Tag Archive | church

Fearlessly Living In 2016

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That was the word God gave me at the start of this year.

I had all of these ideas of what I thought God was going to do this year to make me fearless but I quickly realized I had no clue what I was in for.  I’ve been surprised by the direction God has taken me the last twelve months and have been blessed through the journey  in so many ways that I thought I would share.

Over the course of the year I encountered many fears.  I experienced the fear of serious illness with my daughter, the fear of driving after having 3 accidents in 4 weeks, the fear of spiders, the fear of swimming, the fear of judgement, the fear of rejection, and the hardest one is the fear of being loved.

I cannot say that I conquered all of my fears but I can say that I learned a lot about them and that they don’t have the same power to control me like they did previously.  I originally thought that by some miracle God was going to give me the strength to face my fears, but that was not the case.  My fears were all still there…..but what God did do was reveal to me truths about  what I feared and why I feared it.  He then reminded me of his truth that gave me the strength I needed to face those fears.  God then gave me opportunities to walk out what he was teaching me by placing me in situations that allowed me to choose courage over paralyzing fear.

I learned that fear reveals what I value or feel that I need.  For example the fear of illness would show that I value my health or the fear of rejection shows that I value being accepted.  The fear of failure reveals my desire for perfection and so on.

My fear can also tell me how much or how little I trust God.  Scripture tells us that we are to fear God and only God.  When I allow myself to fear other things I am doing one of two things.  I am either valuing whatever it is I fear losing more than I value God or I am essentially telling God I don’t trust you to provide what I need.

So all of this brought up some questions…….

Is it wrong to value health, acceptance and perfection?

During the course of the year I learned that perhaps it’s how much I fear.  Fear can be healthy and keep me from harm.  For example the fear of being sick makes me wash my hands, but if the fear of being sick keeps me from ever leaving my house then I wouldn’t be trusting God.  This concept works for some fears that can be explained but what about the fears that can’t be explained?

There are real fears that can be logically explained and are generally accepted by other people.  Then there are fears that aren’t logical that can’t be explained.  I learned that just because it can’t be explained doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be listened to for example..

I faced a fear this year by agreeing to meet with someone who claimed that they just wanted to meet with me to get to know me better.  I was unsettled about the meeting and I didn’t understand why.  So I prayed……and right before I walked into the meeting God reminded me of Ps91.

The meeting turned out to be an attack and I was face to face with  the very real fear of judgement from church leadership and the rejection of a community of people who were supposed to love me as Christ loves us.    I chose courage that day! I didn’t run out the door in shame.  I asked what my sin was.  What was the reason behind their decision to tell me that I was no longer allowed to participate in any of their church events on or off of their property?  I was told that I was making bad choices….the example I was given was that I sat in the wrong row on Sunday morning, I had a divisive spirit but couldn’t tell me what made me divisive and had a habit of being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I started to defend myself and then I remembered Ps91 and stopped.  I chose courage and surrendered the battle to God.

I then asked if this meant that no one at the church wanted to be my friend.  I was told that everyone loved me and that they were praying for me.  That leaving is the best thing for me and that they would be praying that there was another church somewhere in town that I could belong to.  I wanted to run before they could see me cry but instead I chose courage!

I sat there and didn’t just cry I sobbed and when they tried to touch me I asked them not to.  When they asked me to leave I didn’t.  I chose courage!

The courage to feel the pain and courage to let them see the pain they had inflicted upon me.  They crushed my heart in the name of God as if he willed what they were doing to me.  As they prayed for me to know who I was in Christ I was praying that God would reveal his truth to them.  I knew who I was in Christ and I didn’t need to be reminded.  I knew that the God I knew was not standing in agreement with what they were doing.  God’s heart was breaking with mine and while every thought of who they thought I was flashed through my mind attacking my soul, I was reminded of a vision I had back in 2012.  In my vision I was being attacked by evil spirits and every time they came at me there was something behind me guiding me in how to swing my sword.  The experience was effortless and I had no fear.  So I reached for my sword and the let Spirit of God guide me through each attack in my mind. When I was finished I did get up and leave but I didn’t get in my car.  I chose courage!

I called a friend who came and I shared what happened.  Shame and fear would’ve kept me from telling anyone at all.  I then chose courage by allowing her to follow me home to make sure I made it there safely.  I allowed her to love me.

Hiding my pain from those who have hurt me only serves my pride and enables them to walk away without guilt and the notion that they are doing the right thing.  I have not returned to that church because the fear is real and I have no desire to be attacked again.  This is a healthy fear that I need to listen to.  I don’t need to be right in their eyes……I only have to respond in love and when the flesh is crying for justice sometimes the courageous response is to run away and let God take care of them.

Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if I had listened to my fear and refused to meet with them.  I may not have been attacked that day but that doesn’t mean something wouldn’t have happened eventually.  I don’t regret going or see my decisions as a mistake, I see it growing my faith because I saw God there with me.  He was giving me what I needed in that moment even if I didn’t see it until later.

So another lesson I’ve learned is that even if there is a fear that can’t be logically explained it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t run from it.  God will allow me to feel fear to keep me from a dangerous situation that I may not have any knowledge of.  I don’t have to know what the danger is I only have to trust God when I feel that fear in my spirit.

As this year comes to an end I know that I am not a pro at dealing with fear but I can say that I am better than I was a year ago.  I’ve returned to running where I feel the safest and logically makes sense and I don’t avoid doing things simply because I fear what other people may or may not think of me.  I have more confidence in my ability in knowing when to run and when to face my fears.  I am proud of the growth I have made regardless of what everyone else sees and that is all that matters.  So as I was looking to next year and contemplate what my word for the year will be one came to my mind…..surrender.  Not to be confused with giving up.  Then I asked a close friend what she thought my word for the year should be and she said Trust.  Someone else said relentless.  And I’ve been thinking about how I have not returned to church anywhere and have no plans to look anymore.  I am surrendering that to God.  I am trusting him to bring people into my life who will invite me into their church community because they want me there not because I’m searching for something that I think I need.  Surrender comes when I trust so maybe it should be two words RELENTLESS TRUST because in order to surrender I will have to relentlessly trust over and over again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson’s in an Epic Failure

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of 20-30 youth, I wasn’t exactly thrilled since I have never spoken to a group like  that before.  Now speaking isn’t necessarily new because I’ve spoken at board meetings and small bible studies surrounded by friends but as far as a group of people I don’t know well……. to share something that God has placed on my heart, it was a first.  It all came about because the week before I found myself sitting in the back of the sanctuary as one of the leaders was giving the lesson and God began to press upon my heart to share a lesson I had struggled to learn that was along the same lines of topic being taught.  I went home and spent 3 days just praying about it and asking God what it was exactly I was supposed to share.  I knew the point and I knew the story I just wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to say it.  I am a writer so I’m used to planning out everything going down on paper and if I don’t think it sounds like what I’m trying to say I can always go back and reword things.  Speaking however is completely different and once a word is spoken there is no taking it back.  You can try to explain and maybe the listener will understand but maybe they won’t.

Sunday morning came and I found the courage to ask the leader if I could share.  The response was put together an outline with supporting scripture on the topic you would like to share and get back with me.  I went home thinking more about what I should say and the possible verses that would go with it.  After some prayer I came up with an outline and scriptures to go along.  I wouldn’t say that I was nervous,  I was just curious where God was going with this.  I didn’t think that I was qualified to be speaking and wasn’t sure how I would be received.  I also wasn’t convinced it would all come out the way I wanted it to either.  I have this problem that when I get in front of people my mind freezes and I can’t think straight so most of the time I don’t say much.  At a board meeting I’m usually just giving facts on a situation and it’s nothing personal.  This was different and knew that by sharing I had the ability to speak into the lives of others.  I didn’t want to say something wrong and negatively affect the lives of these kids.  My purpose was to share a struggle I’ve had in my own walk with God in hopes that it might encourage them and perhaps bring freedom to someone.

The night came and I thought I had realistic expectations of the evening.  I knew it wasn’t going to come out the way I wanted it to and I also knew that it might be an epic failure.  I did however know that it was what God was asking of me and that he would give me the words to say.  I also knew that he could take anything I said wrongly and fix it.  This was for God and no one else,….. so really no matter what happens it was in his hands.

I started with this prayer.

Lord,

I come before you tonight and thank you for all of the precious souls you have brought here tonight.  I thank you for the opportunity to speak to them and that you would soften their hearts so that might hear and see the words that are spoken.  I ask that you give them understanding and that my words might glorify you.  I pray also for your protection over us as we go home tonight and as we go through the next week.  I ask this all in Jesus name Amen.

After that I’m not really sure what I said.  I know what I intended to say and I know at some point I froze and wasn’t sure where I was at or where I was going.  I prayed and just let go of every expectation had.

