The 3 R’s of God’s Classroom

I hear his story on the radio, on the way to take oldest to school.

His name is Matt and a car accident changed his life. He lost the ability to read.

Every time he sat down to read, he just could not put the words together. “I don’t understand!” he kept crying.

They told him he’d never finish school.

But he decided to try. He submitted himself to a program in which he re-trained his brain to read letters on a page. For over a year, he re-trained.

He had four hundred and eighty something days straight of migraine headaches.

It hurt. He pushed on.

It was hard. He pushed on.

It was agonizingly frustrating, re-learning something a completely different way, when he’d already done it the easy way years earlier.

He pushed on.

He can read now. He graduated with honors. And now he’s pursuing an MBA.

The story comes on a day when I want to give up. I’m oh so tired and the grueling work confuses the mind, sweat stings the eyes.

The story concludes on the radio and the Voice speaks to me: “I told you these days would come,” and I remember nearly a year ago, when He first gave me my prognosis.

I was sitting in the audience, waiting to hear the preacher, thinking the Word would come once the announcements were over. But no, there was one who had something to say and He spoke through that one.

The one had limped down the aisle to the podium, dragging his leg behind him.

His words were just as slow, forced out of a mouth that couldn’t keep up with the mind.

He barely spoke two sentences before he ambled back down the aisle, but in the span of those two sentences our mutual Maker spoke loud and clear, with no faltering and no stuttering. “That’s you,” He told me.

It was so powerful and so out of the ordinary that I told my husband about it that evening. “Yes, I know the young man,” he told me. “He calls himself “Marine 4 Christ.'”

I was so taken by this connection God had made between me and this young injured soldier, that I googled him. “Marine4Christ.” I found the connection in listening to his testimony.

Like Brandon, I am a wounded warrior. Years of abuse and spiritual bondage left me wounded and paralyzed, in a coma of sorts… Dead weight to those who cared for me.

“You are awake now,” He said to me that day as I watched Brandon’s story. “Like Brandon, I’ve redeemed your life too.”

“Now. If you are to get well, you too will have to relearn everything.

Relearn Everything.

I knew it would take hard, agonizing work. Grueling days, hours, moments. Impossible odds. Days when I’d say, “I can’t do this anymore.” It would take a team of people around me who pushed me to do what I felt simply and absolutely impossible.

But if I was to get well, if I wanted to live again, I would have to re-learn the ways of Grace. I’d have to learn how to eat again, how to work again, how to stand up and walk.

I’m still in the classroom. Today as I wondered if I’ve made any progress at all, God showed me that I have at least learned what the 3 R’s are in His classroom, and I’m giddy with the knowledge:

1. Receive- The way to eat is to receive. Receive all of God’s goodness and grace and to do that, one must open up, let go, do the opposite of what comes naturally when one has lived on life support. “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”

Open up, take in, swallow down. Receive.

2. Rest– The work of God’s classroom is to rest, the cessation of self striving and self effort. To move the spiritual body means letting Him be the one to both give and fill the prescription. He is in me both to will and to work.

Resting in God’s Kingdom classroom is not passive! “Labor to enter into that rest…” (Heb 4:11) Entering rest is perhaps the most difficult work of all.

3. tRust– The walk of the godly is to trust. The just shall live by faith. Just as each step is an act of free falling, so walking by faith is learning to free fall through my days, letting God-legs catch and sustain.

This is what it means to re-gain the ability to walk.

On a day like today, I wonder if I’ve made any progress at all. I wonder if I can pick up and just. do. today’s. part. Then I hear Matt’s story and I remember Brandon’s story and I know that like them, I can do it too. My life is redeemed and my Physician won’t forsake me.

And He’s placed me in just the right environment for me to re-learn, with people in my life (especially the 4 children!) who will push me and force me to new limits. I just need submit to His plan and keep practicing.

One day, I’ll be eating on my own. I’ll have full range of movement again. I’ll be walking.

And today? Well today I’ve moved one day closer.

Have a great weekend, dear friend, you who have happened upon this place today…


Eucharisteo Is Not A Formula

I love Ann Voskamp.

I read her blog, have read (and marked up) her book, even given copies away as gifts. I’ve learned from her and keep my own “list.” But…

But…

There is something that needs to be said {and I need to say it to my own heart}:

Eucharisteo is not a formula.

It is possible to start a list and hope to see God in it and “do” everything just right yet end up missing the whole point. Let me explain.

