#movingforward

Have you ever thought that If people knew some of the things you have done throughout your life that they would turn their backs on you?  Maybe you have thought you might as well stand there and let them throw stones because some of the choices you have made, or some of the things that have been done to you, are THAT shameful.  For me, it was fulfilling all of my fleshly desires through the week and on Friday and Saturday nights.  Then I would go to church on Sundays and justify that because “I was not ‘hurting anyone’, and was asking for forgiveness, I was good to go!”  Let me clarify something here…I was asking for forgiveness by reading the preprinted “confession of sins” in my bulletin.  I was not asking for forgiveness with a truly repentant heart.  Frankly, I knew in my heart at this time that these same sins would be repeated.

Forgiving other people?  That is a whole different story.  I consider myself ‘good’ at forgiving.  I am fairly certain that if you asked anyone who knows me well, they would describe me as someone who gives grace freely.  Let me paint a picture of what that looks like.  You do something to offend me.  You ask for forgiveness.  I forgive you.  Oh, but sister, that is not all.  The next time a similar situation presents itself, or I feel threatened that a similar occurrence may be coming, I dig my heels in and pride and control come out in the ugliest of ways.  I can go from zero to needing a ‘fruit inspection’ in 5.2! (see the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5)

Sisters, God does not want us to remain in those shameful places or those places of unforgiveness.  That includes those of us who freely give forgiveness to others but have trouble forgiving ourselves.  There is freedom in Him!  I want you to take a deep breath and ask Him to prepare your heart before you continue reading…

Now, I want you to picture yourself.  And I want you to picture yourself with the shame and the sins that are holding you in bondage written all over your body.  Go ahead…you can even use ‘permanent’ marker.  Now I want you to cover that body with mud…and while you are at it…top it off with a splash of crimson.

Ladies, we are not meant to stay here all covered up in our sin and shame.  Are you ready to move forward in forgiveness and see yourself redeemed?  I want you now to get a clear picture of the ‘new’ you.  Are you ready to claim these promises? Deuteronomy 31:8 gives us this promise, “God is striding ahead of you.  He is right there with you.  He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.  Don’t be intimidated.  Don’t worry.” (Message)  Remember that muddy girl in the last paragraph?  Guess what?  That marker is not permanent…but His love is.  Psalm 40:2 says, “He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me up from deep mud.  He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.”  (Message)  Are you picturing Him pulling you up?  Washing you off?  Making you new?  Lastly, do you remember that splash of crimson?  Isaiah 1:18-19 says, “If your sins are blood red, they’ll be snow-white.  If they’re red like crimson, they’ll be like wool.  If you’ll willingly obey, you’ll feast like kings.”  (Message)

Sisters, let’s join hearts and move forward.  Let’s surrender together.  We will fall…but He will never fail.  Will you join me?

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When-Then…

It was the first time I have ever been called a chameleon. We were at the beach this summer with a group of friends and our children.  About halfway through the week, the children were in bed and the adults were talking and laughing and enjoying the company.  One of the men spoke up and asked what my ‘sign’ was.  I half-heartedly giggled and expressed that I didn’t follow horoscopes.  He shrugged and repeated his question, “O.k., but what is your sign?”  I sighed and stated that I am a Gemini.  He confidently said, “Well…that explains a lot!  You are a lot like me.  You can blend in anywhere you go and get along with anyone…just like a chameleon!”  Before I knew it, this statement had fed my fleshly ‘people pleasing ego’ and frankly, I was pretty proud to resemble this remark!

I thought about this conversation several times over the summer and each time felt a strange sense of accomplishment for being perceived this way. Then it happened.  One morning during my quiet time with Jesus, He gently whispered to me, “Why is this so important to you?  Daughter, in your life, being a chameleon has not been a positive thing.  Instead, it has resulted in you repeatedly conforming to the patterns of this world.”  Ouch.  He nailed it.  This ignited me to begin thinking about this burden of people pleasing and how God does not call us to blend in, He calls us to stand out!  I looked up the word chameleon on http://www.freedictionary.com and felt such a heaviness at what I saw.  The definition staring me in the face was, “a changeable or inconsistent person.”  Now do not get me wrong.  I believe that in order to be fully surrendered to God, something I desperately crave, we need to be flexible to change and move as He stirs us.  In my life though, this inconsistent person was constantly changing in hopes of obtaining the approval, acceptance, and unconditional love of others.  Me being a ‘changeable’ person in this life has often looked opposite of someone wanting to please God.  2 Timothy 2:9 says this, “For God saved us and called us to live a holy life.”  My inconsistent life choices certainly did not look like someone in pursuit of a holy life.  I found myself having conversations with God about how hard it was to so desperately want this holy life but to be surrounded by all of the same things of this world.  At this moment, God knew what I needed…a confident heart.  He began emptying me of my self-destructive thoughts and filling me with a peace that only He can provide.  This journey has only just begun…and I have a long way to go…but…He is filling me up with His promises…promises that I am tightly clinging to…promises like this…

WHEN I am faced with temptation to not be true to myself in order to gain the approval of others, THEN I will remember that I have an audience of ONE!

WHEN I am being bold in my love for Jesus and am facing persecution from others, THEN I will remember 1 Peter 4:14, “So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.”

WHEN I am faced with situations that threaten to lead me back down the path of being a ‘warm’ Christian, THEN…I will remember the ultimate sacrifice that He made…for me…and I will thank Him for His endless pursuit of my heart <3.

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