Day 8: Facing Disillusionment

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Confusion comes in when our definition of good does not fit God’s.

Scripture of the Day:

Proverbs 13:22

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

1 Peter 4:12 (NIV)

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

Psalm 73 (all)


Like the desert, there is beauty in the forest, but if we focus on each individual tree, we might miss the big picture. Sometimes, we can’t see the forest for the trees.We started on this path simply enough, but somehow in the maze of life we ended up lost in the woods, not sure we will ever find our way out.

Disillusionment is tied not just to failed expectations we have for life, but to our inability to control those outcomes. Disillusionment chokes out hope as we suffocate on what could or should have been. When we are unable to process or accept our circumstances and wonder where God is in it all, hope still remains – cloaked in a different garb.

If we walk with God, we have His strength to cling to in challenging seasons of life, but disillusionment can damage that faith and create space for idolatry if we are not careful – as we try to cling to what we wanted instead. Trying to hold onto our dreams as if we are owed them is ultimately a lack of trust in God.

Trusting the LORD when times are good comes easily, but it is in the rocky ravines that we need to understand His purposes are far wider and greater than a temporary stay in a craggy landscape.

When we want to hope, to believe that God is still good but we are surrounded by death and uncertainty, how do we survive the land of disillusionment without getting a jaded heart? By discovering a new hope.

When faced with his grim reality and the flourishing of the wicked, David said his “feet had almost slipped”. He described his affliction as “All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments”. This kind of hardship was way beyond hope deferred and not getting his own way. Way out of the league of the troubles that Peter spoke of, too, which are common to man. This was deep suffering. David refrained from speaking the raw truth of his anguish and doubt out loud – he struggled to believe he could even have the thoughts he was having – but he did.

It troubled him deeply that the wicked thrived while he sought to obey God. It did not seem fair. God’s character and His will were on the table to be evaluated . . . UNTIL. Until he came into God’s sanctuary – into His presence – and understood the end and their end.

It was there that He saw God’s goodness even while life hurt. He felt God’s presence and knew instinctively that God was with him in the fiery trials and that He held him in His right hand.

As we begin to face all the potential sinful outcomes that traumatic events can wrought into our lives, we begin the process of healing. Are we bitter or angry with God? Let’s be honest – our faith is hurt and we often attempt to hide our hurt from God when He allows suffering to collide with our paths. Understanding the role that God’s sovereignty plays in our disillusionment helps us to face it instead of avoiding it or becoming numb to our pain.

God’s sovereignty is not something we can fully comprehend. How is it that He knows everything before it happens – and yet still allows something in that we disapprove of?

Looking at the foundation of the plans for our life can help us to better understand our path. At the inception of our hopes and dreams, where was God? Was He inspiring our hearts to do His will, or were we inviting him to our dream and asking for His favor and blessing?

An encounter with God puts everything into perspective. While I mourned my broken life and the testimony I never wanted, God revealed His hope for me. He created us for His glory, yet somehow while I wept for my children and myself, I forgot it was all about His glory, not mine. Like David, I looked at other people prospering and wondered why I was so messed up. I did not plan my life this way. Oh. Yeah. I guess that statement is revealing, too, huh?

I longed to be like the other happy couples who never had to walk the dark cold court hall toward a divorce that was never supposed to happen. How did I get into this forest full of problems? Could God raise me from these ashes? Yes, but even better, He could reveal to me that even the hope of deliverance was not the hope that He wanted me to have.

I had to let go of the grief in one hand to grab hold of God’s hope for the future, but I was afraid. If God would allow this kind of intense suffering, could He be trusted? Yes, but I had to die first. My hope had to die in order to get a new reinvented hope in Jesus.

Dying to my hopes was a long, arduous death. Lots of chocolate (yes, I am bringing up the “c” word again), tears and disbelief. But holding onto that old hope was killing me inside and no amount of therapy, chocolate (notice a pattern here?) or buffalo wings could heal me. Only God could, but I Had. To. Let. Go. Completely.

Not my will, LORD. Not my will. All my hopes and dreams I lay at Your feet. You made me and You know what’s best. Help my unbelief and cause my heart to want Your hope and not my own.

God’s plans don’t make sense to us because our plans often come from a place of being self-oriented and formed in a desire for our comfort. Confusion comes in when our definition of good does not fit God’s. But when we come into His presence seeking to understand, he shows us that His thoughts and ways are much higher. And maybe, just maybe, it is actually His mercy.

When I was disillusioned and doubted whether I could trust Christ for the suffering He permitted in my life, He reminded me that He suffered, too. He understood. I had lost sight of what really matters – His glory. Not my reputation or the social stigma. Not that my pain did not matter to God, but somehow in the mess I was in, God needed to receive glory. It was not about me, after all.

