For those who read here, I hope you haven’t minded that the past several posts have been my rehashing and fleshing out the latest sermons from church! I’ve just found the content really fascinating lately, more so than usual, and I can’t seem to stop thinking about it through the week.
This past Sunday’s sermon was a continuation of Pastor Trevor’s “Better” series. He’s focusing on how the general public view of Christianity and religion as a way of life has changed in the past few decades. He explained how up until the fifties and early sixties, over 95% of Americans would have classified themselves as being Christian or having a belief in God, a way of living “religiously”. Even people who would not self-identify as Christian still had beliefs in a Higher Power, in a being “out there” who was greater than themselves and in control of things here on earth.
He brought up how much that has changed in the past twenty years especially. He talked about the similarity of our current culture that seems to be burnt out on religion as a whole and Christianity specifically to the culture that Jesus stepped into when He began His ministry. A statistic he quoted says that most people today say they feel their lives are better without any sort of religion.
Wow. That’s a huge departure from the days just before my own appearance on this planet. I was born in the late sixties and grew up feeling as if most of the kids I went to school with knew about God and believed in Him. It was fairly common that if you used the Bible to support your view of something, it would more often be accepted as truth than not. If you decided to pray over your meal, others around you would respect that by not interrupting or by turning their conversational volume down a bit while you prayed.
Nowadays, of course, the Bible is almost automatically questioned or outright dismissed as any reputable presentation of truth. I will interject here that back in the time I refer to in the previous paragraph there were also a good amount of folks who would just as soon thump you with the Bible as read it to you. At least the little I can recall of those years as a young child, people weren’t all that subtle about their religiosity or their beliefs. It was expected that you believed in the Bible and if you didn’t you were labeled stupid or rebellious. EVEN if you had a legitimate question about what was being taught from scripture, if it went against the mainstream of whatever congregation you affiliated yourself with, you would be severely chastened if not completely dismissed or blackballed!
Those are not what I consider “the good old days”. I’m still recovering from those “old
days” and growing up in a church culture that was more exclusive than inclusive, more separatist than mediator. That required me to learn that others who grew up in that same kind of culture had the same unasked questions that I did! Being able to learn from those people, getting together to discuss those questions we weren’t allowed to ask and find the Biblical answers was healing to my wounded spirit. It turns out that a lot of the ways, things I was taught and beliefs held by what I consider old, traditional church is not exactly the way Jesus presented it. It had strayed into some unscriptural rule-making and expecting the outside world to understand what we on the inside of the church were talking about when they (the outside world, non-Christian) didn’t have any context… and then getting mad about it when they didn’t comprehend our “good news”.
All that to say this…yes, our society is changing. Probably not for the best in general, but there are other changes happening too. While there is plenty of moral decline in America and the world, there is also some renewed Godliness. Not spirituality or religiosity, but true Godliness where the Creator of All is revered as the Ultimate Authority and the love of Jesus is shown to those who in the past would have been rejected in and by a church.
Like I mentioned in my last post, the very first thing God ever did when He began to give men the words that would become our Bible was to present Himself as a creator. And as a creator, you must have a certain amount of love, passion, and joy in whatever it is you create. God took SO much time… well, OUR concept of time at least, so much CARE, I should say, to make everything unique and beautiful. Why would He do that for a world He did not love? Not to mention His loving us SO MUCH that instead of giving up on us, He gave up Jesus for us.
It’s been wonderful to learn more about scripture and be able to explain why, in my childhood and teen years I felt so discouraged by “the gospel” and my church. It’s also been hard to move past the teaching that was drilled into me about who was and who wasn’t “suitable” to come in the church… who wore the right kind of clothes for church, who sang the right kind of songs, played the right music or had the appropriate instruments on the stage. It’s been freeing to learn that just because you like a different kind of music than me doesn’t make yours any less worshipful than mine. God doesn’t care what we wear, but rather about the condition of our hearts. On the topic of clothing, which was a major sore spot in my home and my childhood church, when I’d hear people picking apart someone else’s wardrobe choice I often wondered why then was it not a factor when David tore off his outer clothes and danced for joy in his underwear? (2 Samuel 6 – Where it says David wore a linen ephod? That’s his underments made of thin linen cloth!!) And why was it not a hindrance for the repentant thief who hung next to Jesus that day?? All of them– he, the unrelenting thief and Jesus– eventually were naked in public! Why was it okay to say he was forgiven while he was indecent in public? And what about the other sinners Jesus ate and sat with? I’m sure many of them were inappropriately dressed… um, hello!! You know those “loose women” didn’t run home and throw on a “church dress” before they met Jesus .. especially since Jesus met people where they were! In their mess! In their hooker clothes!
