Nice Is NOT Fruit of the Spirit

NICE is NOT a fruit of the Spirit. I had a lady in my class several years ago that was renowned for her “niceness.” After working through the issues of her heart for several weeks (in intensive inner healing) she finally slammed her fist on the table and said, “I’m sick and tired of being ‘nice.'” I applauded her. As a matter of fact, the entire class gave her an ovation. We had all discerned that that we were not able to see her for her true self.

Before I offend all of you genuinely nice people, let me qualify “niceness.” Webster’s dictionary defines nice as “pleasant, agreeable, and satisfactory.” Pleasant and satisfactory are acceptable but “agreeable” I have issue with. The problem is WE ALL SHOULD NOT AGREE!!! God is not boring and would not create a world of agreeable people.

You see, I’ve learned that when people expend most of their energy being nice they often put aside who they really are. Think about it, if you decide that you have to be nice … Who would you have been otherwise? I believe nice is a mask that folks often hide behind. (Especially in the South.)

The lady that I spoke of earlier was taught her whole life to “be nice” and by the time she was 50 she realized she didn’t know who she was. She was pretty ticked. She had spent 40+ years presenting her self to be something she wasn’t. And in doing so, she had hidden her true identity. She actually was a genuinely kind and gentle person but she had taken it to a different extreme. She was never able to give her opinion. She elaborated that she was never really able to disagree. In a lot of ways she had sacrificed herself for who others wanted to be. UGH … that (to me) is one of the grandest schemes of the enemy.

If we negate our true selves for the sake of niceness or to keep peace or whatever the lie is we are absolutely defying God’s plan in our lives. How can you expect God to complete HIS good work in you if you decided you wanted to be something else? So, here’s your ticket to freedom “nice” people. Decide today to take your mask off. NO MORE MR./MRS./MS. nice person! Embrace your authentic self. Let others FINALLY see who you really are. You will discover that God don’t make junk and you will be surprised the freedom you will gain in just being you. It takes a lot of energy to be something that you’re not.

Oh yeah, and in doing so, please don’t tell your family and friends where you learned this … I don’t want all of the “mean” people calling me.

 

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Wash, Rinse, Repeat … I discovered last week that forgiveness is a lot like shampooing. Well, let me restate that … forgiveness IS NOT as easy as but is a lot like shampooing. It’s a process. Anybody that says it’s easy is lying. Without Jesus in our heart, we (as human beings) DO NOT forgive easily. I had a lady in my office just last week because she was still hanging on to unforgiveness regarding an old relationship. I told her you can’t move on until you forgive her. “I HAVE FORGIVEN HER,” she said through gritted teeth. “BUT SHE SHOULDN’T HAVE DONE THAT TO ME.”

Hmmmm … doesn’t sound like forgiveness to me.

First of all, forgiveness doesn’t end in “BUT.” Second, if you grit your teeth at the sheer mention of the “forgiven’s name” chances are you haven’t really forgiven. I felt for the lady. I KNOW how hard forgiveness is. That’s when I realized it’s like shampoo. Wash, Rinse, Repeat, (and for me … repeat, repeat, repeat.)

I don’t know about you but for me it’s seldom a one-time deal. I have to do it over and over again. (Forgive, that is, not shampoo.) I usually start the process out of sheer obedience. I do it because I know it pleases God. It doesn’t please me. It doesn’t make me feel good. I don’t like it. It is absolutely contrary to my flesh. Often, my justification is that they don’t deserve it until they apologize. (That reeks of God, doesn’t it? No, THAT, my friend, is what my flesh looks like.)

Back to the process of forgiveness … and it’s not to be legalistic – I am a very simple person and I need things simple – this works for me:

(1) I envision leaving that person at the cross. (That’s one of the purposes of the cross – a place to leave our stuff.)

(2) I leave the circumstance at the cross. (That means I don’t have the right to rehearse it in my mind anymore.)

(3) I lay my “rights” at the cross. That includes my right to be right. The word is pretty clear that if we defend ourselves God will not defend us. And you can trust God to bring justice and defense. (Trust me, I have seen the Holy Spirit in retaliation before and it’s much more effective than anything I could ever do.)

(4) After all of that, I forgive myself. (Hence, wash, rinse, repeat.)

AND THEN … I wait for “the fruit” of my obedience. If I growl at the mention of the offender’s name, chances are, I am still carrying the offense. If I feel a knot (I often refer to it as a “high octane ping”) in my gut the next time I see them – that’s a good indication that I have more work to do.

I was just recently inquiring of God about how to deal with a circumstance I was going through in regard to forgiveness. I have done a lot of work but I was concerned how I would interact with this person, knowing that even though I have worked through much of the forgiveness, I need boundaries with them. I expressed to Him that I WILL NOT BE FAKE. I hate it when people act fake. I told Him I refuse to be fake, so how do I act when I’m around someone that I’m in process of forgiving but my heart is still hurt and I am still upset. He laughed. And then He said, “Don’t stay upset with anyone!” Duh … (There I go again: Wash, Rinse, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.)

 

You Don’t Want God, You Want a Fairy!!!

“You don’t want God – You want a fairy,” I suggested while having lunch with a friend the other day. She was complaining that “She was done with God.” She explained that she had been working on her issues for over 6 years now and she wanted to know when it’s supposed to get easier. (I laughed). I know her well enough to know that if I laugh out loud she won’t hit me. She noticed me laughing and was not impressed. “WHAT?” She said. I went on to explain to her the visual the Lord had given me in regard to my walk with Him.

