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Archive for the tag “character”

What is truth?

This past week, I have been studying the Belt of Truth in Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God. This is the first part of the armor that Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on. For armor, the belt or girdle was essential for a Roman soldier. The soldier carried about 60 pounds of armor. After the girdle was in place, then the soldier could take up the other pieces of armor while the girdle bore some of the weight.

This week’s first day of the study, Priscilla said the belt of truth is like our core strength. In order for our body to stay strong as we grow older, we have to strengthen our core – our abdominal muscles. These muscles help us keep us stable; helps with balance; keeps our stamina over time and helps us to resist injury (pg 40). Resistance. Balance. Stability. Stamina. This is the essence of truth. It is resistant to the devil’s schemes. It gives us clarity; unification; balance; as the Body of Christ is held together with the same truth. It provides stability; we are no longer tossed about like waves on the ocean driven by the winds of change. God’s truth gives us stamina for the long haul. It gives us perseverance.

What is truth? This is the question that Pilate asked Jesus (John 18:38). But Pilate walked away before he heard Jesus’ answer. When I think of truth, the first thing that jumps into my head is this: “You can’t handle the truth.” You remember that line from A Few Good Men? Can we really handle the truth? Experts say in order to know real currency is to study the real thing. When you study real currency in all its details, you will know a counterfeit when you see it. Just as with Jesus, when you study His life – His actions and what He said – we will know the truth. Jesus says that when we know the truth, it will set us free (John 8:32).

I have a book by Andy Andrews called How do you kill 11 million people? Why the truth matters more than you think. This little book is a must read for every person in this nation – Christian or not. Spoiler alert: The answer to the question was this: You lie to them. Everybody hears what they want to hear and believes it. The book centers on the Holocaust. The people didn’t question the establishment because it really didn’t affect them until it did. Everybody had a badge who was not of the “pure” race or who was not in line with Hitler’s ideology. It has been reported the Jews got the yellow badge. But did you know that Christians had a purple badge? Or that brown badges were for ones with Roman descent? Pink were for the sexual “immoral” (homosexuals, rapists, pedophiles, etc). There were many more badges handed out. Hitler was “cleaning up” the Aryan people. One day, it all mattered; but it was too late to do anything about it. The trainings were already rolling down the tracks.

That’s pretty scary when you really think about it. The truth is fundamental in discerning a leader’s heart. Andy wrote it isn’t what a person says; it’s about their character. It’s the pattern of their behavior – past and present that will lead to their future behavior unless something or someone intervenes to change their behavior. Andy Stanley called this the Principle of the Path. Andy Andrews stated from another one of his books (The Final Summit), a conversation with Abraham Lincoln. “Power corrupts. Trust me on this. And because power corrupts, humanity’s need for those in power to be of high character increases as the importance of the position of leadership increases.” (pg 65 from How to Kill.)

This isn’t a political statement. This is a life statement. We need to be in pursuit of truth. We cannot discern lies if we do not know the truth. This week, I listened to a teacher from Dallas Theological Seminary. His taught from Genesis and mentioned Jacob and his deceptive practices. Jacob practiced deception when he received the blessing from Isaac. When Jacob was in pursuit of a wife, Laban deceived Jacob by giving his first daughter instead of the promised second daughter. You would think Jacob would have spotted the lie, but Jacob was thoroughly deceived. The teacher gave this profound statement: “When you live your life by scheming and cheating, you lose the ability to recognize a lie.”

We need the essential foundation of our faith – truth – to be at the very essence of our being. Without it, we will surely be bound in deception and ultimately be led down the wrong path because we couldn’t judge between truth and lies. Like discerning the real thing from a counterfeit, we have to study truth. God’s truth is the foundation for our lives. It will keep us on the right path for us as individuals and for our nation. Can you handle the truth?

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13

Sources:
Shirer, Priscilla. Armor of God Bible Study. Nashville: LifeWay Church Resources, 2015.
Andrews, Andy. How do you kill 11 Million People? Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
Allman, Dr. James. Dallas Theological Seminary. Study of Genesis, 2007.

