Archive | November 2012

God Power!

Power

Here’s another post from the past. It reminded me again, how God can redeem anything from our past! In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” I am constantly amazed by what God can do when I simply lay down my pride! This week a friend issued a challenge to me and all the old thought patterns came up about me and my past. How could I expect anyone to listen to me? These and other thoughts came up before I realized that I was trusting in myself and not God. God asks us to step out in faith and watch Him do mighty things through us!

Today, I was taking a closer look at the genealogy of Christ. It’s amazing when you realize that there are only five women mentioned in the genealogy and of the five, four women were highly improbable ancestors of a King. Tamar disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced her father-in-law to conceive an heir, Rahab was a prostitute, Bathsheba committed adultery and became pregnant to King David, and Ruth was a Moabite.

All of these women had very questionable beginnings and yet God chose them to be ancestors to the King of Kings. In light of this knowledge there is no one that can use the excuse that God can’t use them because of choices they have made in their past.

The thing that sets these women apart as extraordinary is the fact that they all had uncompromising faith in God. God gave them a place of honor because they chose to trust in Him. This really shows us just how little our past has to do with our future when we ask God to come in and transform our lives. It truly has nothing to do with us, except a willingness to lay down who we are and receive the beautiful gift of our savior.

This makes me think of David when he says in Psalm 139:6 “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is too high, I cannot attain to it.” It leads me to truly know that I still do not comprehend how much our Heavenly Father loves us and that He can and will do anything to show us this extraordinary love. He is simply waiting for us to receive what He has given to us in abundance.

Joel 2: 25-27 25 “The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts. It was I who sent this great destroying army against you. 26 Once again you will have all the food you want, and you will praise the Lord your God, who does these miracles for you. Never again will my people be disgraced.
27 Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other.
Never again will my people be disgraced.

What is holding you back from receiving God’s transforming power in your life?

Our Perspective is Powerful

 

Life rarely works out the way we plan it, but many times it works out so much better than we planned when we choose to give God our disappointment and look for the blessing in the trial. This may seem to some as if I’m reciting a cliché and choosing to gloss over my feelings, but one thing I have learned in the last few years is perspective changes everything.

For most of my life, I chose to look at my circumstances with a victim mentality. “That’s just my luck” and “Murphy’s Law once again” were among the most popular phrases that would come out of my mouth. Rarely did I stop to look at what had gone well in my life, but instead chose to focus on all the things that had gone differently than I had planned. Most of the time, I chose to blame God for my disappointments. This kept me from having an intimate relationship with Him, because I didn’t want to talk to someone who wasn’t giving me what I thought I needed. How could I trust Him when I couldn’t pay my rent or didn’t know how we were going to buy groceries that week.

Today, I am so grateful that God did not give me some of the things that I thought were so important; instead He has given me a brain transplant in many ways. Today, it is so much easier for me to see the blessings in my life and not focus on the things that seem to be wrong. This new attitude did not happen overnight, but rather over the course of a few years. My journey started with a constant minute to minute struggle to learn to trust God’s truth and not my feelings that had been so poisoned by the enemies lies, that the truth didn’t have a chance. In the beginning phrases like “I’m blessed and highly favored” and “I’m the disciple whom Jesus loves” seemed like lip service, but slowly they began to penetrate my mind and renew it. Saying these phrases, digging into the Word of God for the truth, and praying to God for revelation of that truth were what finally broke the enemy’s stronghold in my mind. He had me convinced that God wanted me to suffer through this life and I couldn’t really trust God to take care of me.

The words we speak out are so very important and we really can change our life with the words we choose to speak. Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” This is a very powerful warning that what we say can have dire consequences.

This week an opportunity for me to make a substantial amount of money to help my family gain ground in our financial struggle fell through. The person who had come to me with this opportunity told me not to be disappointed, that this was “the entry point of good things to come”. It was then that I realized that just a few years ago, this situation would’ve completely derailed me. I probably would’ve said, “see, that’s just my luck”, instead this opportunity showed me just how quickly God can change our circumstances and I know that when the time is right He will present the opportunity that we need. What a difference! Only God could’ve made that change in my mind, but I needed to seek Him out first, or the change wouldn’t have come.

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. This scripture shows what God expects from us in order to have change in our lives.

How can you change your perspective today?

This entry was posted on November 28, 2012. 2 Comments

Dealing With Our Pain

Here’s a post that I shared some time ago and felt the need to share again. It seems many people want to help others feel better and get overly invested in having an outcome that makes them feel comfortable. Reaching out to help people in pain is rarely easy, in fact, it’s usually very messy and uncomfortable. We need to trust God’s timing in people’s lives and only confront others when God is leading us to do so, and not out of our own pride. Hope this encourages you today!

There is an epidemic today of people who suppress their pain. For years I was unable to deal with the pain from my childhood because I was in denial of it. It seems like there is a contest to see who can tell the best story of who had the worst childhood. There is no shortage of people to tell you how they had it so much worse than you, so you should be grateful.

