Shrinking Yourself to Please Others? Pressing Through the Fear

Recently, as I was scrolling through my twitter feed I came to this post by Christine Caine.  It spoke to me and I’d like to share my thoughts with you.

20769960_10155494802417604_6340948060734701365_n

I posted this meme on Facebook with a brief comment that truthfully could have given  ample space to all kinds of imaginations.  So, let me clarify why this spoke to me.

On face value it could be taken as a passive/aggressive statement.  The context of one’s personal situation will determine how the reader perceives the statement.  I would have worded it differently had I written it myself.  I didn’t post it as an “in your face” statement. What struck me most when I read it was the beginning sentence — “You will never fulfill your purpose if you have to shrink yourself in order to stay connected to people or things.”  

Hmmm, words for deep reflection right there!

I would reword it by saying, “It is difficult to reach your goals if you have to shrink yourself in order to stay connected to certain people or things.”

As I have matured in Christ, one of the things I love most about this season in life is the wisdom that accompany’s it.  Such satisfaction to be at peace and to have worked through most of the challenges of youth and young adulthood.  Fr. Richard Rohr’s book “Falling Upward” was significant in helping me understand where I am in life.  The move to Texas along with having a new business brought lots of changes over the past few years.  Christine’s words reflect part of my journey.

We’ve moved often. I’ve moved so many times in life that the thought of it was not necessarily exciting.  It meant rebuilding again.  (If you’ve never had to do this, let me assure you it is one of the hardest things to do, starting over in a new place.)  Ugh, I hate it!  When you are younger you haven’t built anything , but the older you are the harder the move is.  You are formed, you’ve solidified and grown into something solid and strong.  You’ve built relationships and friendships that support you.  You have sacrificed and poured out precious moments in life with others.  A bond took place, your life was planted … So, uprooting it is hard.

Here’s how this story unfolds for me … 

Every time we’ve moved my first goal was build relationships.  I purposefully want to become a part of community.  It’s important.  It starts by becoming a part of a group.  School, church, sports, where ever there is activity geared toward group participation.  I know how to do this and can make the necessary adjustments with little trouble, I am a people person.

What Christine’s encouragement spoke to me, which the reader doesn’t know is, God has been speaking these same words to me for a year.  I’m pretty sure her words were to encourage those stuck in trying to please others rather than do what is in their own heart.  Especially if you have a call on your life.  God has things for you to do that only you know.  Having the confidence to follow or respond to these desires can be frightening.  Some people don’t have trouble with this, like the type A personality.  People like myself, who would much rather support someone else, need a push to put themselves forward.  One of my greatest challenges is seeing my own value, however, that is changing for me…

I didn’t really like the part where she says, “They don’t love you, and never did…” That’s  likely not true, maybe they don’t recognize your true value.  How many times have we not seen or empowered others.  I think its better to say, “You can do it, be confident in who you are.  You know what’s right, so follow that.  Do what you know God is calling you to do.  Trust Him.” Memes fall short in that they make broad and overreaching statements.  This is about healthy boundaries, something we learn as we grow.

It takes courage to leap into the unknown.  That’s all this was for me, it was another encouragement to continue to do what is in my heart without fear.  Other people don’t stop us unless we allow them to.  God is our strength.  Not everyone will agree with us, or support us, but when we are sure that God is leading us, (especially when one has been at this thing for 37 years), we need to go ahead and step out of the boat!

I had the opportunity to go to a Cross-Encounter at my home church recently.  I have to admit, the thing I fight often is fear, ( fear of failure, of rejection, of people’s opinions).  I was encouraged by Christine Caine’s meme because it spoke to a place of weakness where God is speaking.  He is calling me out into the scary unknown.  I’ve gotten my toes wet, but quickly pulled back.  However—I know that God is calling me out of the boat.  I am saying  yes to the call and to follow where He is leading me.  This means that the path might be different from yours, and even off the old path I’ve traveled for so long.  He encouraged me, back in November 2016, “Be fully who I have made you Susan.  Don’t apologize or minimize anything I’ve done in you.  It’s not important for others to know or understand, no… what is important is that you trust and follow me!”  Following Him means to me that I need not fear to take the turn in the bend.  To go to new places and TRUST fully in Him even as the path may be unfamiliar to me!

Shalom friends! I love you!

