middle ground. Guess what? Your husband would enjoy it if you both exercised (walking, hiking, biking, swimming, etc.) and ate healthy meals together.
  3. Men find inter-beauty just as important. Your husband may have been attracted to you first physically, but it is your mental, emotional, and spiritual beauty that convinced him to make you his wife. If you are not making an effort in these areas it will not matter how much you make an effort in your physical appearance.
I grew up as an over-weight child and still as an adult. So, I completely understand the pain of feeling like you are always judged on physical appearance. For some of you to hear this it can add to your pain. But I would ask you to instead pray and be honest with yourself, "Do I make an effort in all these areas?" If I'm honest with myself, I am not making the effort with exercise. The simple truth is I hate doing it, but I have made a commitment to God, my husband, and myself to improve in this area.

God bless and let Him search your heart.