Faith and Repentance

WHAT IS SALVATION? Salvation is by faith turning from one’s own way (Is. 53:6) to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 20:21), past, present, and future (Rom. 4:5) and eternal life (1 John 5:11). 

Let’s define Faith and Repentance:

Faith means “divine persuasion, a guarantee, the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).”

Repentance means “a change of mind, change in the inner man, turning around.”

Faith and Repentance are NOT two separate steps to salvation. Like two sides of a coin, they are one in the same!

  • The Holy Spirit by “divine persuasion” (faith) influences you to “change your mind” and “turn around” (repentance).
  • You cannot believe (have faith) without “turning around” (repenting) from unbelief.
  • Believing the Gospel is repentance and faith (all at once) from “one’s own way” to trusting Christ for eternal cleansing and eternal life.

Repentance, like faith, is a positive response to something God has said or done.

Romans 4:5 makes it clear that faith alone justifies us and counts as righteousness: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness (Rom. 4:5).

Salvation is NOT turning away from one’s sins to be forgiven by Christ. That would be working to earn God’s favor by one’s own effort (Rom. 9:16). Think about it…  if we have to clean up our lives before we can be saved, we can never be saved. 

Facing Holy God Almighty, the sinful man knows well he is an unholy sinner in desperate need of a Savior. At that moment, he believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is forever cleansed and saved.

The sinner who believes has repented.

The sinner who repents has believed.

Faith and repentance are one in the same (John 6:29).

In Gospel of John, the word, “believe,” is cited 85 times. Never does the word, repent, appear.  Repentance is a sinner turning from unbelief to belief. He turns TO THE LORD from the Law’s condemnation of sin and his self-effort to have all sins removed in spiritual circumcision (Rom. 2:29) by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins IS repentance (John 6:29).

 

 

Salvation happens automatically by believing (John 6:29). Sanctification (conformity to Christ) is a subsequent process that happens as a result of salvation. Sanctification is NOT YOUR WORK. It’s the Holy Spirit’s work to perform in you from the inside out. Sanctification happens on God’s timetable. Not ours. He can set you free from things in a moment. Other issues can take a lifetime or never get resolved. 

It’s His business. It’s His burden. It’s His blessing.

Eternal life is a free gift from God. A free gift is received, not performed. The moment you start trusting in your own efforts to be saved, be terrified… for you have fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4) and “severed yourself from Christ.”

Trying harder is not repentance. 

Turning over a new leaf is not repentance.

Trying not to sin is not repentance.

Turning your back on a sinful world is not repentance.

Committing your life to Christ is not repentance.

Pure Biblical repentance is turning from your own way (Is. 53:6) toward God by faith in His only Son, Jesus Christ, to have your sins- past, present, and future- forgiven forever. Salvation is free and forever as we continue by faith in Him because salvation belongs to the Lord. It’s His eternal salvation (Ps. 119:41)! 

Hallelujah for the wonderful simplicity of salvation!

Let’s become “like little children” and enter in (Matt. 18:3).

 

Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all

Romans 4:5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

1 John 5:11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Romans 2:29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.

John 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Acts 20:21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

Galatians 5:4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Romans 9:16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Psalm 119:41 May your unfailing love come to me, LORD, your salvation, according to your promise;

Matthew 18:3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

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A Plumbline for Idolatry

Do you want a clear indicator of idolatry in your life?

I have a very simple one.

It’s the yoke of Christ.

Questions:

What or who causes me to desire to walk independently of Christ?

What or who lures me away from Christ?

What or who causes me to forget about Christ?

Bingo!

There you have it. Ask yourself these questions when you get detoured. Then prayerfully trace them back to the source of the lure.

Keep in mind that idols are often the superficial representations of the deeper need we harbor. For instance, the idolatry of a thing can represent an insecurity from a wound buried in our past or the idolatry of a person can represent a deep childhood need that was never met.

Ask the LORD to expose the underlying root of the issue. Wait patiently for Him to act. Don’t put His answer or insight for you in a box! He can do or use anything and loves to surprise you.

When He shows you, it can be all at once or in progressive stages of revelation. When He reveals it, ask Him what to do about it. He will show you. For example, over time you could heal the heart issue by grieving the loss or if the situation is more circumstantial, you could reframe it.

Whatever the case, let Him expose the lures for what they really are and lead you daily in how to stay in His yoke!

 

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What’s His is Mine

By Your kindness to me (Eph. 2:5),

I am in You (1 Cor. 6:17),

Part of Your body (1 Cor. 12:27).

Your heart is my home (Matt. 6:21).

Bible treasureYour Word is my playground (Ps. 119:162).

Your body is my family (1 Cor. 12:12).

Your salvation is my cleanliness (Jn 13:10).

Your Spirit is my guide (1 Jn 2:27).

Your character is my conformity (2 Cor. 3:18).

Your glory is my hope (Col. 1:27).

Your faithfulness is my rest (Lam. 3:22-23).

Your heaven is my destination (Heb 13:14).

 

Ephesians 2:3b-5 Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

1 Corinthians 6:17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Matthew 6:21 Where your treasure is there will be your heart also.

Psalm 119:162 I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure.

1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit–just as it has taught you, remain in him.

Colossians 1:27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Lamentations 3:22-23 The Lord’s loving kindness indeed never ceases, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

Hebrews 13:14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

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How We Are Like Jesus

In this world, we are like Jesus (1 Jn 4:17b).

But how can we be like Him with all of our bad habits and sinful mistakes?

God is spirit (John 4:24). He sees us with spiritual eyes. When we were spiritually dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1), He brought us to spiritual life, in His likeness (1 John 3:1), in the new birth. In that, He cleansed us (Jn 13:10, 15:3) and bestowed His light of life to us (2 Cor. 4:6) to bear His likeness and share with others.

If we could view with a spiritual infrared camera the true nature of souls all over the world, we would see two types of souls through our lens. Most would be dark inside, grayish or blackish in nature.

The other souls would be different, strikingly set apart (Ps. 4:3, Prov. 4:18). We would see illumination in them, a spark or flame of brightness within (Jn 8:12). Some would actually glow all over (Eph. 3:19). This is the light of Christ (Jn 1:4), the seal of the Holy Spirit. These souls are the purchased saints of God (Phil. 2:15).

