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Archive for February, 2011

Issues

What woman (or anyone else for that matter) doesn’t have issues? Yet, even though we all have them so often we try to pretend we don’t.

How often have we walked around with a pasted on smile meant to cover our deep pain, broken dreams, or shameful secret.  We don’t want to go there.  We can’t bear to face ourselves and we certainly don’t want anyone else to see whatever it is we are trying to hide.

The gospels tell a story about a woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years.  She had spent all she had on doctors trying to find the cure, hoping to be fixed. As Jesus walked in a crowd of people, this desperate woman decided to push through believing one touch could be enough.

The scripture indicates the crowd was so big that Jesus was surrounded on every side and nearly suffocated.  The woman must have had to get down low and crawl toward the feet of Jesus.  As she approached Him she extended her hand and touched the fringe or hem of his garment, hoping to go unnoticed.

But Jesus felt the the healing power leave and asked who touched Him.  She acknowledged that it was her and fell down in front of Him, declaring to everyone why she’d touched Him and how she had been healed.

Our issues can cause us to bleed too.  Wounding words that have been spoken over us or violating actions perpetrated on us can last a lifetime.  Poor choices leading to horrible consequences can cause feelings of guilt and shame.  Past experiences can cause feelings of abandonment, grief, pain, sadness, anxiety and a host of other emotions.

Sometimes we just stuff or cover those things hoping that if we ignore them, they’ll go away.  Yet, eventually, if we don’t face them and move forward, eventually they will come out and when they do we won’t just bleed a little, we might just hemorrhage!

The woman in this story didn’t ignore her issue.  In fact, she spent everything she had to try to fix it.  But this time, she had come to the end, knowing there was nothing left to do or try.  This was her moment.  This was her chance.  It was a the hope of the healing touch of Jesus that gave her courage and strength to keep pushing through the multitudes.  She couldn’t give up.  Not now.  She had to reach out one more time.

And this time, it paid off.  Jesus said, (Luke 8:48, Amplified) “Daughter, your faith (your confidence and trust in Me) has made you well!  Go (enter) into peace (untroubled, undisturbed well-being).”

Isn’t that what we all want?  Wholeness.  Peace.

Whatever your issue is today, I hope you’ll tell Jesus what it is and join me in this prayer.

Jesus, I can’t fix myself or my issues.  I’ve tried.  It hasn’t worked.  I’m tired of the struggle.  It’s cost me too much.  My only hope is your touch. I’m reaching out to you Jesus, just as I am, issues and all.  I surrender.  I let it go.  Heal me.  Bring me wholeness.  Bring me peace.

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A Woman’s Place

When I was a young mom, there was a huge debate in the culture.   The church taught that a truly Godly woman would stay home and raise her children, take care of her husband, and teach Sunday School, work in women’s ministries, and go to Bible study and prayer meetings.

The message from the feminist movement at the time was that women had had enough of man’s domination and would determine their own future.  For many this came from pent up anger and bitterness towards men and the patriarchal systems in church, politics, and business.

Jesus asked a very important question in Luke 7:44. A woman in that culture was not considered fully human.  The prevailing attitude was she is “less than” man–the property of man, subservient to them.  For many, violence and mistreatment of women was normal.  In today’s world it is still much more prevalent than we might imagine.    Jesus question is still important.  “Do you see this women?”

Jesus honored women and recognized their worth.  He even referred to them at times when confronting the Pharisees with their prideful hearts. Jesus liberated women from the expectations of the culture.

So what is a woman’s place?  Women in Bible times were often the influential ones. God chose women. In the Old Testament there are many stories of women and their influence–Ruth, Sara, Deborah, Abigail and so on.

In the New Testament we see many women as well. God chose Mary to birth the Messiah whose birth was prophesied by Anna.  He broke cultural norms to talk to the Samaritan woman at the well who then evangelized her city.  He made a statement that women weren’t just there to serve men when he explained to Martha that Mary’s choice to set and learn spiritual things from him was an important one.  Women such as Susanna, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene financially supported Jesus ministry. Women were the first to proclaim his resurrection and attended the first prayer meeting in the upper room.

There is one thing these women have in common.  They pushed beyond what was expected and what was the norm for their day and lived their lives by the convictions of their heart with courage!

We need to have a serious discussion in the world and in the church about the treatment and role of women.  But regardless of what others think or perceive about women, we can fulfill our destiny.

Where do we start?  We begin by emulating the women who’ve gone before.  Like Mary, we say I’m willing to let the Spirit of God impregnate me with God’s dreams. Like Ruth, we choose to go beyond what is expected of us and show love and support to another.   Like the woman who poured the expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet, we recognize that true worship is giving the best we have, all we have, all of us to bless Jesus, in gratitude for all He has given.

Rest assured.  God sees you!  A women’s place is right in the center of the heart of God.  When a woman lives in and from that place, she can overcome anything and there is no doubt she will impact the generations.

 

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A woman wants to be loved and cherished.  For me, it’s not enough for someone to just say the words.  I want to hear those words, knowing they came from the heart.  I know they came from the heart if the actions behind them follow.