This song, Thy Will Be Done is a song that really ministers at the place of disillusionment.

Lord, You never leave us without hope. Thank You for giving us a new hope in You. 

 

Day 7: Facing Depression

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

At the heart of our recovery is a belief in the God who reshapes our hopes and expectations into His own. 

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 41:11

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Psalms 40:1-3

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.”

Today’s topic I tread on carefully. The “loneliness of soul” as depression has been called, is so characterized because it is often so misunderstood.

Shame and self hatred can often come with depression, as this emotional pain is just as significant as physical pain, but we can feel judged and isolated to admit such a profession.

Ever been really discouraged to the point where you just did not have any hope at all? Maybe feel as if you are gasping for air and trying to find hope and meaning, only to be confronted with a wave of strong emotions that threaten to engulf you? Add to these feelings the stigma of feeling this way and it seems there is no way out.

The battle in the mind to overcome negative or sad emotions is real. The motivation to escape the prison of depression can falter as people are overwhelmed with sadness or grief and feel powerless to affect it at all.

Depression is real. Causes can stem from circumstances, sin, a chemical imbalance, mental disorder or our own spiritual battle, to name a few. Fixing depression is not as easy as a bandaid on a physical infirmity that we readily can affect, but God can do all things.

The One Who fearfully and wonderfully made us also chose to be encased in human flesh and can identify with every sorrow and heartbreak we have.

Some of God’s greatest servants encountered depression – but they did not all stay there. David is such an encouragement to me. He confessed and was honest about being depressed, anxious and stressed. Who wouldn’t be in his situation? David knew what it was to suffer greatly, chased in the dessert for 15 years by a mad man who was also depressed. Sometimes even other depressed people can try to bring us down with them, preoccupied with self and ascribing motives to us that just don’t exist. Saul was crazed with jealousy of David and left those thoughts unchecked, fueling them with his false perceptions. Our minds can really get in a fog if we take in the lies and negativity and allow it to go unchecked.

But David’s refuge was God’s word. He did not have a local CVS to run to or Dr. Phil to cheer him up. Hiding in caves, despairing of life – His medicine was to run to God and His word and to cry out to Him.

While sometimes medicine is needed and a great help to sufferers of depression, the greatest healing balm I have found is being in God’s presence reading His word and crying out to Him, just like David modeled for us all.

My visit down depression lane has been brief and intermittent. Personal choices I made while there were what determined how long I stayed and when I would be leaving.

Recognition. A lot of times we don’t see that we have a choice. We don’t realize the state of mind we are in. Walking around in a cloud and sad atmosphere, we are often unaware of and don’t recognize that we are depressed. The first step toward leaving the path of depression was to recognize we are on that path in the first place. With 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts going through our mind in one day, sometimes seeing the source of those thoughts can be dizzying.

Roots. Finding the root of depression helps us to see. If we take those thoughts and examine where they came from, we begin to see the culprit that served as a catalyst in the formation of depression. Painful roots can be lifted out of the dust, healed and transplanted again in the healthier soil of being rooted in God’s love, instead.

Relationship. Victory out of depression is a daily battle in the mind that we often cannot fight by ourselves. We have to fight and choose to overcome, but if we are in a bad state of mind, we might need others to pluck us out and help us gain perspective.

Rescue. Seeing motivations of ourselves and others through biblical and prayer filters helps us to release possession of our thoughts and surrender them to Jesus. Placing them in God’s hands – sometimes again and again – is when we begin to see things from His perspective.

Real Hope. We need to tell ourselves the truth. The many discouraging thoughts are not always true. They might be convincing, but lies, nonetheless. This is not going to last forever. As long as we want change and are willing to be on the hunt for healing, your hope is sure and changed. The hope we have in Christ is abiding and eternal. Where we are now is not.

Trying to escape depression with a fake hope just won’t work. Happy little phrases and anecdotes are not a real solution. But we are never without hope if we approach our internal struggles biblically. What does His word say? Reflecting on His promises rather than our ever-looming reality is a life preserver ready to be used, if we let it be.

The circumstances surrounding the revelation of my children being harmed provoked depression and overwhelming grief that seemed insurmountable. My expectations were blown out of the water and I could not see how I could ever recover. If it had not been for God’s presence before and throughout, surely I would not have survived.

The night before the revelation of sin in our family, God awoke me to write a song. Usually my heart is filled with praise when I write Him a song, but this night my soul was in anguish. Complete fear gripped my heart and the LORD began to reveal to me that my life was going to change dramatically. I did not know that as I wrote the song and sought God’s face, the father of my children was harming one of my children in that moment.

