Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Renewed Way of Thinking

I am so glad that our Lord renews our thoughts! Man, can they ever get off-base sometimes and in desperate need of renewal! Such was the case with me this morning.

Actually, this particular line of thought has been brewing for awhile but I've remained in the dark. Allow me to explain...

This much I had come to realize over the past year:
  • I have a fear of failure.
  • I fear that the REAL me is not enough - enough to be a worship leader, enough to hold my husband's passion, enough to raise godly children.
  • I have a stronghold of insecurity (and it has a stronghold of me)
  • I often wake in the morning feeling defeated because of the sins of yesterday.
So, this morning, I was suffering from all of the above. The Lord woke me early and wooed me to my spot. His Word was sweeter than honey from the honeycomb! Here is what He said:
Isaiah 43:18-19 Do not earnestly remember the former things...like the sins and failures of yesterday...behold, He is doing a new thing! It's a new day and He's not limited by my yesterday.
Like Lazerus, I was dead, but now He's calling me to life and I need to take off the old grave clothes (the shame and condemnation of yesterday) and lay them at His feet. They are a filthy reminder of the former things.
Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am He who blots our and cancels your transgressions...even my willful sins...for My own sake... so don't worry about deserving it, Karrie... and I will not remember [mark for recognition, recount, call to remembrance] your sins. Wheww!! Awesome!
So, if God is willing and ready to forgive me and blot out all record of my transgressions, why aren't I?
Psalm 40:6 Sacrifices and offerings are not what please you; gifts and payent for sin are not what you demand... so may I not spend today trying to "make up for" yesterday before the Lord. That sort of thinking keeps me looking at the former things. It also keeps me trapped in "works" - trying to earn off yesterday instead of by "grace" alone... But You made me willing to listen and obey. And so, I said, "I am here to do what is written about me in the book, where it says, 'I enjoy pleasing you. Your Law is in my heart.'" He is the One who brought me to this revelation this morning. May I start fresh - forgiving myself for what He has forgiven - and say instead "I'm here to do what is written about me in the book! May I enjoy pleasing You this day!" This train of thought keeps me looking forward.
Psalm 40:11 You, LORD, never fail to have pity on me... WHEN I fail today - even willfully - He never fails to have pity on me... Your love and faithfulness ALWAYS KEEP ME SECURE! (emphasis mine) Well, praise the Lord! This revelation is a giant leap on the way to freedom from insecurity!
The real difference with this right thinking (Truth) is that it makes it so that I begin this day from a position of victory. The enemy tried his best on me yet I stand here FORGIVEN! The devil might have tempted me and I might have followed but he only won a skirmish - Christ won the war! And though I may lose to his temptations at times today, I am still victorious because I will get up in faith and try again. God gives me that privilege. May I cease to let the enemy rob me of the forgiveness that is freely offered me and the resulting position of victory. Praise You, O God!
Psalm 18:3-4 I will call upon the Lord, who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies. the cords of death surrounded me, and the streams of ungodliness and the torrents of ruin terrified me... Lord, I was so afraid to make a mistake - afraid to fail... ruin terrified me! But God - You have rescued me!
1 Peter 2:24 He personally bore our sins in His own body on the tree... that we might die (cease to exist) to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed...I can cease to exist to sin - looking back - living in the shame of past defeat and LIVE to righteousness - from the place of grace, forgiveness and victory!
For He has not given me a spirit of fear or timidity but of power, love and self-discipline! 2 Timothy 1:7. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Philippians 4:19.
I'll shout it from the mountain tops and sing a new song! It's awesome to be free!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Things To Do As You Wait On a Miracle in Your Marriage

This entry may seem out of context - I was so sure that I had posted it earlier along with "Becoming a Woman of Valor" in August of 2009 - but I hadn't so I'm posting it now...

