A Test of Good Faith

Several months ago I prayed that God would search my heart and reveal His truth in any area of my life that needed healing. It was the same time my heart settled down enough to finally right my first book. In four weeks I was able to organize my weight loss story and feel good about crunching out twelve chapters about that part of my past. Most of it had been written long ago, I just need to get the chapters lined up and add some zest and zing to each one of them.

I prayed that God would test me in this project and to bring His perfect grace to my story. You see when thinking about losing weight, the process seems more about what is accomplished on the scale or what size you wear. God’s grace has helped me get out of a pit of habitual sin and has brought me to a place of full restoration and healing.

In writing the book, I admitted some shame in the reality of lending myself to many bad food choices. It doesn’t feel good to say and it’s embarrassing to admit openly.

However in the process of writing it all down, God reconciled my unhealthy past choices to prove within my story that I am not that person anymore. He pointed out that true change is noticeable inside of me.

When I was at the end of my manuscript (the fancy word for chapters in order), I realized that I had let my faith be tested.

Confidence, spiritual growth, and healing power came in putting my story down on paper. The testing of my faith, has bolstered my life in ways I never thought I needed. Putting your faith to the test can make you uncomfortable but to experience God in a personal way it always moves you out of your comfort zone. If God is asking you to be a part of something that is way bigger than you, be assured it’s the testing of your faith that He wants.

You can do it….whatever it is…I believe in you!  Faith testing can be a good thing.

Do you love Me more than these?

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Recently God tapped me on the shoulder and asked a simple question, similar to the same one Jesus asked Peter on that one morning on the beach recorded in John 14. The disciples had just feasted on some fish and swapped stories about their latest catch. Jesus was among them, not fully known just yet.  He asked Peter if he was ready to move from a waiting season to a season of purpose.

“Do you love me more than these?” Oh those words must have fallen with surprise on Peter’s heart, like it did mine. “Of course, Lord, I do love you”, I said the appropriate answer. He asked it again, “No, do you love ME more than the things of Mine.”

I too paused before responding.  Was I willing to wait for the purpose of what God Himself has put inside of me? Was I willing to wait even if the understood promise never came?

Ps. 119:123-124, “My eyes strain to see your deliverance, to see the truth of your promise fulfilled. I am your servant; deal with me in unfailing love, and teach me your principles.”

“Deal with me in your unfailing love Lord.” That was my response…eventually.

Now I know that kind of unfailing love of God and know that He also knows my purpose.  Often though God takes us to one place and has His purpose poised in another place.  First we have to go there so that we can move to hereFirst we have to get to the end of ourselves before we can go to where God wants to send us, the place of our true purpose.

How often we want to know God’s plan before we obey God’s plan? How often God catches us unaware when we look to the gift instead of the gift Giver.  God wants our obedience in love towards Him first and foremost, and contentment in the fact that there could or could not be an explanation to the purpose or His plans for us.   Furthermore, we have to go through situations to discover His purpose.

For years I thought doubt was the enemy of my faith but here recently I now know that it’s the doorway to a stronger faith.  Often doubt comes dressed as a test to increase your faith.  Many verses are challenging when praying and encourage us to “test” the Lord.

When praying those prayers know that tests will come.  What I know about teachers when they give a test, if you pass, teachers hand out affirmations and promotions.  Those positive statements affirm your confidence.  So it is with God, if you test Him in the ways of faith, you will be promoted to a place where more faith is needed.

There’s something about the Lord testing His love that is also challenging.  In this disposable world we live in, to find a love that lasts through tests is unique and rare.  God’s unfailing love is certainly a kind of love that has been tested and approved.  And His unfailing love affirms my faith and confidence.  It never, ever fails!

Sometimes we need a refresher course about confidence, tests, and putting doubts to rest.  So that when our unfailing God says to go there and then go here, you know that it’s His love that is leading you to a deeper faith.  And His love never fails!  It’s endless and ever leading!

