Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Watering the Kernels of Truth

Lately, God has been changing how I look at the people around me and what I’ve been focusing on. I’m seeing more and more that this journey isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong but it’s about people and relationships. Religion has convinced us that what we believe is what is most important and we have to do whatever we can to convince others of our truths. While I do think it’s important to have correct doctrine, I think we’ve blown it all out of proportion and the result is that believers think that it’s their job to correct wrong beliefs, even the smallest ones.

The truth is that the Holy Spirit is the teacher of the church and, while he may work through other believers, he usually does it through relationships. In concentrating its emphasis on correct doctrine, I believe the church has gotten off and the result has been a church that is divided into various camps based on what each group believes. The result is anger and vicious attacks on one another and on those outside of the camp.
However, when we focus on relationships, the fighting stops. While I’m not saying that we should compromise our beliefs, I do believe we need to recognize and appreciate the kernels of truth that are in all of us because each of us has some aspect of truth that’s alive in us. I’m coming to believe that instead of focusing on what I view as a person’s wrong thinking and feeling like I have to fix it, I now want to water and encourage those kernels of truth that are shining so brightly in them and watch them grow.

Recently, one of my friends was describing a conversation he had had with another mutual friend of ours. During the conversation, our mutual friend said, “I don’t care if you’re right or wrong. I care about you.”

That simple statement exploded in my heart. I really believe that’s the secret to this journey in Christ. I’ve determined that this is how I want to live my life, seeing and encouraging the life of Christ that’s in each of us and giving others the freedom to grow and to discover truth in their own way and time.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Savoring the Lord's Supper

I’ve been on Weight Watchers now for about a year and a half. Since I’m still in the process of losing weight and trying to learn to eat healthy, I think it’s great whenever I find an article that gives me suggestions that I can use to develop a healthier lifestyle.

I tend to eat too quickly so recently, when I read an article about eating slowly, it immediately caught my attention. The author said it takes time about 20 minutes for our sense of full to kick in so when we gobble our food too quickly, we don’t give ourselves enough time to feel full. So, as a result, we tend to overeat. Instead, the article said that we need to eat slowly and savor eat bite. This is a concept that I’m trying to learn but unfortunately I’ve usually consumed most of my meal before I remember to slow down and savor it.

In the Christian religion, a tradition has developed which is called the Lord’s Supper. In this tradition, the participants sit quietly in neat rows while they are each given a tiny piece of bread to eat and a thimbleful of grape juice to drink. When the activity is over, they’re told that they’ve just participated in the Lord’s Supper. I believe this tradition cheapens the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper was never meant to be tiny snack quickly consumed in a mournful atmosphere. Instead, it was supposed to be a full meal enjoyed by the family of God.

Dictionary.com defines savor as “to give oneself to the enjoyment of: to savor the best in life.”

I think this is a great description of how we’re supposed to eat the Lord’s Supper. It’s a time to relax and savor the meal in a thankful, joyful atmosphere surrounded by family and friends. Instead of sitting quietly and eating, it should be a time filled with conversation and laughter as we celebrate our lives together as believers.

Today, it’s known that an important part of healthy family life is the time when the family gathers around the dinner table and shares with one another the events of their day. We live in a busy society where during the day, family members are scattered going their separate ways. The communal family dinner is important for keeping the family together. Of course, some families sit at the same table and each eats his or her own meal in total silence so the food really isn’t what’s important. What is important is that each member takes time away from his or her busy schedule to connect with the others in a meaningful way and this always involves conversation and sharing.

The same is true for God’s family. As we gather together and share our lives over a meal, relationships are formed. Instead of being a people of rituals and traditions, as children of God, we’re to be people of relationship.

I believe the Lord’s Supper actually takes place when the church gathers for a covered dish supper. Each participant brings a meal to share with the rest of the family. As they gather to eat and share the events of their lives, walls come down in this relaxed atmosphere. Together, they remember and re-count the blessings of their salvation and the family experiences the unity of fellowship. Before his death, Jesus asked God to bring the church into oneness with one another and also with him and God. I believe the unity of fellowship that is experienced when the church gathers together to eat a meal is an answer to this request.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Necessary Element of Prayer

Monday night of this week, Darin Hufford’s daughter Emma was rushed to the hospital after she fell off the monkey bars onto her back. She broke her arm in two places and there was concern that she might also have spinal injuries. It was stressful for the family as they waited. The doctors finally decided to do an MRI but she reacted badly to the medicine they gave her so the MRI had to be cancelled. Darin later reported that she was fine and was being released.
While I waited, all I could think of was sweet little Emma lying on a hospital bed with possible major injuries. What was going on with my friends was difficult for me since I was so far away plus I had just seen them the week before. (To read my post regarding the wonderful weekend I spent with Darin and his family, follow this link.)

On this journey that I’m on, I’ve struggled with knowing what prayer should look like. As I worried about Emma and her family, I thought about putting this need on a prayer list. Instead, I ended up asking only one friend to pray. When the good report came that Emma was fine and that she was home, I told my friend, Linda, and the joy and relief on her face was obvious. I told her that I knew she would pray and it was obvious to me that she had.

I thought about why she was the only one I had asked to pray even though there were other friends I could have asked and the answer that came to me was love. I knew that even though she didn’t know Darin or Emma, she knew me and loved me. Because she loved me, I was confident that she would care about and pray for what was important to me.

We hear so much about faith being the secret to effective prayer. Although faith is important, there’s another element that I believe is just as important and maybe even more important than faith and that element is love. Without love, we won’t pray and, if we do pray, it’ll be a half hearted prayer that we do to get over our feelings of guilt and then we quickly forget to pray again. The bottom line is we don’t pray because we don’t love.

Love will compel us to pray and to continue to pray even when we don’t see the results we want. We can’t work up love but, as we’re set free by God’s love and acceptance, love will become who we are.

As I look at this friend who prayed for Emma, I see love personified in her. Linda is love and, even though she struggles with issues in her own life, she doesn’t hesitate to talk to our Daddy because love compels her.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Good to Be Seen

As a followup to the first podcast I did with Darin Hufford and Aimee Dassele while I was in Arizona last weekend, we also did one entitled "It's Good to Be Seen."  That has now been posted and, in it, we talked about how many people who suffer abuse have learned to cope with it by rationalizing the abuser's actions away until they've convinced themselves that they're really not being abused.  It was a great conversation which I think you'll enjoy.

To listen to it, go here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Discussing Spiritual Abuse

I recorded a couple of podcasts with Darin Hufford during my recent visit with him and his family. How exciting it was to be in the recording room and to see what goes on behind the scene of the “Into the Wild” podcast. I had never realized how much prep work is necessary even before the actual recording starts so I now have a greater appreciation for all of the time and effort that Darin puts into recording and posting two podcasts a week.

Darin has just posted the first of these podcasts, “Spiritual Abuse – An Interview with Aida Calder.” I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Impressions of an Amazing Family

I’m writing this while sitting on an airplane headed home from Phoenix, Arizona after having spent the weekend with Darin Hufford and his family. Darin and I have been friends for a number of years and I have spoken to him and his wife on many occasions. I had finally gotten to meet him earlier this year when he was in Alabama. That weekend in Alabama was absolutely wonderful!  My life was radically changed and I’m still living in the freedom that I experienced while there. I wrote a post about that amazing weekend and, if you’d like to read it, follow this link.

I arrived in Phoenix Friday night and Darin picked me up at the airport. He was accompanied by his two youngest daughters, Emma and Eva, two absolutely gorgeous little dolls. When we got to his home, I was greeted by Angie his wife. Angie and I are also good friends but this was my first time actually meeting her in person. I also met Darin’s other three children as well as their dog, Snowball. Actually, I had already met his oldest daughter Landin while in Alabama and fallen in love with her so it was great to see her again. However, it was my first time meeting their second daughter Sidney and their son Jude so I was excited to be able to see the entire family together.

