Protection from Offense

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is God’s same desire for us today, “I pray out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power together with all the Lord’s Holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

I believe in these days and the times to come, it is imperative as believers to walk closely with God, to get in His word and seek His guidance. And to do everything we can to not let anything come between that. He is calling us to greater things and in the process the enemy is sending out bigger distractions because he knows that his time is short.

My heart friend Niki said yesterday, “We do not have time for the distractions, too many lives are at stake, too many need salvation. We need to stay true to what our purpose is.” She lives out her call of being set apart by keeping her eyes on Jesus. She can do this because she lives loved, she knows from studying His word that she is loved and has a purpose and she walks closely with Him everyday.

I think one of the most destructive distractions the enemy uses to steal our victory, kill our spirits and destroy people and churches through is offense. As Jo Naughton says,”Offense is a test every one of us has to pass again and again if we are to fulfill our destiny. Life is full of opportunities to be offended.” She goes on to say that the thought we have when we pick up an offense is not the issue but our negative response is. It is when we put a judgment on the action or non-action that we see is when we actually put on offense. For example, someone walks by you and you are offended they did not say hi. Thinking that is not necessarily a problem but when you decide why they did and they are ignorant because of it and out of that grows resentment, there lies the issue. Love believes the best about people, a better response may be, they must have been distracted or had something on their mind. I will get in touch with them later to see.

This is just a simple example but I have seen offenses this silly become magnified through someone’s words or judgment. It is the beginning to an end if it is not nipped in the bud. We are the answer to offense, our humility and keeping watch over our hearts and lips, submitting them to Jesus will keep us in a place devoid of offense.

“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14

God calls us to unity with other believers and sometimes we need to fight for this. We need to put on our big girl/boy pants and pursue the peace and unity that He wants in us. We need to recognize a rip in the fabric of what makes up the body of believers is very easily torn in pieces. Our enemy, the devil, does not even need to do anything if he can get believers against each other. We need to guard our hearts against offense.

I struggle with this sometimes daily but I am learning to submit things to Him to keep my heart clean.It is a habit of repentance.  It is an intentional act of putting on love instead of offense. When I fail to see right away it is an act of submission and humility to give it to God and let Him change my heart. Resentment and bitterness like to get settled quickly, but one turn of your heart toward God will change that in an instant. 

Jo Naughton writes that there are four sources of offense. Read through this list and see if there are any places you need to bring your heart before God.

  1. What people say
  2. What people do not say
  3. What people do
  4. What people do not do

Where have you picked up offense from any of these things? Really ask God to search your heart. Has pride stamped your offenses in concrete and you need God to extract them to heal? Ask God to show you where you need healing. Remember, we don’t have time for distractions, people are dying without the good news of Jesus and they are getting distracted by the things we are holding against others.

 
 

 

Trust & Grit

Isaiah 55:8,9,”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ” declares the Lord.”As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

In the half of the book of Isaiah that the verses above appear, the prophet is bringing words of forgiveness, comfort and hope. He tells of the coming Messiah and the hope and release from captivity for these people. These words that declare His ways and thoughts are higher were a comfort to the people of Israel then just as they are to us now. It is comforting to know that when things don’t make sense to us, it does to Someone. Our pride tries to get in the way and figure things out but often is to no avail. There are some things that just do not have any human answers or explanations.

It is in these times that we need to concede to our limited understanding and turn our face to the One who holds our hearts. Remembering that His love for us is great – Ephesians 3:16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

silentgodRemembering that even though what has happened may not be good, He can turn it to that, that there is collateral beauty in the darkness. Romans 8:28,” And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.We need to be ok with not knowing all the answers and trusting Him, that we can embrace the wilderness and know that His light still shines in the darkness.

It starts here. believe

This picture reminds me of my sister because she gave me this for Christmas. She has had a week, one of those that you are walking along minding your own business and then boom, your feet are swept out from under you. A week when trite sayings or placating words do not console the groanings of her heart. Answers are unattainable and comfort comes only in the depths of tears shared and heartache exposed to God. She knows God is bigger, yet scrambles for answers, hungry for whys to soothe the brokenness of those she loves and of her own heart.