What I tried to say was that just because I’m now a Christian doesn’t mean I’m never going to make a mistake again.  I used to think that if I was truly a Christian it meant that I would be given the ability to do the right thing all of the time.  Because that didn’t happen I was constantly asking Jesus into my heart.  I thought that somehow I must not have done something right if I kept screwing up.  I would hear of drug addicts and alcoholics who would change in one day.  I used to think that because I couldn’t just change at the snap of my fingers like they did, that something was wrong.  What a lie the enemy told me.  I knew all of the sin in my heart that I struggled with, we all have it and we all struggle with it.  Most of us hide it from everyone afraid to tell.  We are afraid of the judgment, afraid we have somehow not done something right.  The truth is……being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t struggle with same sins but rather we are forgiven and free from them.  I guarantee you will still struggle but the battle is won and the world will take every opportunity to tell you of all the negative things that you are.  You can listen to the world and believe what it tells you or you can listen to God.  You can’t just know in your mind what the scripture says you are.  You have to believe it.  For the longest time I knew in my head what God said I was, but I didn’t believe it.  The world was constantly telling me all of these negative things about me and because I could see it myself it was so easy to believe.  I knew that God said I was beautiful, smart, and funny but to the world I also knew that I was ugly, stupid, and worthless.  I always told myself that it didn’t matter what the world thought of me because one day I would be in heaven where the truth was and I would be free.  What I learned after years of struggling is that it’s not enough to just know the truth of what God says of me.  I can be told a million times that God loves me and that he says I’m beautiful, but that didn’t help me believe because that was not how I was treated.  Not even by the church.

 1 John 3:16
This is how we know what love is….Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought lay down our lives for our brothers.  Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth,  this then is how we know that we belong to the truth,  and this is how we put our hearts at rest whenever our hearts condemn us.  For God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything
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I had been told by people and read in the bible over and over how special I was to God but what I didn’t experience was that truth followed up by action.  It wasn’t until someone actually took the time to show me by their actions that I truly began to believe the truth in God’s word.  This is why it is so important that our actions match the words out of our mouths especially since we all know actions speak louder than words.  What are your actions telling the people in your life?  How can you show the person next you that you love them?

Below is a little something that I read to myself when all I can hear is the world telling me how bad I am.

Daughter of the King

Listen to yourself

What are you saying?

Did you screw up?

Do you think you are stupid?

Are you crazy, fat, ugly or worthless?

You would never tell anyone…..would you?

You hide it inside

Ashamed of the truth of who you think you are.

Is it really you?

Stop!

Listen again

Do you hear it?

There’s a faint whisper

What do you hear?

What is it saying?

You’re smart

You’re sane

You’re the beautiful daughter of a King

Listen closely

It gets louder

Louder every time you hear

Louder with each word

Till it SCREAMS and you can no longer deny

Deny who you are

Smart, Sane, Beautiful daughter of a King

Not just any King

The King

The King of all kings

He has claimed you

You are his

To him you are smart, sane, beautiful

Perfect just the way you are

Precious daughter of the King

I know I’m not perfect and I also know that everything didn’t come out the way that I wanted it to that night.  I do know that I was obedient to what God asked me to do and that I did it to glorify him.  I also think some might think it was an epic failure or so I heard.  What I didn’t expect in all of this is that God would give me the opportunity to walk out what I just shared in my own life.  The test came just 15 minutes after I finished.  The world telling me I was wrong this time it was even in words.  I had a choice what was I going to believe?

I curled in the stairwell and prayed searching for the truth in the words I had heard.  I went home that night and a friend prayed with me asking God to please convict me of anything that I may have shared that was wrong and if not to please show me clarity in the situation.

I woke up early the next morning to go for my run and while I was out God began to speak.

Monica,

Didn’t you just speak on not listening to who the world says you are but to who I say you are?

Yes Lord.

Who do I say you are?

I am your beloved daughter.

Did you get up and speak because I asked you to?

Yes Lord I did

Then your motive was pure and you were obedient to the calling I gave you.  I am the one who determines if it was a failure, not those other people.

There is a lesson here.  You didn’t exactly do as I asked.  You did what you thought they wanted not what I asked of you.  You took your story and tried to teach it.  That is not your talent.  Your talent is telling stories whether it be in writing or speaking.  Follow my son, did he teach? Or did he tell parables?

He told parables!

Monica,   sometimes our epic failures are simply to show us what we are not good at, so we can discover what we are good at.  You my darling, are good at parables, don’t try to teach, let the lessons come naturally through your story and they will be more meaningful to your audience.

I’m sure there are people in my life who might read this and judge me harshly and I don’t care.  I used to, but I’ve given up caring what anyone in this world thinks of me.  I know my savior is tucked safely in the core of my being, breathing life into each beat of my heart.  I will say that it is easier to believe what God says about me when the church backs up those words with action.  But even if they don’t, I’ve learned to believe in the truth of God’s word and its through his grace that I am able to extend forgiveness to those who have hurt me.


