He’s All We Have

“All my hope is in Jesus.”

Yeh yeh … sounds religious I know but the older I get the more I believe it. Most days, I believe it. Others days, I just want to chunk it all and hit the road. I am learning that overcoming the mundane can be as poignant as overcoming great tragedy. I think Jesus is more interested in how we overcome the mundane than how we overcome great pain.

Sounds crazy I know, but when I minister to someone who has been through a traumatic event it is easy to identify and address. We can pinpoint the specific time, place, and space of the trauma and the paths of healing are not difficult to navigate.

Navigating life is different. Don’t always know where the pain starts, stops, or often times, why it even exists. Navigating life can often be like hanging on the bumper of a runaway truck.

Bumps and bruises are evident AND we still have to interface with others in a somewhat adult fashion. Unfortunately, we feel like we haven’t recovered from one hurdle when we hear the beep beep beep and sense the back tires of life running over us yet again.

As if life doesn’t have enough surprises coming at us, add to it, people. People are disappointing. I always expect the best. And, I think I have pretty good discernment, the reality is, I am constantly disappointed with people. I expect people to be honest, real, and motivated by good. They aren’t. And for some reason, I can’t seem to remember this about others. The most unfortunate part is scripture says that I don’t have the privilege of guarding my heart. UGH…

I wish people were as easy to deal with as dogs. You know what to expect when you see a dog headed your way glaring and growling. People, not so much. I’m not sure if its cynicism or reality but it seems that most people are out for what you can do for them OR, for how you can better their circumstances. I have a friend that once said “No good deed goes unpunished.” I was appalled that he would say that. That was 4 years ago and I have learned that it is most often true. Sadly.

I’ve always looked forward to growing older. I thought life would be easier. At 54 years old, life is disappointing. Sometimes I think kids on the playground have more of a grasp on life than us Oldtimers. Take my Grand for example, she’s 5. She loves everybody and everybody loves her. She has had a few “meanies” at school and she just recognizes who they are and keeps right on going. Most often she even tells them that they are meanies but then she keeps right on truckin. They don’t seem to slow her down one bit. Instead she just buzzes right on her merry way. I wish I could be like that. I’m working on it. It’s hard (Did I mention sometimes I just want to run?) I generally take meanies personally. Unfortunately. People hurt my heart.

As I grow older I am more determined to keep my hope in Jesus. Even though, sometimes, even He can be frustrating. Even in frustration, I know what to expect from him. Good. Whether I like the path He has me on or not, the ending is good. No other option because He is good and He only gives good. Not like his kids. Some of us are “meanies.” He knows and in the end, He will sort it all out. I just have to recognize the meanies for who they are and keep right on going. On my merry way. Music helps. So if you are on the same path, here’s a song to help you along the way. Just try to overlook the meanies and stay focused. ‘Cause, in the end, He’s all we have.

Crowder – All My Hope

 

How to Overcome Bitterness in Marriage

Question: “I can’t seem to let go of bitterness regarding my spouse. How do I move beyond my lack of relational skills to keep my heart open and not carry offense?”

Often (especially women) we keep a list with little “tick marks” of disappointments in our relationships. We have been taught not to be “nagging or difficult” so we save up our frustrations. Once the barrel of irritations fills up, we explode. We bring out all of the hurts we have been harboring for days, weeks, even possibly months. Suddenly, almost before we know it, we have hurled our pain and injustices all over our victim like slime.

Their response can only be to react in defense or to shrug their shoulders and walk away, unaware of the emotional time bomb that previously lay dormant below the surface. Not only do they not know how to respond, but they also make inner vows not to lay their heart out before you again. You cannot be trusted. So now, the relational stalemate begins and more offense, except this time, hurt and betrayal by both parties. Bitterness won.

First of all, just know that you are not alone. Unfortunately, we aren’t taught how to “fight fair.” Even though scripture teaches us clearly “not to let the sun go down on our anger” (Ephesians 4:26). We aren’t sure what that looks like.