She is an example of someone who loves hard, to the depths of her and in this place she is often rocked hard but the love that gets spread in the process  is beyond description. She is colorful and intense and bold and brash and expressive but oh does she love life. She knows the shackles from which God delivered her and in turn she shares this love to help set others free. The ripple effect of her submission to God after going to the depths of hell is eternal, deep and wide. She meets with the hearts of many, those who are hurting, addicted, suicidal, incarcerated, broken and loves them the best way she knows how, the way God loved her back to life. She may be misunderstood to some but she goes to places that a lot of us wouldn’t or couldn’t access and God knows that. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 He made her unique to love the lost and to bring hope. She experiences a lot of loss and death in this gritty love but God is purposeful and it is because of this kind of love that she now is helping a 14-year-old girl plan her mother’s funeral. It is because of her pressing in to relationships that this girl has someone in the darkest time of her life to walk beside and love her. broken

Our mother loved like this. I want to be known for this. This is how God’s love is. Gritty, deep, messy, eternal and in many ways beyond our understanding. But that’s ok. We don’t need to know everything, we just need to know Him.

What part of your life do you need to trust with His ways and thoughts being higher than your own?  God has given us all a sphere of influence to love with His love. How are you expressing that in your life? Dig deep, it’s the only way to live. Life is too short. God’s love for you too great.

Lauren Daigle says it best in ‘Trust in You’

When you don’t move the mountains
I’m needing you to move
When you don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When you don’t give the answers
As I cry out to you
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you

TRUST HIM trust-482655_640

 

 

 

Truth Seeking

“I love those who love me and those who seek me find me.” Proverbs 8:17

One of my very favourite things to do that God has given me much opportunity for lately is sitting with young women and being able to encourage them in their walk with God and life. Some might say mentoring, I say listening. Some might say it is the stage in my life where I have a great desire to bring wisdom to them from what I have learned, I say maybe it is because I miss my daughters and being able to speak things into their lives face-to-face. Regardless, it is where God has me and I love it. It is not only listening to them but learning. God is raising up such incredible young people in this time. I am continually fascinated by how they think and the dreams God has instilled in their hearts and their desire for truth. This generation seeks authenticity. They inspire me more than they will ever know.

Recently one young lovely woman and I were talking about the One Word concept that I spoke of in my last blog. She had written me a note after reading my blog telling me how she had been inspired to try this and was so excited to share how God had so obviously confirmed it for her over and over. I am excited to watch it continue to play out in her life. We talked about guilt and shame and she wisely said that New Years resolutions are fueled by guilt and that is probably the reason they fail. In doing the One Word it brings simplicity and focus to what God has for us instead of 20 different new things to try. It is attained by seeking God and not out of guilt. The enemy doesn’t have to look far at the beginning of each year to try and get people discouraged. If guilt was their motivation for starting something, that doesn’t give much fuel to follow through on a resolution.

In fact there is a date people have been throwing around which is deemed ‘Blue Monday’, usually the third Monday in January depending on what you read. It is reportedly the most depressing day of the year. Do you know how this began? It was a calculation by a travel company to try and determine when their traffic would increase. The concept has only been around for 12 years but thanks for social media, it is like it is written in stone. The variables used in the formula included things such as weather conditions, debt level, time since Christmas and lo and behold time since failing New Year’s resolutions.

Are these factors somewhat valid for feeling a little blue at this time of year? Perhaps. Is it a little more difficult, especially in the northern hemisphere where this term is aimed at, to stay upbeat in the longer nights and freezing cold days? Yes. Do we dream of warm faraway vacations to break the monotony, I know I do. But it seems when there is an expectation of something we go toward that. As Pastor Craig Groeschel said,”Our lives move in the direction of our strongest thoughts.”

What if we renamed it Celebration Monday? See where your thoughts go between thinking of Celebration or Blue? God has been showing me that just because the world says things are a certain way, it does not mean it is gospel truth. This same young woman I mentioned above rebels against the status quo. I say rebel, not with a negative connotation but one that inspires others to dig deeper and not take so many things at face value. Our society has created an instant gratification mentality and that means wanting answers now and fast. In this, we miss the deeper things. We also miss the truth sometimes.

Pastor Craig preached about how often people reject God but it is not the true God, it is a distorted view of Him. I think our culture is so inundated with information that it is prime territory for the enemy to come in and just twist things ever so slightly to become something of discouragement rather than encouragment. Instant gratification creates a thirst that drives us to take endless sips of information cocktails. In that we have become drunk on  half-truths, lies and deceptions. We believe them for truth when they have just enough truth to entice us.