 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” Ephesians 2:10 Amplified Version

 

Advertisements

Consider The Lilies of the Fields

Inspired by a vintage fountain pen, the “Swan” produced by Mabie Todd Pen Company, circa 1920’s, and filled with Iroshizuku Ina-Ho, a Japanese gold ink .img_7561

“…If you wish to be a writer, write…”  Epictetus

The sausage is slowly baking in the oven.  The washing machine is humming, and churning away in the background.  Mmmm, a delicious smell floats into my office from the pork-a-licious fat drippings in the pan. I’m at my desk, flipping through Instagram on my computer while paper and pen await.

(“Instagram”… Friends from every corner of the world.  A global community. Urban, and country, its life through the portal of photography…) I enjoy each picture I encounter.  I’m poised, I’m ready.. now Susan… write!

Today is Saturday, January 14, 2017 — “I am good at the analog, yet I know the digital is important too.”

REFLECTIONS

I sat quietly this morning, listening.  The birds were singing.  Hmmm, how happy they sounded.  I was drawn to the kitchen window hoping to see them in action. (Birds are so beautiful you know.)  As I stood there watching, my thoughts went to the scripture in Matthew’s img_7589Gospel…“consider the lilies of the fields…”  I search for my bible, then I look for this verse, I found it!

Matthew 6:19-34 is Christ’s teaching on money, possessions and worry.  He connects our desires, and our focus on what we naturally think gives us life, (the pursuit of all things material), to the deep debilitating energy of worry. I had forgotten that He also used the birds in this discussion.  I am looking and listening as I re-read this account…

“…Look at the birds, they don’t plant or harvest or store in barns for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”   (vs. 26,27 NLT)

My meditation for 2017 is ~rediscovering the sacred in everyday life.  I am looking for God in every moment.  I treasure life, its precious.  There is tremendous beauty to behold.  If I’m looking, and intentionally noticing, I’ll learn the art of enjoying life.  I know how to worry,  I think most of us do because we are human.  It is the most natural thing to do. Yet,  Jesus is guiding us toward a deeper truth that life is more than ” the business of gain” …the hustle and bustle driven by the basic need to survive.  He turns our thoughts toward a  world unkown.  A world where God, our heavenly Father is actively involved in our daily living.  How interesting that he chose the birds and the lilies, things very present, all around us, yet unknown unless we pay attention.

I hear the Lord saying… “Listen.” “See.” “Notice.” So, ok, I need to stop and…

“Look at the birds, for they…”

“Consider… the lilies of the field, they …”

Thank you Lord, I am encouraged by this observation today.  How beautiful and in sync those birds are.  How lovely and alive they seem, completely comfortable, and at home here in God’s good earth.  I am reminded again that we have to look deeper than the surface, as there is mystery, beauty, hidden treasures to be found.  Slow down, look, listen, observe, and reflect.  God is present.  The sacred is found in the everyday, ordinary, mundane moments in life. I am reflecting, looking at the beauty around me and I’m reminded that in all of God’s amazing creation, my life is valuable because I am human, I am created in the image of God… can I trust Him?  Yes, I can because… He cares for me!   The Kingdom of God is not seen so easily with the natural eye, it takes some refocusing.  It’s hidden but can be seen if one turns to see…

Jesus is our guide, choose to follow Him.  God’s Kingdom is known and experienced through the Holy Spirit who Jesus sent.  As we choose to follow Christ, Holy Spirit makes his home in us and leads us, showing us the way of the cross…

Finding the Sacred…

Life is sacred

 

Finishing The Race

As 2016 gets into full swing, I am looking ahead.  The past is gone and today we put into motion that which is or is to come.  One of the things that I keep meditating on this year is “finishing the race.”  There are many distractions and situations that can pull me away from making everyday new with Christ.  There are all kinds of natural things that can draw me away from the Kingdom.  As I’ve grown in the Lord I’ve come to realize there are many things that appear on the “spiritual” side of life that are not truly Kingdom purposed. 2016 is a year of focusing in on the important, Christ-centric motives and characteristics of the Christian Life.  Not only have I reach a natural age of maturity, but I’ve come to a strong, solid age of spiritual maturity as well.  I am so fixed in my relation to Christ and the cross.  My roots are really deep in the well of life.  These two scriptures are something good to meditate on as we continue our journey into circa 2016:

Philippians 4:4-9 New Living Translation (NLT)

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

And

Hebrews 12:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Although I titled this “Finishing The Race,” I don’t see it is as a competition with others.  I see it as a determined decision to follow Christ into His Kingdom and let His revolutionary life transform me in the midst of a world that is in complete contrast to it.  And so, keeping my eyes fixed on him I won’t get off track. Living this way means that I will have to say no to the crowd on the side of the road, and pressing straight ahead keeping the cross in front of me. Because like Paul wrote in the letter to the church in Galacia

Galatians 2:20-21 Living Bible (TLB)

“I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not one of those who treats Christ’s death as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping Jewish laws, then there was no need for Christ to die.”

