Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Scars and Psalm 32:1-5

I haven't really had much to write about the past few days.  I have truly been speechless and in awe of how God is working in my life and others.  How he has answered a prayer that I have been praying for years and of course in a way I didn't expect and couldn't have planned myself.
I have been thinking about how people get pulled away from God, about how I have gotten pulled away from God in times in my life.  The first problem is we are not "pulled away" or "falling away" from Him.  He never lets those who are truly His go.  He is always holding us.  We however kick and scream like little children in their mothers arms.
 I saw a mom walking down the side of the road with her 2 or 3 year old and the child was throwing an awful fit trying to get away from her.  The only thing that this would accomplish would be getting hit by a car, severely injured, or possibly death but all that child knew was she was not in control and wanted to be.  What a perfect picture of how God holds us I thought.  I am at times and have definitely been in the past that kicking and screaming child who knew I wasn't in control and wanted to be.  God never let me go but he did allow me to skin up a few knees and add some scars.  I needed to learn a few lessons and He knew I had to learn the hard way.
He never let go though.  When I got done kicking, screaming, and scraping up my knees as I tried to pull myself free; when I finally gave in and saw He was lovingly protecting me from my own stupidity and sinful nature, He stopped.  He bent down, wiped up my bloody knees, kissed my hand that was so sore from trying to hank free, and said, "ok, lets go."
He didn't take away my scars though.  He knew I would need the reminder of what life was like trying do it on my own.  What happens when I try to pull free.  I fall in bondage to my self.  I chain myself up to 'me'.  I needed the reminder and He knew it. 
BUT He also brings beauty from ashes.  Our scars can become beautiful.  HE alone makes them beautiful.  HE gives them purpose.  He can use our scars to show others how much greater it is to be in His house than out wandering around in traffic thinking we are in control.  He can use them to keep us humble, to remind us that He holds us even when we don't want Him to.
I don't know what causes people to appear to reject the Christ they once claimed to love.  Of course it is sin and selfishness but for those of us who are His we have the Holy Spirit.  He will not let us stay that way for long.  He will let us get banged up so that we will come broken to the only one who can clean you up, kiss your boo boos and say, "ok, lets go."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Positively Despairing

I make it a point to try and read some of what is written by the leaders and those who follow the new age/ positive thinking/ mystism, whatever you want to call it, movement.  I ofcourse read it and put whatever it claims up against the bible and it is wrong and blatant heresy every time, but I do this because I want to know what is out there.  Sometimes I read an article, a book, or an excerpt from a book and become so angry at what the devil has used to ensnare these people, and then sometimes I read an article like this one and I am still angry, but also heartbroken for what the followers of these lies are burdened with as they go through life on their own, being so blind to the sin and lies that have captured them.  Please take the time to read this woman's article but do so with discernment.  I think you will quickly see why it is so heartbreaking for me.

The answers the world has to offer do not work, do not ultimately comfort,  and are focused solely on "me".  They offer no other ground to stand on but ones own feelings or opinion.  It will always eventually end with frustration and despair, and ultimately eternal separation from the one who alone is worthy to be praised.  It will forever separate you from the one who can offer peace and comfort.  This woman's story broke my heart.  The positive thinking movement cannot deal with or face head on life's hardships; a brothers suicide, murder, rape, famine, war, death of a spouse, divorce, or any form of unexpected or undeserved heartache.  Positive thinking or new age basically says its your fault.  You are either bringing that onto yourself through your negative thoughts or your soul is seeking out a lesson.  The only thing you can do is stay positive, white-knuckle hold on for dear life, and vibrate your way back to 'happiness'.  What a burden to carry!

"As the owner of dozens of positive thinking books and an avid listener of Hay House Radio and Esther Hicks CDs, I had all the tools and supplies to work my way through the grief, but I discovered the only truly affective balm was the passage of time. One excruciating day at a time. But while that time passed, in between sudden bouts of hot, wrenching tears, I tried to feel better by grazing among the books and tapes I own. For me, it was better than the alternative: living completely surrounded by unquenchable pain. I was helping myself."

I just want to go and tell this woman that is not the only option!  Maybe she has heard the gospel and rejected it.  Maybe not.  Either way the burden of carrying ones own pain is too much and no human being can do it.

Matthew 11:28
"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."

Giving into despair is not the only option.  Helping yourself will only be more frustrating.  Running to flawed human reasoning and counsel will only cause despair.  Though 'positive thinking' may make you 'feel' better for a time it will not give you rest.  It has to be exhausting picking oneself up by your own bootstraps all the time!  Jesus said "come".  I have prayed for this woman who I will most likely never meet.  I pray she finds rest in the only one who can give it.  Say a prayer for her as well if you will.