Oops… sorry. I got off track a bit there. But you can see how those nagging questions can lead a person to reject the gospel when there is a contradiction between what scripture says and what a body of Christians do. I know and have heard testimony of many people who literally walked out on God because of the way they were treated by or how they saw others treated by people who said they represented Jesus.
That needs to stop! We as the body of Christ need to get back to the basics of Jesus’ teaching. The greatest commandments are these:
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
About that title… I had a post all-but ready to publish yesterday. I was looking for photos to use in it when I ran across something on my Facebook timeline. I have searched all through the year it happened and cannot find it. There are about 4 days missing and I even went back several years to see if it was there instead, but no. It was about something really important.
And controversial, of course.
I am SO upset that I can’t find that post because it linked to an article, which is what started the post in the first place. I debated just giving up on the idea of even writing about it at all, but guys, it’s REALLY important and I’m being serious here.
I feel like, as so often happens, the enemy is attempting to thwart something that would bring God glory, so even though I can’t find the post or article, even though I’ve spent literally almost FOUR HOURS looking for it, I’m going to go ahead and write about this.
I think there may be someone out there who needs to read what I have to say today. It’s something that feels like one of those “God nudges” so I’m not going to ignore it. Please bear with me since I will have to explain SO much because I don’t have the linked article!
I’ve found only one article that is even halfway similar to the post I mentioned in my FB status, so I’m going to put the text link here, but I’m not linking to the article. You’ll have to copy/paste into the address bar to read it and I encourage you to read it. I just don’t want to popularize it by linking it from my blog.
The blog post I saw back then was just a few days after the suicide of Robin Williams. The lady’s point was that suicide was not selfish and I didn’t agree with her.
Now, before you get riled up at me, I didn’t start a debate with this woman. I merely created a status stating that I disagreed with no links to her or mention of her name, etc. I didn’t want to increase her pain since she linked her feelings to the loss of a parent by suicide. I didn’t and won’t even pretend to understand how one would begin to cope with such a tragedy. I was not and am not trying to pass judgment on her, her parent, RW or anyone else!
However, given the fact that RW’s decision to take his own life was linked to depression, and depression is something I know, I’m going to address it. I know depression well. Depression and I are like ** this **.
I’m not going to deny it. In my worst, most desperate moments of deep depression, I have pondered committing suicide myself. More than once. If you know anything about depression, you know how it can grip you, how it can strangle you and make you feel like there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for you to go on.
I want to interject here that my thoughts and opinions about all this are filtered through my faith in Jesus. If you do not consider Him to be your Savior, then you are not likely to understand my intentions here. Just be aware that you MUST use this faith-filter in order to even begin to know my intent.
I believe without doubt or hesitation that my faith in Christ is the only reason I didn’t go through with ending my life. Perhaps it was guilt over the thought that I would be disappointing Him if I carried it out. But when I had lived a couple of decades with depression, after I had resisted the temptation to get rid of my pain through suicide, I finally learned something that has kept me from ever seriously considering it again.
My life is not mine.
Before, when I was younger and would consider suicide, I could only think about how death might bring some peace to my aching heart. I thought about how not having me around would take undue stress off my family and loved ones. I thought about how things would stop being so hard, so painful, so worthless.
In short, I thought a whoooole lot about one thing: ME. I was too young and immature as a Christian– because yes, sometimes even us Christians think about ending it all– to realize that I am not the “owner” of my life.
That probably seems like a strange thing to anyone without faith in an eternal God and Creator. But here’s how it works… if I believe that God created all things, all humans, then I must recognize that God is the Giver of Life. If He gave this life to me, then in reality, it isn’t really mine, is it? Especially when you go further and add to this the realization that our lives, our time on earth, is just “borrowed” and we must one day, when this life is over (whether by our own hand or not) give an account for how we used our time here, it really sobers you up in a hurry. It makes you put down the spirit (as a liquor) of persecution, of pettiness, of self-focus and yes, selfishness.