This is how we are like Christ in the world:

The world is dark (Eph. 6:12).

We are in the world (Jn 17:16).

Christ is light (Jn 1:4).

He gave us His light (2 Cor. 4:6).

We carry it inside (2 Cor. 4:6).

Like flickering candles (Mark 4:21)

His light within illuminates (Phil. 2:15)

Everywhere we go (2 Cor. 2:15).

It casts out darkness (2 Cor. 4:6).

We are not of this world (Jn 18:36, Jn 17:16).

The world does not know the Father or His children (1 John 3:1).

We belong to the Father (Eph. 1:14).

He owns us (Eph. 1:14).

Our home is His home, heaven (2 Cor. 5:8)

In this world, we are like Christ (1 Jn 4:17b).

 

John 4:24 God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

1 John 4:17b In this world we are like Jesus.

John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in trespasses and sins

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

John 1:4 In Him was life [and the power to bestow life], and the life was the Light of men.

John 8:12 Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, “I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Philippians 2:15 so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish in the midst of a [morally] crooked and [spiritually] perverted generation, among whom you are seen as bright lights [beacons shining out clearly] in the world [of darkness],

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the[Holy] Spirit who is from God

Mark 4:21 Then Jesus asked them, “Would anyone light a lamp and then put it under a basket or under a bed? Of course not! A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light will shine.

2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

2 Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

John 13:10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean.

John 15:3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

Psalm 4:3 Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself

Ephesians 1:14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

Ephesians 3:19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

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The Cracks in Our Armor

Ephesians 6:11 tells us to “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

Okay, I agree. I put on my armor. So, why am I still having these issues?

I’ll tell you why.

Let’s talk about the cracks in our armor.  Yes, the cracks.

Those concealed places where the enemy has privatearmor access to our souls.

You know. Uh-hmm. The places where he triggers and ambushes us.

So, what are the cracks in our armor…?

The cracks are the LIES we believe. Yes, LIES!

As the original liar and father of lies, the enemy has access to every area where we are “in agreement” with him. Wherever we believe a lie, he dominates there. (Pssst…In fact, believing a lie in some cases can even make us, in that area, his personal assistant.)

In John 14:30, Christ says, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me…”

Having no “claim on” means “having nothing in common with.” In that statement, Christ announced He had nothing at all in common with the enemy. In other words, Christ is the embodiment of truth, Truth Itself, and no lies or darkness ever abide in Him. Thus, the enemy has nothing in agreement with, no “claim on” or in Christ.

On the other hand, the father of lies has “claim on” us as humans wherever we believe a lie. Obviously, we must deal with lies and darkness while living in this fallen world. Wherever we believe lies within our souls, in that area, the enemy has “in common” with us.  That means he has “claim on” that lie in the soul. He can dominate us there and operate out of it as he pleases.

The enemy knows all about the lies we believe because he’s the one who planted them there. Lies can be embedded anywhere within our souls. He uses them to trigger us, tempt us, and deceive us and, make us miserable.

Foundational lies are special lies strategically planted very early in life. These specifically target our IDENTITY and our WORTH. The enemy’s goal is to fashion us with weakness and vulnerability in those foundational areas. For he knows if he can knock out part of the foundation, then he can topple the whole house (Matt. 12:25).

childrenA personal example, on the Kindergarten school van I was terrorized for a whole year by two older boys. I summoned all the courage I could to ask for help three times from the authority figures. Unfortunately, none of the adults I reached out to responded or helped me. In fact, looking back on it, they blatantly dismissed me. That was the first of many times I experienced being bullied as a youth.

In my five-year-old mind during that year of trauma, I fell far away from people. And people fell far away from me. A deep cavern of non-reality formed between us.

At that time, I concluded firmly in my subconscious mind that the definition of my existence was helplessness, powerlessness, and worthlessness. Little did I know at the time that these lies would affect me for the next forty years.

The enemy uses our circumstances to insert lies like those at a tender age when we have not yet developed any defenses. Or when the lie seems to make sense to us.

The conclusive lie makes perfect sense in the circumstance and so we agree with it. We do this because our little minds are always trying to figure things out. They make childish conclusions about circumstances to make sense of them. Over time the lie nestles in and hides deep within our souls.

Lies we internalized at a very young age still operate within us as adults without our awareness. In fact, lies remain fully operative in the soul until they are extracted.

These lies are the cracks in our armor.

The most efficient way to heal from these lies is to expose them and replace them with His truth. I thought I knew freedom until last year, three deep-seated lies were extracted from my soul. Wow, what a subtle but profound expansion of freedom and relief!

As believers, of course, we want nothing in common with the enemy. But we all have areas in common with him in the lies we believe. In those exact places, he will dominate us until his lies are removed.

No one can extract these lies from our souls without our permission, not even the LORD. He is a gentleman and gives us free will. We must voluntarily choose extraction. We must ask Him to expose the lie and replace it with His truth.

revealAsk the LORD to reveal the lies that you believe. Then watch what happens. You will learn to be aware of your circumstances and behavior like never before. For it is through circumstances and behavior that the LORD exposes the lies.

Becoming overly upset or disturbed is evidence of a lie. We can say that strong emotions are like lie detectors. Our emotional scale runs from zero to ten, zero being no emotion and ten being rage or something similar. When our emotions hit above a 5, we can be sure that a lie hides underneath that emotion fanning the flames in the current circumstance.

Years ago when my husband would speak to me in a rude, domineering way, and then refused to apologize and defend himself instead, my emotions would quake as my amygdala quaked with the feeling of being bullied again. Sure, as my husband, he had no business speaking to me that way, and definitely owed me an apology and some behavior changes. But I had my own business of healing to tend to as well.

So, I have invested in myself by pursuing various avenues of healing for those severely damaging childhood experiences and how they skewed my life lens. Due to my practice of lie extraction and my husband’s growing humility and maturity, our marriage has grown to a better place.

Pay attention to very strong emotions or a sudden change of your strond emotion 2countenance that indicate a lie is present. When you’re alone, unpack the situation. Focus on the emotion you felt and a memory will naturally surface. Ask the LORD to show you the lie you internalized while feeling that emotion. It will relate to your identity or condition.

