Free from the Past!

‘Don’t cry over spilled milk,’ says the old adage.  ‘What’s done is done,’ we say.  Is it true?  Is there no hope in the past?  I believe Scripture tells us differently.

The lens of faith transforms the darkest images.

In Joel chapter 2, verse 21 we read “the LORD will do great things.”  Joel continues in verse 25 with:

“And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten,

the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.”

There is nothing in our past that God has not allowed.  It may not have been what He longed for us to have…sin and its consequences are never His desire…but He allows anything that can draw us closer to Him.  The call of God is always “Where are you?” because the desire of God is always that we will choose to be where He is!  Time does not confine God.  He was, is and always will be.  Taking the time to find Him in the hurts of the past brings healing to the present.

Nothing that happens—past, present or future—is devoid of the presence of God.  When we purpose to look for Him in the difficult things of our lives, we find healing!  Fear traps us in the traumas of life…faith frees us.  God promises we are never alone.  He is always faithful to His promises.

Living in the hurts of the past effectively nullifies the work of the Cross in today.

When we allow Jesus to walk in the depths of our pain, He touches us with love that brings peace.  Many of us learn to isolate emotions, to pack them away because they terrify us; it feels as if the pain is a tidal wave that will drown us.  Jesus walks on water…He quiets storms.  Let him into those reservoirs of fear and He will transform them to rivers of living water for others.

In the Old Testament we read that curses last for three or four generations.  We see generational curses all around us:  legacies of shame, rebellion and violence.  Every individual has opportunity to take the inheritances of yuck and let Jesus transform them into generational blessings.  The curses are short-lived in comparison:  blessings pass on to thousands of generations.  Take the hard stuff you have endured to Jesus; let Him speak life into you that blessings might flow forth from you.

 “Joy in the Journey” – Tools for Spiritual Growth helps those who wish to unpack the treasures God deposited in those tough times.  To be sure you hear about other new tools, sign up for Glory Glimpses, the newsletter for this site!

 

Writing Your Story

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The biggest step in writing your story is the first one!  Simply getting started will set the wheels in motion.  A simple genealogy chart will help you begin to think about family.  Many free printable charts exist on the web; this is a charming one that will get your thoughts rolling.

Then let’s start with some simple questions to get the ink flowing.

  • What town(s) did you grow up in?  Were you born there?
  • Did you have one family home or many?
  • What was the atmosphere at home?  Were both parents in the home?  Was there a sweet spirit or a lot of bickering?
  • How about your siblings?  Did you get along?  Did you share a bedroom…hobbies…chores?
  • Speaking of chores, what kind of responsibilities did you have as a child?
  • Were there family gatherings, traditions or celebrations that remain strong in your mind?
  • Did your grandparents have much influence in your home?

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Writing is a process that can easily bog you down.  For now, simply begin jotting stories.  Do not worry about a ‘publishable’ piece…simply put in writing the memories that are part of who you are as an adult.

WARNING:   Not every memory will be a sweet one.  There is no need to sugar-coat the past, but the past need not influence the present either.  If you find memories swamping you with negative feelings, set that aside for a time.  You may want to address those areas in another way so the negative influences of the past are ‘cut off.’  Should such a challenge come your way, the Legacy Builder:  Healing the Past article may be of help. 

 If you would like to dig further into your story, Joy in the Journey may be the book for you!

Where’s your hiding place?

‘Stop the world, I want to get off!’ The speed of life makes everyone feel like that sometimes. We all need a place to recharge; a place to hide when the pressures of life weigh upon us. Scripture is full of reminders that the Lord is the Hiding Place we need. All other fortresses: financial security, personal strength, our abilities, the love of others, earthly recognition will collapse.

Too often we trust in those temporary earthly things and fail to enter into God’s great strength. We rejoice in the beauties we find in this earthly life, beauties that can not last, and fail to contemplate the perfection of His palaces.

