Saturday, January 31, 2009
Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant. For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. Who, then, is the man that fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him. He will spend his days in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. Psalm 25:4-5,9-13
Do you need guidance and directions from the Lord in what you need to do? This was the start of the paragraph in the devotional I received. Well, yeah. Of course I do, do you not know my heart and life? I thought.
In this past week, it seems the heaviness has continued. This week of hibernation, because of the snow storm and not working four days, has not helped the heaviness weighing on my discouraged heart. I've thanked the Lord countless times for the electricity maintained in my home. I can't imagine enduring this week in silence, without connection to friends through the web, and with the ability to escape my life via movies and television. I thank the Lord that I was ever so blessed by a friend clearing my driveway. No, he did not shovel my drive. Indeed, he brought his tractor and scooped away the feet and feet of snow. The Lord reminds me of this blessing each time my eyes lay on the huge piles of snow at the end of my drive. Who would've ever seen such beauty in big dirty piles of snow. Just a piece of evidence of His presence. What a warmth to my heart to "see" His assurance of me not being alone even in this week of hibernation, a snow storm, and a heavy heart.
I've cried out to the Father many, many times this week. JUST show me...SHOW me Your ways...SHOW me what to do...SHOW me what to think...SHOW me what to believe in my circumstances. I asked yesterday that He just give me one sign...a sign of what is to come...a sign of what He is doing...a sign of what direction my life lays. Anything. It seems the issues of the heart can be so trying and take a toll on our spirit. It's not a matter of: Should I take this job? Should I sell my car? Should I take a second job? Should I relocate? Should I go back to school? Though, those are all very important matters and could be matters in many lives. It seems I take my issue so seriously and so intently because it is so close to my heart and it is my heart. It is about love, life, forgiveness, partnership, forever, marriage, devotion, commitment, vows, covenant.
It is not a matter of trust...trusting God. It is a matter of pain and longing. How does one put a cap on that? How does one close the door to that? How does one make it less important? How does one let go?
I apologize if this is vague. But it is so, for many reasons. One is that the more vague, the more lightly it may touch one of you and light something in your own heart. Though I try as I might to stick to my mission of this blog, at times, I believe God calls me to share more personally in hopes to accomplish many things. Maybe...healing in my heart, enlightenment in your heart as well as my own heart, encouraging one another, hoping my story of pain will help another share their story. The possibilities are wide when we open our hearts for God to speak to us and through us.
All in all, it is my hope that every post will touch you in some way to enrich your life, strengthen your walk, encourage your heart, or enlighten your mind.
Here are the other scriptures that were in that devotionals. All ones that were either etched on my heart or familiar to me. All verses that were soothing to my soul. May one of them speak to you and sooth your soul, warm your heart, or ease your mind.
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21
For this God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end. Psalm 48:14
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8
Show Me Lord, Show Me.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
As soon as Jennifer spoke of this woman and referenced her endurance of twelve years, I knew. I knew this woman. I speak of this woman often. I've shared the faith of this woman with others. I admire her faith and I love Jesus' reaction to her. If you are familiar with her, she is the unnamed woman who bled twelve years, touched the hem of Jesus' garment, and was healed by Him. "There comes a time when you must speak a word to your soul that prompts action resulting in healing." Read that again.
Speak. a. Word.
The woman with an issue of blood took action with big risks:
1) touching a man
2) touching a rabi
3) appearing publically while unclean
4) being a social outcast
Desperation. She acted in desperation.
If only I touch His cloat, I will get well. If only. IF only.
She believed. She told herself to do it. She spoke truth because His touch does heal.
In all the time I've read this biblical story, I always examined it from the perspective of faith. This woman had such great faith and determination. Yet, Jennifer shows us she also had great soul talk. She didn't just pump herself up with courage to do this but with wisdom and truth. "Her soul talk turned feelings of fear into actions of faith. Her desperate act impressed Jesus so much that He responded to her."
"Jesus never said her soul talk made her well. He said it was her faith. Her faith invited healing. Her soul talk contributed to her faith, but it didn't replace her faith."
"By faith we receive truth. By faith we believe truth. And by faith we act on that truth."
Negative self talk followed by prayer can lead to truthful soul talk.
Jennifer shares how the Holy Spirit has four roles as: Counselor, Christ Representative, Teacher, and Truth Speaker.
God's Spirit Counsels Us
"Hear truth, admit truth, and receive truth."