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Potential Maker

God wants to develop our potential. It’s His plan of developing the potential that we shy away from. I tend to run when adversity comes much like Jonah. I would rather escape on a boat to whatever exotic location far from the adversity. Adversity may be the thing though that God sends to develop our potential. It might be the only thing that will bring our character into full alignment with who we are meant to be in Jesus. James said in his letter that we are to rejoice in our trials (James 1:2). We are not to run from it but to embrace it. In James 1:4 we see we are to “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” There is potential building up in us – complete, lacking nothing. We are supposed to get something out of adversity. We need wisdom to understand the lesson we are learning through our trial. James goes on to write in verse five: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Jesus teaches His disciples about being connected to a vine. John wrote about Jesus’ teaching in his Gospel found in chapter fifteen. It’s a wonderful picture of a gardener who is lovingly taking care of his orchard. For the branches that are in the mud and muck, the Master Gardener takes that branch and lifts it up. I can imagine the gardener tying that branch to something that is stable and where the branch will receive light. It hasn’t produced fruit because it wasn’t in the right environment to cultivate fruit. There is another branch that is fruitful; but in order to produce more fruit, the branch needs pruning. I am sure the pruning hurts the branch in the short-term – there is definitely cutting involved. The branch will have an open wound until a scar is formed and healing can take place.

Adversity may be the thing that prunes us to be better for God’s purpose. It may be a something that moves us into the right environment to start producing fruit. The trouble is: when we are fruitful, there will actually be more pruning involved. There will be more adversity to contend with! Oh boy – something to look forward to! This is a good thing, but we tend to ask God to remove it quickly. We don’t have the stomach to persevere. We want to cut the loss – move on; be done with it. James said “count it as joy” – we are producing fruit and will be producing more fruit because of the adversity.

I was listening to North Point Community Church getting this wisdom from the “Now what?” sermon series. The teacher was saying that every branch gets pruned. The pruned branches cause a dependency on the vine. The pruned branch experiences growth in new areas. And of course, pruning causes the branch to reach greater potential that was once impossible to achieve without the pruning. Interesting points that can be related to our own adversity battles. Like David who faced his own personal giant, David faced Goliath with a dependency on God to defeat his enemy. David reached his potential to become a mighty warrior. And David went on to become a man after God’s own heart.

Adversity is a good thing even in the midst of the battle – dependency on Jesus, increase in wisdom, and eventually a life-bearing significant fruit! Sign me up – for the battles that don’t have much pain involved; that don’t leave ugly scars; that leave me in my comfortable place. Will this develop my own potential? Will this give me an abundant life that Jesus said He came to give me? Will this make me a mighty warrior for Jesus? The new prayer for today: God, use this adversity before you chose to remove it – let your will be done. Mold me into an instrument for your purpose that will give you greater glory! (And send Jesus to bind up my wounds so that it doesn’t hurt so much.) Amen.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-2, 5

North Point Online, Clay Scroggins, March 29, 2015, “Now what – part 3”

Change is Good!

Have you ever written or told your full story? I have written three different versions and none of them seem to be the right story to tell. I have experienced heartache (as we all have). I have had many sicknesses that were painful and wondered how I was going to survive it. But I did. I have had triumphs and struggles with addictions. Up and down it goes. There is story after story of times when I believed a lie only to discover the Truth in the story. In the midst of it all, there is one thing that was constant – change. I never liked change when it was thrust upon me – when my Mom, Dad and I moved away from family and friends. Those were hard years. Or when I lost a job, and I realized I needed to move back in with my parents (dread upon dread). Or when I learned that I had an autoimmune disease, which I chose to treat holistically. Change isn’t easy to navigate, but it’s one that builds our character!

Over the last few years, I have come to understand that God allows change to happen for our good and His glory. It’s in the telling of the stories that we see His hand of protection, provision and providence. God is sovereign over all things. Nothing surprises Him. Sometimes we just don’t understand the timing of it all though. But there’s a reason for that too. I was listening to a message Christine Caine gave at Liberty University when she launched her Propel magazine. She made a comment about each one of us being plucked from eternity and placed into the time continuum. We were placed in this time for a reason. Maybe we actually get to see Jesus return one day if we live long enough! This will be the greatest change the world has ever seen in its history, and we could be eyewitnesses to it! (Now, wouldn’t that be a story to tell!)