Getting past our past

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As we get older we believe what our past has said about us or how our past has shaped our thoughts. Whatever the reason for our failures, either because of someone else or by our own bad choices in life, the hurt is buried.  Recently, I had to dig down deep to rid myself of a bad thought life that was trying to overpower me.  I let go of my past and I stopped its pursuit.

How can you put your past behind you?

  1. Stop comparing and seeking perfection. Those two habits only lead to discouragement and feeling bad about yourself.  Discouragement leads to depression and inferior self-feelings.
  2. Stop envy. Envy is being jealous of another’s success or hard work that has been accomplished.  How often we think that God is running out of blessing because others are succeeding at something we want.  Stop that!
  3. Be grateful. When we compare, seek approval and envy it’s natural to dwell on what we don’t have.  Rid yourself of jealousy so that you celebrate wins and focus on what you can learn from others.  Be grateful for what you have and make the most of every opportunity.

Remember:  God doesn’t compare or criticize His children so why do we?

God placed us in the lives of others to build them up, not tear them down or try to dominate over each other.  We are not to be takers but partakers in what God is doing in and through His children.  God never intended for us to compete with each other.  How often we injure our own and leave them for dead in the pew.

Hurt people hurt people.   “Unfortunately, there are people who criticize, chastise and ridicule others for their work, efforts and accomplishments.  They are like cats ready to pounce.  Their own insecurities are their trigger.”  Bryan Hutchinson.  (Shared from his eBook “Good Enough: Stop Seeking Perfection and Approval”)

I will never find the perfect approval that my soul craves from an imperfect source. My self-esteem was bitten by the “disease to please” admits Lysa TerKeurst.  I started praying this verse over my life and it changed my perspective and helped me resolve some past issues that continually pounced.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:23-24.

Has your perfectionism caused you to put on the facade of cattiness, gossiping, whining, sarcasm, martyrdom, cynicism, snide remarks, realism or feeling left wounded?  “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions.  Small people do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can somehow become great.” ~ Mark Twain.

Maybe you have been searching for validation, approval, and acceptance.   Start by looking past your past to put that behind you and be grateful.

In the waiting room

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No one likes to wait or can we actually enjoy waiting? We all go through those hot, dry messy seasons, don’t we? Yes, friends, we all do.  Here’s an excerpt from one of my prayer journals that jumped off the page, after three years of seeking God in the middle of what felt like a really dry time.

“I yearn for your answers God. You know my prayers, my hopes, dreams and desires. I long for Your promises to be complete. Sometimes the waiting period seems unbearable. Your will seems cloudy and unclear. The waiting seems excruciatingly endless.”

I was in a hot mess of a season, smack dab in the middle of the heat, with a whole lot of tears and there was no oasis in sight.  Many of you know what that feels like, I think. You wait. You pray. You wait some more. And you beg heaven to hear. You wring your hands just wishing this season was over and done with.

The Bible is full of people who waited. Godly people like Abraham and Sarah had to wait till they were really stinkin’ old to have their first child. At that point, I would have given up long ago. Joseph was sold as a slave by his own brothers, only to end up in prison for years before his promise of royal authority became a reality in his life. I would’ve thought that old Joe’s life wasn’t trackin’ like he had planned. Those years certainly couldn’t have been his easy or the best years, or were they?

It seems life stalled out for these people. I know a missionary couple who have been waiting for a piece of paper for months, and now almost a year later, God granted approval for them to stay planted in the middle of a thriving ministry.  If you find yourself in a similar waiting situation, how do YOU find yourself? Are you in a hot mess too? Are you in the middle of dry spiritual season with no oasis?

How did these troopers of the Old Testament trudge on? Why didn’t they give up? How do you wait for a promise? And how do you know that heaven hears?  How do you not to give up?

