All we need is…

loveapple-570965_6401Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

LOVE! There is nothing more telling to me that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than mine than seeing what He says about love, and watching how we all try to execute this. Our broken brand of this mission is tainted with our wounds, disappointments, rejections, shame, guilt, insecurities and lack. I failed in at least half of these directives about love just today and I haven’t even left my house yet.

But God…

He is love. He is the model of love. If we know Him, we are a demonstration of what His love did for us. He sent His only Son to die for us. Who does that? GOD did! And when we do choose Him, He gives us a new nature, one that is powered by the Holy Spirit to execute the kind of love that He showed us. Our mission is grand, to love the Lord with all of us and to love our neighbour as ourself, but it is not impossible with Him, despite our brokenness.

It keeps no record of wrongs…this is the portion that jumped out at me as I read this familiar love chapter from Corinthians today.  Ironically, I am co-leading a women’s bible study about the book Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst and it is all about rejection. Rejection hijacks our normal emotions and we absolutely keep a record of wrongs within all of the jabs of rejection that we have experienced if we don’t allow God to heal these wounds.

When our son was smaller he would often scrape his knees when he was playing. No sooner did one wound start healing and scabbing over, when another one would happen in the same place. The scabs showed the healings were happening but were insignificant as another owie ripped the scab off and irritated the sore. We had to watch that they didn’t get infected.

This is often what happens with unhealed rejection in our lives. Escalated emotions during an incident of rejection is a good indicator of past unhealed hurt. An antidote for this is acceptance. As Lysa Terkeurst says,”Acceptance is like an antibiotic that prevents past rejections from turning into present day infections. The need for belonging runs deep.” She also says that, “No amount of outside achievement fixes inside hurts. Those hurts have to be soothed by replacing the lies with truth.”

Rejection changes what you believe about yourself and so if you don’t inject God’s truth in those places, it can be a festering wound waiting for the next scraping. Belonging comes from God. His love is like a balm to the soul. His truth goes deep to our roots.

The word tells us in Colossians 3:14. “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Love is something we do, not something we feel. It is a choice. Love is something God does for us, He brings fullness to our empty places. Lysa says,” I can choose to bring my emptiness or God’s fullness into any situation I face. It saves us from begging for scraps of love.”

Love in its fullness is…heart-598048_640

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:18, 19

“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” Proverbs 10:12

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. Psalm 103:8

I think you get the idea. In the New International version of the bible, love is mentioned 551 times. I think God was trying to tell us something significant about putting on who He is. As you know from the start of this post, walking in love is not an easy thing to do but we are called to do it. We need to practice walking in love. It not only is an antidote for rejection but for all of the hurts that may be contained in our hearts. He is not finished with us yet and the more we act like Him by being loving, the more we resemble His heart to others that don’t know Him yet.

How does your love reflect God’s heart? What parts of your heart do you need Him to bring healing and correction with truth? How are you bringing God’s fullness to situations? How have your hurts broken the mission of leading others to know Him? What will you do to seek the healing God longs to give you?

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Wounds Unveiled

Jeremiah 6:wound14 & 8:11 “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say when there is no peace.”

Jeremiah 6:15,16, “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.”

Jeremiah was calling God’s people back to God but they didn’t like his condemnation of their sins and so chose to ignore that and listened instead to predictions of peace. God had called Jeremiah to warn them as he rose up with vengeance for their conduct. Sin cannot be removed by denying its existence. God gave this warning so that the people could confess and walk in His ways. He does that for us today. Do you have areas of your life that need a touch from God? An area that you need to press in further for full reconciliation?

Are you walking wounded? I believe this is a time that God is calling His people to account, to press into those areas that need healing and reconciliation and not walk around as though without power. Christ in us, the hope of glory! Are you walking in the fullness of what this means? Hear me when I say, I am included in this list and am not pointing fingers. I have heard it said on a few occasions lately, what would my life look like if I was walking in the fullness of what Christ did for me?