The next day the LORD walked with me as truth was unfolding that broke our hearts and rocked our world. Shock and horror filled my heart and I felt I was not even in my body. The stress added to the pain and brought all of my autoimmune diseases out of remission. Trying to function with simple tasks felt impossible. It was in this place of despair that my brain would not turn off. Sleeping was difficult, anxiety consumed me over the constant barrage of attacks, accusations and court dates. The ominous doorbell ringing again and again with more subpoenas frightened my children and I as we felt like puppets on strings being thrown around carelessly through a process we did not ask for.

Deep sadness emanates often from a place of suffering. It threatens to snuff out hope with the grim reality of its tentacles wrapping around our mind again and again, proliferating a message of doubt and hopelessness.

But we need not be trapped by depression’s lure. The choice depends on us, if we will see the escape. God’s love reaches deeper than the deepest pit and demolishes the lies that depression tells us.

At the core of depression can be unbelief formed in the chasm of broken expectations. At the heart of our recovery is a belief in the God who reshapes our hopes and expectations into His own.

We become disheartened when life has not lived up to what we hoped for. We are set free when we realize it is not our life, after all. Sadness for self is removed when we don the attitude and reality that our lives are wrapped up in Christ’s. If we really believe that we no longer live but that Christ lives through us, then we see our lives as living for One.

Adopting the mind of Christ is paramount to overcoming thoughts in a mind filled with troubling thoughts. Christ sought to glorify the Father. He did not consider Himself, but only others around Him. His zeal for God consumed Him.

If we are real, zeal for self can often consume us. God knows that. He wants us to lift up our eyes to Him and see where our help comes from. Self can be a burden, but we are free when we can lay self down and see our problems as potential to glorify God in it.

Moving past depression is not easy, but it is possible. Feelings are powerful, but they are not more powerful than God’s Word, which never returns void.

Rather than desiring an escape from pain, we can ask for God to be with us in the pain and to give us His perspective as we navigate through the mire of emotions and pain. The more we seek God, the more we get answers to our questions. The more we ask, the more we receive. God is not limited by our limits and the Maker of us all has the remedy for every suffering – emotional or physical.

The song, “Draw Me Near” was the song I wrote on the night before my life and the life of my children was changed forever and now serves as a reminder of God’s faithfulness at all times. If our hope is in anything other than God, our emotions ride a rollercoaster.

Lord, help us to trust You with our emotions. You made our hearts and can heal them, too.

Day 4: The Grief Process: Finding Our Way & Thriving in the Desert

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The secret of the desert is to not look at all the pain around us, but to look to the One Who made the desert.

Scriptures of the Day:

Job 17:15

“Where then is my hope – who can see any hope for me?”

Romans 15:13

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Isaiah 35:1

“Let the desert and dry region be happy; let the wilderness rejoice and bloom like a lily!”

Isaiah 43:19

“Look, I am about to do something new. Now it begins to happen! Do you not recognize it? Yes, I will make a road in the desert and paths in the wilderness.”

Hosea 13:5

“I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land.”

Jeremiah 2:6

“They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and of pits, Through a land of drought and of deep darkness, Through a land that no one crossed And where no man dwelt?'”


The desert is a beautiful place if we have eyes to see it. Some just see the dust and the dearth of anything green and lush. There seems to be no life there. Some fear the scary critters lurking and slithering all around. Others see the majestic mountains in the backdrop, and the brave life that sneaks up through the cracks in the ground, bursting forth with promise.

I grew up out west and New Mexico left a big impact on me. Or maybe on my derriere. I recall vividly walking on top of a fence (because this is what sensible people do) and falling to my demise right on top of a cactus. The hours spent having someone else pull needles out of my bum taught me a lesson that I have not forgotten – the desert hurts.

The scorpions and tarantulas added to my distaste of the desert, too. Walking home from school with the mighty March winds stinging my legs while dodging flying tumbleweeds, I confess that while the terrain was beautiful in this desert, it was harsh, too.

God’s people knew the desert well – they spent a lot of time there. They did not appreciate it and complained about God’s provision while they were there.They remembered the provision they had while enslaved and favored that place of shame and suffering instead of being dependent upon God in a dry season. Not a lot has changed with the people of God. We, too, wonder why we have to spend time there at all.

The desert serves as such a palpable analogy to the spiritual desert that we often find ourselves in and out of in this life.

Sometimes we bring the desert on ourselves by forgetting God. And sometimes we are surprised by the sudden appearance of desert all around us. We did not plan to go there. Things might have been going well for awhile … then. Then the other shoe drops and there is nothing but death seemingly in front of us.

