April 29, 2011

Jesus Loves Judas.

Approval and Acceptance. Many people think they know what these two words mean and therefore how to apply them…but they are sorely mistaken.

I am so burdened by how we as believers treat our brothers and sisters in Christ who sin, or maybe who don’t even sin but have different preferences than us (A preference is something you would prefer to do or not to do, but it is not a life or death issue. Please tell me you wouldn’t choose to die if someone held a gun to your head and asked you to have a sip of wine). That’s were our approval and acceptance begins: with our preferences. If someone has the same preferences as us, we approve of their beliefs and behavior and we accept them. If we disagree with his/her preferences, we make our disapproval VERY clear and even withhold our acceptance (most people would never admit to this, but it is happening over and over again…especially in ministry homes). Our paranoia of sin has caused us to overreact and to alienate ourselves from people who don’t have the same preferences as us, even if “those people” are our own children. We want to make it clear that we don’t agree with what the other person is choosing to do (manipulation), because we are afraid that this particular thing could lead to other issues (this “thing” could be drinking, dating, tattoos, piercings, etc).  In order to make our disapproval clear, we first confront the person. If he/she doesn’t “repent” (and I use that word loosely because, while yes, some have sinned and need to repent, others are simply choosing to do certain things that are not forbidden by Scripture), then the disapproving person goes to the next level: Shunning. This shunning could be little to no communication or just obvious signs that the disapprover is upset and not willing to restore the relationship. Unfortunately, the shunned feels the lack of approval and ultimately lack of acceptance. We call this rejection. And rejection does crazy things to people. Rejection can lead to the “issues” that the disapproving person was trying to keep the shunned from in the first place. So in essence, the disapproving person, through choices of his/her own, has really been the catalyst of the shunned to make sinful choices.

Please understand I am not trying to pass the blame. We as individual people make our own decisions. We are responsible for the choices we make and no one else. However, does that mean that our choices are not ever spurred on by an outside force? No.

We all have unhealed hurts, unresolved issues, and unmet needs that we try to heal, resolve and meet. Sadly, we often self-medicate and turn to alternative methods (sin) to do so. Many times, these hurts, issues and needs come at the hands of someone we have disappointed. The disappointment was communicated in the form of rejection. And rejection wounds deeply.

Jesus NEVER manipulated people with rejection (that is ultimately what rejection is: manipulation). I was thinking about that this morning. Read John 4. Look how he interacted with the Samaritan woman who wasn’t just living with different preferences than Jesus, she was living in sin. And what does He do? Well, look at how she responds to Him. She so senses his love and forgiveness she runs into the town and unashamedly says, “Come and meet the man who has told me everything I have ever done!” Wow! That is some real freedom. Now, Jesus does confront her sin. Obviously. But, he loves her in spite of her sin, and treats her kindly and with respect, never allowing her to feel rejected. She knows what she is doing is wrong; she doesn’t need a sermon on her decision making. That is why Jesus doesn’t even touch on her lifestyle until she brings it up. He addresses her heart: The fact that she needed some serious spiritual and emotional healing. She didn’t need to be shunned to figure out that she was wrong. She knew that. She needed loving correction and that is what Jesus was about. LOVING. Teaching. Not rejection. Not yelling. Not shunning. There is a difference.

Then, think about the fact that Jesus, Who is God and omniscient, asked JUDAS ISCARIOT to be His disciple. He knew Judas was a traitor. He knew Judas would willingly be possessed by Satan. And yet, He still wanted Judas on His team. He never treated Judas differently, even when He knew Judas was stealing money from the poor while a disciple (John 12:4-8). Here is the ironic thing: Jesus NEVER confronted Judas on the stealing. He did prophesy that Judas would betray Him, but none of the other disciples put two and two together. The implication is Jesus NEVER treated Judas differently. The other disciples had no idea. WOW.

Please catch my drift. Confront sin. But love. Be gracious. If a brother or sister in Christ is in sin, don’t disown him/her and don’t make your actions and your statements communicate rejection. Please, be Jesus to your brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t be a catalyst for self-medication.

April 26, 2011

Honk, I'm 80!

