Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Shame Steals Blessings!

People with shame issues have a hard time being corrected because a correction often sounds like condemnation to them. Shame spirals people into self-hatred ... so they put up a wall to hearing any correction or believing they might have something to be corrected about.

Shame steals God's greatest blessings from people. These blessings are the revelation and understanding of God's love and grace. These blessings come when see sin and we turn from it to God. The blessings come when we come face to face with our own depravity, whatever that looks like for us individually.

Shame keeps us from seeing who we really are and what we have really done. It acts as like blinders or like a barrier on the heart. It truly blinds our ability to see what our sin has done. It protects us from the voice of condemnation or self-hatred.

I remember when God took me through my post-abortion Bible study in 2002. I remember when God was peeling away the shame I carried for the two abortions that I had while in college. During the course of the Bible study, I remember lying in bed one night when the truth began to wash over my heart. The truth of what I had really done. The truth of how I could of had two more children.

I remember the deep sobs and endless tears as God showed me the truth of this over the course of this Bible study .... it hit me especially hard as I watched my two toddler boys play. I sobbed and grieved for the loss for weeks, knowing the truth that I could of had ... two more precious children.

But in those weeks of Godly sorrow, God did not condemn me. He did not shame me. He pulled me into His arms and He loved me. He reminded me that nothing I did or ever could do - could keep me from His love for me. He showed me how to forgive myself and how to love myself in the midst of failures and all.

I learned just how beautiful grace really is. God knew what I did, He showed me what I did - all so He could heal me and reveal His love for me. I learned who God is - to those who are hurting and broken. Those who feel they have done the unforgivable. He set me free from the burden of shame, self-hatred, self-condemnation and the secret I was living with ... in the inner most part of my being.

Spiritual freedom comes when we are honest with God about what lurks in the hidden places of our hearts. When we let Him climb in and peek around. He has the power to light up any dark room with a love and a grace that will transform us from the inside out.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Receive Graciously!

A few years ago, I bought a gift for someone I cared about.  I had worked for this person for a while and I really enjoyed blessing them in any way that I could. 

This person and his wife loved photography so I bought them one of those digital frames where you can display hundreds of pictures. I put a lot of thought, prayer and heart into finding one that would match the decor in their home. 

After opening the gift, this person gave it back to me that week saying they didn't want it.

I personally think it is so unkind when we bless people with gifts and then they give them back saying they don't want them or need them. 

People (myself included) need to learn how to receive graciously and if we really don't want the gift we should quietly return or re-gift the item.

By rejecting a gift from someone, or telling them we don't want them to bless us with a gift - we might just be rejecting the flow of God's love and blessing to us. 

Giving is a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit. We should be gracious receivers when people desire to bless us.  Why? This way God and His love can flow and touch a human heart through the loving act of giving! 

Question to ponder today .... is it easier for us to give or to receive?  Do we show graciousness and kindness to those who bless us or do we reject their acts of kindness towards us?  What do you do when someone hands you a gift?  What do you do when God hands you a gift?

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts
Use them well to serve one another. 
1 Peter 4:10 NIV

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Come Away with Me!

My spiritual director who is a Catholic nun with the Sisters of Mercy once said to me, "Lori, you will have as much of God as you want of Him ...." 

She went on to say .... "if you are not willing to invest the time in your pursuit to know Him ... by studying His Word and time in prayer
 with Him - your experience and knowledge of Him will be always be very limited." 

She said, "just like in your marriage or in any other meaningful relationship - if you don't spend time with that person, your relationship will always remain superficial and shallow." 

Knowing God requires an investment of time and finding those moments and spaces to get away to be with Him. It requires discipling ourselves in the spiritual practices/disciplines (prayer, worship, Bible study, meditation, silence, solitude, fellowship, etc..) .... that act as catalysts to spiritual growth. 

God, help us/me to come away and be with you every day. To be in your Word, learning about who you are, who we are and the truth about life. Help us/me to process life with you and all the things we face each day. To listen, to hear your heart, to know your will, to be led by your Spirit, to be your love to those around us. God, help us/me to find this place every day - even in the busyness of all that summer brings. I need you. Personally, I am a much better wife, mom, friend and servant when you are speaking into my life and directing my day through your Word. Without you, I tend to fall into temptation, into traps and into pits all too easily. Amen.

My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” 
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” 
Psalm 27:8 NLT

Monday, July 15, 2013

Don't Give Up Praying!

The thing I love about David in the Bible is the fact that he was not perfect ... and yet he was known as "a man after God's own heart". 

As I was reading the Psalms this morning, I was so taken by how David communicated with God. At times, David did not have the most perfectly clean heart as he approached God (in the Psalms). At times it was filled with anger, whining and frustration. 

