Kicking out the Lies

hearts

Behold, You delight in truth in the inward being, and You teach me wisdom in the secret heart.  Psalm 51:6

There are lies that we may believe about ourselves that others have spoken to us, most likely when we were quite young.  And we believed them, and they shaped who we thought we were and who we have become.  They might be false conclusions that we draw about life and about God.  They could be lies like, “You’re not acceptable,” “You can’t do anything,” “I’m not worth it and God doesn’t care,” or “I can’t count on God–He isn’t near to help.”  Or that you deserve to be “less than” for some reason, allowing yourself and others to put you down.

Our outer appearance becomes a reflection of what is in our secret heart, what we really believe about ourselves.  It may have to do with needing to earn approval, not feeling worthy, feeling fat or ugly.  Those are lies, and God desires for truth to reside in our inward being.  There are truths in the Bible about who we are and about what God thinks about us.  We need to bathe in those truths and let them penetrate our inward being.  They are truths about how God loves us unconditionally, that He made us exactly who we are for a purpose and that He has a plan for our lives.  

We need to actively kick out the lies that drive us.  In 1 Chronicles 11:4-9 David came  to take over Jerusalem.  It was to be the city of God, but the inhabitants of Jebus opposed David saying, “You will not come in here.  Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David,” verse 5 reports.  If David hadn’t of refuted their claim, “You will not come in here,” then Jerusalem would not have become the city of David and the place where God dwelt in the Temple.

The word ‘nevertheless’ is a victory word. It takes the barrier and turns it into a victory.  Nevertheless doesn’t acknowledge what other people say about us, or even what we see about ourselves.  We may be coming from a disadvantage.  Nevertheless, God has plans for us and He is at our side.  We can take hold of the things that are in front of us with the faith and confidence that He has given us.  

Identify and list out those lies that run contrary to what God has promised about you in the Bible, and put a ‘nevertheless’ behind that lie.   Jesus paid too high of a price to let you live a ‘less than’ life because of lies that continue to reside in your secret heart, the one that God sees and wants to heal.  

God sees your secret heart and He will bring about truth through His refining and discipling process.  Ask God to give you a picture of how He sees you to give you wisdom in your secret heart.  And then ask Him to transform your outside self to become the you He made you to be.

 


Our GPS

GPS.jpgI will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.  Psalm 32:8

This is one of my favorite promises in all of the Bible.  God promises to tell us where to go, and to counsel us with His eye upon us.  There are two parts to this.  The first is to teach us the right principles to make good choices on our own.  The second is to counsel us when the choices are between several things that all look good.  Or maybe they all look bad, like being between a rock and a hard place.  The promise part is that God has His eye on us, just like He has His eye on the sparrow.  Isn’t that comforting?

Our GPS voice on Google Maps, or whatever device you use, is a computer generated voice.  It doesn’t really care for us.  It doesn’t make value judgments.  It merely tells us the shortest route.  Some programs can take into account heavy traffic, but other than that, you don’t have an omniscient, provident God looking down in love telling us which way to turn.

There are times when I think I know better than my GPS voice and I have quite the argument with her.  I don’t have a name for her.  But if I did, I think it would be the name of my least favorite high school teacher.  One time I couldn’t figure out how to shut her off when I first got a Garmin, so I shut her in the compartment between the driver and passenger seat and her muffled directives rang out the whole trip.  So I turned up the music.

We can do the same thing to God.  There are times when we think we know better than Him, trying to shut off our GPS with Him.  “Stop it Holy Spirit!  Stop it.”  His voice rings in our heart the whole while.  He tells us to knock it off and we barrel on, suffering the consequences. And we turn up the music so we can’t hear His voice.  God gives us commands which are really for our provision and protection to guide us.  He also gives us the Holy Spirit who is with Christians always.  

On the positive side, when I don’t know what to do and I humbly ask for help, God is there to counsel me with His eye upon me.  I don’t always know that His leading hand is upon me, but I can look back and tell that it was.  One time my husband and I were travelling to my family’s side for Christmas, about a five hour trip.  We prayed before we left that we would have safe travels.  A snow storm blew up along the way, making travel treacherous.  