Although Darin and I have been friends for quite some time, by spending time in his home with him and his family, I was able to see him in a totally different light.

Darin is an amazingly gifted person and, because he’s an author and speaker who travels throughout the world, people tend to look at him with starry eyes and fail to see the real man. I’ve heard people say that he’s arrogant but the Darin that I know is a man of great humility who is passionately driven by his love for people and his desire to see them set free. Since I met him a number of years ago, my life has been transformed in a major way and I know that has also been the experience of thousands who have heard him teach or have read what he has written.

Darin and his family live simply and enjoy life together. I was immediately put at ease and I was able to just kick back and be myself. Knowing that I’m loved and accepted unconditionally caused me to feel like I didn’t have to pretend. I could just be myself. What I discovered about the Hufford household is that there’s no pretense there. What you see is what you get. How refreshing that is in a world where people are always wearing masks.

While there, I also had the privilege of meeting Aimee Dassele and Amy Ramos who both help Darin with the "Into the Wild" podcasts. It was great putting a face to a voice and to spend time getting to know them as well.  Because of his work schedule, I was unable to meet Robert Ramos and that was  a disappointment.  Maybe it'll work out next time.

And now about . . . Angie! What a gift she is to Darin and the Free Believers Network. I was immediately struck by her gentle nature but I also saw that she’s a woman of great strength. She’s a support for Darin and the two of them work together as one to take care of their family and to share the message of God’s love and grace. Darin told me that she’s the perfect wife for him and I could immediately see that was true.

Their children are typical children with a lot of squabbling but, in spite of that, it was obvious that there was a lot of love among them all. The level of love in the Hufford household is unique and I was immediately surrounded by it and it felt good.

Darin is founder of the Free Believers Network, a website devoted to sharing the message that God is love and that he loves you. He’s also author of the bestselling book, “The Misunderstood God.” His ministry has been life changing for me and, if you haven’t read his book, I suggest getting a copy, making yourself comfortable and start getting to know the God that religion has hidden from us. And, I’m sure you’ll discover the God that you’ve always known in your heart.

To order a copy of “The Misunderstood God,” follow this link.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Love: The Foundation of Patience

We’re often told about the dangers of asking for patience. We’re warned that if we do, God will answer our prayers by zapping us with a string of terrible problems because patience comes as we learn how to endure problems without blowing up. However, the truth is we don’t have to ask for patience because we already have it. We don’t have to pray for it nor do we have to try to work it up.

Patience doesn’t come through standing tough in the middle of problems because patience is a fruit of the spirit. It’s an aspect of God’s nature and it was placed in us when he came to live in us. As children of God, we now have his nature so patience is now an aspect of our nature. Our new hearts are now filled with patience so all we have to do is let patience have its perfect work.

I believe the reason so many of us struggle with a lack of patience is because we’ve lost connection with our hearts. Our hearts are the seat of God’s life in us and, when we lose connection with our hearts, we block the flow of his life in and through us. So, even though we have patience, we’re not always patient.

Darin Hufford does a fantastic teaching that he calls “Consulting the Flame.” I love how he compares God’s love with a flame that burns in our hearts and , as we examine that flame, we can see what’s in the hearts of others. In his book, “The Misunderstood God,” Darin said, “Perhaps the most exciting revelation I came to understand when I fell in love with people was that patience comes through understanding. Understanding comes through love. When you truly love someone, whether a spouse, a child, or a friend, you understand his or her heart. And when you understand someone’s heart, you have patience.” (page 30)

When we see what’s in the hearts of others, we’ll understand why they behave the way they do and, when we understand, patience is produced as a by-product of that understanding but it all begins with love.

He also said, “Love is the same way. When you love someone, you will see the injured child in everything they do. Love’s eyes look beyond the flesh and into the heart. People who lack patience are blind to the heart. Love sees a person’s heart because love both originates in the heart and is directed toward the heart. When looking for patience, we must turn to love to find it.” (page 31)

I think Darin has said it well. Patience comes through understanding and understanding comes from love and love comes as we learn to see with our hearts. It is a process, however, so learning how to see with our hearts is not always automatic. It takes time to develop and even then, it’s a choice. I suppose while we’re in these earth suits, patience will never be fully developed but I believe we can grow in it as we learn to see with our hearts.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

MY JOURNEY OUT OF OZ – THE EXODUS

My friend, Windblown, has continued the story of her journey out of spiritual abuse into freedom and she has graciously allowed me to post it.  Here she describes her exit from the abusive group. To read her previous posts, go here and here.  Windblown's daughter who had also been part of this cult also shares her story for, as windblown told me, her story is also windblown's story.  This is an amazing story of God's redemption and restoration.


MY JOURNEY OUT OF OZ – THE EXODUS

OR

”THERE’S NO PLACE

LIKE HOME”

Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?

Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.

Dorothy: I have?

Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?

Glinda: Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~“I stepped out of the door, locked it behind me. I left in a borrowed car, with only my clothes and books. No home, no family, no future (that I could see.)

But as I stepped out, it was as if I was lifted on “eagles wings” and taken forth into my new life.

I felt as if I had been “flung” into the air, and the very Hand of God caught me and has never let go of me.”~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The wind was at my back, my future ahead of me~~I WAS FREE!

Prisons aren’t always high walls and bars. Some prisons are only in our minds.

I didn’t know it then, but this was the beginning of my “windblown” life.

Driving down the highway I felt strangely calm and at peace. The fact that I had no idea where I would live was not a pressing issue at that moment. A friend who had a missions group offered to let me stay there for 2 weeks until I left for a scheduled month-long trip to another country where we did missions work.

The church was still intact at this point, although everything was being shaken and about to implode.

I was still on staff, but since my main function was as “intercessor/armor-bearer/traveling companion” for the pastor, my “job” was pretty much gone. But, all I felt was “peace.”

~~~~~REUNITED-RECONCILED-RESTORED~~~~~~

Several pastors and leaders had told me that I should try to contact my daughter whom I hadn’t seen or spoken to in over 7 years. I told them that I had to forsake my family because of my loyalty to my church and my family was not agreement with our views and beliefs. Plus, my daughter, according to my beliefs at the time, had broken “covenant” with us by leaving the church–a very grievous action.

One person said to me, “ Would you have stood by your daughter if she had committed a crime?” (Thinking of mothers of even the worst criminals that I had seen on TV who stood by their children, I knew that a mother’s love never stops and always believes.)

I answered, “Of course. But I needed to be loyal to my pastor. “

The person said, “What about loyalty to your own daughter?”

The power of those words hit my heart like a hammer, shattering the lie into millions of pieces, like broken glass, falling around my feet.

How could I have been so blind?

How could I ever think she would forgive me and welcome me back into her life, after my treatment of her?

I knew that I had to try to get in touch with her before I left the country.

As I was walking from my car, to the house where I was staying, I remember praying,

“Lord, I will contact my daughter, but I don’t know when and I don’t know how.”

Fear gripped me as I thought about her hanging up on me or telling me to leave her alone. Besides, I didn’t have her address or phone number.

When I reached the top of the stairs going to my room, a phone in the room down the hall was ringing. I usually just ignored it, since it wasn’t mine, but I started walking toward the room, and listened as the answering machine took the call.

It was my granddaughter on the answering machine, saying,” Do you know where my grandma is, my dad and aunt are worried about her and we don’t know where to find her.”

I could hardly believe my ears~~it hadn’t even been 5 minutes since I prayed! How did she get this number and why would she call here?

I picked up the phone, told my granddaughter what was going on and asked for my daughter’s phone number.

I dialed her number, it only rang once and there she was.

I said, “It’s mom.”

She said, “Oh mom, when can I see you?”

I said, “I’ll be right there.”

We made plans where we would meet and within an hour we were hugging and crying!

~~~AMAZING GRACE~~~HOW SWEET THE SOUND~~~

I know how the Prodigal Son must have felt when his father RAN to meet him on the road, held him and welcomed him back to the family, after all the years of squandering his inheritance.

