Fight for Community

Today I had a conversation with a friend. My heart hasn’t been right, it was hurt. Our relationship  had been affected. I had let insecurities and other people speak their own insecurities and lies into my heart.  People's mandala - 12 handsFor weeks I had allowed the hurt to fester and grow. I was dangerously close to allowing the hurt pour out to others in anger and criticism. I was close to writing him off and being “done”.

But God loves His people. He doesn’t not want His children fighting against one another so He convicted my heart. His Spirit convicted me to the point that I had to make things right. I had to talk to my friend. I needed to share my insecurities, the lies I had believed and the things I had began to listen to from others.

To be honest this was not easy. It was very difficult. I was fearful of how he might react. I didn’t want to hurt him, but most of all I hated the thought of his disappointment. But his response was graceful. There was no condemnation or judgment. He listened as I shared my hurt, and my frustration.

He then walked me through three things. He helped me remember…

What he has done in the past. He reminded me of circumstances, and life decisions that spoke of his character. He reminded me of his consistency in his choices and the living out of his life.

His heart. He shared his heart with me. First he shared with me what I already knew about his heart, then he shared the things God was showing him.

Who our enemy is. He reminded me that we fight the same enemy and that enemy would do anything to stop the work that is being done in God’s kingdom. He reminded me that our enemy loves nothing more than to create friction and undercurrents in order to divide the body of Christ. He doesn’t want God’s people getting along.

There are parts of me that could go to the place I so often go and that is shame. I could beat myself up inside for forgetting who I know my friend to be. I have known him for a long time. We have worked along side together in ministry. Our families have broken the bread of fellowship together. I should know better. I could allow shame to cause me to withdraw, but I will choose to rejoice that Christ’s love won and the enemy was defeated in this battle.

As I have thought about this today it became very clear how easy it is for all of us to do this with our relationships (and with God). We let little things grow into big things. We do not confront and we forget.

So going forward I choose to do better.

I choose to go to my friend (or to God) immediately when I have doubts. No matter how small or petty I may think my insecurities or doubts are I will value relationship over looking foolish.

I choose to always remember who I know them to be. I will always choose to believe they want God’s best for me and would never harm me on purpose.

I choose to remember that our enemy seeks to destroy all healthy, godly relationships among God’s children.

I choose to believe that my friends, just like God, we always respond in grace and love not matter how silly my insecurities are.

Let us all remember to guard our relationship with our brothers and sister in Christ. Let us remember that we all fight the same battle…the same enemy.

What about you? Are you willing to go to your friend, your brother or sister in Christ, your pastor, Bible study leader or church leadership and fight for community. Are you willing to humble yourself and die to pride so that the body of God will be guarded? Will you, at all cost, protect the community of Christ against an enemy that seeks to destroy?

Who do you need to talk to today?

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves ;  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Phil 2:1-4

So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:19

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He Cares For Your Soul

I love how God brings reminders of truth to us just when we need it. God brought Psalm 142:4 across my path today which says, “Look to the right and see ; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.”  and I had to go look it up.

Who was speaking? Why was he feeling that no one cares for his soul? What did he do? What did God do? These are the questions that ran through my mind.

ps 142Psalm 146 is a prayer that was prayed by David when he was in a cave trying to hide from Saul. David was being pursued by Saul whose intentions were to harm him. I can only imagine how alone he may have felt.

Saul was once a friend who now sought to kill him. It’s one thing to be hated by an enemy who is a stranger, but to have a friend turn on him must have been hard.

Psalm 142 says, “I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD; I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.  I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him.  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk They have hidden a trap for me.  Look to the right and see ; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; No one cares for my soul.  I cried out to You, O LORD; I said, “You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. “Give heed to my cry, For I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are too strong for me.  “Bring my soul out of prison, So that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me.”   

I can feel the emotions of David as he cries out to God. I have been in places where I felt overwhelmed, trapped, and felt the there was no one who cares for my soul. But I am encouraged by David’s reminder that in those times we can take comfort in knowing God sees us, God is our refuge, He hears us and will deliver us.