Her message struck me though as I consider why now? Why is this the time I was planted in this particular time of history? In this country, women have greater rights, greater privileges than ever before. Women are allowed to hold office (even run for Presidency). We can own homes. We can do so much more than fifty years ago. Everything changed after World War II. Change is the only thing that is constant in this crazy world we live in! And change is happening with an increasing frequency. Technology develops rapidly. You blink, and there’s a new version of a gadget that you just bought! So what is God up to? Why the increase in change, and why are we so blessed to live in this time? Only God knows at this point. He hasn’t given me any revelations that I could share with you. But I believe we are going to see something great in our lifetimes – it may not be Jesus coming back. I do believe though we could see a great revival throughout the world. And maybe women will be leading the way!

We all have stories that God has given us to tell so that He could get the glory. Stories are meant to share. The ones on our path need to hear of a conquering hero that saved us from the evil one. There is power in the stories we tell. Everyone likes a good story where the damsel in distress is rescued by the Prince and they live happily ever after. There is a “happily ever after” in our stories. We might not see it right now, but one day we will. We have been written into The Story of God’s Glory. Each one of us who call Jesus as Lord and Savior, we have a good ending. Christine Caine made a comment about her ordeal with cancer last year that really has resonated with me. She reflected before she was put under for surgery – “has she done everything that she was supposed to do while she was here and did she bring everyone she was meant to bring to heaven with her?”

Change is meant to grow us and develop our character. Our character is meant to glorify God. And our stories of how we got to where we are, is the life-change that people need to hear so that they too can have the future with the happy ending. Change is a very good thing, even when it’s forced upon us! One day, I’ll share more of my story. In the meantime, I am just grateful for being a work in progress knowing God still has amazing things to show me!

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

Sweet Spot

Recently, I heard a message which contained a few statistics on churchgoers. The research indicated that there were four categories of churchgoers. We all start out in the first category as people far from God. We may know about Him but do not have a relationship with Jesus. The second category is ones who have a relationship with Jesus – we understand we have received grace by the blood of Jesus, but still working out what this relationship really means. The third category is people who have a close relationship with Jesus. They depend on Jesus daily for guidance. The fourth category is the ones who have Jesus fully in the center of their lives. They have totally surrendered everything to Him. It’s the most important relationship they have. It guides everything that they do. Of those in the fourth category, the teacher said his research focused on the thirteen percent of the “elite” Christ-centered folks.

The thirteen percent are the ones who love Jesus with all their hearts. They willingly share their love of Jesus with others. They serve Him completely. There is nothing that stops them from sharing everything they have for the love and sake of the Gospel. One out of seven or eight people in the church have this type of commitment. I wish I could say that I was in the thirteen percent. This is my goal though. The church’s mission is really about getting us all to this category. We are to become disciples who make disciples. Disciples have a heart for people – we are supposed to love one another. This is our trademark as a disciple – that’s how others will know we are disciples of Jesus. The relationship with Jesus is the key to loving others. We can’t do it on our own. It’s impossible to love others first. Sometimes though, I have found it’s easier to focus on the vertical relationship than to focus on other relationships.

The church is in the business of moving us from one category to the next. However, we may have a wall that gets in the way of moving from one category to the next. This was really a “ah-ha” moment for me. I definitely have built a wall around my heart. I have gotten hurt in the pass, and it’s just easier to keep people at a distance. I haven’t loved others as I should because it’s a vulnerability that I just don’t want to risk. But the wall is keeping me from living in the sweet spot with Jesus. The sweet spot is the place where everything changes. It’s the place of being in the center of God’s will. We are living with purpose and contentment that God is in control of our circumstances for our good and His glory. The sweet spot is where I become one with Jesus. I always thought it was the marriage ceremony to come in the new Kingdom, but I believe now that is the true place where God wants us right here, right now. To be married to the heart of Jesus – to be one – united in His desires and united as the body of Christ. Living in the sweet spot is a great joy to Jesus. When we’re all in, He can do more through us than what we could ever ask or imagine!

What if this was the goal of everyone in the church body? What if it was no longer thirteen percent of the church but more like fifty percent or sixty-five percent? How would that change our communities? How would that change the perception of “church” today? Would we make a difference in our cities or nation? This takes a different mindset. It takes commitment to the relationship with Jesus. It takes more than just going to church every Sunday and checking a box for the week. It’s a dedication to develop more understanding, more time with Him, more opportunities to serve Him – it’s more cost to us. It’s called a surrendered life. It’s about giving up control. And who actually likes giving up control?! Control needs to be in the hands of the One who can handle it. To become spiritually mature, we need to become more intimate with Jesus. It’s the only way to move from one category to the next. Let’s grow the percentage of those who are in love with Jesus, live in the sweet spot, and make a difference in the world around us!