When I read Jennifer's question of "why is His voice so quiet?", I thought oh hear it is--what I always question. I have to admit though I wish He would scream at me but her answer is so true. "He will not shout down the noise of our busy world. He won't try to overwhelm our distractions. To hear Him, we have to quiet ourselves, step away from the frenzy, and truly listen." That is so God. That is the beauty of His character. He won't fight for our time and attention. Rather, He wants us to come to Him--to show we need Him...we have time for Him... we come attentive and willing to listen to Him.
God's Spirit Represents Christ
The Holy Spirit represents God. So, He will never guide us where God doesn't want us. The Holy Spirit will lead us exactly as God would and does. The Spirit will never lead us anywhere the Word does not take us.
God's Spirit Teaches Us
We need mentors. We need instructors. We need teachers. "When you allow God's Spirit to teach you, your mind is being mentored by none other than the God of eternity."
God's Spirit Speaks Truth to Us
Jennifer described a time on an airplane with an hour delay. She felt herself complaining and focusing on ill-fitting thoughts. Overhearing a small child and father, she had an opportunity to change her thoughts and focus. As she said, "delays and inconveniences were just some of the bumps along the road." That reminded me of something I heard years ago. Basically, we should look at these inconveniences as God's intervention. Instead of complaining about a slow driver causing us to be late, we should consider God very well may be delaying us to prevent us being in an accident. Every time I'm in a rush and try to overcompensate for delays or even fight them by speeding, passing, rushing, I stop and ponder it. I need to adhere to God's delays.
I love this: "When I chose to place 'praiseworthy' thoughts in my closet, the motionless airplane became a sanctuary of peace." Chose. Praiseworthy. Became. Peace.
God's Spirit can always be trusted to lead us to truth. Very often, our own leading will derail us.
Jennifer asks which role we need most. How can I choose one? I would say His counsel or reminder of His truth. It seems these two go hand in hand. When He counsels us He also speaks truth to us whether it's through His word, other people, or the Holy Spirit. I probably need to be more open to opportunities where my thoughts can transition from negative to positive such as when Jennifer was on the airplane. What a time to turn pouting into praising!
The Lord knows how I desire His counsel and seek His way in my life. I so want to follow His way as my blog is titled. For five days straight I've been asking and even begging Him to show me His path. I've meditated on one specific scripture. Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my savior and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5
Friday, January 23, 2009
Let me illustrate with a friend's situation. I hope to be clear while being vague and protecting identity. The husband and father left the family. The children struggle with anger toward the father. Even once coming to accept his abandonment and forgiving him, there are continual instances in which continual forgiveness is needed. When dad doesn't show up for his weekend...the children must forgive. When dad doesn't show up for their ball games...the children must forgive. When dad doesn't call as promised...the children must forgive. So, even if forgiveness is extended to the dad for leaving the family and causing emotional pain and abandonment, there are future events that will call the children to forgive that hurt again. There's a ho' 'nother (to mimic Pastor Ed Young Jr) set of forgiveness with the wife. She will continually be bopped in the head with instances requiring her to forgive her prodigal spouse. When the car breaks down...she must forgive. When the child support is late...she must forgive. When the stress of raising their children alone is too much...she must forgive.
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
Contrary to what some believe, forgiveness is not as easy as just doing it. It's not easy to say "I forgive because Christ does." Anyone who is in that position, I must wonder if true and deep forgiveness has been extended. Yes, we should forgive because Christ first forgave us. He tells us He will not forgive us if we don't forgive others. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15 Forgive, and you will be forgiven Luke 6:37.
However, I don't see where He said it would be easy or even instant. How can we truly forgive an offense immediately and instantly? If someone has figured it out, please share with us all. I had a dear friend tell me I was to forgive (happen to be her) immediately and instantly. However, I cannot conscientiously say I forgive her (or anyone), not "feel" it truly, and then face my Lord. I can't profess to her, anyone, or my Lord I forgive and then my actions and heart say something totally different. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:35 From the heart...not just the lips. It hurts badly to be deceived, rejected, abandoned, mistreated. It seems to be there is nothing worse than to be abandon or loyalty taken. To depend on someone, to trust someone, to rely on someone, to expect their presence, love, and loyalty to always be there...and then nothing.
