Tag Archives: hope

Discovering Trust

Almost two years ago, I wrote this post.  In the last week, I have had a revelation.  This is the first time in many years that I do not have that familiar feeling of depression, which always worsens at this time of year.  Something has changed.

During the last year, I have actively confronted something within myself that needed to be dealt with and it has been intense.  Throughout my adult life, I have struggled with a specific, dysfunctional pattern of behavior.  As a young woman, I saw myself as a victim of circumstance and wondered why I kept finding myself in the same situation.  After I was saved, though, Jesus began to show me how I was unconsciously drawn to these situations, because of the abuse and neglect that I had experienced as a child.  I pursued what I knew because that was what felt comfortable, but I kept hoping that the result would be different.

As my eyes were opened to this, I believed that God had healed me and that things would change.  I had been looking for a need to be met and I knew it couldn’t be if I stayed in the place that I was in.  Now, I had such hope in my heart for the future.  Unfortunately, though, the day came when I realized that I was still trapped in the same pattern and despair overwhelmed me.  Without admitting it to myself at the time, I set upon a course to meet the need for myself, although imperfectly.  

I remember having conversations with God in my head during this time.  He told me, “You are not trusting Me.  You are not waiting on Me.”  I responded, “It’s not You; it’s me.  I know You have tried to heal me but I’m just too messed up.  I’m a hopeless cause.  This will just have to be good enough.”  Of course, taking things into my own hands did not turn well.  It just complicated things further.

As the years passed, I eventually admitted to myself what I had done and repented of it.  I couldn’t change the choices I had made and how they had impacted my life, though.  I was committed to walking in obedience but I didn’t have hope for the future.  I was still dealing with the same feelings.  I kept wishing that I could just be content with my life as it was and stop longing for this place in my heart to be filled.  

A little over a year ago, though, God asked me to do something difficult.  I chose to obey and took that first step.  It didn’t seem to help anything at first.  Actually, things seemed even worse.  One day, though, a word came to me – idolatry.  I had made the desire to have this need filled bigger than anything else in my life, including my relationship with God.  Realizing that was a turning point.  I’d had glimpses of it before, but I’d never given the sin a name.  It was liberating.  It gave me a concrete way to rebuke these feelings when I am tempted to dwell on what I do not have.

Then, one day, something else occurred to me.  Fear is what had convinced me that God could never fix me.  I let the enemy into my head.  What I perceived as humility (There’s something wrong with me; I am not enough) was really me saying “This problem is bigger than You.  YOU, God, are not enough.”  I was afraid if I waited on God, that things would never get better.  That’s when the second word came to me – trust.  If I had only TRUSTED Him, there would have been no fear.  I knew that I needed to fall in love with Jesus to be healed and I thought that I had done that, but I had never let myself trust Him with this area of my life.

I’ve made up my mind to trust Him from now on.  I’ve put this need in His hands.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not sad sometimes, or angry, or frustrated.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t make mistakes.  I don’t feel like that unbearable weight is sitting on my shoulders anymore, though, and I didn’t see that coming.  God is good.

Giving is Difficult

Giving is essential, giving is rewarding, giving is downright difficult to do. I think people tend to believe that it should be easy to give of self, otherwise they are doing it wrong. This is not true. If you are giving and you find it to be easy, then I don’t believe you may not be giving enough or perhaps not of the right thing. I know that was true for me.

When I finally found a church that I could call home, I struggled with Tithing on a regular basis. You can read more about that in my post, I’m Sorry, How Much?? My husband and I knew that we wanted to give and we did, just sporadically and not the 10% that God asks for. I feel like this is a topic most Christians avoid due to guilt, shame and not wanting to really think about it. I still think I avoid it at times as I don’t want others to feel like the shame I once did.

There is no reason to feel that shame and guilt. Jesus died so that we could be free, so first look to Him in this and allow Him to show you where you need to go in your own personal walk. Trying to be perfect can bring about unnecessary anxiety and lengthen the struggle.

Today I would say to you that you should take some time to see where you are spiritually, emotionally and financially. Start with the 10% goal and see what that looks like for you. Get used to the number and ask Jesus to help you see just what a small percentage that really is. For my family, we took a look at all the money we were wasting on Starbucks, pizza and junk food. If we could find the money for that, why couldn’t we honor God’s command? We were in a place on understanding and conviction when we started giving. This is a much different place than the one of guilt, shame and defiance.

Jesus is all together Holy and all together Good.  He will not fail us and He does not lie. He tells us to trust Him and to take that scary leap of faith, knowing that He is right there, ready to move mountains for us. All we need to do is walk in that faith. Again, this is not easy to do, but so rewarding when we finally do it.

So, we have been tithing appropriately for some time now and it has been amazing. I don’t even give it a second thought now. The 10% that once seemed unattainable is now a weekly constant that we will not touch. That is God’s money and we will not change that. I will move other bills around when we hit those unexpected difficulties, but we will NOT move God’s portion. Without Him we have nothing and we want to honor Him in all we do. It has been a struggle at times and I can say that today it is just what needs to be done.