I have learned that no matter what the circumstance, I cannot allow seeds of bitterness to take root in my heart. I used to “save up” until I realized my reactional pounce left my spouse hurt and guarded to the next eruption. If you can imagine, it’s like walking around a field of emotional time bombs resting beneath the surface. We finally learned that no matter what the circumstance, we have to talk about it before we go to bed, even if it’s just to agree to disagree.

My spouse is a processor. He wants to talk about and process through everything, from relationships to home projects. It is a blessing and a curse. I, on the other hand, am a reflector. I need time to reflect on processes. If I am hurt, I need to pull away and gather myself and my thoughts.

Early in our marriage, I used to create an opportunity for time away by screaming out of the driveway in my car. Luckily, my “processing spouse” taught me that this made him feel abandoned and alone. I didn’t know what the answer was, but I knew I just needed time to ponder and reflect on not only the circumstance but also how I was feeling about the circumstance. Most importantly, I needed to tame my tongue of all the things I had been feeling and stuffing for so long. I had to figure out a way to deal with hurts as soon as they happened and not to store them up until I erupted.

I would often find myself playing out shoulda, coulda, wouldas instead of focusing on the solution. I would sequester myself and listen to the negativity in my head until I was seething all over again. It became a vicious cycle. And with each circle I became more and more bitter. Before long, the small misunderstanding became an avalanche of premeditated hurt. All the while, my spouse was absolutely clueless of what I was conjuring up in my head.

When we finally came to an impasse, we sought out a few simple solutions based on scripture:

1. Do not harbor bitterness (Hebrews 12:15).
2. Do not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26).
3. Do not let the enemy gain a foothold (Ephesians 4:27).

In simple terms, we decided to talk the minute questions occur. We decided to decide that we are on the same team. It’s obvious there is an enemy out there who desires to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). If we aren’t on his team, we have to be on the opposing team.

If there is a misunderstanding, the minute it occurs, we have to rally our troops to respond – not react.

Over time, if we keep our accounts of offense short, there is no room for misunderstandings or for the enemy to plant seeds of doubt and mistrust in our heads. And if there are no seeds in our head, there is nothing offensive to slide down into our mouth to “chew on.” If we have no offense to chew on, we then can choose to walk in peace.

Most importantly, once married, we become one. Discontent divides. Division destroys. Marriages can’t survive in either of those two options. If we agree on the same rules, we win. And if the rules are vetted in scripture, it’s truth. In truth, the enemy has no power. No room for bitterness there. No bitterness, no hard hearts.

If we keep our hearts open and walk in truth, there are no landmines, no slime, no verbal assaults. Just an opportunity to learn, love, and grow in relationships, planted firmly in the promise of what marriage is supposed to be as it was created by God: Good!

We Have to Move Through the Cross

Can you see other people as God created them to be? Can you see yourself that way?

We all struggle with this. That’s because we’re holding onto things that block us from seeing.

We have to come through the cross. All that stuff we’re carrying – that baggage, the things we’ve put on ourselves, our false identities, our addictions – whatever it is, we have to bring it to the cross. Then we have to let it go and move through the cross, to the other side.

Everything has to come through the cross.

When we can let go of all that stuff, and move through the cross, we can start seeing who God created us to be. And we can see others as He created them to be. We can honor, forgive, bless, pray for.

It’s a choice, and we have to make it.

If we choose not to move through the cross – the same cross that Jesus died to make available to us – we can’t come into the truth of who we are.

As long as I believe I’m an addict, I can’t come into being an overcomer. I can’t come into being a conqueror. Because the belief that I’m an addict is diabolically opposed to the resurrection. I can’t have two identities. I can only have one. It’s either the one the world gives me (addict), or the one the Lord already gave me (freedom from bondage). Nothing cancels that out except my choice.

There is no power on earth stronger than your identity. Even if you choose not to live in it, it still exists. Waiting for you. Because the Lord created it for you.

Some people die, never having come into their identity. Because they chose to live on this side of the cross, not moving through.

If you believe in Jesus Christ, you have the power to come through the cross. You just do. Because He gives you that. That’s His promise: He gives you power to overcome anything if you believe in Him. Jesus died to give us that privilege – of dying to ourselves, letting go, moving through the cross, coming into our true identity, and walking in His power.

