Posts Tagged ‘Truth

01
Mar
14

Eve Taught Me All I Need to Know

Eve, the mother of all mankind, had a huge responsibility and weight upon her shoulders as the first woman, wife and mother. Eve didn’t  get a choice to accept or decline that role; God Himself chose her. God created her from Adam’s rib, put her in the Garden of Eden with Adam, and the rest is history. Or is it?

We give Eve a hard time; we accuse her of blowing it for all of us. I have often thought that if I had been there in place of her that I would not have been deceived, that I would have done things much differently. But even in my few moments of pride in thinking that way, I know I would have done the same thing. I would have grasped for what I was not supposed to have. I would have risked my relationship with God to have my own way. Just like Eve, I would not have been satisfied with the life I’d been given.

The serpent deceived Eve. And when Eve chose to believe the serpent’s lies over God’s truth, she doubted God’s goodness.  And Eve’s sin was not only disobedience to God but also wanting to live a life independent from God, wanting to be her own god, wanting to know more than she needed to know, thinking that God was holding out on her.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul uses Eve’s deception as a warning for the people of Corinth to not be led away from their devotion to Christ. Poor Eve. Paul uses her as a “what not to do” person. But the point of all this: Eve sinning, being blamed by her husband and by every woman in the world for our plight, is that I finally realized it was not the end of the story for Eve. It never is. There is always hope. Always redemption.

There were certainly consequences for Adam and Eve’s sin. God booted them out of the perfect garden; and for women, there is pain in childbirth and a neediness that make some of us women want to cling to our husbands instead of God. But God didn’t boot Adam and Eve out with their leaves trailing behind them. He didn’t let them go off into a wilderness without properly clothing them first. His provision for them showed that He still loved them and would continue to take care of them. They were His children, and I believe Eve saw God’s tender care of her and responded to her Abba Father’s love. Love, not fear.

After the garden, Eve only spoke twice more in the Bible. When Eve had Cain, her firstborn son, she said, “I have had a male child with the Lord’s help.” With the Lord’s help…this seems small and insignificant, but for the first time, it stood out powerfully to me. Because after everything was said and done, Eve acknowledged her dependence on God.

And, if I didn’t see it the first time, God once again opened my eyes to His love of Eve and her dependence on Him when she had her third son Seth, the one born to her after Cain killed Abel. In her final words, Eve said, “God has given me another child in place of Abel.” God has given me..has graced me with…

Eve got it. She was not lost; she was not without hope. She saw God’s goodness, His grace, and she acknowledged His good gifts. And we are not without hope, no matter how badly we have blown it in the past. There is always redemption, always God’s goodness, always God’s amazing grace.

“Tune my heart to sing Thy grace…” I often sing this song to myself, reminding me that I cannot even tune my own heart to sing God’s grace…He has to tune it for me. His grace is not something that I can conjure up…not something I can make appear in my own life. It just is, and I can receive it with open hands and an open heart, or I can shut down and choose to reject it. Eve accepted it. God tuned Eve’s heart to sing His grace.

I’m sure Eve felt very deeply for what she had lost, not just in terms of things and perfection but also in the relationship with God that was different. But I believe she grew in amazing ways because of the trial and suffering she brought upon herself. I sometimes find myself repeating the first part of Eve’s story daily in wanting my own way and grasping for what I think will make me happy, but thank goodness, Eve’s story didn’t end there. And mine doesn’t either. The first part helps bring me to my knees in realizing  that I cannot do this life without God. He has to be the center. I see this in Eve, in her acceptance and acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty and goodness in her life.

So thank you, Eve, for doing the thankless job of being the first one, and thank you for representing us all, showing us that we are all frail and easily deceived. But thank you, most of all, for acknowledging your dependence on a good God and seeing His good gifts, even in the midst of terrible struggles. We see your example of hope, and we see God’s graciousness in providing for all of His children. So, thanks, for pointing us to Him.