So, I wanted to add a "Part 2" to the "Loving Jesus, Hating Self" blog from yesterday. This morning, I was taking myself and my circumstances way too seriously. I was really struggling and battling with some things and "trying" to give them over to the Lord in prayer (however, that looked more like me running through the grocery list of everything that is wrong and not focusing on Who God is). I went outside to get into my car to drive to work, and low and behold, I am the object of either a miscommunication or a practical joke. Either way, as I was driving to school hoping no one would honk and/or I wouldn't end up at a red light next to a student, I realized God was teaching me something. I can't take myself too seriously. I need to enjoy life and laugh. I need to relax. He is in control of all of my circumstances, even this one. He wants me to rest in His defense and sovereignty. His love casts out all fear (Psalm 84, 141, 1 John 4).

How does this relate to yesterday's blog? Well, if we are not comfortable with who we are, we live in fear. Fear that we aren't good enough; fear that we will be found out; fear that someone will reject us and confirm what we already think we know about ourselves. Fear that God isn't going to take care of us; fear that somehow we are in control of our lives and everything that happens is up to us (that is where I was this morning). Fear.

And 1 Peter 3:6 states emphatically: "Do not give way to fear."

How is that possible? How is it possible to not fear and to be comfortable in my own skin and to love who I am? (This is why this blog should have come before yesterday's blog. Oh well.)

Simple. Remember this line: 
"God values you as much as He values Jesus. You are a part of the family of God." Yeah, that's how. You realize that ultimately God determines how much you are worth. He determines your value. And 2000 years ago, He said you were worth Deity: His Son. You have as much worth, value, acceptance as Jesus Christ does with God. You have His righteousness. You have his record: Past, present, future. You have his perfection. You are Jesus in God's eyes. Galatians 2:20 says, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." In other words, does Jesus have self-esteem issues? Um, no. So, because He is in you and you have His value and worth, neither should you. Easier said than done. Just start dwelling on these truths. Would you ever knock Jesus and think poorly of Him and His personality? No. He is in you. You have His mind (Phil 2). Does Jesus have to prove Himself to God and to others? No. You have His Spirit. You are His. He is yours...He is your Defender. He will not leave you defenseless (Psalm 141:8).

Rest in Him and relax with you. You are His.

April 25, 2011

Loving Jesus Means Hating Myself, Right?

No. In fact, the godliest thing you can do is to love yourself (shocking, but keep reading - I explain what I mean further down). However, we have been taught that true humility means not loving ourselves and we view self-esteem as a humanistic worldview issue. Hence, we (some of our churches and ministries) have produced a number of individuals who link their value to how well they follow the rules and the subsequent praise and reassurance they receive as a result. Think about that for a second. We are communicating that a person's worth is based on what they do, not on who they are. Isn't that completely contrary to the message of the Gospel?

You see, legalism, or religious rule following, has produced a number of fear induced, highly insecure, emotionally unhealthy people. They have never been taught to get to know and to like themselves; they have been afraid to explore who they really are (warning: I mean this word healthily – getting to know their own likes/dislikes, etc). They have not been praised for thinking and being their own persons, but for staying in bounds.

A note on legalism: Legalism is a control issue. Legalists want control and are happy with you when you listen and do what they say. They are unhappy with you when you don’t listen and do what they say. They control you by manipulatively and subconsciously attaching your self worth with their acceptance and approval. However, they only approve when you perform appropriately. Hence, they disapprove and you feel unacceptable when you don’t perform appropriately. So, you are conditioned to do what is asked and never to become your own person. You begin to believe that your value is dependent on what you do, not on who you are (or what Jesus Christ thinks of you). Harsh, but true. 

What if you have no idea what “legalism” means and did not grow up in a ministry and/or religious home? Well, were you constantly compared to an older, very successful sibling? Did your parents have exceptional standards for you to live up to in the area of athletics, drama, art, music, academics, looks, and friends? If so, then in essence, your parents only acted like they loved you and therefore praised you when you achieved THEIR standards of approval. Legalism.

Now you are an adult and don’t know who you really are, what to really think (not to mention how to think), and you have very few emotionally healthy relationships. You don't value yourself because you don't understand how much you are valued...by God. You are looking for verification from everything and everyone else. You want to know you are okay because you don't feel okay. And you are...because of Jesus Christ and His grace.

