Boundaries: Avoiding Pain Is NOT the Endgame

man head downB O U N D A R I E S are important, but avoiding pain is NOT the endgame of a Christian. Restoration requires sacrifice. It’ll cost you something to love others well. Sometimes, the biggest thing it’ll cost you is your pride. The children of Israel exalted the things God sent to bless them above God Himself (worshiping Gideon’s ephod to celebrate God’s victory, honoring Moses’ bronze serpent God sent for their healing, etc.). You can exalt the fences so high that what should bless you (boundaries) becomes an idol – something you trust MORE than you trust God’s design of restoration. Boundaries are good, but only if governed by God.

3-minute message:

Gideon Was Fearful, But He Was Faithful!

 

Declare This (ALOUD): Fear will NOT overtake me; it will NOT keep me from doing great things.

Gideon’s story is marked by monumental fear — hiding from the Midianites while gathering food, sneaking under the cover of night to destroy the idol in God’s temple. But fearful or not, Gideon was a man of ACTION, to the point that the author of Hebrews (in 11:32) had to marvel that there isn’t enough time to even talk about how much Gideon accomplished by faith. I wonder if Gideon could’ve lived with slightly less fear, though, if he only knew Hebrews ch. 11, vs. 32 was coming. How would you live differently if you knew that EVEN in the midst of your fears, you can put our faith into action in such a way that the “Hebrews 11” chapter of your life will boast of the great exploits God did through you?

Declare This (ALOUD): I WILL be all I’m called to be and do ALL I am purposed to do, even if I have to do it afraid! I can be faithful, even if fearful.

Register for Conference Here: http://10thousandstanding.eventbrite.com/

Dealing with a Divergent God

divergent2-e1427087544612

I finally watched the 2014 film, Divergent, which was based on a science-fiction book of the same name. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian society where everyone is expected to choose one of five subcultures to live and work with. Each subculture, or faction, requires strength in and conformity to specific attributes, such as bravery, selflessness, intelligence, etc. The faction system is designed for control and predictability. However, as with all systems, there are flaws, one being when a person doesn’t neatly fit into any one category because they have strengths in all five areas. A person who doesn’t fit just one faction, but instead could fit many, is called “divergent.” Divergents, like the main characters, are a threat to the system because they can’t be pigeonholed into others’ preconceived notions, and they can’t be controlled. They are freethinkers who approach problems and solutions in ways others don’t, and quite frankly, can’t. Their thoughts and abilities far exceed the parameters of the five factions.

If you’re human, like me, you rather enjoy some measure of control and predictability in your environment; you rather enjoy your compartmentalized systems. The flaw in your system, though, is that God is divergent. He doesn’t think or act like you do. He doesn’t conform to your system. Deep within us, we want a God who isn’t sovereign over us, but is subject to us, a God who is predictable or at least fully understandable by some stretch of our imaginations. Instead, we have a God who is wild, uncontrollable, incomprehensible, paradoxical — in short, He’s divergent. In fact, His ways diverge so much from ours that He’s said higher than the heavens are above the earth are His thoughts than our thoughts and His ways than our ways {Is. 55:9; Ps. 103:11}. The farthest object observed from planet earth is more than 13 billion light years away. God is saying His thoughts and ways are more than 13 billion light years above ours.

While we can only see a few options for solving our most difficult problems, our Divergent God, who towers more than 13 billion light years above our circumstances, sees our end from our beginning, and God foresaw our darkest days before we ever took a breath is the same God who orchestrates our brightest moments, loved us from before time began, and has promised to work all things together for our good. If we have committed to being submitted to such a God whose thoughts and ways are so above, then we’re choosing to give up any semblance of control. We’re choosing to give up what we thought our stories would be so we can fully embrace what He’s still writing out in our lives. When we follow the calling of a Divergent God with complete obedience, we relinquish the option for things to make complete sense. We have a God who is both full of wrath and full of mercy, a Man of War and Prince of Peace, a Lion, a Lamb, and a Shepherd. He’s above. HEART CHECK: Will you trust God is divergent when He seems silent? Will you obey His commands, even if they seem to counter human logic? Does a Divergent God have to make sense to your five senses, the five factions you believe His thoughts and ways should fit into?

God’s thoughts and ways are paradoxical to human logic and expected experiences. When a Divergent God wants to set us free, He makes us His bondservants. When He wants us to see Him, He causes blindness. Ask Paul. When a Divergent God wants us to follow Him, He chases after us. Ask Jonah. When a Divergent God wants someone to speak for Him, He chooses a stutterer, and to showcase His power, He’ll send you with a dried up stick! Ask Moses. When a Divergent God sets out to exalt your position, He takes the pathway through a pit and wrongful imprisonment. Ask Joseph. When a Divergent God wants to save His children, He does so by sending His Only Son to die!

