God’s Mouth Guard

I wanted to expound a bit on my last post entitled ‘Rotten Words’ as it seems that this subject is one God wants to highlight at this time. There are scriptures and teachings galore about this subject so let’s go where God is. It may be that God is just trying to tell me something haha but in my process of exploration, I hope that I can encourage someone to take stock of how they are using their tongue. I have heard many careless words lately, even spoken them myself and I know that without God taming our tongues, it is nearly impossible to do on our own. I do believe we can create good habits of thought and speech and that goes a long way but if God does not get to the root and bring healing to the heart as we submit to Him, it will not be a permanent change. ‘You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.’ Matthew 12:34

OUCH! Yes Jesus was talking to the Pharisees here but can we agree that when we speak mean words, evil or curses over someone that we are no better? Did you know that the enemy is getting us to partner with him when our words are not loving and life-giving? When someone slanders another, Victoria Boyson says, ” they’ve been targeted by the enemy and satan has infected them with his agenda against a brother leading them to cause strife.” She goes on to remind us of the seven sins which the Lord hates and intensely abhors the most, those He considers to be an abomination: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies and one who spreads strife among brothers.’ Proverbs 6:16-19

Ok, do we get the picture yet? Not quite? A.W. Tozer said, “So, it becomes the devil’s business to keep the Christian’s spirit imprisoned. He knows that the believing and justified Christian has been raised up out of the grave of his sins and trespasses. From that point on, Satan works that much harder to keep us bound and gagged, actually imprisoned in our own grave clothes. He knows that if we continue in this kind of bondage…we are not much better off than when we were spiritually dead.’ John Eldredge says in Waking the Dead, “Sadly, many of these accusations will actually be spoken by Christians.” He is saying when Christians forget about warfare and our enemy, they make agreements to suggestions and don’t know whose voice is stirring them to say certain things. “The enemy will always try to get you to do to someone what he is doing to them. ” For example if someone has a spirit of rejection and you are being tempted to do that exact thing to them, this is not God’s voice.

I don’t know about you but this kind of teaching gets me praying for God to put a filter on my thoughts and my mouth, or a muzzle if need be. Personally I have found lately that the temptation to compare myself to others leads me into this kind of place to possibly cause strife.  A poster I saw recently said Never compare your journey with someone elses. Your journey is your journey. Not a competition. This hit me straight between the eyes this week as I struggled with thinking that I was lesser than because I saw gifts around me that I was comparing to mine and feeling like I wasn’t measuring up. Then despite me, as I spoke to a friend, these words came from God’s lips through mine as she was facing the same kind of issue, “You pray in your own voice because it is the only one that you have and God has given it to you for you and others.”

The tempation to cause strife comes out of these situations by first of all not giving credit to how God has created us and then if we feel less than someone else, it could create an agreement with the enemy because we do not bless that person in their gifts. In turn, this could possibly grow a root of resentment toward them or we could have an impossible expectation that we will never ‘measure up’ and then almost kill ourselves trying to be someone we are not. In a world where we could be anyone, let’s be ourselves. So you can see how our words can be damaging outwardly and inwardly. I know you are not perfect and as you often see neither am I , but what is one thing that you could do today that would help you to take stock of the things you let loose from your lips.  I am going to try in my morning prayer time with my husband to start there and ask God to place a guard over my mouth for the day. Here is instruction from God’s word, ‘Set a guard over my mouth, LORD, keep watch over the door of my lips.’ Psalm 141:3

http://boyson.org/articles/protectyoursoul/protectyoursoul.html

 

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Rotten words

Ephesians 4:29-32New International Version (NIV)

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I am not sure if this is just a musing of my own unique brain but do you ever wonder if just one verse was obeyed in scripture by all people, how different our world would be? Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, one version says let no rotten word come out of your mouth and then not only that but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs and that it may benefit those who listen.  Imagine this for a moment with me if people thought before they spoke and what they spoke was life-giving not only to the recipient but to those around them and even their own spirit for that matter. This process starts in our thoughts before they even make the sound through our lips as words. Matthew 15:11 says, ‘It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.’

How are you feeding your process? Are you being intentional to renew your mind with God’s word through worship, praise, prayer, bible reading and good teachings? Or are you just allowing what the world is bringing to you to feed your thoughts? We will drift through so much of life if we are not deliberate in the things that we do. My husband and I read a marriage devotional this morning that told a story about a man who canoed out into the middle of a calm lake and then fell asleep. Even though the lake appeared calm, the ripples under the surface floated his canoe to an unknown location. He said that is often what happens in marriage if we aren’t deliberate, you can drift until you realize you are far apart. I believe this analogy fits with our relationship with God. He loves us regardless of what we do or don’t do but we will never have increased intimacy with Him if we don’t ‘paddle’ toward Him.