I am leaning into, relying on, and fixing all my thoughts and desires completely on Him.  My life is no longer mine, but fully submitted to my Glorious King.

Have a very blessed 2016 my friends!

Go deeper in the life of Christ, seeking Him over all else!

I love you!

What Would Jesus Say?

I recently read a book that stirred me to do something I haven’t done before.  The book is called LORD SAVE US FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS – Why is the Gospel of Love Dividing America? by Dan Merchant

The book was inspired by a bumper sticker which was on a car parked in a church parking lot.  I am not going to write a review on the book, however I found it very enlightening and actually it challenged me to look at my own life.

Dan Merchant put on a jump suit covered in all sorts of  religious bumper stickers and hit the streets of NYC.  He asked people five questions to which were geared at finding out what people think about God, Creation, Christianity and the political culture war.  Their responses were amazing.

As the political wars heat up in our nation, people are watching the church.  One man’s answer to one of the questions really struck me.  He was asked about if he likes Christians.  His response spiked my interest!   Here is his answer–“Yeah I do like the red letter Christians”.  Dan asked, “What do you mean by that, who are they?”   The man answered, “They do what Christ has taught them, and they act like Him. This is what I think being a Christian is, isn’t it?”  

The young man talked about all the angry, harsh, judgmental voices who say they speak for Christ.  Interestingly enough, he is not a Christian.

People are listening to what we do and say and these interviews prove that it’s true.  Jesus is not Republican or Democrat.  He would probably be considered a moderate.  Anyway, moving on… I decided that I need to read the red letters in my bible.

In the Plethora of knowledge and information being slammed at us, it is easy to forget what Christ said about many things.  Over the last decade, I have walked through some very interesting places.  I have had the opportunity to meet and work with many of God’s people who by our standards are successful.  I have learned a great deal from these pillars in the church and stay close to the foundations of faith they have laid in my life.  However, I find myself desiring to go back to the beginning; to where it all started for me, because it was there that I found a freshness, a new birth and newness of life.  The sweet experience of drawing close to Him, coming to meet Him without any agenda.  Just simply to sit and be in His presence.  He was the focus, not me and not the teachings of current human leaders.

The red letters continue speaking to us today.  Man is still flesh and blood.  We deal with the sin nature every day.  Just because we are Evangelicals, Full Gospel, Charismatic, Word of Faith, Reformed, Methodist… (the list goes on), doesn’t mean that we can’t be seduced by the power of dogmatic religion.  Because we ARE human, we are still very susceptible to becoming HYPOCRITES in the worst way.  Hypocrisy is what Christ so vehemently opposed, which is saying one thing, and doing another.  Professing that we love Him, yet hating, judging, condemning and rejecting others.

One powerful point that spoke to me from this book is that we have become a — BUMPER STICKER SOCIETY.  Yes, Twitter, Facebook, texting, even WordPress–lol, and all the other bleeps that come across our lives everyday… We’ve become so isolated and impersonal.  Dan made a great point and it is resonating in me.

“We have become a society of shout outs; we shout out complex thoughts and ideas in a short, summarized quote or sentence.  We are satisfied because we think that people have heard us. We like this because we don’t want to become uncomfortable with the whole process of interacting with someone.  Most people do not want dialogue, they just want a place to tell you what they think without opening to you the courtesy of a response.”

What a brilliant observation!!

I for one am just tired of it!  This type of communication is creating people who do not know how to have conversation or deep shared relationship.  They do not know what to do with someone who has a contrary opinion or a desire to go deeper into what you just said.  They become talking heads who are more passive-aggressive in how they deal with people, and they simply do not know how to embrace those who think differently, ask questions or have opposing views.

“What Did Jesus Say?”

I desire to be like Christ, that is my goal.  Jesus warned us that the leaven of the Pharisees is Hypocrisy and just a little bit will grow and infuse the whole lump (dough or bread).  Hypocrisy is birthed in pride and self-centeredness.  Self absorption can be very Holier than thou and expresses itself in what we think looks very spiritual.  The Book of James has a lot to say about that.  However, humility is the true measure of spirituality.  Not money, success, position, power or title.