Remember this: Jesus didn’t just die on the cross. He rose again. That’s where you get your power. You die on the cross daily – let go of all your stuff, move through the cross, refuse to go back and claim your false identities.

Then you rise up in whatever you’re dying to. Whether it’s food, drugs, alcohol, stupid, or finances, you die to those things. Then Jesus can resurrect His power in you, to overcome in those same areas.

Isn’t that amazing?

A lot of people get to the cross, but they don’t get to the power. They don’t move through the cross. They don’t get to the resurrection.

If you don’t get to the resurrection, you have no power. You have nothing to overcome in. That’s why Jesus rose again. He could have just died, and that would have been enough. Just the fact that He died on the cross for us should have been enough. But the fact that He came back to empower us says there’s nothing we can’t overcome. That’s amazing.

If you believe in Jesus, and that He died and was resurrected, there’s not anything you can’t do. There’s no addiction you can’t overcome … there’s no job you can’t have … there’s no goal you can’t set, that you can’t do. Because if He put it in your heart, He’s going to meet it in you.

 

Exchanging Trauma for Peace

Trauma affects mind, body, and spirit. Trauma can lock itself into our bodies. As adults, we can carry unresolved trauma from earlier in our lives. Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He wants us to invite Him into our hearts, where we’ve carried trauma. So He can redeem, restore, and bring peace.

I used to have flashbacks of traumatic moments. When I was a child, we lived just off the main corridor highway leading from a prison. Often, when the prisoners would escape, they would run the railroad tracks, connect to our road, and then get on the four-lane to get out of town. Prisoners would come through our yard and snatch the clothes off our line.

So at night, I would hear the sirens go off and I would cower in the corner. Can you imagine the trauma?

Years later, as an adult, I would have flashbacks of me cowering in a corner. I didn’t understand at first, but those were hints the Holy Spirit was giving me, of places that were still unhealed in my heart.

While I didn’t immediately connect those flashbacks with the prisoners coming through our yard, I knew not to discount the images I was seeing. Instead, I brought them before the Lord and said, “Lord, why did You show me that?”

When I realized where the trauma had come from, I was able to go back to the Lord and say, “Lord, I can see that image of myself. Where were You?” And I could see Him with me in that scene now, protecting me.

He brings those things to our remembrance for a reason. Not to scare us and not to make us angry about the circumstances – angry at parents who didn’t comfort us, or at people who didn’t know how to respond as our little hearts needed.

Instead, the Lord brings these moments to mind, to give us an opportunity to recognize that He never left us and never forsook us.

For some people, the trauma comes from violence. Or maybe a car accident. A death of a loved one. All those things are traumatic. Just imagine seeing those things from the eyes of a child. Children don’t know how to process traumatic events without help. Often, adults don’t realize how something traumatic has affected a child.

I remember growing up, we had family friends that lived in a funeral home, go figure. One of the kids locked me in the coffin room. I was probably five. So here I was, looking at all these coffins. I was scared to death, almost, no pun intended. But imagine. That was a trauma for me.

Think about things children go through, that they aren’t capable of processing. How might a child respond to hearing prisoners in the yard at night? Cowering in fear. Locking fear into her body. Believing a lie that she was never safe at night. Or that things would always go wrong. Closing off part of her heart. Resolving to take care of herself, or to not need help. All these responses, out of self-preservation, set patterns in motion that affect our lives.

Most of us didn’t have somebody that said, “I know you’re afraid. I know you’re scared.” Somebody that would have pulled us close and prayed the presence of the Lord over us, or prayed trauma off of us. Most adults don’t know to do that.

So those are the things the Lord wants to redeem in us. He invites us to sit in His presence, and allow Him to redeem, restore … bring us back to right order. He does this for the sake of our own identity and for the sake of us being able to live in a Sabbath rest. That’s His best for us: that we live in a place of rest.

He wants to exchange our trauma for His peace.

