FREEDOM!

When we hear the word “slave”, the opposite of freedom comes to mind…

Nonetheless, we are FREE to choose (God doesn’t force). We are FREE to love (God made us to). We are FREE to worship (God delights in it). We are FREE to live (Make choices). Thank GOD we live in a country with so many freedoms.

Paul calls himself a slave to Christ many places in the scripture. This is because He was sold out to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He came from a place of strict Jewish upbringing. He knew the law and followed the rules, better than anyone else…he thought. He condemned and even killed those who didn’t.

Until Jesus Christ Himself shut Saul down (put scales over his eyes) and opened his heart (reopened his eyes) to the truth of who He was and why He died, he persecuted others for believing it. It was then, that Jesus revealed that He died for Saul (the one who thought he lived perfectly), for all of us. No one else could have, he would have spit on anyone who even tried.

What a stark difference to what he writes here…

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. — Paul (1 Timothy 1:15)

On the road to Damascus, Paul’s name and life was forever changed. He was set free and became a slave (servant) at the same time.

As Jesus followers today, we are freed from the bondage of all kinds of things as we learn what it means to be in personal relationship with Him. He reveals more and more each step of the journey with Him. To live as a slave to Christ is freedom to other people’s opinions, lifestyles, agendas….desires for you. Whatever He speaks to your heart and through His Word is the direction you find yourself starting to move.

To follow Jesus may look differently to people. He calls us to different ministries and mission fields as distinctly as He entrusts us with different gifts. Going His direction is the freedom He calls us to. He breaks the chains of the direction our ultimate enemy wants us to go. Satan plants circumstances and earthly “enemies” in our paths to deter us. But, Jesus tells us how to deal with both of these. (Give thanks in all circumstances and forgive and pray for our enemies). They are only pawns in our ultimate enemy’s plan for us.

Personal relationship with Jesus breaks those chains and we start to follow Him…We want to when our eyes and hearts are opened to His love for us.

Paul went from persecuting those who followed Jesus to preaching why we all should. Because He is the answer. His grace saves us. This is what it means to be a slave to Christ instead of the world or to people. To think there is anything other than the blood of Jesus that can save us or anything that could keep Him from loving us is to live in bondage rather than the freedom of Christ. He never stops loving us. He’s already chosen us, but He also allows us to choose. A forced love is not true loyalty or love in return.

Depending wholeheartedly on Him in every circumstance of our lives (especially our salvation) is living as a slave to Him rather than anything else in this world.

I am honored to use my gift to proclaim His name and my 100% dependency on Him. I know there is no other way to do it. I pray my kids do the same, but even if they do not, may my heart’s cry never change. That He loves us better than anyone ever has or will. That what the enemy throws at us can and will be used for the good of those who love Him. And that God is good no matter what Satan wants us to think.

We take every thought captive and make it obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (GNT)

What does Jesus say about that, about me? Hold each thought captive to that as your identity in Christ is being formed…

Yes, bad things happen here. What God permits on this earth isn’t the sign of His character, His heart behind it is. He hurts right along with us and longs to bring us home where all sadness and pain are gone forever. He hates pain and didn’t create us for it. He doesn’t cause pain, He died for it. He knew we would experience hurt, but He didn’t create us to. He created us to love and to spend eternity with him.

His love is the freedom we’ve been looking for. He loves you. Learn it. Live it. Become a slave to it…Ironically, as a slave to Christ, more freedom than you’ve ever experienced will come from it.

If we are free to choose, so are others. Respect yourself and respect other people’s choices. We are called to share His love with others, but there is also a whole lot only the Holy Spirit can do. Release yourself from the Holy Spirit’s roll in people’s lives. Share His love and release.

With freedom comes responsibility and disagreement. Just because we don’t agree with someone else’s choice, doesn’t mean we should disrespect them. Agreeing to disagree also leads to freedom rather than resentment and hatred.

This is another way the Kingdom of God is polar opposite from the world’s…In slavery, there is freedom. Who/what are you a slave to?

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Vengeance is Mine.

When we are deeply wounded, we are changed. God knows this and the devil knows this.

If someone hurts you deeply, ask God how to forgive every day, every hour if necessary. If we don’t have the desire to forgive, we will continue to suffer in the bondage of resentment and bitterness from the pain inflicted which is exactly what the devil wants. This pain can affect every relationship we have, even and especially those who are completely innocent in it, which is also what the devil wants. He loves to watch the collateral damage ravage lives and generations.

Knowing this, it just makes sense to forgive rather than suffer. Haven’t we already suffered enough? But how?

