Meditation: Holiness

This week 1 Corinthians rocked my world! Often, we study single verses out of context, and they begin to reflect what is inside our hearts. When, we take the time to read through the whole letter, God uses his word to display himself into our hearts and supernatural healing begins.

See what I did there? Reflection is  natural to humans. We were designed to reflect God’s  glory as image bearers. We must admit, we are not God, even though we are made in his image. Like everything else, sin broke this too. Now that we know evil, we want to be God. It’s a constant struggle as we learn to submit our wills to God and to walk in the Spirit to reflect God and not ourselves. Psychologists call this projection, and it is very easy to project our thoughts, feelings, and motivations onto God, the scriptures, and even the people around us.

As I studied this week, God displayed his truth with clarity. Perhaps you have heard someone who hurt you say that you must look at her intentions. If it wasn’t her intention to hurt you, then you shouldn’t feel hurt. We, who believe that we are saved by faith alone, forget that our works display our salvation. Good works and obedience have a place in our faith. It matters how we live. It maters what we do. If we are judged by intentions alone, then how could God judge me? I intend to be obedient, but I keep messing up, even though I want to live right. The truth is that both matter, intentions and behavior. If my behavior harmed someone else, then I am responsible to apologize and make amends. Although, this person, who harmed me, may not have intended harm, however, she caused me deep pain that has taken three years for me to heal. God is good and faithful to heal us. Sometimes that healing happens now, and sometimes that healing will come in heaven, when God dries my tears and I see Kai again.

I can’t wait, but until then, God cautions me to be mindful of how I live.

Did you know that our works will be tested?

They will be tried by fire. If we have built with wood, hay, or straw, our good works will burn up, “the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved– even only as one escaping through the flames.”

Paul goes on to write, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one you thinks you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For wisdom of this world is foolishness in the God’s sight.”

I have gladly become a fool for Christ, so that I am humble to learn from him. In myself is self-righteousness and pride. In Christ is all wisdom and knowledge,” so that I may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.” I have learned this is a painful process at times. It means I give God the right to chip away parts of me that do not bring him glory. Sometimes, I like those parts because they have brought me comfort, but they are not from God. Sometimes, they are the very coping mechanisms that I have relied upon to endure abuse. However, if I continue to use these coping mechanisms, I will not grow in my knowledge of Christ. I will not be able to fellowship with him in suffering, and my good works will burn up. I will be as one who escaped a fire.

knowing jesus

Meditation: Holiness 1 Corinthians 3:10-20

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[a]; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”[b]

Asphyxiation, Choking, Strangulation

God provides real examples of real people. They are moral people with great intentions of doing good and failing miserably. However, God still uses them to accomplish his purposes. Almost every story in the Bible mirrors our own struggles with sin. Sometimes we want very good things, but they are still contrary to complete trust and dependence on God. Placing confidence in good works is so easy because by nature we want to be like God, knowing good and evil. When we place our confidence in the flesh, we choke the Spirit. We strangle the very relationship given to us to stand against sin.

Philippians 3 confronted my pride of self-reliance, that pesky plaguing sin. A situation confronted me with a choice, count as rubbish my good works or be offended because someone, who had never spoken to me, judged my ministry. Honestly, I wanted to be offended. This person, who passed judgement on a situation that he has only heard one side of the story (and that side was not my side), doesn’t know the sleepless nights spent in anguished prayer, the broken heart that cried out to the Lord for guidance, the difficulty to stand before a leadership that said that the Bible couldn’t be used as a foundation, etc.

I can sum up my response in one-word: pride.

We must never forget that sin is predatory. Consider the language God used to call Cain to obedience in Genesis 4, He said, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Crouching like a lion in wait for its prey seeking the right moment of weakness. Sin desires. God wants us to understand the nature of sin. What is the weakness? Cain was downcast because he wanted to depend on himself. He wanted to define for himself what kind of offering to give the Lord. He became angry at Abel because Abel did what was right.  Cain allowed his feelings to rule his life. In his anger and frustration, he murdered his brother.

lion

How does this story relate to Philippians 3? Consider our desires to be good enough or to do good works or be the right kind of person. If we want to put any confidence in our flesh, Paul lays out an argument that he is better in every way. He is a Hebrew of Hebrews. Born to the chosen of the chosen. He has the best possible family name. As to following the law, he’s been following the letter of the law since he was eight days old. As to education, he had the best. As to zeal, he persecuted those who disagreed with him. He writes that he is blameless, faultless before the law. And he counts everything that he once believed to be good as poop compared to knowing Christ.

