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Posts Tagged ‘broken’

Spirit lead me where my faith is without borders

These lyrics have been haunting me.  I can’t seem to shake them.  We sing these great songs and feel these deep feelings, then we listen to the words.  From the song Oceans by Hillsong United, these lyrics are a pretty intense request of God.  Without borders?  Yikes.  That doesn’t stay within my comfort zone.  Or within my lifestyle desires.  Or within my perceived capacity to life.  But I want it.  I want to want it even more.

The kids and I were discussing this song the other day, talking about true faith, and about how it’s not just a fuzzy feeling on Sunday morning.  It’s not just a “praise God” or “amen.”  It’s about whole-heartedly offering God everything you are.  Everything.  Not a lot of us have this kind of faith.  Heck, my guess is no one does.  Because really, if we even have the “minuscule” faith of a mustard seed, we could move mountains.

The kids came up with a fun challenge: Whoever comes up with another song that means the same thing as that line, they win a donut (we all knew that everyone was going to get a donut anyway, but still, the incentive felt enticing…).  Colby came in first with the hymn “I Surrender All.”  The second was the hymn “Take My Life.”  I thought it interested that both came up with hymns.  It made me grateful for a church that appreciates and sings them.  They are so rich in theology and truth.

When you sing these hymns, do you mean the words you say?

Once upon a time a few years ago, I had the honor of being a table host at a ladies conference.  It was not long after Scott had spent some time in the hospital with his life on the line.  I remember sitting there next to a woman who still had fresh bruises on her arm from having been raped days before.  Yet she was here.  Sitting at my table.  And even more humbling, she was encouraging me by sharing what a testimony it was for her to watch (from afar) Scott’s Saga, exhorting me to hold fast to and live whole-heartedly for Christ.  I think about those moments a lot.  Even more so the last couple of days.

Three days ago her son committed suicide.  It was unexpected and tragic, as I suspect most suicides are.  He was young.  He was handsome and smart.  He had a whole life ahead of him.  And now here she is again, in the trenches of darkness, struggling to find reality amidst the mind-numbing grief.  Here they are again, their marriage being tugged at in new, unbelievably painful ways.  Thankfully she had the mind to ask for help before she drowned.  She will miss her son’s service in doing so, but as she said: “I wish so bad he would have done this.”

She gets to experience faith without borders.  She didn’t ask for it.  She probably doesn’t think she can do this.  She probably can’t.  Instead we all pray fervently on her behalf, for all involved.  We get to practice Galatians 6:2 and carry her load to the Cross when her words and mind may not be available to.  We get to pray for her marriage.  For her family, little and big.  Her load is not light, and can’t be carried alone.

Do not be afraid – I am with you!
Do not dismay – I am your God,
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will protect you and save you.
I will hold you.
Isaiah 41:10

This type of faith is not for the faint of heart.

If you’re feeling hopeless, and do not see the light, please reach out.  Know that you are not alone.  And know that we all may not know how to help you.  We will fail you.  But don’t give up.  Surrender instead.  Surrender to Christ.  He will give you life.  He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7) and will not fail you.

The Lord is all I have, and so in Him I put my hope. (Lamentations 3:24)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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Written May 28th, 2015

Tonight we studied something we have many times before: forgiveness.

It’s funny how the “same old” thing can be taught, but with different receptors (on my part), they connect in different ways.  Well, tonight I grasped some important bits that struck to the heart, all summed up in this guest post by (then) Jasmine Bauchman on my sweet friends blog:

And here’s a truth that floored me the other day: I don’t need anyone to apologize to me, I don’t need to be vindicated in a temporal sense, I don’t need to be acknowledge as the victim, the wronged party, in order to experience closure. Because Christ either nailed the sins committed against me to the Cross, or he will exact judgment for them on that last day. Either way, it is finished. I am not bound to sorrow or bitterness until the chapter closes satisfactorily. Because it’s already done. And I’m free from it just like I’m free from the fetters of my own sin.

Free. Isn’t that an overwhelmingly beautiful thought: freedom in Christ? Free not to be offended or wounded or prideful! Free to bask in who he says I am! Free to prize reconciliation, because it’s a beautiful thing, but to realize that, even if it never comes, we are reconciled to the God of the universe through the sacrifice of Christ.

You see, I’ve been worming my way through an abusive (for lack of better word*) situation in my past, trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do to “make it right” with someone/s who has hurt me deeply and I’ve tried to reconcile with, now with a rather large rift – no, canyon – between us.  Then it hit me: it’s not up to me to make right.  Christ already did.

And I have to let Him.

Let that sink in.

(I’m talking to myself now)

Like another friend Dorothy said this evening: forgiveness is a journey.  We will never be complete of our own accord, but through Him we can be free from the burdens of anger, bitterness, fear, or vengeance.  No writing anonymous blogs or “fiction” story-telling.  No secrets or passive aggressive manipulation.  But also no hiding.  We instead can turn it into praising God and love toward others!

If I am to love my God with all my heart, and others as myself (Matt. 12:31), I really don’t have a choice in forgiveness.  Following Him means trusting Him.  It means leaving my self behind (over and over again as reminders are graciously given), including my pride and sense of justice.