So may we cry out with David to God in those times that we are troubled in mind, body, or soul and pray this prayer and be comforted by a God who will care for our soul.

Isolation and Forgetfulness

I have had a hard time being in the word over the last month due to the affects of a concussion. Between the headaches, dizziness, lack of focus and inability to read for any length of time, my time in the word has suffered. Due to the dizziness I was “stuck” at home unable to drive. I don’t think “man” was meant to be so alone, apart from community. Sounds and light bothered me so I didn’t go to church. I didn’t go anywhere.

courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

courtesy of freedigitalphoto.net

For awhile the truth that I know was enough, but then the lies came. I didn’t call anyone or ask if they could come over for coffee and keep me company or help me speak truth. I didn’t share my need. I told myself even if I did call they were too busy anyway. Besides I wasn’t so sure I had the kind of friends that would drop everything just because I was feeling discouraged. It is true that my circle of close friends is very small, but the lie is that they wouldn’t be there if I needed them.

If I would have just asked them I am pretty sure they would be there for me. But then I hate that I need anyone. The lie I live with is that to need others, shows weakness. To need others only brings disappointment. Besides what if I did reach out and ask for help and they rejected me! Rejection, abandoned, forgotten and alone are my deepest fears. They are the weak spots in my heart. They are the areas that God continually, with grace and mercy, must remind me of truth.

So, last night as I drove to Church for the first time in a month I cried out to God begging to let me hear from Him. I cried out letting Him know I needed Him. I have been feeling frustrated, discouraged and very isolated. I felt alone and in so many ways I had lost my way out of the lies that my enemy was bombarding me with.

At that moment this thought came to my mind, “If it weren’t for Your Word Lord I would perish.” During the ministry of music I kept crying out to hear from God. Pastor Mathew brought a powerful message on repentance. He reminded me of my need to live daily with an attitude of repentance before a holy God. I can not do this life apart from Him. I am sinful, filled with weaknesses and fear. I need my Savior!

Then during the last worship song God spoke another reminder into my heart. We sang Word of God Speak by Mercy Me and the last part of the song goes like this, “All that I need is to be with You and in the quiet hear Your voice. Word of God speak would you pour down like rain washing my eyes to see your majesty. To be still and know that You’re in this place Please let me stay and rest in Your holiness.”

After finishing the song the words I heard earlier came to mind, ‘If it weren’t for Your Word Lord I would perish.” His Word is my life line, it’s the air I breathe. It is my comfort.

In my isolation I had forgotten that He is enough. His word is enough. I had began to pray for others to speak words of encouragement. I began to look to others to be there for me. I had forgotten that when we look to others they disappoint, they fail us.

God does use others to speak words of truth and encouragement. We do need brothers and sisters around us. But I had forgotten that first I need to go to Him. I need to allow His word to fill me, revive me and comfort me.

He speaks to His children through His word. I don’t always memorize the word the way I should but the phrase God brought to mind was based on this verse in Psalms. “If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.” (119:92)

If it wasn’t for the word of God I would perish. I would be lost. Even if I had a thousand friends speaking truth, encouraging me, loving me, if I do not have His word then I would perish in my affliction.

Where are you today my friend? Is your heart longing for encouragement? Are you feeling alone, isolated or abandoned? His word is your comfort. His word will revive you. May I encourage you to read through Psalms 119?

Go to His word, let it speak to you.

“This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.” (Psalms 119:50)

The Battle of Hiding and Transparency

The last few days I have been wondering why am I so content to hide. In fact I prefer to hide. It’s my safe place, my default. The truth is there are many who prefer to hide also. We’ve been hiding for a long time, ever since Eve tasted the forbidden fruit. 

Maybe as women, we will always revert back to hiding. But it’s not what we were made to do. Christ came to set us free from guilt and shame. He came so that we could freely be who He created us to be. So why do we hide?

Hide - Copy (2)We hide because we are afraid. We have been wounded by others. People have sinned against us and we have sinned as well. We think that if we hide we will be safe, that somehow we will be protected. But protected from what? Another rejection? The betrayal of a friend or family member? Suffering? Pain?