Healing comes gradually… as does relief. We can stay mad at the person for hurting us or we can ask God to help us forgive and view them as He does. Over and over again. We can blame them for our situation or ask God to help us forgive and see where He wants to take us from here. We can obsess over what they are doing or why they did what they did or we can turn our focus to those who do love us and desire us in their lives.

We can HOLD ON or we can LET GO. And that includes revenge. Letting go has got to be one of the hardest things we do in this life. To let go of a person, a dream, a life, is painful. There’s no getting around the pain. We can mask it, avoid it, cover it, downgrade it, but it’s still there.

To let go of the desire to avenge and seek justice on our own is hard. It’s only natural to want to do so. So letting it go helps us. I love how Max Lucado explains…

“Forgiveness doesn’t diminish justice; it just entrusts it to God.”

The person who says they feel no pain or dismisses yours has not dealt with their own. The ones that have get how hard this is and God knows too. He created us to love and be loved. Our hearts are fragile.

 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21 (NASB)

Not only has God promised to take care of it, whatever “it” may be. He asks us to leave it to Him so that we can go in peace. Forgiveness restores our happiness and loving by forgiving and leaving them to Him may even open their heart to Him in a way it never has been before. No matter what, it frees us. Over and over again.

It’s a beautiful thing to hand it over. I thank Him for taking it! Once again, it’s a command given out of His love for us. Let Him carry that too. Let Him have it. That’s what He asks of us and it’s for our own good. To lighten our load and make way for joy.

 

LOVE Yourself…

Getting to know Jesus will definitely impact how we view and love others. On the flipside, He will also teach us how to view and love ourselves. The more His love sinks in, the more we realize our value. Our value to Him.

I didn’t know my worth until Jesus showed me. Because of this, I felt constantly at the mercy of others to love me. This is a set up for disaster. Thank God, He continues to show me. He shows me by showering me with grace and help and love like I’ve never known.

If He loves me like that, I must be worthy of love. Not only from others, but also from me. Healthy self love propels us to do what feeds our souls and inspires us. It pushes us to grow and spread our wings. It teaches us to enjoy our alone time and to love others unselfishly. I don’t love to get love anymore, I love to love. And, that is freeing.

Love yourself enough to….walk away, make a decision, admit a fault, cry in public, cry in private. Love yourself enough to…disagree, set a boundary, stick to said boundary, rest in God’s love for you.

Love yourself enough to….follow a dream, set a goal, try something new, forgive that person, take a nap, find a babysitter, open up to a trusted friend.

Loving ourselves properly is vital in loving others properly. Love the man or woman God created you to be. Work on yourself with God’s help. His connection and correction comes from a personal relationship with Him. This relationship will change your heart and inevitably your life.

You are already loved and you were created beautiful ❤

Braving dark corners

Greatness! It takes tremendous courage to identify and deal with those dark corners.

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When was the last time you peered into the dark corners of your life?

Taken one step further, when is the last time you peered and did something about what you saw instead of quickly looking away?

Despite having put the task off for ages, that is how I spent my afternoon.

You can erase the image of me on a therapist’s couch, replaying childhood memories.

I spent my afternoon with a shop vac.

In a lot of dark corners.

In case you are not familiar with my lack of Bob Villa-esque prowess, let me assure you I am no handywoman.

I’m also a bit of the stereotypical gal—not crazy about spiders, tools, beef jerky.

So the shop vac and dark corner bit was not my idea of a fun-filled afternoon.

I have decided, however, that dark corners are only scary when they are not peered into and dealt…

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My Prayer…

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I found the following prayer in my documents folder at work today. I wrote it nine months after my divorce was final. That year was hellish. That year was a whirlwind of confusion and pain. Pain that would wake me up at night. Pain that would roll down my face at the most unexpected moments. Pain of betrayal, replacement, and loss. That year I surrendered. Rereading it, I thank God for the surrender and am warmed by my words in the midst of the painful events and changes taking place. May I continue to surrender every day of my life. Oh, how He loves…..and hears.

6/18/13

My God, My Father, My All……

I believe in YOU. I want to trust you with my future. You know my weaknesses and my struggles. Thank you for my strengths, they come from you. My weaknesses are where the enemy gets me. He knows my weaknesses but you know them better. Help me to know better. In my weakness, I turn to YOU. Sometimes I feel your presence and sometimes I don’t, but I pray that you strengthen my belief so that I am dependent on you even when I don’t “feel” your presence.

Use me for your purpose Lord. Refine me and mold me to desire your perfect will. Don’t let me get in the way of you one more day.

Please remove anyone from my life that would alter the purpose you put me on this earth to accomplish. Please add the people and opportunities in your timing that will further that purpose and ignite my love and openness to you.

Show me how to serve you. Show me how to share you. Show me how to please you. Speak clearly and I will try to obey. Give me the strength and desire above all other things to obey and to listen. Your direction is for my good, I believe that too.