Often, he would start off writing his Psalms - wanting to see his enemies destroyed and killed. You can feel his anger, offense and frustration with his circumstances. He was taking all that pent up energy and emotion and talking to God about it.

Then ... something magical seems to happen about midway through some of David's Psalms. As his heart begins to open to God about how he is feeling and what he is thinking, God begins to move in David's heart and mind and fill it with a Godly perspective of the circumstances. 

What started out in some of David's Psalms as a fleshly response to circumstances or people (his enemies), God would give David a suddenly - of seeing things as He does. 

This is why coming to God, no matter what the condition of our hearts are, is so important to God. When our hearts are turned towards God (no matter the emotions we are feeling at the time) and we open ourselves to talk with Him, He can then begin to help us. 

He then can move upon our hearts in such a way that we are transformed from the inside out. He can take the pain, the suffering, the un-forgiveness, the bitterness, the poisons that have invaded our hearts and God can clean it all out and give us a new sense of joy, of praise, of thanksgiving, of worship - that we would never of had unless we dared to take our frustrations to Him. 

God has the power to change a human heart if we are willing to be transparent with Him no matter how we are feeling. When we show Him everything, He begins to help us. 

It is in this place where we begin to see God more clearly and that intimate knowing of God - empowers us to face any giant that might come our way - where we face that giant filled with faith and the confidence knowing - God has the power to take that giant down through us.

We must not give up talking with God no matter how we are feeling. He will create in us a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit, with a heart that is open (even if it is messy at first)! 

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
Psalm 51:10 NIV

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Love Expels Fear

Fear, which can be caused by a variety of situations or people - can unleash two response systems in us. 

One, it can lead us into a deeper surrender to God's will and the control of the Holy Spirit in our lives, families, ministries, businesses, etc.... The fruit of this response is LOVE. God's perfect love truly does casts out all fear.


Two, the fear can eat away at us - causing us to worry, fear more, have anxiety, try to control others and/or the things that we lead or those that we parent ... fear will eventually bear the fruit of hatred, division, and it will separate people. It leads to division in families, churches, ministries and businesses. Fear not yielded to God will bring about a harvest of hate (the opposite of God's perfect love).

Surrender in the midst of fear - truly brings a supernatural peace and rest ... and control is truly the enemy's plan to keep God's best thwarted from us and the things God would want us to do in us and through us each day to love others well.

Live in perfect love or live in fear/control? The fruit of how we respond to the fears we have - will bear fruit in how we respond to it - to circumstances and to people. God wants us to show a Biblical love to all people, not just to those that we like.

Lord, help us in the face of any sort of fear - to receive your perfect love which will drive out the fear. Help us to love as you love. Help us to not just say we love others but to truly be a living testimony of your love to all people. Mold us into your image precious Jesus. To be Christ-like to those we encounter every day. Amen.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hebrew Word Study - "Worry"

Pro 15:16 "Better little with the reverence of God than great storehouses coupled with worry." Mat 6:25 "Therefore, I tell you, don't worry about your life — what you will eat or drink; or about your body — what you will wear. Isn't life more than food and the body more than clothing?"

First Hebrew letter of "anxiety" is 4th script Dalet which represents door. Dalet represents the door to God, or the lowliness and the consciousness of possessing nothing of one's own! As a door Dalet also symbolically represents the choice to open ourselves to the hope of our dreams or to remain closed off and alienated.

OT speaks more to worry and anxiety than to fear. OT fear was more about reverence to God. A natural personal dread is being alone. Mental worry and anxiety closes that door to God and to a maturing private conscience. Only with a reverence for GOD can the mortal rises above anxiety, terror, dread, or fear. Never alone!

Fear, that unpleasant emotion caused by a belief that someone or something is a threat, is a healthy emotion, central to the basic formation of conscience and good judgement. Fearless people exercise poor judgement, showing an absence of conscience and a limited capacity to love. Prisons are full of fearless hard criminals.

Concern is that natural tender emotion of an ordinary mind. It is dis- comfort that disrupts the natural condition of animated human life. History has evolved where modern Western World culture has become the cult of comfort, where comfort is raised to the level of a value, of the liberal ideal. Pains of discomfort are no longer to be tolerated or endured in society by anyone. Comfort has become the basic right of all rights.

Secular and pagan Marxist liberalism, cults of comfort, seeks welfare and wealth redistribution, where role of government is to buy modern comforts for all, to eliminate all discomfort and self-pity.

In the real word, since time began, most people have little beyond basic necessities, food, clothing and shelter. Acquisition of basic necessities often, especially in rural areas, depend upon natural seasonal weather. There is a natural cause for emotional stress about food and clothing. The real world by nature seeks necessities, but Jesus reminds his hearers that they should trust God.