Note: The teaching message was from Oak Hill Church by Greg Hawkins “The Goal” and “The Plan”

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:9-12

In the Center

In my last newsletter, I sent out a challenge to the readers – to grow in godliness in 2015. I like to encourage them in their health goals. However, I realized most people know how to get healthy, but they just don’t do it. One of the things we need in order to obtain any goals is self-control or discipline. Maybe the area that needs work is our health or maybe its finances or even to help grow in our spiritual life. All these things though require discipline or self-control. Those of us who have the Holy Spirit in us already have everything we need to accomplish our goals. We are given self-control as a fruit of the Spirit. But why don’t we see greater success in our yearly “resolutions?” We give up way before we accomplish many of our goals in life. In my opinion, we just don’t allow the Holy Spirit to work in us to become the men and women God has created us to be.

One of the things I would like to accomplish in 2015 is to memorize scripture. I am terrible in this discipline. I can memorize numbers without really thinking too hard on them, but words are hard for me. I would also like to grow in my spiritual life. Each year I want to see a difference over the previous year. I know I cannot become the woman God has designed me to be staying the same each year. I don’t know if I particularly like how God grows us though. God likes to take us through those difficult places in order to grow. God takes us through them – He does not leave us there! There is always another valley to cross; another storm to conquer; another pit to climb out of. But it’s always with the help of Jesus and His Spirit that gives us a way out.

I want to be in the place God wants me to be in order to grow. As Pastor Steven Furtick (Elevation Church) explained in his New Year’s Eve message (on Genesis 26), we need to be able to get into the “flow” of the Holy Spirit. We might have to dig out a few wells to be able to let the water flow again. There may be areas in our lives that block the Holy Spirit from working in us. This is something that needs to be examined closely and let the Holy Spirit reveal those blockages. Last year, I know the Holy Spirit was working on my blocked wells. I had some digging out to do. I am not finished with the process, but I am much further along than I was. I want 2015 to be successful in God’s way. I don’t know what that looks like right now, but this is something that I want Him to reveal to me. I don’t need more information – I need more revelation!

One of the points the Pastor made was “we cannot fulfill our calling in our comfort zone.” We need the challenge in order to grow. Muscles are only developed when they are stressed. Faith is grown when we take risks; when we are in that uncomfortable place. The enemy would love to block the flow of the Holy Spirit so that we will not accomplish what God has in mind for us. We let the enemy win when we fold too easily! I want endurance. I want security in His presence with me in the battles. Do I really want to grow if that means God is going to place me in those difficult battles? Do I really mean what I am asking God for – His will to be done? The amazing thing is when I am finished with the battle, I will see His blessing. I will see God’s glory in it. It will be worth it in the end.

One of the verses that I really want to memorize is Isaiah 41:10. This verse was given to me a few years ago. God was beginning a new path for me, and He gave me this verse. This verse also encouraged my Mom when she was facing her battle with cancer. I know that God has a plan in all that we face in this coming year. And it’s very comforting to know that God goes with us and helps us in the middle of whatever we’re facing. We will be in the center of His flow when the wells are dug out, and the Holy Spirit is working through us in those difficulties – it’s for our good and for God’s glory!

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Make Room

My Christmas list wasn’t very long this year. I had a couple of things on there that I really wanted – wanted not needed. In the last couple of days, I have been in the midst of making room for my new stuff. I have had to rethink where I used to have my router to get the best results for my new toy. I had to move a few things around in my kitchen for my latest gadget. It’s a matter of removing as well. Out with the old and in with the new. For many times in my past, I have gotten so much more than I have removed. Over the last few Christmases though, I have learned to let go of things that I no longer need or want. Someone else might like them better, so off they go. I wouldn’t say I was a hoarder by any means, but I always had a problem with letting go because I might need the item again one day. So closets have been full to overflowing, junk draws get more junk, hiding places no longer were hidden.