I yearn to be transparent before you and others Lord. I know that may come with rejection and pain, but the suffering will be worth it in eternity knowing I was used, in any way, by you. As I grow and stumble every day, help me to look to You. You are why I grow and you are who I reach out to when I stumble in my humanness.

I love you. Thank you for loving me. I need you. Every day I need you.

What’s in a Name?

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A lot…that’s what. I’m sure there are names you hear that make you cringe and names that just as quickly make your heart swell. Names that you’d have a hard time dating because of a person in the past and names you have lovingly picked out for your babies. Oh, what a gut punch it is when someone else close to you takes your cherished baby name! Every girl puts their boyfriend’s name behind theirs to see how it sounds and writes it to see how it looks. Every divorcee wonders what to do with her last name. Keep it for the kids? Go back to maiden? Make a new name? A name marks a person. For good or bad, first and last, there’s a lot to a name.

One of my dear friends lost her mom this week. She passed away and left her daughter reeling as to how to go on without her. Understandably so. We all have, would, or will. It’s a huge loss. Huge. As I was walking and praying for my friend on my lunch break, the name “Reuniter” came to mind. There are many names for our God, but this one had never crossed my mind before. And, He is our Reuniter.

As the song goes…”Sweet name (sweet name), dear name (dear name), There’s no other name like Jesus, Sweet name (sweet name), dear name (dear name).”

There is no other name like Jesus. I’d like to share a list of some other names that come to mind….

  • Deliverer    The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer.Psalms 18:2
  • Lover           I have loved you with an everlasting love…..Jeremiah 31:3
  • Provider      My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
  • Forgiver      If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins……1 John 1:9
  • Redeemer   Our Redeemer—the Lord of hosts is his name—is the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 47:4
  • Creator        For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalms 139:13
  • Comforter   ….who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves  receive from God.  2 Corinthians 1:4     
  • Carrier         In the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son….Deuteronomy 1:31
  • Counselor    …..and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
  • Vindicator    He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Isaiah 50:8
  • Convicter     When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment… John 16:8
  • Liberator     He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Psalms 107:14
  • Reuniter      Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds….1 Thessalonians 4:17

These names are so sweet to me. Growing up legalistically, my innate name or character trait for God was “condemner”. That’s how I inherently viewed Him. A God I could never please. A God I wanted so badly to please, but always felt like I fell short. That was a lie. The true condemner himself put that in my head and I took it to heart.

Now, I take John 3:17 to heart and choose to believe it.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

He is not our condemner, He is our Savior….and so much more. There’s A LOT to a name.

Work in Progress

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I KNOW I’m a work in progress. I have to be, or else I’d be in a world of trouble. Romans 8:28 says “in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him”. I need to claim that promise and move forward with it daily. Some days I’m flying high and feeling good, some days I’m just the opposite. Some days I’m super sensitive and some days I’m just irritated. I believe it’s a human condition that the devil loves to prey on. He wants us down and out. He wants us to lash out and freak out. He wants us to throw caution to the wind and thow a fit. Then, after he gets his way, he likes to sit back and smirk while we cry, try to compose ourselves, and make amends to whomever happened to be in the line of fire.

How can we compose ourselves when our buttons are pushed? Proverbs 29:11 (NIRV) says “A foolish person lets his anger run wild. But a wise person keeps himself under control.” Will freaking out and lashing out make you feel better? Yes, in the moment, as would many other things. But, ultimately, it will have brought you down to the button pusher’s level and given them exactly what they wanted. They want you to get crazy, act crazy, and fight……so they can smirk.

Nowhere does it say we shouldn’t stand up for ourselves or that we have to agree. On the contrary, 2 Timothy 1:7 (CEV) says “God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self control.” The Spirit’s power is true power. The power to stand up for yourself and/or others in a loving way. This is exactly why we can’t mistake kindness for weakness. It takes alot more strength to respond with kindness in some situations than it does to retaliate in hate and hostility. By all means, stand up, speak up. But, don’t lose control. That’s exactly what the devil wants because it will not resolve the situation, the conflict will continue, and peace is not made by either parties.

What about when we lose it anyway? GRACE. We talk a lot about forgiving others and extending grace to others, but let’s not forgive to extend it to ourselves. This is HUGE for me. I’m more apt to dish out grace to everyone BUT me. It’s important that we view and love ourselves for who we are in Christ. His beloved kids. Our kids temper tantrums absolutely makes them difficult to deal with at the time, but it never alters our love for them. We can get so down on ourselves for how we deal or dealt with a situation, that the one we need to forgive and love on most is ourselves.

Let’s all remember who we are to Him, how much He loves us, and show ourselves mercy too.