Our approach in Western Christianity is to make everything a formula. Our independent, affluent, self sufficient culture sort of makes this our default.

The problem is, formulas indicate control~ ours. We do something for God’s revelation, power, goodness, grace, manifestation, etc. God’s outpouring in our lives is dependent then on us and on whether we have concocted the *right* formula.

God, on the other hand, invites us to relationship, which is the relinquishing of control and trusting in the character of another (God.)

Relationship is Trust. Faith.

I say this because I am afraid our tendency is to see people like Ann Voskamp and Beth Moore and others, and love what they have with the Lord and we want to follow their footsteps to having it too. So we “try it” amd are discouraged when we can’t follow suit or when ours doesn’t look the same or when the results we thought we’d see aren’t there.

The pattern for many of us is that of constantly jumping from one thing to another, thinking…hoping… this time will be “it,”  that somehow this is the missing piece and it will all come together, finally.

But it is faith that builds relationship, not Beth Moore’s bible study or Ann Voskamp’s List. The transforming factor in their lives is faith, not formula.

I know this agonizingly well.

I spent many years of my Christian life “trying” instead of believing.

Faith is about letting go of control. For Ann, eucharisteo was the way she practiced letting go and trusting God. For her, like it must be for us all, it is not about formula but faith.

We like to control our own spirituality. In fact, we even believe our spiritual growth is our responsibility. When caught in this trap, something wonderful like eucharisteo then becomes a formula we try to use. It is such a way of life that many of us can’t even see it.

“For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own…” Romans 10:3

It is possible to desire righteousness and seek after it and go about it all wrong because you know not about God’s righteousness, which only comes one way:

“But now, apart from the Law (works, self-effort, formulas), the righteousness of God has been manifested, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ.” Romans 3:21-22

We don’t have to manufacture our own righteousness, we can simply accept Christ’s.

If you can’t use spiritual disciplines as a means of deepening faith, letting go of control, and receiving Christ’s sufficiency…then let the discipline go. It only creates self-effort.


Declaration of Love

Today, I will believe that God’s love is demonstrated towards me. It is expressed in ways I can see and experience. (Romans 5:8)

The expressions of God’s love are so numerous, they fill the whole earth! (Psalm 57:10)

Today, I can be sure that God wants me to know and believe the love He has for me. (I John 4:16)

With this knowledge, I recognize then that any breakdown lies not in God’s love for me, but in my ability to perceive and embrace it. So I endeavor, with the help of God, to bind His kindness on, and write it on the tablet of my heart today. (Proverbs 3:3)

I will do this by taking up the following spiritual disciplines:

~ Today, I will, with great intentionality, consider the lovingkindnesses of the Lord.  (Psalm 147:43, Matthew 6:28)

~Today, I will count His kindnesses by listing them. (Psalm 92:1-2)

~Today, I will bless myself and others by sharing the in context of community the love, faithfulness, and kindnesses of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19, Psalm 40:10)

~Today, I will not grow discouraged, knowing that the more I train my senses, the clearer I will see God’s love, and that soon this will be a well established habit in my life.

~Today, I will remind myself that the Disposition of God is kindness; the Default of God is mercy; the Gifts of God are good; the conclusion of every generation is that God is good. And God has chosen me to be a witness in my own generation,

Today, I will taste and see that the Lord is Good. (Psalm 34:8)

 

Click here For a downloadable copy of this to hang on your fridge or mirror: Manifesto of Love

Related Posts on Developing the Habit of God’s Love in your life:

Rooted and Grounded in Love

Walking in God’s Eulogy

How to Really Know God Loves You

Trusting God’s Intentions Towards You



How To Really Know God Loves You

Disappointment seeped in and disguised itself as a knot in my stomach. Its companion, insecurity, was bolder, creeping up my neck and coming out in my words, my actions.

It wasn’t until the next morning when quiet time found me withdrawn and struggling to believe that the “aha” moment came…my perception of God’s love for me was tainted by the incident of yesterday that caused such disappointment.

“If nothing separates me from Your love (Rom 8),” I prayed, “and if Your loving kindness towards me fills the entire earth (Ps. 36:5), extending even to the heavens (Ps 57:10) to form a canopy over me, a crown on the head (Ps. 103), then it is not Your love for me that is in question; It is my perception of it. My perceptions are faulty and need repairing.”