As you can see I have plenty of questions about waiting.  We can stir up a lot of trouble in our minds by just assuming that God doesn’t hear our prayers. If ever there is a truth to be learned it’s this: He hears each and every one! He knows our thoughts before we know them, in fact. And it takes these waiting seasons when heaven is silent to recognize one simple truth.

God doesn’t work against us. God is for us.

Look at Abraham and Sarah. They had the promise of many generations to come, but for years they stood barren among the people they were leading. Joseph was held captive for too long before he could establish his legacy – seemingly not arriving at the right place at the right time. Maybe the wait has to do with their prosperity, not their promise. There can be long periods of waiting for us all in our different situations and circumstances. And in those waiting times our faith is put to the test.

Nothing bears witness in your soul as a wait.

When life asks you to wait on God, your best answer is “yes”.  Yes to the time it takes to seek God, yes to the patience that God gives you to wait on Him, yes to the perfecting work that only He can do as you wait upon the Lord.  Yes, each and every time, with His perfect timing working for you and not against you.

My waiting prayer:  “Yes, God you are my nice oasis in the dryer periods. Finish the perfecting work you have started in me no matter…how long it takes.” Amen. 

Have you had to wait on God for a specific answer to prayer? What did you learn in your waiting?

Why our broken state feels so overwhelming

cracked-pots

“Stop making what your past did to you greater than what Jesus did for you.” ~ Christine Caine.

God is in our broken places.  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” Ps. 34:18-19

If God knows we need to be mended then why doesn’t He reach down and fix us?  That was the question my friend asked recently.  I believe that we all have those places that need a repair.  I don’t believe that God wants us to stay in a state of brokenness however. With Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God has already given us a covering of forgiveness that has canceled our brokenness and He offers deliverance for every one of them.

So why does it feel like we can’t be fixed?  God wants to be more than our crisis manager.  God will restore what seems to be the broken in our lives. What holds us back is the shame we hide behind.    Often we think we have messed up so badly that we cause a separation from God and feel like we can’t come near Him.  Guilt wants to separate us and make us believe you are beyond repair.  Shame says we are broken and are trapped in fear.

Guilt says “I made a mistake” while shame says, “We are a mistake.”

If you are feeling “broken” then is there something that is hindering you?  Could it be guilt, fear, or shame?  Perhaps it’s from hurts from your past, hurts from your parents, or emotional scars from abuse that still need to be dealt with.  Whatever is throwing doubt into your life, it needs to be removed, cut out, and forgotten about.

We have to choose healing.  We must believe and receive God’s healing applies for ALL our places that need a touch of truth and grace.  We must grasp a heavenly perspective of how God sees our sin.  Getting a grip on what holds us away from God paves the way to healing.

Inner healing makes those broken places whole that the enemy stole.  True emotional and spiritual healing always comes from the inside out. 

We must choose the process because shame and guilt hide deep inside lurking in the dark corners and they create fear.  “Shame is the belief that we are uniquely and fatally flawed; that we will never measure up to the standard for acceptance and approval. Shame declares that we are doomed for disappointment and disconnection.”  Kris Vallotton.

When we give it all over to God to manage, we give God space to heal us.  He knows you as you’re fully known.  We are His righteous His children.  When we grasp who we are in Christ, our identity is something that can never be broken.  When we know that we are His, by the reconciliation that only comes from the One who has overcome death, then this bond of God’s love is powerful and can never be broken.

So consider this…if you feel like you are broken perhaps it’s your perspective that needs a repair. The wonderful thing about God is that He loves you enough to reach into the deepest parts of your need and reveal to you just what you need healing from. While God makes the restoration move to you, you have to come to Him with your confession and giving up of the shame and guilt you carry.  God’s love is the strongest to cover all our fragile pieces.

Even when your brokenness feels so overwhelming, know that all of your emotional hurts, wounds, the old, the fresh cuts, whether they are deep or wide or long are fixable.  God doesn’t hold back His healing that helps us become more like Him.