Thankfully anything we trust in besides Jesus will ultimately fail. I say ‘thankfully’ because otherwise we would fail to run to the only shelter which can protect, Jesus Christ! 157015_1619139690435_2410068_nLives outside of ‘the’ Hiding Place are a tragedy. Living outside of the shelter of Jesus produces empty lives without a legacy for future generations. Recognizing our limitations, our needs, and running to Him offers protection and hope for ourselves and others.

In Second Corinthians Paul reminds us that our weaknesses are our greatest point of strength. We do not want to center our minds on those areas of our lives where we are weak, though. To do that will only weaken us farther. Our need is to heed the instruction of Psalm 48:12, walk where God dwells and consider His power—the beauty of His holiness.

We can not do anything for ourselves; He does not draw up strength from within us. He fills us with Himself when we ‘hide’ ourselves in Him. Our weaknesses, placed in Christ, are filled with Him. Jesus emptied Himself and left the glories of heaven to come to a lowly stable; He calls us to empty ourselves and leave the uncertainties of fleshly living to come to His fortified palace.

What a tremendous calling…what an incredible exchange!

Turning Life’s Battles into Victories

Battles in life are a sure thing.  Those battles are our individual, unique opportunities to enjoy the victory of Christ personally.  Each of us has victories to give back to Jesus that only we can give to Him! Isn’t it exciting to think of giving Jesus Christ a special gift?!  Unveiling God in the details of our days is both a privilege and a responsibility.  Every child of God is blessed by His presence; it is challenging to fix our eyes on the victories in our lives though.

Leave a note about Jesus victories that have blessed your life, won’t you?

The battles of life are as diverse as our own individual personalities. A battle against alcohol may have no greater spiritual significance than another saint’s battle against critical speaking. Self-mutilation, lies, murder, unforgiveness, slander—all are sins which, when grown, produce death and destruction. Jesus came to set us free from sin’s captivity. Giving Him the glory for chains released is our glorious privilege. It has been said that our battles are our unique opportunities to give a victory to Jesus that only we can give!

We love to recite Romans 8:28 but too often we present Christianity as a future hope more than a present reality. People need to know faith in Jesus Christ can make a difference when:

• The children are sick and the boss insists on your presence at the meeting.

• Your frail and aging parents have more needs than you can meet.

• Your spouse chooses to end the marriage.

• Your child loses their way and continues to spin farther from God.

• Failure seems to be the only thing you are capable of…

Jesus meets us in our battles in ways and times perfect for our needs. He uses all we encounter to help us learn who we are and to reveal to us that He is the great “I am.” God reveals Himself in His people (in the details of our lives) so that others can see Him and know who He is too! We have the joy of helping people glimpse new dimensions of our awesome God as we share the victories that walking in the light of Christ’s presence.

God’s Word enlightens our path and reveals ways we can obediently follow Him as we face hard times. Sharing the instructions and victories we receive helps others see Truth as well. Consider the glimpses of God from the battles above:

• A parent learns God still provides as she prays and shares her dilemma.

• The overwhelmed caregiver finds new understanding about God’s ability to meet needs and learns to rest in Him rather than ‘do it all.’

• The abandoned wife realizes more of Christ’s passion for people who have rejected Him as she confronts her own emotions.

• A parent feels the depth of comfort there is in knowing the Shepherd who searches relentlessly for the lost.

• One focused on perfection finds the peace of knowing that the love of God does not depend on performance.

Those of us who walk with God must tell the difference He makes in our day-to-day lives—and what lies we have to release to receive Him. Please consider sharing the details of how you have glimpsed Christ in your life. The Master Weaver entwines the thread of our lives in amazing ways. We need each other to broaden our view:

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Cross-Life Coaching aims to help Christians live the realities of faith in the midst of the realities of life.  Learn more here:  Cross-Life Coaching

Lifemanship

It is my joy to share the excitement of our recent training on ‘Relationships.’  For three days, my daughter, Riesa and our friend Debbie invested our hearts and minds (and bodies) into understanding Relationship Principles that can be visibly demonstrated with horse and human interaction.  I am excited about the content and looking forward to building it into a discipleship model that helps Christians walk out Truths we believe.