When my children and I were trying to navigate the new terrain of life we were thrust into, we did not know the way. The only map we had was God and His Word – oh, and many people offering counsel. Some good, some not so good.

Trying to acclimate to the spiritual desert we were in, it seemed like we just kept falling on cacti. One night, a little over a year of being in the desert, the LORD gave me a strong impression that I needed to pray for protection over my children and I. I stayed up until 4:00 in the morning praying and the next morning a friend called to ask what was going on in our world – she had begun praying at 4:00 in the morning the very same words I had been praying. A robbery had happened that night a couple doors down and my next door neighbor witnessed someone standing at the end of my driveway in the middle of the night.

I still shudder when I consider the mercy of God, calling me to pray fervently and His protection over us. A couple weeks later, I witnessed eight men in two cars coming out of a neighbor’s home. Another robbery. My heart melted within me. My son told me it was time I got a gun . . .

In the midst of an endless court battle, being falsely accused and sued by family members who felt they had a right to invade our lives while we suffered immensely, my health also took a turn for the worse. Autoimmune diseases all flared up, my strength was succumbing to the stress all around me. Finances were a wreck, our home was foreclosed upon, the robberies intensified our feelings of insecurity in an abyss of problems, so I went to buy a gun to protect my children and I.

Little did I know there was fine print on the back of a court document that said I could not purchase any firearms. Later this court error was fixed, but the trauma of this gun toting homeschool mama being arrested, handcuffed and brought to jail was another thorn in the desert that I will not soon forget.

Oh God – do you see me? Do you see this turmoil we are in? How do You receive glory from this? Why is this happening? Joseph must have felt the same way – thrown in prison for a crime he did not commit. But He honored God in that desolate place and he hoped.

When things go from bad to worse, we are not ever forgotten. The thorns and thistles of life often grow on things of beauty. It hurt more than I could ever convey to walk the lonely path we did, but in those broken cries and prayers to my God alone, there was this thing of beauty that He was accomplishing within. Endless hope in the character of God.

I thought I knew the LORD (and I did) before the biggest trial of my life, but now – now I knew Him in such an intimate way that all I wanted was His glory. I did not care how long He had me in this desert anymore. If this is where He wanted me, I surrendered my plans for an escape (it would not have worked, anyway), and worshiped Him right there in the dust. In the jail cell while the police officer explained my innocence. In the court while I was exposed to the most painful revelations a mother should never have to hear. In church when all I could do was weep and hide my face with my long hair to try and disguise my inner turmoil.

Just like God saw Ishmael’s mom weeping for her son in the desert, God saw me. Raw and real, loved and embraced.

You see the secret of the desert is to not look at all the pain around us, but to look to the One Who made the desert. He has a purpose in the desert that far exceeds our purposes in the valley.

In the desert we discover that our perspective depends on what we look at – the problems or the promise around us. God has life in the desert – not just death. We can be overflowing with hope even in the desert…because of the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit also gave strength to Jesus when He was in the desert. And Jesus modeled surrender and worship in that place.

We are not alone in the desert, even though it feels so very lonely. Though it is tempting, don’t look at the thorns around you – see the beauty in the desert and the oasis God provides for those who thirst after Him.

The pressure of our desert is making us into diamonds and the testimony formed is priceless.

The next time you are in the desert, think of it as going camping with God. He is there with us. The Holy One – with us! The beauty of the desert is lost to those who just look at the rugged exterior. In the arid places, the places that seem like there is no more life at all, we have a new kind of hope forming within us – reinvented, made in the dry places – a thing of beauty to behold. A hope full of God’s promises and fellowship – and our hopes and plans lie fallen on the desert floor. And we are free.

In the place of suffering and disbelief, even disillusionment, we can choose to not just survive, but thrive, even delight in God – Who meets us in the arid places of our lives. Pity parties are exposed, His purposes are seen as higher, and victory is found. This is where God longs for us to rest – not when things are perfect, but with Him in the desert – even when they are uncertain – to know that His blueprint for our lives is perfect at all times.

Oh Lord, we hope in You alone. Whether in the desert, the sunshine or the rain, You are our God in all of it.

We may as well sing while we are in the desert. 🙂 Here is a worship song from Housefires – Never Run Dry

 

Mundane Monday: Myth Busters

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

In our quest for knowledge, which began back in the Garden of Eden, we must guard our hearts to only seek after the knowledge God wants us to have.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Timothy 1:3-4

3 “As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, 4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith.”

Romans 16:17 

“Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and obstacles that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Turn away from them.”


Conspiracy theories and so-called, “secret knowledge” tantalize the souls of those not grounded in truth.