Opposite of worry is peace of mind! The opposite of willful love is not hate, but the imagined emotions of worry, fear, turmoil, anxiety, dread, and terror. Christians, unique to all other religions, rise above worry, anxiety, and fear, willfully taking risks to innovate and to advance the quality of human life. Too many religions deliberately enslave their people in fear and worry. Pagan religions propagate worry and discomfort!

Harmony of the mind is freedom from mental discomfort and fear, that force of fear that may rise to the level of anger and self-pity. Nervous fear is the fear of discomfort, interrupting that desired mental harmony.

Easy circumstances are comfortable. Discomforting hard environment creates painful uncertainty and usually leads to self-pity. The saying “Let Go and Let God” is the message of Christ. In difficult moments, Christ asks us to acquiesce to the graces of God, not to succumb to fear, anger, and self-pity.

Worry dulls the capacity to love. Anxiety and worry expresses more than uneasiness or mental disturbance, and even more than trouble or concern. Worry usually springs from fear or serious discomfort and a perplexity of mind not knowing how to shape conduct.

Worry can (1) damage health, (2) disrupt productivity, (3) negatively affect the way others are treated and (4) reduce one's ability to trust in God. The difference between worry and genuine concern is that worry immobilizes, but honest concern moves one to action.

Jesus deals with the equally dangerous tendency of those who have no possessions and who worry! Do not worry means do not be anxious. Anxious care is an inordinate or solicitous concern or grief beyond our immediate needs. It is the direct opposite of carefulness, cautiousness, and faith. Therefore, even the poor are not to worry needlessly about what they should eat, drink, or wear.

Jesus' question of food and body is more than clothing indicates that inner mental stability must come from the spirit of a man and not from outward physical provisions. To set one's heart upon material possessions or to worry about the lack of them is to live in perpetual insecurity and to deprive one's self of the spiritual blessings of God. 

By Larry G. Rowe (my dad)page1image17384

The Storm; The Rebuilder of LIFE!

While Mike was power hosing the back yard yesterday, I couldn't help but ponder with God how after the storms of life pass through our life or the seasons of testing have their way - just how important it is to allow God to move through our hearts looking for any debris that is left there, lining our hearts - taking what was pink and vibrant and making it muddy and darkened. 

Those things lining our hearts could be:

  • an offense with someone ... we need to forgive
  • a sin ... we need to repent of
  • an unGodly belief about God, ourselves, others ... where we need to read and study God's Word to renew ourselves with the truth
  • outright selfish behavior and rebellion ... where we need to surrender more fully to His will, leaving behind ours
  • negativity and grumbling towards ourselves, people and life ... where instead we need a new pair of glasses where we view life through the blessings He has given us even in seasons of suffering

Instead of all of those potential things from lining our hearts, deaden ourselves to the LIFE of God - we must allow God to search us and test us, to know our hearts and to see if there is anything offensive in us (Psalm 139:23-24).   We need to give him the permission to remove the debris - the trees, the cars, the dirt, the death and ask Him to bring those areas of our lives back to life. 

It takes humility and courage to turn to God after a big storm hits our lives and our hearts.  One of our greatest obstacles to overcome will always be laying down our desire to blame God, to be offended with Him and to see Him as the cause of our season of suffering.

We might never know why the storm hit us (cancer, financial ruin, divorce, betrayal, ending of relationships, church wounds, the list could go on and on) .... but one thing is for sure, we must move past them and allow God to rebuild those broken places so that LIFE can and will flow through us once again!

The wall of Jerusalem was torn down.  And one man, Nehemiah, saw God's heart for the broken-ness of this city.  God called him to rebuild what was destroyed, what was no longer functioning.  God gave him the tools, the resources and the people that would be necessary for God's most holy city to be thriving once again!  (Nehemiah 1) 

God will do the same for you!  Just turn to Him!  Ask Him for the help to rebuild the desolate places of your heart and life.   Soon, you will see Him put very special people into your life who will help be a part of that building process.  People willing to love you through it, care for you, tend to you - and if God doesn't send people - you can trust that the God who created the heavens and the earth - will always be by your side - even in those moments when you can't feel Him.  It is in those moments, He is strengthening your faith, so that you trust in Him BY faith!

God, I ask you for anyone who feels alone, struggling, broken down by life and circumstances that a wave of your Holy Spirit would come and that you would refuel them.  That you would fill them with your Holy Spirit and help them to move through those areas I listed above.  Help to them to forgive, to repent, to renew their mind with your Word, to be thankful, to stop blaming you and to rise up in them to wage war against our true enemy - the kingdom of darkness.  God, give them faith to keep on going and hope that there is a new chapter coming!  Jesus, above all things - we need you.  Be for them everything they need depending on the season they are in!  Be their Rebuilder!  Amen!