Pray Less For Your Husband and More For Yourself - This may sound totally selfish and inappropriate but sometimes, when a relationship is strained, it's difficult to pray for your spouse without giving the Lord a long prescription of everything that you'd like to see changed in your spouse. Praying for your spouse can easily become a complaining session with the Lord and since the Lord knows better than us what is going on and what needs to be done, prayer sessions like that serve only to discourage us and remind us of everything that is frustrating or hurtful.

In a great little book "Get the Junk Out of Your Trunk: Let Go of the Past to Live Your Best Life" (by Duane VanderKlok) I learned that when we need to forgive someone who has hurt us, we need to pray blessing over their lives - with NO prescription! When we are praying blessing and not telling the Lord how He should do it, we are brought to the point of forgiveness and wanting to see good things happen in their lives rather than retribution.

Prayer is something everyone says and even assumes but we do entirely too little of it and even less of it effectively. God's Word is sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Praying His Word, convicts us where we've fallen short. When we come into agreement with what He says and repent, it accomplishes His purposes within us (Isaiah 55:11). Our lives (and marriages) will be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).

Some great scriptures to pray daily for yourself are:

  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-7, 12-13

  • 1 Peter 2:18-25 (like the term or not, as married women, we are "household servants" and we are the only one in our home with that job description)

  • 1 Peter 3:1-6, 8-9

  • Proverbs 16:24

See http://www.biblegateway.com/ for quick reference to the scriptures listed here. Try the Amplified Bible translation. It puts some teeth to some of the words that were either too familiar or vague. I prayed these daily for many months. The words became ingrained in my mind and the Holy Spirit would call them to mind - often - when I would be tempted to insist on my own rights or add something to a mental tally sheet of what my husband was doing "wrong" (1 Corinthians 13:5).

I printed my prayers out on recipe cards and I keep them in a photo album that fits into my purse. I recorded audios of them and put them on my I-pod. Keep them handy and commit to doing what they say. It's not enough to just read them or highlight them and visit them occasionally. You must do what it says (James 1:22).

Everyone Needs a Day 17 - Ruth Myers, in her book "31 Days of Praise" has written an awesome scripture prayer about being thankful for the place in life that we are currently in. The whole book is about praising the Lord when things are difficult. It's put out by Multnomah and is worth purchasing for anyone - crisis or not!

Surround Yourself with Positive Accountability Partners and Prayer Warriors - If you are like me, it is easy to see the negative side of situations. You need people who will help you to see the positives. I needed someone who would stop me in mid-conversation if I was about to rant and complain about my husband. My friend would simply say, "have you taken this to the Throne?" or "have you tattled to Jesus?" Your friends and family don't need to know all of the details. Whatever you spend the most time concentrating on is what is going to grow bigger. Surround yourself with friends that will say, "remember when..." and remind you of those good things that your husband has done. You may need to make a list. It makes it easier to remember when you aren't seeing those qualities in the moment! If your friends aren't currently operating in this way - ask them to! Tell them that it is what you need from them. It really is what you need from them. A word of caution - your accountability partners MUST NOT be of the opposite sex! That's never appropriate and can lead down paths of destruction.

Make an 80/20 List - or a 60/40! Make a list of things that attracted you to your husband in the first place. Make a list of good qualities that he has exhibited. Everyone has them. In fact, I believe we do have more good qualities than bad. It's just easier to see the things we wish were different. Keep the list handy! Mine is in the back of my Bible and I purposely added to it whenever something would come to mind. Review the list often and thank the Lord for each quality.

Make Some Things Right, Seek Forgiveness - Perhaps your parents didn't bless your marriage or you were engaging in pre-marital sex. Seek forgiveness. You can seek forgiveness for not honoring your parents or seek forgiveness from your husband for not waiting to have sex with the Lord's blessing. These things are not easy nor do many people think they are necessary but once they've been dealt with Biblically, when the enemy throws out lies like "you should have listened to your mother" you can standon the Truth of no condemnation!