I didn’t grow up in an environment where love was unconditional.  Whether it was at home or in the church, it seemed to be more about what I did then who I was.  Especially with authority, it appeared to me that I was loved and accepted when I acted and thought just like everyone else.   There wasn’t much room for flexibility, creativity, and God forbid–questioning.

For years I tried to make myself fit by conforming to what everyone else wanted.  Who doesn’t want to belong?

I spent years crying, trying to figure out what was wrong with me.  Yet, I was stubborn and wouldn’t stop trying to make a difference in my world.  Many times, I would just have to tough it out and keep moving forward because others around me misunderstood or refused what I was offering.

Still, I was one of the walking wounded.  If we are honest we all belong to that group.  If that is true, how do we move from a place of woundedness to health?

There are many steps but here is a big one that made a difference in my life.

Examine how you see yourself!

What has happened to us in the past causes us to formulate beliefs about ourselves and others.  We don’t start out in life with feelings of insecurity, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, etc.   Those things are learned.

The more I sort out how I see myself in the light of how God views me, the more loved and accepted I feel.  And because I feel accepted, I can reach out in relationships and go beyond what I’d normally be capable of.

Romans 6:11 talks about that.  “Even so consider yourself dead to sin and your relationship with it broken but alive to God(living in unbroken fellowship with Him) in Christ.”

I use to see sin as a list of do’s and don’ts.  Now I see it as acting on anything contrary to God’s nature and His viewpoint. In light of that, this is how I see that verse for me. 

When you think about yourself and view the brokeness in your life, remember this.   Your relationship with God is unbroken.   You have access to Him and are always able to communicate with Him.  He never turns you away and His love is unconditional.   Because your relationship with God is intact, your broken places have no rule over your life.  In Christ you walk in a new place.  You are free to live out of His love for you.

It’s as if God himself gave you His heart in the shape of a big, beautiful valentine.   “I love you with an everlasting love.” is the message inside.  He’s meant every word of love He whispers and He’s backed it up with the sacrifice of Jesus own life.

The question is, “Will you be my valentine?  What will you do with the love I offer?”

And if the answer is yes, what’s next?  How will we live?

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Promised

Did you ever get a promise ring?  In my youth that was the pre-engagement ring that every girl wanted.

I love  Song of Solomon 4.  Here’s what the lover(God) is says to the one who loves him(us).

O my love.  You are beautiful! There is no flaw in you!

Come away with me my promised bride.

God doesn’t see us as flawed.  He sees us as Jesus’  promise!  Jesus came to earth and was willing to give up His life. It was for the joy of all of man’s complete union with God once again.

In the kingdom of heaven, each of us are seen as the beautiful bride and life is now about the preparation so that beauty to shine in it’s fullness.

Just imagine Jesus as the groom waiting at the altar.  You are the bride walking down the aisle toward him.  His eyes are fixed on you.  He knows all about your past, your present, and your future.  He knows all about you, mistakes and all.

This is what he says as you take his hand.  “You have ravished my heart and given me courage, my promised bride, with one look of your eye, one jewel around your neckline.”

He is ravished by you!  By the promise he sees in you!  By the courage you give him as you refuse to let life overcome you.  By the jewels you wear (love, peace, joy, long suffering, etc.)  By your fragrance!

The hope of you, the promise of you, in all your beauty and fullness, exactly as God created you is what drove Him (and gave him courage to go) to the cross.  He couldn’t give up on that!  He had to have you as you were intended to be.  He would make a way for you to understand His love!  A way for life on earth and heaven.

We ask the questions in our minds over and over again:  Am I loved?  What am I worth?

God has answered with Jesus’ life.  Now the question becomes, Will I believe what He says?

The more  you believe, the more your life will reflect your identity as the promised bride.

 

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More God Kisses

When someone loves you they want to spend time with you.  God is no different.  In fact, He created us so He could be with us!

Here’s my paraphrase of the conversation in Song Of Solomon 2:10-16 as if God was speaking to us.

God:  Wake up my love, special one, come away with me!  The winter(cold, dark, and empty times) is behind you.  The rain(dreary, tear filled, time) is over and gone.  Look!   The flowers(everything is blooming, fresh and new) are appearing on the earth! The time for singing has come!  Music can be heard everywhere.  There is ripened fruit on the trees and fragrance all around us.  Don’t lay there any longer.  Get up love.  Come away with me!

The One Who Loves Him:  So I got up and went with him and while we were climbing the rocky steps up the hillside, He spoke again.

God:  O my dove, while you are here with me alone in our secret place, sheltered and protected, let me see your beautiful face.   Let me hear your voice for it is so sweet to me.

The One Who Loves Him:  My heart was touched and I with all I had I sang to him my desire.  Take for us all the little things that spoil our love.

She proclaims:  I belong to my beloved and He belongs to me!

What a beautiful intimate picture.  If you have ever longed to have deep intimate conversation with the person you loved you understand the longing in God’s heart toward us.  Our lovers can fail us but God doesn’t.

Can you hear God calling you to come away?  Will you lift your face to Him and sing your desires to him?  He’s waiting! He will never say no or mis-read the cues, or be too busy.  He listens intently.  He always is affirming and loving even while correcting.