 

Stop the Madness

If there is one thing I have seen more people struggle with, it’s the belief that their sin is who they are. Your sin is not your identity. Your true identity is the exact opposite of the sins you struggle with. Whatever your giftings are, whatever your calling is, the enemy will hit you with the opposite. That’s how the enemy tries to trap all of us, and keep us from walking in our identity, our destiny.

Your sin is not who you are. Don’t stay in that belief. Your parents’ sin is not who they are. Your teachers’ sin is not who they are. The man that molested you, that’s not who he is. The people that hurt you, that’s not who they are. Sin is not a person. It is evil personified. And those people hurt you because they were hurt. That is exactly the cycle the enemy has devised to keep each of us trapped.

Somebody’s got to stop this cycle.

Because if you still live in it, you will open the doors. You’re keeping the doors open for your grandchildren, and thousands of generations. Because these sins come with demons. So finish it today. Jesus has already finished it. You just have to appropriate it and choose to step into His resurrection power.

It’s time to stop the madness.

For your sake, and for the sake of the generations of your family.

How do you stop it?

Your objective, with everything you do, is to separate sin from the people. Because everybody sins. But if you’re not careful, and especially if you have a prophetic gift, you’ll see people as their sin, instead of who God created them to be. You want to be careful to see the sin, and not see the person as the sin.

When you get that, it’s huge. You’ll have an epiphany. Because people are not what they do.

Whatever sin you struggle with, it’s a sin, but it’s not who you are. It’s not your true identity.

Whatever sin other people struggle with – people around you, in your family, at work, at school – that sin is not who they are. It’s not their real identity.

The world would like to tell you that your sin is who you are.

It’s not who you are.

Unless you choose to live there.

When you can separate your sin from your true identity, you can come into the freedom Jesus intends for you. But you have to give that same benefit to everyone else. You have to give that to your parents … before you can come into freedom. Recognize that your parents’ sin is not their true identity. Separate the sin from the people, and ask God to show you who they really are – who He made them to be.

If you don’t do that for them, you will be stuck as well. Because generally our judgments against our parents are what keep us where we are. Our judgments help to create the false identities that we wear.

And you think it’s a right, to hold things against them, but it’s not. You don’t have the right to blame somebody else for your decisions. You can’t blame God. You can’t blame your mom and daddy. You can’t blame the policeman. You can’t blame the teacher.

Well, you can, but you’ll stay exactly where you are.

And I don’t think that’s what you want.

If you are seeking your true identity, you have to get free of those judgments … stop blaming others … and separate people from their sin. See who God made them to be.

Then you will be free to see who God made you to be.

 

Can You See Your Parents through God’s Lens?

I read something about how God used the circumstances of Jesus’ birth to save an illegitimate family, meaning us. That’s pretty profound. Jesus is the Son of God, but society would have called Him illegitimate. Yet in those very circumstances, Jesus reconciled us to God.

This made me think of how God uses every bit of our upbringing for His purposes in our lives. Have you considered that? Can you see your parents and your upbringing through that lens? That’s a key to honoring your parents.

What does it mean to honor your parents?

Honoring your mother and father means you can hold your parents up to be whoever God created them to be, regardless of the lens you see them through.

Are you able to honor your parents and the contribution they made into who you are? That’s pretty serious. Can you trust God enough to know that whatever your parents did or didn’t do was purposed for who are you? Purposed for your identity?

How do you do this? Start by holding your parents up to be who God created them to be. Ask the Lord to let you see their hearts, to see the way He created them.

That doesn’t come naturally. You’ve got to work this through the cross.

The only way you can honor your mother and father is if you let go of your “rights” and let God show you who they are. Because the reality is, if they acted hurtfully, they were probably hurt. Even if they were seemingly perfect, you’ve got to undo that, and recognize ways you dishonored them. Because if they were perfect, you don’t really need a savior.

Honoring not only involves forgiving your parents, but also validating who they are.

That one’s going to cost you.

Not only have you got to forgive them, but you’ve also got to ask the Lord to show them to you as He created them. If you’re still upset with them, you probably don’t see them as God sees them. And they can’t come into who God created them to be while you wear those lenses.