We hide because we are afraid that others will see who we really are. We fear that they will see that at times we can be weak and frail. That we struggle and that sometimes we are even “needy”. Why do we feel that we must wear this mask of perfection and strength?

We feel  judged, shame and fear …so we hide.

In Staci Eldredge’s book titled Captivating she says “We become good at hiding. We hide behind our makeup. We hide behind our humor. We hide with angry silences and punishing with drawls. We hide our truest selves and offer only what we believe is wanted, what is safe.We act in self-protected ways and refuse to offer what we truly see, believe, and know. We have spoken in the past and been met with blank stares and mocking guffaws. We will not do it again.” No truer words have been spoken. So often we do only offer what we think others want to know about us and we hold back the truest forms of ourselves.

I too have a real tendency to hide, to try and protect myself against more hurt or possible judgment. I believe though, that God has been calling me to be more transparent. God wants me to be honest, open and real. He wants me to be sensitive to the needs of others, to be available, trustworthy and most of all- to be a grace giver.

But I’ve tried this before. I have found that sometimes people just aren’t comfortable with our “confessions”. They are not truly open to accept the messiness in our lives. They will judge, misunderstand and your relationship may never be the same.

If I would become a grace giver to all those I meet would that not make others feel that they could be real with me? If I began to openly share my heart with those around me, regardless of what others thought, wouldn’t those around me do the same?

So what shall we do? First we need to understand that there is a balance between hiding and revealing too much. Second we must discern between those who are able to hear our weaknesses, struggles and sin with grace and those who can not.

So when and how often do we share our burden? What parts do we share? It’s kind of like getting a physical wound. If we injure our selves and begin to bleed we don’t just go around bleeding all over everyone. We bandage it up so that the healing process can begin. Sometimes the wound is too big for us to wrap ourselves and we need help, so we go to someone capable of helping. Once it’s begun to heal, we do not pick at it so that it bleeds, thus starting the process all over. No, we allow it to heal. While healing there are those who will ask about our wound so we willingly share-but only when asked. We do not run around shouting “Look at my wound!”

Our emotional wounds or life struggles are similar. When we are going through something we know those we can talk to, those who are safe and trustworthy, who will help in the healing process. So we go to them and allow them to help “bandage” us up. We do not run around shouting “my life is awful-woe is me” to anyone who will listen. One reason we do not do this is because they may not be able to understand the depth of your struggle. They may not be able to handle your burden.

On the other hand if someone notices that we are struggling and ask us about it, we certainly should share with them instead of saying “oh everything is fine.” But, again, we do not want to walk around “bleeding” all over them. We can be be open, honest and willing to share when God gives us the opportunity to do so without going into great details or making huge confessions that other may not be able to handle due to their spiritual maturity or lack of.

I am finding, especially as an “older” woman and/or a leader that women want to know about my struggles and how I walked through them. They want to know they are not alone in their struggles. They need to see the power of the gospel being lived out in the life of another. So I need to be more willing to share when asked. I need to allow others into my life, so they can ask questions. I need to be honest enough to share the work God has done in me in order to bring glory to His name.

One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. They shall eagerly utter the memory of your abundant goodness, and will shout joyfully of your righteousness.  PS 145:4, 7 NASB

Father, help me to be a grace giver. Help me to willingly open up my heart and my life so that you alone might be glorified.

A Christmas Longing

Christmas has been hard this year for me. Deep inside there is an ache, a longing. I remember childhood Christmas’s past filled with lots of family, laughter and love. While we didn’t really have any particular family traditions my mother always tried to make the day about family no matter what was going on or how hard 2013-12-10 09.36.20the season of life was. It’s been 27 years since my mom, sister and brother have been together for Christmas and over 10 years since I’ve spent Christmas together with my mom and sister. I miss them all.

So while my heart may be sad it is also filled with so much joy of the season.

I am blessed that I can spend time with my boys and their family. I can love on my grandchildren and make precious memories with them. I am filled with a heart of joy for my husbands family whom I love deeply. Who still gather at Christmas time to share, laugh and love. They may be my ‘married into family” but in so many ways they are so much more than that. God blessed me far beyond anything I could dream for when he gave me my husband and a family who cherishes one another and has a deep faith in God our Father.