I had squandered my most precious jewels for a deception and a lie.

But now I was HOME!!!

windblown1

~~~~~~~~~~

My Daughter’s Story

~~THE MASTER WEAVER~~

THE HOMECOMING

Separated by the powers of darkness, 1997 proved to be the darkest valley of my life. In this year, over the period of one night, I would be amputated from every relationship in my world, including my Mother (with the exception of my husband and Good Samaritan.) Resident in this cocoon of grief, turmoil and raw despairing of life, I believed that my Mother and I would be reunited. Though the bond suffered an agonizing blow that appeared dead, time would mature this faith until the powers of resurrection delivered her to my heart 7 years later.

There was a guest bedroom in our first home and there was a note on the table beside the bed. The note read, “Welcome Home MOM.” Though she did not know it, He had prepared a safe place for her to reside. She would not arrive in time to see this room, but another room awaited her in our present home.

One evening in May of 2004, my husband and I were relaxing after dinner at our kitchen table. As we spoke, the Sovereign Presence of the Almighty filled our kitchen. It was as if time stood still. I said, ” God is doing something right now….with Mom.” I felt like God ushered himself through our kitchen.

It was the very next day, my telephone rang and my mother was on the other end ~ freed by the King of the Exodus. In an instant, the forces of restoration were moving at lightning speed to forever weave the ties that He created long ago.

Truly, let NOT man put asunder that which HE has JOINED together.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. We made it ~ to the Glory of our King.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Join us now in rejoicing in this wonderful modern-day story of redemption and restoration.

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Corrie ten Boom

Friday, September 10, 2010

44 Years Together

Well, another year has passed. It’s hard to believe that today, I’ve been married for 44 years to the same wonderful man. Married life is still an adventure of learning and growing. Relationships are never static and ours certainly hasn’t been but I feel like I’m still learning what it means to live in an authentic relationship of loving and caring.

This is a special day that I never dreamed about 44 years when we committed to one another so, to celebrate this day, I’ve decided to link to a post I did two years ago on our 42nd anniversary.

Charlie, it’s been a wonderful 44 years and I still love you. Happy anniversary!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Killing the Heart

The heart is the fountain or wellspring of life. It contains the essence of who we are so that’s why God has chosen to live within our hearts. Because it is the place where God has chosen to meet with us, it’s critical that we guard our hearts.

Religion by its nature is an enemy of the heart because it attacks it by telling us that our hearts are wicked and can’t be trusted.  This creates insecurity because it causes us to distrust the voice of God who speaks to us from our heart. This false teaching is actually based on an Old Covenant verse which doesn’t apply to us today. Instead as children of God under a new covenant, we’ve been given a new heart which is infused with the life of God. 

Discussing spiritual abuse, Jim Robbins said that “This abuse may not even be intentional, but kills the heart nonetheless.” Since the heart is the wellspring of life, it’s critical that it be protected. Wellspring is defined as “a source or supply of anything, esp. when considered inexhaustible.” In other words, God’s life in us can’t be exhausted. It never comes to an end nor can its supply be depleted unless we allow a cap to be placed on our heart.

Instead of trusting the heart, religion depends on externals and it imposes a standard of obligation that’s impossible to keep. Therefore, we’re left feeling like we’re never good enough. No matter how much we read our Bible, we feel like we could have read it more. We spend an hour in prayer and we feel good until we read about the person who prays three hours a day, EVERY day. Then, the guilt sets in. It increases even more when we read about the person who fasts regularly and even does a 40 day fast EVERY year. Stories about believers who have been imprisoned or killed for their faith while we struggle with our 9:00-5:00 jobs make us feel uncommitted.

Those unfair comparisons rob our hearts of life and cripple us.

I love the description of God as a potter. A potter is an artist, a craftsman. He takes an ugly lump of clay and, out of it, he fashions a thing of beauty . . . a one of a kind piece of pottery. There is no other vessel exactly like it nor will there ever be.

It’s the same with us. We’re God’s unique creation. We’re one of a kind because there never has been anyone else exactly like us nor will there ever be.

Religion, however, takes our uniqueness and destroys it. It produces a group of cookie cutter Christians who follow the external rules of behavior instead of following the promptings of their newly created hearts. The truth is that a cap has been placed over their hearts and God’s life can no longer flow the way he intended.

In order to be fully alive, we have to break free and recover our good and noble heart. Until we do, we’ll continue to believe that our hearts can’t be trusted thereby effectively silencing God’s method of guidance in our lives. The truth is the Holy Spirit lives in us so we don’t need anyone to tell us what to do or what not to do since He is always available to teach us and to guide us.

Recently in a conversation with a friend, I told her that I don’t feel like I need to go to church anymore. She said, “So you think you know everything?” She caught me off guard and all I could think to say was, “No but I don’t think the man talking knows everything either.” Looking back at that conversation, I now think the correct response should have been, “Yes! I do know everything because God is in me and he knows everything. What I now need to do is re-connect with my heart so that I can know what he knows.”

I believe we’ve really under estimated what this new life should look like and it’s time that we change the way we view our hearts. We need to believe the truth about our good hearts and protect them at all cost from the lies that tell us that we’re not good enough.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

OUT OF THE DEPTHS

My friend, Windblown1, has once again allowed me to post more of her story. I've posted it here just as she wrote it in her journal. I'm sure those of you who have been victimized in an abusive church will be able to relate to the emotions she's expressed. I hope her writings will bring comfort and hope to those who are still hurting.


~~Musings From Inside The Walls~~8/31/95~~

I wrote this in my journal during a very difficult time in my life. There was lots of turmoil and the Lord was teaching me how to live in the reality of "Christ in me the hope of glory." I was more concerned with pleasing people than being open and honest.

Today, I have much more revelation and understanding of "living" from that deep place. It is such a place of rest and peace. It is a place of "living loved" and living in the awareness of His presence all the time.

OUT OF THE DEPTHS

Deep calls unto deep in my spirit.

This longing deep, deep within me.

To be heard, to be understood, to be listened to and not judged.

Oh, the joy of having a relationship like that with someone.

My heart longs to know You, Lord, to hear you speak to me.

You have called me to be one who knows You and Your voice.

The trials of my life harden my heart to You,

And muffle my hearing and ability to sense your nearness.

How can I stay in that place of openness to You?

What would you say to me if we were walking together

And I was able to open up and express the depths of my heart to you?

How would You answer the cry of my spirit?

“My child, My beloved child, your heart is shrunken by lack of love and caring in your life.

I long for you to know that you are filled with my Love and Life.

You shall always have things in this life that distract from My communion with you,

but keep coming to Me, I can and will help you sort out and bring light on all that concerns you.

Do you remember all those years when you heard My call, when I drew you by My Love?

Do you remember the first words I spoke to you, calling you one who knows Me and My voice?

For many years you have not walked in that place of hearing and knowing Me.

You listen and strive to please man and you have shut off the flow of My Voice to you.

But I am bringing you back into communion with Me. That is from where your strength and life will come.

The depression, the loss of your “self” is because you allowed things to interrupt our communion together.

In My teachings, I call My people friends, I speak of intimate relationship, but very few have the revelation of Me and My amazing Gift, to actually live in that place with Me.