Identity-related lies: “I am powerless,” “I am unlovable,” “I am a defect.”

Condition-related lies: “I am trapped,” “I am dirty,” “I am out of control.”

Speak out the lie you believed in that memory and ask the LORD what He thinks about it. Wait for His input.

Be mindful of any beliefs or lies that “block” access to the foundational lies you seek to have healed. For instance, if you feel a strong emotion and the associated memory won’t surface, a lie is blocking the memory. “If I remember that, I will die.” Obviously, that belief is a lie. Remembering something cannot kill you. That belief serves to barricade you from accessing the memory in which you can expose the foundational lie which keeps you bound.

healing

The LORD sees it all and desires to set you free. He will bring light into your darkness. And when He does, that lie will be healed forever. This is the power of the Savior. Take action to heal your wounds. Open up. Be aware.

The Great Physician Wonderful Counselor desires to heal and seal the cracks in your armor. Let Him.

 

Matthew 12:25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.

Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,

Luke 5:31, 32 They that are whole have no need of a physician; but they that are sick. I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance

Luke 4:18 He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted

Matthew 8:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross,
And their ears are dull of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed;
Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And should turn again,
And I should heal them

John 5:6-9 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately the man became well, and picked up his pallet and began to walk.

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Proverbs 20:27 The human spirit is the lamp of the LORD that sheds light on one’s inmost being.

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Luke 6:49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.

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Emotions

Emotions!

Whether we choose to feel them or not, our souls are filled with emotions. We may think we’re not supposed to have them, then we don’t know what to do with them.

emotionsLet’s put emotions in context:

  1. Emotions don’t know fantasy from reality. When you watch a stressful movie, your heart races. But your emotions don’t know that the movie’s not real.
  2. Emotions don’t know the difference between past, present or future. You’re triggered in the present…but your emotions don’t know that it’s actually not the current event upsetting you, only the painful memory connected to it that is causing you to overreact.
  3. Emotions act like bullies convincing us that they define ultimate reality.
  4. Emotions reveal what we actually believe deep down.

Emotions suffer from a serious lack of intelligence and understanding, don’t they? But we know that when they are given too much power, they can surely wreak havoc in our hearts and lives.

~LYING TO OURSELVES

Unfortunately, as a result of sin, some of our well-meaning cultures and religions, teach in the vein of shame, guilt and “being strong” that certain emotions are acceptable and others are not. Thus, we often grow up telling ourselves, “I shouldn’t be angry about that” or “I can’t cry” while our guts silently shudder and our eyes hold back tears. The irony of the “being strong” mantra is that regardless of how many tears we hold back, denying our emotional truth is lying to ourselves. Denial can never make us strong, only phony.

We must admit that we have been trained to lie to ourselves about our emotions.

Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Question: How can we “pour out our hearts to Him” if we refuse to acknowledge and feel certain emotions? Hmmm…We can’t.

Conclusion: Denying emotions prevents us from obeying Scripture.

~MADE IN HIS IMAGE

Imperative it is for us to know and believe that God gave us all of our emotions! We are created in His image and experience the same emotions He does, although ours can be tainted and distorted by sin. God experiences emotions and Christ did as well while He was incarnate (Heb. 4:15-16). Sorrow, abandonment, agony, rage. (See verses below)

Christ is not surprised or offended by any emotion we have, especially when weJesus saving man bring it to Him in honesty and vulnerability for help and healing (Heb.4:15,16). Did we forget that He was tempted in every way and can fully relate to whatever we may bring to Him? Not to mention, He knows it all before we even admit it to ourselves. He desires us to submit our wounded and distorted emotions to Him so He can heal them and restore our hearts to live in His reality.

Ken Nair (Discovering the Mind of a Woman) calls emotions “the voice of the spirit.” Our emotions were designed to be acknowledged, felt and expressed in a safe and accepting environment. However, the ever-broadening and deepening effects of sin on mankind all the way back to Adam force us to choose wisely who we share our emotions with. Dumping emotional baggage in a safe environment is therapeutic and healing, allowing us to grow closer to God (Rom. 12:15, Js. 5:16).

Remember in the movie, Forrest Gump, Lieutenant Dan screaming on the mast of the shrimp boat in the storm? He raged at God! Ironically, by unleashing his rage toward God for allowing him to lose his legs on the battlefield, he “made his peace with God.” That’s how it works.

Rage out. Peace in.

On the contrary, stuffing emotions does just the opposite.

~EMOTIONAL CONSTIPATION

When emotions are stuffed, over time they collect, infect and cause illness in spirit, mind, and body. The laws of physics, designed by God, dictate that the old substance must exit from an organism to make room for the new substance to enter; that’s the inflow-outflow balance of everything, including emotional health.

We cannot heal that which we refuse to recognize and process. In our refusal to recognize and process, we stay locked in an internal division. We divide ourselves inside, constructing a civil war within our hearts. In other words, part of us turns against ourselves in agreement with a lie which harms us. Stuffed emotions are toxic and can shake us to our foundation. No wonder Jesus said,” A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Luke 11:17).

clogged pipe

Graphic example, but can you imagine refusing to release your bladder and bowel for a day, a week, a month or longer. How would you feel? Would this refusal lend itself to health or illness? Rhetorical question. But this ridiculous example illustrates our emotional refusal.

God-designed a common sense principle that applies to our bodies and our emotions: “Out with the old, in with the new!” Our emotions are invisible and intangible but serve as a foundational gateway to the heart. Even though they hide “buried alive” inside of us, we witness their powerful reality as they randomly burst forth stealing center stage of our hearts.

Waste out. Nutrition in.

Each emotional denial is a heavy chain wrapped around our hearts and minds. When we live with emotional chains binding us, we live lying to ourselves about our emotions. We do this subconsciously to please the people who taught us those lies. This binds us to the fear of man which is idolatry. As a result, we lose the ability to be truthful with ourselves, God and others. This toxic habit fashions us as Pharisees. Most importantly, emotional self-deception occurs in the heart. And a heart packed with lies can never feel close to God.

Remember, God is all about the heart (Matt. 5:28, Matt. 15:8).