God values you as much as He values Jesus. You are a part of the family of God.  Why would you want to spit in His face by disliking yourself – the very person HE made in an incredibly intimate, detailed way?
Why are you trying to prove that you are worthy of His love and everyone else's acceptance? Ultimately, deep down, you are afraid you are not good enough. Psalm 139 says you are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Furthermore, you are “to love your neighbor as yourself” according to Mark 12:31. In fact, loving your neighbor as yourself is the second greatest commandment (per Jesus)! Honestly, most of us do apply this verse to our daily lives, however unbiblically. We don’t like ourselves, so we don’t like anyone else, or very few people. Have you ever thought of that? You may be struggling relationally because you don’t like yourself. So, if someone treats you well and likes you, you are reassured you are okay and you like yourself. Moreover, you are desperate for a “following”, a clone system, because if people are just like you, then your worth is confirmed. Hence, we have thwarted the definition of discipleship to fill our own emotionally unhealthy needs.

If someone doesn’t’ like you, you feel horrible about yourself and have a pity-party (and those look different for everybody: sarcastic cynicism, anger, resentment, blame, etc). You write the person off and never give the opportunity for restitution.

The healthiest thing you can do is to love yourself – and let me clarify what I mean: Realize you have value and are valued by the God of the Universe. He equates you to His Son. Pretty powerful stuff, huh? You don't need people to reassure you that you are okay. You don't need praise to pump you up with confidence. You are self-assured because the Holy Self (the Holy Spirit) lives in you. You have Christ's life!

Practically, keep a list of those things you like and dislike. Take care of your body and glorify God for how you look and feel. Appreciate your quirks – don’t take yourself seriously. I don’t mean be critically humorous, but enjoy yourself. As you are sure of who you are, you will not waste energy trying to protect and prove yourself. You will be able to love others biblically: Regardless of how they love you, because you are resting in the unconditional, unmerited love of God for you.

April 20, 2011


I stood before the Judge and plead my case -
I really didn’t have a substantial excuse.
I just didn’t want to live with my past mistakes -
But as I looked into His eyes, His blank stare left me confused.

The Prosecuting Attorney, The Adversary, he was named -
Shot me a smug grin as he approached the bench.
His rebuttals discredited everything I claimed –
It was at that moment that I grasped I was in his clutch.

Desperate, I tried to scream above his hateful accusations.
“I am sorry Judge, I know what I deserve –
I understand I am not good enough for Salvation…
But please, let me be good enough to recompense serve.”

“Ha!” The Adversary exclaimed –
“This woman is insane to make such a request.”
Then he stared me in the eye and growled the following proclamation:
“She deserves nothing less than a life sentence!”
I shamefully hung my head in hopeless submission.
                He was right.

But then the Courthouse door flew open.
The Adversary gawked at the One who approached.
This One was not supposed to be alive, and His scars were His token
Of an attempted death penalty revoked.

You see, the Adversary knew that if this Man were killed,
The Adversary would always have the victory over violators like me.
He never considered a resurrection possible-
Until he saw the Advocate standing proudly next to me.

“I paid her life sentence when I died 2000 years ago.
Her penance is paid in full, therefore –
The accusations are null and void,
And the guilt and shame are no longer hers to bear.”

“If You, Judge, decide to make her pay,
Then You will be a violator of the Law -
Whose demands cease when penance is made,
Which is what I did when I died on the cross.”

The Adversary threw up his hands and yelled,
“Dead! Dead! This sinner shouldn’t get a second chance!”
But the Advocate shot him a look that could send him straight to Hell,
“I am alive and I have chosen her and not a consequence.”

The Adversary charged the Advocate
But the Judge ordered the Adversary removed.
You see, the Judge administers justice,
And the scars on the Advocate were justice proved.

I turned my tear stained face toward my Advocate Redeemer,
He looked at me with eyes full of love and grace,
The Judge slammed down the gavel,
And declared me innocent because of the One Who stood in my place.

