Tag Archive | Holy Spirit

Strong Enough

Who determines if one is strong or not?  No one should determine other’s strengths or weaknesses. We have our own strengths and weaknesses, knowing that God has a plan for us.  Every struggle in your life shapes you into the person you are today.  Be thankful for the hard times; they can only make you stronger…strong enough!  

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13

Many of us have felt great guilt from the brokenness of our past, and present, struggles. We feel, or have felt, that we just have to live under a dark cloud. Through Christ, He became our answer for our brokenness. It was His sacrificial love for us that gives us strength to carry on past our struggles.

For some of us, the healing and restoration from life’s struggles are needed to rightly see God. This kind of healing is available through the power of God who makes us stronger. It may take some time to let those old idols go; but, one may consider the work of the Holy Spirit to heal those wounds—if we let him.

Despite our struggles in life, we can have confidence in knowing that Jesus suffered and died for us.  We can now find restoration and resurrection through him…and all from the hand of God.

We all know that our struggles can wreak havoc within us. They often leave us feeling like we are living in a world of tangled hangers.  Sometimes it’s hard to straighten them out without some kind of help.  While straightening up the “hangers” in our life, they may allow us to find support and comfort from others. Instead of regretting all of our struggles, we should be thankful when God puts others into our lives to help us.

One important question we may have is…does God care that we suffer? Does He enjoy watching us as we fall down? Of course not.

God knows that we suffer.  On our worst day, we are never alone.  Jesus is by our side. Our faith declares that God, our Father, sent His only Son to suffer at the hand of others.  He came into our world to deliver us from evil and give us a future and a hope.

How then does Jesus know about our path of  struggles? Within our faith we have learned how the only Son of the living God encountered real temptations. We know that Jesus overcame those temptations by using His Father’s words…scriptures.  We have read where Jesus suffered at the hands of family and friends. We know that His suffering became worse the closer he got to achieving His goal—to save our souls.

God knows that we are weak and He urges us to pray to Him, dare I say cry out to Him, so that we would be better equipped not to succumb to temptation.  Something happens to us when we take our struggles to the Father. He transforms us, and gives us strength and courage to do things we never thought possible. Even in the midst of our struggles, we can rise up to most challenges.  God would not bring us to our struggles, if He could not bring us through our struggles.  Don’t get off the beaten path, take the path to Jesus… often times the path less traveled.

Finally, I’m reminded of a song by Matthew West, that got him a Grammy award nomination.  It’s called “Strong Enough” and parts of it is as follows:

“You must think I’m strong…
To give me what I’m going through…
Forgive me if I’m wrong; but this looks like more than I can do on my own.

…Maybe that’s the point; to reach the point of giving up.
Cause when I’m finallyat rock bottom.
That’s when I start looking up and reaching out.

Cause I’m broken down to nothing
But I’m still holding on to one thing
You are God and you are strong when
I am weak

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,
and i don’t have to be strong enough

I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up.  I’m not strong enough.
Hands of mercy won’t you cover me.
Lord right now I’m asking you to be…Strong enough.”

God does know that we suffer and that we needed someone to give meaning and hope beyond our suffering. Jesus Christ was sent to enter into our world to deliver us from evil.  He gives us hope when we draw near to Him. Jesus’ suffering lasts beyond the cross to the wonder and glory of the resurrection. He is the Suffering Christ whose grace and mercy has saved us from our struggles today!  He makes us strong enough to carry on.

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Get Back Up Again!

Forgiving doesn’t mean to forget about the pain.  It means to no longer let the experience hold you back for another season.  Only His abounding grace and mercy allows you to break free and to get back up again.  I will not give up!

Even though I may be one, and am surrounded by oppressors, I will never be totally crushed by them.  I will never give up, and I will continue to get back up again.

I may suffer embarrassments and become perplexed.  Often there seems no way out of my situation; but, I manage to survive.  I shall not despair…even if I am persecuted, driven hard, or ignored.  God will never desert me, nor make me stand alone.  Even though I may have been knocked down to the ground, I will never totally strike out.  No matter the difficulties that come my way, I will never give up. I’m stronger than the energizer bunny.  Yes, I have breaking points; but, when I recoup…I can get back up again.

