Wednesday, 25 November 2015
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 ESV)
Since becoming a Christ follower, I have come to understand many important things (too many to list here). First of all, God will give me the desire and the power to do what pleases Him – I need only take a step of obedience. Secondly, I can expect God to use me to serve His people and He can empower me with any gift or ministry He chooses (1 Corinthians 12: 4-6).
As stated in Ephesians 4:1-6 I firmly believe that as a believer I am to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which I have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
I have a gracious and giving heart, a heart of compassion for all of God’s people – and a burning passion to exhort His people to unity based on the truths and promises of His word and the work of salvation. I have a desire for Godly peace - a state of reconciliation and love which acts as a bond to unite people. My heart longs for restoration of relationships in which the love bond has been broken due to hurts, habits, addictions, suppressed emotions and pain. (mother – child, father- child, sister-sister, spouses, abuser-abused, oppressed- oppressor) Based on my own personal experience, I know this is possible because as I sought to forgive my oppressors and allowed God to reveal to me my authentic self he strengthened my faith and my ability to put on love above all else, which binds us all together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:14).
God has confirmed that this is my passion in two ways; first of all, He has allowed me to experience many relationships in which the love bond has been broken and then restored so that I may testify to his eternal hope in all things. Secondly, He has empowered me to intercede for others in similar circumstances and equipped me to minister to them, through his truths, promises and Word, at a heart level. My personality type has largely contributed to my hunger for his truth and ability to press forward and persevere despite challenging circumstances and relationships (as in Phil 3:13-14 where Paul encourages us to focus on what lies ahead instead of behind and press on to receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ is calling us).
I have taken a spiritual gifts inventory on a number of occasions, this combined with my life experiences leads me to believe that my strength lies in the impartation of the Word to others. I can communicate in such a way that others learn, that insight/revelation is gleaned, that clarity informs choice and that words of comfort, consolation, encouragement and counsel are ministered. In essence, God is empowering me to grow in teaching, wisdom, knowledge and exhortation. Furthermore, He has empowered me with the gift of administration and service. I do this all for God’s glory and by his grace, he is surrounding me with people who will walk alongside of me and by their leadership and authority help me to discern God’s purpose and plan for each gift. My motivation for teaching, counselling and administration is LOVE & SERVICE to God and His people. Out of this love comes hope, healing, equipping, restoring and reconciliation.
This has been and continues to be accomplished by cultivating what God has created (people, peace, joy, mercy etc.), following the path paved with love and transforming lives by connecting people to God’s love, heart and Word. My calling is to LOVE (Lead Others to Victory through Encouragement, Edification and Exhortation) on all of God’s people. I also have a heart for unity across gender and generation – part of my purpose is to see men and women, young and old working together for God’s Kingdom through partnerships and prayer covering rather than independently doing their own thing and missing opportunities to operate as one body in Christ.
I am trusting God knowing that as I delight in him he will give me the desires of my heart - a desire that, as I understand it today, is to minister to the oppressed making them whole and equipping them to step into the plans and the purpose God has designed uniquely for them. After all, this is what God and others have done for me – now it is simply my turn to pay it forward!
Start expecting God to use you to heal, outfit, restore, and train others in the church, serving the city. Ask Him to conform you to His will.
Thursday, 19 November 2015
When you are forgotten, neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting or hurt with the oversight, but your heart is happy being counted worthy to suffer for Christ; That is dying to self.
When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinion ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence; That is dying to self.
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any annoyance; when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus did; That is dying to self.
When you are content with any food, and offering, any raiment, any climate, any society, any solitude, any interruption by the will of God; That is dying to self.
When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or record your own good works or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown; That is dying to self.
When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and you are in desperate circumstances; That is dying to self.
When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit, inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart; That is dying to self.
Are you dead yet?
Thursday, 8 October 2015
Heavenly Father, open the eyes of our hearts making us willing to surrender ourselves and allow you to release us from pain. As we move beyond awareness, discovery and ownership to explore forgiveness reveal to us resentments, offenses and bitterroots that are holding us captive and preventing us from experiencing peace, joy and freedom. Make our hearts willing to surrender the WHYs of our hurts to you - the one WHO heals. Amen.
If you seek encouragement as we explore forgiveness, below are links to some great songs https://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=FMn0QNdiuGE and https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=5lMuKIbzsUE
I am blessed to be part of a small group which is exploring Freeway - a not so perfect guide to freedom by Mike Foster @peopleofthesecondchance.org.
It was my privilege to lead this week and I felt confident that I could by God's grace and the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I even shared scripture verses which might offer encouragement in the context of forgiveness with God, others and ourselves.
1) Have you accepted God's forgiveness?
"God puts people right through their faith in Jesus Christ. God does this to all who believe in Christ, because there is no difference at all: everyone has sinned and is far away from God's saving presence." Romans 3:22-23
2) Have you forgiven others who have hurt you?
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." Romans 12:17-18
3) Have you forgiven yourself?