While I pondered how I could not imagine dealing with one of my own parents committing suicide, the way this lady was, I then put my children in that spot. If I thought it would be hard for me to cope with, why on earth would I consider putting my own children through that? How utterly selfish and thoughtless of me! That thought is possibly more of what kept me from killing myself when I was a young mother. I couldn’t dream of doing such a thing to my babies.
It was later that I realized what sort of thing my suicide would be to God.
I believe that all things are created for a purpose. I think most Christians believe this. Even bad things can be turned into good ones through Christ. I have lived that doctrine out many times! So, if God created me, He gave me life and meant it as a gift, something precious to be treasured and used for His glory…then how dare I think I know when it should end and how dare I contemplate ending that life myself?
How dare I??
When I put it that way, I am stunned and ashamed that I ever even entertained such thoughts. And don’t get me wrong… I still fully understand what it’s like to be in such a deep pit, lost in such total darkness and in such great pain that you think there’s nothing left but death. I am not trivializing the way that feels at all.
I wouldn’t dare do that, either!
But…I am adding to it another thought. A thought beyond the temporary (but sometimes extremely too-long) pain that is depression. The realization that this is not my life. God gave it to me. He intended me to use it to glorify Him. What glory do I bring Him if I let desperation and depression SO overcome me that I take my own life? What glory is it if I dismiss His might and power to keep me safe, to direct my path, if I throw away the gift He gave me? Where is my faith if I let what I KNOW to be the work of my enemy destroy my faith that God is enough. That He is mighty enough to deliver me from this, just as He made a dry path through the Red Sea for Moses. Just as He provided a substitute sacrifice for Abraham as he prepared to prove his faith in God by sacrificing his only son, Isaac. Just as He closed the mouths of lions and kept Daniel safe and sound. Just as He walked in the fire where the three Hebrew men (who refused to bow to an idol) had been thrown. *
Once my mind was healed enough to realize what suicide actually is to God… a virtual slap in the face. A statement that He actually doesn’t know best. That God can’t keep me safe or heal me. That He doesn’t care and the gift of life He gave is worth nothing to me.
And most tragic of all, that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross wasn’t enough for me.
I am not wise enough to state or debate about whether committing suicide will keep you from entering Heaven. I know some people believe that as much as they believe the sun gives light, but I don’t. I admit that I could be wrong. ** chuckle ** We all know, I could certainly be wrong about a lot of things, especially something so spiritual and eternal as this. So I won’t debate it but I can’t think God would “undo” the promises made when a person accepted Him because they later became so despondent and so wracked with grief and pain that they made a foolish, albeit eternal, choice. Again, I DO NOT KNOW THIS and I’m only stating my opinion. You decide for yourself if you must ponder the question.
I am so thankful that my mind is no longer so clouded. That even when I am deeply depressed I can remember Who I belong to. Yes, I do STILL get depressed. Not sad, not discouraged, but deeply grieved and almost physically unable to smile it seems. Depression for me is hugely physical and not just emotional or psychological. It’s like having a heavy black cloth thrown over me that I must fight to get out from under. When I’m there, in the darkness which can feel completely isolated, I can recall that God made me and He DOES have a purpose for me. Then I can ponder what He wants me to learn from this season.
I hope my rambling and sharing has helped someone out there. I hope it speaks to your heart and prods you to look at God’s word for healing. EVEN when He doesn’t “cure” your depression, you can still rest in Him knowing that He doesn’t forsake and He knows the plans He has for us… plans for good and not harm; plans for a purpose and to bring us to right where He needs us to be.
As I like to say, I don’t have to understand it. I just have to trust God with it.
Email me if you have questions or want to talk through anything.
- scripture references for the miracles mentioned in this post:
Additional encouraging scripture:
You may or may not know this about me, but I used to be a horrifically passive-aggressive person. In my defense, my parents weren’t good communicators so this sort of thing was all I knew. They weren’t always what you could call passive-aggressive necessarily, but they did not communicate what they wanted, expected or thought very well at all. So I guess my only response was to learn to communicate in this way.
“I lived like that for YEARS and never realized what a mess I was.”
I say “I used to be” because, trust me… you can ask the Hubby, I was a WHOLE LOT worse in the past. But even though my passive-aggressive tendencies are extremely reduced these days, there are times when I reactively resort to coping with things this way. I guess you could call me a ‘recovering passive-aggressive’.
