How To Really Change

She told me about the cycle, not the female kind, the human kind.

Sin-confess-sin-confess-sin…

I nod. I know.

As we talk, I see myself and as the conversation goes on the picture becomes clearer…

I’m in the boxing ring, ready to go at it with the opponents that face me. In this boxing ring I never face one that’s easy; it is always the one that knows just where to hit.

I’m not feeling powerful, not thinking very victorious, because I’ve been in this ring many times before.

And every time I’m here, I get busted up.

It gets so repetitive that when the opponent comes out, before the first blow even, I’m defeated. The fall is inevitable. The blood flows.

Again and again.

Then I realize something. I don’t even have my arms free to fight back with. They are tied behind my back. There is no way I can fight without arms. I’m defenseless, on the ground, without a chance.

The opponent comes on and there I go- bam! Down for the count.

I start looking behind my back to see what in the world has my arms tied up. I look. I look closer. I can see the cords that bind:

L              I                E                 S


Lies are holding me bondage. Lies are setting me up for the fall…every time.

Lies like, “You can’t do this.”  “Just give in, you know it’s too hard.”  “You’ll never change.”  “Who do you think you are?” “It’s not that bad.” “You’ll never be enough.” “God is so sick of you.”

These are the ties that keep my arms bound and the result is that I’ve been a plumb punching bag.

But with this understanding comes a new weapon, a way to cut the cords of lies. I can know truth and truth will set free.

So at first, I let truth untie my arms. I’m still getting busted up ~ because these arms aren’t trained to fight back yet ~ but I’m at least starting to block some blows and say, “Oh no you don’t.”

Then, I start using same truth that cut the cords to strengthen my arms. Like a stretchie band, I pull some weight on it, see if I can trust it. I start to find that it works with me, it stretches, it is something I can use to train with. I begin to make lifestyle adjustments around the truth I have discovered.

It’s when I become willing to put truth into practice that my arms begin to be trained. Sure it aches, but I’m learning how to make some punches. I develop an uppercut. I start using my arms effectively and efficiently. { I wonder how to sucker punch? That’s one I want to learn.}

I start gaining some ground. I begin having some victories. I think I just might be able to knock. that. opponent. Out.

I share with my friend that addressing wrong behavior without dealing with the underlying lies is like going into a boxing ring with your hands tied behind your back.

Discovering this changes everything. Every behavior is built on a system of beliefs. Get at the beliefs and the behavior crumbles with them.

“For our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, and against the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world.” Eph 6:12

Victory comes by taking up spiritual tools- TRUTH- and tackling spiritual falsehoods. The steps to change are R-I-S-C :

R- Recognize that at the core of every defeat is a lie(s). This is where change happens, by targeting the lies.

I- Identify the lie(s). Prayerfully ask God for wisdom, ask for godly counsel, learn from others who’ve walked similar paths. This step can take time as God sifts through belief systems that have been built over many years. Persevere! “If you continue in My word, then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

S- Submit to the truth. Discover and Embrace the specific truths that the lies stand in opposition to. Repent of believing falsehoods and humbly commit to reject the old pattern of lies. In the moment of crisis, be prepared to verbally speak your weapon- truth- and consciously reject the lie(s).

C- Change your response to one in keeping with truth. Practice truth with your body, bringing your physical self to bear on the truth. Keep practicing this lifestyle change, making truth part of your behavior, part of your actions, part of your punches! “Therefore do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you.” Romans 6:13-14

The outcome?

“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:17-18

Change starts in the heart by rejecting lies, submitting to truth, freeing up the body to turn from sin and serve Righteousness.

Go knock that opponent out.

Related posts:

Core Lies

Injecting Mud

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How to Make the Bitter Sweet

“I’ve got a big ol’ steel cup of bitter,” she told the ladies group.

“Five kids, homeschooling, a controlling husband, a home based business. The demands never end and the resources are never enough.”

Another spoke up and shared her waters, the lot she’s been given, the bitter she can’t get down.

Who hasn’t come to the waters of Marah? Bitter waters aren’t potable. Our human condition cannot stomach such.

The ladies in bible study all turned to look at me, like I would have some answer for them.  Um… blank. I was thinking of Marah and I mumbled something about Exodus 15 and grew silent, hoping someone else would step in and take it over. It’s all I had.

I went home and looked again at the place Marah, where God “tested” His people.

I’d seen it in my own life; I’d heard it from the ladies at group; and now here it was in the scriptures: we come to the bitter and ask, “What are we to drink?”

The question implies we anticipate a change. This water hole isn’t going to cut it, surely God is going to take us down the road to a new, fresh, clear place where we can drink and be satisfied.

We expect God will make things better by changing location, circumstances, or by giving a quick fix.

But He doesn’t.

“…the Lord showed him a tree…”

He shows us “the Tree,” the wood that when brought to bear on the bitter turns it to sweet.

But oh, wait a minute.  I’m seeing something here. It was at the bitter waters that God revealed Himself as “The Lord, your Healer.”

Surely it is the bitter of life where God makes Himself known to us as The Great Physician as well… if we can get past asking how our needs are going to be met and let Him do what He does best.

The Physician begins by “testing” us.

“…and there He tested them.” (vs.25) The Healer gives His people a stress test!

The waters of Marah are a test to determine our condition. Here, our Healer God evaluates our health and exposes the hidden.