" Come, let's talk it over, says the Lord. no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow." Isaiah 1:18
This last one is a struggle for me. Even though, I recently used this scripture to demonstrate God's character in my blog questioning if it is biblical to forgive and forget, I must admit that the hardest person to forgive is myself.
The need to punish myself...beat myself up over something because I believe I am not worthy or good enough. To counter this, I can choose to confess it out loud, reject the lie and identify God's truth!
The need to blame someone...false sense of responsibility, false guilt and condemnation again believing the lie of the enemy over the the truth of God's word.
And the need to be better than others - although this is not necessarily a conscious action it is a form of pride! As soon as we set different standards or expectations for ourselves we have succumb to pride. (for more on this check out http://www.allaboutgod.com/forgiving-yourself.htm)
So now that I am aware of this, have discovered this and want to take responsibility for this how do I go about it? Surrender it to God, offer him a willing heart then in an act of obedience I can choose to
1) Recognize the offense
2) Confess the offense to God
3) Make amends for the offense as appropriate
4) Repent from the offense
5) Forgive myself for the offense and move on
May you be richly blessed as you continue on your journey to freedom.
Monday, 28 September 2015
I know that what lies behind will not move me forward yet still I choose to focus there! I deceive myself into thinking that my past brings comfort, peace and happiness when truly much of what it brings is the familiarity of hurt, pain, frustration and self-doubt.
Blessed am I knowing and believing that "Jesus's death and resurrection taught us that the cross powerfully conquers all victimhood" #myfreeway
Then how is it that despite this belief I find myself once again at this crossroad? Despite knowing that I am more than a conquerer and the victory is ours through Christ why is there a lingering lack of self-worth, trust and confidence. Have I not learned that changing the direction of my life is as simple as making another choice, renewing my mind and setting myself free from blame, shame and guilt? I know my actions, decisions, beliefs and next steps are my responsibility. So what am I waiting for to step out of my comfort zone? Why am I so hard on myself when I don't succeed as planned? I have tried casting aside negative thoughts, false expectations, and perceptions yet I still find myself putting a lid on my potential and limiting my abilities - I have boxed myself in believing that I am not good enough or that I am not meant for more! Rant over!
As a human being with a brain, I agree with Dr. Seuss and I will most certainly steer myself in the direction that I choose. More importantly as a spirit being with a heart and a soul, I choose to agree with God's living word and trust that his word is "a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path" - I believe this means his word will show me the way and provide enough light for the next step otherwise I may get overwhelmed and paralysed by fear again.
I believe that by choosing to focus on the greatness of my God instead of the greatness of my struggle, he will steer me in the right direction. I simply need to abide in Him and live a life of love.
In all things, no matter what direction I choose, I also choose to trust God, trust the process and trust myself moment by moment.
Called to LOVE abundantly = Lead Others to Victory through Encouragement, Edification and Exhortation!
May you be richly blessed, highly favored and deeply loved!
Sunday, 20 September 2015
According to Corrie Ten Boom true forgiveness ranks as one of the sweetest and most pleasurable emotions that a human can feel; its after-effect is “a flood of joy and peace”.
Through my own experience of true forgiveness, I learned that only the conscious choice to obey God and forgive from the heart would set me FREE and allow me to make peace with my past. For instance, although I told my former husband that I forgave him for his offenses, I continued to harbor anger, resentment and bitterness towards him. It showed in my speech – name calling and gossip, my behavior – avoidance and unhealthy emotions, and my heart – self-pity, shame, guilt and anger. Even though I tried to walk the walk and talk the talk, my heart and soul were held in bondage by unforgiveness, the root of which was bitterness which grew from unresolved pain and strangled memories. Finally, 3 years later, out of a desire to be more like Christ, I was convicted to confess, repent forgive and make amends. My words though brief conveyed a soul and heart-felt apology; apologizing for the times I had acted out in bitterness or anger and letting him know that I no longer blamed either of us for the outcome. He too was sorry and we were able to move on. Much like Corrie Ten Boom I felt a flood of joy and peace. Moreover, I experienced God’s grace, mercy and love which he so freely poured into my heart showing me that I need to let it flow through me to others to fully experience FREEDOM and be in healthy relationships.
It is my understanding that forgetting is not a part of true forgiveness. Although we may think that it is implied in the bible, we may fail to understand that God is all-powerful and all-knowing. He does remember our actions only he chooses to wipe the slate clean instead - Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land”. I am grateful that he is a God of many chances forgiving, loving and merciful. I believe that forgetting would be detrimental to my growth and relationships. If we want to avoid making the same mistakes, set appropriate boundaries with our offenders and most importantly defeat Satan we must remember. On more than 48 occasions, the bible calls us to confess (admit or state that one has committed an offense) – this means remembering the offense, admitting it and recognizing the pain it caused. Furthermore, by confessing we will be blessed: “if we confess we will be forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9) and “if we confess our sins to one another and pray for one another we may be healed” (James 5:16).