It was always easy for me to look at what others had gone through and minimize the pain I had. The problem with this is minimizing or denying your pain doesn’t make it go away it actually makes it worse. It‘s like having a splinter and ignoring it; it becomes infected and then you have a much bigger problem to deal with. This attitude can keep us stuck in our pain.

I believe we need to be careful when people are opening up and sharing their pain with us. It’s not up to us to qualify their pain. We should not compare them with others and tell them why they should feel lucky that they don’t have it as bad as someone else.

When my husband and I were going through a very tough financial situation recently a few well-meaning people we knew tried to make me feel better by telling me how much better we had it than others. This resulted in feelings of judgment and condemnation on my part. It really wasn’t helpful. I had to feel my pain, be real about it and give it over to God in order to be healed from it.

If we look at the life of Jesus there is not a single time that He minimized someone’s pain or compared their pain with others. He had compassion for them, prayed for them and healed them. Jesus should be the model we use for how we treat others.

There are times when people need to be confronted about being stuck in anger and resentment.  Before we confront others we need to take stock of ourselves and make sure we have taken the log out of our own eye first. We need to proceed prayerfully and ask God to help us speak the truth in love. We should not dwell on our pasts, but we do need to be honest about our pain and hand it over to God so He can heal it. We can’t be healed of something we deny is there.

What past hurt are you allowing to fester?

Whose pain are you minimizing today?

This entry was posted on November 26, 2012. 1 Comment

Being Thankful in Every Circumstance

After reading my devotional in Jesus Calling this morning, I decided to share it because it reminded me of one of the turning points in my life. Jesus Calling is a devotional written by Sarah Young. She developed a habit of waiting in God’s Presence and journaling what she hears from Him. Many days it has encouraged me and given me a reminder that God is in charge, He cares about the details of my life, and He loves me unconditionally.

Here is today’s devotional:

“Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience — at times, blind obedience. To people who don’t know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.

Thankfulness opens your heart to My presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.”

As I read this it reminded me of the time that my husband and I had just received news that our landlord was threatening us with eviction for being behind in the rent. My husband had gone for a year and a half without work and we had gotten behind during that time. We had been struggling to pay as much extra as we could each month, but she wasn’t happy with the amount we were paying.

My first reaction to this situation was to panic. The fears came on me like an avalanche. Where would we live?… Please don’t make me live in the woods…What would people think. Then came the frantic phone calls to all my friends who all had well-meaning advice, and then came the realization that I hadn’t consulted with God on this matter. For years I had believed that God was expecting me to live my life a certain way, and if I didn’t He was ready to punish me through my circumstances. These thoughts kept me isolated from Him every time that life didn’t go the way that I thought it should.

This time I chose to talk to Him and ask Him what I should do. He took me to a scripture in Joel 2:22-27  “22 Do not be afraid, you wild animals,  for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit;  the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.  23Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. 24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarmmy great army that I sent among you. 26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,  who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. 27 Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the Lord your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.”

As this scripture began to sink in, it became clear to me that God was not punishing me through this situation, but He was asking me to trust Him. A peace washed over me that I had never experienced before. My circumstances hadn’t changed, but my perspective certainly had. This was the first time that the importance of speaking out the truth in the midst of my circumstances became clear to me. It is still sometimes a struggle, but I strive to live by this truth everyday. It has given me much more peace and joy in my life as I strive to practice this act of obedience everyday.

What circumstance can you praise God through today? What circumstance have you praised God through in the past? Please feel free to share and encourage us all.

 

It’s Ok To Ask For Help; Jesus Did!

Most of us have been taught through our life’s experiences that we have to be self-sufficient. This is one of the biggest lies in the enemy’s arsenal. If he can keep us isolated and  in fear of reaching out to others he gains more power over our thoughts. The more power he gains over our thoughts the more control he can maintain in our lives.

As a child, I often felt that I had no one to depend on but me. Recently, as I began to write my story, it became apparent to me that there were many people placed in my life who had helped me along the way. When I began to look at things from a new perspective it became apparent that I had never really been alone, but had chosen to feel that way. It was so much easier to focus on all the evidence that proved me right about feeling like it was all up to me, rather than focus on all the good people in my life who had helped me along the way.

A few years ago, my husband and I were in a situation where we had no choice, but to depend on others. This was one of the most uncomfortable places I have ever been in my life, but also the place that produced the most growth in my life. In the beginning, I despised our circumstances and thought that God had abandoned us. I couldn’t wait until the day our circumstances changed and we could give back everything we owed to everyone who was helping us. Slowly, God began to show me that He was teaching me an important lesson; that we are supposed to learn how to trust others and ask for help. Asking for help is not showing weakness, but great strength. When we become willing to make ourselves vulnerable to others we begin to truly live. Becoming vulnerable makes us powerful, because that’s when we learn to allow others to bring their strengths into our life.