Once you get hold of that, all the baggage you are carrying will fall off of you like a jacket. Because once the Lord gives you a vision of who your parents are, you’ll start to be able to intercede for them to come into the same freedom you desire.

I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to break your heart for who He created your parents to be. For how He created them. Ask Him to show you that. Then intercede for them to come back into that place. That’s what honoring is all about.

When you start praying for your parents, instead of judging them, your world is going to change radically.

 

“I Am Not Artistic”

I am always suggesting that folks grow in the Presence of God and in Peace by participating in art, nature, music, etc. One client responded with the following:

“I am not artistic and ‘all’ that I am good at creating is food, and that’s not art.”

My response to her is that in her deciding to agree with this statement, she is hindering the Creator from flowing through her in a spirit of creativity. By doing so, she is blocking His hand in developing who He created her to be. We are created in the image of God, the Creator.

 

“When I Was Younger, I Had Two Abortions”

Question: “When I was younger, I had two abortions. Now I am so very much against abortion but inside I feel like a hypocrite. Is that normal?”

First of all, let me say that I completely understand. We often make decisions when we are young without knowing the truth (or thinking about the long-term ramifications). For example, are you aware that Norma McCorvey “Roe” of Roe v. Wade has just retracted her support of abortion? Can you imagine?! She has now become Pro-life!

As for feeling like a hypocrite, I understand that also. Ask God to forgive you for your sins and then forgive yourself. God wants more than anything to set you free from condemnation, and your repentance is the first step. Once you’ve repented, use your testimony to prevent someone else from going through the emotional despair that you have gone through AND save the life of an innocent child at the same time! That’s how we overcome sin! Use your voice and your testimony. Before long, you’ll realize all of that condemnation is gone AND God gets the glory!!!

 

“Will Not Attending Church Keep Me out of Heaven?”

Question: “I have struggled to find a church and am not attending any. Will this keep me out of Heaven?”

I’m sorry that you aren’t able to attend church right now. I do not believe that this will keep you out of heaven. I do want to encourage you to keep searching for a church. Scripture says “forsake not the fellowship” in Hebrews 10:25 and I do believe it is very important to find a church group, whether it be house church or storefront, or even a church with a steeple because we need a spiritual family. Ideally, we grow, learn, tithe, are accountable, and experience the fullness of relationship in a church family. Without that, we are alone and isolated, and that’s not good. That is a strategy of the enemy, to keep us isolated.

With that being said, I also do understand that there are seasons of change that may not allow us to “fellowship” in a “church.” But that doesn’t mean you can pull away altogether. I believe we should ALWAYS be in relationship with others who are growing in Christ and will help us to grow. Otherwise, we will fall to the wayside in our own relationship with Christ and that is detrimental to our spiritual health and our own testimony of our relationship with Jesus. There shouldn’t be anything that separates us from “a Body” other than the strategy of the enemy.

 

“Why Is Cleaning Unsettling?”

Question: “I just spent 3 days cleaning my entire apartment. Inside-out. Got rid of boxes/closets/drawers full of stuff that’s been there since I moved in 5 years ago. You would think (and it’s usually the case for me) that after such a huge cleaning I would feel amazing. Instead, I feel very unsettled, disoriented, vulnerable. I have no idea why. I didn’t get rid of anything important, just years worth of old junk.”

Great question! And congrats on “cleaning out your closet” (so to speak). Just imagine that what you are doing spiritually is parallel to the natural. And what usually happens when you clean out your closets or behind your bed, etc.? You find lots of dust bunnies (or at least I do). And what else happens? You stir up a lot of “dust.” Anytime we make attempts to “bring things into order” whether it be physically, or emotionally, we stir things up. And this also stirs things up in the spirit.

We attach a lot of “value” to our “things.” And when we let things go, we often feel vulnerable and “discombobulated.” The same thing happens in our soul. When we dig around in the area of our heart we feel unsettled (for a little while). Give it a couple of days and see how you feel. I would encourage you to anoint your new clean space with oil, invite Holy Spirit to come in and fill the new space … wouldn’t even hurt to open a window and just covenant with a new season of fresh wind and purity in the name of Jesus!!!