Tag Archives: letting go

Take Heart

19 Jun

There is a line in the movie “The Shack” that I really liked.  “Papa” is explaining what grace and trust look like when evil harms us; In those circumstances that we are collateral damage when someone’s free will results in grave sin.  “I am not asking you to excuse what he did. I am asking you to trust me to do what’s right and to know what’s best.”  He means inspite of what we see.  Forgive and trust God in all circumstances.

He knows our storms. He knows our sin and He knows the sins done against us. He is beside us, faithful, even when we can’t feel Him.

Faith is like a muscle. In our good times, our faith may not be getting a work out. Our gratitude may be strong, our worship may be strong but our faith truly is only tested in our trials.  Endurance is for the long term. Is faith really faith when the minute it gets painful, we fall apart?

Romans 5:3 tells us that our trials, through persevering, strengthens our character and builds us up in Hope.

He knows our circumstances and he knows our relationships. He knows where we are overwhelmed by the storms, uncertain how to navigate our way through. In Matthew 14:27 he says to Peter “Take heart; It is I. Do not be afraid”.   It is the middle of a storm, and the seas are raging, the disciples see the impossible, Jesus on the water. Peter, though he only had a small amount of faith, and probably a good dose of fear in that moment, was willing to trust and get out of the boat and walk to Jesus. “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water: Jesus said “Come”.

Faith like that, faith that says “ok Lord, I am overwhelmed by the storms of my life right now, I long for answers that don’t come quickly.  I struggle to let go of the resolutions I planned for the outcomes you have planned. Lord, hold your hand out to me, help me find my way safely, and I will step out in faith”

How confident we can be friends, that He is there in the storms. In him we can find our peace, our hope, our courage. We can cry out “Father, our little faith can let us step out of our terror, even in the midst of storm, and walk on the water with you. You ask us to trust you, to take courage in you, in your presence, even when we don’t feel you near. You help us walk on the water in the storm.”

It is then that we find what cannot be found anywhere else. Peace that surpasses all understanding. Calm that belies the storms. Hope that even if it isn’t what WE planned, we know it will lead us to the exact place to bless us and to bless other’s with.

Lord you are just that amazing and good. Us of little faith, seek you and find you when we seek you with all of our hearts. Imperfect, scared to death, hurting and lacking in grace and mercy for other’s and for ourselves. We find perfect peace in all of that, the storms that this world brings.

Thank you, Father, for never letting me drown in this storm. Thank you for giving me the courage of Peter to step out in faith I don’t always feel!

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b]boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:1-4

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phillippians 4:7

 

Works?

21 Mar

One of the craziest, most mind blowing change that happens when you begin a walk with Christ, is this:  The more you know-the less you know; The stronger your faith becomes, you grow more and more needy for His direction, HIS wisdom, HIS approval, less concerned with your place in the world but rather, your place in His heart and His Heaven.

“He must become greater;I must become less. John 3:30 NIV”

As the years creep by that I have been making notes and highlights in my bible, I often revisit the same scripture that was so powerful before and maybe this time, it is just as powerful but in a different way, or today, it may just be a Good Word.  The Living Word, (*insert big sigh…) I gain new knowledge, new application, new wisdom every single time I open my bible. Every sermon, lesson, even a song, will lead me to the Word.

I didn’t always believe the bible. Well, I didn’t actually ever read it. I honestly didn’t really understand much more than Psalms. I figured it was man’s interpretation. Nature was my bible, my church. I had my own opinion of faith, prayer, and what Christians looked like.  I judged a relationship with Christ by those that went to church. I expected them to be perfect, and because none of them were, I judged them as hypocrits. I didn’t need to go there, and I didn’t need to read the bible. Until I broke; Until there was nothing left but God and I.

In the depths of my despair, He rescued me. He didn’t just make it all better, he filled me with unspeakable hope, he began a ‘good work” in me. What a fantastic journey it has been! And! …the Bible came alive for me. Understandable, expressive, moving, it truly sustains me.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Now it makes sense. It isn’t “magic”-it’s just a wisdom that comes with growth and communion with the Holy Spirit.  We don’t begin our new or renewed faith knowing the bible either, nor does God expect that from us. You only need to know this truth. That Jesus died for you and has been waiting for you to follow Him ever since. That begins the relationship. God takes us through our very own journey designed just for us, full of mistakes and love and forgiveness and healing. He will bring those along side of you to help you along.  And you will want to know Him more. You will read the bible and it will begin to make more sense than you ever imagined.