I began researching today about how to deal with passive-aggressive behavior. Once I was aware of myself acting this way and took steps to stop, I became keenly aware of others who were severely passive-aggressive. And it is other passive-aggressive people who seem to instinctively pull that same PA reaction out of me.
Let me clarify here by saying that I did NOT realize this is what I was doing all those years. I knew what it meant, but I didn’t really know the term or even when I heard someone use it, it never registered that, in fact, I was a passive-aggressive person. I was complete blind to it. Now that I make an effort to NOT live passive-aggressively, my life is much more peaceful. At least my “inner voice” isn’t forever playing this running monolog of the latest conversation with someone else or some upcoming confrontation I was going to or WISHED I could have.
So far, I haven’t read anything about this trait so maybe I’m the only one who did it, but I suspect that’s not at all the case. I think it’s probably the main “thing” with any PA person. I could spend entire days replaying some conversation, changing my responses or creating new scenarios. I would work up these awesome, very dramatic confrontations I wanted to have with people who had hurt me or wronged me. In my scenarios, I would passionately make my points, I’d ‘tell it like it is’ and give them a piece of my mind. I’d tell them how horribly they treated me or how deeply they had wounded me and they’d always see the error of their ways and spend the rest of eternity trying to right their wrong.
I’m telling you, folks, having a passive-aggressive tendency will make your mind sick.
I lived like that for YEARS and never realized what a mess I was. I mean, sure, I also dealt with depression and diabetes too and recognized those “ailments”, but I just never realized how terribly passive-aggressive I was as just a routine…an everyday occurrence.
“…it never registered that, in fact, I was a passive-aggressive person. I was completely blind to it.
Now, after a few years of coping with recognizing and having others around me, some new and some not-so-new, who are very passive-aggressive, for some reason it has finally occurred to me to research how to deal with them! I don’t know why I never thought about it before. I guess this is all some sort of self-therapy and I’m just giving a name to the behavior I displayed for most of my life. I wish I had known this stuff before now, but as it stands, I guess there’s a reason for it all. If you have known me for eons and tried to point out my ugly temperment, I’m sorry. At the time, I just could not see it and I probably responded poorly. ** * sigh * **
Right now though, I’m desperate to make sure my mind operates in a completely NON-passive-aggressive way so I can get through to others who are seriously PA and tend to direct most of that inner bitterness at me.
Maybe that’s because they know I myself have been and can still react passive-aggressively? Is it a thing that PA’s try to push other PA-people’s buttons? Hmmm… I wonder… but I bet it is.
“I’m telling you, having a passive-aggressive tendency will make your mind sick.”
I may be wrong, y’know… because for reals, I’m not a psychology major nor do I play one on TV, but in this case, I realize that I behaved this way because of deep-seated hurts and rejection during my childhood. Coupled with the depression, I think any sort of dismissive attitude towards me had to make things worse. Just to be told your thoughts are not valid is such an awful feeling. When it’s repeated in a child’s life, I guess you end up with someone like me. Someone who feels worthless, guilty, useless and bitter. The only way I knew to deal with people was in a very non-direct way. That’s why I am a MUCH better communicator in writing than I am in person, face-to-face.
I’m learning to stop that self-destructive, harmful-to-others, sick-mind way of living, finally. It’s a slow process, but maybe, hopefully, Lord willing, I am at a place where I can now destruct difficult relationships with other who are way too much like me… like the me I used to be. But I’m not sure how to deal with it when it feels like all the manipulation and aggressive non-actions are just to be mean. When I was at my worst, I don’t think I ever just set out to see if I could manipulate someone for the heck of it. It was never just to be mean. But if they hurt me, boy, I could be one of the craftiest, nastiest passive-aggressives you ever met. That was a sort-of justification to me: you deserved it if you’d been mean to me. And not knowing any other way to communicate with people, I reacted in kind! In that way, I feel like I was different than some PA-people are. From where I sit, it seems some people just want to manipulate me for fun. Just because they’re bored maybe? I don’t know, and like I said, I don’t remember ever being passive-aggressive toward someone just to be mean, just because I didn’t like the way they looked or because I wanted all the attention. I ** * think * ** I was only that way towards someone who hurt or attacked me. It was my defense when someone was just ugly to me. I’ve never been a mean-spirited person however maybe my poor husband would tell you otherwise. I don’t think I’ll ask him at this time. Maybe one day, when I’m more confident that I’ve overcome that way of responding. ** * ha * **
Again, I’m no psychology major by any means, so I’m not sure if this is even possible … to have different motivations for PA actions? Is that a thing? Or does this behavior always stem from insecurity and low self-esteem no matter if the person is mean-spirited about it or just defensively reactive? Are some people just really mean without having some past damage to their self-worth or psyche?