As I was reading in Matt 5 – 7 I found the Lord’s exhortation to us …

Matthew 5:38-42   to go the extra mile.
Matthew 5:43-48   to love our enemies.
Matthew 6:1-4      don’t boast about what you are doing.
Matthew 7:1-6      don’t judge others (because you can’t see their inner motive) unless you want that same  judgement.

Jesus came to a community of religious people who were self absorbed, self focused, they were the keepers of the scriptures but blind to the truth.  They became very aggressive and political when he spoke to motives of the heart.  He is speaking those same things to us today… How will we respond?

I’m praying to meet people who aren’t one way conversationalists, self absorbed, self promoting, egotists filled with one thing!  I long for those who want to dialogue.  Brethren who really want to talk and engage others, who are not afraid to discover who I am as opposed to forcing me to become who they think I should be.  Christ is one of these people… He is calling us to be the same.

The Journey

The Red Letters…
WWJS

As The Eagle Soars

brown bird flying near mountain

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

Isaiah 40:27 – 31  (New Living Translation)

 

“O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? Oh Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of all the earth. He never grows week or weary. No one can measure the depth of his understanding. He gives power to the week, and strength to the powerless.  Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion, but those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will walk and not faint. 

What a beautiful word picture!!!  This amazing ability to soar up, lifted by the wind, higher and higher  —yet like Pilgrim, from the classic “The Pilgrims Progress” by John Bunyan, I’ve found myself in all kinds of situations along the lower path, known to us as the valley.

The valleys, Ugh!

Those difficult times of questioning…  “When God, when are you going to come rescue me?”  The feelings and emotions wrestled with there — the choking, suffocating, fear infused, self doubting moments— deep periods of unbelief.  We’ve all been there… and they’re hard to maneuver sometimes.  But it’s here in these darkest places where we learn to TRUST.  Learning to lean in, and rely on, the Character of God, this is what it all boils down to!

He is FAITHFUL and TRUE.  This is His character.  In chapter 40 in the book of Isaiah, we see the Prophet, moved by the Holy Spirit speaking of the vastness and supremacy of God.  Yet this great and powerful being, Who holds the heaven and earth together, is Israel’s Faithful Helper.  This word picture, when planted in our mind, helps us to see God’s will for restoration.  Why is this important? because without understanding, we stumble around in the dark.  When we are stumbling around in the dark, we miss all kinds of things.  Another thought to consider is — How can we trust a God who says one thing, yet does another?  Does He express both good and evil towards us? Or, are there distinct characteristics between darkness and light?  These are questions that need answers.

Speaking of darkness, It is the complete opposite of light.  Jesus is the Light and Life of Men.  We get off track by not staying focused on Him.  He is the complete expressed image of God.  Everything must process through the redemptive work of Christ.  If it doesn’t line up with redemption, we need to reconsider it.   The church today needs to remember Christ’s anger was aimed at the religious, hard-hearted, pharisee.  With all of their “cult of religion,” they were no closer to God than those they judged.  God is Love.  Let’s try to remember this in all that we do and say… 

God is a patient and kind Father.  He is committed to keeping us on the right path.  Never far away at all.  To our natural eyes and senses, it’s hard at times to perceive Him.  Faith and patience the two power twins come along side and lift us up.  They are the unseen forces, like the wind.  These two super powers when joined together blow a powerful gust of the Spirit’s anointing which will carry us up.  The illustrated example is beautifully spoken by Isaiah, just when Israel was in need of major encouragement.

Isaiah 40:1 starts off with “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God.  How beautiful!  God said, “Be comforted my people, I love you, I am here for you!”

If you are in need of help, strength or encouragement today, let this insightful picture of the eagle, as he glides on the wings of the wind, go deep in your heart and mind.  Reach out with TRUST, believe that God wants to rescue you.  Your life is important to Him, as Jesus shared, “Consider the Lily’s of the field, how much more your Father in Heaven cares for you…”  (Matt. 7:28-30). And then Jesus asks the crowd, “Why do you have so little faith?” 

Friends, resist the urge to believe God is bearing down on you with oppression to teach you something, no, that’s the work of darkness.  He is in the valley with you, leading you out.  Look up to heaven, where your help comes from, because your help does come from the Lord!