~HONESTY AND TRUTH

My remedy for emotional constipation begins with giving yourself “official permission” which is ordained by God (Ps. 62:8) to feel anything toward anyone, including God. Open the floodgates of honesty and truth! The truth is that emotions aren’t necessarily bad or good. They are often neutral indicators of deeper issues. But they always cause trouble when stuffed, neglected and denied.

floodgatesGradually, open the floodgates of honesty and truth, firstly with yourself, then with God, and eventually with others.

Two of our class students I recently helped to pass over the intimidating threshold of emotional denial to the peaceful meadow of honesty and truth. Scary it was to allow their hearts to feel for the first time what they were never allowed to feel growing up. But oh, what relief and clarity they are finding!

Read the Psalms. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you time and space to allow your heart to come to light and experience your emotions naturally. Ask Him to reveal the lies you believe that block them from surfacing.

As strong emotions surface, always use internal boundaries being careful not to hurt another (especially children) just because they happen to be nearby. Save the feelings and journal them in an “Emotions Notebook.” Purge your emotions from feeling them to writing them down, from invisible to visible, from intangible to tangible. When you externalize your emotions, they become easier to process.

Pour out your heart to Him in your time alone. Bare your soul. Bawl. Rage. Sit in emptiness (Ps. 62:8).

The more you feel and express your emotions,

  • the more room you make for the Holy Spirit to heal and dwell in those places
  • the more you will walk yoked with God, not in your head but in your heart
  •  the more truth you will live in spirit, mind, and body
  • the more you will live in authenticity
  • the more sin patterns will fall by the wayside
  • the less your emotions will control you

In this way, God wants us to learn to be good stewards of our emotions (Matt. 11:28, Rom. 8:1, Heb 4:15,16).

Pain out. Comfort in.

~TRIGGERS

Our subconscious mind remembers everything we’ve experienced throughout our lives. Everything we’ve experienced carries corresponding emotions, good and bad. The good emotions we tend to remember less because they are benign. The bad emotions we remember well because they hurt.

Current events can trigger the hurt of bad memories which feel similar. Triggers catch us off guard. The triggered bad emotions that hurt serve as blinking lights on the dashboard of our souls. When you see a blinking light on the dashboard of your car, do you cover it with a sticky note? Of course, you don’t! You take it to get serviced to fix the problem.

But stuffing emotions is the equivalent of covering the car’s blinking light with a sticky note! Like we care for our car, we must care for ourselves and address the underlying heart issue that the blinking light of strong emotions alerts us about.

flame

We each have an emotional scale of 1-10. Emotional reactions that register 1-5 generally indicate that we are reacting only to the current circumstance. However, when our reaction jumps from 6-10 (or higher), we are overreacting to the current circumstance while it is being fueled by a painful memory which feels the same. The memory is the gasoline fueling the circumstantial flicker causing it to explode and feel like the current situation alone.

Our emotions behave this way because

1) God designed our brains to connect and categorize similar incidents from our past to our present for our protection and understanding

2) God designed memories naturally to attach to strong emotions

Let me share a personal example.

One damaging experience includes me being bullied as a child. At age five, the bullying began, lasting one full year, and then randomly recurred thereafter through age eleven. During this time, my emotions repeatedly imploded by shutting down psychologically and emotionally to survive.

Later on as an adult, whenever someone would speak to me in a bossy or dominant tone or I witnessed an argument, I instantly overreacted. I didn’t usually show it, but I spiked internally to an emotional 10+, feeling like I was about to be berated or punched, and later unable to remember the incident. This pattern, along with other damaging circumstances, impaired my brain and my health and made some relationships excruciatingly difficult for me.

The pattern continued until I learned bravely to acknowledge and express my emotions. I finally gave them a voice. Now that I have experienced significant healing with that development and various modalities, I no longer get triggered by someone’s tone of voice and I am learning what it means to relax.

bell curveKeep in mind that in the process of learning to express emotions, you may venture through a “balancing” period to cleanse and regulate your emotional self. You may start at one end of the bell curve (expressing no emotion) and swing to the other end of the bell curve (expressing every emotion). Be encouraged, though, that as you progress in your growth swinging back and forth you will eventually settle in the middle of the bell curve. In this new more balanced place, you learn to express and process emotion more naturally and appropriately to the situation.

~THE SOLUTION

Emotions can interfere with life or they can enhance it. This all depends on how we choose to view and handle our emotions.

  • Instead of seeing them as enemies, we can choose to befriend our emotions.
  • Instead of ignoring them, we can give them a voice.
  • Instead of fighting them, we can learn to express them in healthy ways.

So, in dealing with emotions, what’s the solution that honors God, ourselves and others?

In Psalm 51:6, God says that He “desires truth in the innermost parts.” Truth is the opposite of lies and self-deception. Innermost means “covered, dark hidden spaces.”

These “hidden spaces” are the recesses of our souls that hold our painful emotions. So in Psalm 51:6, God reveals the solution for how to deal with emotions. He wants us to acknowledge, feel and express to Him our deep, hidden personal truths.

hurt heartExpressing honesty and truth is the first step toward developing the emotional expression and regulation we desire. After expressing our damaged emotions, we exchange them for God’s eternal healing truth.

Layer by layer as this happens, His truth replaces the emotional pain we’ve expressed. Over time, this process of expressing and receiving results in emotional regulation. Because this process transforms our emotional self into the image of Christ, we know that it is God’s will.

Layer by layer, as we become more and more honest with ourselves and with Him, His eternal truth remains constant while our emotional releases free us to walk more in agreement with Him.

This happens over time, one genuine emotion at a time.

Emotions out. Holy Spirit in.

 

Reflective Questions:

Have you been taught that certain emotions are unacceptable?

While growing up, were you free to express all of your emotions?

Do you fear emotions?

What emotions do you tend to stuff or ignore?

Are there situations that trigger you, leaving you without emotional relief?

Do you believe God fully understands every one of your emotions?

Do you believe God puts limitations on what you can share with Him?

Do you acknowledge your genuine emotions freely with yourself? With God?

Do you journal your emotions and in them ask God to reveal His truth to set you free?

Do you have a safe person(s) to share emotions with regularly?

Are you open to get healing for your damaged emotions?