“Our walk with God is like traversing the globe. We will go through seasons that will seem like walking in a meadow with birds singing and flowers blooming. Sometimes we will feel like we are walking forever on a seemingly endless blacktop with circumstances flying by that cause us to duck and take cover from relational debris. Often times we will walk alongside a winding river enjoying the beauty of the falling leaves. All too often, we will swear we are in a season of dry desert with no refreshing in sight and no one to grant us reprieve. My personal fave is the season of the mountaintop. (I once heard someone say “You have to go through the valleys to know what to scream from the mountaintop!”)

Nonetheless, it’s like hiking the globe. We can’t always have the good stuff… Knowing myself, if my walk were always good I would check God at the curb and keep driving, thinking that I had deserved the goodness and somehow my actions have rewarded me rightly. HA … Endless humanity. Thank goodness HE doesn’t leave us to ourselves. It’s the seasons of dryness AND the swamplands that keep us focused on Him. It’s the quiet nights on the highway alone that keep us grounded in the goodness of God. Without the potholes, detours, yielding, merging and so on, we wouldn’t need a God.

Even though we are strutting through the unknown – HE always gives us what we need. Take the Florida turnpike for example. Billboards everywhere offering you “entertainment” (anything from pecan logs to strippers). BUT have you ever noticed the rest areas and gas exits come at just the right time? Have you noticed that all along that exhausting, straight, two-lane flat land of road there is an emergency phone on the right of way every few miles? There are mile markers and reflective signs everywhere always reminding you where you are and to prepare you for what is ahead. God is like that. Our problem is we are usually too focused on the reward that we miss our journey.

So… next time God gives you a detour – write it down… GET the message, understand it, process it, take responsibility for it. Chances are HE created or at least allowed it for your best interest. Don’t miss it!

 

I Wrestled with God …

Last week I wrestled in my heart with God. There was something in my heart that I wasn’t proud of. I explained to Him that it’s ugly, it has a mind of its own, and brings HIM no glory. I’ve walked with HIM long enough to know that what starts in my heart will soon spill over into my deeds, words, and actions (And THAT certainly isn’t pretty). Most importantly, it was blocking me from being who HE wants me to be – so I asked him to remove it. (Simple enough – I thought.) He refused. I argued (as usual). When I stopped arguing I asked why HE wouldn’t just pluck it from my heart. THEN, we could move on and I could be closer to being who HE wanted me to be. He laughed. (He does that a lot with me – it gets my attention). He continued speaking.

“If I remove that thing from your heart then there is nothing gained on your behalf. If I SIMPLY remove it, you won’t wrestle with it and you CERTAINLY won’t be required to die to it. There is great gain in the wrestling of your heart. You see, that’s where you gain strength of Spirit – My Spirit, not yours. That ugly thing in your heart causes you to move in repentance before me. It reminds you that YOU NEED ME. It causes you to realize that because I (Jesus Christ) live in you, YOU have the power to overcome the ‘uglies’ in your heart. Otherwise you will just hide it and pretend that you’re something that you aren’t. Or worse yet, you will think that you’ve done something amazing by ‘managing it.'” I have realized that behavior management works great when we are young, but as we get older it simply takes too much energy. The other choice is to unleash my “uglies” in thought, word, or action – consequently realizing that I may be one emotional upheaval away from being alone with 39 cats.

He continues – “I give you the choice to keep it, nurse it, pet it, or you can choose to overcome it by the power that resides in you. Out of the obedience in repentance you can let that thing live or die. I know it’s there (lol). You can’t cover it up and think I won’t see it. [The image of lipstick on a pig comes to mind]. It’s your choice, not Mine. I have given you all that you need to live strong from within. It’s your choice to live in your flesh or in My Spirit. To remove that choice from you would defy the very freedom I have given you. The freedom to choose: to hide, ignore, or cover-up; or to recognize, confess, and overcome. The freedom to remain the same: hurt, wounded, afraid little girl you’ve always been; OR to confess your shortcomings. I desire to hear the ‘cry of your heart’ – it moves Me on your behalf. In your confession, I will take those things from you and give you new strength, new freedom, and new power by MY Spirit, not yours. Before long, you’ll come back to this ‘ugly’ and you’ll realize it’s no longer there, and you’ll recognize MY PRESENCE in its place.

“So, My little one, don’t ask Me to remove it. Instead, look at it, see it for what it is, see how it controls you, tell Me all about it and how it hurts you and others. Then rely on MY POWER in you to overcome it. It may be a little at a time before you know your “ugly” will be replaced by My love. When you go there to inventory it in the future you’ll see love instead. All I need is an invitation – I promise you won’t regret it.”

 

Don’t Disparage the Trials in Life

Don’t disparage the trials in life … THEY, are, in fact, what God has allowed to bring us to death in our SELVES and to resurrect in us who God has created us to be in the first place. Our problem, unfortunately, is that we strap those dead bodies to our back and carry them around claiming injustice.

In carrying them, we remain focused on the smelly rotten flesh instead of the lesson that God has desired. Soooo … God allows us another lesson of similar effect. He allows us the choice to continue collecting the dead weight until OUR bodies start to decay and wreak on their own … THEN, we often, recognize the death and our choice, or not. And the pattern continues. Our choice. LIFE or DEATH … (By the way, this message has no intent to anyone other than myself.) Revelations on the porch by Kerri Johnson, lol.