Posted: February 4th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, faith, grace, healing, purpose, sin |
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“In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you.”-Isaiah 49:8 ESV
You speak like you’re in-between two lives: the old and the new. You refuse to enter the new because you’re still hanging on to the old. You think you can only enter the day with defeat because you’re still making yourself pay. Every hard thing that is thrown your way is viewed as a consequence to your sin.
You’re not going to move on from this place with your suitcase of truth only half packed. You can say all the right things, but you don’t believe a word of it.
You pull yourself up by the scruff of your neck and you make yourself go through the motions. You read that devotion, you listen to this podcast, you do that fast, you write those words. You do all of these things thinking that God will come and rescue you. You think He’ll restore what was before so that you can feel whole again. What if the end of an era is God’s answer to prayers you don’t even know how to pray yet? What if you have been rescued, but it doesn’t look like what you thought it would look like?
The rescue is past-tense. It’s waiting on you to have the revelation.
You can reject God by clinging more to your version of restoration than to your faith that God gets what He wants.
Does God get what He wants?
The only way you can move on to your new life is by believing that the consequences of your sin have a greater purpose. A purpose that has nothing to do with being a constant reminder of your sin.
What entity would want to constantly remind you of your sin?
What if God has you exactly where He wants you? Life is a journey and you are a pilgrim. You’re not at any destination forever. You are only where you are, and you’re only there for a moment. Discontentment blooms when you think you are forever paying for and suffering from your sins.
The faithless work the garden of Second Best.
They say: “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” -Isaiah 49:14 ESV
How can you know God and believe that you are a prisoner of your own Second Best? You are where you are for a reason. Reason can never be found by looking at your sin. There is no truth to be found in the damage of flesh and blood.
You have to look at everything as though God has a plan because God has a plan. It’s Jesus. You have to look at everything trying to find where it leads to Jesus. It’s your only compass. It’s the only way you’ll know what the truth is. He’s the Truth.
It’s all riddles until it’s not.
I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages, saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ -Isaiah 49:8-9 ESV
God is cultivating your life. He is getting rid of the parts of you that keep you from being who you were called to be.
You were called to be something. You wouldn’t be here looking for Him if you weren’t.
He is positioning you in a posture that induces passion where there was once apathy. Sometimes the best way to induce passion is to insert a thorn. If you’re tugging at the thorn, then you are looking at this all wrong.
I know how bad it hurts. I’ve been there. I’ve attended the funeral of my own potential. You’ll be in this spot until you can see God in it.
You’re a conduit.
When a pipe isn’t functioning, you dismantle it, flush it out, and rebuild it.
Are you dismantled?
There exists a consequence twist. It’s more than the suffering. It’s also the release. There are three consequences that will make your head spin. One, you can see more clearly. Number two, blind people avoid you. And, three, you have a new passion.
Do you understand this? Your life will be one that says “to the prisoners, ‘Come out’” and “to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’”
One of the consequences of your sin is the newborn passion for the failures. You now have an acute awareness of the difference between the voice of the flesh and the whisper of the Spirit. You know the difference between the light and the dark. Those who once had a voice in your life, the ones who would now torment you, are far from you.
Do you think that’s a coincidence?
“Surely your waste and your desolate places and your devastated land—surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up will be far away.” -Isaiah 49:19 ESV
They think you are too far gone and they will not join you. They’re unable to handle the failure of others with patient grace and unending mercy. They are wrong. Why would you want them by you? God has positioned you, using your own consequences, to keep their lies from pinning you down with their doubt and holding you back from your purpose. “Those who swallowed you up” are “far away.”
Thank God for that.
What’s more? The twist that sends this whole thing spinning into reverent wonder is the fact that it’s because of your failure. You are removed from their influential doubt and enabled by grace to march into your purpose because they are too afraid of how dirty you got.
Because of your failure, you know how to find those who are buried.