Will you ask God to teach you to be a good steward of your emotions so you can grow in Christlikeness and live in authenticity?

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Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

Hebrews 4:15,16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Luke 11:17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall.

Matthew 5:28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Matthew 15:8 These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Ecclesiastes 3:2-8

A time to be born and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.

A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.

A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.

A time to throw away stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.

A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.

A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to keep silent and a time to speak.

A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

John 11:35 Jesus wept.

Matthew 27:46 (Psalm 22:1) About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud [agonized] voice, My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning?

Luke 22:44 And being in agony [deeply distressed and anguished; almost to the point of death], He prayed more intently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down on the ground.

Matthew 23:13-36:  The Eight Woes

“But woe (judgment is coming) to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven in front of people; for you do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow those who are [in the process of] entering to do so. 14 [Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you swallow up widows’ houses, and to cover it up you make long prayers; therefore you will receive the greater condemnation.]

15 “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte (convert to Judaism), and when he becomes a convert, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.

16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears [an oath] by the sanctuary of the temple, that is nothing (non-binding); but whoever swears [an oath] by the gold of the temple is obligated [as a debtor to fulfill his vow and keep his promise].’ 17 You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the sanctuary of the temple that sanctified the gold?18 And [you scribes and Pharisees say], ‘Whoever swears [an oath] by the altar, that is nothing (non-binding), but whoever swears [an oath] by the offering on it, he is obligated [as a debtor to fulfill his vow and keep his promise].’ 19 You [spiritually] blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? 20 Therefore, whoever swears[an oath] by the altar, swears both by it and by everything [offered] on it. 21 And whoever swears [an oath] by the sanctuary of the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells within it. 22 And whoever swears [an oath] by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

23 “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you give a tenth (tithe) of your mint and dill and cumin [focusing on minor matters], and have neglected the weightier[more important moral and spiritual] provisions of the Law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the [primary] things you ought to have done without neglecting the others.24 You [spiritually] blind guides, who strain out a gnat [consuming yourselves with miniscule matters] and swallow a camel [ignoring and violating God’s precepts]!

25 “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and robbery and self-indulgence (unrestrained greed). 26 You [spiritually] blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the plate [examine and change your inner self to conform to God’s precepts], so that the outside [your public life and deeds] may be clean also.

27 “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28 So you, also, outwardly seem to be just and upright to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build tombs for the prophets and decorate and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and you say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have joined them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the [allotted] measure of the guilt of your fathers’ sins. 33 You serpents, you spawn of vipers, how can you escape the penalty of hell?

34 “Therefore, take notice, I am sending you prophets and wise men [interpreters, teachers] and scribes [men educated in the Mosaic Law and the writings of the prophets]; some of them you will kill and even crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues, and pursue and persecute from city to city, 35 so that on you will come the guilt of all the blood of the righteous shed on earth, from the blood of righteous [f]Abel to the blood of Zechariah [the priest], the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 I assure you and most solemnly say to you, [the judgment for] all these things [these vile and murderous deeds] will come on this generation.

 

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Spirit

Spirit cover pageYears ago, my three oldest daughters loved watching the Dreamworks movie, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002). One afternoon, I finally sat, and with the eyes of a child of God, watched it with them. The adventuresome movie surprisingly lifted my spirit and inspired me in my faith as I identified keenly with the main character, Spirit. In fact, I still like to watch it once a year, especially if I need a boost.

Matt Damon narrates while Brian Adams sings the theme song and others. While some may argue semantics over plot details and specific lyrics, the big picture spiritual significance of the film for me is uncanny.

Spirit and eagle

Horses and eagles symbolize strength and freedom (Is. 40:31, Jer. 4:13). They introduce and carry the themes of adventure, challenge, and freedom throughout the film. The wind, a symbol of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8), calls by name, Spirit, a mustang stallion. Lyrics sound, “I hear the wind call my name. It calls me back home again…It sparks up the fire (2 Tim. 1:6), a flame that still burns…  I will always return…. In the hour of darkness, your light gets me through… I can’t stand the distance (homesick)… I can’t wait to see you cause I’m on my way home.”

Spirit’s extended equine family lives together on a peaceful plain he calls home. This place to me is the Sabbath Rest, the Promised Land, of Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:11). Spirit, a strong and willful leader, sometimes must learn lessons the hard way. In curiosity, he initially ventures off from the herd to investigate a campsite full of humans, something he had never before seen. In his failure to mind his own business, to his surprise, the men capture him (Rom. 7:24, 1 Pet.5:8-9).

Spirit in bondage

His choice to investigate places he was not invited is likened to trespassing (Matt. 6:14, 1 Thes. 4:11). The trespass brings him more than he bargained for, inviting strongholds which take hold of him, landing him in the fight of his life (Js. 4:7) to survive, escape and find home again. After escape attempts, they capture him twice more. Finding along his journey a lovely mare, Rain, and a Lakota companion, he spends the rest of the story fighting to escape the bondages which hold him and return to the peace and freedom of his blessed home (Gal. 5:13).

Throughout his adventures, he longs for the freedom he once knew and is absolutely determined to return (Joel 2:12). He knows that freedom (Gal. 5:13) is where he belongs (Heb. 4:11). His challenge grows in how to return, and ultimately, how to stay there (Ps. 84:10).

The turning point in the film occurs when they capture him the third time and finally, he experiences brokenness (Ps. 51:17, 34:18). But dawning in his spirit, truth raises him up from despair as he remembers who he is. The lyrics sound, “Remember who you are (2 Cor 5:17)” and “You’re a soldier (2 Tim. 2:4) now, fighting in a battle to be free once more (Gal. 5:13). That’s worth fighting for (1 Tim. 6:12).” He makes a final escape.

Spirit jumping

In the last escape with his Indian buddy riding on his back, Spirit gets cornered and finds himself hardpressed between facing recapture or certain death. He chooses the latter. With his whole heart, he charges and vaults across a vast, impassable canyon. Unbelievably, with faith and courage carrying him across, he lands safely (Matt. 19:26) on the other side. Spirit then stands in victory facing the enemy (Js. 4:7).