Am I willing to think this way?

All my hard work, doing good, being righteous, working to be faultless before the law, standing against what God calls evil counted as poop. Do I after knowing Christ and experiencing forgiveness and the sweet embrace of freedom want to go back to being confident in my ability to do what is right? Therefore, the story of Cain and Abel is so relevant to us today. We easily fall back on our feelings. We become frustrated or angry, and forget that God desires for us to depend completely on him.

Our family name, reputation, education, good works, position in the church are poop! God wants you and me to come to the place where we will want the righteousness that comes from Christ, counting anything else as less than and worthless. Am I willing to rest completely in faith that my righteousness comes for God?

TODAY, I say an enthusiastic yes. Did I spend a few days in prayerful struggle, releasing whatever good works I thought were worthy to compare? Sadly, yes. I am one of those messed up real people just like the other characters in the Bible.

God reminded me that many people live as enemies of the cross, and I can choose to be one of those people. Philippians 3:19 says of them “their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is their shame.” The word stomach is the Greek word koilia, meaning 1, Belly, abdomen; 2, site of sexual organs, womb; 3, inner man. Here, Paul is rejecting more than the gluttonous and sexual excess, but also the undue estimation of this physical life because “their mind is set on earthly things.” These things may be good, worthy things, but they are of this world.

Our focus is to be on our heavenly citizenship. Do we eagerly await our Savior’s return? Or are we eagerly awaiting our earthly destiny to be fulfilled? Do we work for Christ’s return or is it about our purpose? There is a delicate line separating these two. We see it displayed in Cain. Cain wanted to give an offering. He wanted to do good. He had great intentions, but he wanted to serve the Lord on his own terms, in his own way. God gives us the same warning. Don’t let your feelings rule over you! Count as poop everything compared to knowing Christ. Let us participate in his sufferings, and stop running from suffering. Let us become like Christ in his death, completely obedient to the Father, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

Is faith easy? No, because we must learn to master our feelings and submit them to truth. There will be days that we struggle, but let us not lose hope. Even the Apostle Paul wrote that he had not obtained all this, arriving at his goal of knowing Christ and counting everything else as poop. Like him, we have to press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us. It’s not that we have a hold of Christ, but that He has a hold of us! Therefore, we can forget what is behind and strain toward the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus. And one day by the power that enables Christ to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies, so that we will be like his glorious body.

Be encouraged!

 

 

Meditation: Esprit de corps

My word for the year is resurrection. Unpacking the impact of the resurrection on my life now and into eternity reveals the blessings of salvation through Jesus Christ.

In one word there contains eternal hope, unspeakable joy, and incomparable love.

We often focus on the future hope of resurrection, but it impacts our lives abundantly now.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin can be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin– because he who died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him… In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:5:11

Before walking with God through darkness, when I read these verse, I concentrated on myself being dead to sin, but now, because of esprit de corps, I embrace the truth that I am alive to God. Meaning because of what I have suffered (church wounding, grief, gossip, slander, back-biting, rejection from friends, etc.)  I feel with the Spirit and with Jesus an inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for God. I live with him! My faith is more real because my relationship has grown through suffering as I learned to walk in the Spirit. The life I now live is centered on the nonperishable blessings that will last into eternity. The blessing I seek from God are not earthly. I seek an enduring relationship whereby I count the blessing of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When I see these things in my life, I know that I am blessed.

As I focus on knowing Jesus (some call this discipleship) I can count my blessings even though everything around me feels like it is falling apart. Because my circumstances no longer define me, my God defines me, and as I live with him, I find eternal hope, unspeakable joy, and incomparable love.

knowing jesus

Meditation: Esprit de corps definition is the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group.

Life Everlasting from John 3:14-16, 36;5:24; 10:27-29; 1 John 5:11-13

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,

even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My Word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My hand.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in the Son.

He who has the Son has life; He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

These things I have written unto you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Not Loved, Not my People

Chosen!

“Not You” these two words would slash and dice my self-image over and over as a child as an adult as a wife as a mother as a friend.  Come to think about it, there isn’t a situation that I can think of that these two words weren’t said to me.

