A Disease to Please – A Testimony of Freedom in Christ

There is an incredible freedom to behold when we place ourselves and our decisions in the rightful hands of our Creator. Today, I can truly say that I have experienced that freedom in Christ and it is a joy and peace that I have been seeking for years and which I have finally found.

Over the course of my life, I have allowed my childhood wounds to subconsciously follow me. While our parents are supposed to represent to us the love and acceptance that God has for us, not all child-parent relationships follow this model. We cannot excuse the fact that, unlike God, our parents are flawed and even in their best efforts (which I appreciate), they will ultimately fail in some aspect of their relationship with us.

Throughout the course of my childhood, like most children, I wanted to be loved and accepted by my parents. ‘Doing things’ for them, seemed to make them happy at first, and soon I learned that if I was to be loved by them, I needed to ‘do things’ to please them, even if it made me unhappy. As I became older, my efforts to make them happy continued, but their satisfaction appeared to diminish and I never seemed to be good enough but it did not stop me from pursuing their love. Throughout this experience, I learned that my needs were unimportant and that I should put myself last and everyone else’s needs first, if I was to be loved. I never truly understood what it meant to be loved unconditionally, and was never able to fully understand the love that God has for me.

As I became an adult and left home, I still found myself making immature efforts to seek approval, by replaying the same efforts to ‘people please’ with my spouse, my co-workers and my friends. I would talk to a variety of people about the choices I needed to make, some people would agree, others would disagree, and I would often sit confused, in an ocean of analysis paralysis not knowing which way to turn. In my efforts to be loved and accepted, I outsourced many of my critical life decisions. I allowed people to make choices for me about my life, even when I wasn’t entirely sure or happy about the decisions, I believed that they knew more about (my) life than I did.

Like Jonah, God had to get my attention and He took me on an epic journey of discovery to finally get me to look at what I was doing to myself. Ultimately, the reason I was unhappy, was that I was being disobedient to God’s will for my life as well as being idolatrous. I was not living the life that God had created me to live, I was living a life to please the will of people who I had subconsciously placed on a (parental) pedestal.

Through a variety of painful lessons, God had to teach me who I am. I had to learn that God is my Father and that I do not have to do anything for Him to love me, He loves me unconditionally. I am learning to embrace the fact that I am a Child of the King and that my needs and desires are just as important as anyone else’s. God has given me an amazing personal gift of life with the same ability and right to breath the same fresh air and occupy a physical space on this earth just as everyone else does . I learned that no one else’s opinion or approval matters, except God’s because He is the One who created me. To seek approval or validation from anyone else but God, is to make that person my god, my idol.

So today, I walk with a renewed sense of who I am, knowing that for me I have had a huge victory over an enemy that has been subconsciously destroying my life – ‘people pleasing’ or idolatry. I can confess that this will be an ongoing journey of recovery, a ‘disease to please’ does not disappear overnight. Nevertheless, I am blessed and thankful that God took my hand and walked with me through the pain and hurt of a road less travelled, so that I could learn to accept that He loves me simply for who I am.

‘I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made’  Ps 139:14

‘We have known and believed the love that God has for us.  God is love and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.  We love Him because He first loved us’ 1 John 4: 16 – 19

The Christ & The Cross Convo-What “Wood” Jesus Do……

The Cross- “Lord God, why was I chosen? I mean what did I do to deserve this torture? I had no choice! I wish that I were not the one they used. You did nothing to deserve me. Those people did not know who you are. I wish I were not the method of murder used to destroy you. I wish there was something I could have done to stop it from happening. Even Simon of Cyrene knew you did not deserve to perish on me as he dragged me towards Calvary. Even when they mercilessly hammered those nails in Your hands and put that crown of thorns on Your head, while being in extreme pain and agony, I felt anguish for you. I feel horrified that I am forever regarded as that “Old Rugged Cross”, despised by the world and the emblem of suffering and shame. Lord why me? Why was I chosen?”

The Christ- “You were chosen for a purpose. Wood is an important symbol I want my people to understand. When I first destroyed the world by flood, their only salvation was through the ark, which was made of wood. In Exodus 37:1, the Ark of the Covenant was made of wood. In the entire Old Testament, no sacrificial offering dedicated to me would be complete without the use of wood. In Exodus 26:15, my tabernacles would not be complete without wood. All of My Holy scriptures are written on paper, which comes from wood. Through Moses, I performed ten miracles and parted the Red Sea using the wooden staff I gave him so my people would be free. You see, all of these uses of wood were used for freedom, salvation, and sacrifice. Now you ask me why you were chosen. The cross is now viewed as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace and love. If I had no respect for wood, why of all professions would I come to earth as a carpenter?”

