Posted: November 4th, 2013 |
Filed under: life | Tags: freedom, grace, purpose, sin |
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“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction…?” - Romans 9:22 ESV
She’s a song with the end as the intro. She emerged under the fluorescent lights dodging knuckles with two clenched fists. She had a fire strong enough to torch the house that burned her down. Her secrets formed her in the dark corner. She could see the light, but it couldn’t see her. She survived the burns and the walls. She made it through the dark corner knowing it wasn’t her fault.
Never a child, always a fighter, she built her fortress early.
“I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.” - Hosea 2:6 ESV
It’s a No-Man’s Land where her good wasn’t good enough and her evil didn’t fill the well. Her heart screamed from the inside, but tinted windows made them think whatever they wanted. She spoiled her spoils with tears and marked all of her marks with pain. No place for a girl who didn’t know how to be good, but was too good to live in shame.
She’s getting older, always a fighter, her fortress needs new paint.
“…in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory…” -Romans 9:23 ESV
Bird of death, the raven hatched an egg. Mother of sin, the mother bleeds milk of grace. A foundation of loss, a first floor of abuse, a second story of condemnation, and a third that tumbled down, only God makes right with wrong and completely forgets.
Only God can completely forget like forgetting was His plan all along.
” I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, “You are my people”; and [she] shall say, “You are my God.” - Hosea 2:23 ESV
I am No Mercy and I live in the land of Mercy. I am from Not My People and He calls me His People. And He is my God.
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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: December 3rd, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: advice, divisions, faith, grace, judgment, love wins, sin, spiritual abuse |
14 Comments »
“I’m struggling with 1 Corinthians 5. I understand that we are not to judge the world and that we are to lovingly and gently correct sinners. But what about those in the church that are living in sexual sin?”
I get asked this question often. Every time I set out to answer it, I revisit it like it’s new. I know my own bias when it comes to a person focusing on another’s sin and wanting to find a way to fix the problems they see. I know that 1 Corinthians 5 is used by people to tear others down and throw them out. I think that people need to be careful when considering using scripture to rip someone else apart and expel them. There is a huge difference between the way God handles people who need handling and the way another person handles people who need handling. People are driven by pride. God is driven by love.
What is it that is causing you to sit in your pew and consider the sins of those who are around you? Did you not get the recognition that you think you earned? What does it say about you that you are so focused on what others are doing wrong and not on what the Holy Spirit is saying to you about you? Were you hurt by disregard and are now trying to point out the faults of others who were not disregarded?
Regarding “those who are living in sexual sin”: How do you know their story? How do you know what the Holy Spirit is working on inside of them? You don’t know where people are coming from. You don’t know the journey they’re on. When you’re prompted by the Holy Spirit to speak love into someone’s life, then you would know what to say. When you’re prompted by pride to address the sin that you are certain is taking place, then you are at odds with the Holy Spirit. You are unsettled and are searching for clarity because you’re in the dark. Pride makes you fight to find footing. It makes you compare yourself with others. When they come up lacking, you want to do something about it. Misery loves company. What company are you seeking?
Take “sexual” out of it. Sin is sin. Take a step back and use the logic you’re working with while you replace their particular sin with one that is less graphic and less personally offensive. If sin is sin, then let their sin be regarded the same as any sin. The same template is used for everyone. Replace their sin with one of which you are guilty. Answer your questions as though they were being asked about your sin. The measure you use for others is the measure that will be used on you.
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with themeasure you use it will be measured to you. -Matthew 7:2 ESV
Now try to find Jesus in your quest for answers. Let your thoughts and actions begin with Jesus and remain with Jesus. When you take your eyes off of Him and let your thoughts and behavior be instigated and justified by another’s sin, you will end up wrong. Let your actions be explained by the finished work of Jesus. If someone were to ask you why you are doing what you’re doing, let your answer be: “Because I believe in the salvation power of Jesus.” That’s what sets you apart from an unbelieving world.
God is big enough to take care of His wayward children. If you can’t see Jesus in someone, then you are blinded by your own pride and personal offense. You should wait until you can see Him in them, then you will know what to say.
In all of this, I’m not saying that they are not wrong. You just have to be aware of your own motivation and protect your heart from the pride that plagues all of us. That’s all I’m saying. Guard your heart and don’t let your critical eyes be justified by someone else’s sin. Stop thinking about their sin. It’s a death trap because the spirit thrives on life and love. You are much more beautiful when your eyes are wide with love and your heart is soft with grace than when your eyes are slits of suspicion and your heart is hard with jealousy. Grace doesn’t give people a license to sin, it keeps you in right relationship with God.
Use this scripture to guide your thought process:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.-Philippians 4:8-9 MSG
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Posted: August 10th, 2012 |
Filed under: life | Tags: aftermath, change, sin |
8 Comments »
I wrote an article for the “Society for Christian Psychology” newsletter recently and wanted to share it with you.
Here is a side note that will help you understand where I am coming from in this article: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is most commonly brought on by facing your own mortality and by losing your security. You can face your own mortality by witnessing it or by experiencing it yourself. The symptoms include numbness, hyper-vigilance, and flashbacks. The treatment includes therapy to replace damaging thoughts with peace-giving thoughts. A common form of therapy is group therapy where a person can be in a setting with others who have walked similar paths. This helps alleviate the feelings of being the only on who is going through what they have gone through. It’s a safe place to talk about fears, emotions, and learn coping skills.
I hope this article makes you think.