My people are very religious, talking about scripture but never finding the entrance to that Life about which the scripture speaks.

I want you to know Me experientially, not just read about Me or hear others tell you what I am like.

You don’t like your life presently but if you yield to Me and allow me to speak to you, you will someday look at this as a most fruitful time.

You live too close to the surface.

As in the sea, the waves roar and crash, rage and foam near the surface, but out in the depths, way, way down–all is still and tranquil.

This is where I would have you live. In the depths of your being.

That is where I dwell, that is where you will find Me.

That is where you will hear the still, small voice.

If you learn to stay there, nothing will be able to move you.

I am taking you deeper.”

Windblown1


Friday, August 13, 2010

The freedom to relax

I recently heard Sarah Jacobsen say on a God Journey podcast that we've been given the freedom to relax and that comment immediately captured my attention. For years, I was on a religious treadmill trying to fill every moment of every day with spiritual activity. Reading multiple chapters of my Bible every day whether I felt like it or not just so I could check it off my to-do list. Struggling with prayer yet trying to force myself to pray at least an hour a day, especially in tongues. Going to meeting after meeting after meeting, conference after conference after conference and still no closer to God.

It was only after I had heard and understood the message of God's grace that my life started to change. It was only after I understood that God's love for me is unchanging that I gave myself freedom to relax and enjoy life. I no longer felt the need to try to earn God's love and attention because I now knew that it was mine simply because I'm his daughter.

When I wrote this post, I was sitting on the back porch of Harbor House, a bed and breakfast in Georgetown, South Carolina, which is situated on the Sampit River. As I sat on the swing, I watched the movement of the Sampit River as it flowed past the yard. The fishing boats were docked and ready to head out to sea. The sea gulls were flying overhead as the wind blew causing the colonial flag to wave gently in its breeze. As I sat on the porch swing, I could hear the soft gurgle of the fountain that was just a few feet away.

Life was peaceful and, as I relaxed in the beauty of his creation, God's presence was more real in a way it had never been in all of the hectic activity that I used to be caught up in. Learning to relax is a freedom that I've come to enjoy. Sitting in his presence aware of the sights and sounds that surround me is a special gift that I've come to appreciate and enjoy.

At one time, I would have thought that sitting quietly and relaxing was a waste of time. I felt that I always needed to be busy doing something for God. I used to divide my life into two separate compartments - the spiritual and the natural - with the natural part of my life being inferior to the spiritual. However, as I've come to know how God has created me, I've come to understand that I'm a spiritual being so whatever I do is spiritual. Now that I understand and am living in that reality, my life is coming into greater wholeness.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I'm free to sin all I want. That's foolish. God hates sin and so should we. However, it does mean that I'm now free to join him in whatever he's doing at the moment. Since my days are no longer filled with hectic activity, I'm now able to hear the quiet gentle nudges of my heart as God shows me where and with whom he wants me to be involved in that moment. At times, it may be listening to someone share their story and encouraging them as they struggle through the brokenness of their life. At other times, it might be heading off to Lowe's with my husband when I'd much rather stay home and do something "spiritual." As I've given myself freedom to relax, I'm more peaceful and what I do is now more effective because I'm doing what I know God wants done in that moment rather than following my own hectic plans.

Monday was my birthday and I'm now 64. Recently, I was speaking to a friend about getting older and she said that we're at the age where we no longer want to waste time. Instead, we want to make every minute count. Looking back, I feel like I've wasted a lot of time that I'll never be able to recover.

Today, my life may seem wasteful to others who are still caught up in a frenzy of activity. However, I'm learning that it's okay to relax and I've decided that this is the only way I want to live. Now, I'm free to be like the wind, free to blow wherever I choose and to change direction as needed.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The will of God is not a mystery

I just read an excellent article by Frank Viola entitled “Rethinking the Will of God.” For many years, I agonized over trying to figure out what God’s will was before making a decision and then, when the decision was made, I worried that I might have made the wrong decision. I finally received peace when I came to understand that God is able to lead me even when I can’t follow. He knows what I’ll decide in every situation before I make my decision and he’s already taken all of that into consideration. So, I can just make a decision knowing that if I’m heading in the wrong direction, he will correct me. Since then, making decisions have become easier and definitely less stressful.

For most of the decisions we make on a regular basis, there really is no right or wrong. Most of our decisions can best be described as wise or unwise. It’s up to us to simply decide what’s the best decision for our particular situation after weighing all of the possibilities. Decisions like where to live, what job to take or even who to marry are up to us to decide. God speaks to us through our hearts and he puts desires in our hearts so now I can be confident that as I follow those desires, I’ll be okay. If I do happen to make an unwise choice, God doesn’t abandon me. Instead, like any loving parent, he’s there to help me work through the consequences of my poor choice.

In the “The Purpose Driven Life” podcast with Darin Hufford and Robert Ramos, Darin says that when he’s asked how he knew he was called into ministry, he answers that he just wanted to do it. I believe that’s the way we’re supposed to make the decisions of our lives. What is it we want to do? That’s basically what I’ve done when faced with a decision. I started blogging because I wanted to. I moderate the Free Believers Network forum because I want to. I started doing volunteer work at a hospital because I wanted to. There are other things that I want to do and I’ve begun making plans to put them into action at a future date. I’ve never prayed about any of it. I just weighed the possibilities, looked into my heart and then decided.

Darin also said that when he didn’t want to do something anymore, he stopped doing it. He said that he had at one time started a ministry to men because he wanted to and, when he didn’t want to do it any longer, he stopped. That’s pretty much the way I’ve been doing things. I believe our lives go in seasons and we need to look at everything we do as a season in our life that is subject to change. At one time, I was very heavily involved in the church that meets in a building and I served in several different capacities but, a number of years ago, the season changed. Since I recognized when the season changed, I made the decision to move into the new season. Now, what I do is primarily online.

In the past, I found it difficult to recognize the changing seasons and I tended to stay in the old season longer than I should have. Timing is very important and it’s easier now for me to pick up on the signs that the season may be changing. I recently began to sense that a season of my life may be on the verge of changing but now doesn’t seem to be the right time to make the change so I’ll just wait and see what happens.

I really have come to believe that knowing God’s will isn’t difficult as we’ve all been taught. How much sense does it make for God to hide his will and then get angry with us when we can’t figure it out? That really is ridiculous in my opinion. He’s not an unreasonable tyrant who wants to keep us off balance. He wants us to know his will so he’s made it simple for us to figure out.

I believe there are basically two questions that we need to consider before making decisions. The first question is what do we want to do? God is not an abusive Father. He doesn’t get pleasure in making us do what we don’t want to do. If he wants us to do something, then he’ll give us a desire to do it or our desires will change and we’ll start hating what we’re currently doing and that’s our cue to know that it may be time to make a change.