What is amazing about carpenters is that they take ordinary pieces of wood, make it, and construct it into any form they want. Jesus is the Master Carpenter and He can form us into something that we could never even possibly imagine. If we allow Him to be a carpenter in our lives, we can be used for any purpose that He chooses. Sometimes wood has to burn to give warmth. Sometimes trees have to be cut down to make beautiful temples. God sometimes uses the lowest moments of our lives to bless and enrich others. It wasn’t until Jesus was at the lowest moment of His life, that He fulfilled the plan of redemption and allowed mankind to be saved so can bless and enrich others with a Christ-filled life to light up the world. Since Adam and Eve sinned by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, according to 1 Peter 2:24, Jesus had to use a tree of another form (the cross) to redeem and save us from sin. Since Adam had to die from eating from that tree, Jesus had to die on a tree to set us free. Let us always remember that Jesus dying on the cross barely scratches the surface of what He’s willing to do to save each and every one of us. So let us all live what He said in Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; and Luke 9:23 and decide what YOU “wood” do for Jesus?

THE BEGINNING IS IN THE MIDDLE….

THE BEGINNING IS IN THE MIDDLE
The last day of the year has finally arrived. This is the time of year when people reflect on the biggest news stories of the year and how they have affected society and culture as a whole. There are numerous newsworthy stories of 2013 that will be talked about for ages, however, what happened in 2013 that affected your own life personally? What were the highs and lows, difficulties and defining moments that have shaped you into the person you are now, for better or worse? These are the types of questions we need to ask ourselves. As we are getting closer to the return of Christ, are you even closer to Christ than you were on December 31, 2012? Although this is a question that I struggle to answer, I know that each and every day that Christ allows me to wake up, I have the opportunity to draw closer to Him. Each and every day He allows me to wake up, I have the opportunity to serve Him, praise Him, worship Him, and obey Him. I should not have to wait until January 1st to come around to resolve to be a better person, a better spouse, a better parent, or a better servant of God. January 1st is not guaranteed to anyone. January 1st is not promised to anyone. God wants me to resolve to be a better me RIGHT NOW! Why delay to follow His Way? Why wait before I embark on a journey from mediocrity to being great? I need to live each day as if it’s the last day. I need to live each day as if it’s December 31st.
This year is unique because the beginning of the New Year falls on Wednesday, the middle of the week. I am sure most people would prefer the New Year to start on a Sunday so the New Year could be the start of a new week. However, I take comfort in knowing that even in the middle of my struggle, it is the beginning of a new walk with Christ. Even in the middle of my pain, I know that the beginning of healing is on its way. Even in the middle of my sorrow, I know that the beginning of comfort is on its way. Even in the middle of my storm, I know the beginning of the sun’s rays will shine brightly in my life. So as the sun sets on 2013 and the sun rises in 2014, let us pray to God more, let us serve our fellow man more, let us study our Word more so we can fly high and soar in the 2-0-1-4. God wants us to soar higher than the highest heights we could possibly fathom, yet be humble and “grounded” so we can allow Him to use us in every way possible. So as we embark on Flight 2014, let’s not “carry-on” any “baggage” from 2013 that would keep us from soaring to new heights. Be blessed and Happy New Year one and all.

I’m Trusting God will do it…for His Glory…

SCRIPTURE

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14: 13 – 14

OBSERVATION

Jesus made a promise to us that He would do anything for us, if only we ask.  Jesus has also told us to ask, seek and knock, because He will give it, find it and open the doors for us (Matthew 7:7). There are many things I have prayed about and asked God for, believing they were good things, things that God would definitely want for me.  Despite knowing that God answer prayers by either saying ‘Yes”, “No” or “Wait”, sometimes it is hard to believe and understand that God would withhold or postpone something good, for example – physical healing, a healthy marriage, a new job, a new home and other blessings.

The key to this promise, is that God answering this prayer has nothing to do with us.  It’s all about Him.  You see, Jesus said “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” – Jesus will answer our prayer, but so that we will know the Mighty Power of the Our Father.

APPLICATION

Personally, I am waiting right now for a prayer to be answered.  I believe it is something that God would want for me and I have been pretty close to receiving it, in fact, I know the blessing is around the corner.  But for some reason it has been delayed and I have been disappointed today.