You see this all the time…John 3:16 but there are so many more!

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace Ephesians 1:7 [Full Chapter]

Now, if you know me at all, you will agree that I am absolutely not legalistic.  I would describe my walk as a bit of ‘Grace and Mercy’ rebel.  I fight hard against any words that direct me to “DO” rather than “BE”.  Those that declare (which is grave sin) who is saved and who is false or heretic or unsaved, also push me away. I have been so hurt in my life by those faith talkers which is probably why it has taken me three different studies of James to fully embrace His writing.

Things are getting a bit shaken up and stirred out in a different way for me. I have gone toe to toe against believers that will disagree with my mercy belief; I always felt wrong because they were more studied than me, I never knew how to answer them. I just held hard to my hope that the Love He filled my heart with, was the same love He would pour out on all who seek Him. So I set out upon truth (growth leads to growth). I wanted to fully understand a more DO book, like James.

In my studies, which I now thirst after- *Psalm 42:1 (how did He know that about me?) I have grown beyond reacting to the legalistic undertones of some of our scriptures, to understanding rather our human journey to holiness. This is not something we do because scripture says to, we do it because as we begin to embrace our salvation and walk in it, we long to become more like Him. I have realized in my own journey that to understand what that looks like,  you first have to understand the entire journey from Genesis to Revelations, that includes the journey of the law (Torah).

First, lets define who is going to heaven. If you say everyone, do you truly think Hitler will? Do you truly think a child molester will? If you drew a line and labeled good and bad on either end, where is the line that says, too bad. Crazy as it seems, truly there is no stopping point of grace or mercy on that line for those that are in Christ.

Our salvation is bought and paid for by the suffering of Christ on the cross.  In my journey, I hung so tightly to that point and understood that the change that took place in my heart, is still taking place, every day, is Him, not me. It isn’t me being a “Good Christian”. I am on a journey of becoming holy, I am still changing. That said, here is the change in verbage for me….   even though you are saved, if you start at the ‘bad’ end, shouldn’t your salvation and hope move you a little closer to the ‘good’ end?

I remember hearing Francis Chan years ago, as he demonstrated faith as a balance beam exercise. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y46YoVzX0VM   I liked it, it made sense. I read Kyle Idleman’s “Not a Fan” four years ago. I remember really enjoying it, but at the same time, not liking the legal tones echoing within my own heart!

It wasn’t the author, nor the scripture becoming legalistic, it was my difficult journey to know my worth to God. To understand ‘Agape Love’.

The truth is so crazy! ~ To fully understand what freedom we have in our salvation, we have to submit completely.

“Submit yourselves, then to God.” James 4:7, “in all ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight”. Proverbs 3:6

In the end, the legalism is to know where we have come from, who to turn to, submission, hope, trust…faith. To know the importance of submission to Him. Faith without works is dead. If we believe that Jesus died for us, and we are forgiven, this should shake our world! This should overwhelm us with repentance, hope, and a desire to “pay forward” if you will, that amazing gift. It should begin to change us, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. This is the DO part! Let HIM do!

If you read the Sermon on the Mount, it is all there. The sermon on the mount is my “go to” I find all I need to know, right there in the words of my Savior. Unlike the teachings of “The Secret”, the need for total perfection of thought and words, putting things or not putting things in the universe (where does that go?)~  Christ achieved that for me.

My goal is not perfection, my goal is obedience. Always has been. It is not a place you arrive at; It is a place you seek. He calls us to desire to live in a submissive longing to please God. To stop assessing (judging) how well other’s are doing in their walk, to come along side those that need help back up in their walk, gently, with love and humility. Not from a knowing better, but a place of “there but the grace of God go I, point of view.

Christ followers are called to Seek Him in all things. Seek the truth. It doesn’t matter what we DO, it is the very core of our faith that becomes the truth. Only God knows this place in us. What good is anything we DO if our hearts have any form of judgement, jealousy, envy, anger (same as murder) insecurity. That is the DO part of our walk. Cleanse our hearts, our minds and our spirit by meditating on Him at all times. (It is truly the only way).