Have your bitter waters brought out complaining, grumbling, negativity, and short-sightedness in you?

{Ouch. That stress test hurt.}

That’s okay, because He isn’t done yet.

Next, the Physician gives a prescription.

“There He made for them a statute and ordinance…” (vs 25)

When I reached the words “statute” and “ordinance” I got down on my knees in astonished praise. Statute means “a prescription, a specific decree.” Ordinance means “a decision, the act of deciding a case and giving a proper, fitting, customized plan.”

God tested His people with bitter waters to determine what the proper RX should be.

The lasting prescription He gave was the cross, the wood in the water.

So blown away was I by this that I googled it to see what else I could find. “What is the statute God gave in Exodus 15:25?”

I asked this of a computer.

This is what came back:

“The leading of Israel to bitter water, which their nature could not drink, and then the sweetening or curing of this water, were to be the statute (the Rx) for Israel by which God would always guide and govern His people, and a judgement (a decision, a custom fitted plan) inasmuch as Israel could always reckon upon the help of God and deliverance from every trouble.” Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the OT

Right there at Marah is where God, the Great Physician, revealed His prescription for bitter waters that can’t be stomached. When I am facing a moment in my day when I just. can’t. get. this. cup. down….there is a solution.

I can apply the Cross.

God doesn’t lead us to another water hole to drink from. He shows us how we can drink from any water hole, praise God! no matter how bad it’s waters are. He tells us, “I’m not changing a thing, I’m giving you a lasting ordinance, a foul-proof way to make your bitter waters sweet.

Two and a half weeks later,  I’m reading Galatians 6 and Paul says, “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross…” and my ears perk up and my heart opens wide and I can’t wait to see what Paul has to say about the Cross, that beam of wood that makes the bitter sweet.

“…through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”

It’s what Paul says next that astonishes me most. “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them.”

Is he talking about the regulation? The lasting ordinance? THAT rule? The Exodus 25:15 one?

The Cross changes everything. It makes the bitter sweet because absolutely nothing is “old.” Behold, all things have become new!

The Cross gives Purpose. I am dead to ordinary. I am dead to meaningless. I am dead to empty mundane tasks. Everything is new and full of purpose. There is no ordinary. Whatever I do, it is eternally significant.

The Cross gives Presence. The Cross is the Bridge by which I leave the ordinary, the bitter, and enter the Divine Sphere. I am dead to the world and alive unto God. I have access to Divinity at all times.

The Cross gives Power. It is not about me “doing” something, like circumcision of old. It is simply living by the rule that I am indeed a new creation because of the cross of Christ. I am not helpless. The Cross is the “power of God.”  (see I Corinthians 1:17-18)

It is not something to be understood with the head, but accepted with the heart.

“Even so, consider yourselves also dead to sin, and your relation to it broken, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11


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…


Core Lies

Okay, so I’m not telling you anything you probably don’t already know, but Sarah Mae has her FREE e-book on Core Lies up at her site.

My heart is blessed to see this resource up because several years ago, God started a process of identifying deeply embedded lies in my belief system. {He began the process with a very dramatic event- a story for another day}

The very first comment I left on a blog was on Sarah Mae’s when she asked for input on core lies back in December. This topic is near and dear to my heart. Here is part of my story as I shared in the comment:

Sarah Mae,

I am a visual person and God is gracious to give me illustrations to show me what He is doing in my life at any given time. As God walked me through the process of sifting truth from untruth in my life, He gave me the imagery of Achan to illustrate the process… You know when he took the goods under the ban and the Israelites cast lots to see who was guilty of the sin. (See Joshua 7)

First, the tribe of Judah was selected. God identifies the large categories first. In my life, the lies stemmed from two main areas: abuse as a 4 year old child, and the religious-but-powerless upbringing I had.

Secondly, the family of the Zerahites was selected. From the large group, God narrows it down, because not all things in that large group were lies. Much of my upbringing, for example, was helpful and good.

He showed me that certain things in my past caused me to “stumble” which means “to cause one to distrust One whom he should trust and obey.” This stage was identifying ways I became reliant on myself and withdrew from God, even “spiritual” looking ways. This stage was recognizing the ways I began “performing” and seeking after other things when I should have been laying hold of Jesus and developing a genuine faith in His love and goodness towards me.

Thirdly, the household was selected. God is getting ever closer to the “core.” In this phase, God revealed to me the misconceptions I held about Him and His nature, the “flesh and blood” concepts I picked up as truth but in fact were lies. For example, God is not a taskmaster but the rule by rod upbringing I had taught me He was.

Finally, from the household, man by man is brought near and Achan was selected. It is at this point that the core was identified, the one that had tainted the entire camp. God identified the core lies in my life as follows:

1. You are not good enough for God.

2. You have to do this by yourself. You are on your own. (Self reliance)

3. God is chiefly interested in your obedience (as opposed to relationship and obedience as an outflow of that- John 15)

Through a very difficult season of parenting my own children, God has used my emotions of fear, inadequacy, anxiety, and anger as triggers to teach me those underlying lies. From there, I have been able to identify them, label them, reject them as they come up, and embrace truth instead.

What freedom!

I am grateful to Sarah Mae for including an additional portion of my testimony in her e-book, which you can download by clicking here.