Hmmm… so interesting.
ANYway, I’m trying to educate myself here. I know there’s a lot of scripture that can be applied here, but I am too tired to look it up and paste it here. Just don’t think I’m looking only at the psychology of it and not the spiritual side of having this kind of personality. Believe me, I certainly realize living with a PA attitude is NOT at all Christ-like. That’s just one more reason I’m so thankful God gives big grace! I have needed and STILL need tons of it! I can now see how very sinful my attitude and actions were when I lived my life from a place of hurt and bitterness.
I just hope I can learn to leave that all behind, even in snap-reactive situations when it’s more likely to slip out again. I want to live the way Jesus wants me to. I want to be able to help other people to either overcome passive-aggression in themselves or help PAs around them. I know we can be difficult people to love, hard to interact with and I want to help people see how destructive and reversible it is. Jesus can heal the diseases of bitterness and manipulation and passive-aggressive mindsets.
Lord, let it be so!
PS: I realize being vague, like leaving out any identification, is a tactic of a passive-aggressive person however, in this case, I definitely do not want to identify anyone since any of the several people this could apply to could possibly find this post. I also don’t want to identify anyone, even people I am not “analyzing” or whatever just because that would be rude.
Remember, I have also “analyzed” myself in this post. I am trying to make myself better and be able to help anyone else who may need it to overcome what I am overcoming.
For God’s glory!
[NOTE: This post was written last week, Monday, November 28, 2016. However, I didn’t get the chance to post it because I ended up in the hospital that evening. More on that later, though… I think this is an important post!]
Wow. What a heavy title, huh? Well, stick with me. I think you will be as blown away by this as I was.
If you’ve read here much at all, you will know I am very much a “grace and truth” person. Taken from this scripture: [notes in brackets are mine]
John 1: 14 ~ “And the Word became flesh [Jesus] and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father [God], full of grace and truth.”
I believe Jesus was more about love than law. Not that we should dismiss God’s law outright. However, Jesus valued a proper balance of grace with truth, not beating people up with truth until we feel like giving them a little grace. Not about hurting people with truth without also giving them a good dose of grace to go along with it. He did not disregard the Law, but Jesus simply loved more than He fretted about law-keeping. As our pastor started the sermon yesterday, he read from Matthew…
Matthew 12:1-2 ~ “ At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.””
He pointed out how the Pharisees’ first thought was to point out the law-breaking. They were not concerned that these men were hungry and had no other food available to them. Remember that another law in play here is the one about leaving behind any plants that are missed or any grain that has fallen during harvest in order that the needy could glean the fields and feed themselves. (Leviticus 23:22)
The first thing that came rushing to my mind is all the times, as I was growing up in a traditional, conservative Christian church, I had seen people shunned or ignored because they were not dressed like the rest of us, or because they had done things considered ‘unforgivable’ while at the same time, only moments later, hearing a sermon about how loving and kind Jesus was to all people… the drunkards and the harlots and the sinners. How He seemed to always reserve His harshest words for those in the “religious elite”, the high priests, and the religious scholars.
As a child, this always seemed so backward, but as anyone raised in this sort of environment knows, you don’t question those unspoken rules. That is frowned upon and discouraged if not outright disallowed! You just don’t question things that seem to be wrong with the status quo of the church.
Even as an adult, I went along with these sort of things. My thinking was just as convoluted as those I still love today who are so set on sticking with the man-made rules and traditions in most churches. I thought if you didn’t dress correctly, you were better off to stay home than come to church ill-dressed. If you had been in jail or were known to be “living in sin”/shacking up, etc, then you had best sit in the back if you dared to show your face at all. Don’t expect to be welcomed or even greeted in most cases.
Now, I am NOT saying that we should just ignore what the Bible clearly calls sin, but you cannot claim to “love the sinner and hate the sin” if you treat people like second-class citizens and push them to the fringe, making sure they know they’re ‘not good enough’. That was the favorite cop-out of most churches I was ever involved in…”love the sinner and hate the sin”. In theory, this is an excellent way to live, however, if you’re not willing to actually love the sinner then it becomes merely hypocrisy.
