Agreements: Vow’s Ugly Twin

6 08 2015

An ‘agreement’ is a faith statement. It is faith in the wrong thing…in a lie, not the truth. I confess with my mouth what I believe in my heart. It is the ugly twin of Vows, for the two are commonly found together

Here are some of the agreements we make:

“I’m stupid.”
“I’m an idiot.”
“I’m fat.”
“I’m ugly.”
“I’m accident prone.”
“I’m so co-dependent.”
“I’m unlovable.”

On and on it goes.

These statements don’t originate with us. They aren’t even true, yet we often agree with them as indisputable facts.

Why on earth would we do such a thing? And, where did these ‘truths’ come from?

Sadly, they often begin with our parents. In a moment of anger they may say something like, “Come here, you little idiot. I’m gonna give you what for.”

I could give examples ad nauseum, but I’ll spare you.

Other agreements are made in the aftermath of a painful situation (not unlike vows).

In the fifth grade, I was yanked from a school I loved when we moved to another town. During my final week in that class, the teacher introduced us to the music of Simon and Garfunkel. Their song, “I Am a Rock,” became my life song. It met the needs of my breaking heart.

Well, let’s look at the lyrics:

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December
(for me it was October)
I am alone
Gazing from my window
To the streets below
On a freshly fallen, silent shroud of snow
I am a rock
I am an island

I’ve built walls
A fortress, steep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.

(Have no friends. Check)
I am a rock
I am an island

Don’t talk of love
Well, I’ve heard the words before
It’s sleeping in my memory
And I won’t disturb the slumber
Of feelings that have died
If I never loved, I never would have cried

(Don’t love, or let people love me. I will get hurt again. Check)
I am a rock
I am an island

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me

(Isolate. Read, protect myself with {music for me} Check)
I am a rock
I am an island

And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

(I’m sick of being hurt. Sign me up.)
© 1965 Words and Music by Paul Simon

At ten years of age, I decided that all people did was hurt me. I didn’t need people. I didn’t need love, and I didn’t ever want to cry again. Whenever something painful happened, I would withdraw to the safety of my ‘womb’ and shut everyone out.

I still had five moves after this most-hated one to survive during childhood. It was much easier with the ‘armor’ of this song as my shield. I no longer sought to make friends at the new locations. Eventually, I no longer felt lonely.

By the time I was in high school, I knew neither how to make nor keep friends. By then, everyone had their own ‘set’ anyway, so it didn’t matter. I buried myself in books, crafts and especially in making music. I preferred to be alone.

At the same time, I had a huge hole in my heart that my father should have filled. Well, father gave that job to another man. My step-dad filled it all right – with many more statements like those at the beginning of this article. Because he was an adult, and supposedly loved me, I believed him.

Why would he lie to a child?

One by one, I came into agreement with his assessment of me as a human. Some of them I accepted with bowed head, others I determined to overcome (by making a vow).

He loved to call me ‘stupid’ – or ‘Stu’ for short. I vowed to become smart, and used my isolation to learn all I could about many things. I learned about things I cared about, and things I didn’t, just so he couldn’t call me stupid anymore. That didn’t work, by the way.

Do you know what endoplasmic reticulum is? (Do you even care? 😉 )

After I got out from under his tyranny, I took over where he left off and agreed with whatever label came to mind.

I ask again, why would a person do such a thing? As a (wo)man thinks in (her) heart, so is she. My words became a self-fulfilled prophecy.

These agreements stayed with me for 35 years. I was 45, without a friend in the world, in a loveless marriage, and unable to connect with others. That’s a pitiful state in which to find oneself. My mom died that year. A year and a half later, I parted ways with my step-dad, and healing began.

It’s time we began to take these thoughts captive. Let’s hold them up to the truth of who God says we are, and quit agreeing with those who would steal, kill, and destroy us through their words.

God is not honored when we accept these lies about His workmanship as truth.

Do we even stop to ask, “IS THIS TRUE??”

I’ve quit agreeing with others’ opinions about me. I’ve had enough. There is only One who knows me, and He calls me “Beloved” and “Delightful.” He calls me His own, and “Chosen.” Since He knows me better than anyone else…including me…I’m going to agree with Him.