A few years ago that mentality changed. I like clean spaces with less clutter. I like things in their places. I have found that clutter around my house also flows into my mind and heart. I definitely had a mindset that was not in the clutter free zone. My heart too was full of things that were not honorable or pure. In the last couple of days, I have also been considering this past year – whether I have grown very much in my spiritual life. I realized I didn’t see much in the way of growth. What I see that really happened last year was clearing the space in my heart and mind. Both are less full of the bad stuff and greater room was made for God to work. This past year wasn’t really significant in the amount of work that was done on the outside, but the inside seems to be a bit freer of the junk. I have made room for Jesus by removing the flow of the bad stuff and giving Him more time to input the good stuff.

All this was not possible though unless the Holy Spirit moved in my heart to make the changes. I would not have done it on my own. I like junk. I like junk “food,” junk television, and junk conversations. But none of that honors God. Too much junk really creates a bad environment for growth. And I want to grow. I want to honor Him. I don’t want to come to the end of my life and feel remorse of how I have lived. Life is too precious. Stuff just gets in the way of real growth. I am challenged to grow in the fruit of the Spirit. I need more compassion. I want to be known as a kindhearted, generous person. I want to love others like Jesus commanded us to do. But none of this is possible unless I give Him room to work. This past year, I have seen the movement. I am challenged for 2015 to do more with what He has given me.

I don’t know what 2015 holds, I just know Jesus holds it in the palm of His hand. Nothing comes to me unless the Father allows it for my good – good things and all the bad that will happen next year. I am called to a purpose and He has to get me ready to accomplish all He wants done. That is His purpose in each of us. We have to make room for Him to do His work so that we are ready to finish what has been started. Be prepared this year to be a greater light in the darkness. To Jesus, the glory and honor is His. There is no greater purpose than us serving a loving Savior who is worthy of all our love and sacrifice. My prayer is that all who read this blog will know His love, His sacrifice and His devotion to making us a better light in our communities. May God bless our time here on earth to glorify our Risen Savior! May we all make room for Jesus this next year!

Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3:15-17 (The Message)

The Yuck Factor

If you had asked me at some point in the last week or so whether I was a clean person – meaning that I am a neat freak – I would say yes and no. I don’t like clutter. I believe in keeping my house clean, but I am not fanatic about it. I will get into a real cleaning mode at some point within the year and get into those dark places. Recently, I had one of those moods to clean. I started the cleaning spell one Saturday morning when I knew I needed to flip the mattress. I took off the mattress cover and gave it a wash. I even gave the dust ruffle a fluff in the dryer. I was stopped in the middle of the cleaning though to meet a friend for lunch. Like everything else when interrupted, the momentum stopped; the cleaning spell was gone. Until Sunday.

I don’t normally do much on Sunday. But I do cook. The afternoon was sort of overcast, and it was a little dark in the kitchen. With the cooking done and the cleanup now at hand, I started to clean up the dishes that I piled in the sink. I was too lazy to walk over and flip on the overhead kitchen light, so I flipped on the overhead sink light instead. I usually don’t use this light. The overhead kitchen light is usually sufficient and normally on when I am cooking. With this new light shining in the sink, I was shocked to see what is usually hidden by the dimmer kitchen light. There was a “yuck” factor as soon as I looked down. I thought I kept my kitchen sink in good condition. But this light brought out something that was hidden to my eyes. And the cleaning began once again!

I say all that to say, that’s what the Bible does for me as well. The Bible to me is a light to show me “the yuck factor” in my life. Sometimes though, I really don’t see the yuck until Jesus shines a light into that dark place which has been hidden from me. I have been praying recently for my spiritual blindness to be revealed. And the light has been shining in those dark places. I love the song “Amazing Grace” but I have always thought that the “wretch” in the song was only the songwriter’s dirtiness. The songwriter knew his sins of selling slaves as one of complete wretchedness. He saw his sins as God saw them. Yet, when I sing that song, I don’t see my own wretchedness. Sure I am a sinner – aren’t we all? But are we wretched? Is my sin as bad as selling slaves? Or even murder? To God, all sins are wretched. We all fall short of God’s glory as Paul wrote in Romans 3. It’s not until we truly see as God sees that we see the sin in our hearts as wretched.