Learn the Lesson "But if Not..." - I have found that in every major lesson/life change that the Lord has taken me through there has come a point where I had to come to grips with the fact "but if not..." I'm still going to choose to follow the Lord in obedience. When I struggled with infertility and that the Lord was robbing me of a blessing, I had to come to the point where if He never gave me children, He was still Good. When my father was dying of cancer, if the Lord never healed him, He was still Good. If your husband never changes, God is still Good and it is the right thing to walk out your life in obedience. The other thing that I've found is that God is so gracious and generous!! He rewards our feeble steps in His direction!

My grandfather always used to say that if the Lord never did anything else for him but save his soul, it was worth serving Him forever. It's the truth!

Become Your Husband's Cheerleader - I'm confident that somewhere inside every man is a doubt or anxiety of "can I really do this?" Be a good husband? Provide for a family? Be a good lover? Become his cheerleader. Make a conscious point of looking for things that you can praise him for. I understand that at first, it may take some looking. We are in the habit of seeing the bad. Genuinely thank him for every good thnig you see. Tell him that he's doing a good job of... I have been stunned by how much my husband has appreciated this. These are pleasant words that are sweet to the soul and bring healing to his bones like Proverbs 16:24 talks about.

Allow Yourself to Be Dependant on Your Husband - Depending on how badly you've been hurt, this can be very difficult. Even if you've never said it consciously, our tendency is to build walls so that we won't be hurt again. 1 Peter 3:1 tells us to "be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them]..." Chances are you rebel against things that you would consider bad decisions on their part. The enemy tells us not to let ourselves "go down" with that sinking ship. A friend of mine taught me to say, "whatever you think is best, dear." Rather than argue your side, if, after simply and calmly stating your opinion, you are of differing minds, winsomely say "whatever your think is best." Be mindful not to be patronizing. Your husband will know the difference.

It is safe for you to submit to your husband even if you are positive that he is making the wrong decision because Jesus is the Lord of lords. You are not responsible for your husband's decision but you are responsible for your response to him. That same wise friend reminded me that submission is difficult and it goes against everything that the world (and our unbelieving friends) tell us but it is richly rewarded by our Heavenly Father. It is even safe for you to submit to an unbelieving husband or one that is not walking with the Lord as long as what he asks of you is not immoral or illegal. That same verse in 1 Peter 3 continues to say "so that even if any (husbands) do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives." I had to quit preaching and arguing my point and start living out my role as God intended.

We are to live as godly wives in "like manner" to how Jesus conducted Himself. "When He was reviled and insulted, He did not revile or offer insult in return; [when] He was abused and suffered, He made no threats [of vengeance]; but He trusted [Himself and everything] to Him who judges fairly." (1 Peter 2:23) Trust yourself to the One Who is faithful!

"Play the Tapes to the End" - It often looks much greener on the other side of the fence. Don't allow yourself to look through rose colored glasses. If you're struggling with the desire to leave your husband, take a long, hard look at what that really looks like. The enemy is the master of lies. Would life really be easier? Are you sure that you really want to be single? What do children of divorced parents really feel? Are you so sure that your marriage is the one thing that is impossible for God?

Can You Stay for Today? - Spending your time looking at the next 5 years or the rest of your life in a difficult marriage can make you run the other way. The Lord tells us not to worry about tomorrow because it has enough worries of its own. He wants us to live in today. Tomorrow is filled with what if's. These things are not true yet and chances are they will never become reality. As you sit with the Lord and listen to His leading for the day, ask yourself, by the grace of God can you stay and do the right thing for today... Deuteronomy 30:11 says, "Now what I am commanding today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach." You are not trapped. You can always choose differently tomorrow though I am confident that the Lord will amaze you with His grace as you choose obedience today.

Don't Let Anything Keep You From Quiet Time with the Lord - There is no way to live as a godly wife apart from the Lord. You need to hear how deeply He loves you. You need to express your love for Him. You need His Wisdom. You need His Counselor. You need everything that He's got and willingly extending to you. He IS your peace. He is your Shield. He is the Truth and the Way. He's freedom and He's your Deliverer! Occasional moments grabbed throughout the day will never reveal the God that you need to know. He is your very life! Large chunks of devoted time early in the morning are your recharging. Take the Lord at His Word. "Those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up on wings as eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:11). "Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice." (Isaiah 41:10)

If you have little children, get up earlier than them. I know of a woman who had her quiet time in the middle of the night and then went back to bed. Yes, rest is important but the Lord will supply all of your needs, even rest, when we put Him first in all things. Try Him. Let Him prove it to you.