I have become stronger and more courageous.  I have become persistent, more steadfast, and resilient with my faith.  I will try to remain fearless and determined no matter what obstacles lie ahead.  I will remain strong in the Lord despite my weaknesses.  I have the power of His words and the strength of his sword.  Victory will be mine!  I will be relentless on those that try to knock me down.  I will remember that I’m standing on Solid Rock.

Yes, we all fall short and sin.  We can be forgiven by Jesus, yet there are those who can’t seem to forgive.  Sometimes we can’t see past our own mistakes. I will be the first to admit that I make lots of mistakes.  I was in need of a change.  I finally realized that I was desperate for His grace.   It’s by God‘s mercy and grace that I, and others, can love and forgive and be able to make a change.

Our world is a broken place filled with broken people. Many often get a front row seat to this brokenness because God sends trials our way. These seasons bring us closer to Him.  So why do we feel that we have to grovel for forgiveness from others when Christ has already forgiven us?  Isn’t it what God does in the heart of a person rather than waiting for something to happen?   Shouldn’t we use some of our experiences to go out and further His kingdom?

There are  those who are called to walk with others through this deep personal pain. Gratefully, some have helped me to find my way through some of my seasons to stronger days.  It’s through a few confidants that only God  gives them grace to persevere and have good wisdom to give counsel. Sometimes counseling can be in the form of encouragement; sometimes admonishment. Sometimes people have to hear things they don’t want to hear…or say things they don’t want to say.

My pastor said that a good entry point into grace is in and through Christ…the One who liberates us.  Now we can become empowered by our obedience to live a life that He intended for us.

When we find freedom from our sin through Christ, not everyone allows us to be free from our sin.  I don’t feel very liberated when some may hold a grudge from something I have done.  I feel there are times that many (including myself) have a disconnectedness from “grace” within our own lives.

In the church we are called to help others understand His grace.  Not everyone seems receptive to “reaching out.”  If there is a disconnectedness…why not get reconnected? There are a few that seem to ask, “What’s in it for me?  How will reaching out to others empower me?”

I like what Robert Munger said, “The Church is the only fellowship in the world where the one requirement for membership is the unworthiness of the candidate.”

If we are a part of the body of Christ, we are called to encourage one another.  Don’t say that the community is like a family reunion and then never include some family to the reunion.  That’s wrong!  People get there hopes up thinking they will be included…just to be let down that they were just words.

Jesus is for everyone…especially His grace and forgiveness!

My new acquaintance, Mark Wilson, wrote, “A long time ago, Christian forgiveness used to be called, ‘the truth will set you free’.”   The problem is that not everyone feels that way.

Mark  noted that, “It is not possible to become entirely whole unless we are in relationships with the people around us. But as we give love and receive love – or learn to – then we can grow, heal, evolve and heal and become whole. We also can’t come to wholeness if we refuse to be an adult and grow up, take ownership of what happened to us and mature. What happened was not good, but ignoring it won’t heal it and won’t make it go away.

Mark also said it’s hard to under-estimate how important forgiveness is. If you refuse to forgive…the Lord’s prayer says that you will also not be forgiven. It’s really just that simple. If you refuse to forgive… you are harming yourself, and your own fellowship with Christ.

Try to think about if there is someone you know that produced sour fruit…in the beginning of the relationship.  Unbeknownst to you their fruit began to ripen.  Maybe you are blind to the changes.  Maybe you haven’t noticed the changes, or time has slipped by without concern.  For whatever reason, the fruit has become sweeter; but, because of our disconnectedness the new found fruit is not shared with others.  Instead, we may only remember being “snake bit”.

If we are truly liberated by Christ and we are members of his body…then maybe try to reconnect with the other member.  Try to remember that His grace is abounding with joy.  Why not share the joy of the fruit that has been made new and sweet with the one who was once sour. Reconnect.  Make a Difference.  Show grace.

