Sunday, November 18, 2012

Standing on the Rock...

There is a difference in standing with my toes to the lines, ready for combat on a stormy beach and being placed on a firm foundation of stone, placed there by Him. (Please click this link to read about Him calling me to keep my toes to the line!) 

Where I once was a fiery warrior, learning to follow Him in obedience to not attack but to stand on the line awaiting His command. Shoulder to shoulder, interceding with the legion of His angels ready to fight. But learning to stand fast no matter what the storms brought in.

First, He tempered my desire to fight all things in His name or not, by teaching me how to obey and just to stand and wait for Him. When my flesh was unwilling, my heart cried out to Him... and toe by toe I stepped up to that line in the sand. When I felt lost all I had to do was remember "toes to the line" and I was back on track.

Since then, my world has changed... the scenery is new and my heart has changed. I am not standing alone on a stormy beach, I am secure in the kingdom. In this process of transformation, God has moved me from chaos and placed me on a foundation of stone.

Therein lies the difference. On the beach, when the storms came in I stood fast... settling in my stance, digging my feet into the sand, bracing myself for the fight about to descend.

Now my feet stand on rock, unshakable in its permanence. When the storms roll in, I can no longer stand firm. My feet don't sink down into the sand. The storms are coming and I could be blown away.

Shaking under the weight of a recent attack, I knew I was going to fall. Standing and shaken, I was unable to brace myself against the winds of the enemy. All of the healing and growth were slipping away, the darkness was coming. I could not fall again. The darkness could not win.

This is MY spot! HE put me here. It is right, I know it is. And yet I was not able to stand and hold my place. Torn between my own fears and the attack at hand I was losing the battle. In order to hold on, I shifted my stance... and I dropped to my knees. I held onto the rock and cried out, "I will not be shaken".

The storm stopped. And I was still there. Each time the darkness rose up, I met it with the same declaration... bowing down, making myself humble. Where God once taught me to stand, He was now teaching me to kneel. All the strength I lack, He has and pours out onto the willing.

Coming from a place of self-perceived strength, it has been liberating to not have to fight my own battles. I don't have to anymore. Amen.

Psalm 144:1-3

A psalm of David.

1 Praise the Lord, who is my rock.
He trains my hands for war
and gives my fingers skill for battle.

2 He is my loving ally and my fortress,
my tower of safety, my rescuer.
He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.
He makes the nations[a] submit to me.

3 O Lord, what are human beings that you should notice them,
mere mortals that you should think about them?

New Living Translation (NLT)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

That's me in the corner...

Sometimes I am an idiot. With all my thinking I "know" people, like I can see into them and read who they are. Mostly I can, its a gift. Kinda. But then there is that knee-jerk reaction... she is tall, thin and unusually pretty. She is that girl. The ones who I never fit in with. The ones who laughed at me and mocked me, excluded me. Yes. It is high school and middle school all over again.

So I know her. We have met before. We will not be friends. I am the nonconformist, I march to my own special beat... and she, well she is obviously too vain to be friends with someone who doesn't conform to the status quo. Boat rocker. I know she's judging me, disdainfully looking at me... putting me into the "other" category, the dismissed from inclusion list

Mhm. This 30 second assessment occurred in my head today. Me, oh so insightful... so walking it out with Jesus. Being my regular "inclusive" self while secretly creating a wall of judgement between myself and this other woman before we have even spoken a word to each other.

Oh my lovely flesh... all weak and insecure. The lies you tell me. The lies I think for a nanosecond could be true. Those past hurts and rejections still live in my memory waiting to be recalled into action. To preserve all the scars I bear, these hurts could rule my heart if given enough attention.

So with the lies ringing in my heart I wait for this woman to demonstrate her shallowness and obvious superficial fakeness... and feel that lie deflate in my heart. She is genuine and true. Passionate about her faith, loving children, desiring to be called into missions... humble, and gentle AND kind.


And then I can so clearly see the lie. It started so small and in less than a breath it grew, poisoning my heart and feeding my fears. It tells me a truth, "I know people" and then adds in the lie, "you will be rejected". Survival teaches us to protect ourselves... and with a sufficient wall in place? I will be safe from harm.

It starts so small... seemingly harmless, just waiting to be fed. And once you feed the lie, it grows exponentially and begins to consume your joy.