*****

Tune in to the next post to learn why I am no longer willing to accept another human’s assessment of me…and why you shouldn’t either:

Dirt Said What?





Don’t Make Mine a Medium

17 03 2014

Phew! Life’s been happening around here! Although much of it looks like a mess from a horizontal perspective, we trust that God has everything under control. We’re actually doing well. 😉

Last week’s devotion covered the episode in 1 Samuel 28 where Saul went to Endor to seek the assistance of a medium. He desperately wanted to speak to Samuel. The problem was that Samuel was dead (and none too happy about being called back to earth)!

It’s a bizarre little story. If you’ve never read through 1 and 2 Samuel, the books of Kings or Chronicles, you should. There are all sorts of interesting little stories tucked away in them.

But I digress.

Anyway, the devotion went on to talk about the purpose of a medium. It is to be a mouthpiece to the enemy and his horde.

We hear people do this all the time, and everywhere. It’s sad.

What grieved me, though, was to realize that sometimes these words come through me. 😦

Yes, me. A blood-bought daughter of the Living God. Having been chosen, accepted, adopted, justified, sanctified, glorified, and seated in the heavenlies with Christ Jesus. Oh, and sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise…

I opened my mouth and what popped out was NOT from the Lord, but from the god of this age.

I was his medium.

But, this ought not be. After all, Jesus has called me to be HIS ambassador, accurately representing Him to a lost world…loving people as if He Himself was here.

Check this out:

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29

Oh, Lord. I need Your help. Please take control of my mouth. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my Strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14





Impossible!

5 02 2014

Chosen by God…that’s you and me.

We remember the day we were anointed to become kings and priests before our God (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6).

That we were chosen had nothing to do with skills, talents, gifts, abilities, looks, but was based on our heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Despite being chosen, some of us may not yet be “installed” into the place to which we were called – like David who was anointed to be king of Israel, but was not crowned until many years later.

What do we do in the meantime? Let’s drop in on David in 1 Samuel 17 to see what David did.

We find three of his older brothers with Saul’s army at the Valley of Elah. Across the valley was the Philistine army, along with their champion, Goliath.

Saul had already been rejected by God as king, and David already anointed to take his place.

However, David was at home, tending sheep! Not for long.

Dad called on David to run an errand. He was to take grain, bread, and cheese to the army.

In essence, this anointed one was dispatched as a pizza delivery guy!

It is interesting that David didn’t tell his dad, “What? Are you kidding me? I’m the king! Get one of my other brothers to be your errand boy. That’s not my calling!”

Instead, he obeyed his father and set out for the battle.

As he drew near to the place, he could hear the big mouth of Goliath. Every boast and taunt rankled.

He left the supplies with the supply keeper, then went in search of his brothers.

After he asked what was going on, his oldest brother turned on David and accused him of being a rubbernecker. Undaunted, he went and talked to some of the other men.

Everyone told him how big and mean Goliath was.

On the other hand, David’s question was this: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

The men saw a big problem…David saw his big God.

Saul got word that there was someone willing to take on the giant. He was just a kid, though. What to do?

David was summoned, and the king insisted that the fellow put on his armor.

I think David went along with it just so he could tell his buds back home, “I got to wear Saul’s armor!”

The results were laughable. Saul stood head and shoulders above grown men, and David was just a youth.

It didn’t take much intelligence to realize that this would not go well. He took it off again and deferred to his own weapons – a staff and a sling.

He told of killing a lion and a bear with nothing more than these…and his Lord.

Besides, this guy was bad-mouthing the army of the living God – and it ticked him off. Someone needed to shut him up. If no one else was willing to do the thing, then he’d see to it.

Wearing someone else’s “armor” is awkward.

David knew God could use what this shepherd brought to the table.

He stopped on the way to the valley and selected five smooth stones.

Then came the moment of truth.

Once he stepped into that valley, there was no turning back. Could he do it?

Are you kidding?

He was there to defend the honor of the living God.