I have been praying specifically for revelation in some areas of my life to live this out. I was asked the question recently, What have you been believing if you continue to have the same behaviour even when it is not working? This caused me to press in deep. This was a no peeling layers question, it was a deep cutting to the root one. It was the beginning of a beautiful unraveling; albeit a painful one, that will take consistent hard work with the Holy Spirit to break it off. God knew my heart was ready. The lie: I am unworthy to be loved by people or God, I have to earn it. The truth: I am loved and nothing I have done or haven’t done or will do, will change that. Deception: I have the gift of generosity but the enemy has twisted it into my shame and believing I have to earn people’s love and being generous with all things was the means to do it.

carnivalmaskI have also been deceived into thinking that shame was healed because I did not search to the bottom of the wound. You know when you pass over the surface and it seems enough…peace where there is not peace. I know there are layers and it is a process. I have previously called process the swear word of life but have come to realize that it is just life and we will always be in process until the day of Christ Jesus. My root wound was rejection and my trying to earn love and favour from God and people was my heart’s way to protect itself from that. Performance has been so integrated into my behaviour because of this that even in my path of healing, it still reared its ugly head sometimes in the middle of true generosity. The issues at hand were mainly my spending and my eating.

So this is my call to account. I know this is not every pathway to healing, to display our wounds and behaviours but I feel this is part of the process for me to be able to walk in the fullness of God’s power and life in me. This life is so much bigger than my struggles. I want the pain I have lived and caused to be used for God’s good and His glory. The enemy cannot have this power anymore, I have given it to him too long.

My husband, son and I are currently reading ‘Do Hard Things’ by Alex & Brett Harris – A Teenage rebellion against low expectations. Little did I know it was not just for my son’s benefit. I am discovering that I had low expectations of what God can do because I had not studied His character enough. I had low expectations that my deeply-rooted behaviour could not change because I have taken easy paths in my life often, trying to create peace where there wasn’t any really. I had low expectations of who I am in Christ because my wounds got in the way of fully believing my identity to be true. I had low expectations of the magnitude of our God because my identity did not have a solid foundation in him but I have just taken snippets of truth here and there and let my emotions rule me. I had low expectations of this all because I had not fully surrendered all of my heart to Him.

My word is Trust this year and this is what God is requiring me to do, give Him my heart so He can make it whole. Trust in the Lord with ALL my heart…oh yeah, that is what it says in Proverbs. Where are you withholding your heart from God? What behaviours are you continuing to do and expecting different results?  Take up this call to account and seek healing, forgive, do the hard things, choose peace in the midst of circumstances, ask Him to remove the blinders of your own deception and trust Him with the outcome.

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Fearless Prey

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“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Peter prefaces this verse by encouraging the scattered believers to cast all of their cares upon God and follows it by reminding them to resist satan. He knew that when we get caught up in our cares, we take our eyes off of Jesus and become prime targets for the enemy to steal, kill and destroy. Peter had experienced this more than once and he had learned that standing firm in the faith and being deliberate in resisting the enemy was the only way to stand in the face of resistance.

The enemy, satan, the devil, Beelzebub, Lucifer, King of Babylon, Antichrist, Father of lies,  whatever name you have heard him referred to it doesn’t refute the fact that he is real. He would delight in nothing more than destroying you. Satan in Hebrew actually means destruction. Ignoring his existence does not lessen his efforts. He appears in ways that can be pleasing to us as Paul warns people to be aware of false prophets. “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14

Deception is his game. Death is his aim. Often he uses people to create the distraction. He nudges someone to offend, or take offense. The Father of lies whispers unworthiness, uselessness, isolation into ears ripe to blame. Or he builds up, pumping someone full of pride and entitlement. He sneaks into the hurt and the wounded and encourages stuffing of the pain until a root of bitterness or unforgiveness grows in the darkness.

Death can come in the form of complacency, spiritual apathy, broken relationships, addictions, people bound up in trauma and pain, actual death. Anything that will hinder a thriving relationship with God. He doesn’t actually have to kill us for us to be ineffective in the Kingdom of God.