As soon as she spoke, I knew I had been wrong. Frankly? I was ashamed and relieved all at once. Ashamed that I so quickly misjudged her and relieved that the lie was so quickly revealed in my heart.

Not one of us is immune to the enemy's lies, he works in the smoky realm of half-truths and feeds off our innermost fears and pain. BUT... he can only thrive when we feed him. The enemy requires our attention and focus to survive. He will poke at our wounds until we lose focus on God for a second, and then he tries to keep us bound in blindness from the light.

In my glorious tumble off the path of God today, I was reminded to keep my focus on Him ... ALWAYS. The enemy will do what he always does, but through the grace and mercy of Christ, he will not succeed. We may stumble for a moment, or longer, but we don't have to stay off track. In the same nanosecond it took me to fall, I chose to give it over to God and repent. Boom. Just like that.

So today I fell out of grace and back in again before lunch... Thank you God, that your mercy knows no end. Thank You that You work through our weaknesses to strengthen us and transform us into Your Holy image. With each lesson, let me grow more and more deeply into the likeness of Christ who dwells within me. Open our eyes to see one another as you see us.... as Your chosen people, set apart, united in the name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Change is knocking...

It terrifies me, more than just a little bit when people start talking about change. I am not talking about just rearranging the seating chart or what time I go to church. CHANGE. It is ominous, it makes my hands sweat and my heart stop.

My life has CHANGED so dramatically in the last three years... the end of a marriage, a break-up with my home church of nearly ten years, two moves and financial struggles. The thought of more change? Fills me with all the joyous anticipation of being punched in the chest. Not a happy thought.

Recently in church our pastor talked about the eagle stirring the nest, getting the young ready to fly. Not right after they have hatched, not after they are bigger than their parents... somehow that momma eagle just KNOWS when its time to make the nest a little less cozy, to push them out so that they can fly.

I trust God, really I do... but this change thing? I don't trust it at all. Even though I have seen that through tremendous upheaval and drama He will pull me through and put me upon firmer ground. Where I stand now is a firm rock, a much stronger foundation than the shifting sands I stood on before.

There is that ME part of me, that is so afraid... what will happen next? I just got HERE... right here, why do I have to change again? I am not ready, so not ready, really not ready. Change is painful, it requires sacrifice, and it can absolutely devastate our concept of now.

There is that part of me that has been asking for more, seeking Him deeper, wanting to grow. So what is it that I fear? That He is answering my prayer? He is the God that keeps His promises. He continues to broaden my knowledge in Him.

And then... I remember, not all change is bad. SO change happens... I have been talking about, and really clinging tightly to the three BIG BAD changes that happened in the last three years. It just occurred to me that there have been other changes as well, many many more changes that have been absolutely amazing. I think perhaps I was looking at the glass from the wrong direction...

God has moved us out of a season of turmoil and rejection and placed us firmly in a new church. A life-sustaining, life-giving AMAZING church family. After so many years of trying on churches, only to discover that they are the wrong fit for us we have truly found and have been given the perfect fit for us out of all the churches around! Wow! Okay, so that is CHANGE... and it didn't hurt one bit. 

Next? For the first time in my walk with Jesus, I get to put HIM first. No excuses, no hiding, I am totally in the perfect place in Him and in me... He comes first. Every day, in every way... another CHANGE that didn't hurt, and is quite liberating.

Quasi-finally... there is really more than this, but I like to work with the magic of threes... Thirdly, I have been blessed with an abundance of friends who love me truly, madly deeply. What is significant is that they are unique and diverse, liberal and conservative... and they are not just friends limited to the four walls of a church. 

It is these changes that have... well, CHANGED my life. And it is these changes that will ripple out and touch people beyond my little bubble of life. These changes of growth and life are the new chapters of my future. And they do NOT cause me to fear, rather I step forward and with each passing moment I get to rejoice!!

Deuteronomy 32:10-11

10 In a desert land he found him,
    in a barren and howling waste. 
He shielded him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye, 

like an eagle that stirs up its nest
    and hovers over its young, 
that spreads its wings to catch them
    and carries them aloft. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Remedial lessons in forgiveness, take 2....