Pause.

The next time you hear or read something, pause and ask questions, read what Scripture says about the idea you have encountered. Bookmark it if you don’t have time right at the moment. If it’s truth God wants you to hear, you don’t need to rush through it. We also do not need to swallow every cocktail we are given. I hope you do that with my words. They are just mine, I pray and seek God and ask what to write but I may not always get it right.

1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Ephesians 6:16, “In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

John 8:32, “Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

1 John 2:21, “I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth.”

1 Corinthians 13:6, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”

Galatians 5:7, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?”

Where are you drinking from? Are your thoughts and information based on truth? There is only one place that will truly fulfill your thirst and He is the Truth and He will set you free. His love story for you is written in the Bible. Ask Him to show you His truth and seek it until you find Him. He promises you will.

Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

seek

 

 

 

 

Lessons from 2016

2016

Happy New Year! As Queen would sing and some would say, “Another One Bites the Dust”. A few people who have experienced hardships in 2016 are not sad to see the year go and to move into a fresh space of potential hope, healing and new things. It is a time to reflect, a time to celebrate and a time to anticipate as we move into another year. For those that had a year of difficulty, I saw this picture above and I liked the challenge of it to not write the year off or remember only the negative things.

So as I sent out a plethora of notes to people blessing their year to come, I asked what did you learn from this year. It was all fine and dandy until one of my friends asked it back to me. 2016 was a very full year for me and not lacking in challenges or loss and I wasn’t as excited for the year to be over as I was for a refreshing start in 2017. She did catch me though with my own question as I hadn’t sat with it before I encouraged others to examine their perspectives.

Most of my life I have strived or performed for love out of a lack of identity and worth. God brought a new depth to who I am in Christ in 2016 and so as my surrender to those truths happened, my striving has lessened. I realized that in this process His power always trumps my willpower and He can pull things out of my character that no amount of striving would accomplish. God doesn’t need my help, imagine that!

And so this leads to One Word. For the past few years, my husband, son and I have sought God’s direction for a key word that He wants to do in and through us in the next year. It really helps you to focus in a particular area of character, keeping our eyes on Jesus and simplifying life. Face it, who doesn’t need to do that. It is said that 50% of resolution makers fail by the end of January. That gives half of us 31 one more sleeps to try and pull things off.

As I was filling out my calendars for the year to come, the thing that struck me the most was how quickly times passes by. My oldest daughter will be 27 next year, my other daughter, 25 and our son 16. My husband and I will be 50! How did this happen?  Exciting and yet instilling a sense of urgency in the same breath. I don’t want my goals to peter out the end of the first month of the year, hence seeking after my word.

I actually bantered with God a bit when I heard the word He wanted me to focus on this year. It felt like a ‘this will require much’ kind of word, so I had to make sure you know. Some years God presses more into my character and then others are about adventure and discovery like last year with the word, Delight.

God confirmed it through a song at church this morning called ‘I Give It All’, in these couple of verses; Though darkness may surround me, your love provides the light I need, So I’ll trust in you, so I’ll trust in you. Your will is my will, your heart is my heart, though I may resist, take every part. I give it all to you, I give it all to you. It was a perfect picture of the dichotomy of being new in Christ and trying to do it on my own. Though I may resist, God knows the pull of my flesh and the desire of my heart to give it all to Him. Regardless of my resistance, He can change me.

And so, I will Trust…Isaiah 26:3,4 “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, the Lord is the Rock eternal.”

TRUST – to place one’s confidence in, to hope, that which has been entrusted. I love how it is defined in Greek, Pistis is the word, which is what I would do if I didn’t surrender to this process. Haha Seriously though,  it means faith, belief, trust, confidence, persuade, be persuaded (come to trust). They go on to explain that this is a gift from God, God’s divine persuasion therefore it is distinct from human belief (confidence).

In other words, this is Not something that I can strive for, it is a gift God gives. So as I seek Him, I need to be in position to receive what He has for me. It seems like a fitting process to my living in the victory of my identity doesn’t it? God knows better than I do about what I need.

How about you? Will you seek after the One Word process and see where it takes you? What do you have to lose? Comment and let me know what your Word is and we will see what God will do. Share your goals and resolutions if that is your choice too, accountability in any arena is key to success. Be blessed and C’mon 2017.

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