I still live with the scars of the offenses that I’ve carried.  They still rear their ugly head in unexpected moments.  I perpetually remind myself that it is not truth, and that God commands us instead to think on things that are noble… just… kind…. (Philippians 4).  That He honors us when we truly give our lives to Him.  That tho’ consequences remain, it is not my burden to carry.

No holding back.

Lord I believe.  Please help my unbelief.  (Matthew 9:24)

Help me not cling to anything but you, Lord, and remove all distractions.  Cleanse my heart and mind with renewed YOU.

*random fact: use of the word “abuse” has escalated in the past generation.  Might I even say, the word itself is, well, abused.

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I think I’ve shared with you all before, but it seems often in my life there is a running theme, changing once or twice a year.  Right now, it’s criticism.  Quotes and books and events keep cropping up that make me stop and pause to reflect on criticism; what it means, how I should respond, and how I should(n’t) dish it out most of the time.  My heart is an ugly place so often.  Thank God for perpetually reminding me things.  He is the potter.  I am the clay.  Mold me, even when it hurts.

I’ll start with a story.

I have always felt blessed beyond what I deserve.  I believe I live a charmed life.  Funny, when I share the minute (huge) details of struggles out loud, it doesn’t match up to that description in the slightest.  But I still believe and know it to be true.

Reminds me of this quote by James McDonald:

There will always be enough injustice and irritation to keep you in the wilderness if you choose to murmur and complain and criticize and covet and doubt and rebel. But life also has plenty of people and situations to generate thankfulness and love and faith and submission and contentment-attitudes that cause life to flow with “milk and honey” of God’s blessing and abiding presence. The choice is ours. 

One thing I’ve clearly noticed is that when I walk in faith, peace reigns.  Even in the tumultuous times.  I can’t take the credit for this.  I tend to over-think everything.  To wrap myself up in nonsense.  To give a good nudge to escalating things.

I don’t know if it’s aging…  Or if it was our life-and-death experience at OHSU almost two years ago now…  Or if it’s our (finally) decision to take a massive leap of faith several years ago and follow Him no matter what… But God has given an extra measure of peace in our hearts during this lengthened season.  Even during the scary moments.

All of this to lead up to a conflict I was in a couple of months ago.  It was surprising how foreign it felt (considering it used to be the norm), and yet how quickly it felt so “normal.”  Only this time was different.  It was brief.  It got ugly.  I got hurt.  But it didn’t stick.

The next morning we were doing extended family devotionals, and someone shared this link.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  God used it to keep my heart soft.  To keep me in His ways, instead of the slippery slope of my old ways.  I think it’s an excellent article that I’d encourage anyone to read, not just about criticism, but about how to deal with tough situations and people in your life…  I know it’s another click, and another thing to read, but I think you won’t regret it.

Another excellent bump-in I’ve had with criticism, and learning about how damaging it can be, was when I was reading Lord, Change My Attitude, by Josh McDowell.  I could identify so much with:

“Too often I have heard myself speaking words of criticism that, upon further reflection, were rooted in the pain I felt from being harshly treated. This is not an acceptable excuse.
Some of the pain that fuels criticism must be quickly dismissed as not worthy of our attention.
I encourage you to turn down the volume on the critics in your life. Center your attention on what God thinks of you, and life will be better. Otherwise, it’s so easy to get sucked into the wilderness by someone who seems to love it there.  Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).”  

The context here is how to deal with people who are continually criticizing (quick to speak, murmur’er, lacks humility), not wise counsel or godly confrontation. It also reminds ME how to deal with an attitude of (wrong) criticism in myself.

And lastly, this paragraph in the same chapter of McDowell’s book really resonated with me.  It convicted me to want to remember/share/incorporate specifically as I blog/share (and read/absorb others):

Here’s a third principle about criticism that we find illustrated in the attack by Aaron and Miriam: Criticism is self-exalting. Ultimately, criticism inflates the self. Oswald Chambers, the great devotional writer, wrote, “Beware of anything that puts you in the place of the superior person.” Anything that makes you feel superior is not conductive to your spiritual life. That’s what critiscm does: It takes the focus off me and my faults and highlights me as the one who knows. “I know; I see.” Criticism elevates me as the highest and best. Criticism reduces the pain of being in the spotlight and gives me the fleshly satisfaction of running the spotlight. And in a sick sort of way it can feel good to put that kind of pressure on others. People find it much harder to see my life if I am shining the glaring light of criticism on others! Be careful you don’t find yourself saying subconsciously, “if I can’t make my mark in this world by what I do, maybe I’ll make it for knowing what others could do better.” Criticism is self exalting, and God will not honor that. ~ James MacDonald

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Have you ever felt lonely?  Have you ever lost a someone close to you, maybe not by death?  There’s good news:  It doesn’t have to control your life.  No matter who is at “fault,” God can heal.  We’ve seen it in our lives this year, and we believe it in all areas of our life.

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Hearts are broken.  People are damaged.  Words are cruel.  There are two sides to every story.  But God is bigger.