Obeying His word is one of the ways in which we can do this. The verses in Ephesians 4 go on to say do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God and gives a reminder of the promise that we are sealed with Him for the day of redemption. As always He gives instructions on how to do the things He said, in order not to grieve Him we need to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Notice the ALL word, not just some and again instructions in how to live this way, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Believe me, I am speaking to myself as I write these words. Most things are easier said than done but I know with Christ, nothing is impossible. The deepest, darkest hurts can be healed and released of the bitterness that have been rooted in our hearts. Although God is capable of a deliverance miracle in those places, He also likes us to grow through the process. Robert Morris said in a sermon I just saw, ‘We are all gonna taste bitterness in this life but we will all have a choice whether we will drink it.’

Examine your ‘rotten words’ and see what they consist of, where is the root of them coming from?  Do you gossip to feel better about yourself? Are you swearing because your thoughts are nasty? Are you criticizing someone because of your own weaknesses? Are your expectations born out of your own resentments and therefore unattainable for the humans you love around you? Do you speak with vulgar words because not only is God far from your thoughts but so is the sanctity and holiness of His creation?

The older I become, the less I speak or in the least am slower to release the thoughts that form into words. I have seen, sown and reaped what James 3 says about the tongue being a fire and also that it can bring life or death, curses or blessings. My desire is to get healing in those places where any bitter roots have planted. The sermon I watched below brought a new perspective and showed me that my expectations of God are really rooted in not understanding who He really is.

My prayer is that these musings will at least cause you to pause next time something wants to fly out of your mouth. Will it bring life, edify the one you are speaking to? Bite that fire tongue if you need to and call on God to heal the places that release those kinds of thoughts. We have to start somewhere.

 

 

Things are not as they seem

God spoke these words clearly into my spirit the other day as I drove away from my daughter. I had gone to support her through a difficult situation which I won’t discuss for her sake but something that no woman should ever have to experience. There was no resolution and she was frustrated and disillusioned as a result of her expectations to have this finished. In my hurt for her, I was calling out to God and asking why and trying to trust in the process. The words, ‘things are not as they seem’ so clearly impressed upon me and I immediately felt comfort and hope. I felt the assurance that even though things did not look resolved in the physical realm, there was much victory in the spiritual realm and the favor of that was to come.

We forget in our humanness that God is for us and He sends out the troops. As I meditated on the words that God spoke to me, I was reminded of the story of Elisha’s servant when he was fearful of the army sent for Elisha because God kept thwarting the kings plans by revealing them to the prophet. ‘And Elisha prayed,” Open his eyes Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.’  2 Kings 6:17. God’s invisible army was protecting and fighting for them.

God desires us as Christians to see deeper than our circumstances, to remember that things are not as they seem. We may flippantly say that our struggle is not against flesh and blood but read carefully the context in these verses, ‘Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm…’ Ephesians 6:11-13. The apostle Paul reminds us twice to put on or take up the full armor of God.

What does this look like for us practically? #1 Be prepared there will be trouble. Our lifegroup is studying Love and Respect Building Blocks by Emerson Eggerichs (highly recommend for any stage of relationship, or anyone really) and one verse he said that I think should be a staple in premarital counseling is 1 Corinthians 7:28, ‘If you marry, you have not sinned, but you will have trouble.’  Emerson says we become troubled by the trouble which causes more trouble! Prepare for the storms and don’t freak out. He says you will never come to the place where you will get off the crazy cycle completely during your small percentage of trouble, the issue is getting off of it quicker. This can look like, getting into God’s word, lightening up (if we can laugh about something later, why not do it sooner) seek counsel from other’s who have been there. Again, community is important to have a strong relationship. This concept parallels to our spiritual life in that God has told us we will have trouble and let’s be honest, none of us likes to fight. Our instinct is to run from conflict rather than stand up in it. We aren’t doing it alone though.

#2 Know God and His word. What your heart believes about God is a good indicator for how you will trust Him in trouble. Do you know Him well enough to make the judgments that you have? Jesus showed us that an effective strategy is to know and quote scriptures to our enemy. Saturate your mind with God’s word, this is part of taking up the full armor of God. Continue reading the rest of Ephesians 6 for detailed strategy. Pray that your eyes be opened. ‘Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.’ Psalm 119:18 God wants to enlighten us so that His word is alive to us. He may open your eyes to dreams and visions and wisdom so that you are equipped to fight when trouble comes.

#3 Check your expectations. As my daughter and I experienced our expectation in circumstances and process,  paved the way for a hard fall. When things are not as they seem, it does not mean that God is not working things out according to His will. It usually is not our timing or our way and if there is a discrepancy between our expectations and reality we can be disillusioned and if we are not careful it can lead to bitterness. Keep your eyes on God and who He is, that He is faithful and just, slow to anger and full of compassion, have an expectancy for Him, not expectations of Him.