To me, this final scene represents faith (Luke 17:5) grown strong and stretched long to land in Psalm 27:4-6. In fact, it illustrates accurately the LORD’S strategic maneuver in my life which led me to jump, like Spirit did, across the impassable canyon of unbelief to rest in a new territory.

For some, Spirit is just another kids movie, but for me, it’s much more than that. It holds the story of my personal spiritual journey. Gidee-up!

Spirit and eagel togetherSPIRIT SONG THEMES:

Brothers Under the Sun

 Christ is our brother (Heb 2:14,15 ) under the sun (Eccl.1:9) who became a man “just the same” as we are (Heb 2:14,15) and is with us in every circumstance (Heb 13:5).

Fly Like an Eagle

Listening and following (John 10:27) the Holy Spirit down the long and difficult road of life leading to your home in heaven; wanting to grow closer to Christ (Ps. 42:2); seeing Him work things for good (Rom. 8:28); knowledge, hope and faith carrying you through the valleys (Ps. 23:4); learning to fly on eagles wings (Is. 40:31); always returning to Him.

Get Off My Back

Message to the enemy of your soul: Enough! (Js. 4:7) Stop harassing me, bullying me, tempting me, distracting me (Matt. 16:23). I’m divorcing myself from you in every way (Eph 6:14a). Deciding to release every idol (Is. 31:7), press in and go deep into Christ where the enemy loses access (Ps. 47:4-6).

Here I Am

Finding the Sabbath Rest and wanting to stay there forever (Heb 4:11). “Here I am. This is me. There’s nowhere else on earth I’d rather be…” Here I am, empty-handed. I offer myself to You. Do with me as You will. Cause me to agree with You to do Your will.

I Will Always Return

Holy Spirit drawing you closer stirring up the flame within (2 Tim. 1:6) and speaking to your spirit; “my every road leads to you” working all things for the good (Rom. 8:28) and leading you through the valleys (Ps.23:4); wanting to bathe in the Living Waters (John 7:38) and be warmed by the light of Christ (John 8:12). Whatever happens, I will always return to You.

Nothing I’ve Ever Known

Sabbath Rest is a place that few find and even fewer stay (Heb. 4:11). It’s nothing humans have ever known. The Holy Spirit calls us there and leads us there, in unpredictable and mysterious ways.

Sound the Bugle

Song of brokenness and despair leads to soul restoration in truth by remembering who you are in Christ. You are a soldier and you must fight for the freedom that God gives you. Lay down your idols. Fight, not with your own power, but with grace and truth (John 1:14).

This is Where I Belong

Returning to the peace and freedom of the Sabbath Rest when you’ve forgotten or been distracted and drifted away (Zech. 1:3).

You Can’t Take Me

Song to the enemy of your soul. He can’t have you because you’re in Christ. Christ gave you freedom and you will find it and live in it. Feeling bullied to leave the Rest of God; moving through troubles; fighting with grace and truth; Holy Spirit moving inside you leading you to recognize and release idols (enemy targets) which leads to freedom; paradoxically making every effort (Heb. 4:11) to stay there deep inside of Christ where you hide protected from the enemy (Ps. 47:4-6).

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Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Jeremiah 4:13 “Behold, he goes up like clouds, And his chariots like the whirlwind; His horses are swifter than eagles Woe to us, for we are ruined!”

John 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Hebrews 4:11 Let us, therefore, give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience.

Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

1 Peter 5:8-9 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Ephesians 6:14a Stand firm

Isaiah 31:7 For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

1 Thes 4:11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you,

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

Joel 2:12 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.

Psalm 84:10 “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Matthew 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Psalm 42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].

Psalm 27:4-6 The one thing I want from God, the thing I seek most of all, is the privilege of meditating in his Temple, living in his presence every day of my life, delighting in his incomparable perfections and glory. There I’ll be when troubles come. He will hide me. He will set me on a high rock out of reach of all my enemies.

2 Timothy 2:4 and as Christ’s soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in worldly affairs, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Zechariah 1:3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty.

Luke 17:5 “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Hebrews 2:14-15 Therefore, since [these His] children share in flesh and blood [the physical nature of mankind], He Himself in a similar manner also shared in the same [physical nature, but without sin], so that through [experiencing] death He might make powerless (ineffective, impotent) him who had the power of death—that is, the devil— and [that He] might free all those who through [the haunting] fear of death were held in slavery throughout their lives.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

John 7:38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

 Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 That which has been is that which will be [again], And that which has been done is that which will be done again. So there is nothing new under the sun.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed—be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “>I will never [under any circumstances] desert you[nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you[assuredly not]!”

John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.

Matthew 16:23 But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on things of God, but on things of man.”

2 Timothy 1:6 For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

 John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.
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Prayers for Authenticity

LORD, please heal my heart and teach my soul with your mercy and grace so that my head and heart meet at my lips and I speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

authentic image

LORD, please help me overcome fear and distrust to embrace and express all of my emotions in the proper context. You designed every emotion and delight in my expression of them as I heal and grow in the abundant life (Ps. 51:6).

LORD, please help me to believe that You see, understand, fully accept and want to heal my deepest hurts, needs, traumas, and pain so that I can be real with You and others.

LORD, please help me find safe people to apply James 5:16 confession within the body so that I may be healed.

LORD, please heal my broken heart and remove the beams from my eyes so that I can grow to be a safe person for others to be authentic with.

LORD, please cause me to follow Your Spirit in Your power, love and sound mind, NOT in fear, pride, pretense or seeking approval from man.

LORD, please let me know and experience that you have replaced my sin nature (Rom. 7:17, 2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 2:4-10, Gal. 6:15) with Your DNA (Your Holy Spirit, the new holy nature) with all my sin forgiven forever so that I never have to feel guilty or ashamed or condemned in my growth process.

LORD, please help me to live as a “hopeless and helpless without You” (Matt. 9:36, Eph. 2:!2) sheep who delights in following wherever you lead me simply because You, My Good Shepherd, are there with me.

Authenticity image 2LORD, please open my eyes to Satan’s deceptions in myself and others that block me from healing and give me the courage to “carefront” (confront caringly) or maneuver around them.

LORD, please help me to step out and plant seeds of appropriate authenticity in others (whether or not they oblige) as an invitation for them to be authentic.