How like the Israelites I am! A dry spell in the wilderness makes me forget the parting of the Red Sea! New challenges today make me mindless of the miracles He performed yesterday.

Identifying hinges on which my understanding of His love for me swings… the response from others… success (or lack of) in ministry…whether or not things go well…smooth paths… acceptable performance from me… on and on. Knowing these false hinges helps me stop the downward spiral. 

It doesn’t take long to realize that basing my perception of God’s love on these things means sure disaster. But I feel lost. Where do I begin? Just believing the fact that “God loves me” seems impossible when emotions are so strong.

I look to scripture for someone who can show me how to do this, give me a model to follow. I find David.

David knew God loved him. It was his backbone when facing Goliath, his wisdom when he was king, his hope when he had failed, his refuge when attacked, his strength when he woke mere man.

How did he do it? How did he ground himself in God’s love? What spiritual disciplines did he exercise that imparted this rich knowledge that served him well all his life? Did he just wait around to be zapped with his spiritual “AHA!” moments?

I was eager to find the answers, to take them as my own, to shape my life around them. In the story of a life lived thousands of years ago, I found answers… and a strong word of instruction:

 I have a responsibility in knowing God loves me.

 (No waiting for an “AHA” moment.) Because over and over the Bible says He loves me and He wants me to know it (Eph 3: 17, I John 4:17) and He shows me how to know it.

I am not the only one to have tainted perceptions and painful pasts and need help day after day knowing God’s love. The Israelites… well they were slaves, driven and beaten and not given a voice either. How could they claim to be God’s people, to be the recipients of His love and favor when they had been so abused and mistreated?

The evil one asks this of me, too. The only weapon is the Sword of Truth, kept sharp by spiritual disciplines that ensure my perceptions are pure, accurate, true, SOLID.

Piece by piece, bit by bit, I am mentored by a man who did it right. I sketch David’s habits, learning his ways from the Psalms. I take on his habits:

~~Start first thing in the morning.

When David rose in the morning, tapping into God’s love was his priority. (Ps. 108:1-4) He expected God’s love. He listened for it. He looked for it. (Ps. 143:8) He believed it would be there and he trusted it to guide him. Day after day, morning after morning, he was satisfied FIRST with God’s love for him, drank full up with it.

 So it will be for me.

~~Develop eyes for God’s love.

The ancients considered the specific loving-kindnesses of God by listing them (Ps. 107). Our ancestors show me that consciously recognizing and recording God’s expressions of love is a vital discipline for remaining intact spiritually (Ps. 48:9). Great demise and loss came to those who failed to develop this practice Ps. 106:7.

Ps. 107:43, “Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.”

I make a lifelong commitment to recognize God’s expressions of love, record them on paper, and recall them to mind throughout the day.

~~Start speaking of His love aloud.

After learning how to recognize God’s expressions of love and consciously considering them, pondering them, and remembering them, David spoke of them to others (Ps. 40:10, 63:3, 92:1-2, 59:16,) . He declared God’s goodness through testimony, giving thanks, and singing. I look for outlets to share of God’s love, even if it is simply with my children.

~~Find “triggers” to remind self of God’s love.

Two triggers mentioned repeatedly in scripture are the sun and birds. If the sun comes up, it is because God is still faithful, because His covenant of love still stands (Ps 89:2, 36-37)! We can know for sure that His mercies are new with the rising of the sun. (Lam 3) { I will often exclaim to my husband in the morning, “The sun came up!” and we rejoice together that God is still faithful.}

Scripture tells us that God feeds the birds, cares for them, and knows when each one of them falls. He satisfies the desires of every living creature (Ps 145:15-16) and if He cares for the creatures, He certainly cares for me. When I see a bird {which happens multiple times a day} I think, “God fed that little thing today and His eye is on him. How much more is His eye and affection upon you?”

The wise man said, “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; Bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Prov 3:3

These habits help me see God’s love in daily life, wrap myself in it, and write it onto my heart. For additional scriptures on recognizing God’s love in everyday life, see:
Psalm 147
Psalm 104
Psalm 89

Related posts on Developing the Habit of God’s Love:

Rooted and Grounded in Love

Walking in God’s Eulogy

Join us next Monday for more on developing the habit of “Love.”


Rooted and Grounded in Love

It was the comment that changed everything.

The kids were down, husband was out, and I was washing dishes.

Alone on the other side of the world, standing barefoot and pregnant at the sink,  kitchen door propped open with a jug of laundry detergent to beg a breeze in.