If both people are not willing to work on the relationship, don’t lose heart!  People are not here to change hearts, God is.  So no amount of your begging, or trying, or even trying to buy affection will bring change.  If true reconciliation is desired, God will honor that and bless it.  Even if it doesn’t look like we want or expect.

Know you are not alone.  Almost everyone I know has a very sad place in their heart of missing someone they love to relational issues.

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Sometimes we have to lose people (and things) we love to see a bigger picture.

Find the good in your situation.  See how God can work on you and through you to use the situation, despite the sins of this world that allow quarreling to control relationships.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galations 6:9

People, situations, words, differences do not control you, or tell who you are.  How you respond does.

How do you respond to adversity?  Do you gossip?  Do you try to recruit ‘sides’ or try to involve others?  Do you lie?  Do you defend yourself?  Or do you keep your “side” to yourself?  Do you try to focus on the fruits of the spirit?  Do you seek peace above justice?  …But how can you have peace if someone is hurting you, you ask?

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we  have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. – Romans 5:1-5

Whichever end of a situation you find yourself, remember:

I’ve learned … that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.” – Anna Mary Stonoff, my grandmother

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We Betray Ourselves

actions don't always depict true feelings.

actions don’t always depict true feelings.

This last year I read Lies Women Believe, a book I’d recommend to any christian lady (or fellow!), addressing the many things we tell ourselves both consciously and subconsciously that are stumbling blocks and not true, productive, or good.  On the same subject, I am shamelessly typing out and sharing with you the handout I have from last years ladies conference at our church.  Below is part was what speaker Wendy offered on the subject, hitting straight into my heart as feelings used to control me more than I wish they did, and can be a real threat to ones faith, relationships and life – I hope it blesses you!

Obstacles to believing God’s promises:

  • As women, we are weaker (emotionally). 1 Peter 3:7
  • As women, we are more easily deceived. 1 Timothy 2:11-14
  • We tend to place too much weight on our experiences. (rather than the Word of God)
  • Often our afflictions feel heavy and eternal
  • God says our afflictions are light and monetary.
  • Our afflictions are working for us an exceeding and eternal weight o glory! 2 Cor. 4:17

Prescription for pain: The promises of God

  • God promises all things work together for our good.  (Rom. 8:28)
  • God promises nothing happens outside of God’s will.  (Matt. 10:29-30)

Putting it into Practice

  • We must put forth the effort to truly believe.
  • To receive help from God’s promises we must believe (1 Peter 1:1-4)
  • We must learn the habit of preaching to ourselves.  (Ps. 42:5)

Selfdeception is the surest way to self-destruction.
Reality has a way of catching up with us. – Sam Erwin

May we always remember to keep our mind & heart in the safe place of the Cross.  Giving up ourselves (or our wayward thoughts) and believing Him, trusting always.  Not puffing ourselves up to combat our loss with equal lies, but to rely on Him as our everything.

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You can listen to Wendy’s entire message by clicking here.  Also, it’s been a year now since that conference, and is time for another!  I’d encourage you to join us tomorrow for the 5th Annual Ladies Conference.  More details here.

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be encouraged

Every day I wrestle with the voices
That keep telling me I’m not right
But that’s alright

‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed
When others say I’ll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world

Happy Valentine’s Day.  

You’re never alone, and are loved far more than any human ever could.

1 John 4:19

1 John 4:19

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I’ve been in a funk the last few days.  The weight of the world has been heavy on my shoulders.  I hadn’t really realized it.  You know, it just creeps up on you.  Today, after venting out loud, I quickly realized I had a problem.  I either needed to face some things square on, or look in the mirror and see if the issue was mine or if the fears were substantiated.  Like most things, perhaps it’s a little bit of both.  But in no way will I be able to address those issues with a good heart unless I work on myself a whole lot first.

At my peak of this morning, I was complaining about a situation that I felt a freight train was heading directly toward.  Something I treasure highly.  Something I wanted to save.

I realized by going to the source with this attitude, I had potential of being very misunderstood.  Discredited because of emotional upheaval.  The word “basket case” comes to mind.

emotions make you lie.  control your emotions before they control you.

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Just as I’m writing this, Michael Card’s “Let The Words of My Mouth” came on my Pandora station.  Let the words of my mouth be pleasing to you.  May I think on things that are true. (Phil. 4:8)

I don’t want to be a divisive person.  I don’t want to perpetuate pain, or even unnecessary or unproductive question.  But I also don’t want to be silenced for fear of man’s opinion from addressing things that should be faced.

I want to speak the truth.  Most importantly: in love.  

Ah, now playing: “Be Still and Know” that He is God.

Resting in knowing God is control of all things.  I need not fear (manifesting in anger sometimes, unfortunately).  It’s out of my hands.  I can lovingly approach when the timing is right.

Most importantly, I can pray.  If nothing is gained but community with God, what an opportunity!

Now playing: The Basin and the Towel, Michael Card:

And the call is to community
The impoverished power that sets the soul free
In humility, to take the vow
That day after day we must take up the basin and the towel

In any ordinary place
On any ordinary day
The parable can live again

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