In our quest for knowledge, which began back in the Garden of Eden, we must guard our hearts to only seek after the knowledge God wants us to have.

He never wanted us to have knowledge of evil and certainly not to believe in falsehood and be deceived. But many will come and try to deceive the elect – if that were possible. I love those words. Certainty of our calling in God. We don’t have to be deceived or fall away. In fact, nothing can take the gift of salvation away from us.

We have got to be in our word diligently, though, filtering through all the knowledge we are given to see whether it is from the LORD or not. This filtering applies not just to doctrinal truths within the Christian church, but also to worldly predictions from Nostradamus, astrologists and other false religions. Even further, information we receive and believe about those around us.

We need not be a gullible people – even as it pertains to the influence of the devil trying to sway us away from truth as regards the people in our lives. Knowledge puffs up, but we can discern its fruit. Does the knowledge we receive agree with the word of God? Or in our relationships – does it tear others down?

We should not even entertain any ideology or premise about a belief without confirming it in God’s word. In addition to watching our doctrine and life closely, this same standard should be applied with the precious people we serve God with in the body of Christ. To consider wrongful character of another person based merely on fleshly suspicion, gossip or jealousy is being a tool of the devil to dismantle His bride. Such knowledge does not come from God. It couldn’t.

We who are in Christ have the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. What a gift. We don’t have to be prey to the enemy’s attacks. We don’t have to believe every myth or every vain imagination. We can be myth busters and preserve truth in our churches, homes, politics, relationships and every area of influence we have. The voice of the enemy can be persuasive and loud, but if we will but put the helmet of salvation on and His Word as our belt of truth, we will see correctly.

God is able to guide us into all truth if we ask Him, and He delights to give wisdom to ALL who come to Him.

God help us to see clearly and to defeat the myths and lies of the enemy with Your truth.

Thoughtful Thursday: Attention!

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in the space of rest that all the commotion around us is put into perspective.

Scriptures of the Day:

Psalms 78:1-2

1 “A well-written song by Asaph. Pay attention, my people, to my instruction! Listen to the words I speak! 2 I will sing a song that imparts wisdom; I will make insightful observations about the past.”

Proverbs 5:1-2

1 “My child, be attentive to my wisdom, pay close attention to my understanding, 2 in order to safeguard discretion, and that your lips may guard knowledge.”

Proverbs 4:20

“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.”

“Someone get the phone”. “We have to leave now”. “Did You forget to feed the animals?” “Did you turn in the permission slip?” “Where are the medical immunization records?” “Did you pay the bills?” On and on this list of daily reminders could go. Meetings are added to planners and the email inbox just keeps filling up. Relationships require maintenance and sometimes intervention… or ATTENTION. With so many things vying for our time, we need to come up for air.

Our attention spans are a bit short with this world spinning at its current rapid pace. Add an over consumption of electronics to the ever growing responsibilities everyone juggles and we just might have a crisis on our hands.

But a clarion voice beckons us to draw near. That’s right. Drop our phones. Our planners. Maybe even our cleaning chores and rest. The God who created us with the intention to work also knew we would need rest.

His Spirit cries out to us through His word, trying to get us to pay attention to the desperate need of our inner soul – the very core of our being. To pay attention to the fact that we are being distracted from true devotion. To be aware of our need for His wisdom in every area of life.

When things are going well and we are on our typical cycle of constant action, He whispers to us to come and be still. When life comes crashing down, He draws us near to rest in Him. It seems counter-productive with our mindset of always being on the move, but at all times, our very life functions on the foundation of time spent with God.

It is in the space of rest that all the commotion around us is put into perspective. 

Pausing to seek God with no agenda other than reading His Word is where we can prioritize and reflect on the purpose of it all and ask our God what His mission is for us in this blip of time.

Sometimes we get so busy that we cram this precious time with God into just a few minutes a day. Maybe our busyness is ministry or a kind deed. Even then we need to be refueled with time spent with our God to be able to keep all our balls up in the air.

The tensions of life grab our attention and brings us to the simple need we all have – God. 

When we don’t take this time sometimes God has to get our attention through means that cause our crazy, chaotic world to stop.

Creating space in each day to focus and stop and consider His truth is what gives meaning and purpose in every moment we are given.

If a day is like our finances, we would tithe to God a tenth of our day – not as a legalistic measure, but as a dire need of our soul.

God, help us to pay attention and see what really matters in our daily tasks. May You be glorified in it all.

 

Mundane Monday: Call Me Chief

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When God has forgiven us, man’s judgment no longer has to have a hold on us.

Scripture of the Day:

1 Timothy 1:15

“This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners’–and I am the worst of them!”