 

What if I was Jesus?

What if the blind man could see the stars in the sky but fail to see the hands that painted it?

What if the deaf man could hear the sound of whispers yet miss the calls of a loving Father?

What if the paralytic could feel ground but never the arms of a loving Father?

What if the lame could walk on water yet never make it home?

What if the man who could taste the richest of foods could not taste the sweetest of honey?

What if the man who lived the longest was the first to see his death?

What if the strongest man could lift a car but not his own heart?

As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho a large crowd of people followed them. There were 2 blind men on the roadside just outside the city gates. They heard that Jesus was going by and cried out “Lord, Son of David, Have Mercy on Us! The crowd turned to the blind men rebuking them and telling them to be quiet. It was wrong for them to call out to the Messiah for help. Wrong of them to ask for what they so desperately needed. They were not worthy of Jesus’s time. That is what the crowd was saying to these blind men. The 2 blind men wouldn’t listen to the crowd of people instead they shouted louder and louder until they were screaming “Lord, Son of David, Have Mercy on Us!” Jesus stopped and called back to them saying “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” they answered “we want our sight.”

Jesus had compassion on them and he touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and they followed him.

How many times have I walked past the city gates and seen the blind, the deaf, the paralytic, the adulteress, the prostitute, the orphans……….How many times have I tossed my coin and kept on walking? How many times have I said to myself “that’s all I am called to do.” How many times have not given it another thought? How many times have I inflated my ego by their misfortune?

Too many! That’s how many.

God showed me a very important message in this small passage.

What does this look like today, in our society? We don’t exactly have city gates, we do have those beggars on street corners with their card board signs. I’m not sure that is the same thing so hear me out on this. What if this little passage was more than just Jesus healing two blind men? What if it is an example of something far more important but shown in a physical way so that we might understand.

What if Jesus was showing us how we as Christians can reach out and touch someone? And no I’m not talking about calling them on the phone, but then again maybe I am. Maybe it is all about “reaching out and touching someone” not in the physical sense as Jesus did but in a relational sense.

Look around you and open your eyes. What do you see? I see a world of broken people. People who are hurting and wounded inside. Many of whom are blind and deaf, but don’t even know it. Some though are blind and deaf but do know it and are crying out for healing. They are even crying out for Jesus to heal them just like those two blind men. What if in order to experience healing they need to experience the touch of Jesus? How does that happen? I’ve been told by so many fellow believers that we are the hands and feet of Christ. If that is true then don’t we have the ability to reach out and touch the hurting? We can’t just touch them where we feel comfortable touching them. Jesus didn’t touch the blind men on the arm or simply shake their hands. He touched their EYES. He touched them in their wounds, where their deepest pain was. He didn’t tip toe around it either. He went straight for the heart of the pain and didn’t waste time.

How many times have I avoided a topic of conversation with a friend simply because their pain made me feel uncomfortable? Or maybe I wasn’t willing to be that person they needed me to be, because I was still hurting. Maybe I am too afraid of experiencing the pain they are in, as if it were contagious. How many times have treated someone like a leper? I know I am guilty just as much as I know I have been treated the same. So this brings me back to the main point. How much suffering is going on in the world around us because we as Christians are unwilling to be the hands and feet of Christ where it really matters? Giving of our hearts and sharing the joy and love we experience within the body of Christ with those that are wounded and hurting.

There are some things in my life that I have never experienced and there are areas of my heart that are deeply wounded. I have cried out in frustration and it seems as if the only response I get is the rebuke of the crowd so I wonder to myself “are they right???? or do I just scream louder?” The two blind men screamed louder but I wonder how long I will have to wait for the hands of Jesus to touch my pain so I might find healing. I always thought that if I prayed for healing for an emotional pain that it should be instantaneous, if I ask for forgiveness I should be able to snap my fingers and move on. I don’t believe it works that way. I believe God brings healing through people who are willing to be used to reach out and “touch” us where we need it. If we are hurt in a relationship it will be a relationship that brings us healing. It might even be a reconciliation of the same relationship or it could be a totally different person filling the same role that brings healing to the soul. I also think that sometimes it takes time because we are all human and we don’t always do what we are told, when we are told to do it.

Wow! That reminds me of obedience.

Moving on to that last little line in the story. Actually it’s not even a line it’s more like a phrase. Immediately they received their sight and they followed him! So if I take the time and the risk, to touch a wounded heart where it is the ugliest….. Healing could be immediate AND they could see the same Jesus that I see and follow me home to our Fathers house.

So now in the words of my Pastor “you think about that!”