We are to hate sin just as much as God Himself hates it!! He hated it so much and loved the children He had created so much that He became flesh and submitted Himself to the cross to save us from it!! The thing we have really screwed up down here is the value God places on people (love) versus the value He places on things (law).
We think God places utmost value on His law and thus, our keeping of His law, when in reality, He values people the most. That’s us, you and me and everyone you know…and everyone I know AND all the people they know. So the essence of what Jesus came to do was not bulk up religion, not reinforce it or endorse it but to reject it, rescind it, to show us the better way. Religion is about the law. We, as our sin nature tends to do, have perverted the value of the law, putting it above love and human life. It was love that caused God to give us the law. The law is and has always been to help protect us, God’s children, His creations. It was never created to be a noose, a burden, a dead weight that makes us view life as dreary. Therefore, when it comes to a situation where it is love versus law, love always wins in God’s eyes. God created the law for man, not man for the law. He didn’t create laws first and then people to keep them. He created people first, and then laws they needed to protect them.
That’s not to say we can make excuses to discount and disregard God’s law. But, as in this instance, when it comes to our well-being or keeping a law, God will always opt in favor of our well-being, which is why He even made any law to begin with.
The example that Jesus used up there in Matthew to let the Pharisees know they were seeing things wrong was of David, when he was running from the murderous wrath of King Saul and sought shelter in a temple. He and his men were tired and hungry. The only thing available to eat was the consecrated bread which the law dictated was only to be eaten by the priests. In the presence of the priest, David and his men ate the “shew bread”, the bread blessed and set aside for the temple priests, without condemnation from either God or the priests. Nowhere in the scripture does it ever indicate or mention that God showed any displeasure or outrage at what David did in this scripture.
I had NEVER caught that part of the story. I mean, it’s right there. Plain as day. Jesus is telling the Pharisees that just as David wasn’t condemned for eating consecrated bread because his well being was threatened if he and his men didn’t feed themselves, that He and the disciples were also not condemned for picking grain to eat right there on the Sabbath because they had no previously prepared food nor place to get any food that day. It was a necessity that they eat. As strict law-keepers, the Pharisees would have rather they starved for the day instead of sustain themselves. To them, that law was more important than loving the men enough to let them feed themselves. The scripture goes on to inform us that after this, when they couldn’t prove Jesus to be wrong (because that would have meant they had to say David, the man they bragged 0f having as their ancestor, had committed a dreadful sin!) the Pharisees responded by beginning to plot how they could kill Jesus. Yeah. Law was WAY more important than Love to them.
For Jesus, LOVE is much more important than LAW.
Why has the church or we as Christians lost sight of this today? Why can’t we see that loving people is so much more important than harping on such unimportant things as how they dress or whether they attend church on a certain day, or what type of music they prefer to worship with or how their preacher dresses? Why must we focus on a person’s past when there is so much potential for their future in Christ? Why do we drive people away because they don’t fit our preferences instead of loving them as Jesus would?
Our pastor has titled this series “Reeds and Wicks” and the message yesterday “Why Christmas is Not a Religious Holiday” using this scripture, also in Matthew:
Matthew 12:20 ~ “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”
We are those bruised reeds, the ones broken and rendered useless to the world…the wicks that are so low in the wax that we are barely able to hold the tiny flame and people will soon throw us out because we don’t produce enough light. Jesus repairs us, He makes us whole, He pours out the excess wax snuffing out our flames, He provides a use for our bent and bruised reeds. Where the world calls us worthless, Jesus calls us worthwhile. He gives us purpose and perspective. He loves us even though we’ve been stepped on or are almost to the point of drowning in the wax. He rescues us from our lowly state and not only uses us, cleans us up and gives us a purpose, but He loves us more than anyone ever will.
How can we trivialize Him by confining His love inside laws that don’t always apply? When we use the law of God to withhold the love of God, we misrepresent God! Rather than asking, like the Pharisees, “Is it lawful?”, we should ask “Is it loving?” God’s love draws in those whom God’s law has cast out. God cares more about sinners than their sins, and more about lawbreakers than broken laws.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to endeavor to do the same. Lord, let me love like You do!