Everything will come together. It’ll all make sense at some point. Stop wishing your thorn away. Wear it like a crown.
“Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples, and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” -Isaiah 49:22-23 ESV
His hand is poised, the signal is ready. Your children have been lifted, the march has begun. You will not be put to shame.
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Posted: February 2nd, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: purpose |
2 Comments »
People who mess up will look for others who have fallen and found their way back. They’re looking for hope.
You can be the person they find.
Start looking for the reasons God has allowed you to fall in the first place. The answer is deeper than your free will. You’re starting to see them already.
Religious illusions have slipped. You can spot the fake now.
While you’re reeling from the loss of what you believed about yourself and God, there is so much more gain waiting to be found.
When you start looking for God’s sovereignty, you’ll find Him and it will blow your mind. You’re not near as powerful as you think you are.
That which has been found can serve to help that which is still lost.
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Posted: January 8th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, healing, purpose |
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Situations and the way they affect you are based on previous situations and the way they affected you in the past. This is how you learn to avoid pain and failure, and it’s how you learn to predict outcomes for the purpose of planning. Two different people can be in the same situation and pull two different interpretations out of it. Experience is personal. Perspective is a unique combination of genetics and experience.
It’s important to understand how perspective works because it aids in compassion and acceptance of differences. It can also help you understand yourself.
There is a reason that people say “you are the sum total of your experiences” or “you are the people you meet”. The truth behind those sayings has more to do with the lessons those experiences and people provide than with what and who they are.
When you’re in the middle of navigating your own pain, you have to look at your entire life for understanding the same way a psychologist or counselor would help you look at your life. I’m calling this “pain tracing”. It’s the idea of peeling back the layers of the flesh of a fruit to find the seeds.
I’ll use my own journey to illustrate what I’m talking about.
In the aftermath of my own sin, it took me a really long time to accept the rejection of every person I hurt. The logic behind being rejected is sound. I did something terrible and the consequences were broken relationships. It’s how the world works. The fact that it cut me deeper than I could handle was because it brought back the pain of rejection I have felt my entire life.
I was a foster child who never belonged to my own temporary family. There was no longevity, no real investment into me, and the resulting ‘good-bye’ that always came taught me how to never fully say “hello” in my relationships. People always left, so I never let them in. I was nine when my mother gave me up for adoption. I literally did not belong to anybody. I belonged to a cold and broken government whose only goal was to find someone to take responsibility for me.
Skipping ahead, when I became a Christian, my church family became my family. When they responded to my sin by washing their hands of me, they literally handed me over to Satan and gave him responsibility over me. That’s when God stepped in and revealed the truth about who He was to me. He was my father. He was my family and he would never kick me out. As dysfunctional as I can be, I’ll always be His. He is where my roots are.
The truth of the Gospel saved my life, but it didn’t take my pain away. The aftermath of my sin brought up feelings of zero self-worth that I had kept buried because I thought it was healed. The fact that I wasn’t healed from my childhood pain enabled me to sin the way I did and crushed me when I had to own up to it.
Talking yourself through the process of pain tracing looks like this:
- How do you feel?
- Have you ever felt like this before?
- What were the circumstances that made you feel like this in the past?
- When was the first time you remember feeling like this?
- What were the circumstances surrounding that?
There lies the root to your pain.
I’ll answer those questions to show you how it works:
- alone, rejected, worthless, toxic, unwanted, displaced
- When I lived on my own at 17, when I was bullied in school, when I was moved from foster home to foster home
- When I was left to fend for myself as a little girl. I was probably between 4 and 6.
- I would be left alone by my mother. Locked outside all day or locked in a room with no food all day.
Experiences that you have today are tainted by the experiences you’ve had throughout your life. If you look at today as though it had no connection with yesterday, then you’ll miss a huge tool for healing. The healing is not just for right now, it’s all encompassing.
