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.

trust-rock

 

 

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Alignment of Expectancy

Our desires can often go awry when they are unredeemed. I love words and I have desired for a long time to write a book, in fact this is a season of my life that I have an opportunity to do this. And I have been getting nowhere fast. I have had some training in writing and encouragement from others that what I write is worthy enough to be shared. Still, I had an expectation that I had to be at a certain place, or have the precise amount of material to begin. I had an expectation that because I felt God gave me the idea and title of my book and chapters that I would just sit down and it would pour out of me. I had an expectation that I should know all about expectations if I was supposed to write about it. This is the unredeemed part.

At the same time that I am getting revelation of how this book of Expectations will come to pass, God is healing my identity. Coincidence? I think not. God is bringing who I am in Him into alignment with His desires for me and showing me what it means for my expectations to be redeemed to expectancy in God.

Expectation – ‘a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future’. This can take the form of presumption or assumption, conjecture or hope

Expectancy – ‘the state of thinking or hoping that something especially something pleasant, will happen or be the case.’ This can take the form of anticipation, eagerness or excitement.

Can you just feel the difference in the words? Expectations give us an ‘I deserve it!’ mentality and then when they aren’t met, we are disappointed, sometimes not even realizing that they were unrealistic. Placing our expectancy in God, not in what He does or doesn’t do, gives us room to hope but be open to how He wants to do things and meet with our hearts.

I remember when the dream of this book idea came to fruition. I was a new Christian who had a friend that constantly struggled with her faith and trying to dig deep into what God had for her. She had a magical expectation of who God should be and never pressed into the hardwork of working out her salvation and allowing God to dig deep. Ironically, now as God has been revealing some lies I have agreed with that have kept me stuck, that girl could be me. I think I just had a bigger edge on performing for love than she may have had. As long as I did all the ‘right things’ nobody would know that I had never experienced the fullness of God. I was so adept at managing my behaviour by willful efforts that I missed a lot of the process of inner sanctification. This has made me weary, melancholic and independent, a fruit of pride. I was still fighting for His love when it was given to me by grace. Big Daddy Weave’s song Redeemed says, ‘stop fighting a fight that’s already been won.’

See the thing in changing from expectation to Holy expectancy is it takes renewing of our thoughts. For our thoughts to be renewed we need the spotlight of the Holy Spirit to show us which ones are misguided. “Search me, God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23 The working out part is finding the lies and challenging them and replacing them with the truth of who we are in Christ. Steven Furtick in Crash the Chatterbox says, ‘ fear takes us to what if? and the mistake people make is that they entertain the what ifs but they don’t enter in deeply enough with the search light of truth.’   Jesus has promised if you abide in Him and His Word, you will know the truth and it will set you free. (John 8:31,32)

So I invite you on this journey with me in the redemption of expectations. Please feel free to share how your expectations have caused disappointment and how God may have redeemed them and the expectancy you now have in Him.

Crash the Chatterbox – Steven Furtick

 

 

Posture to Receive

“In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3

There seems to be a recurring theme in my life lately that creates opportunity to change expectation into expectancy. It is when my expectations are in people or circumstances that the disappointment is ripe to grow. As I have experienced and studied the topic of expectations while I write, a formula that is usually accurate is when expectations do not equal reality it creates frustration. Often then we will look at the circumstances and place the blame or frustration there rather than digging deeper and seeing the pathway that led us to be disappointed in the result. BAM! Did you see that? Often our Pastor, when speaking something he feels is profound or impactful will repeat what he just said to highlight the point. I will give you a real life example.

Please do keep in mind I love my husband and children more than my life itself but I think all you Mama’s will relate to this one. I have been feeling convicted to spend some time writing and the last 2 weeks have been plumb full of people, kids off school and kids ministry etc. So when Wade left for work and Owen and Tessa were going to school and then her home for the weekend, I was quite excited to have my time of writing. Ok bye-bye, out the door now, did an early workout so gonna hop in the shower as soon as they leave and not waste any more time. Tessa walks back in, “My tire is flat!”  100 scenarios of how my time is going to be sucked away play through my mind and I give every possible helpful hint that wouldn’t involve my time. Holy Spirit knocks on my head, Hard. Remember the let me be open to your leading today Lord prayer…”I will call Wade about the air compressor.” After that, time-stealing scenarios are still making music in the background, I begin to explain where it is, how to use it, then more HS knocking as I stare at her frozen windows and sweet face and pregnant belly, “Wait, I will bring it around.” Just for the record I would not have left her stranded and would have given up my whole day if I needed to but my expectation of a time of writing and quiet had been interrupted and I went straight to selfish mode. The reality did not match my expectation and therefore created frustration.