April 19, 2011

Bikinis in Church

A Tribute to My Husband and My Church

I did not grow up as a PK (Pastor’s Kid)…so I had no idea what “church politics” was all about until I entered the “church world” as a PW (Pastor’s Wife). My husband launched CC (Centerpoint Church) as an “alternative to church as usual”. Bryant’s dream was to create a church based solely on Jesus Christ and to remove all the distractions that have hurt, hindered, and kept people from church. In other words, he wanted a New Testament Church (read Acts). The New Testament Church was originated as a vehicle to carry the Great Commission. Somehow in the last 2000 years, we have downgraded the church to merely address our own preferences. Bryant didn’t want to strangle the message of Jesus Christ with ageless traditions that have nothing to do with the Bible. We have 60,000 unreached, unchurched people in our Brandon area and far too many churches that are more concerned with keeping “their people” happy than getting their hands dirty with the ministry Jesus modeled.

I had a conversation about my church. I was explaining how we are very simple with what we do: Preach the Gospel. I explained that we try to keep our environment relaxed so that people feel safe while hearing straightforward Truth. One of the ways we do that is by not having a standard church dress code. The rebuttal blew me away: “Yes, well, you need to make sure that you teach modesty and that people, after they get saved, know what God’s Word says and how to live it. You don’t want people coming to church in bikinis.” Wow. I really do understand where this response came from: A heart that has been seared by legalistic fundamentalism (the individual even admitted to that). Legalists have been preaching the Gospel of rules: Making the rules clear is more important than making Grace clear, because, what would happen, God forbid, if someone takes grace as far as to think a bikini is okay in church? I am not coming down on the person; however, I am calling out what we have been taught to be concerned about by the legalists. I mean, I explained what we are about, the Gospel, and I find out that the main concern is that we make sure no one comes into church with a bikini? I sincerely doubt no one in their right mind would come to church in a bikini. But then, I am new to all of this so you may soon see a blog entitled “The Day I Saw a Bikini At Church”.

Have we forgotten that the purpose of the church was to care for the orphans, the widows, the homeless, the prostitutes, the druggies, the religious people, the young, the old, the forgotten, the betrayed, the sick, the hurting? Have we let clothing, carpet color, age, service times, and music, all preferences, keep us from the timeless message of the Gospel and the Great Commission? We need a wake-up call…Church isn’t about me – it’s about Jesus…and last time I checked, Jesus was about Grace…and grace is about loving the undeserving…because isn’t that all of us?

I am so thankful for Centerpoint Church, a group of people who have given sacrificially of their time, money, and resources. They have laid aside their personal preferences in order to accomplish the Great Commission (reach the 60,000 unchurched people in our area). As a result, people are getting saved every week; lives are being changed every week. Marriages are being restored, dads are leading families, teenagers are confessing secret sins, single moms are finding healing.

CCers are some of my favorite people. I love you guys!

April 18, 2011

Dear Ministry Kid...

Dear Ministry Kid,

You grew up in a home with parents who love Jesus and you. Honestly, I could stop this letter right here and you would have more than enough to be thankful about. God placed you in a family that most do not have and more cannot maintain. Your parents deserve your respect for forfeiting jobs that would have paid more to follow Jesus and your forgiveness for not doing everything right in raising you. I know you have some push back here…most of you are so scarred from ministry that you cannot separate the forest from the trees. Please know I understand and am so burdened for our generation of bruised, hurting, wandering, needy Ministry Kids. We have to turn the tide for future generations (and my kids!). Hence, this series of blogs.

Satan has perverted two amazing opportunities: godly parents and life in ministry. Some of you blame your parents for the unhealthy effects their ministry has had on you. Please separate your parents from their ministry. I understand that being in the ministry automatically moves you into a glass house. I also realize that those whom you minister to carry big rocks and wait to throw them whenever they see something they don’t like (any wonder where your wounds came from?). However, I really believe that when you felt like your parents were being “too strict” to you and/or “too loyal” to the ministry, they were ultimately trying to protect their family from one more attack. If you stayed in line, you wouldn’t have to dodge the rocks, or so they thought.  Doesn’t always make it right…it’s just the facts. More on this point later.

When I think about my childhood, I have many fond memories. I loved going with my dad to a youth event that he organized and/or spoke at. I looked forward to summer camp. I enjoyed visiting new churches. I know that because of his ministry, I have a close-knit family. However, the pressure put on our family to perform to a certain caliber and the fear of failure that ensued was enough to cause a couple of unwelcome ripples in my life. Please understand, I am not blaming “ministry”. I am just saying that because we are imperfect people living in a less than perfect world, even “ministry” can become a snare. Unfortunately, because it is “ministry”, we are afraid to critique it and face the facts. However, if we want different results, we have to do things differently.