We cannot control what another does. Forgiveness really isn't about the other person. It is about the condition of our heart. Forgiveness is the firewall to bitterness and resentment. Without forgiveness, we take the risk of bitterness creeping into our heart and damaging it. Once it takes up full residency, it can cause such pain and trials in our lives. It is also harder to rid our heart of it once it resides there long term.
When my soul cries to sleep from loneliness...I must forgive. When the yard and house maintenance are too much for one...I must forgive. When I pass the Valentine cards and long to send one...I must forgive. When my heart is filled with how come...I must forgive. When decisions are left to be made alone...I must forgive. When help with broken appliances is needed...I must forgive. When memories of beautiful times flow...I must forgive. When love pours from my heart meant to be shared...I must forgive. When simple feels of missing and longing linger...I must forgive. When I don't understand how satan so easily had his way in deceiving my beloved...I must forgive. When abandonment is overpowering...I must forgive. When it's all too much to accept or comprehend...I must forgive...as Christ did. I must speak from my heart as Christ did...forgive him for he knows not what he's doing. He knows not the gravity of decisions and paths not of God chosen. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:24
We know that to extend forgiveness is primarily for ourselves. To forgive another benefits us more than the other person. However, I know my heart deeply longs to be forgiven. My heart knows that the bonds of satan and his ability to use bitterness, anger, resentment, and heart hardness will no longer be. My heart leaps for the joy that will fill my heart upon receiving forgiveness. My heart anticipates his transformation when he releases forgiveness to me. When forgiveness is extended by the other and received by me, we know hearts will be free, free to love each other again, free to live by God's plans and His plans alone. Such freedom comes with forgiveness.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13Continually Forgiving,
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I never thought about it but Jennifer said "the fruit of perfectionism springs from the root of low self-esteem and insecurity." Well, I do have perfectionism tendencies. I do struggle with low self-esteem and some insecurities. So you do the math...I have the root, then I have the fruit. An orange cannot grown on an apple tree without changing the root system to match that of an orange. So, we cannot change our fruit (thoughts) without changing our root system (assumptions). Shall we get out our shovel or maybe we need a back hole for our deep root system that's been growing for years. We need only to remove the roots of faulty assumptions so new roots of true assumptions can grow.
Jennifer shares three ways to gain wisdom: request it, revere God, and receive counsel.
I love, love, love the book of James. It is one well-rounded book that hits on every basic subject for living the Christian life. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 Simply ask. No condemnation. No judgment. No fault finding. Freely, abundantly given. He lavishly and liberally provides wisdom.
When we reverence God we receive wisdom. The fear of the Lord is wisdom. Proverbs 9:10 Said another way...to revere God is wisdom. Respect. Regard. Revere. Jennifer says "to fear the Lord means holding His knowledge and truth in higher regard than our own." I had to pen this statement forever in time as part of this post. I read it over and over. Yes, of course, I regard His knowledge higher than mine, right? Or do I? Do I at times think I know better? Do I think my idea of how this or that situation should play out is better? Do I trust His knowledge in my greatest heart's desire? The answer is yes, I do revere His knowledge. Only in my times of weakness do I think I know better and know it should be done "this" way. Only in the desperation of my heart, do I say I know better because I want "this" now and in this way. That is my flesh. My heart says I trust You, Lord. Your knowledge for me is so vast and so much greater than I could ever perceive.
Pasty Clairmont gained wisdom from wise counsel. She shared with Jennifer how she combats negative thoughts. "It's a three step approach: refuse things inaccurate, unkind or unedifying; replace them with what is good, pure, just; repeat that process for as long as it takes to bring my thoughts under control."
♥ healing (Proverbs 12:18)
♥ sweet speech (Proverbs 16:21)
♥ honor (Proverbs 3:35)
♥ future and hope (Proverbs 24:14)
♥ understanding (Proverbs 14:8)
♥ protection (Proverbs 14:3)
♥ strength (Proverbs 24:4)
God provides us with an entire book in the Bible devoted to wisdom. To gain wisdom is to read and meditate on the greatest book of wisdom: Proverbs. We see in the prologue that Solomon's purpose in Proverbs is: for attaining wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:2a
He who gets wisdom loves his own soul. Proverbs 19:8a
Girlfriends, LOVE YOUR SOUL.
A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Proverbs 16:23 I leave you with one Jennifer's last statements in this chapter. "To speak wisely to your soul will shrivel some of those sick roots and nourish the good roots that may be struggling."
Ponder these questions in your heart.