How thankful I am for my Savior!  I can come to him and find rest.  Oh how often I try to carry it all on my own though.  We KNOW who to given our burdens to and yet we don't.  We pridefully try to do it all our on own without humbly coming before Him and saying, "Here.  I give up.  I cannot do this alone.  I cannot carry this alone.  I am not strong enough.  Please, take it.  You alone are able to give me rest."

I have been listening to this song all day thankful I can come, and praying for all those who are rejecting his invitation to come.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Big "BUT"

I love the Old Testament.  I love all the times the word covenant is used.   I love how the Lord speaks of how his wrath will be pourred out on a people and you read of all the ways sin will destroy and wreak havoc.  I love the most when he says BUT.  Leviticus 26 is one of my favorites.  It begins with telling of how great the reward for obedience is.  God pouring out his blessing.  Then it gets ugly real quick.  That 'BUT' is a scary but.  "But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you....." 
This was not what I wanted to write about originally this morning.  I had chosen a 'nice' topic.  It was a biblical concept but as I did my research and wrote my thoughts I realized something, there was too many 'I think' statements.  Like I said before, I don't really care if anyone ever reads my words.  I enjoy writing them and God teaches me so much through it, but I want it to be of GOD and not of kristi.  I still tried to rationalize why I should still write on that topic.  I am the queen of rationalization when it comes to doing what I want even when I feel the Holy Spirit pulling me in another direction.  I want to be 'nice' and 'pretty'.  I don't want to be 'offensive' or appear 'judgemental'.  But as I did my bible study and had my time with the Lord I realized that the bible isn't 'nice'.  It is very 'offensive' and 'judgemental' and it is the perfect and inspired word of God that I will not apologize for.  So I decided before I did what I wanted and chose the more 'peaceful' and 'pretty' topic, I better write what God was teaching me like I said I would and not what 'I think'.
A few months back our church had a Revival conference.  That's right, REVIVAL.  Now I don't know about you but when I thought of revival I pictured big tents full of sweaty people holding snakes.  So when I heard our church was going to have one I thought, 'o good grief the pastors lost it':-)  That week though changed my heart, our church, our families, and our outlook.  Of course there was plenty to criticize and question but the over all theme and focus was CHRIST.  I had signed up to receive a magazine that the organization called Life Action Ministries publishes.  The website is is you want to learn more about them or sign up for their publication.
I have picked up and read this magazine off and on since I got it in the mail and today I wanted to share some of it with you.  I need revival.  One of the articles speaks of taking a piece of chalk, drawing a circle around yourself, and pray "Lord God, send revival, and begin it right here in this circle!"  What is Revival?  Once again I think the author of the article puts it better than I ever could: "Revival is the soul's craving to see a touch of heaven on earth; to see our Lord honored in glory and power.  This cry isn't a methodology or pat formula for spiritual success.  Instead, God blesses an attitude of heart that retraces the circle, steps inside, and cries out "Please, Jesus, come!  You are our only hope.  We know that Your Word offers great and precious promises.  Begin your reviving work here, for Your glory!  Jesus, start revival in this circle!"
Well that's great and all but how does revival happen.  The same way any other conviction happens.  Only through the Holy Spirit breaking our hearts and bringing us to repentance.  We cannot force this.  We cannot research enough, speak out enough, love enough, work enough, or do any other human thing to bring about what only God can.  We can pray for brokenness, for the Holy Spirit to reveal to us areas in our lives where we have gone astray and sinned against our holy God. 

How the author laid it out (his research, not mine):

Begin with humility:  Psalm 51:17, James 4:6-10
Get honest about your sin: Isaiah 59:2, Psalm 51, and 1 John 1:9
Repent!:  Ezekiel 18:30-32, Psalm 139:23-24 and Acts 26:20
Embrace and extend forgiveness: Acts 24:16, Matthew 6:14-15 and Ephesians 4:31-32
Align your life with God's Word: Psalm 119
Pray fervently for revival:  Isaiah 64 and Joel 2:12-32

I need personal revival.  I need to draw a circle around myself and pray for God to break my heart for what breaks his.  Ask him to reveal to me my sin and convict me and lay his hand so heavy upon me that I turn to him for forgiveness.  We need corporate revival.  We as a culture, a nation, and even a church need to repent and seek His face.  But may it begin with me and each of us individually.
Leviticus shows many characteristic of who God is.  His love is of course evident but my favorite is His absolute, unwavering, uncompromising demand to be center of our lives.  He will not stand for or accept anything less.  He will be Lord.  He has the power to do any number of horrible and not so gentle things to us to show us that He alone is Lord.  I like how he says, "If after all this you still will not listen to me...."  and it continues in how he will punish us.  I am thankful that all the times in my life where I ignored the Holy Spirits convictions causing the Lord to keep on convicting me and breaking me of my pride to bring me to a place of repentance.