Isaiah spoke encouragement to God’s people then, let these words speak the same encouragement to us today! THOSE WHO WAIT (trust in, believe on) THE LORD, will have wings like the eagle and… THEY WILL SOAR WITH RENEWED STRENGTH.  GOD WILL RESCUE THEM.

Seeing through the eye of FAITH changes everything!

Silah!

Blessings Friends

His Joy, My Joy — Inspired by a Facebook Post

I was inspired to write today because of something someone posted on my FB wall.  Thank you Sande, I needed a little nudge to get some words out.

90 Lbs lighter, and feeling so good.

 

 

Almost two years ago, I was grossly over weight and very unhealthy physically.  I was also in recovery from a crisis that our family went through two years before that.  Although the crisis hit us in August of 2009, it had been on it’s way for some time.  I wrote a post on this blog which I will link to at the end if you’d like to read it, it’s about shame.  Oh boy, that was such a tough time.  Praise God he brings us through, and always, if we co-operate with Him, He makes all things new.

Since August 2009 I have been on a journey of discovery right along side recovery.  I might say that  “in the journey of recovery, I have rediscovered who I am”.  There are many things that we face in life, some we choose, others we don’t, but when we end up in crisis what we do in the decision making process will determine the outcome of our success.

My friend mentioned that since I have lost weight I am expressing more joy and reaching out wider.  — You are right girlfriend, but it’s not simply the weight loss, it is more that I have encountered Christ in a deeper, richer way.  In the midst of the valley, in the darkest night, His incredible LOVE was unveiled before my eyes.  In the sparkle of my life, what may have seemed good or wonderful really wasn’t. There was something missing.  His voice was dull, and I have discovered that a lot of my time was spent on trying to reproduce what I was learning from others instead of really allowing the Holy Spirit to have His perfect way in me.  Now —not that I didn’t know Him, I did, it’s just that now, I know Him more..

In the depth of despair there was the most brilliant light. The most powerfully sustaining person, carrying me to safety under His Glorious Wings.  He brought  me out of a deep dark pit.  He has set my feet on solid ground.  His Grace was/is sufficiant and the power of forgiveness has delivered me from the power of bitterness, pain and sorrow. I have traded my sorrows for His Joy. He has caused me to overcome all the power of evil.

Preaching In Guatemala April, 2013

My joy not only comes from meeting a goal that I set, but it comes from a personal wrestling with Christ, His Spirit, and His Truth. I can truly say as did the man who wrote the old Hymn… It Is  Well… “Yes, it is well, it is well, with my soul.”

I have one thing I’d like to really say today, only one last IMPORTANT request.

Friends, reach out today to the only ONE who really can make all things new, reach out to Christ, our Risen Redeemer, the ONE who through His sacrifice and disciplined, faithful work… opened Eternity to you.  Embrace Him, take hold and never let go.  His ability is far superior to any gift or strength known to man.  It’s not just about a sinner being saved by grace, but it’s about coming to a Kingdom that is ruled by a life changing King.  A Lord who understands His subjects and paid all He had to give them the Kingdom of His Father.  A Kingdom that is ruled by grace, and truth. It is empowered by faith which works by love. It is a place of true freedom and If we only believe, we can receive…

This JOY, His JOY is the strength of  my life.

I love you!!

Scripture references: Ps 40:1-3,  Hebrews 4:14-16,  Revelation 21,   Romans 10:9,10,   Hebrews 11:6

This is the post from 2010 if you’d like to read it.  Unashamed

Updates From Guatemala

Well, finally, I am back to blogging again.  I am learning the art of media and the published word.  It has been a real learning curve for me, but very worth it.

My trip to Guatemala was another successful one.  In fact I would say it was one of the best ever.  I taught my class 3 consecutive times, which meant that I taught 8 out of the 10 days I was there including Sunday’s trip to Huehue.  I was pretty exhausted at the end.

The students were wonderful.  Hungry for the Word.  I am always so amazed at how the Holy Spirit opens their hearts through the teaching.  When we look through the controversial scriptures of Paul, they are usually a little apprehensive as to what is to come.  At the end of each exegetical study, they are amazed at how much sense it makes when approached with the knowledge of the Greek or Hebrew.  In fact asking the right questions of the letter, or text, will help us know to what he meant.  In each instance, there are statements made by the apostle that simply do not make sense.  These confusing teachings make more sense to us when we understand the times and the people they were written to, discover the meaning in the original language, and then see how they relate to us today.

I want to thank you so much for all the love and support you given over the years, I simply could not do this without you.

God bless you dear friends!!
Susan