Nevertheless, as I started reading this chapter, I found this passage comforting.  I realized that God was telling me that though I am disappointed right now, He will answer this prayer.  But it’s not even about me, it’s so that God’s name may be glorified, not mine.

I have to take myself out of this and trust Him – whatever He has in store – it will be best for me and for His glory.

Note:  For a variety of  reasons, I was behind in writing a blog for the last two days.  Maybe that delay was for my benefit so that I could read this passage today and be comforted by its relevance to my situation.  Maybe God knew I would be right here, in a place of frustration and impatience but as I write this, I feel this slipping away as I rest on God’s promise to answer my prayers according to His will and for His glory.

PRAYER

Dear Father

I am thankful that you are an All Powerful and  All-Knowing God.  I am thankful for your timing and for the message of comfort you have given to me today to calm my fears.  Please help us all to turn to you when we need answers to our prayers.  Please teach us to trust in You and Your timing, knowing that whatever you choose is for our benefit.  Sometimes it is hard, especially when things do not go our way at the time when we want it to, but this is all for Your Glory.

Thank you for your gifts of loving us enough to shape our characters by through learning to trust in you.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

FOLLOW JESUS!!! Not your church…or pastor, or friend…

SCRIPTURE

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10: 9)

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.

The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” (John 10: 11 – 14)

OBSERVATION

The man who was blind had just been healed by Jesus and he had testified to the Pharisees of what Jesus had done for him.  The Pharisees in their stubbornness refused to hear this man’s testimony and decided to throw him out of the synagogue.  Jesus went to look for him because He knew this man had been persecuted because of what He had done and so He went to comfort him.

In so many words Jesus said to the formerly blind man, if you believe in me then although they have thrown you out of the church, you have nothing to fear.   He said I am the True Shepherd and those who follow Me will be protected as I will lay down My life to save those who believe in Me. Jesus said “you will go in and out and find pasture”, so whether you are in this synagogue or outside you will live in peace.  Even if they reject you, you can find acceptance in Me.  As long as you believe in Me, I am the one who will care for all your needs and your salvation.  Follow Me and I will always have food (spiritual) for you to eat, for I am the Bread of Life.

APPLICATION

I cannot and should not place my trust in the church or pastor to care, save or protect me in times of trouble.  Despite the pastor’s role as a ‘shepherd’, there are some who may even sacrifice me for their own benefit as the Pharisees did by throwing this man out of the church.  Just as Jesus said, the ‘hireling’ or hired Pharisee does not own the sheep (as Jesus does) and may leave the sheep to be attacked by the wolves, so that they can save themselves.    For example, sometimes, people’s spiritual needs suffer because pastors fail to act to protect members of the congregation because to do so may affect tithes – this is a very real scenario.

People may leave or be cast out of the church, but it does not mean they no longer believe in Jesus, indeed they may have a very strong faith, just as the formerly blind man did. Jesus does not want us to place our spiritual needs or salvation in the hands of a synagogue, church, pastor or anyone else, for they can neither offer us heaven nor hell.  Jesus is the only door through which our spiritual needs can be met, or through which we can enter into salvation.  If I am truly following Jesus, what else can anyone offer me that Jesus cannot provide?

Quite simply, my faith and trust should be in Jesus.  It was Jesus who laid down His life and paid for my sins. I do not belong to a church, I belong to Jesus and I will follow Him.

PRAYER

Father God

You are a Mighty God and Worthy to be Praised and Adored.  Thank You for reminding us that You love us enough to sacrifice Your only Son that we could be saved.  Thank You Jesus that You were willing to die for us and pay the penalty of our sins.

Thank You for being the True Shepherd who takes care of His sheep. Please remind us daily that our faith and trust should be in You to lead us through life.  Please help us to rely on you to meet our spiritual needs and not on our church or pastor.  One day those people may be there for us, but on another day, they may not be.  But You Lord are the Good Shepherd, ever-present and willing to lead and protect. You promised that wherever we are, in or outside of a church, as long as we  believe in and follow You, we will find peace and sustenance in Your green pastures… forever.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

From Breakdown to Breakthrough

Baking a cake requires a combination of specific ingredients in a particular way to ensure success. If the cake fails, I usually assume I did something wrong and I will need to make a change next time. When seeking an answer to my prayers, there is also a formula or recipe for success, such as prayer, fasting, Bible study, and faith. If the prayers go unanswered, once again I assume that I did something wrong and will need to do something different next time.

