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:

Additional information on the temperaments can also be found at:

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.