Most of all I reflect on the true meaning of why we celebrate the season. It’s the celebration of a precious baby boy who came to earth so that I might understand my need for God the Father.

I am grateful for a God who loved me so much that He sent His only Son in the form of a baby to earth so that I might know Him. Jesus came to earth in the form of flesh so that we might know His Father in heaven. Jesus came so that we might understand the love of the Father. He came so that we would see out need of a relationship with our Creator God. He came so that He could pay the cost of my sin. He came so that my sins would be forgiven.

So yes, there is a longing in my heart this Christmas for family, for the ideal Christmas celebrations, for traditions but I am reminded of an even greater longing inside the heart of every man, woman, and child. The longing for purpose, for love, for the God who created them.

I am reminded that there are many who will spend this season alone. There will be many who will find the emptiness to be too much and try to end the pain anyway they can. There will be many who will be hungry, cold and without the warmth of any type of celebration.

All this remembering and thinking makes me wonder if I’ve missed the meaning of Christmas all together. What have I done this season to reach out? How have I helped relieve the pain of aloneness? What have I done to show the love of Christ?

If I have missed the meaning of why Christ came and what my response should be what will I do about it now? What will I do tomorrow? Next week? Next year? It’s never too late to share the story of Christmas. It’s never too late to reach out and tell others about the baby that came to save the world.

It’s never too late to show the love of God who came to die for my sins and yours.

Merry Christmas my friends. May we share the joy of Christ’s birth all year long!

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid ; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people ; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 1″This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there appeared with the angel multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:10-14

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you,unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 1 Cor 15:1-5

When I am Weak, He Is Strong

I wrote the below post in 2012 on Quiet Reflections and it’s received almost 20,000 hits so I thought I would repost it here. It’s a message that I often need reminding of and I am sure we all do. I currently find myself in a place, due to a concussion, unable to concentrate, read, or bare loud sounds or bright lights so I am clinging to these truths anew. For my Savior is strong when I am weak.

Have you ever had those days when you are just tired?Tired of fighting the flesh? Tired of trying to be who you are suppose to be? Tired of fighting the lies of the enemy?Tired of fighting wrong emotions and feelings?

It’s where I have been for a couple days now. My emotions are just all over the place. Sometimes I can allow my feelings, thoughts and life seem like a tangled mess.

And try as I might I just can’t seem to untangle the mess of emotions. It’s exhausting trying to sort out what I am suppose to feel, what is normal, what is not.

kittenmessI am suppose to be a big girl and have all this figured out. Right? Or is that another lie? Am I suppose to ask for help? But who do I ask? Who would understand? Who would really be available to sit and listen? And NOT think I was totally losing it! Who could I talk to that would know it’s just a moment. They would give me grace and allow me a few minutes to talk out loud and then I’ll be fine.

Currently, the lies in my head say I have no one. No one that is but Jesus. (I do KNOW deep in my heart that this is another lie. Our emotions often DO lie to us!) But still I wonder, shouldn’t Jesus be enough? I mean, He IS enough. He IS all I need. He’s the only one I am suppose to really need. Right?

Why then does this place feel like a place of such loneliness? Is this yet another lie? Another attempt of the enemy to try and wedge discontent between me and my God? To create a distance between me and those God has placed in my life to journey with?

It all makes me tired and it’s exhausting….and I just want to go home. To my Father.

I am tired of the enemies constant knocking on the door of my mind.

Then it hits me…

The selfishness of the flesh that cries out to be noticed, to be fed. Yes I am weary of the constant onslaught of what seems like the constant battles of my mind. Wrong thinking. Emotions that want to be given into. Emotions that cry out to be felt. But they are lies that FEEL like truth.

I am weary because for this moment I have forgotten. I have forgotten truth. The truth that I know, believe and trust in.

I do not fight alone.

I have forgotten to be diligent about putting on the armor of God so that I can fight against the powers of this dark world. The evil forces of this world do not let up, they desire to destroy me.