Without the first irrevocable step,

all David had said would be just a lot of hot air…

No different than Goliath!

“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

“This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”

Then, in classic Aragorn fashion (Lord of the Rings), David ran toward Goliath.

True to his word, he felled the giant with a single stone, then took Goliath’s sword and severed his head from his body. (Ladies say, “Eew!”)

He took that head with him to Jerusalem. (Double Eew!)

As you see above, there are three things we want to take away from this story:

1. The men saw a big problem…David saw his big God.

When we are faced with difficulties we choose what we will focus on. Will it be the size of the matter before us? Or will it be the size of our living God?

2. Wearing someone else’s “armor” is awkward.

Each one of us has been given, by God’s divine power, all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3).

In other words, God knew what armor you have before He invited you into this ordeal.

We get ourselves into great trouble when we compare our equipment (anointing, skills, abilities, talents, or gifts) to those around us.

“Oh, if only I could teach like So-and-so.” “Oh, if only I was a prayer warrior like _________.” “If I had leadership skills like Whats-his-face…”

“THEN I could _________________.”

Um…wrong-o! First Corinthians 1:27 reads, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”

Feeling too weak or foolish to see the thing through? Perfect! You’re exactly the person God wants to use!

Not only that, but we look downright silly trying to “wear” what someone else has when we step into the arena.

3. Without the first irrevocable step, we will be no different than many other people who sit in church on a Sunday singing about how brave they are…

…then go home and do nothing out of fear: fear of failure, of looking foolish, of not doing it right, of what others might think.

Life will come to a close. They’ll draw the sheet up over our heads, and we will have done nothing noteworthy to demonstrate the power of the living God.

Today I want you to know this:

You are enough for anything God wants to do through you!

Get your sling, and I’ll meet you at the edge of the valley, for nothing is impossible…

…with God!

(This was Sunday’s sermon…bits of it, anyway. It was so good that I went back in the evening to hear it again!)





Buffeted at the Buffet

27 01 2014

It’s easy to tell when we’re on the right track spiritually:

God is on the move in our lives and we’re cooperating with Him.

We’re hearing from Him in ways that are fresh and new.

We’re spending more time in His Word, or in worship.

We’re reaching out to others and speaking God’s truth into their lives.

At times like these, opposition grows and can become overwhelming, if we don’t know how our enemy operates.

I recently read 2 Corinthians 12:7 and noticed something I’d never seen before. Let me quote it, then we’ll chat.

“And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me…”

I’ve heard countless sermons on this “thorn in the flesh.” Most seem to think it was his eye problem, others that he was short and ugly…kinda’ rude, I think!

On the other hand, I’ve heard few talk about the “messenger of Satan.” For me, this bit was key.

What does a messenger do, anyway?

He delivers messages…words.

This one’s messages buffet us. They can be a continual onslaught

…nothing good or helpful…

…or true.

After all, his messages come from the father of lies – the one about whom Jesus said, “He cannot speak the truth, for there is no truth in him.

When I think of buffeting, I think of a ship at sea, fully rigged and sails billowing. Although the wind cannot be seen, the sailors must know how to read its effects. If they don’t, the vessel could be blown off course. Harnessed, the wind propels them toward their destiny. Unheeded, it could lead to their ruin.

In the same way, if we are not taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, we are at the mercy of the buffeting of these messengers of Satan.

We can find our mental energy consumed when we let the wind of their words carry us wherever they will.

As with a ship, this can lead to our destruction…which is, of course, the intent.

The Lord prepares a banquet before us in the presence of our enemies.

Never forget their presence!

For, while we’re enjoying the sumptuous fare set before us, they are at our side – buffeting us with memories of things done to us, things done by us. They seek to stir up strife, anger, bitterness, and rage – or guilt, shame, and condemnation. They hurl accusations against us. They can be relentless.

The most foolish thing a soldier could do in the midst of the war is say, “I’m sick of all the fighting, the continual vigilance, the stress of worrying about the next attack. Forget this. Let’s party!” We would hear about their death in the next edition of the news.