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20
Mar
13

You Cannot Lose My Love

Recently, I had a couple of episodes with my second son, my 15-year-old. This son is amazing in so many ways. He has high relational intelligence, and he is very persistent, two great qualities if used for good. If used against others, he can bug the snot out of a person with just his facial expressions or his constant noises. His ten-year old sister is a very easy target, and he knows that.

Second son said something to his sister; she went nuts; I stepped in, and he mouthed off at me. But I know his heart toward me, and even though he tried to push my buttons, God gave me the wisdom to answer in gentleness and love after I first apologized to him for calling him a smart ass. (And, yes, I called him that.) But God, in His goodness, quickly convicted me and brought me humbly around before it escalated and became too big, too huge, too stupid. God brought me back to what He’s been teaching me for months now…gentleness.

After my apology, I spoke truth to second son about who he is and told him that my all-time favorite moment for the day had been when I saw him walk toward the house with his sister, his arm slung over her shoulder. Because that’s who this kid is.  He wants to be loved, and he wants to love.

A few days later, this same kid just out-and-out defied me. Something happened with his brother that he didn’t like; I stepped in, and second son made some snotty remark toward me. As I tried to talk to him, he continued walking away from me as I told him to stop. I felt God’s presence and love for that teenage boy even in that moment. I sent second son to his room and said he could come down when he apologized to me.

Four hours later, second son came down and gave me a very insincere apology. I hugged him anyway. I acted as if his apology meant something because I know his heart, and he wants to be loved; they all do, even when it might not look like it.

I’m pretty sure the thing that brought second son downstairs was that I had made one of his favorite foods the night before, and he had gotten hungry. But sadly, the food he came looking for had just been finished off.  Even though it was after 9 o’clock at night and I was tired and was not interested in being in the kitchen for one more second, I offered to re-make this same favorite food for him, and he admitted that he wanted it. As we made it together, we talked. And as we waited for the food to bake, I rubbed his back and gently spoke truth to him. It’s amazing where favorite foods and back rubs and gentleness can take a mom.

The truth that God gave me that night and that I was able to share with second son is that I am for him, not against him. Teenage world is hard enough, but he doesn’t have to do it alone.  And, even when he’s dead wrong and angry and frustrated and even defiant, I am still for him.

I now have three teenage boys, and this is my favorite age so far. God is for them, not against them. And, above all else, I want to reflect God’s love and gentleness to each one of my five children. Because no matter how old they get or where they end up or even what they do…they cannot lose His love…

He gathers the lambs in His arms…
He gently leads those that are nursing. (the immature, the inexperienced) Isaiah 40

31
Oct
12

Truth, Lies and Community

Last Friday, I wrote the first part of “Truth and Lies,” not realizing then that all of the lies had not yet been exposed. After I had finished writing, Jeff read my post, hugged me and said, “I had no idea you were struggling today.” And then I realized the other lie I had believed. I had refused to let anyone walk with me in my struggle. I had refused to let anyone pray for me, even my husband.

I was proud. Because I really thought that I was more mature, that I should be beyond all the fear and doubt and insecurity I was feeling. But I’m not, and I didn’t want to ask for help. I wanted to have the appearance of being fine when I really wasn’t.

So the enemy pounded and pounded. And I walked away battered and bruised.

But I have this community around me that I need to share my struggles with and not after the fact. I need to be prayed for right then and there in the midst of my struggle. But I think I heard and believed the lie that if I reached out and asked, then I was being clingy and needy, and so I did run to the Father, which was the right thing to do because “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” But I still needed the people around me to lift me up to Him. Because I also needed to know that I am not in this thing alone.

So I’m learning this interdependence, which can only happen in community, and this is hard because our culture teaches us from a young age to be independent and self-reliant, and that we don’t really need other people. We desperately want to look like we have it all together. But none of us do. So why do we isolate ourselves and allow the enemy this advantage?

For me, I don’t want to wear out my welcome…stay too long, talk too much. I don’t want to run the risk of being open and vulnerable and people turn it down or use it against me. I don’t want my heart to hurt because people don’t accept me for who I am.

But I have to take these risks. I have to be who Abba is creating me to be. And I have to trust that God’s grace will abound, even when the attacks and the wounds come. And they will.