Ensure that you are reading God's Word and not just about God's Word. There are many useful tools and resources out there but they need to be supplements to a healthy diet of the Word of God. Ask Him to "open your eyes to see wondrous things in His law." He will not disappoint you!

The Lord knows that what He asks of us is not always easy. Sometimes, it may feel like it's never easy but He is the Rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him. I can testify to a God who is WAY bigger than I ever knew - and I'm just seeing the tip of the iceberg! I can tell you that I have come to know the Creator God for He created love where there was none left. He truly healed my broken heart and has made beauty where there was only ashes. For that I am eternally grateful!

NOTE TO READER: Why am I so passionate about this? Because I am living a miracle! I had given up but God hadn't! I thought that fighting and dissension was what I could expect the rest of my life. When I thought I couldn't stay for another day, God asked, can you stay for today? Now, just three years later, my huband has a new wife - and it's me! And God gave me a wonderful husband! He's my friend and I love him dearly! God is making a mighty man of God right before my very eyes! The God I've come to know is WAY bigger than I ever dreamed! And tucked away in my drawer is a reminder of where we've come from... a tear-stained piece of paper on which I wrote the words of God in 1 Peter 2:18-3:9 though I didn't believe them possible. Friend, He can do it for YOU!

I'm also making the assumption that you know what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Rules and religion are not the answer. Only Jesus is. To find out more, click on "Where Do You Go When You're Hurting?" (August 2007) or click here http://spaciousplace-karrie.blogspot.com/2007/08/where-do-you-go-when-youre-hurting.html

So Long, Insecurity!

Okay - first I must confess that though this title declares the cry of my heart, it is not MY title. So Long, Insecurity is the title of Beth Moore's latest book. Although Beth is one of my favorite authors and I am so grateful for her, I am more interested in bragging on my Jesus this morning. Allow me to paint a picture for you of His profound faithfulness and guidance in my life...

I have struggled with certain fears for as long as I can remember. Last year at this time, I thought my most prominent fear was the fear of failure but during a worship service, while in the middle of lifting praises to God, the Lord pulled back the veil and showed me that this was just a side-effect of my deepest fear... That the real me wasn't enough! I was dreadfully afraid that the real me wasn't enough to lead a congregation of God's people in worship... that the real me wasn't enough to hold my husband's passion... that the real me wasn't enough to raise godly children... And so, I found myself exhausted from all of the running around trying to be "super me" and live up to the unattainable expectation I had placed on myself - perfection! After all, there was nothing more that could be done beyond perfection. Wheww! No wonder I feared failure. It happened all of the time!

If I could categorize this last 8 months, it would be desperately trying to do the next right thing while all the while caving in to the constant lying of my emotions. I didn't feel capable. I didn't feel empowered. I've come to the conclusion that when the Lord wants to mature us and get us free in a specific area, He gives us LOTS of practice!

So, I've had many circumstances, especially in the area of leading worship, that have brought me to my knees. There - now the Lord had me in the posture that He could do something with. One of the phrases on my blog is "When life is more than you can stand - kneel!" My theme was now becoming "Lord, I don't know what to do but my eyes are upon You." And He's been faithful!

During a recent unpleasant circumstance, a great friend of mine said, "Karrie, you have a stronghold of insecurity." I did not! Sure, I struggled with insecurity (like everybody else) but... the Lord stopped me in my tracks. It was precisely this mindset that kept me in bondage. Beliefs such as I struggle with insecurity sounded harmless. Who doesn't? The truth was that I did, in fact, have a stronghold of insecurity and it had a strong hold on me. That's dangerous and it requires immediate attention! You know what else? I think I believed that confidence = pride (therefore, bad) and I shudder to even suggest it... that insecurity = humility. How grossly wrong! That was last week.