We must be wise, and not foolish. We are in a war. The time for taking off our armor comes when we reach heaven. Until then, we dare not remove it – especially at the banquet table.

Lord, this understanding is helpful; but is there anything I can do about it? I wondered.

“Yes, but it will take some effort on your part,” was His reply.

We must take those thoughts that come against us and turn them to praise.

If you think about it, every circumstance, every struggle, every dumb thing we’ve ever done has served to make us who we are today. The relationship we have with Jesus is a result of what we’ve been through.

We’ve learned by experience that God is faithful.

We’ve become stronger people, and discovered that things we thought would be the end of us have instead caused us to mature.

Current problems are opportunities for the Lord to show Himself mighty on our behalf.

Remorse and regret are not very helpful – unless we use those memories to praise the Lord for His immense patience with us. We can thank Him for those blunders, and for His atoning sacrifice that paid for every sin we’ve ever committed…and have yet to commit.

In other words, when we find ourselves in gale-force winds of adversity and choose to turn it into a praise meeting many good things come from our active resistance.

Life becomes peaceful when we take every thought captive and choose to look for the good, the right, the pure, the just, the lovely…the praiseworthy.

We move from a “victim” stance to one of victory as we look for reasons to be grateful for life’s events (and remember that they won’t last forever!)

Not only that, but a good look at the path down which we’ve come…including traveling companions selected for the journey…gives us a chance to see how God has taken all things and been working them for our good. That’s worth more than gold!

Do this often enough and our ever-present enemy may stand by us at the buffet…but the buffeting will cease – at least for a while. The last thing they want is for us to take their buffeting and turn it into a praise session!





Knocking Knees

28 10 2013

First posted on Steve Austin’s blog, Grace is Messy

***********

Oh boy. Here it is…your big chance to share your testimony!

What are they going to think if I tell them about Jesus?

That’s a great place to stop and ask yourself, “Who am I?”

If you answer anything other than:

“the blood-bought son/daughter of the Lord Most High. I was chosen before the foundation of the world. I’ve been accepted, adopted, redeemed, justified, sanctified, glorified, and am seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. I have the Holy Spirit as the Seal of Promise that I belong to the Lord,”

then sharing your testimony is going to feel risky. Your reputation is on the line.

They might call you a “Jesus Freak.”

Oh no!

Worse…they might not like you.

What then?

On the flip-side – they might be the one who gazes at you with a hurt look of “Why didn’t you tell me?” as they are sent from the Lord’s presence …forever.

Do we truly believe what the Bible has to say about heaven and hell?

I think we would all do well to meditate on Revelation 19-22. By this I mean put ourselves into the story. See the sights. Smell the smells, Imagine the look on each face. Gaze into the Lake of Fire for a minute. Imagine an eternity without hope:

A location where people are no longer kind, what’s the point? Where there is no compassion, no caring, no “random acts of kindness” – no love.

The illusion of working their way into “God’s good graces” has been shattered. There is no reason to reach out to anyone…

…and no one will reach out to them…

…ever again.

Misery will not love company there.

Dwell on that sense of utter hopelessness for a bit, and you’ll feel your knees begin to strengthen. Consider people you know and care about spending forever like that.

Their anger at us for sharing Jesus seems a small thing by comparison when viewed from this perspective, doesn’t it?

We need to take to heart what Paul said in Philippians 2: “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus…who made Himself of no reputation.”

He wasn’t interested in popularity polls. He didn’t mince words with the religious who thought they had it made. He shot straight with those who thought themselves disqualified because of their pasts. He spoke without concern of what others thought about Him.

This despite the fact that what they believed about Him mattered a great deal.

Do you know that

We are not the Savior?

To hold us in high esteem will gain no one entry into heaven.

Oh, that we would grasp this truth.

What people think about us is of no eternal value when it comes to salvation. Yet, we cling to our reputations like the filthy rags they are.

The people we meet are POWs. They’ve been brainwashed into believing that God is the enemy.

We are the Green Berets of the Lord’s army assigned the task of showing them the way out of the adversary’s clutches.

Shall we fail in our mission because of our knocking knees?