Once, I was invited to a birthday party so that a girl, who repeatedly bullied me in elementary school, could beat me up.  She broke my yellow watch.  I ran all the way home down the dusty dirt road humiliated and ashamed, clutching that broken watch.  I can still see Dawn’s sad eyes pitying me, unable to stop the fight.

We don’t want you!

Chosen is not a word that I applied to myself.  I was the kid in Sunday School with two or three stars on the attendance sheet, and then a long span of empty spaces.  Then two or three stars would appear followed by a long empty space.  I would hear the gospel presented, and I wanted desperately for this forgiveness and love for myself.  I never felt like I was worthy enough for something so wonderful. Why would God choose me?  Then I read II Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise,

as some understand slowness.

 Instead he is patient with you not wanting anyone to perish,

 but everyone to come to repentance.

Anyone, everyone?  I was pretty sure those two words included me.  I thought I caught God by the toe.  If anyone or everyone, included me, then God’s amazing love was for me too.  This was my first step on the road to understanding who God is.  For me, God turned a spot light on. I stepped into that little circle of faith, my first steps in understanding the difference between value and worth. Over the years, He has slowly increased that circle of faith.

                I stumbled on to I Peter 2:9-10.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

The footnotes in my study Bible in I Peter led me to the book of Hosea. Hosea was a prophet.  God asked him to marry a promiscuous wife, Gomer.  After marrying her, he would latter have to buy her back out of prostitution for 15 shekels of silver and five bushels of barley. God uses Hosea and Gomer as an example of his plan to lead us out of our sin into His abundant life.

Gomer gives birth to three children, and I feel sorry for all of them. Their names were Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah (Not Loved), and Lo-Ammi (Not My People).  Can you imagine how the book of Hosea brought healing to me? Not Loved, Not my people, I felt like this was my identity.

Jezreel’s name foreshadowed the destruction of Israel for the slaughter of God’s prophets by the hands of Jezebel in Jezreel.  I hope your name isn’t this bad.

“Hi! My name is Jezreel.”

“Isn’t that where Jezebel slaughtered all the prophets? I heard it was a blood bath.”

 “Yes. Yes, it is.”

The names that challenged my little circle of faith was Lo-Ruhamah, Not Loved and Lo-Ammi, Not my people. The Lord’s declaration through the cross to you and I is “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.”  Although, I identified with promiscuous Gomer, God chose me to be His, not because I was worthy, but because He loves and values His creation. I promiscuously sought love, affirmation, purpose, worth, identity… you name it.  I tried to find it anywhere I could. I was an affirmation addict. I was Lo-Ammi! Not His! God transferred me from Lo-Ammi to royal priesthood.  He never intended me to sit in that little spot light of faith, clutching my broken yellow watch.  He wants me to stand in the word “Chosen”.  I didn’t have God by the toe; He had me in the palm of His hand.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through the blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Ephesians 1: 3-8

What scandalous grace God has lavished on us?  Once we were not His people and not loved, but now we are Chosen. I think I should end every post with these words until this is a reality in all of our lives.

Praise.jpg

Meditation: Resurrection Sunday

The Resurrection is our hope, strength, foundation, and future. Jesus was the firstborn among many (Rom. 8:29). Whenever, I am overwhelmed by my body failing, grief, and even natural disasters, I remember that right now we live our lives in the “in between”, the Saturday before Resurrection. Because Jesus was bodily resurrected, there will be a resurrection for all of us, not spiritual like we enjoy now, but bodily resurrected to live forever with Jesus as our source of life and light. The Message writes it this way, Philippians 3:21,

One day we will live in a city with no need for  moon or sun. For in the resurrection the Glory of God will be our light and the Lamb will be our lamp! Rejoice today that Christ is Risen! And one day we will join Him! (Rev. 21:23)
Today is our new year!  We remember the foundation that Christ Jesus laid for us not only on the cross, but in the reality of the resurrection gives us a new life to live. No matter what we may face this year, the resurrection of our Messiah will be a solid foundation to find hope, joy, and love. We know that one day there will be no more darkness. No more night designed for our rest. No more suffering designed for us to learn to rest in Jesus because we will enter into that eternal rest. We need to know this and meditate on the resurrection, so that when the shadows of darkness threaten our hope, joy, and love, we will fear no evil!
Resurrection sunday
Meditation: The Lord Has Risen!
Why do you look for the living among the dead!
He is not here; the Lord has risen!
He has risen indeed!
The Lord has risen!
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death is your sting?
Death has been swallowed up in victory!
Christ is risen!
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”
Thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
The Lord is risen!
Alleluia! He Has risen!