I confessed this sin to the Lord and to my trusted prayer partners. No sooner did I do that than one of my friends was ordering a book for herself online and a pop-up recommended Beth's new book. My friend thought I would be interested. I was and ordered the book.

I caught myself asking the Lord, "could I really be free from insecurity?" Good grief! I didn't know that I had unbelief intertwined in there. I repented of that too and the anticipation and excitement that began growing in me was palpable.

I found that the old hymn "Victory in Jesus" was on auto-repeat in my mind. So much so that I felt led to sing a real rockin' version of it (as done by Travis Cottrell) at church this Sunday. I wanted to let the worship team hear it ahead of time. I knew that they could listen to it online through the Living Proof Ministries blog so I headed there to get the link. What was the latest blog entry? They were looking for "sisters" who were ready to be free from insecurity and willing to sign the roll call to get free together. It started that day and I wanted to say "I'm in" but I didn't have the book yet. I'm a rule follower so you don't start doing something until you have all of the tools. That's when my friend walked into my office with my brand new book in hand. Thank You, Jesus!

So here are some of the things that really struck me as I set out to complete the first assignment:

We were to write a letter to the Lord in the front of the book. Sort of a starting point for this journey. I wrote similiar things to what I've already told you about my fears about the real me... until I heard Him whisper to my heart "you fear that the real you is not enough for Me to love." He was right. No wonder God felt the need to say in His Word, "be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) or as the New American Standard translation puts it "cease striving and know I am God." Who was I fooling? God says that "while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." His love for me is not contingent on what I do. I can not earn His love. He freely gives it. I've known this with my head for years - I just didn't know that I wasn't embracing it with my heart.

"My entire life story grows like a wild shoot from the thorny soil of insecurity. Every fear I've faced, every addiction I've nursed, every disastrous relationship and idiotic decision I've made has wormed its way out of that sorrowfully fertile ground. Through the power and grace of God, I've dealt with so many side effects of it, but oddly, until now, I've somehow overlooked its primary source." (Beth Moore, So Long, Insecurity, pg. xi) No wonder I've gone through seasons of being free from food related strongholds for seasons only to find myself back in the grip of them. Food is only a coping mechanism that I have for medicating the pain of insecurity. (I see more freedom on the horizon - yippee!)

"Insecurity among women is epidemic, but it is not incurable. Don't expect it to go away quietly, however. We're going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us." (ibid, pg. xiii)

"Are we honestly going to insist on drawing our security from people - men or women - who ave oblivious to the inordinate amount of weight we give to their estimation of us?" (ibid, pg. 9)

"I want some soul-deep security drawn from a source that never runs dry and never disparages us for requiring it." (ibid, pg. 10)

"My head knows good and well that this doesn't define me. Why can't I get that message to my heart? Listen carefully: the enemy of our souls has more to gain by our setbacks than by our succumbing to an initial assault. The former is infinitely more demoralizing. Far more liable to make us feel hopeless and tempt us to quit." (ibid, pg. 11) Like my struggle with food. Oh, can you see how the Lord brought me to this point?!

"Setbacks just make us feel weak and stupid: I should have conquered this by now... Somehow I convince myself that if I could just develop a healthy enough psyche, life couldn't touch me. I'd be completely immovable... I'm forever wanting to go someplace with God. I forget that in order to really want to GO, something has to happen to make me want to leave where I am. Maybe we're all just sick to death of taking three steps forward and two steps back. Call me a math wizard, but isn't that still one step forward? ... And if we don't lose that ground, aren't we on our way somewhere new? Willing to take three more steps - even if we lose two?" (ibid, pg. 12-13)

And finally...

"Thank God, a time comes in a willing life when you're ready to face a Goliath-sized foe all by itself and fight it to the stinking death." AMEN! (ibid, pg. 14)