It was stifling hot.

And there I was. Trying to learn all I could from those who had gone before, trying to imitate those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.

Trying to figure out how to do this thing.

God heard my silent cry, the cry of my heart that I couldn’t even articulate. Doesn’t He always?

I had downloaded the content from the internet, blessed gift, cord of connection to the outside world.

Derwin Grey was sharing his testimony…but it was God who had a message for me, because the words that came from Derwin’s mouth pierced such that they lodged in my memory { and that is saying a lot for this mommy brain that has put the cheese in her purse instead of in the fridge and that can’t remember the book she read last month. }

He said, “A false god is never satisfied.”

It entered and pierced and shook me up and turned me inside out and exposed what I was already beginning to suspect: that I didn’t really know God. Sure, I knew what church had told me. I knew what everyone else knew about God. But I didn’t really “get” Him. I didn’t really understand His heart.

I thought I understood. But I was, in fact, dead wrong.

Because God is satisfied. He said “it is finished.” He fulfilled Heaven’s demands Himself. He took our matters into His own hands so that once and for all it would be completed and the job would be accomplished without fail and He sat down at the right hand of the Father upon its fulfillment and as an act of cessation.

And He still sits.

But the God I worshiped never seemed to be satisfied.

That was the beginning of a sifting process in my life…the sifting out of all the worthless views, ideas, and notions of God I held. Beliefs passed down to me from my past church experiences, from others who had modeled un-truth cloaked as truth, from life experiences that had communicated messages about God and His goodness (or lack thereof.)

I had a lot to sort through.

It wasn’t easy, but God was faithful. {He still is.} And the wonderful thing is that each worthless view gets replaced with a precious one…a true one I can stake and center my life around, such as…

If God doesn’t chiefly desire my obedience…then God chiefly desires relationship….with me! I don’t have to perform.

If God doesn’t taskmaster me…then God leads me as a Shepherd. I can view His commands as a loving staff, not as Egypt’s whip.

If God doesn’t condemn me into good behavior and works…then God can give me a greater motivation to serve Him than self-condemnation. I can let go of berating myself and be motivated by God’s love instead.

If God doesn’t coddle me as a victim…then God empowers me to get off my mat and walk. I can define myself differently.

If God loves me based solely on His own faultless, unfailing ability…then God does not turn His nose up at my failures. I can receive God’s forgiveness even in the stinking-est of sin.

If God is for me…then who or what can be against me? I can be confident of God’s YES on my life.

It became clear that the root of all my misunderstandings about God could be traced back to one thing: I didn’t really believe that God was love and that He loved me unconditionally and that He was fully, without a shadow of turning, completely and utterly committed to my good.

Sure I knew it theologically. But I didn’t know it in life methodology, in ways that my life could grab a hold of  and stand on and be centered around in my coming and my going.

Isn’t this the problem of us all, from first Eve, to me, Arabah? Knowing something in our heads is completely different than trusting it fully with our hearts.

Doubt and Distrust lead us to self-direct our lives. Make our own choices. Rely on our own resources. Believe it is “up to us.”

And that great cloud of witnesses, those that I have watched carefully to see how they inherited the promises, they tell me the chief responsibility of the overflowing believer is to be rooted and grounded in love.

“And be Rooted and Grounded in Love…so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

Our “precious faith” is to find it’s footing in this one thing: the Love God has for us.

We cannot be filled up with God’s fullness, overflowing with His bounty, pouring out with His lavish grace, without being rooted and grounded in His love.

That is why Jude, that brother of our Lord Jesus, instructed us to “Keep yourselves in the Love of God.” (Jude 21)

This is our duty. This is the discipline of all who have come to understand the essentials of the faith, from saints like Thomas Aquinas to contemporaries like Francis Chan and Ann Voskamp.

This journey is the journey of faith in Love, the unending cord that weaves through each of our lives, stitching us all together as the bride of Christ, the garment of Love.

This is the journey I started in that overseas kitchen with hands dipped in soap suds, swollen feet leaving damp prints on the floor. I began learning the habits of love. It is a journey that continues…that I look forward to walking every day of my life.

The Habit of Love

For the next few Mondays, I will share from my journey the habits of Love. How does one root and ground herself in love? How does our theology work out into our methodology? How can we make it practical so that God’s love for us is something we LIVE?Join us this month to find out how and to share how you do it too.