Yesterday my husband was working in the garage swapping tires on his truck. He heard a bird chirping as though in distress. Looking up he saw one flying frantically around the garage and as he watched a falcon swooped in behind it in full pursuit. The potential victim bird flew toward the windows of the door sensing a possible escape. In a moment, the falcon curled its deadly talons over the bird and dropped to the floor. Mesmerized by this scene, keeping eye contact with this predator for many seconds, Wade reached for his phone to try to capture the moment. Who would believe this? Much to his chagrin, his hip was empty, his phone left inside. A few more seconds of eye contact and the falcon lifted up and out the door, prey in tact.

The differences were evident between my husband and I as he was totally fascinated with this series of events and I incredulous, asked, is this an omen? It reminded me though of how the enemy swoops into our circumstances and lives with no regard for anything else but to capture its prey. He has someone in his sights and is relentless to try to capture them.

This is not meant to make you fearful, only aware. There is good news. Jesus. He wins.

Sin is a way for the devil to get in. Jesus died for our sin.

“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7

Repent. Acts 3:19, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Live from a place of Victory. Romans 8:37 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Do not give in to fear. 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and a sound mind.”

Always remember. 1 John 4:4, “You dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

We are not helpless prey, we have been given authority over the enemy by the blood of Jesus that was shed for us. Read the chapter Ephesians 6 to learn about your armour and power against the enemy and Stand firm. God wins in the end.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:10,11…

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Liberated Identity

Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

When in doubt, go back to what you know. As I sit in my makeshift writing space praying, researching and gathering the copious amounts of writing I have done over the years, I sense God whisper, write what you know.  Over 9 years ago my charge was given to encourage and enlighten others to live in the shameless freedom and forgiveness of Christ. It has been my gathering place when I doubted my purpose or wasn’t solidified in my identity. It is simple really but I have chosen to complicate it.

I have not been set free just to be free. I have not freed myself but it is because of Jesus that I am free. It is my responsibility to live that way. Christ has set us free dying under the curse of the law so we should not take the yoke of slavery upon us again. Freedom is a gift not to be abused but used so that we will serve. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36. It includes telling others of the treasures I have found and my mode of sharing happens to be writing. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last- and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16 

When you realize how much God loves you, you’ll begin to live in true freedom.

As I grew up, I never felt like I belonged in my family. I was a surprise which could have been the reason. God chose my family and I love them intensely. I don’t know why I felt that way and I don’t blame anyone for that. It was what it was. It could have been the impetus for me seeking to fill that empty place in my heart and soul and unfortunately the choices I made to do so weren’t always great ones. The choices were temporary numbing to my emptiness but the true fullness came in the form of Jesus. In this place, awareness of my true identity and purpose collided together in a myriad of new truth. It has now been 15 years of God process, healing the places of me to line up with who I truly am in Him.

I was surprised at the simplicity of the definition of identity. Dictionary.com: Identity – the fact of being who or what a person or thing is. In the world it means being who we are but when identity is rooted in Christ, it is embodied in the Greek definition of identity which means – the vital breath, breath of life or the soul. Identity in Him is full of purpose and power and meaning.

These are just a few of the truths in Scripture speaking the certainty of who we are in Christ:

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John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.

My freedom deepens as I allow God to love me through the truth of His Word. God’s priority is our heart and character, not our circumstances. Freedom isn’t a literal releasing as much as it is a becoming. Oh to be like Him! That is true freedom.

Where have you looked for your identity? What part of God’s truth about you do you need to sink deep into your spirit? Sit with it, soak in it and choose to believe it. Live from freedom, from victory because Christ died for it. Period.

Highly Favoured

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:28

Recently as an exercise to hone my writing skills, I was to ask a handful of close friends a few questions about how they see me and what kind of influence I could have. The purpose of receiving this kind of feedback was to make the message I have more clear. To help me see how I can best inspire people with the tools I already have. And perhaps shed some light on areas that I may think are obvious but are amazing to others.