But this is what I want. This is what I think God is calling me to. To live in real community where Jesus is the center, where the focus is not on me,  and the community is not there to make me feel better and affirm me. But we should be there to encourage each other, point each other to Christ (who can and does heal all things). We’re there to spur each other on to love and good works. And to focus on God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

When Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown in jail for healing a girl who was demon possessed, they worshiped God together. They prayed and sang praises, and the prisoners listened. In this trial, God gave Paul and Silas each other to praise Him together, and the jailer and his household were saved.

But not only were the jailer’s family set free, the other prisoners listened…people are watching to see how believers are treating each other, how we love each other, how we worship God together in the midst of our difficulties and struggles. In Acts 2, “they ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved.”

This kind of stuff happens in community. No doubt about it, we need each other, friends.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.

They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.(Ps. 34)

26
Oct
12

Truth and Lies

There’s a game kids play called two truths and a  lie. You tell two things about yourself that are true and one that’s a lie, and everyone has to pick out which one is the lie.  All I feel I’ve had thrown at me today are lies, and I’m realizing that my whole day has been one huge lie thrown at me again and again. It’s worn me down and has made me want to run and hide.

I feel like I’ve been in this huge struggle all day long.  I’ve had these voices in my head, questioning me, accusing me, and making me feel insecure and small in the worst possible way.

For the last couple of years, I isolated myself. But now, there is a community of believers who seem to want real community, which has been so exciting and hopeful for me. And I finally find myself in a place to receive this.  But then, when I’m not surrounded by these people and sometimes when I am, I have all these fears.

And I know this is from the enemy. He doesn’t want believers involved in community where there is real life, where we talk about what Jesus is doing and pray for each other, where burdens are light and God’s joy is evident. He wants us isolated and alone, where he can prowl around and devour us one by one.

And I know without a doubt that God is at work here. The attack has been intense. Others are feeling the same insecurities and doubts. And yet, I can’t run to these people to take me in and make me feel better. That’s not their job. Community is not about sucking life out of each other. It is about encouraging and praying for each other. But each of us ultimately has to run to Jesus.

So today, my heart has been a little weepy. I’ve been here before. I’ll be here again. But I’m clinging to Him through this.

When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

It’s been a wrestling kind of day. One where I just wanted to cling to people. But instead, I’ve tried to pray through this stuff and believe what God says over what the enemy is shouting in my ear.

Give us help from trouble, For the help of man is useless.

Through God we will do valiantly,
For it is He who shall tread down our enemies.

Sometimes we imagine that people are our enemies. They’re really not. We have one enemy, and that enemy is seeking our destruction through our marriages, our churches, our families, ourselves. He’s a murderer and a liar. And this enemy is good at what he does. If he can speak loud enough and long enough and get us to believe his lies, he infiltrates our thought processes. We’re still children of God, but we end up believing the enemy’s lies over God’s truth.  And so we begin to believe his lies about who we are and not who we’ve become. For me, these lies involve fear and doubt. Yes, the evil one has sway over the world for now, but not forever. And not over the believers who worship God in spirit and in truth.

So after a long day of a big fat huge whopper of a lie, here are a few truths…

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (I John 5)

24
Apr
08

Freedom

 

 

I’ve always rebelled against rules, maybe not always outwardly, but definitely inwardly, especially the kind of rules that don’t make any sense.  I grew up with a lot of rules and then I went to a college that inflicted even more than I grew up with…that was quite shocking…to be a young adult but treated once again like a 5 year old, being told when to get up, when to go to bed, when to clean my room, what to wear, and the list goes on for pages, a whole handbook or so. I became hardened and bitter, and I learned how to play the system. It seems like people who are under a rule system want everyone else to be under the same set of rules, because that’s where the power is. If you can convince a bunch of people to live under the rules that you have established and to be fearful of all things outside that system, then you can keep everyone in line…mostly. 