One additional thought for those who have an extra moment?… {this is the double feature post}

I’ve often wondered why believers I have seen and worked with in other parts of the world seem to be so full of Jesus, so full of life, so powerful in witness?

In local language, it’s “mei you banfa.” “There’s no other way.”

It’s either full trust in Jesus or utter ruin. There simply is no other way.

There is no daily Starbucks fix.

There is no cush furnishings to come home to, no comforts to pad life with.

No SUV to retreat to and run off in, no vacation to entertain, no weekends off to look forward to.

No pill to pop.

No money to spend.

No rectangular screen to go numb in front of.

No resource but Jesus.

No provision but Grace.

And most of us don’t want to live that kind of life. {Just stark honesty.}

We (me included) can be afraid to give up our perks. We can be unwilling to live without our comforts. We can be scared stiff of letting go of everything and clinging solely to His love. We don’t know what that will mean for our lives.

We’ve been duped into thinking that our way is safer. Better. More fulfilling.

When did we begin to believe that these things are life’s “can’t live with-outs?” How did we become so duped and blinded?

Have I reached the place where I don’t really need only the love of Jesus because I have so many other little things that can step in the gap?

I mean, I have the bag of chips that man has created for my satisfaction, why reach for the goodness of a carrot? Grown from love of Creator God just for my nourishment?

I have the screen and the clicker and the earphones and the touch pad that man has invented to make me laugh and entertain me, why open my eyes to the birds outside my window or the faithful witness in the sky that instructs me of the unfailing lovingkindness of my God?

In a million different ways, the tragedy is not that we have these man-made things, it is that we let them replace the love of God.

This is what living overseas among brothers and sisters who have nothing but Jesus has taught me.

God warns us not to remain blinded and numbed by our so called “resources” but to approach Him for true treasures, for real provisions. He tells us how to break free. (See Revelation 3:17-20).

Then we can be filled up with the Fullness of God and we can live lives that really count and we can use the resources He has blessed us with on behalf of others, to promote the name of Christ, and to carry forth His Kingdom into all the world.

Amen and amen.

 


Trusting God Again

“God’s let me down,” she cried the words and I cried with her.

We wept over the pain of doing everything “right,” of being confident of God’s presence and blessing and even having a word from Him that you just know means victory.

You go  in strong in the Lord…Then you face your trial head on and things go wrong. Way wrong. God doesn’t show up.

All those promises and all that faith you had seems to abandon you like a paid soldier.

God just doesn’t come through.

These are the times that one very particular and deadly sin can side swipe us and render us completely ineffective, sometimes for the rest of our lives.

It’s called the sin of “stumbling” and Jesus tells us about it in Matthew 18:6-9.

“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks? For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come… If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you…”

The word “stumble” Jesus used here is a very specific word, with a very particular meaning. It means, “to cause a person to begin to distrust One whom he ought to trust and obey.”

We stumble when we allow something to sow a seed of distrust towards God.

 

It can start small, almost un-noticeable.

But it is deadly. 

It is so deadly that it prevents many from ever entering heaven.

It is so dangerous that Jesus specifically speaks woe regarding this one particular sin, this sin of distrust.

It is a BIG DEAL to our spiritual health.

Furthermore, stumbling blocks, those things that cause us potential stumbling, are “Inevitable” according to Jesus. We can’t live life without ever having to face this temptation.

Some of us had to face this in childhood (see verse 6) and because of immaturity simply had no idea how to deal with it. In fact, we may not have known of its presence.

Satan is crafty and does not fight fair.

But Jesus gives us strong words in order to show us the path of life. Stumbling blocks are inevitable and the sin of distrust is deadly…but it is not irreversible!

Jesus tells us how to deal with the sin of distrust: Remove it! We are to deal drastically and decisively with anything that causes us to distrust God and His good intentions towards us.

We cannot expect things to impove over time or to go away on their own. We cannot even expect God to miraculously remove our distrust. We must deliberately act to get rid of it.

Okay, we are all asking HOW?

If you have walked down this road of dealing with stumbling blocks in your life, I’d love to hear how you have dealt with them. All I can offer here is how I have dealt with mine and I say that this works. This process has restored my trust in God.

1. Identify the stumbling block as clearly and specifically as possible.

The more closely you pinpoint where the seeds of distrust began, the more targeted you can be with your “removing” in the next two steps. It was helpful for me to see in Scripture where others “stumbled” (during times of loss, hardship, difficulty, loss, grief, and un-met needs.) This aided me in going back to seasons where distrust was birthed.