You can’t have my sugar.

The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word.”

Matthew 19:10-11

 

Jesus set a higher standard for us than we are able to live out, and He was far more divisive than Christians want to admit sometimes. He reserved his harshest words for legalist, and those who used religion for profit. He called the Pharisees a brood of vipers. He replied, “And you experts of the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry and you yourselves will not life one finger to help them,” (Luke 11:46).

For those who believe that God cares more about being nice than holy, forgiveness and reconciliation become confused with codependency.

Forgiveness is the central theme of the gospel. A Holy God who cannot look upon sin gives man the choice to love and obey Him, but we jump into sin with both feet abandoning the Source of All Life. As we come up for air, we find ourselves overwhelmed by the weight of sin, and who should come to our rescue? The God, we abandoned. He gave His Son to die on the cross IN OUR PLACE, so that we can be forgiven and reconciled with God. God paid the costs, so that we can be forgiven and reconciled to Him. The God who forgave so much commands us to forgive others as He has forgiven us. Now let me tell you a story.

Suppose your fun-loving, carefree neighbor asks to borrow a cup of sugar a few nights a week. Then this progresses to needing more groceries, and then she moves on to borrowing pots and pans that she returns scorched and broken. This neighbor always seems to have a great need, and you must fill it. What is the most loving to do? Forgive and forget? Keep giving until you have nothing left? Or perhaps you look a little closer at your neighbor’s need. Her greatest need is to learn to be responsible for herself. How can you respond to help her with her true need?

You forgive her. What does that look like? Forgiveness means she no longer owes you for what she has taken. You don’t keep a list of all the groceries and pots and pans. To forgive her, you pay the costs for what she has taken. Forgiving others always costs the forgiver. How do you respond the next time she asks for a cup sugar?

Draw a boundary. Actions always have consequences. When you refuse her the sugar, it doesn’t mean you haven’t forgiven her. You love her enough for her to experience the repercussions for the way she is living. Your pantry is no longer open for her use. There is a change in the relationship. This change doesn’t mean you have not forgiven. You let her know that you love her and forgive her, but the relationship has changed. In order for you and your neighbor to reconcile, she must have a change of heart.

The change of heart is your neighbor being convicted of the way she treated you. She comes to you in repentance, apologizes, changes her behavior, and perhaps replaces the pots she ruined. Now, you grow together in trust. You need a stick of butter, and borrow from your neighbor. She gives. She needs a cup of flour to finish baking cupcakes, and you give. There becomes a mutual relationship of giving and taking.girlfriends-2213259_1920

Forgiveness is hard and costly, but forgiveness doesn’t mean that the other person can continue to abuse you. In Matthew 18 Jesus gives us pictures of what forgiveness and reconciliation look like, and they are two very different things. “If they refuse to listen” becomes a key phrase in the process of reconciliation. Jesus gives consequences to those who refuse to listen. He gives a process of the wounded telling the offender of what they have done. If they repent, you’ve won your brother back! If they refuse to listen, take a friend. If they still refuse to listen, then go to the church. If they still refuse to listen, treat them as a pagan. This would mean there would be a break in relationship. Most Christians don’t practice this. Often, we want to be nice, keeping the peace and unity at all costs, even allowing others to continue to abuse us.

God doesn’t live this way, and He doesn’t ask us to do more than He. God is not codependent, meaning that He doesn’t live in a dysfunctional relationship with us, where He supports and enables us to continue to sin against Him. He allows us to experience the earthly consequences of sin, so that we may repent. We can be very sorry for having an affair. His forgiveness does not clear up the STD we got. His forgiveness doesn’t change our spouse’s heart. Forgiveness does not change the consequences.

How many times do I forgive? Peter asked the same question. 70 times 7. Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the unmerciful servant as a warning to us all. God has forgiven us so much. We have been forgiven so much and should not demand repayment from those who owe us less. We are to have mercy.

Forgiveness is an inner discipline of the heart. Reconciliation is the wounded and the offender coming together living in relationship with one another.  This means that the offender has been convicted and tried to make things right. If the offender refuses to listen, the break in relationship remains.