 I heard these words on a tv show later that day, “What you are going through is not a punishment, it is God setting up Satan for a knock out blow!  God always has the final say no matter what enemy or fight we may come up against.” Hope – a feeling of expectation and a certain thing to happen. I will continue to hope for the knock out blows and that because of Jesus we have victory over the enemy. Things are not as they seem…

 

 

Grace Growers

‘As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.’ Proverbs 27:17

We all have them. The iron sharpeners. I know this verse is a reminder of our constant need for fellowship to encourage one another. It reminds me about the subject of community that I have spoken of before. I know in many stages of my life I would not still be standing if I didn’t have the cheerleaders God has sent to me. ‘And let us not neglect our meeting together as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that his return is drawing near.’ Hebrews 10:25

On the other edge of the blade sort of speak is where we have the grace growers. Iron sharpening iron consists of rubbing the two blades together making the edges sharper and therefore more efficient. This is true when two people sharpen each other with the word of God in essence fulfilling the law of Christ as they grow together more in Him. But have you touched iron before? It is hard, solid, sometimes rough and heavy, an element used in making metal and sometimes magnetic. It is also by definition strong and enduring.

The reference that I heard about grace growers is they are the difficult people in our lives, the ones that rub the wrong way but essentially are part of God’s plan to rub the things out of us that need to go. If you think of those people right now, do they feel like instruments for God’s good in your life? Although I heard this term in a different context, this is what Graham Cooke says, “God deliberately puts people around us who are meant to be loved by us. Oftentimes, we will have to be very creative to love them;  some of them, by design, are not easy to love. But those unlovable ones, ironically, teach us the most about God’s heart. I call people like these grace growers. They cultivate the grace in my life by forcing me to be intentional in loving them.”

I read recently that emotions travel 80, 000 times faster than thoughts do. I think then when it comes to grace growers it is imperative that I ‘do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Then I will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ as it says in Romans 12:2. The training of my mind to think on things that are true, right, pure, lovely and excellent will help me respond in God’s way to the grace growers. Emotion motivates thoughts and if I let that happen when I am rubbed the wrong way by someone, then my response is far from godly. Hear me say, this is a process and I am far from perfect in it but I can more easily recognize these people in my life and choose to bless them rather than curse them. It is fairly apparent when I reflect back over the years how God has sent me grace growers in different skin that rise up the same reactions in my flesh , that my lesson (s) are still  a work in progress.

Graham Cooke also talks about a concept called ‘moving in the opposite spirit’. When you move in the opposite ways of your sinful nature or say the sinful nature coming against you through your grace growers then you are moving in harmony with God’s ways and the enemy loses ground. I just listened to Graham Cooke’s Clothed in His Presence and it just affirmed all that I was speaking of today. I think I am done. 🙂 May your grace growers encounter God in your responses.

 

 

Freedom for the Captive!

Isaiah 61:3

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

God has been speaking these verses to me for months. This weekend as I finished the second school for Elijah House prayer ministry 202, I realized the very personal implications this word had for me. This captive has been set free!!! For the 13 years that I have been a Christian I have sensed there was more. It was like looking through prison bars, knowing the intimacy I sought with God was within reach but seemingly unreachable. I tried my hardest to live the ‘Christian life’, by going to church, reading my Bible and praying and serving and there certainly have been many amazing things God has done during those years. I believed everything about Jesus and the bible in my head but my heart was unable to connect. Words arent sufficient to describe the agony of my spirit wanting the intimacy with God, yet nothing seemed to penetrate my heart.  I began this deeper healing journey over a year ago after I experienced a time of depression and burn out.

My striving spilled over into many areas of my life and combined with different life events it stopped me. Something had to change. God was calling me to heal to release me to help others do the same. I learned to rest and to say no and to care for my spirit and soul. In the midst of this time Lighthouse for All Nations was offering the Elijah House school and I felt strongly that this was the direction to go. It is the mandate of Elijah House to bring healing, unlocking the doors of our heart and with the Holy Spirit bringing people to repentance and reconciliation, transforming as they say the unbelieving parts of the believer’s heart. If we were all really honest we could admit we have those places in us or I think the church would look completely different from what it does now.  Now do I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sin and shame and all past, present and future sin was nailed to the cross? Absolutely, we have all missed the mark and need a Savior. Romans 3:23 says, ‘for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ And Colossians 2:14 says that Jesus, ‘ having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.’