Truth is humbly being transparent.  Truth is loving at all times the entire body of Christ. Truth is loving our neighbors, no matter their color, their faith, or how they sin. Truth is not pretending to know God, but seeking to know what He desires for us. Truth is submission. Truth is forgiving everyone, including ourselves, everything. Truth is not self seeking. Truth doesn’t reject or boast. Truth is not about anyone else. Truth is the humble understanding that He is the only one that truly knows our heart, our life, our walk, our sin nature, our journey. Truth is love in action and mercy towards others. Only He knows your neighbors heart. Truth is that it is from fear or ego that we judge. Judgement is not discernment and conviction is not condemnation and the anger of man can never truly be righteous. Watch that you are not representing God, but actually following Him. Submissively.

James 4:12 “But who are you to judge your neighbor?

If His words are not honing you, building you up, tearing you down, healing you, teaching you, preparing you, softening you, strengthening you, removing pride, arrogance, judgement, if His words are NOT creating your next steps to walk in His plan for your life, to share in His wisdom through your own testimony, then you aren’t doing it right!

This is the works. Submission and mercy. Gentle mercy towards all. Especially your body of believers.

In the end, my issue has not been with legalism.  My issue was with man’s (including my own) interpretation of what that meant. Jesus fulfilled the law so we could live with God forever. He did this because there was no other way.  God knew this. Truth…That takes but a mustard seed. However, that mustard seed should change you atleast a little bit, should it?

We will still have an accounting for our journey. If the world holds more value to us than pleasing God, then it is time to really assess what our true belief is.

Works: Acceptance that I will never be perfect but that I can embrace and openly admit my arrogance, my lies, my hypocrisy and doubts and fears, and submit to Him to heal and be healed is freedom. To allow him to hone me even when it hurts.  It allows for true relationship free from ego.That is what faith with works looks like. Because from that place, He shines so brightly within us. We give Him Glory.  We hear His calling, His prompting.

We become strong.  We can say to that mountain move, and it will.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV

 

Brotherly Love

4 Nov

Let love for your fellow believers continue and be a fixed practice with you [never let it fail]” Hebrews 13:1 AMP

What happens when a room full of God-loving, Spirit-filled friends begin to worship and pray together?

They begin to make waves. Change begins to take place. Just when they could do great things, when the seeds begin to grow, Satan sets his sights on doing all he can to stop this.

He hunts and seeks out the weakness in each of these people. Friendships will begin to be tested. Strong followers will become distracted. Where the weakness is, there will be satan. My weakness was weariness in struggle. My idol is security.

Beautiful friendships, built on fellowship, support and love, with Christ at the center, began to unravel. Judgement of one another began, eye rolling, gossip, arrogant judgement of those deemed not as “righteous” as them. Judgement turned to unforgiveness and rejection; Division took place.

Our whole world is built on the Grace and Mercy of Christ towards us, yet we are unwilling to extend that to those we worshipped with. Satan has had a field day.

We either ask God to remove the evil that lies there or we look outside and see the flaws that exist within us all, and close the door. The world will tell us that some people are “only in our journey for a season”, But GOD, in his most beautiful words, scripture, will say, leave no one behind.

Isolation is a tool of the devil. We are told to be there for one another, to protect each other from our weaknesses. Forgiveness, love and forbearance are attributes of God. We are called to be that for our brothers and sisters.

The bible is very specific about division within the body; It is most definitely not of God. Jesus spoke very clearly about forgiveness and judgement. Acts, and Paul’s letters to all churches include these instructions.

We absolutely do not know what is in a man’s heart. Only the Father knows. You do not know what is God’s wisdom, only the Father knows.

We are called to [and I have] examine our own hearts, and asked God to expose our own sin. God blesses us with freedom and peace in our painful refining. We need refining at all times, so we can be the light that we are called to be. To truly walk our purpose in this world.

I prayerfully and purposefully have asked for Him to reveal to me all that is in my heart that is not truth, that is not of Him. I have asked for His wisdom to be evident.

This is the truth He has shown me: Through prayer, through study, through sermon, and conversation.

Satan is never going to be stronger than we allow him to be. It all comes down to ONE truth, ONE way, ONE redeemer. Put your faith back in Him and not in ourselves. His words, His promise, His desires for our lives, His provision, strength and consistency.

We must be there for one another in the days that are coming. We MUST stop judging the saved and start supporting one another. Always.