A couple of weeks ago I was reading in Mark and came across the passage where Jesus asked the disciples to watch and pray with Him. It dawned on me that here was Jesus, the Son of God, asking for the help of His followers. What a revelation! God showed us how He wanted us to live our lives through Christ’s example, and in this instance, Jesus was asking for help. This is so profound, because most of us think we have to put up that brave front and stand strong, but we can’t be strong unless we allow others into our lives to help us. If Jesus, the Son of God, can ask for help, why can’t we?

We were not created to walk this road alone, but to stay connected with those around us and learn from each other so that together we can step into the greatness we were created for. We might just be surprised at what we can accomplish when we work together and remain open to receiving from others.

Who can you ask for help from today?

This entry was posted on November 21, 2012. 3 Comments

The End Of A Journey

Today, I found out that my Aunt had passed away. She will be missed by many. Few people understood her, but her and I had a special connection and she is one of my heroes. There were a lot of people who weren’t able to see through her toughness into her heart of gold, but she was someone who deeply cared about others. We’ve had our ups and downs, but always maintained a special bond regardless of the time that passed in between visits.

She was a very strong, independent woman who rarely let her weaknesses show. Over the years, she suffered many circumstances that would have crushed most of us and yet, through them she was finally able to accept her Savior. She struggled through the loss of her marriage, the suicide of her son, and the death of her grandchildren(his daughter and son) just days after the 3rd anniversary of his death. All these situations came about in the later years of her life. I know that she had lived through many more disappointments over the earlier years of her life, and yet she seemed to rise above them without much effort, until the death of her son. This shook her to her very core, and I believe it’s what led her to finally accept Jesus into her life.

She was there for me during a very difficult time in my life, and made it a point to reach out and offer me a place to live when I was in need. Sad to say that I repaid her kindness with a lack of respect, and it took me many years to ask her for her forgiveness. A few years ago, I was able to thank her for standing up to me and telling me that I needed to leave her home. This shocked her; she told me that it was one of the most difficult things she had ever done, and she thought I would resent her for what she had done. This incident was one of the most significant crossroads in my life. It was the beginning of my journey out of my pit of self-pity and into personal responsibility. It took several years after this experience to learn that lesson, but it was the beginning.

Last month I was given the special gift of being able to visit with her while she was still here. That gift was the result of several people’s efforts. My friend, who found the cheap airfare for me,  my daughter, who allowed me to borrow the money to purchase the ticket, my cousins, who opened their home to me while I was there, and my friend, who picked me up and took me back to the airport. It was so precious to me and today I find myself even more grateful that I was given that opportunity. Today, I say farewell with a grateful heart and no regrets because I reached out and asked for help and  those people responded and did what they could.

I would encourage you today to remember to live everyday as if it was your last and make every effort to let your loved ones know how much you care, while you still have the opportunity.

This entry was posted on November 15, 2012. 4 Comments

What Can I Give?

One of the recent struggles of my life has been a deep desire to give to others. This desire has grown in me and occupied my constant focus and has left me feeling like a failure much of the time. At one point, I remember saying to someone if my husband and I could just get on our feet financially, then we would be able to turn around and give back to others. That person responded to me that I was one of the most giving people she knew. That response landed on deaf ears, because it didn’t make sense to me at the time. My husband and I have spent most of our marriage having financial difficulties and it left me feeling useless. The enemy had planted the lie in my heart that because I didn’t have money to give to those in need that there was nothing I could give. That lie was planted so deeply in my heart that it rendered me unable to see past what we didn’t have to what we did have.

The only way that the spell could be broken was by reaching out to others less fortunate than myself. No matter how bad we think we have it there is always someone who has less than we do and as I began reaching out, God began to change my heart. One of the first opportunities that was presented to me was to serve at LAHIA. LAHIA (Love and Hope In Action) is a local ministry that reaches out to the homeless that are all around us. Our pastor invited us to come as a group and help serve the meal and just reach out to these people from all walks of life who had become homeless for various reasons. This experience gave me new hope, because these people were so grateful to be welcomed in and treated like they mattered for a day. It was the realization that I could make a difference in the world today, regardless of my financial situation and that shifted my whole perspective.

Another shift that I’ve experienced was while watching the movie “Machine Gun Preacher”. There was a point in the movie that the man who had stepped out and made such a dramatic difference in the lives of so many children was sitting in a pit of despair over not being able to do enough. He sat there with a gun ready to end his life and there was a knock at his door. The little boy at the door was someone who would seemingly have no hope to offer anyone. He had been forced to kill his mother or face losing his and his brother’s life. He had been through one of the most horrific experiences that most of can ever imagine going through and he was able to offer hope with his words. He told the man ” if we let hate consume us than the enemy has won”. That’s the key to living out our life in victory. We can choose how we react to our circumstances and no one can take that away from us.

We get to choose to look at the gifts and talents we’ve been given and use them for good or sit on them and live in bitterness searching and longing for all those things we don’t have. We can choose to wait for “someday” or we can get off our butt and do what we can do today. It’s always our choice and each day we can choose differently. When we choose to focus on others, we can not only transform their lives but our own as well.

What can you give today?

 

This entry was posted on November 14, 2012. 4 Comments