Essentially by confessing our offense/sin we are stepping out of denial and exposing it to the light where it loses its power. As I learned in Celebrate Recovery, denial keeps us in bondage. It is our refusal to admit the truth or reality that leads us to live a life of strife, shame and guilt. This can have many damaging effects on our relationships, health and spiritual growth.
In the 12 – step program of Celebrate Recovery I learned that forgiveness like love needs to become a way of life – I need to consciously Recognize the offense, Confess the offense, make Amends for the offense, Forgive the offense, and Repent from the offense to experience Freedom as well as restored relationships.
As Christ followers we are called to forgive: “give of ourselves unconditionally” as we did before the offense! Give out of grace, mercy and love! Give out of obedience! Forgive one another, as God in Christ forgave us (Eph. 4:32).
For more insight - check this out https://vimeo.com/139860242
For more insight - check this out https://vimeo.com/139860242
Sunday, 13 September 2015
How do we define expectation? According to the dictionary it is "a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future." So why is it then that often our reality has not lived up to our expectations?
I am sure that as a child there were many times when my reality didn't align with my expectations. Yet today I want to focus on times in my career where this was the case. In one of my first roles as a medical laboratory technologist, I accepted a supervisory position at a newly operational Urgent Care Centre - that entire year, I did everything imaginable to "exceed expectations", I set up standard operating procedures, built relationships with everyone involved , managed staff and demonstrated excellent customer service. I truly believed that I went above and beyond in my job an expected to me recognized (and rewarded) accordingly at the time of my annual performance review. Instead, despite my ability to demonstrate that I had clearly exceeded expectations, I was provided with a satisfactory review which indicated that I met expectations and still had room to grow. I argued that if I did not qualify as "exceeding expectations" in this transition/growth year how could I ever expect to achieve such a status in subsequent years. The response was a corporate one at best - only a chosen few would be recognized and rewarded for this achievement and I was not one of them. Which leaves me wondering what is the point of having expectations?
Fast forward to present day, I am currently seeking employment as my term comes to an end on September 30th. I have applied and interviewed for three positions to date. Each time expecting that this could be the one and then being disappointed when it's not. While some may argue that it is best not to have expectations or to keep them low - for me it is those very expectations that motivate me to press on, prepare and present my best self. I do however admit that at times it can drain my energy and can sap my mood. So then what do I do when reality has not lived up to my expectations?
I choose to turn to God and his promises. I choose to live in faith expecting the best knowing that God has a plan for my life!
How then is faith any different from expectations? Faith, by definition is a strong belief in God, complete trust and confidence in His promises. It is hopeful combining assurance and anticipation. Based on past experiences, I am confident that His promises are surely meant for me.
In my previous experience, unmet expectations have led to heartache, disappointment and self-doubt whereas faith has caused me to look up, focus on the greatness of who He is instead of the problem, and to rest knowing that he has my back. With each prospective employment opportunity, I am learning to trust God more because I know that he will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5 ), that He has a plan and a purpose for my life (Jeremiah 29:11-13), and that if I remain in Him and He in me, I will bear much fruit (John 15:4-6).
Setting false expectations dampens my mood and energy, it leaves me frustrated and relying on myself to figure things out. When I choose faith, God walks along side of me, I trust Him, trust the process and trust that my best self will shine through!
May you be richly blessed and encouraged as you seek God and His promises for yourself!
Tuesday, 8 September 2015
Lately, I have been frustrated by my thoughts and behaviors towards my husband – I shifted my thoughts to act out of unconditional love and, to picture him as Jesus with skin on yet the words out of my mouth and my actions didn’t reflect the same. This progressed to venting and complaining about my husband so much so that following our conversation my girlfriend e-mailed me suggesting counseling to keep the lines of communication open. Her remark hit me hard – was I that harsh? I felt condemned for being a poor witness and I want you to know that no matter how this may sound – I truly and deeply love my husband – unfortunately, I had been letting life get the better of me and despite prayer wasn’t taking my cares to God first. (Lesson #1: like David, cry out to God first).
Then on the weekend, as I was listening to Lysa Terkeurst (daily bible study/devotional accessible with my first5 app) God prompted me a second time. Through Genesis 2:21-23 I was reminded that woman was created, not of dust of the earth, but from a rib of Adam, he gave her life. The way God created her speaks to the foundation of their relationship – inseparable unity and fellowship of life - one in which she is his helper, his equal and the giver of life.
Lysa went on to explain that a rib is also an instrument that a potter uses to shape, support and strengthen his creation. It is used to lift up the clay and provide stability when the potter’s hand is pushing from the other side. Therefore as a woman created from the rib of man I have the ability to
Build up or tear down
Support during shaping or warp and distort
Provide stability or instability
In the hands of the master potter I am life giving whereas in the hands of the enemy I cause death. (Lesson #2: remain in God and give life – John 15:4-6)
Dear Lord, guide me and help me to always speak life. Help me to be his helper, your instrument, help me to remain in you and show me how to encourage, love and affirm my husband in all that I think, say and do. Amen (Lesson#3: surrender to God's plan)