Shameless Restoration

“Finally brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

The biblical meaning of restoration is to receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition. In the verse above, it tells us to strive for it. This is not a passive suggestion.

I have issues. I know you might be surprised after reading my blog for a month and thinking wow, has that girl ever got it together. Haha, not.  Today an issue was highlighted by a conversation I had which triggered a panic button in me that sent my thinking down the sewer. I know we are made of layers, even ogres know that, but sometimes I wonder how many rings this old tree has. Dr. Jim Richards says that when we are healed in an area, it doesn’t mean we won’t think about it but when we do there will be no emotion attached to it. Well I had a lot of emotional baggage get pulled on with this one.

I see the evidence around me more and more that when there is not full restoration or healing in relationships or circumstances, people can cruise around like the walking dead. Wounds are in plain sight and one push or rub the wrong way activates the old emotions connected to this cesspool of hurt. Oh we pretend. We smooth over. We act out. We avoid. We don’t discuss the big gray thing in the middle of the room. We move on…until God allows the trigger to be set off. Bing, Bing, Bing. And we want to pull back even more.

The funny thing is that God wants us to press in to this. You know, the turn the other cheek thing, I think He meant that. He has reconciled our hearts to Him and made us ministers of reconciliation. Reconcile – to compose or settle, to bring into agreement or harmony, to cause to accept to or submit to something unpleasant. Did you see that? Often when there is true reconciliation we need to submit to something unpleasant. Who truly loves conflict? I know some people seem to, but deep down I think most of us would like to avoid it.

My husband has taught me that conflict is not the end of the world though. I know, how dare he. I have felt like it was for most of my life. I did not have great skills to cope if it did happen so avoidance seemed the better path. But did you know it is ok to agree to disagree. God can also bring healing out of the unpleasant things. We need to be willing for him to get up in our business about it.

The ultimate restoration occurred when God sent Jesus for us. We are not the standard, Jesus is. These are some steps toward restoration:

  1. Talk to God about the problem.
  2. Take the initiative. Think of it as the one who makes the first move is the most mature.
  3. Repent. What part was yours?
  4. Address the problem, not the person.
  5. Forgive. As He has forgiven us.
  6. Stress reconciling, not necessarily resolution.

I know that restoration can be extremely uncomfortable and in some cases, maybe completely impossible. But we serve a God of the impossible and we are to keep the peace as far as it depends on us. So do your part. When there is one walking dead, the body of Christ is infected. And if we are to be ministers of reconciliation for the world, how are we to do that walking around like a bunch of zombies?

My heart breaks for those that have been hurt by imperfect people, but we are all that. The enemy’s perfect plan is that we will choose to pick up offense in our deceit and then he really doesn’t have to do much else does he? I can assure you through experience that the avoidance, unforgiveness and wounding is far more painful and long-lasting than pushing through to confrontation, forgiveness and healing. Talk about the gray thing with Jesus. See what happens.

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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.”

 

Embracing the Teacher

I LOVE learning. I love learning about God, myself, and in general how people tick. We are a fascinating bunch that God has created. The world is never boring with all the mishmash of personalities, gifts and abilities God has lavished on us. I heard once that what stirs in your heart as a child is probably something you were meant to be. Every since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. It is a possibility had I not gotten cold feet that I would have been a school teacher for over 25 years already.I believe God had a different path in mind, even though I seem to have been doing hopscotch for a long time on it and not landing right in the square. I do believe this year is the revealing of my destiny and it will be evident that all I have done up until now has been the exact squares that God wanted me on. Oh I know sometimes I didn’t listen well or even know Him to hear but as I learned long ago, often the path we come around to is the one where we began and nothing has been wasted, even my backwards hops.

This path of thinking began as I searched for a teaching for my son and I looked through my boxes of journals and courses and bible studies and personality tests. There was a plethora of books, manuals and paper and my first thought was I should really get it together and decide what I want to be when I grow up. I didn’t like that thought so I went to the next one which I felt was God speaking to my spirit and He said you are what I made you to be, a teacher, one who has had to learn to do what I am calling you to do. In that one moment, the hole created by years of anguish over my lack of direction, was filled instead with reassurance and excitement.

I definitely don’t think this is a teacher in the common understanding of the word but what God has put in me to further His Kingdom, the way He wants me to be an ambassador of reconciling hearts to His. To help show people that the way is open to discover life and God, there is no obstacle in the way because Jesus took care of that. Lately I have been doing some studying on the 7 redemptive gifts of God. Romans 12:6-8 ” We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

 I have been studying this concept according to Arthur Burk. He believes the 7 gifts are prophet, servant, teacher, exhorter, giver, ruler and mercy. He teaches that one of these is a defining template of our soul but in our spirit we are a blend of all seven gifts. He says our gifts are shaped by birth order, family dynamics and culture among other influences and that our gift is either muted or exaggerated by these things. Regardless of the influences, our original software stays in tact, it may just take some peeling to find and operate in it. As I have discovered my redemptive gift is teacher. I fought that truth for a while which is common for ones with that gift apparently ( I still have yet to discover why that is so, although I am thinking it has to do with the responsibility).  It makes a lot of sense though as I learn more about this part of my identity.

This is part of a description from a website about the gifts – ‘This temperament presents truth in a logical, systematic manner, enjoying word studies and reading. They are concerned that truth be established in every situation. They have strong convictions of facts, and can tend to neglect the practical applications.’ It was like that was part of my biography or they were in my head or something haha. My daughters have been known to say, if you want to know the truth about something, just ask Mom! And I think well yes! haha

As always, there are positive and negative aspects to most everything and so it is no different with redemptive gifts. One of the biggest areas of caution for me is to be careful not to let my love of knowledge and learning take the place of intimacy in my relationship with God. I remember Joyce Meyer saying, ‘We are educated way beyond our level of obedience.” I need to let the things I learn flow through me and not just store them up thinking it is a buffer for relationship with God. Our redemptive gifts are given to us so that we may glorify God, not for our own use. God gave me this verse at the beginning of the year when He showed me that my word for this year was to be present.  2 Timothy 2:15 ” Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” This is my prayer as a teacher in whatever capacity He will have me be, that I will not misalign Him or His word.

What is your love danger? What can or does take the place of you having relationship with God? How can you turn that to show the majesty of God and seek Him instead?

The following websites are the ones that I  studied from for this blog. I encourage you to check them out and find out what your redemptive gift is for your place in this world to help reconcile hearts to God. Send your discoveries in a comment below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbhclJfW1_U&list=PL9CD6CF7C5BBF5F63&index=2

http://www.totalchange.org/Seven%20Redemptive%20Gifts.htm

http://storage.cloversites.com/crossroadscommunitychurch9/documents/Redemptive%20Gifts%20Outline%20(filled%20in).pdf