Our deeds are even filthiness in God’s sight. So how in the world can God look upon us in our filthiness? If you are in Christ, you know the answer. Through Jesus. He is the only thing good in us. I may not see the wretchedness, but God sees all things. It’s by His grace and mercy that He covers that sin and shame with the love of Jesus. Jesus died so that we could live a new life of righteousness. Not by our works; not by what we can accomplish, but what was accomplished through Jesus. As I contemplate my blindness and my dirtiness, Jesus says He has made me clean. The dirt in the corners will be brought into the light so that He can provide a good reflection for all to see. If we are living right with Him, His light will shine through us so that God will get all the glory for the new heart and new life that is now present. He will make everything new.

It’s nothing like the shiny reflection of a new kitchen sink! When the scrubbing has to be done to get the sink back to a good reflection, it’s going to take a little elbow grease. It’s going to take a few pangs along the way. But it’s worth the cost when the reflection is back. It’s a constant battle to keep the grime from building up. But with the Word of God shining the light, the pain is worth it to keep the yuck factor away!

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)

The Church Body

I have listened for the last couple of years to the teaching offered by Mark Driscoll. I have learned from his teaching through the books of the Bible. I am saddened by the fact that not all is well with his ministry. I understand that he made some mistakes. I understand it because I have made my share. The difference being that I am not in the public eye like Pastor Mark. I hear that others have really hurled insults and injury to an already tense situation. I feel for his family – both his loved ones as well as the church body that he once shepherded. He spoke at a conference recently about the situation that his family is now in. They have moved several times because of the hatred shown them. I don’t know if these who are coming against him and his family are from the church family or just outsiders looking in. Nevertheless, we are a broken bunch of people –inside and outside the church. Unfortunately, hurt people hurt people.

We expect more from church people, don’t we? We expect them to behavior in a godly manner. We expect them to rise above the fray and love those who fall from grace. But sometimes the ones we should love and support are the ones that hurt us, and we lash out at them. I have witnessed this from friends in the church body. I have seen friends walk away from each other because of words spoken or actions that went against what was expected. Sometimes it was over words that were spoken out of love, but was not received in the right way. Right motives, wrong approach. It’s difficult to know when to say something and when to stay silent. It’s only through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know when to speak the truth to those who are in the wrong. And hopefully the ones who receive the word, will take it for what it is – accountability of living godly lives. We all have degrees of brokenness. And only Jesus can do the mending of our brokenness.

I don’t think I am any different from any other person in the church body. We all have brokenness that has to be healed. Every leader, everyone in the seats listening, every person serving in a ministry; we all need to be healed by the great Physician. We all have different areas of brokenness. We all have been scarred. But it is a deliberate act to submit to the Healer. We have to be willing to grow up under His care. We can do no good if we continue to hurt people because of our lack of healing and wholeness. The Body of Christ should be the place where we should feel safe to confess our brokenness. We should be able to love those who are not perfect. (And nobody is perfect!) We are all a work in progress. Going to church is not the thing to do on a Sunday morning, just so we can check a box. It’s a place where we come together to support one another. It’s the place where we are to love one another and show the ones outside the church that we are a different people.

Going to church is more than listening to a message but not being changed by it. It’s taking a word from God to the heart for a change of heart. Church is where we grow in our understanding in the Word. It’s learning about who Jesus is and who we are in Jesus. We have to develop our relationship with Jesus so that He can minister to us in those hurt places. We need to be intentional about our relationship with Him. We have to spend time with Him. Jesus is the answer to the hurting church. As a church body, it’s time for healing to begin. The world needs to see a change in the Body of Christ. We can no longer afford to be complacent with our brokenness. Jesus is counting on us to move His church forward. We have to be surrendered to God’s loving touch to heal the hurts and make us whole. It’s time to move forward church! Let the healing begin with me. Revive me, Lord for your glory!

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

The Waterfall

I love to travel. I love going to different places that have natural beauty. I just am so much more aware of God’s presence in those places. Over the years, I have found a real love of waterfalls. I love to hear the water falling onto the rocks below. In the majesty of thunder and the roar of the water, the power that is exhibited in the rushing waters leaves me in awe. I lived in the mountains when I was younger, and I got to see a few waterfalls while traveling around in those hills and valleys. Maybe that’s where I got the fascination of waterfalls. Such beauty is those places and gives me such a sense of peace.