I have forgotten that I need to stand firm with the belt of truth buckled tightly around my waist. Never should I be without it.

I have forgotten that I am to take my shield of faith up daily against the flaming arrows of the evil one.

I have forgotten that I do not fight alone but in the power of the Lord and in His mighty power.

I have forgotten that when I am weak HE IS strong. I can run to Him and find rest, even in the midst of my struggles.

Paul reminds the Ephesians in chapter 6 that they are in a battle. They are to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. He tells them that in order to take a stand against the devils schemes they need the armor of God. They need to stand firm, be alert, and always praying.

I need the armor of God. I need to pray. I need to stand strong in His mighty power.

And then in Paul’s final sentences he tells the Ephesians that he is going to send Tychicus so that they might be encouraged. Don’t you love it?

Paul reminds them that yes, they ARE to stand firm, they ARE to wear the armor of God, they ARE to be alert and pray BUT he knows they also need the encouragement of others.

We need our brothers and sisters who can come along and encourage us when we become battle weary. To strengthen us and pray with and for us.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10

Oh precious Father, thank you for these words of reminder. Thank you for helping me through this moment. Father forgive me for my forgetfulness and selfishness. Help me to lean on You and allow You to bring other’s into my life to encourage me. Help me to remember I don’t always have to be strong, have it all together or be perfect. For in my weaknesses You can show Your strength, Your power and Your grace.

(Note: I actually wrote this weeks ago and never posted it. But I want to be transparent, knowing that we all have the same crazy emotions at times. But we must not stay there and allow the enemy or our flesh to take us to a place that causes us to sink further into a pit. We must run to the Word of truth, Pray, and seek out one another for encouragement when we just can’t seem to hear the truth on our own. So if you find yourself currently in a pit you can’t get of feel free to email me!)

You Are Not Alone

Each path in motherhood life has it’s ups and downs. We journey through mountains, over deserts, along the ocean and through open fields. We journey through the darkest nights, rain storms, sunshine, fog, and seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

Regardless of where we find ourselves in the journey we are often unsure of the next step. We have not come this way before. Each road is new, it’s different, and does not always look just like the path others have walked. Sometimes we feel so alone. Its seems no one else is with us on the path. We have lost sight of those who are ahead or those who are walking behind. And we wonder, “does anyone understand?”

A young bride is fearful and unsure how to be a good wife. She looks around and so many seem to have it together. The marriages of her friends seems…dare she think it? “Perfect?” Yet she feels hers is falling apart. She feels afraid and alone.

A young mom hasn’t been able to leave her home for weeks. She doesn’t understand how all her friends are able to attend Bible Studies, get together for lunch and stay sane. She is overwhelmed with motherhood. She feels as if she is walking this journey alone.

A mother of a prodigal is desperate for understanding, but she feels as if she is being judged. She spends her day crying and praying. Her heart is breaking. Does anyone see?

A mother says goodbye to her last child and wonders, “what now?” As she looks around it seems that others along this path know where they are going. They are pursuing careers, going back to school for degrees, they are DOING something. She wonders to herself how did they know what to do? She feels alone.

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All of us have found, or will find, ourselves in one of the above scenarios. Some may find that they are in more than one. I have walked them all. I have found that each path there has been one constant, regardless of how we feel we are never alone. Our God walks with us through each stage. With each step we take He is preparing us for the next pathway of our journey.

We must remember that it may LOOK or FEEL like we are alone but others are with us. There are other women on the same path. We only need to look, speak out and be willing to be transparent. Be willing to share your story, as you do you will find other women who have felt the same. They have walked a similar path.

To often the enemy preys on our mind during these times of aloneness and whispers lies. He convinces us that no one would understand, and that other’s lives are perfect. He tells us we  are alone in our struggle. He wants to keep us alone and silent.

But we must speak out. We must speak truth. Once we begin sharing our struggles along the journey we WILL find that other’s are struggling too. We WILL find that we are not alone, other women are just like us.

So dear one, where ever you find yourself today I pray that you know you do not have to walk alone. I would love to hear your story. I pray you will allow me to walk with you.