The honest truth is that many of the children of missionaries and pastors end up broken inside. In fact, the brokenness is becoming epidemic. Most of my friends I grew up with in the ministry are really struggling, me included (and I am a Pastor’s Wife!). Why?  In my opinion, it is for two reasons: pressure and fear.

In  the ministry world, we are very likely to develop idols…you know, those people whom we are convinced hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil. Those individuals that we are to model our lives, families and ministries off of.  For most of us, this ends up really badly for two reasons:

1.   You are not perfect. No matter how hard you try, you will never be as good as your idol, because remember, you probably have never seen a flaw or this person would not be worshipped by you. You put so much pressure on yourself to perform to the same standards you believe your idol is performing at, that you internally self-combust. Insert all sorts of addictions here.

2.   Your idol is not perfect. You will either see a flaw and grow disillusioned, or your expectations will inadvertently put so much pressure on said individual that he/she has an emotional breakdown. Any wonder why so many people in ministry end up addicted to pornography? They need an escape for all of the pent up frustration and anger inside that they are not allowed to express due to crazy expectations (glass houses and big rocks).

Honestly, I have been both idolized and an idolater. The only solutions to either situation are to be so real people can’t develop unhealthy views of me and to be sure the only person I idolize is Jesus.

What about fear? Wow…this could take a whole book to discuss. If you are growing up/have grown up in a ministry (church, mission field, organization, etc), you are in a breeding zone for fear. If you are not careful, you will begin to think that your particular ministry’s rules and guidelines are the only way to live. You may even start to hold these regulations equal with Scripture. I am not bashing standard of conducts…they are necessary for unity…I strongly believe that. However, when they become the standard for holiness, I have issues. And this is a slippery slope. It is so easy to believe that “our” way of doing things is the “only way”. Ministries can begin to use their standard of conducts as a form of manipulation for control. In other words, if an individual veers away from the guidelines, he/she is viewed as sinning, even if he/she is not living in contradiction to the Bible. Honestly, forget the veering…if an individual even questions the codes, he/she is made to feel uncomfortable, unwanted, and ungodly. Not to mention guilty. Enter the fear. Who wants to feel this way? No one. Here’s what happens: In an attempt to drown out these feelings, Ministry Kids will either embrace a lifestyle entirely contradictory to how they were raised or will so adhere to how they were raised they become an emotional basket case unable to make their own decisions. Neither option is right or healthy…but how sad that we as Ministry Kids only feel like there are two options. I strongly believe that we can find solutions to this epidemic…we just have to be willing to take an honest look (notice I have used this word A LOT in this blog…honesty is the only catalyst for change, but honesty is hard and humiliating sometimes) at what we are doing because what we are doing up to this point is not working.

Too many kids are the products of legalistic ministries and cannot think on their own and are desperately insecure of who they are and what they want to be. No more. You, Ministry Kid, are valued, important, unique, and allowed to be yourself. Start figuring out who that is and embrace it. Jesus embraces you.

I have just highlighted some of the issues in this blog and more than likely raised a lot of questions. I will give answers. However, we have to see the problems and some of us have to be given the freedom to come out into the open and say, "Yes! This is me! I need help! I am done pretending and/or running!"

Stay tuned for more blogs on “Dear Ministry Kid…” and solutions.

April 14, 2011

Who Decides Who I am Going to Be?

Who decides who I am going to be?
Do Strangers, my friends, or my family?
Searching for love, acceptance, worth, security
Who defines me?

Answers are tucked within my deepest pains
Those rejections that leave the lasting stains
Longing to fix the relationships that are strained
What if I can’t?

What decides who I am going to be?
Do my wounds decide my identity?
Hurt deep down inside screams to be healed instantly
Is this the end?

Struggling to control those around me
Hoping for protection from future grief
My vain attempts will fail and still leave me hurting
What should I do?

Am I giving my painful past a say?
Why am I letting what I cannot change
Determine who I am going to be today?
Is it worth it?

God declares that I am worth Jesus Christ
He alone has power to make things right
Reminding me that the pain is not worth the fight
Will I trust Him?