Hey y’all! Hope your week is off to an amazing start. I am running on less than 10 hours sleep today, so that’s progress! (I’m not joking!)
But enough about my terrible lack of energy these days…
We had another tremendous sermon yesterday. This whole series has been SO wonderful and SO needed! We all have mental and emotional stuff…baggage, garbage, whatever you wanna call it. We all have it, unfortunately. Some of us create our own and some have other people who create it for us, but either way, it’s not healthy and if we are having major struggles with our emotional “junk” then we can’t be as spiritually healthy as we need to be and can be!
So yesterday’s message was about insecurity. Insecurity is defined as so:
uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.
Pretty common knowledge, right? Yeah, so what can contribute to insecurity? One of the things Pastor Trevor brought up was the fact that we have these “competing identities”. For instance:
the way you see “you”
the way others see “you”
the way you *think* others see “you”
the way you can’t see yourself due to your *ideas* of “you”
the way you *think* “you” should look/be
the way you *think* God sees “you”
the way God *actually* sees “you”
Like most anything else, when it comes to reality, our minds…our self-imposed ideas of what should or should not be…our way of letting others dictate how we view things can really mess up what God has created. We have to learn to replace our faulty, deceptive way of thinking with the truth of God’s word.
The way WE see ourselves can be really distorted by our own faulty thinking or by the way others have described us. The way others see us can also be a distortion depending on their own individual emotional “stuff” and the way they filter information about the world around them. If they’ve been sort-of *programmed* (for lack of a better word right now) to be negative about things, they are liable to only see the flaws in everything/one else! If a person has been “taught” to have a low view of themselves, they are likely to not even notice anyone around them due to thinking they’re so unworthy or unwanted. See? Most of the times, others will see us a lot closer to reality unless we are “putting on a show” and pretending to be something we’re not.
“O Lord God, do not turn away the face of your anointed one! Remember your steadfast love for David your servant.” ~2 Chronicles 6:42
The way others see us can also be a distortion depending on their own individual emotional “stuff” and the way they filter information about the world around them. If they’ve been sort-of *programmed* (for lack of a better word right now) to be negative about things, they are liable to only see the flaws in everything/one else! If a person has been “taught” to have a low view of themselves, they are likely to not even notice anyone around them due to thinking they’re so unworthy or unwanted. See? Most of the time, however, others will see us a lot closer to reality unless we are “putting on a show” and pretending to be something we’re not.
The way we THINK others see us is almost always incorrect. Even more so if we have an unhealthy of our own selves. Of course, how we feel and think about ourselves factors heavily into this. If we are thinking in unhealthy and deceptive ways about ourselves, we will automatically believe others see us the same way.
The way we see ourselves is largely based on the ideas and ideals we have. If we have lopsided ideas about ourselves, we’re obviously NOT going to be able to see ourselves with truth. It’s one of those can’t-see-the-forest-for-the-trees situations. We can’t see our true self for all the bad ideas we have, all the deceptive ideals we’ve created about who we are.
This goes along with the way we THINK we should look or be. Almost ALL the time this is going to be due to influences around us. The way our parents raised us or talked to us, the way our friends have treated us or persuaded us to feel/think. Many times, it’s also clouded with lots of untruths and unfair comparisons.
How we THINK God sees us can be unbelievably skewed and affected by many different experiences we’ve had thus far in our lives.
There are tons of bad theology out there about how God sees His children! For instance, a theology that says you have to “do” certain things or “be” a certain way in order for God to love you or sometimes to even receive salvation!
I have one word to say about this kind of “religion”: RUN! Fast and far. Jesus loves us where we are. He died for us before we even knew Him. He’s not waiting for you to fulfill a checklist of tasks before He will love you. (sorry for this rabbit trail!) So, obviously, there are LOTS of ways we mess up the way God actually sees us because of how we THINK He sees us. Stop putting God in a box!
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
How can I know how God *actually* sees me? That’s the easiest part. He used all these people through several centuries to write His love letter to the world. All of it is contained in the Bible. To know God’s heart, His will for you, the way He sees you … read His word! Once you start immersing yourself in scripture, you will begin to see His will, His guiding hand, all over your life and you’ll be more at peace when the path starts to get a little bumpy.
Hey y’all. I’m working so hard, trying to increase traffic here…build an audience, a subscription list, whatever else a successful blogger does. Most of the time, I feel like I’m just flopping around, splashing water into the floor, making a mess.