In my delight, I wanted to share a teaser glimpse of Lifemanship and what you can expect to read more about in coming months.  As a curriculum/practice, Lifemanship weaves neuroscience, counseling theory, and equine science into the context of free will and building relationships.

Relationships are understood as the basis for whole and healthy living.  God, of course, is my role model for ‘doing life,’ so His way of doing relationship is the only one to emulate.  Lifemanship has captured that in a powerful way.  Every relationship is built on FREE WILL.  Both parties have to choose to be in relationship with one another.  Scripture is clear:  God invites us to connect with Him!

Another principle is that relationships involve give and take.  Committing to a relationship means committing to communication that shares and sticks with requests.  Lifemanship offers principles (tools) to make that happen.  One such principle is mutual benefit:  if something is good for me but not you–it is not good for our relationship!  The life of faith attests to this principle:  God never asks of us anything that is for less than our best…and it gives Him glory when we engage with Him.

Spirit Reins in Texas is a ministry that utilizes the curriculum in a powerful way.  I invite you to watch this little video…and as the Lord leads, please pray as we seek to understand more of this curriculum, practice its methodology and look for ways to share it with others!

Spirit Reins

Fresh Look at the Past is another page on this website that offers help today for those with relationships that hurt.

 

Walking with the Leader!

Walking with Scout certainly taught me many lessons.  Walking with Scout, Cooper and Barnabas has continued the process.  Personalities, self-centeredness, leadership and unity are three major challenges we tackle every time we go out for a walk.  Trying to walk 150+ pounds of dog is helping me walk out the requirements of God as stated in Micah 6:8:

He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Our dogs have inherited characteristics from their breed—and they have distinct 0219160922personalities as well.  Scout, our boxer, is a big dog—powerful and playful, he tends to be
easy-going but clearly defines the limits he finds comfortable.  Cooper is a Jack Russell, high-strung, always on edge and ready to fight any who disturb him.  Barnabas, an English Bulldog, has a stubborn complacency about him that defies disruption.  Their personalities are not equally enjoyable to me.  I have a tendency to excuse some behaviors and correct others based on my own preferences.

God is not like me: Hallelujah!  He loves each wholly.

He created each one of us different and rejoices in our differences.  God does not have favorites because He loves perfectly.  Awareness is the first step in change, so I’m glad these guys help me see that my preferences are not to determine my choices.  Loving diversity while doing justly is part of honoring God!

Appreciating uniqueness is the mark of leadership that produces unity!

Self-centeredness is a characteristic of animals–one we humans all too often share.  (By the DSC07195 (2)way, I whole-heartedly acknowledge that the love of animals is a key aspect of pet ownership.  But I submit that their love is self-centered because it emanates out of their need.  And their perspective about pet ownership is that we
belong to them!)  Taking a walk with three self-centered creatures
builds the arm and back muscles.  All
too often what catches the eye of one is in the opposite direction of what catches the eye of another.  My responsibility is to capture their attention and set the direction.

Failure to lead in a clear direction creates chaos and frustration!

The LORD is a leader who sets a definite direction.  Since God created humanity above the animals, we have extra responsibility.  Learning to take dominion over my dogs on a walk DSC00011reminds me that I am also in charge of my own walk with the LORD.  It is my responsibility to keep my eyes fixed on the LORD.  He is the author and perfecter of my faith…the One who sets the course I am to follow.  Running off my own initiative will result in correction because He is a good leader with a perfect plan.

Fixing our eyes on the Lord as our leader produces unity that advances the Kingdom of God!

Are you letting your preferences and distractability

interfere with following the Leader?  

Soul Training in the Barn is a Bible Study created to set a foundation for a firm walk.  Check it out on Amazon – it is free to Kindle Plus users!

Can ‘good’ Christians get depressed?