"But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers, their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies-then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.  For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbath while it lies desolate without them.  They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees.  Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies i will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them.  I am the Lord their God.  But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to their God, I am the Lord."  Leviticus 26:40-45

Our God is gracious, powerful, loving, just, holy, perfect, and to be praised for He is the Lord.  We need revival but may it begin in me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

1 Peter 5:8-11

Father I pray that what I am about to write will be pleasing to you o Lord.  Take away my anger towards what is going on and put in me a righteous indignation and the desire to stand up for the truth of your word and who you are, not serve my own agenda or purpose..  Protect me and my friends from the lies and deceit the devil is spreading.  Bring those who have fallen prey to wrong thinking towards you.  Break the hearts of those trying find truth in the lies so much so that they have no other choice than to turn towards you and see the one and only truth.  Rise up a person or people who have fallen prey to the 'religion' of the devil already has a large sphere of influence and cause them to become a mighty warrior for truth.  Help others to see you in their changed heart and know you are the one true God.  Convict and take away from us the confusion, guilt, fear, hurt, discontent, greed, and all the other parts of our sinful hearts that cause us to want to believe what the devil offers is light and beauty.  Help us see it for what it is, sin and filth, blasphemy against the one true God.  Allow us to turn our hearts back to you and be a generation, a people who love and know the God of the bible, of Abraham, Moses, and David.  Make yourself known and bring glory to your name.  

Well lets just say I am not all that excited to share what God has laid on my heart to write today.  It is something that has been a burden to me for about 2 years now.  I have carried it around trying to fight it with debates, books, reason, logic, and even outright anger and disgust for the whole issue.  I eventually let it go and decide the battle is the Lord's only to pick it up again and it allow it to anger me so much so that its all I can think about some days.  Whats funny to me now is that I thought this was something new.  That this deceit and evil was a new way to cause people not to see the need for Savior.  What is even more disturbing is I believed it all for a while.  I turned my back on all I knew, on the God I loved, and decided there just had to be more to life than what I had always been taught.  Surely it wasn't just that Jesus was it.  He wasn't enough for me to be happy.  He wasn't enough for me to feel fulfilled.  He wasn't enough to give me purpose and hope.  He wasn't enough for me.  I of course didn't realize at the time that that is what I was saying, but it is what I was feeling.  I wanted more.  More of what?  I don't think even I knew.  But I think I wanted more wisdom, clarity, and to feel lighter.  I wanted to cleanse myself of all that was weighing me down.  I couldn't identify what it was but I knew my burden was heavy and I wanted it gone.  It wasn't self esteem I was lacking,  it wasn't positive thinking that I needed to learn, it wasn't anything that most self-help books and even psychologists try to tell you is your problem.  It was SIN.  Jesus wasn't enough for me.  I wanted happiness and peace.  Jesus wasn't providing that for me the way I thought he should so I had to look elsewhere to find a way to get me what I wanted.  I looked to myself.  That's what your supposed to do right?  Find the truth within, realize the reality of who you are, get in touch with the power you have inside.  It worked for Oprah and plenty of others (so it seems) so why not for me.  I of course was overwhelmed with all the information that was out there.  I wanted to know "the secret" and "heal my life". (referring to The Secret by Rhonda Byrne and "You can heal your life" by Louise Haye)  I learned I was a part of the divine, that we all are.  That all I had to do was apply certain principles in my life, cast of all masks of "perception", begin my journey towards self awareness, and then my eyes would be opened to the truth of this world and nothing would be impossible for me.  Sounds great doesn't it.  Thankfully God has put intelligent and excellent writers out there who can better express what I want to say, so to complete part one of however many parts this series of blog posts may become I will leave it to Erwin Lutzer to identify the issue that has so taken over our culture and become "normal".  I was given this book by a wonderful Godly woman who loved me enough to tell me I was WRONG in what I was pursuing and once the Holy Spirit convicted me and I asked God to please forgive me and protect me from the ways of thinking I had adopted, to turn my heart and thoughts back to him, this book put perfectly the contradictions I had noticed and showed me plenty of other issues and that this is a battle for truth.  It is an attempt to deceive millions of souls.  The devil may appear to be winning the battle but we know he WILL NOT win the war!  Jesus is Lord over all the earth and he will be victorious in the end.  Every knee will bow down, every tongue will confess that he alone is Lord!