We also need to ask ourselves if the decision we’re about to make expresses love. If it’s hurtful to others or unloving, then we need to seriously think if it’s something that we should be doing. After all, the flesh is also involved and it wants to do things that we shouldn’t do. The flesh sound so much like us that it’s hard to tell the difference. However, the flesh isn’t us, it’s a foreign entity that’s in us that uses our thoughts to deceive us. That’s why we need to consider love before making a decision. For example, I like to sleep a little late on weekends but when my three year old grandson is staying with us and decides to get up at 7:00 in the morning. The flesh says stay in bed but love says get up and make sure he’s okay.

God is calling us to be mature and mature people make decisions. They don’t need anyone to always be telling them what to do. When my three year old grandson stays with us, I have to tell him when to eat and when to brush his teeth or else those important things wouldn’t always get done. However, I allow his father to make those decisions for himself. When he was a young child and still at home, my husband and I made decisions for him but now he’s a man with a family of his own and he has to make his own decisions. Sure, there are times that we cringe at the decisions that he makes but it’s still his responsibility to make the decision. We can make suggestions and help in the processing but it’s still his responsibility to make the decision and we would be considered controlling parents if we tried to make those decisions for him. However, if he ends up making an unwise decision, we’ll still love him and help him work through the process of correction.

God is a wise loving Father. He’s given us all we need to make wise decisions. He’s given us a new heart which is filled with his life and wisdom and he’s also given us the freedom to explore new avenues of life but he’s promised to never leave us or forsake us so he’ll always be there no matter what we decide. Religion has kept us in an infantile stage where we’re afraid to make decisions but the day will come when God will no longer make our decisions for us. So, it’s time for the church to grow up, start trusting our new hearts and start deciding for ourselves.

To read Frank Viola’s article, follow this link and to hear Darin Hufford’s podcast, follow this link.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

This Side of the Cross

I was recently invited to become a contributing author on the "This Side of the Cross" website. I'm excited that this door has opened for me to share my writings on a more widespread basis and I hope you'll visit me there as I continue to share about God's love and grace on "This Side of the Cross."

There are a number of contributing authors with a wide diversity of thoughts and beliefs who post on this site. I'm sure you'll find something posted there that will encourage you on your journey to grow in God's love and grace.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Understanding leadership

"When you're no longer trying NOT to become something, you will be on the road to TRUE freedom."

Darin Hufford said this during his podcast, “A Whole Other Animal.” I think we can so easily fall into the trap of wanting to be free, that we even throw out those things that are legitimate. For example, he and Aimee Dassele discussed leadership. Once we leave the institutional world with its over emphasis on leadership, we tend to want to throw out the whole concept and do away with leaders. Well, the book of Judges in the Bible is filled with examples of what happens when there are no leaders. As the author of that book of the Bible said, “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes” and the result was chaos and lawlessness.

Because leadership has been misused in the institutional church, it’s become a dirty word for those who have moved away from the institutional forms of church. This is understandable, however, the truth is that God has established leaders in the church but, as was stated in the podcast, leadership is meant to be organic. Leaders were never meant to be the ones who lord it over the regular members because they’ve gone to seminary or have been ordained. In the church, I believe the purpose of leaders is to draw out the life of God that has been deposited in the hearts of those they lead. I was glad to hear Darin admit that he’s a leader because I believe he fits this picture.

When the early church appointed leaders, I believe they were simply recognizing those among them who were already functioning as leaders. Leadership isn’t a job with a job description. It’s a function and leaders are leaders even when they don’t have a job title. Leaders are easily recognized because … they lead! It’s a natural function of who they are and, in a casual setting, they may not even know they’re leading yet people are being influenced.

My husband, who is a leader, has served on several juries and each time, the other jury members have recognized his leadership abilities and he’s always been chosen to be the foreman of the jury. I’ve only been on one jury but, when it came time to pick our foreman, we knew exactly who to pick. He hadn’t done anything spectacular to attract attention to himself but, through the course of normal conversation, his leadership abilities were obvious.

Leadership was never meant to be static as it is in institutional groups. In any group, it should change from person to person depending on the circumstances and the needs of the group at that time. Any time there’s a group, leadership will naturally evolve. I think the TV program “Lost” is a good example of that. When the flight crew was killed in the crash, leadership arose among the passengers and it would often change depending on the need at the time. In my family, leadership often changes too. There are some areas of life where I’m totally clueless and I depend on my husband to make the decisions for us but there are other areas that are mine to decide and he pretty much goes along with my decision.

Recently, my husband and I had a fascinating conversation about leadership and he explained to me what makes a leader a leader. As he explained it, a leader is a visionary who inspires others with his vision. Darin Hufford in my opinion definitely is a visionary. He had a vision for the Free Believers Network long before it came to pass and he held onto it even when it looked like it would never become a reality. Another good example of a visionary is William Wallace in the movie “Braveheart.” He had a vision of freedom for his people and he so inspired his fellow tribesmen with that vision that they were willing to go to war against England, a super power of that day. His vision was so powerful that even his death couldn’t keep it from coming to pass and another leader arose who took that vision and led the people to freedom.

My husband also explained that, although a leader may have a vision, they usually lack the skills needed to bring that vision to pass so even the most compelling vision will die if there’s no one to take it beyond the visionary stage. Therefore, managers are needed. Managers have the ability and skills needed to take a leader’s vision, administrate it and bring it to pass. Leaders and managers are meant to function hand in hand, however, insecure leaders will often refuse to give authority to managers thereby effectively sabotaging and destroying their own vision.

My husband’s insight into the heart of a leader gave me another piece of the puzzle which helped me to understand how God has uniquely created me. I’ve known for some time now that I have administrative abilities. The confusion for me was due to the fact that leadership books tend to lump everything together and label it all leadership. However, by separating the managerial aspects from the visionary aspects of leadership, the role of leadership became more clear to me and I understood my place in the big picture.

In the institutional church, leadership training has become a big issue and is widely promoted. The result being that everyone wants to be a leader. While it’s true that we all have a unique set of gifts that will benefit the other members of the church, few are gifted as leaders or even managers for that matter. The truth is neither leaders nor managers are more important in the church, however, both are needed if the church is to move forward. We need leaders who are functioning as leaders and managers who are functioning as managers.

A true leader inspires hope where there is no hope and, despite all odds, the impossible becomes possible and the unattainable becomes attainable. In the Bible, it’s said that without a vision, the people perish. Although there seems to be a lack of leadership in the church as well as in the world, in my opinion, we desperately need the inspiration that only a leader can bring. So, as we learn to live free in Christ, let’s also recognize those leaders among us and allow them to inspire us with the vision that God has planted in their hearts.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"My Journey Out of Oz"- Freedom From A Spiritually Abusive Church

My friend, Windblown1, has agreed to let me share her story of God’s amazing grace as he set her free after spending almost 30 years in a spiritually abusive church. Here’s her story in her own words.