I am anguished. It was a three step forward kind of day, and then a big shove backward. That old panic and pain was stirred up after watching a movie about a painful marriage. I am keeping my eyes fixed on God and His promises for me. I am not choosing to dwell in these past pains. So when I get triggered like this, it brings a fresh wash of grief for a marriage failed.

How long do I need to mourn this loss? I long for the day that I don’t immediately remember the pain of cruel words or the shameful knowledge of his secret addictions. Bound by covenant, sworn to be the secret keeper… it was the perfect trap.

My spirit grieves for my bruised heart. No longer is that my reality. Solid with my family, connected into a life-giving growing church family, eyes lifted to Him to provide all things. And then there is the pain. I must ask not WHY AGAIN, but what do I need to learn from this pain, God? This thorn still in my heart partly connected through my unforgiving heart.

I am capable of relying on God, and releasing my unforgiveness to His care. It is not a burden that I have to carry. And I do trust HIM with it. I just don’t know how to let go of that piece and anger and betrayal. Deep down there is a part of me that want to see him fall, see him shamed for all that he has done and gotten away with. And it is that primal part of my brain that tells me to hold on for my justice.

 Forgiveness is a choice. Every day I get up and say, “Today I choose to forgive.” But I am not committing to that fully. I am holding back. Really what I am saying is that I choose to forgive on MY terms. I will ‘truly’ forgive when I feel that justice has been served. Until then… I am not all in. In fact, I am barely in at all.

Which is really, well, stupid. In all these sweeping areas of my life I am completely giddy committed to follow Him. Step out, pray, speak, write, praise, exhort, uplift, host, encourage… done, done and done. No questions asked. Except for this one thing, this teeny tiny thing? It’s holding me back; Keeping me available to relive those feelings of grief, pain and anger over and over again. I choose. I choose unforgiveness. And it is hurting my heart.

It grieves my Father when I withhold things from Him, the things that He has not called me to carry. My daughter, what are you doing? How can I heal you of these wounds when you are continuously drinking from the well that is poison to your soul? STOP. Let me take these things from you. Believe that I am truly greater than your circumstance, greater than your grieving.

I have gone all in with God before, and for the most part I still am ALL IN. I refuse to be my own stumbling block. I will not continue to negotiate or withhold these parts of myself from Him. I do trust that He is mightier than any circumstance that I have walked through. So I choose, I CHOOSE to forgive to my enemy. I release my need to see justice served. And claim the promise that God will provide all that I need for this life.


1 Corinthians 10:13
13 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.

1 Peter 5:5-7
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Hope of My Heart....

It is so easy to get distracted from our purpose, higher calling. We live in this world, it permeates our beings. We find instant, temporary solace, in distractions from our troubles and pain. It is much easier to sweep our cares away under the rug to be dealt with later than to confront our fears head on. Or is it? We have become blinded, desensitized to God’s healing touch. We turn away from healing choosing to stand on our own and power through another day where we get caught in the perpetual loop of strife and turmoil.

I have been guilty of this. Change is difficult. For me the familiar pain of survivor-hood was comfortable. Better the pain I knew than the tremulous hope that God could lift this burden from me only to bury me deeper in it again. This shadow I carry with me is mine, no one else’s. And yet somehow it owns me. Because I could not relinquish it to God, that trust in Him was incomplete.

Confronting my demons terrified me. I would rather pretend that it isn’t REALLY that bad; that they didn’t torment me at will. With every step forward, I fell further into the trap of anxiety and loss. I had seen this pattern play out in my mother’s life. A survivor of brutal physical abuse by an alcoholic father, her pain was denied by her family, dismissed, it never happened. And in her life, every time she reached out for help or acknowledged her weakness, the legion rose up and devoured her. Over and over again, they preyed on her. She was a survivor. But she never overcame her past. Until the day she passed away, she never had peace.

This legacy continued with me. A ‘survivor’ of abuse, the daughter of an alcoholic/drug abuser, I learned to enable and be the perfect fixer and co-dependent. I knew that I would never be the abuser. But I didn’t dodge the victim/survivor title. The lies by abusers, the lies of surviving… I learned that I could only count on me. Everybody else would fail to protect me or exploit me. I only had me.