 I also believe that because of vows I made to protect my heart, lies that I believed and judgments that I made created a propensity or bent toward certain behaviours that kept my heart captive. Often it is not circumstances that bind us up but it is our responses to those things that do. What did your heart say when …… (fill in the blank) happened. We don’t even need to verbalize these vows our heart makes for our spirit to know they are there. For example without getting into detail I made a vow not to feel, how do you think that messed with my God-given emotions and interrupted my responses to my heart?  Sometimes this bent toward certain behaviours comes down through the generations and we have opportunity to stand and put the cross between that and us and our future generations. So it is not just for me that I receive this healing, it is for my family, their families to come and those that God wants to touch through me. Is it difficult sometimes and does the enemy try to keep me from being free, without question, yes! Reminder – John 10:10 ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.’ 

This is my story, it is God’s story. It may not be everyone’s story, God heals us all very uniquely. My call is not to judge how others’ get there and to be faithful to the things that God calls me to do. There is more to do for sure, our final healing won’t occur until Jesus returns.  God was very specific to my heart as people prayed with and over me this past weekend, they said things about me that they had no idea were true. Only God can do that. And if only one person is encouraged or has a glimpse of hope because of me being vulnerable and sharing my journey, that is beautiful. It is not about me really. ‘They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.’ Revelation 12:11 So I will continue to write the words, I received a word from God that one day this gift He has given me will resurrect hearts! Oh Lord, so be it!!! My purpose is to glorify God. I am here for such a time as this. Pray with me that He will awaken our spirits to be who He has created us to be!

‘The glory of God is man fully alive and the life of man is the vision of God.’ Saint Irenaeus

Community is Crucial

Defining moments. Seven years ago today I received the call that my Mom had taken her life. Although grief doesn’t shackle me as it once did, sadness rose to the surface of my heart as I remembered. One simple but striking question from a dear friend allowed me release of that sadness, How is your heart today? I received God’s comfort through my tears and reflected on how my missing Mom is different now and how that time seems both like yesterday and a lifetime ago. I miss not being able to share all the moments, like events in my children’s lives and how I am at home writing now, those things that we talked about together. I miss the community of family, she was a big tie for us communicating and seeing each other more, even if it was in crisis.  I miss not being able to have a redo in some areas of our relationship now that I know the things I do now. I see also how some things have changed from deep pain to guilt to regret to man I wish we could…All a process of healing.

I have a picture in my home that says, Cherish every moment because it will never come again. Cherish – care for something deeply, treasure it. It is easy to say to others especially when you have experienced any loss or anything difficult in life and you wish you could retrieve some moments back in time.  My thoughts this past week have been who do I have to cherish those moments with and who do I have when the defining moments come that knock me down and take my breath away, wondering how I will breathe normally again.

As always when God is showing me something, it has to come at me in several forms to get through my head and into my heart. All I have been reading and watching has a theme about community. It is crucial to have a small group of people in your life who will fight for your heart. Jesus did it with the 12 disciples and even more intimately with Peter, James and John. We can have a community of believers at church but devotion stems out of small units just like in a family. John Eldredge says it this way in Waking the Dead, “It is knowing you are at war, that God has chosen you and evil is hunting you and a fellowship protects you.”

Do I want to acknowledge that there is evil in this world? Not necessarily but it is the truth. Bad things do happen to good people as they say. Can community be hard and messy? You bet it can, it will reveal the places in me that have yet to become holy. Conversely can community be a lifeline. Absolutely, it has saved my life and heart many times in this lifetime. The devil doesn’t come just to play games with us. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Community is one thing God has given us so that we have intimate allies when life happens.

Our church has always encouraged the idea to get into a small group and do life together, in fact, the church began from a lifegroup. I become more and more sold out to this idea all the time. Wade and I have been hosting groups through the span of our time there and even though the initial step may have been partly from a feeling of obligation and wondering if that is what God was calling us to do, our obedience has led us into relationships where we breathe life, receive it and are able to blow it out wherever we are. Our pastor taught on the weekend that since the 80’s there is a 40% drop in people caring about others. He said the lack of compassion has a direct correlation to the increase in social media. (See the link to the full teaching below) Receiving likes and lack of personal interaction make it easier not to care. This is a frightening phenomenon to me, I don’t know if that speaks to anyone else but likes on my posts will not feed my heart, I may get the quick release of dopamine from the pleasure of it but that leaves just as quickly. We can’t act on compassion if we don’t interact with others.

How did I get from my Mom’s suicide to social media you ask? My mom isolated a lot during the last years of her life and I often wonder had she been in community with those who knew her heart and could breathe life into it, would we be missing her today? As Pastor Craig says compassion interrupts us and it costs us but it also changes lives. Often we don’t see our hearts as they really are for different reasons and we need people around to remind us that our hearts are good, to laugh with us, to celebrate with us,to pray for us, to cry with us and to just be silent with us. Take the first step, find a person, find a group, come to church. Let’s be messy together.

 

http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/struggles/

Waking the Dead – John Eldredge

Come to church with me, 1625 Montreal St. Regina http://www.bloomchurch.tv/