Do you have sick roots that need shriveled?
Do you have good roots that are struggling?
Are you speaking wisely to your soul?
Friday, January 16, 2009
Rest assured I do not doubt God’s authority. I do not doubt His sovereignty. I do not doubt His ability to do whatever He chooses. I do not believe we can tell God what to do. We cannot manipulate Him. We cannot move Him with our faith without His permission, power, and control.
Abraham and Moses did not tell God what to do either. They merely reminded God of His words and promises. It is through their words and actions, God responded differently than He had most recently said but the same as He had previously said.
I stated previously and it’s worthy of repeating: We cannot say “if only I had enough faith, if only I pray hard enough.” That is not the picture I intended to be portrayed.
Rather, that post was written based on interpretation of scripture. Unfortunately, much of scripture is very gray and left to the reader, the believer, to interpret--presumably led by the Holy Spirit. We read, meditate, and interpret God’s Word. We take it for what it is: the Holy Word of the Almighty One. We take it as it is and trust His leading.
He tells us to ask, seek, and knock. (Matthew 7:7)
He tells us to believe and not doubt (Matthew 21:20)
He tells us to ask in faith believing we will receive. (Matthew 21:21)
He gives us examples of those who went before us. He shows us what He did for them and in response to them.
My post was merely my interpretation of the possibilities. All things are possible with God. Matthew 19:26
God is God and after all He can change His mind. He can do whatever He pleases. But fortunately, it will always be for our good. (Romans 8:28)
However, everything that happens is not His will. But, everything does pass His Hands. He allows things but not everything is His will. What if the lady with the bleeding condition had not believed touching Jesus' hem would heal her? Would Christ have still healed her? He said she was healed by HER FAITH. I can't debate scripture. That is clear to me. Faith does have power. Faith does change. Faith is effective in His plans. See my post, "Master's Touch, Our Faith".
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
As I began reading, I jotted down two questions. From where do these things come? From where have these thoughts taken root?
Silent words are not just silent words. Rather silent words quickly become residents in our closets. Thoughts taking space are likely to be believed by us. The silent words spoken become habit. It is through repetition that we speak to ourselves the same pattern of thoughts. Whether good or bad. We are creatures of habit. Just as it has become habit to speak unhealthy untruths, it is through habit we can speak truths. We need wisdom and training to replace the untruths with truth.
As Jennifer says, untruths are "too easy to retrieve and too hard to relinquish." Think about that. Read it again. Isn't that ever so true. We can so easily grab at those untruths. They are right there on the edge of the shelf. They are the first thought hanging in the closet. They are the top item in the bin. We can sort and organize all we want. We can replace them with truth. But for some reason we can always remember they were there. So are they really gone? Nah.
What are truthful words? Those that follow Jesus' example. Those filled with grace. Those filled with power. Jennifer says "Authoritative words should never be harsh and gracious words should never be without power." Wow...that's some good stuff in that statement.
Gracious. Powerful. Truth.
Does is really matter what we say to ourselves since no one is listening and no one is hurt? Yes, it does. "The words you say to yourself - both true and false - have the same impact as words you speak to others or they speak to you." That is so true. For me, I see that it hurts me by stomping on my self-esteem. When I lie to myself and beat myself up in my silent words and thoughts, I'm being destructive to the person God created. When I'm harsh to myself, it may also come out in how I represent myself. I may draw inward with negative self talk. I may seem rude to others because inside I'm beating myself. I may not give of myself because my self talk says I have nothing to give.
Correction. Not condemnation.
Instructive. Not destructive.
"Even the hard truths we speak to ourselves should not be condemning. They should build us up." I am a big supporter of constructive criticism and giving feedback. It seems in the working world we are quick to give negative feedback. I see the power of constructive criticism or positive feedback. A person cannot learn when not instructed of errors. I believe Jennifer is saying the same here. We are not to excuse ourselves when we make mistakes. But rather, we should give positive feedback. Acknowledge we could've done this better or should've done that a different way. We can learn through our self talk. We can instruct ourselves of our errors and how things should be done next time. We don't, however, need to beat ourselves into a hole until we are covered in muck, beaten to a pole, and left with no motivation to do it better next time because we are just a "screw up" anyway. No, no, no. We love ourselves and we speak to ourselves in love just as we are to speak to others with love.
The tongue has the power of life and death. Proverbs 18:21a
When this scripture is read, we probably all automatically think of the spoken word--out loud and to others. It also means those silent words to ourselves.
Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone. Colossians 4:6
Thoughts to ponder...
What hangs out in your closet?
What is pushed into the back corner but needs removed?
What untruths need to be replaced with truths?
What thoughts need to be relabeled?
To see what others have to say about the thoughts in our closets, visit Lelia.
Renewing with Truth,
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I've always struggled with low self-esteem. I've lacked in the confidence department. Of course these were elevated when I wasn't invited to so-and-so's slumber party or not picked for a team. And then even today when I'm...not invited to dinner, not chosen for others to confide in, not deemed as one's best friend. After almost 35 years, I think I've come along way...from high school teenage stuff to even five or ten years ago. I believe low self-esteem is just a product of continual negative self talk. I just never labeled it as such.
Like Jennifer, I "suffer" from perfectionist tendencies. As a child, teen, and young adult I felt I could never be good enough. That would be true of today also but now I see it more that I fail than that I'm not good enough. I fail at eating healthy. I fail at exercising. I fail at disciplined quiet time. I fail at being giving or loving in all situations. I fail at attempts of making my introvert self into an extrovert. The list could go on and on.
Unbeknownst to me, this has been my self talk. As Jennifer says "our self talk actually begins to shape the life we live, affecting our very destiny." For the most part my self talk would probably be rated as condemning or at least negative. I'm working toward neutral and realizing my real value in Christ. I can admit on occasion, and talk to myself positively, about my gift of writing, my skills at work, my true concern for family and friends, etc.
I like how Jennifer relates our self talk to a closet and uses phrases regarding clothes and shoes. Aahh...the addiction of every woman, huh? :-) We can store in our thought closet "shelves and racks and bins full of hidden thoughts, secret insecurities, lies, illusions, and reminders of former failures." She really hit on all the uglies. Smacked us square in the eyes with the big uglies we tell ourselves. Insecurities. Failures. Oh please, don't remind me.
She says "Somehow, I had to stop my mind's reflex of continually rummaging through those boxes of ugly, ill fitting thoughts and words." When I read these words I thought of this...
Reflex...a natural, uncontrollable reaction.
Rummage...looking needlessly without any real purpose or direction or goals.
Ill-fitting...not suited, not matched, not intended.
We can control what we store in our thought closets. Nothing passes down our hallways and into our closets without our permission. We choose what will find storage in our closets, bins, and shelves.
What have I allowed to be stored in my thought closet? Not good things, that's for sure. Mostly not-so-good thoughts with an occasional good. What will I allow to take occupancy in my thought closet? Hopefully, I will be able to install a better security check before I buy into those thoughts, remove the alarm activating device, and take them home for my closet. Prayerfully, what consumes space in my closet will be more of what passes God's checkpoint.
It seems like I need to do some spring cleaning of my thought closets. I do not think the contents are fully what they should be or what God would desire. They would probably rest on the side of: negative, anxious, selfish, and condemning. To replicate Jennifer's words the content would be "ugly, outdated, out of line, and out of place." Maybe much like my real closet (with clothes).
I love the analogy Jennifer gave about what our mind captures. We tend to forget things so easily like: why we went into a room or where we placed things. Ever tried to place milk in the cabinet or clean dishes into the fridge? No, not me either. :-) Yet when it comes to our thought closets "our minds are like steel traps" says Jennifer. Isn't that the truth?! It can be so hard to remove the negative/unhealthy contents of our closet. And even harder to replace the contents with positive/healthy thoughts.
I like how Jennifer puts it here: "We have the appalling ability to remember all the wrong things at all the wrong times. Like a finely tuned GPS, we can locate just the right memory of failure, the perfect insecurity, or the timeliest untruth--just when we don't need it most!" Wow...such a very thick sentence with a powerful punch of truth!!
Paul tells us to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2.
It can be a scary and intimidating thought that we are a reflection of they way we think. Jennifer says: "What you hang in your closet is what you will clothe yourself with." Basically what God says. For as he thinks within himself, so he is. Psalm 23:7
I leave you with Jennifer's last statement in this chapter. "When you speak truth to your soul, you'll live out the truth. your soul talk really can help it become well with your soul."
Amen. I want it well with my soul and full of soul talk in my closet. "Jam-packed with healthy soul talk." Let's stop drawing from our dilapidated closets.
Cleaning My Closet with Soul Talk,