"The Satanic Strategy"
From Oprah, Miracles, and the New Earth

"Let's dream for a while.  Suppose you were Satan, burning with a hateful passion to deceive everyone on the face of planet earth.  What if you had the ability to inject thoughts into the minds of some people and tempt others to take your suggestions?  What if you were preparing for a final worldwide takeover?  Suppose you could do all of your initial planning without being detected.  What schemes would you use to get your message across?
  Obviously, you would sell your product by providing some tangible dividends without arousing unnecessary fear and attention.  You'd package your ideas in a form that the public would accept.  All the while, your intentions would have to remain skillfully hidden.  Like a fisherman, you'd want to give some immediate gratification but keep the hook out of sight.
  Your primary goal is not materialism, immorality, drugs, or despair.  There is something else you long for:  you want recognition and worship.  You desire personal contact with humans who will interpret their experience as a meeting with the true God whom you hate.  In the end you want them to be willing to take your mark, and pledge loyalty to your schemes.  Deception is the name of the game.
  To do this, you have to teach that God is impersonal- the force, energy, and the one all-pervading reality.  In fact, everything is God.  Salvation comes by meditation, by an experience that unites us with the divine.  You teach that whereas Christianity says heaven is in the life to come, the good news is that heaven can't wait!  It is pressing in upon us, simply waiting to be acknowledged and accepted.  All around us there are signs that we are entering a new age of peace, where death does not exist and spiritual harmony rules.  And we have the potential to make it happen. 
And so it is that Satan plies his trade, leading millions to believe that his benefits come, not through the study of doctrine or attending church or even the confession of our sins, but, we are told, through one or more techniques that put us in touch with our "true self".  One way or another we can access the basic power of the human mind.  By taking a journey within, we can find spiritual reality and fulfillment. 
Satan has never lost sight of his long term goal-the enslavement of multitudes.  He wants us to believe that the spirit world around us is a friendly place, and therefore connecting to the supernatural is both beneficial and not to be feared.  Satan makes promises like a god-but pays like the devil."

I wasn't excited about sharing this because I know it is not popular.  I know I could lose friends over taking such a stand.  But now that I have written it out I am excited and hopeful that maybe one person will read this and try and prove me wrong.  In order to prove that the God of the bible is not the one and only true God they'll have to get a bible, open it, study, and read it.  I pray the holy spirit will move in their heart and show them who God is.  That what he offers is so much greater than what the world offers.  I pray they are overwhelmed with his majesty, fall on their knees, accept and worship the one true God!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Then I passed by....."

Yesterday while I was in the car line waiting to pick up my daughter I did my lesson in the bible study I have been working on about David.  One of  the passages to read was Ezekiel 16:1-7.  I decided to keep reading and by the time I reached the end of the chapter I was in tears.  We are Jerusalem.  I am Jerusalem.  I thought of all God had done for me, all he had saved me from, how dead I was in my sin when he found me, and how he cleaned me up and said "LIVE!". 

Then I thought of all the ways I have used the gifts he has given me for my own selfish gain or paraded them around as something that was mine, that I deserved and had worked for solely on my own strength.  And how as if that isn't enough I spit in the face of the Lord and prefer anothers company; be it money, comfort, happiness, or even friends. 

I thought how he said that prostitutes get paid for what they give away, but you are paying for what you give away.  You are funding your own stupidity and destruction.  I thought about how our culture is in love with self-love, fame, fortune, health, and everything else that we seek to fufill what only God can.  We weren't made to bring ourselves glory, only to bring God glory and nothing else will fufill that purpose in us.  We spend thousands of dollars, a lot of time, energy, heartache, and strife, on what doesn't matter.  We are paying to find our purpose and losing our souls in the process.  I forget what is important in life and fund my own stupidity and destruction!

I deserve to be publicly shamed!  Don't we all.  We all have those sins that we think, "wow if they only knew."  Some of us have been shamed by our own actions or by others exposing our sin.  Either way God uses it for our good and his glory. 

As I read through the chapter and thought of all the ways I have disgraced and turned my back on my Savior and how I deserve everything the Lord was going to do to Jerusalem I was overwhelmed by his grace and love for us.  And then I read this one verse and thats when I wanted to jump out of the car and tell everyone in the car line, "HEY!! Come read this!!  Isnt this amazing!!"  

"Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you."  Ezekiel 16:60

WHAT?!  We don't deserve that!  I am constantly amazed at how in the bible God always refers to the covenant he made with his people.  We are his and he is ours.  I am no better and probably would fit in well with Jerusalem.  We all would.  I don't deserve his love or forgiveness but I am so thankful that he made a promise to me.  He found me, cleaned me up, and said "LIVE".  To God be the glory!

Then I heard this song and thought it was appropriate!