I decide who I am going to be
Jesus Christ is the One Who will heal me
He asks that I trust and obey confidently
Will I?

April 8, 2011

Forgive. Forgiving. Forgiven.

So by now, most of you know I steal information from others and then blog about it J. I don’t ever want you to be deceived…most of this information has been digested and regurgitated. Gross. Okay, moving on.

Chip Ingram…Love him. Listen to any and all of his stuff. He has a talk on Forgiveness. It is really simple and it goes like this: You forgive someone and keep forgiving him/her until he/she is forgiven.

You have to come to a point in time when you decide to be intentional about your forgiveness. You honestly evaluate what someone owes you; because, let’s be honest, if you have been hurt and wounded, someone stole something from you. You write out the offense or talk to the person in your head. Have an imaginary conversation. Get it all out. Then, decide from that moment on that you will release the person to God to handle and you will not dwell on the situation or demand anything in return.

Think of it monetarily. Someone stole thousands, maybe even millions of dollars from you. They can never pay you back. So, you cancel the debt. You don’t pretend it didn’t happen, you just cancel it. You decided once and for all they can’t pay you back and you stop expecting them to and reminding yourself and them about it (Matthew 18).

You will have to remind yourself that you have cancelled the debt millions of times throughout the ensuing days. Forgiveness is a process. It starts with the intellect and slowly infiltrates the emotions. You have to be disciplined. Anytime the feelings come back, and they will, trust me, you tell yourself you have cancelled the debt. Pray for the person (really hard) and move on with your day, living in the moment.

Ultimately, maybe years down the road, you will find that when the person or the situation that hurt you is mentioned, you don’t respond emotionally. That means the forgiveness process is complete. Hallelujah! Praise God for walking you through the process and get ready to be used by Him to walk others through it.

Remember, forgiveness is always for you, not for the other person.

Living Wounded or with Our Wounds?

There is a difference.

In my ladies Bible study, we are reading through the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. I LOVE this book!

Every woman is wounded. Captivating walks you through discovering your wounds and healing your wounds. We have spent week after week soul searching. Finally, we were able to discuss healing. The following is taken from chapter 6 of our book and our discussion last night.
Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins, but also to heal us from our wounds. Think about it: A daughter is in an accident, rushed to the emergency room, rescued into stable condition, and ushered into the ICU. The father arrives and decides that Urgent Care treatment is all he is willing to pay for. She will therefore spend the rest of her life in the ICU. Sound realistic? Nope. So why do we think our Heavenly Father will do the same and maybe worse with us? Yes, He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. We are in stable condition if we accept Jesus as our Savior. However, Jesus also came to give abundant life (John 10:10). Unfortunately, Satan is the Father of all lies and he seeks to utterly destroy us (John 8:44, 1 Peter 5:8). He convinces us that we have to live wounded; we have to stay in the ICU.

But you see, there is a difference between living wounded and living with our wounds. Here is another illustration: If you were to severely cut your arm, you would have a bloody mess on your hands. You would have to spend weeks cleaning and caring for your wound. Ultimately, it would heal and leave a small scar. Hardly anyone would notice the scar. The only way anyone would know about the wound if you felt lead to show and share.

The same thing occurs with our emotional wounds. When we are initially hurt emotionally, we are bleeding everywhere. We have to go through intense treatment. Once we have healed, we have the scar, but not the intense pain. We learn to live and are able to interact again. We only share our wound when we feel lead. The most significant part of this comparison is the fact that the wound is yours. You need to own it. Don’t let anyone take advantage of your scar or use your scar. This is your battle wound that God will use to minister to others when you are ready. Own it.

Now, how do we heal?

1. Turn from the ways you have sought to heal yourself.

“Your enemy has seized upon your wounds and your sins to pin your heart down.”
We all have those “pet sins” that we personally develop in order to meet our needs instead of allowing God to be our Defender and Protector (Psalm 84:11). Find out what those sins are for you (or ask a spouse or friend if you are brave), and repent (ask God for forgiveness and change).

2. Invite Him In.
After you have asked forgiveness for the sins that your wounds have caused, invite God into the middle of the hurt and pain. Then, surrender the hurt and pain to Him. Ask Him to heal you. Beg Him to heal you.