First of all, the fact that they were so willing to respond blew my mind. I am blessed by so many incredible women in my life, it was actually hard to pick just 5.  Second, their responses brought some tears. Third, this is a very humbling exercise to perform. Owning the truths that were spoken from their perspectives would have been very difficult to do even a year ago.

God has been teaching me this last year to receive. Receive His truths and let those reconstruct what my identity is in Him. Not in what others tried to tell me, not in the lies I believed, not in the performing so hard for love it almost destroyed me kind of way. But in renewing my mind and believing regardless of what I feel to standing in the promises of God.

Lysa Terkeurst said, “In between progress and perfection is the sweet spot of authenticity.” This statement makes me want to pause and say ahhhhhhh, releasing the places that have been wound tight in me trying to become someone I was not. butterflies-843298_640You see my heart is to be authentic, in all I speak, say, write and do. I am unique, my story has been woven in such a way as to distinctively influence those that God has placed in my path. There are some things I can speak because of my experiences that will resonate with the hearts of those I encounter. This truth is the same for you.

The space between progress and perfection can only be accomplished with supernatural favour. Joyce Meyer once said, ‘Natural favour has to be earned and once it is you need to maintain or keep working for that favour. Supernatural favour is a gift from God. You receive this just by being His child.’

Natural favour is very difficult to sustain. Performance is a vicious cycle. The only antidote to this is knowing in your heart of hearts that you are deeply loved and favoured by God and Nothing you do or don’t do will change that.heart-1213481_640

One way I have been renewing my mind with God’s truth is by speaking that I am highly favoured by the Lord. My travelling companions to St. Louis as of late probably thought I was a little silly proclaiming this phrase everywhere I went. Little did they know I was renewing the way I thought of myself in relationship to how God sees me.

You see,  I know that the only one in the Bible that was given this title was Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was chosen by God to carry the Messiah, His precious Son because she was highly favoured by Him. And this favour carried over into Jesus as we see further down in Luke 2:52, ‘And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.’

As a believer though, one who has chosen Christ as Saviour, I also have the incredible privilege of carrying Jesus. Not in the physical, pregnant sense as Mary did, but in my spirit. He is with me everywhere I go and because of this I am highly favoured by the Lord. Because of this I get to extend His Favour to others.

Choose an area where you have not been believing God’s truth about you. Now find the truth and start to declare it. Is it in the area of not believing you are worthy and have to perform for or earn God’s love? Say it with me now, I am highly favoured by the Lord. I am the apple of His eye. I am His beloved child. Start there. Don’t stop until your heart believes it. Your freedom depends on it. woman-591576_640

Out of Hiding & into Unity

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3

My heart is burning with the issue of unity. Unity in the church, unity in relationships, unity in our hearts with the heart of God. This week has been fraught with examples of how our spiritual enemy can take the simplest thing and twist it in the slightest way to push in a thorn of offense. I can speak into this with authority, fortunately so you know I speak from experience and unfortunately because I have been susceptible to doing the enemy’s dirty work of creating disunity. So part of this post is learning for myself and then to share with you what God says in this matter as in 1 Timothy 4:15,”Be diligent in these matters, give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.” And my heart is always to grow in Christ.

I heard it said that having an affair is not usually a one time quick choice decision, it is a slow, descent from discontent and small compromises into full-blown sin. I believe this does not even happen with the lustful desire for another but from a simple thought entertained and meditated on. I suspect that bitterness and resentment are created in us by a similar process. It is here where I have pangs for the body of Christ as I see how easily these things can build in us and create brokenness. We are so desperate to feel better or be better that we get careless about guarding our hearts. Remember I am speaking to myself as well. It is not my intent to point at things and dig in until it hurts but perhaps to bring a bit of recognition so we can go to God and deal with our hurts that drive the behaviours.