2. We remove stumbling from our lives by changing the way we see stumbling blocks.

Remember the optical illusion from two weeks ago? Our perspective is everyting in life. We cannot change what happened to us…but we can change the way we SEE it.

We do this by viewing stumbling blocks through the lens of God’s Word.

Once we have identified the “block” that caused us to distrust God, we take it, sit it down in front of us, and take the microscope of specific scriptures and look at it through those verses. For example, our God says, “See? I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans for your welfare, not for disaster, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremaih 29:11

By taking scriptures like this and using them as a lens, we can start bringing health to our “eye.” Here are a few scripture “lenses” that have helped me:

Proverbs 3:5-6;    Romans 8:28;    Romans 8:31-32;     Jeremiah 29:11;     Psalm 145:13b (this whole chapter is good)

Isaiah 55:8-9;       Hebrews 13:5

This step is a simple choice. We have every blessing of God given to us. It is our job to appopriate the truth. Until we reach the point where we are ready to do this, we will not get over our sin of stumbling.

My friend told me that she is going to try fasting to deal with her distrust. She told me she is going to work harder to deal with it….to which I responded, “this has nothing to do with trying harder or doing “stuff.” It is a matter of simply rejecting the lies and distortions and choosing to see all of life through the lens of scripture.”

Sometimes getting to the point where we are ready to do that takes time (and a lot of tears!) We’d rather do just about anything but settle ourselves down on God’s Sovereignty + His goodness = Things I Don’t Understand and That Is OKAY.

Been there and don’t ever want to forget it. I left a wake of destruction while I tried to do anything but accept the truth and do the work of trusting.

Trusting is a choice.

3. Trust is restored through Giving Thanks.

Have you ever wondered why God commands us to give thanks in ALL things? Is it because He is miserly and wants us to be grateful for whatever He decides He can give us?

No.

We are to give thanks in all things because thanks-giving is best for US.

Giving thanks assumes God is good (which is the Truth) and everything from His hand is a gift of grace (which is the Truth), even when I can’t understand how or why. Thanks giving then does not allow for stumbling.

When we fail to put God as Sovereign over the big and little events in our lives, and when we fail to give thanks, we inevitably become futile and darkened in our thinking.

“For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God nor GIVE THANKS, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” Romans 1:21

 

If we can come to the place where we can give thanks for _______________________, thanking God that His intentions are for good and that He never means for our destruction, we can overcome stumbling.

Dealing with past points of stumbling is essential in order to go forward in our faith. I have found I cannot face today’s stumbling blocks in faith and confidence without first removing yesterday’s remnants of distrust. Practicing these three steps has brought much healing to my spiritual eye. I hope it is helpful for someone else as well.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Every Monday for the next several months, I am sharing from my journey and (trying!) to articulate the spiritual habits that God has been weaving into my life.

This month, we are developing the  habit of “know.” We are taking baby steps, walking this path one leg at a time. We are doing some hard work this month, digging trenches, cleaning out old “junk,” making space for Truth, so that next month and the ones following, He can come fill them with Himself. Next week we will be ready to start our new habit, the Habit of Love!


Incurable Wounds

I thought I knew God.

In reality, what he did had damaged deep, and what they did had distorted long, and the choices I made had clouded blurry until my perception of God was    utterly.   messed.    up.

I was a Christian, so I was alive. But I was so wounded and traumatized that I was in a spiritual coma. I could not see or hear or serve in the power of the Spirit.

The thing is?… I was just like the other Christians around me. No one else seemed to be any healthier than I was. We all thought we were “normal Christians.”

Deep inside, I knew something was “missing,” but I had no idea what it was. I was trying to follow God. In terms of service, I was exemplary. So why couldn’t I get it together?

I’m not sure how it happened, how I stumbled across the passage that has worked through my life for the past several years. It was God, plain and simple…how He threw me this life line and pulled me in with it.

It’s part of Jeremiah’s story. Jeremiah, the prophet. The exemplary God-follower. The one who was supposed to have “it” all together. The one who ate the words of God.

“Why has my pain been perpetual and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” Jeremiah 15:18

Well that’s a good question because I can relate. I want to know why too. And if Jeremiah could ask it, I could too.

And blessed Redeemer, He answers!