God has been speaking to me a lot lately about being in a posture to receive. Be still and know that I am God was one of my Mom’s favorite verses and it has always seemed difficult to do. It created an expectation in me that I needed to be physically still in order to hear and know God better. It has created a lot of frustration sometimes when life is busy and I long to just sit with the lover of my soul. This verse comes from Psalm 46:10 and the complete verse says, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” Be still in the Hebrew context is to let go, or release so in essence we let go of our own control and know that God is in control.  It is not necessarily a physical posture, which interestingly one definition of posture is a particular way of dealing with or considering something, an approach or attitude. BAM again! Did you see that one. Ok I will stop, but really…

This psalm talks about God defending his city and people, how He is our fortress and no matter what is going on, He has the ultimate victory in the world. The rest of the verse, I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth are a reminder to us as His people to take time everyday to recognize and exalt (hold in very high regard,speak or think highly of)Him. This can be done in all situations no matter how physically still we are. A posture of receiving is a state of mind, an attitude to choose to see God wherever we are at, whatever we are in. Also for the record a physical posture of quiet before Him to receive and listen and exalt Him is sometimes required.

God promises often in His word that He will never leave us or forsake us. Abandon is one meaning of forsake and so it is comforting to know that God never abandons us, he may leave us to our own devices sometimes but He is always present. As I was taught and experienced early on in my walk with Him, He is a gentleman, He will never bust in where He is not invited. Graham Cooke says, “If we are in Christ, then all of our circumstances are as well.” So let your expectations move into expectancy of God, not in people or circumstances or processes but God Himself. Invite Him into the exact place that you are, He sees your state of nakedness and knows anyway.

 

 

Processing in the Process

James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Trusting God when you are in the midst of a process can be a difficult thing to do and even more so when it is a pressure cooker and more than one process is happening.  You may be in a position where running away from it all and trying to ‘figure’ it out in peace seems like a logical thing to do. You may just want to run away period, nevermind the figuring things out. Or you are just plain asking for a break in the process so you don’t feel stretched thin.

What if, your reaction to the process is what is making it more difficult for you? Now stick with me here, don’t close this window just yet. Have you heard the term that I know Joyce Meyer says, new level, new devil? Most of us resist brokenness but it is in this place that we know God better. Are you submitting to the dealings of God? Or resisting them? I heard a saying the other day that we do go from glory to glory but it is sometimes hell in the hallway! As we go deeper with God, He builds our character through process, we learn perserverance in our own training with Him.

Graham Cooke says, ‘If you let go of God in your development you will not be able to keep hold of him when the days get tough in ministry. Look for the majesty of God in the training ground. You cannot take ground from the enemy if he has ground in you.’ Our training or processes are part of killing off our flesh so we can give God our excellence.

Is it painful sometimes?  You bet your boots. I am experiencing some of that squeezing right now in my life and I haven’t been real pretty about it either. I have sworn and cried and questioned, like stretch armstrong on steroids, But God…I sing His praises, I find something to be grateful about, I am so honored to be His child and know that there is something redemptive in everything that we go through. My amazing friend Lee said in the midst of one of my struggles, what is the redemptive purpose in what is happening? What is being redeemed in me that God wants to refine? God is concerned about our growth and character.

We decrease so that there will be an increase of God. I was reminded last night that my word this year is Finish, James 1:4 “Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Today I need to choose to circumcise my feelings from my beliefs because my flesh is saying to that, ya NO! I listened to a teaching by Bill Johnson called Faith Versus Entitlement  (see bethel church podcast below)- ouch, entitlement – the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. He said that if looking at a problem doesn’t release joy then we aren’t seeing it right, we aren’t seeing that there is a divine purpose because on the other side, we lack Nothing.  Count it all joy means do the math because on the other side of the trial, in that place redeemed in us, we will lack nothing. Can you wrap your mind around that idea? Does it mean we are done? No. Pruning is always positioning us for a greater increase, a greater manifestation and purpose, God being greater in and through us. It always goes back to it is not about us, God won’t do it without us but we can’t do it without Him. I need to get over myself, bottom line. God’s grace is the only place where that will happen.