We all stumble and let one another down. Nothing hurtful towards those we truly care for is ever intended to harm, otherwise that would be true of every one of us, of our intentions.

We all have different roles, different gifts, unique journeys meant to be learned from, cultivating a deeper relationship with Christ. We all have a purpose here, the outcome of walking our purpose is to be light-bearers to this world. The WHOLE world.

We are not the sifters of the heart. Only the Father can do that. Mustard seeds are very difficult to compare to mountains.

Our painful times, our testing times in the desert, are meant to deepen the faith in our hearts, so when that day comes, that evil stands before us we can, with confidence, claim victory through Him that gives us strength.

Our faith can move mountains. Our redeemer is amazing.

“Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me.” Psalms 42:7 NKJV

“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:11-15 NIV

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9 NIV

“[My] brethren, do not speak evil about or accuse one another. He that maligns a brother or judges his brother is maligning and criticizing the Law and judging the Law. But if you judge the Law, you are not a practicer of the Law but a censor and judge [of it].One only is the Lawgiver and Judge Who is able to save and to destroy [the One Who has the absolute power of life and death]. [But you] who are you that [you presume to] pass judgment on your neighbor?” James 4:11-12 AMP

“Where there is strife, there is pride,but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Proverbs 13:10 NIV

“he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5 NIV

“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” Deuteronomy 32:2

Seeing God Through Love “No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. ” 1 John 4:12

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

6 Oct

A Time for Everything
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV

Every season must come to an end. After a very long decision making process, I have decided to leave Social Media.

Facebook has been a great source of support and comfort for me. Facebook has kept me connected through times that were truly some of the most difficult. It has been a great source of entertainment, laughter, glimpses into the circle of life that we all share. I have loved it!

As my journey in faith has brought me to many new places, many new challenges, it has also brought to me new people. All were important for new growth.

I have learned so much and been brought along side such incredible people. Each place, each new person met me exactly where I was at in my journey and walked side by side with me as I navigated new waters. Yet, even as I journeyed, moving to new places, I was able, through Social Media, to still be visible and to stay in touch with my roots: My family, my friends, my anchors in faith, and my shepherds.

Now is a new time, a new place; a new step in my journey to become Holy. God has slowly been paring down my distractions. Even falling in love has been a huge lesson in distraction. He is slowly bringing me to a new level of relationship with Him. Oh my gosh, when I think of my crooked pathway to this place! He is showing me now, that I am to stand alone, with Him. To know I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

He has removed the burden of not having enough provision. He has blessed me with a wonderful job, with great purpose. He has allowed testing to take place and honestly, I am not doing so great on the outcomes initially, but I turn back to Him quicker and quicker. I have found the weaknesses in my faith.That said, praise a God so wonderful that He constantly walks side by side with me as I ride the waves of pure trust and self reliance.

Knowing your weakness gives God power over your sin, rather than Satan. True humility, transparency and confession is so essential to remaining in close relationship with Him. We don’t change us, He does.

He has walked me through the desert, left me alone to find my way back to Him, and He has blessed me. I have been so alone, but not until I was strong enough to actually be alone. He brought me reminders by my dwelling places. He knew I would look to the skies and see His hand. He has blessed me with incredible reflective places of peace. Places to sit with Him and just be still with Him. Reminders in the hard times, that He is still with me.

He wants to quiet my mind, still my mind and heart. I can’t do that with the constant barrage of information. Distraction is not of God.

We are not called to judge as He is the only judge. However, we are instructed to weigh, evaluate and discern what is righteous, what is good, what is true.

I have weighed, evaluated and discerned that Social Media is no longer healthy in my walk. God needs me to still my input, so He can begin to build on His plan for export in my life.

I do not have visions, I am not a prophet, nor a teacher. I am a learner. I am a seeker of truth and justice. I am flawed and most of all, I am saved.

I question myself at times. Do I really know what the Holy Spirit wants me to know? I guess, in all honesty, questioning our own true validity is God inspired. We should test our hearts and our thoughts against truth at all times. Truth is in THE Word of God, not within our opinions.

The Word of God speaks to each of us differently at different times in our lives. God meets us where we are at and provides to either the mustard seed or the greatest of knowledge.