I can easily see that my own failure warrants my feelings of being alone. Rejection is the price I pay. My failure did not add value to my relationships. I was a toxic force that dismantled lives and I lost my place in those lives. There is nothing left to examine, but the pain remained. In pain tracing, my whole life got examined.
A person would not normally look at a child and attribute those qualities to her. If a little girl felt alone, rejected, worthless, toxic, unwanted, and displaced you would know that she had been horribly lied to and you would try to convince her otherwise.
The difference between the child and the adult is where the finger of blame is pointed. If you can find a reason to blame the child, then you would not rescue her. If you can blame the adult, then she is cast out and left to be consumed by her sense of self.
The separation between the way the world works and the way God works is found in the way we view children and the way we view adults. We can call an adult a lost cause long before we can call a child a lost cause. However, God calls us all “children”. He sees us the way He saw us when we were children because, to Him, that’s what we are. Until the child within us hears the truth about our Father, we will be brought to the same place over and over. We will feel the same thing in the midst of different circumstances again and again until we start to connect the dots and trace the pain to the broken places.
It’s my own belief that God allows whatever circumstances to take place for the purpose of getting us to see Him. Our circumstances show us where those broken places are.
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Posted: September 7th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: change, deception, grace, purpose, spiritual abuse |
18 Comments »
You never really know what’s going on. Like sheep following the sheep in front of them, some have never even met the Shepherd.
“The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.” -Matthew 23:2-3 MSG
When denominations become corporations, leadership becomes a career. So come the politics of spit-and-polish veneer.
I heard a story a few months ago. The president of a denomination has a secret that could destroy his credibility, but only in a world where a person’s credibility is based on his ability to be a perfect example of the rules he sets forth. It wouldn’t have destroyed his credibility with me and probably not with you, either. We would have found hope in the rawness of life, knowing that everybody makes mistakes. He could have entered the world of grace instead of avoiding it by hiding under a blanket of technicalities. Good leadership is honest about their mistakes. Bad leadership makes people think it’s possible to be perfect.
“You can’t be a leader if you’re divorced unless you can prove that you had no fault, but you can never remarry, unless you can prove you were tricked.” Or, there about. All bylaws of loopholes and small print. The smart people can study the contract and find a way out of needing forgiveness. But, in the Kingdom world, they’re only finding a way to not need Jesus.
If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it. -Romans 4:14-15 MSG
As a result of the rules of the corporation denomination, men publicly hang the character of their ex-wives, just so they can keep their jobs. Women tell all of their ex-husband’s secrets and none of their own, just so they can still teach Sunday school.
“I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either.” -Matthew 23:13-14 MSG
This system has been set up to not ever be able to admit your fault. There is no grace there.
The wife of the denomination president had grounds to divorce him, but didn’t want to hurt his career. She got a legal separation instead. That way he could keep his job and nobody would ever have to know the secrets that could destroy the facade. He was able to later retire with no one the wiser. The inside was broken while the appearance remained in tact.
What about all those under him who feel abnormal and wrecked because they didn’t have the power to hide? What about the women with alter call carpet embedded into their knees? They’re begging God to take away their stains because they’ve been taught that you can’t have stains. What about the men who are no longer allowed to do what they know God has called them to do? They think they have to live out the rest of their lives with the chains of sin still wrapped around them.
I met a preacher who got his papers taken away because he made a mistake. His passion is still preaching. There’s a hollow ache in his disposition. But he’s only allowed to hammer nails.
“Still like Jesus,” I tell him, though I know my kindness can’t reach him.
What about him?
“Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?” -Matthew 23:24 MSG
“Writing a life’s story that’s wrong from start to finish.” It’s wrong from start to finish because you are not the Author. You can write all you want, but He is the One who’s published.
Nitpicked lives are slaves to their sin. Being a slave to sin is more than obeying the impulse. It’s believing it has the power, so much so that you devote yourself to avoidance more than you release yourself to God.