“Therefore, thus says the Lord, “If you return, then I will restore you…” Jeremiah 15:19a

 For months I study this. I want to KNOW this answer. I want to get it and take it and apply it and finally come out of this coma. I want to SEE again. I want to understand how eyesight is restored.

And Blessed Redeemer, He helps. He tells me that if I really want to “return,” here is where: “If you will return, O Israel,” declares the Lord, “Then you should return to Me.” Jer 4:1

Return to Him.

Repent. 

“Cursed is he whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert…” Jer 17:5-6

I didn’t even know I had turned away. But when wanting to get to the root, the bottom line~ forget all the symptoms, lets get to the core~ that is what it all comes down to.We turn away from God as He is and our understanding of Him is distorted and damaged and clouded by life and we don’t even realize it. It is possible to think we know, love, and serve God when in fact we need to “return.”

Okay, so HOW?

“And if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My mouth.” (vs. 19b)

Our understanding of God is a combination of precious and worthless.

And we’ve got to start sorting.

To return to God and find eyes restored, I’ve got to extract the precious truths about Him from the pile of worthless!

Worthless views of God tend to accumulate naturally in our lives.

In Luke 9:18, Jesus is praying to God and experiencing communion with the Father. He is having an intimate time with God when His disciples show up and interrupt Him. Still in deep thought over what He has been discussing with His Father, He turns and asks His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

What we believe about Christ is paramount.

Many various thoughts and ideas are expressed. Even in the church today, there are many. They sound good. They are positive and happy and powerful sounding. But they can still be worthless.

“But who do YOU say that I am?” He asks them.

When Peter responded with a correct view of Christ, Jesus responded enthusiastically, as if His soul rejoiced in a hard battle won. “BLESSED ARE YOU, PETER!”

 “You got it!”

Then He says something very insightful. “People sure didn’t reveal this to you, but God has revealed it to you.” (Matt 16:17)

Where we get our beliefs about God is even more important.

Because that determines whether we are dead wrong or spot on.

The implication Jesus made here smacked me between the eyes. All of life had sent me messages about who God is.

And they were dead wrong.

We cannot rely on life, people, our past, circumstances, and our feelings to tell us who God is. We must let God reveal to us who He is.

That means we let Him take us through our pile of beliefs, assumptions, thoughts, and feelings about Him and let Him show us which ones are “precious” and which ones are “worthless.”

One of the most amazing things God has done in my life is the privilege of adoption.

We picked up our Chinese daughter on Mother’s Day, 2 days before her 1st birthday. I had high hopes and expectations for this precious life God had intersected our lives with. It became evident very quickly, however, that our daughter’s understanding of life, herself, us ~even food~ were all shaped by her experiences with others and events in her past.

I began fighting one of the most difficult battles of my life- parenting a wounded child through the false messages of her past. We still fight a daily battle to overcome the negative and false messages in her heart and mind.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just my daughter who has lived in a fallen world. We all do. We all have understandings and assumptions about God that are tainted and distorted by sin and its effects. If we are going to return to God and know Him as He really is, we must give Him access to our accumulated views and start sifting. Because you know what?

Knowing God cures incurable wounds.


And I’m out to live a life that proves it.

 

 

Forming the Habit of “Know” This Week:

Every Monday for the next several months, I am sharing from my journey and (trying!) to articulate the spiritual habits that God has been weaving into my life.

This month, we are developing the  habit of “know.” We are taking baby steps, walking this path one leg at a time. We are doing some hard work this month, digging trenches, making space for Truth, so that next month and the ones following, He can come fill them with Himself.  This week, let’s “know” where to start sorting. Where do those worthless views come from?

Turn to Psalm 45:10-11.

According to this passage, we have to “forget” impressions about God imparted to us from two sources. What are those two sources?

Our culture (even if it is Christian) and our family cannot be the main sources for our understanding of God. As you consider this passage, answer these questions:

1) Think about your childhood and upbringing. What are the major messages about God that you came away with? (Note: while many of the messages may be ones that were verbalized, the majority of them are the ones that were not. These are the un-conscious and un-spoken assumptions that we make about God based on our environment.)

2) List the 5 most influential people in your life to date. What message about God has each of them given you?

Can you identify any messages/beliefs that you know are contrary to what the Scripture teaches? Prayerfully ask God to expose the worthless for what it is. Be willing to let Him gently pry it from your fingers…