I see some steadiness in the amount of traffic, so I suspect some of you are just awesomely loyal readers and probably close friends who stop by often to see what crazy thing I’ve posted. I am so thankful for you!
I know I’ve said it before, but this blogging thing is a big deal to me. I started it after months and months of stewing and praying about whether I should even try. I’ve blogged off and on for about 16 years, so it seemed like the natural thing for me to do…try to monetize the thing I am so passionate about. I felt (and still feel, btw) that God was really nudging me in this direction and so, even though I didn’t feel completely ready, I took the plunge. I plopped down what little was left from our tax refund and started this site.
Looking back, a month later now, I see many mistakes. I think most of them are easily overcome though and not the kind that will break me or the blog. I still don’t understand stupid AdSense or why my husband can get an account with them like snap that and me, with my two (now three!) google accounts, can’t get any of them approved. I’m not sure I’m missing much though. I’m learning that AdSense isn’t the end-all-be-all it has been purported to be, so I have pursued other means of generating income through my blog.
Some of them I am pleased about, and some I will be glad when I can be done with. And no, for the record, I haven’t made a single cent so far. That really concerns me, but I have to remind myself how new it all is. I can’t do it all at once and I need to be patient.
But BOY, is that hard!!
Today, when I went to look at a “blogging schedule” thingie I got from the web, for today it says to post about relaxing. BAHAHAHA!! What is that even?!? I don’t have time right now to relax, and certainly not about the state of my blog. Some of these ‘blog helps’ aren’t really geared toward me, ya know? Many of the blogs in these groups are about how to create a successful website, how to find a niche to build, how to monetize and market whatever you are selling.
I just wanna share life with my readers. I want to encourage and inspire. I want my readers to leave feeling better than they did when they pulled up my site. I want them to find the courage to go on, the determination to stick it out. The comfort of knowing they are not alone, the peace of knowing someone else out here has been where they are. I want the person with t1d to find a friend, someone to commiserate with and rejoice in whatever victories we accomplish as PWD’s. (persons with diabetes)
I want the homeschooling mom to know she can do it and I know she can because I did it. I want her to know that the great mistake she feels she’s made is not the end. That she and her children are far better off just because she tried to teach them at home, whether she continues or not. And no matter what, as long as she is trying to do her very best for her kids, she is a winner!
I want that couple who is struggling with some sexual incompatibility or physical problem to know they are not alone. I want them to realize it’s okay to talk about it and that there are people out here who can help, both professionals and people like me who have been there, done that. I want that woman to know she’s not the first or only one to be facing what she is, and that she need not bury herself in depression and self-hatred or guilt because there is hope. I want to keep her and her husband from living the hell that we did for 30 years and to find healing and hope!
More than all this, I want people to know there is hope, no matter what the situation is, there is hope. There is peace to be had, no matter how big the mess or how damaged their soul, Peace is there for the asking in the person of Jesus Christ. I want them to know that it is because of Jesus that I am alive today. That I’m able to share and talk about the issues, struggles and problems in my life. Ultimately, I believe this is the reason God has been urging me to write.
I haven’t touched my book in over 6 months, but perhaps soon I’ll dig back into it. I still feel He is calling me to write it, but I’m at another crossroad about which direction to take with it. (ANY feedback would be appreciated on this, folks!!) The book has lived in my head for many years as a sort-of memoir, a story of my life and how I have dealt with diabetes, the depression and all the other physical and emotional side effects of having a chronic disease for so long. However, as we have come to this place of healing in our marriage, I feel THAT is also a topic that needs to be shared. It, of course, is much more personal, deeply painful but ultimately hopeful since our long journey through this has ended with our beginning the healing process. My conundrum is should these be separate or combined?
You probably didn’t know this, but I have a problem with compartmentalizing. ha ha! Meaning, I can’t do it. You may have noticed I began this post talking about the blog and now, here I am asking for input and suggestions for a direction of a book! I need help with my wandering mind, my rambling style of writing.
I know there are some writers out there who read here occasionally. I also know there are lots of readers who come here too. I want to hear from you! What appeals to you in a book? What topics are you most interested in? What are you most interested in learning more about? Help me out!
I look forward to a great discussion and some awesome feedback and suggestions! Let’s help each other!