Being faithful is the work of the Spirit.  We can’t do it alone!  Great is Thy faithfulness!

Faith is not what we look at; but what we look through.  It’s not what we have  focused our lives on but that which we should focus our lives on…on Him.  If we are God centered, then change becomes evident and we can make a difference in our own life and in others…to try and further His kingdom.  It won’t hurt members of the body to reconnect their disconnectedness.  What would Jesus do?  He would welcome any member to His body.  Again, His grace is for everyone!

Stay strong!  No matter what is thrown at you…don’t let it knock you down.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” ~ Psalm 46:1

God, my heart is truly, truly comforted by Your promises, by Your love and mercy; refuge and strength.  I want to establish myself, permanently placing myself in Your word and in Your works!!!  Thank You God for giving me strength and helping me to get back up again!

“I Can’t Carry It! But, I Can Carry You!”

Toward the end of Tolkien’s book “The Return of the King, Frodo says,

How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back? There are some things time cannot mend. Some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold.

Because of my past sexual abuse, I have a few things from my past that the hurts go rather deep.  I’ve thought…could they ever really mend?

My pastor, Tom Gibbs, once told me that, “By giving into the fear of darkness, it will only compound the pain and evil of what has already happened.  By you keeping things hidden it will gain power over you.  Remember, that God is Light and there is no darkness in Him.”

The hope in my brokenness is through the Light of Jesus; because through His Light all darkness shall go away.

My pastor also told me that I had been standing–waiting in the dark.

I have ignored the Light for many years.  While I had been waiting in the dark, I remembered that there was a light that had been behind the “door of my heart”.  I had been longing and hoping for the Light of Jesus to be shed on me.

Come to find out–Jesus’ Light had been there the whole time.  I just needed to turn around, truly see Him, and let Him into the dark places of my heart.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  ~Psalm 34:18

Looking back, I suppose Jesus allowed the memories of my past abuse to resurface because it needed to be dealt with.  Maybe the Lord was reopening these wounds, so that I could truly forgive my self, and others.

For years I felt intense anger, and had tried to ignore my emotions.  I was angry at my stepfather for the sexual abuse he had committed. I was angry about the memories that I had been left  to deal with.  I also felt guilty about being angry.

After studying Psalms, and learning about God’s emotions, I began to learn about my own emotions.  It helped to see some examples of how God felt about certain things; therefore, I was better able to understand, and was able to let some anger go as well.

It has been a slow process; but, I have made some progress.

I’m not going to lie,  opening wounds, is a lot of my own fault!  No one makes me hold onto the past.  The last few years I have been searching as to why I have harbored so much pain deep within.  I don’t want to pick at my wounds keeping them fresh; but, sometimes I find myself doing just that. While keeping them open, it has caused pain for myself, and others. It’s a vicious cycle that had potential to consume me.

In my desperation to find out answers of why others could not understand me…I began hurting them.  I hurt the very ones I cared about.  I might verbally be abusive, and this only compounded the feelings of guilt that I already felt. I began to feel that I was not worthy.  I felt that I was a mistake, or a disgrace, to all that were around me.  Once again the cycle was in place and continuing to gain force.

Sometimes, I couldn’t stand myself  for what I had done; thus, on occasion I hurt myself.  I felt that if I hurt myself–there would be some restitution for hurting others verbally.  However, most did not know that I had sought restitution…within myself.

I began isolating myself.  I thought that  isolating my self from others–would “save” them from me.  In my mind this is how I thought I should “handle” this type of situation. But, in isolating my self, it caused much pain of feeling abandoned…even if I was the cause of my own abandonment.

I have a friend Joey who recently told me that, “the one who abuses is usually the one holding onto their own personal wounds. They never really heal because they keep picking at the scabs, re-opening the hurts of the past and keeping them fresh. Then they lash out at whoever is closest to them, because the ones that originally caused the hurt are usually long gone. The wounding then becomes transferred to another victim. It becomes a vicious cycle unless the abused can short-circuit the circle of pain; thus, the need for a professional counselor to help me.  His name is Jesus and I thank Him every day!”