LORD, please help me see that the more I trust You in living authentically, the more I will become like You.

 

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ.

Psalm 51:6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,

James 5:16 Confess your sins and faults to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.

Romans 7:17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

Ephesians 2:4-10 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Ephesians 2:12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

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Doubt Your Doubt, Not Your Faith

Do you struggle with doubt?

I’ve always heard “Doubt your doubt, not your faith.”

Although living daily in a fallen world brings plenty of struggles for me, I have never doubted my God-given faith. Mostly because it’s more real to me than this keyboard I’m typing on.

 

BOOKIn spite of the historical and scientific evidence, many still struggle against deceiving spirits. If you’re feeling the Atheistic pull or know someone who is, here’s a read (or a listen on audible) that will surely deliver a clear and simple boost in the faith. Packed with data, it’s over 400 pages, including appendices, notes and indexes.

 

Below is the author, Frank Turek, at Solace Church.

 

Matthew 17:20 And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

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The Gentleness of God

At Midweek service the other day, the pastor asked us what was our favorite characteristic of God.  My favorite characteristic of God would have to be His gentleness.

feather

It’s interesting for me to realize that apart from my relationship with God, persistent gentleness I have never known. I’ve caught glimmers of it in the caress of a cool summer breeze or in the dainty skip of a crumb-seeking sparrow. But experiencing gentleness on a daily basis is not usually the case with people.

Persistent gentleness heals and transforms the soul. If you take an abused child and place him in a safe, loving home where gentleness is the norm, over time his withdrawn or disruptive behavior will change. The gentleness will calm his soul and heal his wounds from the abuse. The child will transform into a calmer and more trusting soul.

Gentleness is a rare characteristic to find. Extraordinary it is to discover that gentleness exists in full measure. Even more extraordinary to find that it is found abundantly in our omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Creator. This characteristic of His tells me that we, as His creation, are meant to experience gentleness on a regular basis. And that He is there to deliver it to us personally.

For many years when I cared for my four children, He led me in paths of gentleness (Is. 40:11). In His yoke, I have learned that He is the ultimate gentleman and in that awareness, over time He has given me rest for my soul (Matt. 11:29). Compared to years ago when simply making it through the day was such a challenge, now I am doing “great” (Ps. 18:35) all because of His steadfast gentleness with me. All the gentleness He has shown me I received eagerly and integrated it into my hungry soul so that now I freely share His gentleness with others on a regular basis (Gal. 5:22-23, John 15:5).

gentleness

 

Do you know the LORD’S gentleness? If you do, thank Him for it.

If you don’t, ask Him to show you His gentleness. Then expect to experience it in your life.

 

 

Isaiah 40:11 He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and lead those that are with young.

2 Corinthians 10:1 I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

2 Samuel 22:26 You have given me the shield of your salvation,

Psalm 18:35 You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, your gentleness has made me great.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

 John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

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Strengthened by Grace

FullSizeRender.jpg-5As I walked Angus along the familiar neighborhood tree-lined sidewalk, my mind flitted around as usual from ideas to memories to plans. All of a sudden, I felt two heavy, cushiony blows on the back of my head. I stopped.

I suddenly felt as if I were starring in an episode of the Twilight Zone. I stood still, confused and totally disoriented. 

I looked behind me. No one. Nothing. I looked up and around. I saw some birthday balloons tied to a mailbox. Although the blows felt soft like a balloon, balloons weren’t the culprit. Perplexed, I stood there determined to figure this out.

In curiosity, I retraced my steps and soon heard in a tree the loud fussing of a mocking bird directed at me. I laughed out loud as I began to understand. Apparently, Angus and I had walked too close to her nest and she had dive-bombed me twice on the back of the head to protect her turf.

There’s a first time for everything.

But wait. I could have mindlessly shrugged that off as coincidence. Ha! But I know, for certain, that at this point in my life, nothing happens by chance. I belong to the LORD who controls all of heaven and earth. Not one speck of dust can move one inch without His permission. So, if He controls everything, then He controlled that mocking bird.

What was His point in all this, I wondered. 

Could the LORD be speaking to me through a mocking bird?

I reviewed my steps along that stretch of the sidewalk and nothing significant came to mind. Then it occurred to me that my inner life is always much more significant to Him than my outer. So, I reviewed my progression of thoughts during that stretch of the walk.

What was I thinking right before the blows hit me…? I wondered.

I remember! I was recalling a conversation my friends had at church the previous week. They commented enthusiastically on how very handsome this man was who we see there every week. As I recounted their excitement, I had agreed with them in my heart matter-of-factly that he was very handsome, and in so doing “entered into” their hormonal stirring… Ah-ha! That was my thought the moment before the blows hit me.

Realizing that my thought instigated the blows, I laughed out loud. I felt delight in God’s creative correction of me in keeping my focus and guarding my heart. I continued walking along feeling elated that He would care enough for me to speak directly to an indiscreet thought in such a playful and surprising, and impactful way.

When I got home, I immediately sat down at my computer to search for something more, but I didn’t know what. I wanted to go deeper with this, but I had no path to run on. So I just sat there.

shaft of light

A moment later as the sun continued to rise over the back of the neighborhood, a shaft of light beamed into my office over my desk. Suspended in stillness in the light shaft were the usual nondescript tiny specks of dust and lint. In the middle of them though, a large figurine-like shred of dust took center stage and in slow-motion floated toward me.

As it did, it rotated carefully as if on a display case for me to examine.

As I became enthralled with this image, I sensed a distinct uplifting impression, “This is for you.”

 

As I noticed this brilliant image, I was so surprised because I recognized it as resembling a letter from the Hebrew alphabet. Could the LORD be speaking to me through a piece of dust? I eagerly googled the Hebrew alphabet wondering if this could possible have anything to do with the mocking bird.

Bingo! There was the Hebrew letter that resembled the large shred of floating dust. The name of the letter is Lamed.

LAMED

I now had a path to run on: Lamed! 

The pictograph for the letter, Lamed, looks like a Shepherd’s staff or a goad. Lamed is the tallest Hebrew letter and the middle letter or “the heart” of the Hebrew alphabet. It means “to goad, prod or prick” as a Shepherd would do in guiding His sheep. Lamed represents authority and heart knowledge and its root meaning is “to learn or teach.” Lamed is not meant to lead us to merely head knowledge but to spur us on to action in heart and deed.