 

I’m not much for hierarchy…I think I’ve become too post-modern for that…at least that’s what Jeff tells me.  I dislike systems and institutions where the people “in charge” impose a bunch of rules they have made up. I think Jesus might have disliked these kinds of hierarchies too…maybe that’s why He picked a bunch of ragamuffin losers to be His disciples. In Matthew 23:4, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees and scribes, who were the religious leaders of the day, who “bind heavy burdens hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders.” They had their own set of rules…they didn’t need Jesus.

 

Rules typically do just the opposite of what they’re meant to do. The law actually makes a person want to sin more, and that’s when our need for Christ is exposed. The passage in I Cor.15:56 says, “The power of sin is the law.” The next verse goes on to say, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice it doesn’t say we have victory by following more rules; rules don’t give life…Jesus does. Rules kill relationships because the rules become the focus, and someone other than God becomes the judge.

 

When I was in these kind of systems, the rules in no way made me want to follow Jesus because that’s not what rules do; they instead made me focus on how good I was at keeping the rules or how far I could go without getting caught, but fear was always involved either way.  Back in those days, I didn’t even know Jesus all that well…I didn’t have to. If I did and said the right things, Jesus didn’t have to be a factor.

 

When we moved to Alabama almost 7 years ago, we didn’t know anyone there.  For the first time in my life, I was under no rule system. There was no institution to rebel against. There was nothing to prove. There was no one telling me how to live. It was freeing, but it was also scary…no boundaries as such. I’d always been told how to live, what to do, and now I had to listen to Abba’s voice and really allow Him to rule my life.  Ever since then, Abba in his graciousness gives me a song for each difficult time in my life. At that time, my song was “Painting Pictures of Egypt” by Sara G.  As I drove to school to teach each morning, I would play it as loudly as I could (I’ve busted out a couple of speakers this way) and would sing at the top of my lungs, while the tears would pour down my face…this was probably a little scary for my boys in the back of the van…they’ve since grown accustomed to my crazy outbursts.

 

“The past is so tangible, I know it by heart, familiar things are never easy to discard. I was longing for some freedom, but now I hesitate to go, I am caught between the promise and the things I know. I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt leaving out what it lacked. The future feels so hard and I want to go back. But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned, and those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned.”

 

I was losing whatever sense of self I had had up to that point, and I was crying out to Abba in the only way I knew how. He answered that cry. He had already ripped away everything I knew, set us down in the middle of nowhere, and made us realize we truly did need Him. Then, He led us to a church body where the people loved on us and accepted us for who we were; we didn’t have to pretend. They let us lick our wounds without standing in judgment of us. And there were no rules to keep or standards to follow…somehow these people had not gotten a copy of the handbook that I had lived under for 30 years. So, this was what freedom in Christ actually looked like…the freedom to truly love other people without strings and expectations attached.

 

So, we moved to Nashville this past summer. Nashville is where Jeff grew up, and there are all kind of expectations in that, especially when you have family around. People think you are a certain way, or they think you should be a certain way…hence the conflict I’m now finding within myself. Personally, I’m not worried about getting out of line. Out of experience, I know that Abba will correct…not punish… me when I go too far. I certainly don’t need some holier-than-thou person to be my Holy Spirit. Isn’t that what the Pharisees tried to be? And Jesus was constantly getting in their faces about it.

 

Right now, I know I’m not walking in freedom…I have it, I’m just not walking in it…I really want to walk in love and grace these days, but I find I’m being the prickly, unloving one, and I hate that. So am I back to focusing on people and the rules they make, instead of Christ? The enemy loves using anything that will take my eyes off of Christ…I really hate that.

 

I just got back from being in Tuscaloosa for a couple days, where I was loved on once again. The people there accept me for who I am, no matter what mess I sometimes bring to the table…I felt freedom and joy like I haven’t felt in a while.  Right now, I just want my sense of freedom back; I feel like it was swiped from me when I wasn’t looking…enter the prickly, angry person with the chip on her shoulder.  I think my focus lately has been on rebelling against people who I think are judging me instead of embracing Christ with my whole being and allowing His love to wash over me once again. I know He is the Way, the Truth, the Life…His life lived through me. The Truth shall set you free…yes, He already has…

 

 




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