As long as we are in control, God can’t be. In the film, the divergents make others uncomfortable, so they try to purge their society of divergents altogether. The divergents threaten the system of control, but in so doing, they save countless lives. Living in submission to a Divergent God is uncomfortable, and sometimes we want to get rid of HIS way, altogether. He threatens our systems of control, but but in so doing, He saves countless lives.

God Wants to Break Your Heart

broken heart

Once God breaks your heart, nobody else can!

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ~(Psalm 51:17)

If you’re a Christian and you’ve ever suffered loss, ever felt vulnerable and unprotected, ever felt you were sinking, drowning, crumbling at your core, then you’ve probably also wondered what I have, “Where are You, God?” or simply asked God, “Why?” If you’ve prayed to feel His presence and instead felt absence, prayed to hear His voice and heard deafening silence, prayed for a restored marriage then numbly watched the divorce finalized, prayed for healing and watched loved ones die, if you’ve placed your trust in Him and still felt that burning sting of disappointment, then you’ve encountered the God of which I speak, the God who wants to break your heart.

Of course I’m not suggesting God is some aloof, or worse, sadistic being, deriving pleasure from our pain. However, I am saying that if we’ll ever fulfill our God-ordained purpose, we’ll have to be broken to fit the God-shaped mold for our lives. In “Finding My Way Home,” Henri Nouwen asserts that when Christ cried out, “It is finished,” He didn’t only mean what He’d done, but also what others had done to Him – that He stayed on the cross until all that needed to be done to Him could be done in order to fulfill His purpose. If we’re committed to God and truly passionate about adopting His desires, His thoughts, His ways, then we’ll welcome His process, His breaking, His remaking. We’ll allow His breaking to fulfill our life’s purpose.

I believe God breathes on us in a gentle way to bend our will into submission to His, but much like Jacob, we wrestle. In our striving, though, we encounter the God who loves us enough to break what will not bend. Pastor Howard-John Wesley said, “God knows that life outside of His will is not in your best interest, and He loves you too much not to use everything in His sovereign omnipotence to get you to surrender to His will…we serve a God who, if blessing you doesn’t change your life, [He] has enough love to break you in the right place.” I believe the “right place” for God to break us is our hearts, the wellspring of our inconsistent desires and stubborn wills.

The admonishment in Joel 2:12-13 is to “rend your hearts, not your garments” and return to the Lord with your whole hearts. The message is that the outward appearance of repentance, contrition, and obedience mean nothing if our sinful hearts remain unbroken and turned away from God. The good news is that God waits on us. He waits to be gracious toward us and show us mercy (Isaiah 30:18). My mentor shared her belief that God sometimes withholds His provision until we seek His presence. Perhaps what we’ve thought was God’s silence was His megaphone to help us diligently seek Him. Perhaps what felt like God’s absence was His patience. Perhaps God knows that only desperate, broken hearts can receive His transforming love.

Shannon Alder said, “Blessed are those with cracks in their broken heart because that is how the light gets in.” God wants in, and a broken heart provides a blessed route.I believe God is determined to do a new thing in and through us, and the old places won’t facilitate new growth. In a recent sermon, Pastor MyRon Edmonds said that unless we learn to get vulnerable with God and get broken, our old ways will keep taking us down the same road. But the blessing of God’s breaking is that “once GOD breaks you, nobody else can!” Heart Check: Do you trust God to break those parts of you that won’t bend in submission to His sovereignty? Do you believe the breaking He’s sending is better than the blessing you’re seeking? God wants to break your heart. Will you let Him?

I originally posted this on The Haystack.

For more encouraging videos or blurbs from me, click these links/icons to follow me on

YouTubeyoutube 2 or twitter t

When I Don’t Want God to Be God

1. fear is misplaced faith

Likewise, anxiety is misplaced divinity – something else is God.

 This piece for The Haystack was inspired as we sent all of our kids out of the house to school this week. 4 kids, 4 days, and 4 long nights of being real with God… “At the root of our anxiety is a difficulty in trusting the sovereignty of God…but, if God isn’t God, someone else will be.” I realized I was allowing my fear and anxiety to dethrone God… ((READ THE REST HERE)) Also, I’d love to hear about your experiences on letting God be God.

Let me know in the comments below or at The Haystack site!

For more encouraging videos or blurbs from me, click these links/icons to follow me on

YouTubeyoutube 2 or Twitter twitter t

1. when i don't want god to be god

Choosing Regrets

leap in the dark

Image credit to MyRon Edmonds

  “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”                                                        ~Ecclesiastes 11:4 (TLB)

The 2-minute video below addresses the difference between day-to-day regrets and life regrets. In summary, people tend to regret ACTIONS in their day-to-day experiences, like maybe traveling for a vacation when they may have wanted the money used for something else, but when reflecting over their lives, the biggest regrets tend to be INACTION. In fact, the number one life regret is not traveling more. Hopefully you enjoy the brief video; you can click subscribe for more. You won’t know every possible outcome, but you really can choose your regrets. Take the leap, go all in, your future self will thank you!