“Governing His territory” is my favorite meaning behind this letter.

Could the LORD have used a mocking bird and a piece of dust to bring attention to my meandering (and potentially harmful) thoughts?? Yes!

I know He owns me and my mind. This lesson showed me just how much He owns my mind, and how important it is to Him. Through this penetrating experience, I feel deeply loved by Him, protected by Him and inspired to abandon even more of myself and my mind to His constant care.

I have always viewed men through the eyes of a very heterosexual woman. Now that I’ve been married for nearly thirty years, I don’t lust after them anymore, but I have a lingering tendency to make an idol of them because of my history. With all of my healing, I know that the domineering idol of “men” fell years ago, but maybe in all this there were a few broken fragments still left lying there on the altar of my heart. And maybe the enemy had an evil plan to lure me to tip toe toward a particularly handsome one.

Who knows??

The LORD does. And He took care of it.

This  “bird and dust” lesson showed me also how much the LORD desires purity in me throughout. And that it’s His job to do and complete that sanctifying work in me from head to toe. From the softness of the blows to the allure of the floating Lamed, His grace rules.

When I take the time to listen to Him and view life through His lens, He speaks to me clearly, and always with such grace. I suppose “Like Father, like daughter” is His goal.

Thank you, LORD, for your attention to me. Your grace always strengthens me.

 

Strengthened

Hebrews 13:9b It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

Ephesians 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

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Depart From Me

Arguably, these are the most horrifying words in all of Scripture,

“Depart from Me; I never knew you…” (Matt. 7:23).

These words of Christ are taken from the seventh chapter of the book of Matthew and are prophesied to be spoken directly to many who claim to follow Him.

Matthew 7:22-27

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

 

As I was thinking about writing a poem on this subject, I realized I didn’t have to after all as I came across a poem by a man named Adrian Warnock which expressed just what I had in mind. (Link-www.patheos.com/blogs//adrianwarnock/2017/01/how-to-hear-away-from-me-i-never-knew-you).

I like it so much that I want to share it with you (below).

Suffice it to say that many of those who claim to follow Jesus Christ, surprisingly, will never enter His kingdom regardless of all the impressive spiritual works that they have done in His name. To their horror, by Him, they will be openly rejected as strangers.

In Jesus’ Name, let that not be you.

 

Many.

Many.

Let that word sink in a moment.

Many.

Not a few.

Not a theoretical group.

Not a hypothetical warning.

Many.

Notice how complacent they are.

Feel the pride.

They think they are in.

Prophesying. Casting out demons, mighty works.

Perhaps we could add preaching and leading.

Maybe writing a blog.

Doing things ‘in Jesus name’

Part of the ‘in crowd’

Looking terribly spiritual to others.

But not to the Lord.

No to the One who counts.

Who sees through hypocrisy.

Who examines the heart.

 

Source: pixabay

And says it is lacking.

Lacking what?

More activity?

No.

More success in work or ministry?

No.

More followers admiring you?

No.

More legalistic following of rules?

No.

Lacking Jesus.

Lacking knowing Him.

Lacking hearing from Him.

Lacking obedience to Him.

Lacking following Him from the heart.

Lacking a foundation.

Building impressive houses, that rest on shifting sands.

Preparing for a fall.

A fall that can come after decades of faking it.

Countless years of running on fumes.

Thinking you can make it on your own.

Fooling yourself.

Believing you are doing God a favour.

Source: Pixabay.
Avoiding the big sins that others notice.

But pursuing your lusts in the secret place.

Loving Money rather than your maker.

Being impatient with others less ‘impressive’ than yourself.

Dispensing pain and rejection.

Not love and acceptance.

Praying pharisee prayers.

Or not praying at all.

Reading the Bible so you can help others.

Writing impressive blog posts.

Perhaps even like this one?

Counting the likes and shares.

Mining passages for sermon ideas.

Never letting the Bible read you.

Not submitting to the Surgeon’s knife.

Being concerned about the outside.

But ignoring your own wicked, wayward heart.

Faithless to the Faithful One.

Flippant with the One who died for you.

Neglecting the One who cares for you.

Patting yourself on the back for things His grace gave you.

Congratulating yourself for achievements you didn’t earn or deserve.

Disaster strikes and you pray for once.

But do you really turn back to Him?

Success comes and with it relief.

But do you really thank Him?

Do you even believe in him any more?

Do you trust him?

Do you love him?

Do you know him?

Sinking into despair when finally you glimpse it.

You have failed Him.

You have lived for yourself.

Suddenly allowing the ‘you’ to become ‘me’.

The ‘they’ becomes ‘I’.

Finally standing alone before Him.

Or kneeling, and feeling tears about to roll.

I come for myself.

I come with my sin and my shame.

I come with my failure.

I look to You.

I empty myself of pride.

Realise I have nothing to bring.

I turn to You.

I cry out to You.

Not knowing what to say.

My heart begins to stir.

But then it wanders again.

Alarm set early.

But my bed remains inviting.

Source: pixabay.com
I keep my appointment with You once.

Twice.

Three times and more.

I will keep coming.

I will keep seeking.

I will keep knocking.

I will ask you to shape me.

Make me yours.

Mold my heart.

Bring this sheep back to the fold.

Don’t let me hear ‘I never knew you!’

Then it strikes me.

I may have changed but You haven’t.

And You whisper to me:

“I’m still here and I love you!

I’ve not given up on you.

I will not let you go.

You may not really know me, but I know you.”

And suddenly I realise.

It’s not about me.

It’s all about Him.

It’s not me that can make a difference.

It’s knowing Him that will change me.

Like a father and child.

I come dependent and dirty.

He meets my needs and cleans me up.

Washes me.

Purer than snow?

Yes.

Purer than snow.

Finally, I admit it.

I am not worthy.

But I am loved.

I am prayed for.

And I am known.

 

(How Not to Hear Away From Me I Never Knew You by Adrian Warnock; Link-www.patheos.com/blogs//adrianwarnock/2017/01/how-to-hear-away-from-me-i-never-knew-you)

 

 

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