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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

You Look Better Without Your Mask

About 5 years ago I stepped into a season of transparency. I began to allow people into the dark places that lurked in me as well as the struggles and the pain of my past that haunted me. I knew Jesus was doing something but I didn't understand what it was until now.

When I was a little girl my addiction to boys triggered so many emotions inside me that left me at times feeling rejected and other times fully wanted.  I wore clothes to attract and left little to the imagination all because of a hole so deep inside me.  After I no longer felt a since of worth my addiction went from boys  into wanting approval from friendships and that carried me through high school and into my college years and early adulthood.  I was enslaved by the validation and approval from others. I would morph into who others wanted me to be so I could gain acceptance. I would dress however I thought would impress and that left me in a mess and I really had no idea who I was.

After the realization of this constant need for approval surfaced in me I began to really search for who I was and yet that addiction then turned to food. It consumed my every thought and made me so angry at those around me. I never got in a bathing suit and when I would eat out I would only order a salad to look as if I was healthy eating and then I would leave and binge.  People may say I share too much information and to those people I don't care because the freedom in sharing my scars has not only healed my heart over the years, but it has also given others the courage to take their mask off and embrace redemption.  I once was told by a pastor that "I shouldn't share such personal stuff" but I I pushed through those insecurities and the freedom I felt on the other side was unbelievable.

Look at David's story He was a man after Gods on heart and yet a murderer, adulterer, depressed and full of uncontrollable emotions.  His story continues to pave the way for many to walk out of sin, self righteousness and embrace redemption. What a beautiful picture of the cross.

I feel like some of you are on the edge, you want others to know the pain you feel but you worry about how they might perceive you.  God wants you to know that the enemy can't taunt you with what He doesn't control.  Handing your addiction, sin, fear, past or even your future over to the Creator releases a love like you have never known.

Last night as I was working, one of the girls kept asking me questions regarding my childhood and my life in general.  My heart melted because yet again I got to share what the enemy meant to for bad my Creator used as an instrument of change.   The problem with our struggles is that we become so consumed with them that we let then take over our hearts.  If we allow those struggles, or even good things to become our number one desire to the point of affecting our actions then it has become an idol and it needs to come down before healing and freedom can set in.

Jonah 2:8/9a "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs, 9A BUT I with a song of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you..."  As I read this verse I was reminded that when idols are present a sacrifice is made. When we are pursuing the things of God instead of God our intimacy with Him is sacrificed. When we pursue things that have nothing to do with Him we forfeit the grace that covers the very thing we need redeemed from. Your heart gives way to your actions and it tells the story of what's important to you.

What directs your path? Is it a desire for more or is it the need to be wanted? Or something else that has become a wedge between you and the sweet intimacy of Jesus? The beautiful thing about the grace of God is that once you surrender your life to Him you no longer have to be in a constant place of shame.  He freely pours out forgiveness to cover you and to set you in the path of righteousness and freedom. The sin of idol worship is something we hide our busy schedules behind along with the desire for more & then the distant between us and our Creator is often blamed on Him rather than our disobedience and sin.  Repentance is a churchy word but I believe that God has called us into holiness not perfection yet a daily posture of surrender.  God forgive us for worshiping things, dreams, people and so much more instead of seeing the beauty of You.  Allow us to see the things that have taken over our hearts so we can sacrifice those things and fully worship You alone! Take your mask off today and just be real.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mosquitos Suck

Today I asked myself this question, how many times have I been bitten by a mosquito? Oh I would say at least a thousand or more times over my lifetime.  I hate those pesty things. They look for fresh skin well fresh blood to suck. I can apply bug spray, wear long sleeve clothing and yet they always seem to find an exposed area to land.  I have two huge bites on the inside of my forearm currently that are driving me crazy. I have itched myself to death.   As I got out of the car this afternoon I was reminded of times in my life of how my sin & disobedience sucked the life out of me. It was as if the enemy looked for any weak area and then struck with a vengeance. I believe that our hearts go unprotected at times because we have great spiritual moments and then we rely on those spiritual markers to lead us and yet they never seem to sustain us.  We have to be always on guard and always in the word.  His word highlights those exposed areas and leads us away from places, people and addictions that could ultimately suck the life out of us and take us in the opposite  direction of Gods presence.  The beautiful thing about Gods love is that He makes it available every second of every day and His mercies are renewed daily as well. You may feel so far from God because of your own sin or the result of someone else's sin today but what I know is that God never moves away from us. He is waiting for you even in this moment for you to turn around and feel the embrace of His love, His redemption, His joy, His strength and more than anything His presence.  Freedom is waiting. 

Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool

2 Corinthians 5:17 
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Love is a Verb

People are constantly asking me for advice on relationships and marriage. I love being able to help women see God first and then their role as wife. For many women it's a constant struggle to submit and honor because they feel as if their husbands no longer show them love. I hear this constantly "when we dated he would bring me flowers, and take me out to eat and now he does nothing to romance me".  This morning I was reminded of a blog that Perry Noble wrote back in 2012 and it has stuck with me.  Perry is the pastor at NewSpring church in Anderson SC.  He is one of my most favorite pastors on the planet because his transparency.  After you read the blog (link posted at bottom) reflect on where your marriage is currently and also ask yourself what can I do to make things different. Ladies honoring your husband means you can't NAG or criticize their effort of pursuit and men date your wives and I promise you will see a difference. Simply put -Love is a verb!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Jump In

I love being around people that are encouraging.  I know that my gifting is encouragement and that may be one of the reasons I draw energy from those type of people.  But I am talking about the ones who are always so full of life even when things seem so out of control. It's those people who strengthen my faith because I see them exercising theirs in those moments when it seems like the impossible is on the horizon. To refresh something means to make (someone) have more energy and feel less tired.  I love this definition because that is the very thing Jesus did while He was here on earth. Every bible story I have ever heard about Jesus was about Him reaching into the tired, weary, or thirsty and refueling them through healing whether it was physical, emotionally or spiritually.  Think about His name alone it should bring a smile to our faces.  As I was reading this morning I stumbled on these two verses out of Philemon and I was encouraged.  
Verse 6 
"and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.[a] 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you"

"It says the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you"-Paul encouraged Philemon and was letting him know that heart change was happening because of how he was living out his faith.  I remember when I was a kid my sister hated the heat. She would whine and complain because she was so hot. I can hear her now crying without tears saying "I want some watttttteeeeer" (yes drawn out and all). I think about adults including myself who have been in that same moment of complaint, discomfort and because my attitude was bad it quickly spread and it changed the climate in the room. The same goes when you point people no matter the circumstance to Jesus. It's like you can feel the room shift and no longer are we focused on what we don't have or the healing that hasn't come but instead we see how big God is and how His love is the source of our strength.  Think about when you are on the beach what refreshes you?  Its not the cold drink that only holds you off for a while it's when you get in the pool or the ocean that does the trick. It's immersing yourself in the coolness that not only relaxes you but refreshes you.  Gods love is the same way. When your marriage is at the point of no return, your boyfriend or girl friend has ended what you thought was forever, your finances seem to only be getting worse or the diagnoses you were told you had has now set in and defeat and what ifs are consuming your mind and it's time you stop looking elsewhere or even turning to temporary relief.  He wants you to jump in I mean ALL of you because in the end your faith will be made effective, your intimacy will increase and those around you will walk away refreshed simply because you chose to trust in the power of your Creator over the thing that is making you tired and without energy to keep going. You are weak but He is strong! Be encouraged today :) 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Wishy Washy

I can be so wishy washy. I get so into TV shows and before too long I am over it. The same way with movies. I have seen Rocky 4 a thousand times and yet now I will fast forward through the fight season until Rocky starts to win. I hate the the roller coaster of emotions.  I want to see the victory, or the girl get the boy, the family restored etc. I have always been this way. I hate for friends to be mad and for couples to break up. I want everyone's life to be full of happiness.  I have friends right now that are broken and are hanging on by what seems to be a last thread of faith.  Relationships are ending, healing isn't coming and chaos is overwhelming them.  In college one of my professors said that social workers are wounded healers and I believe that even more today. I want to fix the areas of peoples lives that hurt them because I have felt my share of heartache.  As I was reading in Romans yesterday I came across this passage and I saw this unwavering faith that Abraham had and I desire that.  Romans 4:20-22
"20 No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.”

It says NO unbelief made him waver. It's crazy how our almost automatic response to our circumstances is unbelief.  We shift blame to God and question His sovereignty. Abraham used that time of waiting as a season of growing His faith. I can't imagine his thoughts about his wife of a very old age having a child. Year  after year passing and nothing happening and yet decades past and it says he was not partially convinced but FULLY convinced that God was able to do what He had promised.  Just like in the movies I hold on to the promise of the movie ending with happily ever after my faith should strengthen because I am holding on to the promises of what is to come.  The story your living isn't over. Death comes, brokenness happens but in the end WE WIN. It's about how we view God through this season because that is what deepens our intimacy with Him and strengthens our faith. Waver is defined "to move back and forth in an unsteady way".  So to have this unwavering trust with your Creator NO matter what is going on means you are choosing to stand firm no matter the outcome. It's a trust that you can't explain yet so sure of. Freedom comes from not knowing what will happen yet so sure and confident that Your Creator covers it all. He will not leave any loose ends nor leave you. He is for you! Today take a step back from what is sucking the life out of you and see the bigger picture. Your marriage can be saved, you do have a purpose even when you feel like your dream has passed and know that God hears your cry. Wait and then maybe wait a little longer, lean in like never before and trust just like Abraham because Gods promises will not return void.