Our hearts are what God cares most about, not our knowledge, but seeking wisdom from God is essential. If we are so busy sharing or caring about what others are saying, how can we hear God? I am not that talented. So, with that, I will be slowly removing social media from my world. Spending more of my free time, in my favorite place to be, prayer and study.

I am looking forward to this new step in my journey with apprehension, with excitement. God bless you.

A Case For Forgiveness

3 Sep

I have learned so much about my own weakness and sinful nature over the past 6 years. I have never had stronger faith and a deeper desire to please my Father, and still I sin.

During this growing time, I have lost my narrow need for control by needing to define right and wrong, black and white, from judgemental eyes.

I have learned to lay at the foot of the cross, set my sin there and ask God for wisdom and strength, forgiveness for my weakness and gratitude for not taking away my hope.

I have new eyes, His eyes, eyes that have allowed me to love myself even through my sins.

From that love comes love and forgiveness for those that sin against me or other’s I care about. If my sin is not meant to harm, why would I persecute other’s as if they intended to harm.

This is not to say sin doesn’t matter, because it does, because it carries consequence; To myself, or to others, yes, there is always consequence, consequences that can hurt, deeply.

What sin doesn’t do is separate me from my salvation; Salvation gained through no doing of my own, only by the sacrifice of one Son to carry my sins on His back, so I may be redeemed. If He was willing to do that for me, and I am willing to accept that, then I MUST choose to grant mercy and share grace with everyone- All- Regardless of the harm they have caused.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we allow them to harm us again, but we carry no un-forgiveness or bitterness in our hearts.
God does this for us, Jesus suffered and died for us, as He died He cried out on behalf of those that harmed Him. “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” His forbearance is beyond understanding, yet we can pray to have that patience, that wisdom, that acceptance, that love!

When we are betrayed by those we care most about, we can get angry, we can lash out or we can begin the process of healing by forgiving.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23

If you have faith, you have all you need to weather the hurts in this life. What forgiveness does is it allows your offender to move closer to God, to show mercy is to demonstrate the Love you have received. If we don’t show grace, or accept it, we stand in the way of God. If Christ died for us, and we believe that, then it should be without merit that we share the full impact of Grace.

Shame and guilt are not of God, they are of the un-forgiven. Hebrews 4:15 says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin.”

I am not without sin. But.. I am forgiven. And I choose to forgive.

What Guilt Could Not Do

3 Apr

Why are you striving these days?
Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying?
Let me lift up your face, just don’t turn away

~Tenth Avenue North – By Your Side

Easter has always been my favorite time of year. It symbolizes the transformation from winter to spring, with the promise of summer. The days are longer, the sun shines brighter and the coats get put away.

I have always felt this newness to everything.

As I have grown in my faith, I realize that the hope and newness was exactly what Easter is about. I just didn’t quite grasp the full measure…yet.

My catholic upbringing made me aware of God and Jesus. I loved and accepted Jesus my whole life. But the religion of it clouded what He taught and what his death meant for me, what Grace was and that hope of salvation for me.

I learned guilt and shame in my faith walk. I learned that I was never going to be good enough for heaven and probably would just barely make purgatory. I couldn’t stop sinning. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect, I could not be. When I would be judged, it went very deep within my shame.

As I became a mother, I was keenly aware of God. He kept me safe and strong in times of need. I sought Him constantly. Trying so hard to find Him in my life. What I still did not understand was His love for me, His desire for me.

I was in awe of His creation and His Holiness, I just could never seem to connect the dots, to “get it”. I was trying so hard to be good, to be perfect, to earn my way. I worked so hard at being a “good person”, to be a “good christian”.

In the blink of an eye, everything came crashing down at once. I was humbled by the sheer loss of it all; Beautifully shattered.

From that place of humility and rawness, God slowly showed me what Grace was. He taught me so methodically, it is only in the hindsight that I see His plan unveiled.

What guilt could not do, complete failure and sorrow did. Suddenly, at the end of me, from my dark and hopeless place…I gave up on me; I quit. In that moment of I can’t do this anymore, there was nothing left. I had no fight, no pride, no ego, no hope left.
Finally, I was able to look up and be saved. I was the veil that stood between me and Grace.

In my moment of despair, I surrendered.

The peace that settled on my heart that day is the joy and light in me that people comment on all the time.

The lyrics to the song (above) remind me…Heaven has been won, not by me, but by Jesus. I can’t earn it.