Recently, I heard a statement that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. It was an imagery that resonates so acutely with the power of waterfalls. I don’t remember who made the initial statement, but it was in the context of God’s love for us. The speaker said that God’s love was like a waterfall. If we would get beneath that waterfall, we would experience such a profound change in our hearts that we could not be silent about it. Think about it. If God’s love was poured out on us like a waterfall, we would be forever changed! If we truly believed in God’s great love for us, we couldn’t be silent any longer.

Water changes the landscape. Whether it’s falling off a cliff or cutting a path through the valley, it’s changing the landscape of where it flows. All we have to do is look at the Colorado River carving the deep path of the Grand Canyon. Or look at the rocks below the waterfall to see the smooth stones in its path. The water takes off the sharp edges and smooths the rough places. If I consider things in a spiritual way, God’s living water does the same thing for us. The living water changes our landscape in our hearts. We are forever changed by the path it takes.

In John 4, we are told that Jesus gives us the Living Water. If we ask Him for this living water, we will never thirst again. “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). This picture of water welling up in us gives me the idea that it has to overflow somewhere. It doesn’t just well up and evaporate or get stagnant. But it is living; it is flowing; it does not stay put. It carves a new path. It washes over to form a new life. The love of Jesus causes us to change. I think though we don’t actually understand this love. I know I have struggled to understand it myself. But I have to believe this truth. God said it, therefore I believe it. Because His words never lie. His love is powerful. His love is thundering down on us. His love roars in the deepest part of us, but we fail to listen; we fail to understand. We get sidetracked by our own interpretations instead of understanding the truth found in God’s word.

God’s love changes everything. His love sent Jesus to show us His reflection. His gaze is always on us; not of condemnation, but of love. His love is flowing like the waterfall. Stand up under it and let it transform you. There’s always room for one more under the falls. Soak it in and be refreshed by the Living Water.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19

My Identity Crisis

It’s been almost eight years ago when I found out my medical identity was stolen. It didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. The insurance denied the claims and everything seemed to be fine. Until the day I went to get my driver’s license renewed and found out it was suspended because of my failure to complete the rehabilitation issued by the courts. Uh? I was floored and stumbled out to the parking lot wondering what had gone so wrong? The lady’s identity became wrapped up in mine. Since then, I have dealt with her problems on my credit report, and the report that goes to auto insurance companies, which is separate – who knew? For years I have been dealing with higher and higher auto insurance premiums and wondered if insurance could go up that fast. When I switched insurance companies, the insurance man pointed to the wrecks in unknown cars that were linked to my account. It just never ends.

This woman has major problems; drugs and/or alcohol, medical issues, and just major sin issues. For some reason this woman is tied to me. What’s the purpose behind it? I don’t know yet. I don’t know how this story will end. Good hasn’t come of it yet, but it will. God says He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called to His purpose (my paraphrase Romans 8:28). I believe those words so I know there is a greater purpose than these little irritants that keep popping up over and over. Satan likes to use these little irritants to keep me off-balance or to distract me from my purpose. Every time I take a step of faith, the credit report will come back with issues or the renewal of policies/licenses, something tied to this woman will impact in a negative way. All I can do right now, is clean up the mess and pray for the woman. Satan will one day quit using this woman, and she will be healed and saved from the destruction Satan planned for her. Jesus’ plans are much greater for her, and I am praying she one day understands this truth.

I am not writing this to show my prayer fortitude or raise a righteous flag. I am far from perfect. At one point in my life, I could have been in a complete mess like this woman. But God saved me from the destructive path of Satan. Satan planned to kill me, but Jesus came to give me a new life. My character is being built through the trials so that I can grow into the woman of God I am meant to be. It’s the little irritants that help me to have the right perspective. It’s by God’s grace I have been set free. I no longer have an identity crisis. I know who I am and whose I am. Yes, I still suffer from someone else’s sin. But it’s with grace that I take her suffering to the cross and ask for her suffering to end. God has this under control. I need not worry about what could be in my circumstances. I am securely in the palm of His hands. Whatever is allowed, I will endure it for His glory. My character is being renewed day by day. One day, I will see the goodness that the Lord has in store. My character witness will be Jesus Himself standing up for me either here on earth or in heaven one day. Good will come out of this! One day.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

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