These were some words to mull over.  These were strong words of wisdom.

I began to continue picking at my wounds–keeping them fresh and open.  I felt few seemed to understand me. I felt others didn’t believe that there was great suffering in my past.  I felt I had to defend myself to others so they could understand. I felt since they had not experienced that kind of abuse…that they may feel how that could have happened. I also felt worse when some didn’t want to understand my past at all…to be discarded.  I felt they were extremely insensitive.  I let these feelings cause great confusion within me.

Now, pondering what my friend said…I realized that Jesus is the best counselor.  My pastor and I had also talked about how the Lord had given me His Holy Spirit–to be my counselor/comforter.  He had been with me always, even when others were absent.  He walks with me right now!

I definitely need to hold onto this truth, even when my way seems very dark.  I know that there will be brighter days!

Knowing this I began to feel safe enough to take steps forward toward healing, and understanding Him.  I have learned that I could trust, and not all would judge me—no matter my mistakes. I was beginning to understand that I was not a misfit.

I tend to see things in night or day.  I am a perfectionist about some things and lack concern about other things.  My pastor told me that Jesus was less interested in me being perfect than in me knowing His mercy and grace.  The very mercy and grace that covers all of my mistakes.

Through great wisdom of many, I have begun to replace my thoughts of guilt with thoughts of His joy, truth, and grace.

Finally I am beginning to feel that I am loved, valued, and treasured.

I know there have been many prayers for me,  some like “Lord, keep Beth from lying to her self.  Pray that she will begin to see Your truth—Your Light.  Prayers like, “May You be a beacon of Light for her in dark places, when all her other lights go out.”

Right before Jesus died on the cross he said, “Into Your hands, Father, I commit my spirit”.

I need to commit my spirit to Him. I should no longer be powerless or broken from my past guilt. Through Jesus, I have the same power to resurrect myself from my pit of darkness, brokenness, and despair.  I should no longer feel guilt over my past.

Physically, on Earth, God could not carry my guilt; but, He told me to release it, let Him carry me, and finally be rid of it.

One of my favorite parts from “The Return of the King”, is when Samwise and Frodo are at the bottom of Mt. Doom.  Samwise begins talking to Frodo about the ring and says, “I can’t carry it for you! But I can carry you! Come on!”

The ring had caused open wounds around Frodo’s neck because of the weight of the ring.  Frodo needed to get rid of the ring; therefore, Samwise carries Frodo up Mt. Doom.  Eventually, Frodo was able to throw the ring into the fires…where it was destroyed.

God is telling me that He will carry me.  God would not have brought me to the abuse, and then back to the memories of it, or healing of it, if He could not bring me through it. His eyes are fixed on me.  Like the “refiner’s fire”, God begins to purify me of my past guilt, so that I can be made new in His Light.

Praise Him for His great strength, and Light!

Hope: Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

I was thinking about Hebrews 12.  Since I had been abused by my stepfather, I sometimes associated the verses in this chapter with my Earthly father.  I realize there is no comparison between My Father in Heaven and my stepfather; but, I also realize both had the potential to discipline me.  Remembering my past, I decided I would compare a coach to My Father (only in this case).

I thought about how my coach used to discipline me.  I got the jest of what was said in the chapter, but I let my anger cloud my thoughts of what I truly needed to understand.  I suppose the writer of Hebrews is stating that discipline is not always pleasant, but if I train hard (with my “coach”) then I can become stronger-bringing about great joy.

I am hopeful that this new found joy will lead me to great worship, or intimacy, with Him.  I am being made new in the Light of my darkness.

Although the “coach” may be a good analogy, God does not want me to think of Him as a coach…but as the true Father.  There are hopes, fears, and angers in memories of a father. Though God is not like my stepfather I suppose He instills hopes, fears, and anger as well—but on a different scale.  I understand the thought behind this verse, but I will have to switch gears on my thinking.  I still like my “coach” analogy, but I suppose I should think of it as a different approach and not in context of that verse.