Grace and Mercy are ours for the asking. Being saved is the beginning of a journey. Easter is now about new life, new hope. I am in awe of the sacrifice for me and how much He Loves me to suffer so greatly for me. When you truly surrender, you allow God to guide your life, transform your thoughts and you begin to see your purpose here and to love people from His eyes. The best feeling in the world is looking at you and loving the you He created.

His Mercy, His Love and His unending Grace…are ours for the asking.

If you want to know that love and grace…If you understand that you are a sinner and long to know hope…accept Him. Pray this prayer and ask Jesus into your heart.

“God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I deserve the consequences of my sin. However, I am trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior”.

Then let Him guide your heart. (A bible based church is so helpful and important in sustaining that journey)

This is what Paul said about religion vs. faith:

Galatians 2:17-21 MSG

17-18 Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.

19-21 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.

Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

Amen.

More Than Love

29 Jan

Deciding whether to commit to or to end a relationship is a serious, but important question that anyone that has ever been in a relationship has to ask. This can be so difficult and honestly, requires many decisions, not just a broad question of do I love Him/Her.

Not asking the hard questions is not only irresponsible, it is dangerous. You may love someone, but commitment is far more than love. There are certain things to consider that may help in making the best decision.

When someone hurts us, we naturally want to share our hurt with someone but be choosy and think long and hard before you overshare your concerns with those that love you most. While you may get over what someone does, they may not. This can be unwise as it may slant any future decision making advice you may need from those that know you best.

A Pastor, a counselor, a couple you respect, with no emotional tie to you, would be a great place to start when seeking advise about concerns you may have, any fears or issues that may keep you from taking the next step towards or away from your partner.

Pray, Pray, Pray!

Do NOT skip this step. Talk to God. He is the most objective listener. Lay your heart and your future at His feet and sleep on it for a while. Give God your time. Spend time in the word. Pour your thoughts out to Him. Pray for discernment and wisdom, (HIS), then be quiet and allow Him to answer you. Do not be impatient. Let Him work on your heart or let him guide your wisdom. He will.

Take time to do your lists. Like prayer, do NOT skip this step.

First be general and just start writing down anything you love, like, dislike, or feel may be a red flag. Then rate them as a pro, con, good quality or area of concern.
Then, go deeper…Dig deep and be completely transparent and honest with yourself. Take everything into consideration. Does he/she bring positive or negative consequences or concerns in the areas of career, finances, faith, personality,are they positive or negative, if you are raising children, what are the concerns and consequences of behaviors or personalities with your children: How will this affect your lifestyle, your hobbies, community involvements, alone time. What are the potential lifestyle changes, will they add to or detract from your life. *note: do this when you are not upset, and not when you are high in love. Do this when you are able to truly be open and objective with yourself.

You should have a clear idea forming of what your concerns are and what you can let go of. I feel I must clarify this here. If you have been in abusive or unhealthy relationships in the past, take your list to a professional. Make sure you are not making choices out of habit, overlooking or not ranking a red flag, a red flag. Sadly, when we make those mistakes over and over, we have to take the bull by the horn and seek a professional to advocate for us until we are strong and sure of our own ability to advocate for ourselves.

Where there are behaviors that are red flags, and you choose to move forward, then you must write out clear and concise rules of engagement, a clear boundary of behavior that is acceptable and behavior that is not and concise consequences for behavior that is not healthy.

Behaviors that suggest a need for a clear and defined boundary/consequence are abuse of any kind, cheating, drugs,alcohol, gambling, porn. Set the boundary, and if they cannot abide by the contract, you cannot overlook or make exceptions. You must decide to end the relationship and put that in writing as the consequence. Then you BOTH need to abide by the rules.

Finally, Let go of what doesn’t matter. The best part about making a deep list is that you seek wisdom, discernment, with open and objective analysis. Make a logical decision that just may go against your emotion or your feelings for someone. If you find the good far outweighs the bad, then you have your answer. If you find the bad outweighs the good, then you have your answer. If you find it is somewhere in between, you have to explore, ask questions, set boundaries and seek help to make your decision.

Love is not enough and love will not sustain a poorly thought out, bad relationship. The level of success in your relationships depends greatly on your willingness to be honest and thoughtful about who you choose to commit yourself to.