~~~FREE~~~
My STORY



Six years ago, May 2004:
I had made my decision to leave, through MUCH turmoil and fear.
I was alone in the house, trying to get my mind to focus on the practical issues of my decision.
In an overwhelming rush of emotion, an explosion of pent up anger, frustration, fear and disillusionment burst forth from me and I began to SCREAM, SCREAM, SCREEEEEEEEEEEEAM--on and on for a very long time. If someone had been in the house at the time, they would have taken me to the emergency room for treatment.
But I was alone~~~~
I fell to the floor by my bed and from deep in my spirit I began to say, “The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not want, He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He restores my soul.”
Peace began to come~~
When I got up from the floor, I was ready to take the step that would lead me to life “outside the walls.”
MY JOURNEY OUT OF OZ
I call it “My Journey Out of OZ” because after I was out, and the curtain began to be pulled back, I was to realize that the “Power” that I so feared and submitted to, was only in my mind. A false illusion taught and nurtured by a system that thrives on power, manipulation and control.
But at that time, I only saw the works of one person, our pastor.
It would be a long time before I would realize that the whole system was rotten.
The journey began some 31 years ago.
A farm wife with 3 children who loved to garden, can food, and take care of her home.
A woman who married right out of high school.
A woman who had a DEEP hunger for God in her soul.
A woman searching for the missing piece to herself, for wholeness.
I had gotten involved in New Age, filled myself with the teachings in my search for Truth. I was not raised in a Christian home, but in those days I think we all thought we were Christians because we were Americans.
One day my friend, who was on this spiritual quest with me, told me she had met someone who taught Bible studies and this woman was willing to teach us.
We were so excited, finally we were going to find Truth!
We started the Bible study with 4 ladies in a kitchen. The woman teaching us was an excellent teacher and filled with the power of God. I never had known anyone who knew the Bible like she did and taught with such authority. ( I question this now, but then, to a “babe” in Christ, so hungry, like a baby bird, I hung on her every word.) Plus, she would pray for us and there was such “power” that we were just astonished!
People began to hear about what was happening, such excitement. Before long we outgrew the home Bible studies and started meeting in a church.
The Bible study group grew larger than the congregation of the church where we were meeting.
Our teacher said that God told her to start a church--- so we started meeting in a home on Sunday mornings. Over 80 people gathered together as a charismatic church. Very quickly we outgrew the home and rented a building.
When we outgrew the rented building, we were finally able to buy a building, which everyone worked together to remodel and make into our home church.
Eventually we grew to around 450 people (in a very small community) had a Bible school, a pre-school through high school academic school, plus a daycare.
We believed we were the exemplary model of a New Testament church!
I GAVE IT ALL~~~~FOR THE SAKE OF THE “CALL.”
About eight years after the church began, my husband of 28 years, who was opposed to my involvement with the group, divorced me to marry another woman.
We had three children, one of them a son, who was married and the other two lived with me at home. My daughter was about 22 and my other son was a young teenager.
I had never held a job outside our home, having married directly out of high school.
Life as I had known it was over.
I began to do the only thing I knew how to do, which was clean houses. The pastor hired me to clean the church and I struggled to find myself in this new life that I had been thrown into.
The thing that helped me the most at this scary, but in some ways, exhilarating time of my life, was the Lord and being a part of such a strong and supportive church family. I felt surrounded, loved and cushioned from the problems of adjustment that I faced.
The pastor began to take an interest in me and began to ask me to go with her on trips and gave me a job as secretary of the academic school. I had no former experience, was allowed to learn “on the job.”
God was truly taking care of me.
Little did I know that I was a “prime” candidate for the message that was in the charismatic/Pentecostal. Prophetic words were a part of our lives~~we believed God still speaks today and we “lived” for the “word of the Lord” to flow through people to us~~especially the “prophets” who spoke to our church on a regular basis.
Our pastor was a prophetess, everyone hung on her every word and believed she truly heard from God for her “flock.” Of course we were encouraged to “hear” for ourselves, but all revelations and directions we might receive from the Lord had to be given to her to be “judged” before acted upon.
Many time she would say, “I don’t witness to that” and that would settle it. There was a fear that if we went against her council, we were in great danger of being “out of God’s will.”
It was in this climate that I began to build my new life. It was filled with hope and destiny. God had brought one chapter of my life to fruition to begin a life that was to equip me to fulfill my “DESTINY.”
I was told through a prophetic word from the pastor that I had fulfilled my role as “mother” and God wanted to take me to the next stage of my “DESTINY.”
She said I was not to “abandon” my children, but my focus was to be what God wanted to do in my life NOW.
Not too long after this was spoken, she had a “dream” and she saw a puzzle (the puzzle was her) and there was a hole and God put a piece in that hole and it was me.
Because of that “vision”, the prophetic words and because I agreed with it, I moved into her house, leaving my young teenage son with my daughter.
Destiny was calling me~~~~~
She said that I was to be her “intercessor” and traveling companion/personal assistant. (In reality I was more like a servant, doing any and all jobs that needed to be done around the ministry. I never knew what I would be doing from day to day, which kept me in a state of vulnerability, because if I didn’t “do” something I should have “known” to do, I was chastised by a tongue lashing or by being totally ignored and dismissed.)
In later years, I did become more of an assistant/traveling companion to her, and she trusted me.
This was “heady” stuff for me---I believed I was her “Elisha” and when I had been trained, drained and perfected, I would “receive” the “double portion” of her anointing.
This is where the story gets bizarre and very difficult to write. The reason is that there are so many layers of circumstance, and some VERY weird “spiritual” factors that made up my life for the next 15 years.
My daughter has chronicled many of the things that we experienced in great detail.
She joined the church about two years after I did. She was in her early 20’s and never been exposed to any kind of spiritual training. She felt the drawing of the Lord, though, and gave her heart to Him. She did and still does love Him with all her heart.
The pastor took an immediate interest in her and made her the church administrator. My daughter experienced some troubling situations almost from the beginning, which included control and belittling, and she quit in less than a week. We all experienced an almost suffocating heaviness and anxiety, so my daughter, fearing she had stepped out of God’s will went back.
She was there about thirteen years and became the pastor’s “right hand” man, the assistant pastor, being groomed to become pastor when the pastor left to fulfill her “apostolic” call. (Of course, she could never release any authority to anyone. All people on staff had LOTS of responsibility without any authority. Everything had to go through her. Even when she was traveling out of state or out of the country, the phone and email were ALWAYS the first things that were set up or gained access to.
In about her eleventh year my daughter met a man that the pastor approved of and they got married. Thus began a war of loyalty for my daughter between the pastor and her husband. Crisis after crisis. Crazy, bizarre situations that were impossible for my daughter to deal with. She had been taught “total” obedience to pastor, now her husband saw the control and was not putting up with it. Long story short, he took my daughter and they left town and never came back.
For over seven years I did not speak to my daughter or see her. She had two miscarriages, and I did not call or send her a card. I said to the pastor, “ I would like to send L. some yellow roses to let her know that I am thinking of her” and she said, “Do it and you are “OUT OF HERE.”
I didn’t do it!
Fear is a strong motivator, the need for security and a place of ministry, proved to be even stronger than my love for my daughter.
Of course, I had been told that she was “the enemy” married to the son of “satan.” I grieved that she had “broken covenant” and was now an “infidel” to us.
The years after my daughter left were in many ways “the best of times and the worst of times.” In some ways for me, because I had proven my loyalty to her, we became more like friends and sisters at times. She confided in me all her anxiety with “spiritual warfare,” trying to “grow” the church and keep people in their “places.”
We all had a “spiritual place” that we had to occupy or she would know “by the spirit” and we would be railed upon for sometimes hours at a time or “put outside the camp” until we became cleansed and were back in our “place.”
One of the greatest fears was not being in our “place.” Of course, one could never know what that meant, only SHE could discern it. It was usually better to stay close to her, then you could monitor her moods and “spiritual” insights. When I was allowed to visit my younger son or other family members, I would always be sent out of the house to get” that spirit” off of me and get back into my place before I could be in her good graces again. I couldn’t even bring gifts that my son gave me into the house because of the “family” spirit attached to them. Many times I threw his gifts away or carried them around in the trunk of my car.
Because of that “curse,” my daughter and I had to get rid of everything from our past. Furniture, jewelry, anything and everything from my mother and life. I even threw away diamond rings because of the “warfare” that surrounded them.
When my daughter went on her honeymoon, after 3 days all hell broke loose because “she (my daughter) should have “known” by the “spirit” that she was needed at the church. When she did return, she was not spoken to and the ushers sat her in a pew with the other members, like she wasn’t even recognized. CRAZY, CRAZY stuff. All designed to manipulate people into submission.
I ran away three times in the beginning, and the last time, I thought the “heavy hand “ of God was on me so strong that I couldn’t breathe for a week. I thought I had “left” God’s perfect will and that life for me was over.
At the end of the week, after my lying on the floor and repenting and confessing my rebellion to God, she said God had opened the “place” back up, so I could come back.