” Any time people come face to face with their own mortality or [lose] certainty, they stand a chance developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. When I think of a person who is ‘broken’ from their sin, I think of PTSD. However, the symptoms can look like something else entirely. They can look like self-pity, lack of empathy, and [remorselessness] when they are so far in the opposite direction, it’s spiritually killing them and mentally altering them.
I always thought I was a good person. I knew right from wrong and I was good at making the sacrifices it took to choose right. When I had an extramarital affair, all of the good I thought I had bled out of me through the lesion my choices made. I lost myself.
I didn’t have a great marriage, but I had a relatively good life. I was able to give my children something that I didn’t grow up with: a life free of abuse, two parents, and stability. My sin destroyed that, too. I lost what gave me value.
I didn’t have a strong family. I was adopted at 10 and ran away when I was 17. When I became a Christian, my church friends became my family. I relied on their opinion of me. I relied on them for my faith. When I sinned, I lost every single one of them.
I lost my identity, my sense of self-worth, and almost everyone I loved and it was my fault.
Sin sent a shockwave of finality through me. I felt like I was dog-paddling in the middle of an ocean of hopelessness with no land or lifeboat in sight. Denial kept me spinning in circles, wondering if this was all just a really bad dream.
My emotions were elusive. Emotions come with conscious awareness. I was numb and detached until my denial and shock began to be pummeled by flashbacks. I was haunted by my actions, tormented by my cheap justifications, and had no shield from the truth in the accusations. Hell had a rap sheet printed about me and the father of lies was telling the truth.
Sometimes people search for God in the wrong places. They try to fill the ache in their spirit with things and people. They just have to be told that the answer to their heart’s lament is Jesus. However, Christians who sin already know who God is. They already know that Jesus is the answer to the ache. And many of them believe that they can no longer have Him. I was one of those people.
Whatever I had learned about God in my past left me believing that His hands were too short for someone who messed up as bad as I did. I believed that the only One who could save me would not save me. I knew about forgiveness and I abused it. I was no longer worthy of asking. Jesus was not an option for me.
I became hyper vigilant. My affair started through email. I refused to email men. It started with a friendship. I refused to become friends with men. My affair was with a friend’s husband. I refused to make new girl friends.
I have lost most of my memory from the first two or so years after my sin. Some are completely gone and some are hazy when they’re brought up. I do remember being woken up by extreme feelings of guilt. Hopelessness wouldn’t let me sleep. I was paranoid and spent a lot of time wondering when I was going to be arrested, or served some sort of papers that would solidify my condemnation. The official word hadn’t been delivered, but I was already mentally preparing myself for the sentence. Then I would think about what that sentence was. There is no preparing yourself for eternity in hell. Terror would screech through me like a cat on fire.
I clench my jaw when I’m under stress. An orthodontic surgeon was addressing some concerns I had with my jaw recently. I felt something come out of place while eating a cranberry chicken salad wrap on a November afternoon, five months after my affair. Four years later, the doctor was asking me if I had been hit in the head with a baseball bat. My jaw had popped out of the joint, scar tissue had sealed it out, and my bite was misaligned. I’ll need surgery and braces to put it back.
The other day, my family and I were watching a series of old home video we found in the computer. The video was taken a little over two years after my affair. As I watched, I became embarrassed and almost afraid from what I saw. I was the one holding the camera, filming my girls playing. As I followed them through the house, I caught the view of my 20-month-old daughter on the top bunk of her sister’s bunk bed. I acknowledged her, I told her to stop jumping, and I turned the camera back to her sisters. “Oh, my gosh.” I said while watching, “I can’t believe I let her play up there.”
That is not the kind of mother I am. My house was messy. That is not how I keep a house. “I know. “ My husband replied, “It’s hard for me to watch.” My daughter wasn’t safe up there, my house was in disarray, and I was behaving ‘normally’. I could hear myself talk and I sounded upbeat. I don’t remember that day. I don’t remember it, even from watching it. My kids have switched rooms over the years. I don’t remember the bunk beds ever being in that room. It’s eerie, it scares me, and it makes me think.
The treatment that Christians often get from other Christians when they sin the ‘big’ sins is so incredibly damaging that a person needs an extreme intervention to realign their thoughts. Because it is only by grace that a person can be saved, they have come face to face with their mortality when they don’t know the magnitude of God’s grace. When their lives are forever changed by their sin, they have lost their certainty.
I still have flashbacks once in a while. I’ll suddenly be holding my head, shaking it back and forth, saying, “No!” It’s involuntary and takes me a minute to push it out. People can make the mistake of seeing the flashbacks as self-pity. They can see the hyper-vigilance as overboard and fake. People can see the numbness and emotional distance as not being remorseful.
As a result, the very things that are used in therapy for a person suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder are withheld. Instead of people helping them replace the tormenting thoughts with peace producing thoughts, they are highlighting the damage and guilt while reminding them that it’s their fault. Instead of being in a community of people who have been broken by their sin and know what grace is, they are removed from the community and disowned. I know this isn’t the case in every Christian community, but it’s a prevalent issue and it can be done without conscious intent.
People who sin, especially Christians who sin, need to know the truth about Jesus. They need to know that no matter what they’ve done, God loves them and will never leave them. They need to know that it is a gift that cannot be earned or lost. The measurement of grace is eternity, that’s why it’s so hard to understand. Misunderstanding cuts it short for those who need it.
The reminder of hell does not change people. The reminder of Jesus does. Only the truth can set people free and the only Truth is Jesus. Only after they believe in and accept His forgiveness can they authentically ask for forgiveness from the one’s they hurt. Authenticity comes from Godly sorrow, and Godly sorrow comes from His love. People have to be convinced of the story of His love before they can be healed.” - Quoted from the “Society for Christian Psychology” website
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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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