Meditation: My New Song

Because of Jesus, I can sing a new song. He pursued me in the darkness. He patiently corrected my wrong beliefs about who He is. He waited for me to in humbleness to abandon my selfish pursuit of my earthly kingdom. Jesus restored my soul, and as my eyes focus on His heavenly kingdom, I find myself desiring as Paul wrote, “…we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies,” (Rom. 8:23).

Restored

Meditation: My New Song from Psalms 18, 40, 116, and 117

I waited patiently for the Lord;

He turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit;

Out of the mud and mire.

He set my feet on a rock

And gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,

A hymn of praise to our God.

I love the Lord, for He heard my voice;

He heard my cry for mercy.

The Lord is gracious and righteous;

Because He turned His ear to me,

I will call on Him as long as I live.

May all who seek You

Rejoice and be glad in You;

May those who love Your salvation always say,

“The Lord be exalted.”

Many, O Lord my God,

Are the wonders you have done.

The things You planned for us

No one can recount to you;

Were I to speak and tell of them,

They would be too many to declare.

How can I repay the Lord

For all His goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation

And call on the name of the Lord.

I will sacrifice a thank offering to You

And call on the name of the Lord.

Great is His love toward us

And the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Giving an Answer to Grief

Some of us in the church fear suffering and evil because our faith does not hold up under criticism and doubt, whereas, Biblical suffering proves the very need in every heart for the Suffering Savior acquainted with grief that conquers sin and death on the cross. If we have ever made the life of following Christ easy, may we repent in truth that dying to self and living a new transformed life in Christ costs. Rosaria Butterfield said it best, “So die to self, take up a cross, and don’t expect that your personal experience is going to go any better than the Savior you love and follow.”

Our world in darkness walks, and what do we answer about such darkness that Believer and Unbeliever alike face? My aim in following pages is to give words to those who are suffering from grief of all kinds. I want to bring comfort to those who sit in darkness with the Light of Truth. For when we find ourselves in the furnace, may we not be consumed, but rather refined because in the fire we walk with God.

As I wrestled with grief, I found that unbelief was the basis of much turmoil in my affliction. Only when the Bible became my lens to view my afflictions and the very blood of Christ sustaining my soul did I count affliction as joy. It was then that I could make the sacrifice to praise the One who suffered and died so that I could have a High Priest, who was fully human in every way, bring me to glory and break the power of him who holds the power of death that is, the devil—and free me who all my life was held in slavery by my fear of death.

Hebrews 2:10-13 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it is fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are the same family. So, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says,

“I will declare your name to my

Brothers and sisters;

In the assembly I will sing your praises.”

And again,

I will put my trust in him.”

And again he says,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

rest in gods rest

 

There is hope and His name is Jesus.

In grief of all kinds we are battered by strong emotions both on the inside and the outside. We feel tossed about like a ship on water during a hurricane. We feel as if we may drown in sorrow. Advice comes from people who have not suffered, or by those who have been stunted in emotional maturity by abuse. They cannot relate to sadness, and only want to cheer up the one in grief. Often those around the one in affliction cannot handle strong emotion. Our lives have become too busy. The one in affliction needs to learn to rest, and most of us cannot not stop long enough to sit in grief. The ministry of presence is so important. Words will fail. When we sit in grief with another and allow her to lament, we give what Jesus gives to us. We give the one in affliction the right to give voice to her affliction, and we sit silently with the Lamb, who was silent for us.

We must focus our eyes on Jesus. Jesus entered into history because sin causes suffering. Jesus becomes an anchor for our soul, firm and secure, in life’s storms.

Hebrews5:7 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death.”

Jesus is not afraid of strong emotions. He cried drops of blood in Gethsemane. If Jesus is our model, then we should freely express our grief, our sadness. Look at Jesus on the cross as he faced ultimate darkness, forsaken by the Father! He cried out His question to God without restraint (Matt. 27:45-45).

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

In affliction, we feel forsaken. We are not greater than Jesus. We cry out the same words, WHY? God, why? In our anguish let us go back to the pure milk of the Word which is the foundation of repentance, of faith in God, and the resurrection of the dead.

–excerpt from the book I’m writing. I have hope because of Jesus.