I bought in to the title survivor because it sounded so much better than victim. But as I grew in Christ, I found that I didn’t even want to own that title. I am redeemed of my sins by His sacrifice in becoming sin on the cross for me. I get that. What about the sins of others? The injuries I have sustained?? I require justice. I don’t want to deal with these festering wounds, BECAUSE I haven’t seen the scales of justice balanced. So… I will stay right here and wallow in the infection of my soul. Thank you very much.

I have stood too long in the sun soaking in the words of man calling me away from my inheritance. The flashes of lights dance through my vision, blinding me to the danger all around. Until all I see is my own small world and all of the hurts I have gathered along the way. When do I lift my eyes to learn the truth of God in my heart? How far do we have to fall before we stop seeking validation in the fickleness of man?

I chose God. I choose to be an overcomer rather than a survivor. My pain does not define me and I don’t have to follow the path created by the past generations. I can choose to set down this garment of perpetual shame and step into the light of God’s promised inheritance. My heart does not need to stagnate in the shadows, but can soar into the heavens TODAY. The beauty of God’s redeeming promises is that it is NOW that He can heal us and restore our hearts into the fullness of hope that will overfill and destroy all of the pain that confined us.

The hard part is declaring that YOU cannot truly change without the grace of God. It is counterculture thinking; that I alone am lack the ability to be my own savior. My strength is limited by lack of heavenly perspective. Again, I choose God. He is the hope of my heart, my promise that pain is not His plan for me, that through Him I can be transformed beyond this world.

Romans 8:26-28
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

The Evil Queen and that Prince of the Air....

The pollution of sin thrives and multiples in a fallen world. Unbelief clouds our judgment and keeps us separated from the grace of God. There is a striking contrast between the prince of the power of the air, ruler of this world and the image of God being the air we breathe. It makes me wonder what we are choosing to breathe…

The enemy comes in on a whisper, speaking half-truths that take root and cause spiritual blindness and deadens our souls. We become inured to the beautiful life given to each one of us, and we squander precious moments in exchange for the great lie.

The lie that tells we are greater than God, that our self-presence here is more important than that of any one else. We, in this culture, value achievement, competition, dominance, a d material acquisitions over sacrifice, love and faith. Out gaze is perpetually stuck on our own self-gratification. In essence we have become the evil queen from Snow White, asking our mirror “who is the fairest of them all?” The mirror tells no lies… but we still see what we want to see. Never asking what God sees in us. We will disregard the image of the beautiful queen and trade it in envy, failing to see our image melting into the decrepit hag as we seek to destroy those who ‘steal’ our glory or spotlight.

STOP. Our glory? It is a myth. Our triumphs are as temporary as our struggles. How can we boast in either one? Just stop.

Psalm 119:132-133 132 Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name. 133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. 

Back to the evil queen… she sought self-gratifying envious beauty – all external and quite temporary – when confronted with the truth that there was one fairer that she, her internal nature was revealed. Horrible, evil, covetousness; she seeks to destroy the beauty of another. She is completely polluted, corrupted by evil and she fails in her plot to destroy the light of another. Destroying someone else does not restore life or heal the wounds you carry, but it does reveal the presence of the “prince of the power of the air”, ruler of this world dwelling in your heart.

That kind of destruction will wage war in your heart. There will be a visible transformation, perhaps not as dramatic as the evil queen but what lives in your heart IS visible and will pour out on those around you. This tactic is perfected by the enemy’s quiet whisperings into our hearts and minds… and can completely undo the grace and portion that God is waiting to pour out to you.

As I gaze into the mirror seeking God’s truth for my life… is it my destiny to be consumed and defined by my experiences? Do I live each day presenting my scars – pleading for mercy for all my sins both present and future? When is it enough? In all my brokenness, where is hope? What does the mirror… strike that… what does GOD tell me about myself? Can I receive His truth and love for me, standing here in all my iniquitous mess?

The true beauty lies in knowing that we get to choose where we draw our breath. What fragrance do we choose to inhale? The sweet Holy Spirit presence that is promised to us or the smell of death and decay that hangs at the fringes of our atmosphere? What do you choose? When you gaze into the mirror and seek God’s truth for you are you the fairest in His sight or are you consumed with the false beauty promised to the evil queen and the prince of lies?

We get to choose. Choose to seek His truth for your life; His message of redeeming grace and unmerited mercy. Be transformed into an abundant life overflowing with hope and beauty and joy… exceeding all expectations.

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.