This is just a thumbnail sketch of some of the things we experienced in the name of God, under the mantle of the charismatic/Pentecostal “covering.”
She was our ”apostle.” She was exalted by prophets and apostles that we were in fellowship with. She was given an honorary doctorate. So she became Dr. not just pastor/ apostle.
One prophetess told us that we were to honor her by bringing gifts to the altar, because the prophetess heard the Lord say that our pastor was going to marry.
So for a couple of weeks, people came with lavish, beautifully wrapped gifts of lingerie, perfumes, clothing and jewelry and put them on the altar.
Of course, she has never married, and still nobody wants to question the prophetic abuse that is so prevalent in the apostolic/prophetic camp.
I believe it is no better than spiritual “witchcraft” and fortunetelling.
We had prophets come and have us line up and declare our loyalty and allegiance to her. I am talking of over 400 people~~ good, honest, God believing people.
After the church imploded, many of these same leaders said they knew there was control but knew it wouldn’t do any good to confront it.
So for almost 30 years, I lived and breathed these teachings and ways.
Towards the end, I was beginning to be separated by being sent to Poland for several months at a time. etc. She seemed to know that things were shifting with me because she got very insecure and the last 3 years with her were “hell on earth.”
Things began to unravel at the church. The leadership actually started talking (something that is absolutely forbidden--”touch not mine anointed”)
And we all began to whisper, the “emperor has no clothes!”
Truth began to replace the lies, speaking our hearts began to replace the silence that protected the corruption.
A shaking began to take place that ended up removing almost all the leadership and most of the people. All that remained was the money given in good faith to build our “new, bigger and better building” for our Regional ministry. Plus, all the land and buildings owned by the church, purchased by a loyal, trusting congregation.
The people who are still there, have all that remains. They just went through the 2nd split recently and I believe there are only about 25 people left to carry out the “amazing destiny” that was prophesied over the place. But some diehards still think that if you have enough “faith” you cannot fail.
But the foundation is rotten and it is only a matter of time until it all disappears back into the earth (man) from which it was formed.

 
~~~ON EAGLES WINGS~~
Back to where I began this history of my journey.
I am ready to walk out the door. I even had a “vision” of a door opened for me to walk through.
I read these words in a devotional the night before I was to leave:
“So go forth today in great faith, My child. There are rivers which you must cross. As you dip your foot in the waters that would hinder you from obeying my will, behold, the waters will part and you shall cross over on dry ground to safety, to new land, to new experiences.
Begin to move NOW! And you shall rejoice at the great and might victory which shall surely be thine.”
I wrote in my journal:
“Today I step through a new door. The chapter is finished, the book has been completed.
Today, a fresh page, a new beginning.
Volume two of the “Saga of the Servant of the Most High God.”
I stepped out of the door, locked it behind me. I left in a borrowed car, with only my clothes and books. No home, no family, no future (that I could see.)
But as I stepped out, it was as if I was lifted by “eagles wings” and taken forth into my new life.
I felt as if I had been “flung” into the air and the very Hand of God caught me and has never let go of me.
I have abundance in all things. My relationship with my daughter and family has been restored. My daughter opened her home and arms to me and treats me with such honor and love. God is healing us all~~ Little by little.
I have much more to write about the process of the renewing of my mind from the “religion” and much more to say about His “Amazing Grace.”
I will probably spend the rest of my years digesting and dissecting all that happened in our lives.
But for now, all I can say is ~~Thank You~~ To My Faithful God!!

Written in my journal May 15, 2004:
“Let the rejoicing begin~~
The birds are singing,
The leaves of the trees are waving,
The brooks are bubbling.
The whole earth is filled with the Glory,
Filling the atmosphere with praise.
To the Creator,
To the One who is over all~~
Oh, how I worship You,
Your majesty!!
Open my eyes to see more of You,
May my life be a mirror of Your Life.

June 16, 2004
The prison doors have been flung open~~WIDE
Run, Run to the place of refuge
Provided by the Lord.
Feel the wind in your face
The warmth of the sun on your head.
The weight of the shackles are gone
The restrictions of the freedom of my feet are released.
FREE, FREE
The most beautiful word
FREE, FREE
Jesus set us free!
I will run and not be weary
I will leap and rejoice!
Like the calves let out of their stalls
This is the hour that the Sun of Righteousness arises
With healing in his wings
Because I fear His name~~~


windblown1

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thoughts on freedom

“Freedom isn't free... It always costs us something”

Mike Myers posted this comment on the FBN Facebook page. What a great thought!

Freedom is costly. Our freedom cost God his son and, if we've chosen to live free in God's grace, we’ve paid a price too. It’s cost all of us some friendships as well as some family relationships and, it’s cost some of us, careers and jobs. As I thought about freedom, it occurred to me that if we’re not careful, freedom can also be taken from us. There’s a world out there that’s bent on stealing our freedom if we let it.

That reminds me of one of Darin Hufford’s stories about Brownie, a pet hamster that he had as a child. One day, Brownie got loose and was missing for a couple of weeks. When they finally found him and tried to pick him up, Brownie stood on his hind legs, snarled and tried to bite them. He had experienced freedom and wasn’t going to let anyone cage him again. Darin ended the story by saying that if anyone tried to put his listeners back in bondage, he wanted them to stand up and be the meanest, nastiest hamster anyone had ever seen.

That’s my hope too, that we'll never let anyone take our freedom away. Those of us who have come to understand the freedom that we have in Christ must be diligent to protect that freedom so that it’s not lost. Whatever it takes, it's worth the cost.

America

Freedom is costly. May we hold onto it as the precious gift that it is.

Happy 4th of July, America.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Recover Your Good Heart online webcasts

Jim Robbins has written an excellent book entitled, “Recover Your Good Heart.” In it, he explains the truth about the good heart we’ve been given in Christ. He is now making available a live online webcast of the material from his book. Jim says, "I'll go deep into the material in my book - "Recover Your Good Heart - Living free from religious guilt and the shame of not good-enough." Jim is an wonderful teacher and I think this will be a great series which will bring freedom to many. For information, follow this link.

Registration is now open -- and ends Wednesday, July 7th.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In the Spirit

“Our poor choices to live according to the flesh are not indication of our nature. Christians are new creations at heart, no matter how we choose to walk in a given moment. Christians are in the Spirit. But we choose to walk after the Spirit or after the flesh as circumstances hit us.” (The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley: page 114)

We’ve all heard it said that Christians are just “sinners saved by grace.” While it’s true that we were saved by grace, once we believe in Christ’s work on the cross, we're no longer sinners. Yes! We do still sin at times but that has absolutely nothing to do with our nature. In Christ, we’re a new creation and we’ve been given a new nature which is now righteous and pure.

The problem isn’t that we still have a sin nature. The problem is the flesh which still wants to sin. The flesh is not us but it’s similar to a virus that’s in our bodies and gives us a disease called sin. As Andrew Farley said, we now choose whether we’re going to follow the Spirit or follow the flesh. However, we often make the wrong choice and choose to follow the flesh but that doesn’t mean that we have a sin nature. As believers, we’re ALWAYS in the spirit but, as free will beings, we can choose to follow the flesh and when we do, we sin.

Learning how to live out of our new nature is a growing process. While I don’t encourage anyone to sin, I think it’s important to just relax and not get stressed when we do sin. I think it’s wise to expect that it will happen and, when it does, deal with it, get over it and then forget about it.

Religion teaches us that we’re just old worms in the dust and that God turns his face away from us when we sin. The truth is in Christ, he came looking for us even in our sinful state. God’s love for us never changes and while he prefers that we not sin, he’ll NEVER turn his face away from us when we do. I believe a misunderstanding of God’s nature of love has caused us to hide from him when we sin rather than run to him.

Once we understand that Christ dealt with our sins on the cross and that we now have a new heart which is good and pure, we’ll be able to understand that we’ve been forgiven. God isn’t holding anything against us. He’s forgiven us so now we need to forgive ourselves and allow him to heal those broken places in our lives that cause us to follow sin instead of our new nature of righteousness and purity.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dedicated to our grace community of bloggers

While reading through my archives, I found this post that I had written over a year ago. Since then, our little grace community of bloggers has broken up and we’ve all pretty much gone our separate ways. Many of you have migrated to Facebook which doesn’t in my opinion lend itself to the closeness and intimacy we once had as bloggers so my participation there is rare. However, I’ve learned that life is full of changes and things don’t always remain the same.

I want to revisit this post because I love and appreciate all of you who were part of that blogging community. You were there when I needed you to be and you were all a source of hope and encouragement for me. I don’t know how many of you still read my blog but, if you do, I want you to know that I’m glad we were together for that season of our journey. So, this is dedicated to you.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Setting the Captives Free

In 2008, I began to have a desire to share the message of God’s grace, so in January of that year, I started this blog, Forgetting the Former Things. Over time, I also began adding posts and resources directed at helping those who had been victimized by spiritual abuse. As that emphasis began to grow, it became obvious that my blog was becoming known as a resource for those seeking information about spiritual abuse. However, I also felt that those needed resources were getting lost among all of my other posts so in 2009, I decided to set up a blog totally devoted to spiritual abuse and that is how Setting the Captives Free was born.