I confess that I have manipulated areas of my life to create a desired outcome, such as baking a simple cake – who hasn’t? Change your actions means you change the outcome – right? But is it possible that I unknowingly did the same with God? Was I trying to manipulate God to provide me with what I wanted, based on what I was doing?

As a Christian it is a message I have heard many times. If you want a breakthrough with the challenges in your life, whether it is good health, a restored marriage, job security, financial blessings, then you should seek to pray, recite scriptures, serve in church,  submit, forgive, sacrifice, wear the right clothes, send our children to Christian school, the list goes on.  The reverse of this message is, if your prayers go unanswered, it is because of something you failed to do, and if you are like me, you will try harder and do more to break through these walls.

Despite trying to complete my endless ‘to do’ list there was no breakthrough, until one day, I broke down. I was burned out. My heart ached, and in tears, I looked to God and said “What now?”God said:-

sunset picnic
Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.

So I sat in God’s presence and rested.  Things fell apart around me. I rested.  My world and everything in it came crashing down. Still, I rested. During this time, I learned more about myself and the people around me. Relationships cracked, some people stayed, others left, some I chose to break, others were restored. Most importantly, God revealed to me that the area of my life I had been working so earnestly to fix, was not mine to fix – it was His. I had been trying to do God’s job.

I had to stop trying to influence Him, albeit subconsciously, and let Him do whatever He had to do in my life, even if it meant failing and losing the very things I valued. As He puts my broken life back together, I now see the breakthrough that I had been praying for. I literally had to ‘break’ – for these walls in my life to come tumbling down. I’m still walking ‘through’ to the other side – but to a different life that God has in store for me.  God had to ‘break me to make me’.

Though I am perplexed by His way, and the unexpected dynamics, I am trusting Him and feeling truly blessed.  I begin this journey with a renewed heart and desire to really know God and accept His Grace and Mercy. I finally believe that He does not bless me or answer my prayers because of what I do, but quite simply because He loves me – unconditionally. This is my testimony of Jesus Christ.

How did God bring you through a difficult time in your life?  Share your experiences or comments below…

I am a Child of God.

Whether a Methodist, Roman Catholic, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist, Mormon etc., becoming a part of a church family can become a large part of one’s identity and lifestyle.  Church membership is a place where you can belong and there was a time when I wore my church denomination and local membership with some level of pride. However, there also came a time when I had to truly figure out ‘Who I am’  and to ‘Whom I belong’.

Quite simply, I broke it down and figured out that this is who I am.

I am a Child of God – a Christian.

Nothing more… nothing less.

I belong to God. He is my Father. God created me, formed me in my mother’s womb and claimed me as His own. He loved me first, before anyone or any other church or denomination ever existed. My identity is in Him. My choice to serve God as a Christian is based on my belief that God is my Creator, my Father, and that he has given me the free will to claim salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

The denomination that I attend – it’s not as important to me as it once was. The churches in the New Testament were of no denomination, they were just referred to by their location – Corinth(Corinthians), Philippi (Philippians) and so on. People attended these churches regularly depending on where they lived, not according to the doctrines that each church held. People were simply ‘Christians’ or the ‘Saints in Christ Jesus’ (Phil 1:1, Eph 1:1).

Whilst each denomination may claim to hold ‘the truth’ – claims of exclusivity in areas of doctrine, prophecy etc., often yield an unfortunate consequence of dividing the body of Christ based on our limited ability to accurately interpret the Bible.

Therefore church denomination and membership, programs and prophecy interpretations, being theologically ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ are no longer a priority to me. I want to focus on following the example of love, forgiveness, grace and mercy that Jesus gave to us.  My priority is to serve God outside of the church, just as Jesus served and nurtured people outside of the synagogue.

Church denominations and conflicting doctrines are not going away. However, it is important that we do not forsake fellowship with other Christians.  Choosing a church requires individuality, humility, prayer, questioning, direction from the Holy Spirit and Bible study regardless of whether our family has a generational history in a particular denomination. We need to be open minded and aware that every church is fallible and there is no church or doctrine that can save us – therefore it is vital that our relationship with God is well-established as we search.

As I write, I am reminded of the promise that God has given to me:-

‘In my Father’s house are many mansions; If it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you, And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.’ (John 14: 2 -3; NKJV)

I firmly believe that the True Church that I am seeking, the ‘True Church Membership’ that I need – safely rests in Heaven – with My Father.