He writes your life story and He’s already said that He made the destroyer. Nothing the destroyer can form will be able to destroy you. No matter how bad your situation looks, it does not have the power to destroy you.
If anyone attacks you, don’t for a moment suppose that I sent them, and if any should attack, nothing will come of it. I create the blacksmith who fires up his forge and makes a weapon designed to kill. I also create the destroyer—but no weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged. -Isaiah 54:15-17 MSG
The way into God’s Kingdom is through Jesus and it’s only by grace. Grace is for sinners. It’s not a safety net. It’s a gate.
Be open and honest about your failures. Let God’s grace wash over you. It completely transforms you. It lights you on fire and sends you blazing. That’s where the power comes from. It’s not from you and your ability, it’s from grace. God’s children need to see it. The people need to see that there is hope for them, too.
Nobody goes through life without knowing they’ve been saved from something that had every right to destroy them. Don’t set yourself up as someone who is so far away from that, that it steals the hope of grace from everyone else. Use the moment of someone’s failure to rejoice about the vibrant display of mercy, grace, and restoration that God is about to show. That’s when you can really see Him. It’s the rainbow after the storm. It’s in the eyes of someone who believes with everything in them that God has a plan for this, too.
You never really know what’s going on. Don’t be the sheep who follows the sheep in front of you, but has never met the Shepherd. No matter what people want you to think, everybody has some damage that only Jesus can justify.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”-Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
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Posted: August 2nd, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: faith, grace, healing, purpose, sin |
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“Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” -Jesus to Peter in John 13:36 ESV
Peter loved Jesus. He dropped everything to follow him and never looked back. They ate, slept, prayed, and walked on water together. It’s so much more than any of us have done. Peter witnessed the healing in His words and hands. He saw Him loved, rejected, worshipped, and lied about. In all that they had been through, it didn’t make sense that he couldn’t go with Jesus where ever he went. Things weren’t clear just yet.
“Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” -Peter to Jesus in John 13:37 ESV
In the same conversation where Jesus told Peter that he would go with Him ‘afterward’, Jesus also told Peter that he would betray Him. And Peter, as much as he loved Jesus, betrayed Him big time. He denied knowing who He was as the people were beating him up and dragging Him off to beat Him up some more.
“Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” -Jesus to Peter in John 13:38 ESV
You can know that you’re going to deny Jesus in some way, but not really believe it. We all know we’ll mess up, but …not really. You love Him, so you wouldn’t purposely withhold your devotion or feed your good intent to the dogs. But, when the moment comes and you make a quick decision, that decision ends up marking you as a betrayer. The rooster crows and the sinking panic of being “that guy” sets in.
This is where Peter is different than a lot of us. He knew that Jesus saw his betrayal coming, but He never said that Peter would be lost forever. Peter was never with Jesus again. Jesus died after the mob was finished with Him. Peter knew something that ended up giving him the ability to recover from his betrayal, start the Christian church, and be reunited with Jesus after his death.
I want you to know what Peter knew so that you can recover from your sin, so that you can get back in the fight, and so that you can be assured that you’ll be united with Jesus after your death.
Jesus knew about your sin long before you even got here. Proof of that is not only in His conversation with Peter, but more so in the fact that He died for your sin. You didn’t just make it up. You’re not some anomaly that tears at the truth of the Gospel. God’s not wringing His hands, wondering how He can save you.
Sandwiched between your love for Jesus and your eternity in Heaven is your betrayal. It’s a horrible, bitter thing to experience, but don’t ever let your faith in the finished work of Jesus dwindle so scarce that you don’t think His sacrifice was enough for you.
Jesus knew all about you. He carried it with Him like a splintery cross on a ripped open back. The thing that gave Him the strength to carry your weight was the fact that He knew you would never have to. He kept walking because He knew it would work.
Remember that every time you think His arms are too short to reach the depths to where you’ve fallen. Every aspect of our existence is His territory. He owns those depths.
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