I am a “Lord of the Rings” nut!  I love these books, including the “Hobbit”.  There is so much said about life underlying in these beautiful books.

Anyway, I was thinking about when Gandalf falls in the mines of Moria, and the looks on the faces of the Frodo and the companions as he is most certainly meeting his doom.  The expression on their faces was not a look due to loss of love for a coach, or a guide, but a different kind of love—perhaps for a dear loved one–perhaps like a father.  Their faces told so much.

I was also thinking about Denethor, in the “Return of the King“…not as a father, but as a comparison to myself.  Denethor was overwhelmed by the forces of depression that Sauron inflicted on him.  I, too, let the Evil One do the same with me.  Like I have said before, I let the evil one tell me that I am worthless and that life is meaningless.  My mind is like the palantir, a place of deception.  The evil one uses it to show me only what he wants me to see—that I am worthless.  This allows me to live in despair rather than the goodness of great joy and light.  Like Denethor, I continue to battle the great forces of evil, but when the battle is really at hand—I want to flee.

Denethor was blind to so many things: hope, courage, and love.  He grieved so much about the passing of his son Boromir dying that he could not fix his eyes on anything positive.  Gandalf says something like, “Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt…”

I am like that with my hurts from my past.  Instead of fixing my eyes on Jesus, I dwell in my past.  This leads to great despair.

To make problems worse, Denethor sends Faramir out to do his job. The job which Denethor should be doing himself—to battle against evil one.  When Faramir comes back to his father, and he is thought to be mortally wounded; it is only then that Denethor begins to regret what he has been doing—that he was only thinking of himself.

This last loss breaks Denothor’s spirit.  He thinks only of suicide.  He has no hope.  But in reality there is hope, but he is too blind to see this.  In his fit of insanity he has his soldiers build a pyre for him to be placed upon.  He feels that he deserves this kind of death because he has been dishonorable.

I kind of understand this feeling.  I have felt that same fit of insanity, and shamefulness.  It is hard to get out of this state when it seems that everything is spiraling, and who would come to save you.

But like Christ to me, Gandalf does come to try and save Denethor.  Gandalf rebukes Denethor.  He tells Denethor, “Authority is not given to you, Steward of Gondor, to order the hour of your death…And only the heathen kings, under the domination of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death.”

Gandalf was trying to tell Denethor that he did not have this right to kill himself; but, Denethor does not listen.  In the end, we  know what happens to Denethor…he chose death over joy.

Thus later after Denethor’s death, the conversation between Gandalf and Pippin and Pippin says, “I did not think it would end this way.”

Gandalf replies, “End?  No, the journey doesn’t end here.  Death is just another path, one that we all must take.  The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.”

Pippin says, “What?  Gandalf?  See what?”

Gandalf replies, “White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

You see, there is hope amidst the darkness.  How wonderful is that?  I am trying so hard to hold onto this thought.  I must pray for strength.  I am still in the beginning stages, and will continue on my grand journey.  I am going to continue to submerge myself into His healing waters–into His word, and prayer.

My friend, Jeff Judson, once told me, that he didn’t see it as a curtain between life and death, but a curtain between our current false perceptions and truth as God made it. “So when we actually lean into our problems, face them head on with the power of the Holy Spirit, they turn out to be just curtains of rain.  They are opaque and seemingly solid, but when we walk through them into the arms of Christ, they are just a curtain of water, and our delusions are washed away with the water of the spirit as we step through the curtain”.

He asked me, “Who would want to live in a fake world of lies and distortions?  So why do we choose to do just that in our daily lives?”

With knowing this I should never feel threatened by the forces of darkness that surround me.  Jesus was declared the victor over evil, and there is hope.  That is not to say that I won’t have bad days; but, it is nice to know that I can be free of that bondage.

It’s like the side view mirror on a car that says…”Hope: objects in mirror are closer than they appear”.  The object of my desire is hope, and it’s closer than I think.

“…and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” and  “When you were dead in your sins and in the circumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”                                                 ~  Colossians 2:10, 13-15

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