3. Renounce the agreements you’ve made with your wounds.
We have all believed deceitful messages about our wounds. “Wounds bring messages that FEEL true, so we accept them as TRUTH.” Hence, God’s Word and His messages of love are known intellectually, but are lost on us emotionally. We have labeled ourselves. You need to spend some time in prayer and self-interrogation to discover what names/labels you have given yourself. Again, if you are not sure, more than likely you have verbalized these labels. Ask a spouse or close friend to listen for them.

4. We find our tears.
You have to own the fact that your wounds are painful. You have to face the emotion. If you don’t, you will be suppressing years of pent up emotion and it will eventually leak out in weird behaviors. Hence, people out of “nowhere” have emotional breakdowns and begin to act insane.

5. Forgive.
“We allow God to bring the hurt up from our past, for ‘if forgiveness doesn’t reach the emotional core of your life, it will be incomplete.’” Refer to some of my blogs on forgiveness. There will be more to come as well.

Important side note here: You have to allow God to bring up the emotion from the past. Way back at Step 2 of this process, ask Him to dislodge the pent up emotion and to walk you through the pain. If you try to dig it up yourself, it is going to be disastrous. Some of you are in the bottom of your pit right now. You have definitely hit rock bottom. That is so good! Be encouraged! God has thwarted your own “redemptive plans” in order to draw you to Himself. You cannot seek salvation and safety anywhere other than God Himself. He will do whatever it takes to bring you back to Him.

6. Ask Jesus to heal you.
Beg Him.

7. Let Him Father you.
Many of you have a “little girl” trapped deep down inside. The innocent little girl that experienced the deep pain. Find her. Love her. Surrender her to Jesus to nurture, care, love, protect, and heal.

8. Ask God for a new name.
Refer back to Step 3…after you discover how you have been labeled by Satan, ask God to give you a new name. The name by which He calls and views you. This is so cool!!!

Okay…now for the practical side of things.

Because of our wounds and self-medicated responses, most of us have no clue who we really are. So, I need you to start keeping an “About Me” list. When you discover that you like something, write it down. When you find you don’t like something, write it down. Rediscover who you truly are: your favorite color, movie, food, restaurant, past time, book, etc. This is a cool thing to do. If you don’t start loving and caring for yourself, you will never allow God to do it. Get busy and let me know how it goes!

April 5, 2011

Deuteronomy 2: God Knows.

I want to share one statement from Bryant's talk on Sunday (listen to his podcast "Come Home" 2: http://www.centerpointfl.org/seriesarchive.php).

God is generous in His grace but thorough in His discipline.

He disciplines, not to pay us back, but to win us back. Okay, so I stole two lines...but only because they mirror God's interactions with His people in Deuteronomy. :)

Remember - Israel rebelled - God had incredible blessings and peace ahead for them. However, all they could see were the obstacles.
He was going to show off His power - they couldn't get past their weaknesses.
He would supply their needs - they couldn't surrender their wants.

Israel forfeited what would've been the most awesome, mind blowing adventure for forty years of wandering in the wilderness. And boy, was it ever a wilderness.

I love Deuteronomy 2:7: "God knows you are going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord Your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing."

Wow. God's grace is amazing.

Even though the Israelites were in the wilderness as a consequence of not trusting God, He still protected and cared for them.

Let me reiterate: God still extended grace, mercy, protection and love - the very things Israel refused to accept - because that is Who God is. He knows. He knows we are weak and frail. But He loves us as a perfect Father would love His children.

The author of Hebrews says it best: "The Lord disciplines the one he loves...Therefore life your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed."

You want healing? I sure as heck do. We have to do the hard work of repentance. Stop fighting God, realize where we have gone off track, figure out what needs to change, and do it.

See you on the other side.

My name is ___________ and I am Insecure.

Moses is so insecure. Why? Is it due to his upbringing (rejection)? His failures (discouragement)? His disability (depression)? Whatever it is, even after God appeared to Moses, peformed miracles, and gave Moses God's special Name, Moses still tried to back out of what God called him to do.

God knew the sepcific insecuriteis that plaqued Moses (Ex 2:25). He claims to have even created Moses with these handicaps...and yet the I AM still wanted Moses on his team - in full surrender and reliance.