The account of Elijah in I Kings 19 encourages anyone who has ever suffered with discouragement, despair and despondency.  The great prophet reveals to us that no one is exempt from depression. Followers of God—sincere followers of God—still err and still suffer.  Wrong attitudes, misplaced focus and mis-understandings deluge all of us!  May God give us insights as we examine some of this great man’s life. (Please note:  This is one story of depression.  While some work of the enemy is involved in every dis-ease, every story is unique.  This is not a pointing fingers, diagnosis piece on depression.  There is help; there is hope but there is no short-cut.)

His name is a great starting point:  Yahweh is my God.  Elijah lived at the time of history when Baal worship entered into the Nation of Israel.  Often pictured with a belt around his waist, the Truth of the identity of God (Ephesians 6) defines Elijah.  He courageously proclaimed the greatness of God with his words and way of life.  Fed by ravens during a prophesied drought, sustained by miraculous provision to a widow in Zarephath and confirmed by God with fire that devoured a water-logged sacrifice, Elijah knew the power of God.

But he also knew despair that left him begging to die.  What happened?

His crash into despair came after a major battle (and victory) against the prophets of Baal.  Despite the clear testimony of Truth in that battle (1 Kings 18:20-40), Elijah ran for his life at the threatening words of Jezebel, the evil Queen.  Leaving his personal servant, Elijah chose to flee alone.  Both actions are common to those battling depression:  running away and isolating oneself.

What happened? Clearly, Elijah turned his eyes from God and opened his ears to the lies of the enemy.  Fear entered his heart.  Fear is a foe we must recognize—and fight.  

Running leads us to the pit of despair.  We are created for fellowship.  Self-doubt  and self-pity then crushed Elijah’s spirit.  He began to beg God to let him die.  Here we see another common error that darkens our lives:

We forget that it has never been about our power or ability!

Our great and gracious God then revealed his tender care by sending an angel to bake food for Elijah.  Nowhere do we read of God telling Elijah to set out on this headlong rush into the desert:  the plan was all Elijah’s but God did not leave him alone.  He cared for him and nurtured growth in this great prophet even as he failed to trust the One he served.  When Elijah arrives at his self-determined destination of Mount Sinai, God asks Elijah a very important question:

 “What are you doing here?”

It is a question God asks each of us when we wander from trusting Him. It’s not that God doesn’t know where we are; He wants us to recognize it.  Confident he is totally right and filled with faith (he just vanquished the false prophets, didn’t he?), Elijah speaks from the same place we often live:  blindness to his own self-centered perspective.

I worked hard for you.  They have been bad.  I fought for you.  I am alone and in danger.” 

God did not defend His own honor; He did not chastise Elijah. God simply told Elijah to go stand on the mountain.  

Waiting for God is part of the recovery process!  

Elijah obeyed and witnessed the battering wind, the shaking of an earthquake and the devastation of fire.  When all those passed, the presence of the LORD came in the quiet.  Elijah stepped out of his hiding place but not out of his stubbornness.  The holy presence of God left him unmoved from his place of self-pity and pride. Recovery (and repentance) take time.  God is merciful:  he gives us time to figure things out!

The life of faith is not without error and failings…nor is it without mercy & grace!

God did not demand an apology or upbraid Elijah for his struggle. It is in our weakness that God’s strength is perfected.  God is not surprised by our failures; He has us covered!  God simply gave Elijah the instruction, “Go.”  Just as ‘wait’ is part of the recovery process, so is ‘go.’  Pressing forward from the hard times helps us get back to seeing God with clearer focus.

God was not done with Elijah.  He is not done with us!  

Elijah still had work to do.  It was challenging work; work that would bring battering winds and earth-shaking events to the ones who were rebelling against God.  Work that would bring the still small voice of God to those who were listening.

“Go back the way you came,” he told Elijah.

As Elijah obeyed, he found Elisha, the one he was to mentor and guide to greatness.  Together, they nurtured many in the school of prophets.  At the end of his earthly walk, God whisked Elijah away in a chariot of fire.  Despair and failure are part of this life.  We don’t need to run in fear.  Walk back, face the things that blinded you to the Truth of God and then go on with life.  Ask God to lead you to the help you need in the process.  Don’t try to go it alone!  We are made for each other.  There is work to be done and glory to receive!