Comparison kills. Bottom line. We need to celebrate the diversity and unique qualities in people. We are the church and our unity is imperative to show the world the love of Jesus. He said it himself to future believers (that is us, p.s.) in John 17:23,”I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Our attitudes toward others reflects our relationship with God. Just as we run from temptation so we should run to resolve a problem or grievance with someone. God cannot receive the offering of your worship to Him when you are despising someone in your heart. “Therefore , if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5 :23,24

I like to say to that this is not always just something they have against us, but us against them. I know God reveals things about people to us all the time but it is at that moment we are given the choice, do we let that fall away, is God showing us how we can pray or do we criticize or judge them. Knowing things is one thing but when we decide why people are doing the things they are is when we cross over into that dangerous ground of judgement. There is nothing smooth on that terrain and it is here that it leads to the roads of resentment and bitterness. And we drive to this road of hell with our tongue as the vehicle. “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:10

So I encourage you in all of this to sit with God and let Him search your heart. Dig into those places of frustration, of discontent, of comparison, of hurt and bring them before the Lord and ask Him to reconcile your heart to His and to others if need be. Sometimes I have started simply with Lord please give me even a desire to forgive them or release them or bless them. One of my favorite passages of scripture is Ephesians 4:29-32 where Paul is teaching the church of Ephesus the importance of unity in the body of Christ. So I will leave you with that. As Joyce Meyer says we can never get enough teaching about our mouth!

“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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

 

Out of the Overflow

Matthew 26:11 ‘The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.’

Jesus said this to His disciples when Mary anointed his head with expensive oil. Her love for Him had no boundaries or cost, this act was a foreshadowing of His death to come and all that the disciples saw was a ‘waste’ of precious resources. Their short-sightedness blinded them to the value of a love abandoned to their Saviour.

John Piper said, ” God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.”

I was contemplating all of these things in my heart this morning as I wrote a letter of gratitude to Jesus for His love, grace and forgiveness. Satisfied means to be well pleased or content and I challenged my heart to see how I was these things in God. I realized that all that mattered was that my heart was ready and willing to do what He has called me to do this day and for the days to come, first and foremost to love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and spirit. Satisfaction in God is a discipline cultivated by gratitude. I am grateful that I carry around Christ in me, the hope of glory and out of the overflow of my love for Him I will love others.

Over the past few weeks and months I have been asking God to prepare my heart for our missions trip to Mexico. I kept coming against these questions, how can I possibly prepare for my heart to be broken? how can I speak life into people with great need? why has God called us forth into this endeavour at this time? what will He have us do? Who am I? Do I really mean the prayer, break my heart for what breaks yours Lord? Or is this the answer to that prayer I have spoken? I started to turn these questions into gratitude because I do not need to know all of these answers but to just be faithful with what is in my hands.  Thank you Lord for providing for us and to us through the amazing generosity of our friends and family. Thank you for the opportunity to do as you said in Deuteronomy 15:11, ‘There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.’ Thank you that we have an opportunity to serve in this way. Here I am Lord. Thank you that my heart has healed in many ways and I have the ability to feel and empathize with those who are in need of God’s love and provision.

When Jesus said that the poor will always be among us, it is not justification to ignore the needs in this world. At this time God has called my husband, son and I to go and be His hands and feet in Mexico, at the orphanage, at the church, in the midst of the poorest of poor in that land. Our church, friends and family have enabled this to happen and are going with us through all that was given. We are very grateful and have been praying to be wise stewards of this generosity. He has called us to go at this time, but it is not always necessary ‘to go’ anywhere. The poor and needy are among us everywhere that we are. Be open-handed, ask God to open your eyes to the possibilities around you, the ways you can love and serve. The needs are great and seemingly overwhelming but they are not always financial as He has been showing me the neediness resides in hearts and spirits as well. Be obedient and lives can be changed one at a time. My heart’s desire is that as He breaks my heart for what breaks His, He will infuse it with passion and revelation for ways to love even more when I return. To Him be the glory forever and ever.