Moses's first encounter with Pharoah didn't go all that well. Ironically, God calls an insecure man to a risky mission and the first task makes matters worse, not better. In fact, after having a near revival (Ex 4:31), the people turn spiteful toward Moses and angry towards the Lord.

Come again?

Moses questioned God, almost rebuking Him for not coming through (Ex 5:22-23).

But I love God's rsponse: "Now you shall see what I will do..." (Ex 6:1). It is almost as if matters had to get as worse as they could so God could show Himself off big time. I mean, Phaorah doesn't belive in Him, His own people don't remember Him, and His leaders don't trust Him. God has to turn the tide...and turn it He will.

Again, God gives Moses a new and intimagte Name by which to call Him (Ex 6:3). He reviews the covenant He made 400 years before, and He chargs Moses and Aaron to continue leading (Ex 6:13). God was about to move...and they had no idea what was about to hit them...

Moses is the only Bible character with whom God claims to have spoken face to face.

Insecurity breeds intimacy - God creates insecurity because He longs for intimacy with me! I am learning to embrace my insecurities, so I will lean hard into the promises and power of God.

April 1, 2011

Like Father, Like Son

According to the Family Business Review, family run businesses encompass eighty to ninety percent of all the business enterprises in the United States. Family run businesses require one generation to so motivate and integrate the successive generation, that the enterprise transforms from “theirs” to “ours”. However, only forty percent of these family run businesses will be passed on to the second generation and a measly three percent will make it to the fourth. It appears as though a family run business ignites one man’s dreams and stifles another’s.

Consider the world of ministry. According to a study by Dr. Richard J. Krjcir, seventy percent of pastors consider leaving the ministry on a regular basis. Thirty-five to forty percent of pastors do leave, many after only five years. Another report recorded that eighty percent of pastors’ kids surveyed were dealing with depression.

My point is, if the odds are against a family run business from surviving to the next generation, what about a Church? However, one man and his son are defying all odds.

Dale Golden has been the pastor of one church for thirty years (awesome). In the late 1960’s, he quit his sales job and moved from Rochester, New York, to Mulberry, Florida, to begin seminary. While taking care of five kids and working a full-time job, Dale finished seminary and was asked to be the missionary pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in the 1980s. He took the pastorate and never left. About four years ago, Pastor Dale realized the church was only catering to a specific culture: church people (you know, the “ultra-religious” type). He felt compelled to reach the sorts of people Jesus did, those who the church usually regards as the enemy.

Dale’s son, Bryant Golden, began questioning the traditions that ultimately ran the church. Dale struggled to answer Bryant’s prodding questions. Committed to what his dad was trying to accomplish, Bryant worked fulltime at KForce in Ybor City, took seminary classes, and began working at the church part time for free. After several years of volunteer work at the church and in the midst of several promotions and a six figure raise on the way from KForce, Bryant quit his job and came on fulltime with Bethel. In 2009, Centerpoint Church was birthed out of the corroboration of these two men: a church bent on removing all of the petty distractions that keep people away. They created “an alternative to church as usual”, a welcoming environment for people from all different backgrounds.

July 4th 2010, Dale gladly and humbly handed the reigns to Bryant, who was named Lead Pastor of Centerpoint Church. Bryant preaches bluntly from the Bible, since he is passionate about reaching the city of Brandon with the hope of Jesus Christ. You can hear his podcasts at
http://www.centerpointfl.org/. Pastor Dale serves as Associate Pastor with Bryant and continues to have a vibrant ministry.

On any given Sunday at Centerpoint, you will see ripped jeans, flip flops, and piercings. However, you may also see white hair, skirts, and collared shirts. Centerpoint is a multi-generational, multi-ethnic church made-up of a group of people who are in love with Jesus and the Bible. They aren’t judgmental because they understand the angst of trying to heal from a past you wish wouldn’t define you. Consequently, the church has nearly doubled in size over the past seven months. The services incorporate various forms of multi-media, a full band, straightforward preaching, and genuine creativity. Centerpoint is a church that makes it easy to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a safe place whether you believe in Jesus and are a faithful church-goer or you don’t buy the “Jesus thing” but are willing to investigate.

I love my husband and I love my church.