Self righteousness is one of the slickest tools of the enemy. Pride at the root, we begin to think we are righteous of our own merit. Often unrecognizable as we see the flaws in everyone surrounding us except for our own, it is lethal to our walk with God and hurts those around us.

Paul is refreshing in his transparent view of himself. He did not boast of his righteousness, but instead called himself the worst sinner ever.  It seems kind of demeaning at first. After all, there is always someone worse than ourselves. But God does not grade on the curve and the beauty in recognizing nothing good in and of ourselves apart from the grace of God is not only seems truthful, but fitting.

It is in seeing my desperate condition before a Holy God that I see my need of His salvation. I cannot defend myself based on any deed or belief, for it was only His grace that enabled me to do or be anything that would please a perfect God in the first place.

Admitting we all are Chief in the sin department is at once condemnation and freedom. Gaining access to a relationship with our Holy God only happens through confession of sins and then sweet redemption when we choose to believe and accept His righteousness for our own.

When God has forgiven us, man’s judgment no longer has to have a hold on us. When falsely accused, we realize that although the accusation might not be true, there is something in us that we are guilty of even if we cannot see.

This truth has been such a blessing in my walk with Christ. There is therefore now no condemnation, even though we are guilty. For Christ fulfilled God’s perfect law for all eternity and we stand blameless before a Holy God. What good news this is!

Walking in this perfect freedom, we no longer have to fear, but we also can no longer judge our brothers and sisters, either. We do not know anyone else’s hearts and we all are equally chiefs of sin, too.

Lord, thank You for revealing our sins that we could be set free. Thank you for removing our sins as far as the east is from the west. 

Truthful Tuesday – Trusting God Again after Abuse

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead.

Scriptures of the Day:

1 Corinthians 6:18

“Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”–but the immoral person sins against his own body.”

I confess I have had this blog entry scheduled before but just did not want to write it. Still, my Spirit urges me on. I could never do justice to the pain so many have endured, but perhaps I can ease that pain with the truth of God’s comfort in the midst.

Abuse is one of those words that causes the human spirit to want to avoid the subject. We just don’t want to talk about it. It makes us uncomfortable and often victims of abuse themselves feel ashamed or judged, too. The mere thought of such a carnal act happening to one who is made in the image of God is unspeakable.

Sins committed outside the body are bad enough, but harming another person by abusing them physically, emotionally, sexually or spiritually produces devastating consequences that are not easily overcome and repercussions can last a lifetime.

I know what it was like to be a little girl told to be silent. As much as the pain of multiple attempts was on my soul, I can look back and see the hand of God guiding me. I have walked through emotional and spiritual abuse, as well, and the ensuing torment of trying to be free from it. Through it all I learned that God did not cause the devastation of my soul – His character could never do such a thing – but He would heal me and help me to overcome.

Even though the enemy of our souls can use hardship to create doubt in our minds over the goodness of God, our God does not cause the evil that man chooses by his own free will. Instead, our God chose the human suffering we sought to avoid and to bear our pain and sorrows.

So what causes abuse? This fallen world is full of people needful of God, but many who choose to satisfy their flesh instead and fill their righteous need with a wicked counterfeit. The lust of the eyes and the flesh never have their fill, but those who have seen their true need of God and choose to accept His grace and salvation are redeemed from living for the flesh. They see their God-given purpose of knowing God and making Him known, of living a godly life – and don’t waste it on sin.

But what about the wounded people, left in the wake of someone’s decision to harm them and to take the most personal thing they have to offer? What hope is there for them? Abundant hope. Raw, transparent moments. Encounters with a living God. Patient healing.

Hurting another human soul in such a manner is evil and damages the faith of the victim. But God. I love those two words. God is indeed able to take the deepest wound and heal. The process is itself painful, but with such a wound it takes time.

Recognizing our hurt and not concealing it is so hard to do. Seeing what the abuse has caused in our lives and courageously exposing the bitter root and possible resulting sin in ourselves is the path toward victory. Sometimes the pain is so deep we just don’t want to face the reality of it. But the word of God can meet us in that place if we will apply it.

As we peel back the layers of our heart to reveal the root of our hurt – how God could allow this suffering in the first place, we begin to understand our wound is first a spiritual one. Why does God not spare us from the sins of others hurting us so deeply? Perhaps we are even asking, “Why doesn’t He give us a perfect life?” Such questions reveal a desire for God to bless us, but they also reveal a heart attitude that says we will love and trust God only when good is allowed into our lives.

But it is scary to trust God again, isn’t it? How do we trust again? When we feel like God does not see, we refute that lie with the many Scriptures that show He does. When we feel like he will not defend us, we focus instead on the truths in God’s word that He is a righteous judge – our Defender, Protector and Savior.