I want more kisses from God.  Don’t you?

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Kisses From God

Are you a hopeless romantic? I am. What girl doesn’t want to be carried away by her knight in shining armor or smothered in the kisses of a prince charming?

But in every fairy tale there is a prince and a princess and that creates a problem. Sometimes we just don’t feel, look, or act like a princess! And along with that stunning revelation comes a lot of guilt, disappointment in ourselves, and all the emotions that come with low self-worth.

Song of Solomon 2:1 & 2 (Amplified) there is an interesting exchange between the Shulammite woman and Solomon. “She said I am only a little rose or autumn crocus of the plain of Sharon, or a humble lily of the valleys that grows in deep and difficult places.”

I don’t know about you but I’ve felt like that. To me the statement looks more like: Me?  I’m just an ordinary person.  I’m not like all the others. Things don’t come easy to me.  Life gets in the way.  I may have big ideas but I need to just be content to be a small, humble, fragile flower.

What does your conversation sound like?

Here’s Solomon’s reply.  “Like the lily among thorns are you, my love, among the daughters.”

Now you gotta love that!  What woman wouldn’t love a man who argues with her insecurity!   And what a way to do it.   Notice he agrees with her analogy of her being a flower….a lily even.  But he helps her see it from a fresh perspective.

She is no longer a “just a” .  She is now set apart.  She is a lily among thorns.

As I thought about this, my eyes noticed all the snow on the ground.   Can you imagine what it would like if in the middle of a field of snow, there was just a tiny circle of green with a beautiful lily or tulip or daffodil in full bloom? That’s what I see when I look at this verse.

Like Solomon, God kisses us with fresh perspective.  When we see ourselves as a weak, fragile, insignificant flower in the middle of others who appear to be brilliant, blooming, and vibrant, He teaches us to not compare ourselves to others.  He acknowledges our own beauty, our own uniqueness.

And then He kisses us with the assurance that He loves us just as we are.  He encourages us and inspires us to see ourselves differently and to let ourselves be instead of trying to make ourselves like the other flower, fit into someone elses plan.  He calls us out of a place where we resign ourselves to a life of insignificance because we’ve believed the lie that we are a “nobody.”

Want love?  Let God kiss you today.  As you take a moment and sit quietly, ask God to show you how He sees you.  You may be pleasantly surprised.

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One of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read has been Og Mandino’s, The Choice.

In the final chapter, there is a speech about our power to choose. Here’s a quote.

“So many of us spend our lives searching for happiness. Like children hunting Easter eggs, we dash hither and yon hoping to discover some mystical bluebird. Life would so different, we sign, if only we were happy.”

God has given us an amazing gift that carries big power. The power to choose. With that power comes responsibility to use it wisely.

Og goes on to explain, “And so one hurries home to be happy and another flees home to be happy. One is getting married to be happy and another gets divorced to be happy. One takes expensive cruises to be happy and another labors overtime to be happy.”

Have you ever been on that merry-go-round? I have. As a young mom I had extremely low self esteem and self worth issues. I looked at my stuff to find value and even worse I looked to other people like my husband,my family, my kids.

The problem with that is you can lose stuff, hide behind stuff, become lost in stuff. Even worse, people can fail you, and some even intentionally set out to hurt you.

Even with God and the church, I looked to the next great conference, the next goose bumpy experience, the “right” pastor,the perfect ministry, the perfect, unflawed people who always loved and did the “right” thing to give me what I wanted and thought I needed.

It didn’t work and instead of happy I found myself disappointed. I wanted more. At my core, I really did love God, and people and wanted to give and make a difference. Yet because of where I’d chosen to look for happiness, I slipped into a victim mentality where I allowed my circumstances and my relationships to continue to bring me pain. It affected every area of my life—marriage, parenting, business, outside relationships, career, finances, and my relationship with God.

I blamed others, I blamed God, I blamed the devil, I blamed systems, I blamed the church, and I blamed myself.

Because at my core, I’m a visionary and dreamer, my internal being was in constant turmoil. I felt I had no options for the life I wanted and everything seemed out of my control.

Thank God, he kept working on me. The one thing I learned is we always have options to choose from.

1. You have the option to choose your attitude.
2. You have the option to choose your response.
3. You have the option to hold on or let go of something.
4. You have the option to pray.
5. You have the option to learn.
6. You have the option to give or take away.
7. You have the option to walk in peace.
8. You have the option to move on.
9. You have the option to turn trash into treasure.
10. You have the option to love, trust, be at peace.
11. You have the option to be satisfied.
12. You have the option to bless someone else.

So many options. Too many to list. Options that don’t depend on what you have or don’t have. Options that don’t depend on whether things are good or bad. Options that don’t required extensive education or a perfectly designed future.

Happiness comes from having something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for. There is always something to do, someone to love, and therefore something to hope for because no matter how big or small those things make a difference.

Things aren’t out of our control. All of life on earth and life thereafter is actually in our control. It’s all about choice. The question that overshadows it all is: What did you do with your power to choose?

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