It is not about finding joy In the trial but in what the trial will bring. I believe it is a mindset, it is about our mentality when facing the trials in front of us. I heard Jim Richards the other day say that forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a decision. I believe this is applicable in trials as well, it is a decision to find the joy that we will be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. It doesn’t mean that there will be no pain or grief and I think a lot of the times that is my expectation because I seek comfort over growth more than I care to admit. Trials have the ability to make us bitter or better. We need to choose to send away our judgment and release our offence over our situations in order to see through to the end of it with Jesus.

I was in a position the other day that revisited an old wound in a new way. At first I was frustrated that there were still more layers to this hurt but when the person was sorry for the situation creating this reaction, I became grateful that because of this I was becoming more whole in order to minister better to others. Was it painful and did it suck? Absolutely! At my healing trauma class later that week our facilitator reminded us that all things are in layers and when one layer is exposed and allowed to heal in the light of Jesus it builds a better foundation and our tool kit increases to deal with the next layer that will come as God wants to go deeper. You see our healing is not to revisit things to be hurt again but to be free from them crippling us because Jesus changes the nature of things. I have been processing these truths as I write this out to you, tough stuff especially with an entitlement attitude that my life needs to look easy, but that was never promised, it is my false expectation. I want to have the capacity for life and service for the God that loves me, finish your work Lord.

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/bethel-church-sermon-week/id76583739?mt=2

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…

 

 

‘Perfect’ Writing – Pen in Hand

Franciscan priest,  Father Richard Rohr said that ‘the demand for the perfect is the greatest enemy of the good.’ He believes that ‘we grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right.’ I am getting old and humble enough to agree with this perspective. Don’t get me wrong there is still much in me that rises up and wants to do things perfectly and try to prevent failure, at least failure as I define it to be. Father Rohr goes on to say, ‘ By denying their pain, avoiding the necessary falling, many have kept themselves from their own spiritual depths-and therefore have been kept from their own spiritual heights.’ OUCH!

So Father, it is ok to fail!? It seems this concept is unheard of in our culture of giving praise where it is not due, awards where they are not earned, passing grades when a failure has occurred and overall a building up of brokenness without solid ground underneath. I am all about encouraging others to be successful or know that they matter but empty praise seems to exacerbate what is missing inside of people. John 12:43 says,’ for they loved human praise more than praise from God.’ I think this search for perfection in everything we do has taken our sight away from the One who made us and has created huge expectations in people to be perfect and in turn to make us feel the same way.

As I started  with pen in hand this is not the direction that I initially imagined my writing would go today. Isn’t this often the way it goes and it is a good analogy for how God wants to work through our failures. I had an idea and God spun it in a different direction, for what reason I don’t know and maybe I never will but I just give Him the glory that anything comes out at all. I know that I have missed out on many spiritual depths and heights by trying to write perfectly and then not writing anything. My fears of failure and just as much of success have kept me stuck in the mire of what ifs and should have beens. The ever elusive perfection taunts me with non-production and the gift of writing that God has given me has laid dormant for longer than necessary.

I have had the privilege for the past few weeks of attending a creative writing class at the lifelong learning centre. It is to my delight that I help to bring the average age down and get to glean from such experience. I joined the class specifically to get my creative juices flowing again. Since I launched this blog in the middle of this class you could say the mission was accomplished but it has become so much more than that. It has been an opportunity to be ‘naked’ per se with vulnerability to read the words God gave me to write. As other writers can relate I’m sure, a part of your soul gets imprinted along with the words on the pages and so it feels a little transparent sometimes. I have been richly blessed each week to hear the stories of so many creative people who have lived so much life. And not just the length of life but the breadth and depth of it as well. I feel like I know each one just a little bit as they have shared through reminiscing and laughter, experiences and loss, hurts and healings, love and lessons. Through their gift of writing their hearts have come to life.

They have encouraged me in their joint ‘nakedness’ to keep writing, to keep telling the stories and sharing all that God has given me and carried me through. It will not always be perfect, and I definitely will fall and that is just ok because I know that in my weakness, God is strong. And it is not about me, is it?

What area of life are you demanding perfection in? What pain are you trying to avoid? What do you need to die so that life may spring up in its place? ‘ Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. ‘ John 12:24 I promise it only hurts a little bit but the rewards are great and lasting.