God cares about our feelings – we can run to Him with our turmoil and grief. But feelings are not facts. He will transform our understanding as we get into His word. This website offers a lot of verses to help. God also helps us to have faith that He can heal us as we place our burdens in His hands.

Whether it is a wound from being abused, or having dear loved ones harmed in such a way, God is able to help us trust again and to forgive, as well. Sometimes life will look a lot different and we have to protect ourselves from relationships that could cause further harm, but in all of it we know that God will use it all for His good and our glory. He promises to and He is not a man that He should lie.

The scars left behind, the searing pain in the soul will soften over time. The painful reminders of abuse that come will soon dissipate and become reminders of God’s grace and healing, instead. Here is a song the LORD gave me when He revealed my lack of trusting in Him from all that I had suffered: Layers. God wants to heal you. He knows your pain and sees you. He is trustworthy and He loves you so very much.

Lord, thank You for setting our hearts free and healing us from all the sins in this world. You have overcome and we walk in Your victory because of Your amazing grace!

Mundane Monday: Don’t give up!

www.denisepass.com (3)

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Fanning into flame the gifts of God might just start out as a sparkler, but God can do a lot more with a sparkler that is lit than one that isn’t.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Timothy 1:6-7

“Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

It’s Monday again, and the prospects of all that needs doing around here are booming. But I need to be still before Him, first. Reading this familiar passage this morning is such a perfect start to another Monday.

We are a people who need new beginnings. We make a mess of things and long for a fresh start. Each day we get one, for God’s mercies are new each and every day. But we also get a new beginning to every week, every month, every year, and so on.

What good news this is – we don’t have to be stuck in a rut. I can hear someone saying, “Yeah, but nothing ever changes. It is so hard to go against all the challenges against me”. Yes, but not impossible. Don’t give up.

Sure, there will be hurdles – some seemingly insurmountable, but if there were no effort, the accomplishment of our goals would not be as satisfying. Sometimes even Christians will come against our efforts. The disciples were guilty of this, too, when they questioned the motives of other believers who were also baptizing new believers. May God help us to all spur one another on just like Paul did to Timothy. We are all on the same team – some leaders, some followers – all important – all needed.

Sometimes we just need a reminder – of what God has done in us, what He has placed in us. But most importantly, we need to recall Who will complete the work He began in us. This supernatural component to our calling takes the pressure off of us to think that we have to produce the results. Don’t give up.

Faithfully stewarding our talents means we need to keep pressing toward our goals even when it seems we are not making progress. In Christ, no effort is wasted, even if the results aren’t what we had hoped for … don’t give up.

Timothy needed some encouragement and reminding, too. It might have been someone calling out a gifting in us, or it might have been a gentle whisper from God, placing a vision on our hearts. Either way, we must be faithful to the calling on our lives, making the most of every opportunity – for we never know which investment will produce the best results for God’s kingdom. Don’t give up.

Paul did not just encourage Timothy to work at the gift of God placed within Him – He also told him not to fear. Fear of failure, fear of man – so many fears that can limit and plague us, but God. It is in trusting God with the results of all our labor in the LORD that we are free to work at our gifts, knowing He is pleased and will do with our offering what He wills.

Don’t give up. Fanning into flame the gifts of God might just start out as a sparkler, but God can do a lot more with a sparkler that is lit than one that isn’t.

Lord, thank You for the talents you have given, that we might serve You and make You known. Help us to not grow weary in well doing. Be glorified in us, LORD!

 

Truthful Tuesday: Conditional Praise

It is God's long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is God’s long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 44:16-23

16 “We will not listen to what you claim the LORD has spoken to us! 17 Instead we will do everything we vowed we would do. We will sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the goddess called the Queen of Heaven just as we and our ancestors, our kings, and our leaders previously did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and had no troubles. 18 But ever since we stopped sacrificing and pouring out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven, we have been in great need. Our people have died in wars or of starvation. 19 The women added, “We did indeed sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven. But it was with the full knowledge and approval of our husbands that we made cakes in her image and poured out drink offerings to her.” 20 Then Jeremiah replied to all the people, both men and women, who responded to him in this way. 21 “The LORD did indeed remember and call to mind what you did! He remembered the sacrifices you and your ancestors, your kings, your leaders, and all the rest of the people of the land offered to other gods in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. 22 Finally the LORD could no longer endure your wicked deeds and the disgusting things you did. That is why your land has become the desolate, uninhabited ruin that it is today. That is why it has become a proverbial example used in curses. 23 You have sacrificed to other gods! You have sinned against the LORD! You have not obeyed the LORD! You have not followed his laws, his statutes, and his decrees! That is why this disaster that is evident to this day has happened to you.”