World Poetry Day

In case you didn’t know, it’s world poetry day. Somewhere between sadness and grief, Jesus met me, and gave me the comfort of His presence. He spoke gently through the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace from chapter 3 of the Book of Daniel. This story has comforted me in a variety of storms, and it doesn’t disappoint. When Jesus says, “I will not save you from all suffering, but I will be with you even in the fire,” we glorify Him as we are obedient.

These men said,King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

Even in the storm may we say, “But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods.”

Below is a short poem in honor of Kai Glass. His short life has been God’s grace to me to hold to the Truth even in darkness. I will always miss Kai, but my prayer is that even through suffering, I will be found obedient. One day there will be an end to these sufferings.

In Between

between…the words

there is and no

where hope recedes

and light flees

my soul refused to die

his heart has stopped

but mine defied

the darkness came

we remain

hope is found

in grief’s sound

Banishing My Inner Negative Voice

John 10:10-11 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

The struggles in this life stress our ability to think rationally and clearly. We compound this stress with the cloud of sin, and further add the weight of memories of times that people harmed us or our past failures. We have the thief of an inner negative voice (INV).

Banishing an inner negative voice takes a conscience decision to come out of denial and recognize that this stronghold in our minds keeps us from living an abundant life. No one is doing it to us. We are doing it to ourselves. In the scriptures, Jesus almost never relates blessings to physical wealth. When discussing physical needs, he says that God gives to all, righteous and unrighteous, describing lowly birds (Matt.6:25-34). He provides these things. Jesus came to give us more. He came that we would have LIFE. He came to free us from sins bondage. We have peace with the Father, no condemnation, forgiveness, comfort in our grief, satisfaction for our thirst for righteousness…etc.

Choice

An INV steals our ability to think rightly, shading the Truth with lies that kill and destroy our desire to serve God and others well. I have a good friend who gave me the book Balcony People. Sometimes our inner voice is broken by overly critical people in our lives who judged us harshly. This person can be a parent, caregiver, grandparent, anyone with authority over us or even a close friend. Janice calls overly critical people basement people. They steal truth from us and their criticism threatens to take away our peace, but it’s up to us to decide how we are going to live now.

Will we keep listening to basement people? Or Will we consciously choose to fill our lives with God’s Truth and balcony people who tell us the truth?

The steps to banish an INV are not magical. I’ve heard the lines, “Well, you just need to pray more and read your Bible more.” These are good things, but Jesus calls us to make disciples and teach them to obey everything (Matt. 28:19-20). The INV needs a teacher to disciple them in truth, so that they can obey. Discipleship makes the difference. Learning to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ is a process (2 Cor. 10:5).

And let me make it clear, It’s not just positive self-talk. Being honest with ourselves involves repentance. Someone may have been overly critical, but that doesn’t completely negate what they say. Learning to live in the Truth is learning to acknowledge our sin patterns and to walk in the Spirit to overcome them (Rom.8). If we continue to puff ourselves up with positive talk, we may be missing the changes we need to make in order to live the abundant life Jesus died to give us.

“Your brain will try to “protect” you and keep you safely on the ground. However, if you want to fly, if you want to depart from the path of your almost certain future, you’ve got to defy the fear and pull back on the stick.” Nik Tarascio, 3 Steps to Overcoming Negative Self Talk

I’m going to use Nik Tarascio’s 3 steps because they are what I have to do too!

  1. Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.

If you are like me, you have learned to dismiss or diminish harm that others have done to you. It was my coping mechanism since childhood.

Psalm 35:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my inequity.”

Nothing ever goes away by ignoring it. Sores left to fest get worse. Face the INV. Point your finger right at it, and proclaim the Truth.

V6 “I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And you forgave me the guilt of my sin.”

If God will forgive us of guilt, how much more will He delight in healing our broken places, so that we can live the abundant life?

  1. Get Real with it.

Preach the Gospel to yourself. We have a new identity in Christ. We once, “walked in these ways, in the life you once lived, but now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these, anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator Col. 3:7-10).” Do you see holes in your knowledge? Do you know how to preach the Gospel to your broken places? Find a mentor who will disciple you. God’s plan is for us to live in a family relationship with one another encouraging one another.

  1. Visualize walking with Jesus

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God, When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you will also appear with him in glory (Col. 3:1-4).”

Let this truth dwell in you richly!

I found this list a few years ago and it has been immensely helpful. I don’t know who wrote it, but it’s good. I listed a pdf of God’s Voice Vs. Satan’s on my Resources page.

God's voice vs Satan