Since that time, the blog sat with very little activity but now I sense that the time is right to begin developing it so I will be adding more material to it as the weeks progress. I will also continue to add posts regarding spiritual abuse to Forgetting the Former Things for those who prefer checking in here.

My hope is that these two blogs will be a source of hope and encouragement for my readers at whatever stage they may be in their journey.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Create in me a clean heart (?)

I was digging around in my archived posts and found this post that I wrote over two years ago. I think the truths in it are something that we need to reminded of so I decided to post the link to it here. I hope this will be an encouragement to us to remember that we now have a good and noble heart which is clean and pure in God's sight.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The uniqueness of our creation

In my last post, I discussed the book “Personality Plus” and what I was learning about the four different temperaments. As I said, being aware of and understanding the temperaments has really helped me to accept the way God created me. There’s a scripture in which the author states that he’s been “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I believe that’s also true in my life. No one has the same blend of character traits that I have. There’s only one of me and God has handcrafted me just the way he wants me to be. However, I can learn much from others who have similar personalities as well as from those who have different personalities.

When I first learned about the different temperaments, the friend who gave us the teaching used animals to describe the different characteristics. Sanguines were tigers, melancholies were owls , cholerics were bulls and phlegmatics were lambs. I immediately recognized the tiger aspects to my personality and became fascinated by the possibility of attempting to discern the personalities of various characters in the Bible. Of course, I’ll never know for sure but I do still have fun trying to figure it all out.

I soon understood why I was always so attracted to the apostle Peter. Being the most vocal member of the group, he was often putting his foot in his mouth which is something I can definitely relate to. Peter was also the most impetuous. He acted first and thought later. He was the only apostle who jumped out of the boat and walked on water. Of course, after he started to think about it, he immediately decided he had made a mistake and stopped believing it was possible. As a result, he started to sink and had to be rescued by Jesus. So, in my opinion, Peter is a classic sanguine with typical sanguine weaknesses but what an exciting person he was to be around and how much he was loved by Jesus.

In the Old Testament, Jephthah also comes to mind. He was a mighty warrior and, in a battle against the Ammonites, he promised God that if he was given victory he would sacrifice the first thing that came out to greet him when he arrived home. When he arrived home his only child, a daughter, was the first to come out to greet him. Jephthah, whatever were you thinking? Talk about having a problem with speaking without thinking first. Only a sanguine would make such a foolish promise without thinking about the possible consequences.

David, with his poetic gifting is, in my opinion, the best example of a melancholy. While he wrote some beautiful psalms of praise to God, others were dark and showed his depressed state. Only a melancholy could be joyous one minute and deeply depressed the next. That personality experiences the highs and lows of emotions and David, in my opinion, displayed those traits in the psalms that he wrote.

I believe Old Testament Joseph was also a melancholy. He was a dreamer and very introspective as are melancholies. Wherever he served, he excelled because he followed the melancholy motto, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” Even as a slave, he refused to lower his standard of excellence. He would not budge even if it meant further imprisonment or death. A melancholy can never be satisfied with inferior work.

Nehemiah in the Old Testament, in my opinion, is the perfect example of a choleric. He had amazing organizational and leadership skills. When he arrived in Jerusalem, he spent some time examining the broken down walls, came up with a plan of action and immediately began implementing it. He organized everyone into work teams and motivated them to work. They had all been living there for some time and no one had been moved to repair the walls but when Nehemiah showed up, he immediately inspired them with his vision and they all began working. As the work proceeded, enemies came against them to stop the re-building of the wall but, like all cholerics, Nehemiah was fueled by opposition. There’s nothing like opposition to get a choleric going and no one was going to stop Nehemiah from achieving his goal. Throw obstacles in a choleric’s path and he or she will plow right through them without even slowing down and that's exactly what Nehemiah did.

Although circumstances had made Moses into an insecure and indecisive person, out in the wilderness, his true nature was being developed and he began to show the strong leadership abilities of a choleric. Who else could have organized several million people and held them together during a 40 year trek in the desert? After the people made a golden calf to worship, Moses came down from the mountain furious and the people knew they were in trouble. No one wanted to face the wrath of Moses so Aaron immediately began making excuses to try to protect himself. In choleric fashion, Moses sent the Levites out among the people and they killed 3000 of those who had sinned against God. To top it all off, he took the golden calf, ground it up into powder, scattered it on the water and made the people drink it. Only a choleric could intimidate several million people and make them drink contaminated water.

As an example of a phlegmatic, I think Andrew would be a good choice. He was eclipsed by his brother and was always hidden in the background and that’s exactly where phlegmatics prefer to be. Yet, in spite of the fact that he was never as up front, tradition tells us that he did some amazing things in his role as an apostle. When motivated, phlegmatics can rise to the occasion and show great strength and leadership ability.

Queen Esther also stands out in my mind as a phlegmatic. She was quiet and did what she was told. She didn’t like to make waves and her guardian Mordecai, a choleric, had to really push her to do something about the plot against her people. If he hadn’t, Esther would probably have just sat by and let it happen. It takes a lot to motivate phlegmatics. They’d much rather avoid action whenever possible. Her sweet gentle spirit, also characteristics of a phlegmatic, are what won her favor with the king and with his court.

In any group of people we’ll see the different personality traits manifested. Some will be upfront and talkative, others will be quiet and gentle, others will be forceful and take over and others will brood but create great beauty. The truth is to be whole people we need all of the personalities functioning. They all have their strengths and are best suited for specific jobs. I hope as you look at the various Bible characters that I’ve described you’ll see how God gifted each one to do the job they were called to do. Even though they all had weaknesses, they were given strengths that were needed to do the job they were given to do.

Sometimes we compare ourselves to others and wish we were like that person but God has put in each one of us the blend of characteristics to do whatever it is he’s laid out before us to do. I believe when we understand the four basic temperaments, we’ll live the life that God created us to live as we learn to enjoy the person that he created us to be.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Understanding our temperament

For some time now, I’ve been fascinated with understanding what makes people tick. A number of years ago, I read Florence Littauer’s excellent book, Personality Plus, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only is the book informative but that gal is a hoot ... she's my kind of gal. She and I are both sanguines so I love her personality. Anyway, I found a website that offers a free personality/temperament test. If you haven’t ever taken one, I think you would enjoy knowing where you fall in the spectrum.

The link for the site is: http://www.oneishy.com/personality/

Additional information on the temperaments can also be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Temperaments


My test results show that I’m Sanguine/Phlegmatic with the following breakdown:

Sanguine 70% (Strengths 15 and weaknesses 13)

Phlegmatic 18% (Strengths 3 and weaknesses 4)

Melancholy 8% (Strengths 1 and weaknesses 2)

Choleric 5% (Strengths 1 and weaknesses 1)


Understanding about temperaments has been valuable in helping me to understand who I am and how God has wired me. After learning about the four different temperaments, I now know that it's okay to lose my car in the parking lot. After all, sanguines tend to be forgetful.

Also, it's okay to decide to learn how to press flowers, immediately lose interest and years later, my husband throws away the flower press that has never again been opened. After all, sanguines get excited about new projects, start them and immediately lose interest.

Learning about the different temperaments has also helped me in my marriage and in other relationships. I now understand my husband better and know that he's not purposely trying to irritate me. He's just got a different primary temperament than I do.

Now, I know that when he goes shopping with me, it's okay for him to organize the shopping cart. I thought as long as the groceries made it into the cart I was doing okay even though some items were balancing rather precariously on top of other items. As far as I was concerned it was okay because at least they were all in there. However, when he's finished organizing the various items, the shopping cart could be the center fold picture in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine describing how the perfect shopping cart should look. But, it's okay because melancholies like things neat and orderly.

My husband loves photography and I’ve also learned that if he and I go anywhere so he can take pictures, I need to take a book and plan to find a comfy seat where I can read since I know I’ll be there a looong time while he focuses and re-focuses in order to get the perfect shot. After all, melancholies like to do things right and to do them perfect. Their motto is: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”

Understanding the temperaments has helped me to see that God has created each one of us uniquely. None of us are alike and in many cases, someone's temperament may be the exact opposite of mine but that doesn't mean that they need to be fixed. Instead, I'm learning to understand each person's uniqueness and with that, comes love and acceptance which is the foundation of all healthy relationships.