This is one of those passages in scripture where I want to push the pause button and help Jeremiah out. (As if I could add to the revelation God already spoke through Him). Ok, I would have nothing to offer, but I would so desperately want to persuade them to see what they are doing.

But deception is a difficult thing to break through. When we let our flesh rise in influence, we begin to protect it and its decisions. Comfort begins to be the popular god of the day and we are no longer spirit led, but just led according to what “seems good”. Hmm. This philosophy sounds familiar.

Although the thought of making cakes in the form of a queen and worshiping them seems ridiculous to me, I have certainly fashioned things in my own mind and life as being temporarily more important than serving and obeying God. It just felt better – for the moment.

But what sticks out to me this time, other than just the standard rebellion/punishment/repentance cycle is that God’s people were making their praise of God conditional on God blessing them. They failed to see that their present circumstances were their own doing.

Poor Jeremiah. He must have just been like, “Really?” You wanna play patty-cake and worship a false “god-queen” and go back to Egypt – the very place God delivered you from? How ironic. But sometimes the familiar has a pull on us that is hard to break. Sometimes we forget the pain of that pull, too, and just want to do whatever seems easiest.

We, too, can make our praise conditional on God blessing us, and not recognize that our suffering is a result of our own unfaithfulness. I know that sounds harsh, but ultimately there is such liberty in understanding that we deserve nothing from God, for we were His enemies. Choices we made in the past might still be reaping consequences, or perhaps just being in a fallen world alone creates enough havoc in our lives. But even at that place of sobering reality, there is grace.

It is God’s long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it. Let that truth sink in. That’s right – even the nitty gritty ugly stuff that we see no good purpose in our lives – even that detestable moment or season that we wish we could just wipe out of our minds – was meant for our good and His glory.

Oh that we would always see clearly and understand that we were made for something more – Someone more – higher than any endeavor or achievement this world offers. We are called to live for One.

Lord, help us to live for You alone. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind to understand how very great You are and how worthy our lives are when they are spent pursuing You, no matter what this life brings.

Thoughtful Thursday: Persuasion of Another Kind

Persuasion Graphic Seeing Deep

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Perhaps the art of persuasion is not about getting our way, but about healing and encouraging those around us, instead.

Scripture of the Day:

Proverbs 16:21-24

“The one who is wise in heart is called discerning, and kind speech increases persuasiveness. 22 Insight is like a life-giving fountain to the one who possesses it, but folly leads to the discipline of fools. 23 A wise person’s heart makes his speech wise and it adds persuasiveness to his words. 24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

I noticed her heavy spirit as she rang in my food order. Looming over her like a wet blanket, sadness enveloped her but I longed to inject hope and make her smile somehow.

I thought about how I could identify with her and shared some words of encouragement. Without being aware of it, I was seeking to persuade her to feel joy.

How about you? In need of encouragement today? I hope you know that you matter. More than that, you are the apple of God’s eye and He adores you.

Words like this just make my soul sing.  Wouldn’t it be great if we all spoke this way to one another consistently, and just as importantly, spoke to ourselves that way, too?

My inner voice sees my flaws loud and clearly. So does God, but He bids us to look up in His sweet face and whispers life to our souls – persuading and motivating us toward Holiness. What an example of the best use of persuasion – the Creator of our souls wooing us back to who we were meant to be.

Words fly at a rapid pace in this day and age, whether spoken or written. It can be easy for those words to be unchecked, given the sheer volume. But the intentionality of the word, “makes” in the scripture above helps us to realize that we can pause and check ourselves. I am thankful for that. Even when we make a mistake in a moment of passion, we can speak words in humility and love to encourage one we might have hurt with our words.

The more time passes on, we can think we have achieved a new level of communication, but the simple truths presented in this Scripture are refreshing and timeless. Kindness is needed today, and the road to kind speech is paved with wisdom. 

The purpose of our speech should be redemptive and persuasive toward righteousness. This goal can be difficult when our tendency is to be self-focused, but as we seek wisdom our thoughts are transformed.

It has been said that the art of persuasion is getting our way, but perhaps a more admirable goal of persuasive communication is healing and encouragement to those around us. Can we affect someone so they have hope and a different godly perspective?

Words are powerful. Every word we utter ultimately stems from our thoughts and our heart. When we speak life to those around us, sweet words that build up and not tear down, our words heal the soul and might even affect one’s physical health or their eternity. Speak kindly – someone around you might need it more than we know.

Oh God, thank You that you comfort us and continually encourage us in our walk with You. Help us to speak words of life persuading those around us to hope in our living God.