For more encouraging videos or blurbs from me, click these links/icons to find me on

YouTubeyoutube 2 or Twitter twitter t

Life Soundtrack

Find Me:life soundtrack

facebook sign  old gram.png  youtube 2 twitter t

Many of our most powerful life experiences are inextricably tied to healing melodies that have both stirred our souls and lifted our spirits, music that will forever have an emotional impact on us and be indelibly etched into the fabric of our lives. Here’s a compilation of what was shared with me along with my own #lifesoundtrack. I thank each of you for sharing and blessing my life!

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat when I wanted to give up on any hopes of healing…but God…TUH #butGod

“When [my sister] Lystra died. “I’m going to be ready” by Yolanda Adams was on Serious REPEAT!”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for much of my senior year of high school when the pain of my past threatened to eclipse God’s plan for my life.”

[FOR THE SAME SONG, DIFFERENT TESTIMONY BELOW:]

“I sang this song outside the office of the professor that took my full scholarship away because I couldn’t sign up for a class she wanted me to take. I was sitting in a desk in the hallway outside her office, singing, when SWAT showed up. She called them because I “intimidated” her. Well, maybe but, I got my scholarship back. #goodtimes

“After my abortion. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.”

“When I was pregnant and terribly anxious because of my heart condition I would listen to “He Has His Hands On You”. I also continually return to Keeping My Mind, Promise Keeper, Draw Nigh, and Breathe Into Me O Lord, from the Spirit of David album.”

 

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for a number of days my freshman year in college. Some days I couldn’t even muster a prayer. What. a. GOD!”

“Speechless by Israel. Mannnnn”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat when my water broke after just 25 weeks of pregnancy with the twins and the neonatologist came by to tell me what I can expect for them (bleeding on the brain, seizures, death, nothing good!) [they’re 4, now, btw, alive and completely healthy].”

“When I was tied up and gang raped, not supported, feeling worthless.”

“When reflecting on the miscarriage of my first child…”

#ThisSongWasOnRepeat for the four days between my doctor finding a lump and the negative mammogram results.”

“…this was on repeat when my life was completely broken…spiritually, mentally and emotionally and I just couldn’t turn anywhere else.” [1/3]

“But…AFTER THIS….” [2/3]

“And my favorite Andrae Crouch” [3/3]

This I’ve been meditating on for the last month. It’s completely repetitive (lol) but it was exactly what I needed.” [below is the version sent to me and a shorter version; both are great!]

“When I started to fight back against depression on a spiritual&practical aspect when the enemy tried to convince me it was too dark to pray Already Getting Better by William Murphy got me through those rough counseling sessions”

“When God gave me the strength to let go of the guilt of my past Daryl Coley “He’s Preparing Me” helped me understand that the assignment never changed ! God was preparing me the entire time”

“When I thought that because of my depression God finally gave up on me and stop speaking to me Marvin Sapp’s Speak to my heart and his rendition of “I Come to the Garden Alone” became my daily prayers”

“Reflecting on my last suicide attempt, i look back and remember the pain that had brought me to that point. now diminished greatly on most days, that pain almost rendered me unavailable, incapable, feeling unworthy to worship my creator. i truly could see no other way, no hope, no love, rejection , scorn, contempt, guilt……..i just simply could not have morning come one more day. And as my body fell to the ground, i looked into my husband’s eyes. he was afraid. i’ve never seen that look on his face again and i pray i never will. the vomiting, the ambulance ride, the hospital band that read my name but reminded me that i failed yet again. the anger for having to pick myself up and try to live one more time. i didn’t have a song then. didn’t have much of anything come to think of it. But i did have God’s love. Today, i am still amazed by just how much he loves ME.”

“‘Withholding nothing Melody’ more recently has been blessing me EARLY in the morning”

[FOR THE SAME SONG, DIFFERENT TESTIMONY BELOW:]

“The day before I was to share a very personal testimony, I had the thought, ‘I feel that urge to withhold some things,’ and within a few seconds, I saw a friend tweet, ‘Withholding Nothing.’ I felt God’s peace as I honored Him by speaking truth.”

“Can this be on the life soundtrack list? It’s just… so…relevant. to like, everything.”

I was truly, truly honored to share this day reflecting and worshiping with those who shared. I heard familiar echoes of overwhelming Love telling of a God who reaches into impossibly bleak situations and makes all things new. I hope you’re blessed by this playlist! All of the songs are compiled into a single Youtube playlist HERE.

Find Me:

facebook signyoutube 2 old gram.pngtwitter t