Now my family has come to a place where we know that God is telling us that it is time to give to the less fortunate on a regular basis. This is another area where we give “when we can” and “what we can at the time”. Honestly, that was exactly ok for the time. It was recently that Jesus has been prompting us to do more. He has been showing us that it’s time to give again and that it needs to cost us. For us, I knew that it meant the ministry in Africa that our church is doing.  We just never “got around” to setting that regular payment up….funny how that happens! 🙂

This past Sunday, my Pastor and his wife shared about their trip out to Africa and the Holy Spirit convicted us in such a way that I could no longer ignore. (hear their testimony here) How selfish and greedy with have been! There are Pastors in Africa that risk their lives to share the gospel and I have the option to be part of that each month. My family can give such a small portion of our income to support an entire family for that month. Why is it so hard to do?!

Well, today we went into our budget and made it happen. Every month we will be giving what is needed to support one Pastor and his family. We are walking where Jesus has told us to. It’s not easy. It’s hard to part with that money. My flesh cries out and swears that we cannot afford it! Jesus tells me otherwise. Today I am choosing to allow it to cost me. Today I am choosing Jesus and not allowing my selfishness to get in the way of blessing others. All we have is His and is to be used to bring Him glory and that is why I am sharing this with you today.

I want you to hear my story and to know that you are not alone in your struggle. I want you to know that when I first put the 10% tithe into our budget, I couldn’t see how we would be able to afford groceries. I want you to know that today, we still live in abundance and groceries are just fine. Our bills are paid and we are far from struggling. We are blessed Americans and are finally starting to see that. We may not be rich by our culture’s standards, but we are rich by Jesus’ standards and as compared to the true poor in this world.

Let Jesus make a change in you when if comes to your finances. It is scary, it seems uncertain and you will struggle hard. That’s ok, you’re not alone and Jesus is right there with you when you take that leap.

Thanks for listening, I love you all.

 

 

A Broken World

Rock wall (2)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one – Romans 3:10

We do not live in a world that is mostly good. We live in a broken world that is full of sin and heart-break.

I think we spend so much time thinking that darkness is less common and are surprised when we see it. I think we forget that we were never designed to deal with loss and grief and therefore need help coping. We were made in God’s image and were designed to dwell in His presence for all eternity. When sin came into the world, we were ripped away from where were meant to be.

Genesis 3:14-19
14Then the lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, you are cursed
more than all animals, domestic and wild.
You will crawl on your belly,
groveling in the dust as long as you live.
15And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike#

  Or bruise; also in 3:15b.

your head,

and you will strike his heel.”
16Then he said to the woman,
“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you.#

 Or And though you will have desire for your husband, / he will rule over you.

17And to the man he said,
“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
though you will eat of its grains.
19By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.”
Paradise was taken and we now live in a cursed world. Sometimes I forget that we live in place where Satan rules. I forget that so many people do not belong to Christ and so they are subject to the darkness that seeks to crush them.
John 12:30-32
 30 Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”
I know how hard of a struggle it is for me when I am feeling pressure and am acting out in my flesh. I can remember how much harder it was before I gave my life to Jesus and decided to follow Him. I can find such comfort in knowing that my life is in God’s hands and that He has a plan for me. This does not protect me from the spiritual war that surrounds me and I am reminded of that today.
Ephesians 6:12
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
As I read this verse I get a vision in my mind of the front lines of a massive war. The enemy crosses secretly onto our side and caused turmoil in the midst of  those that should be uniting. The enemy looks at how we, as humanity, turn against each other and tear each other down for them. Oh what joy that must bring to those that want to steal, kill and destroy us all.
Proverbs 3:13-18
13Joyful is the person who finds wisdom,
the one who gains understanding.
14For wisdom is more profitable than silver,
and her wages are better than gold.
15Wisdom is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16She offers you long life in her right hand,
and riches and honor in her left.
17She will guide you down delightful paths;
all her ways are satisfying.
18Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
I would encourage you all to take a step back, take a deep breath and see the battle and this world for what they are. Don’t get caught up in fighting with one another. Fight the real fight and unite! Love on each other, carry each other, remember that the Lord will carry through this battle if you let Him lead the way.
Proverbs 3:27-35
27Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
when it’s in your power to help them.
28If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say,
“Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”
29Don’t plot harm against your neighbor,
for those who live nearby trust you.
30Don’t pick a fight without reason,
when no one has done you harm.
31Don’t envy violent people
or copy their ways.
32Such wicked people are detestable to the lord,
but he offers his friendship to the godly.
33The lord curses the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the upright.
34The lord mocks the mockers
but is gracious to the humble.#

 Greek version reads The Lord opposes the proud / but gives grace to the humble. Compare Jas 4:6; 1 Pet 5:5.
35The wise inherit honor,
but fools are put to shame!
Do not let the enemy continue to blind you to the needs of others. Do not allow the enemy to lead you to believe that it is your place to pass judgment. Put your pride and assumptions to the side and reach out a helping hand to ALL you come across in this life. We are follow God’s Word and to follow in His foot steps. You are not here by accident, you are not leading a meaningless life, there is purpose to who you are and where you are at this very moment.
Pause. Look. Love. Think before you act, think before you pass judgment and make assumptions about others. Pray often and pray for discernment so that you can serve others in a way that would be pleasing to God.
In Jesus’ name I pray these things.