I was driving, and as we went through one town, my husband said as we were passing a gas station, “stop there for the restroom.”  I said we could go to the one a few blocks down the road since I was already past it.  He said he didn’t want to go then.  He’s a bathroom snob, which I was later to find out why (another story).  As I pulled into the other gas station to get gas, I locked the car door to go in and pay, with our coats inside the vehicle.  We got back outside and the fob wouldn’t work.  Apparently the battery was dead.  We went back into the station to call for some assistance, explaining what had happened, complete with cell phones inside car.  The person behind the counter asked what kind of vehicle we had, we said “Ford.”  She said, “Why don’t you go to the Ford dealership across the street then?”

Now there is an example of God taking care of us with His eye upon us.  In the midst of a snowstorm, with our coats in the car, we were locked out right across from a Ford dealership.  They gave us a new battery for free, installed it, and on we went!

Take God at His word today, following His instructions and trusting in His promises.  He will counsel you with His eye upon you.

 


Come to Jesus, all you who are weary and are heavy laden

Jesus- the invitation

 

This was my jail study this last week, with seven women.  This is Jesus.  Really, to know Him is to love Him.  Some have heard this in different shapes and forms, but need to hear it again and again until it sinks in.  Others haven’t heard it before.  One gal was getting sentenced this last week to a possible 20 years (she got 25).  Jesus changed her in front of our eyes over these last three years of her being in and out, especially in the last six months.  God still works miracles, the biggest being in changing lives!

 John 3:16.  For God so loved the world that He sent His only son, Jesus, that whoever would believe Him will not perish but have everlasting life.  God loves us and Jesus gave His life for us so that we won’t have to spend eternity in Hell because of our sin.

John 11:5 and Luke 19:5.  Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus…Jesus looked up at the tree and said, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down for I must stay at your house today.’  Jesus knows us by name, and He loves us.  He doesn’t just love the world generically, but specifically.  He knows us by name, even the number of hairs on our head.  Psalm 139:4 says that before a word is on our tongues He knows it completely.

John 8:1-8.  That’s the account of the woman caught in adultery.  When Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees, “Let him who is without sin be the one to throw the first stone,” and they left oldest to youngest, she looked up and saw just Jesus.  He asked, “Where are the ones who condemn you?  Who’s left?”  “No one,” was her response.  “Neither do I condemn you.  Go and sin no more.”  Jesus doesn’t condemn them when they come to Him; He wants them to be set free from their bondages.

  •  One gal was caught up in an interesting thought about how Jesus was a part of       making the law, but yet let her break the law.  Jesus really was the fulfillment of the law.   He was the law.  He was loving, kind, merciful and just, which was what the law was really aimed at.  The Pharisees kept the law, but weren’t any of those things.  So they really didn’t keep the law.  Maybe that’s why Jesus kept healing on the Sabbath, to poke holes in their broken system.  In Romans 8:3-4 it says that God sent Jesus to do what the law couldn’t do in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.  Bottom line: Meet Jesus, look into His loving eyes and turn from your sin.

John 4.  The woman at the well.  Here’s the outcast of the outcasts at the well at noon.  And Jesus talks with her, asking for water and telling her about living water so she wouldn’t have to thirst anymore.  “I want that water!”  “Okay, go get your husband.”  “I don’t have one.”  “I know.  You’ve had five, and the guy you’re with now isn’t one of them.”  Jesus knows our backstory and He still likes us.  He knows what it is that we’re trying to fill the hole in our heart with.  Everyone has a hole in their heart that God put there so we would long for Him.  It has to filled with Him, otherwise it’s still a hole that needs to be filled.  Some people try to fill it with guys, others with drugs, others with shopping, others with food…

  • The other interesting discussion...What are you trying to fill your hole with?  Why don’t you fill it with Jesus?  We all have holes.  Andy Warhol is the guy that said “Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame.”  That’s why people will go on ‘American Idol’ even when they’re really bad, or do whatever do get noticed.  There’s a verse in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that says ‘that God has set eternity in our hearts.’  The Oscar Meyer Wiener song illustrates it: “Cause if I were an Oscar Meyer Wiener, everyone would be in love with me…”  Why would it matter for everyone would be in love with them?  Because God put that hole there for it to be filled by Him.

Final verses: Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

 


Come Boldly

boldly go.jpg“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16 

 

I had a God moment this week.  A gal from jail wrote asking that I come to court to support her as she appeared before the judge.  Let’s call this woman “Jane.”  Another Bible study chaplain friend and prayer warrior also came.   Jane was asking something rather audacious of the courts.  She was asking for something she didn’t deserve.  She has been in and out of jail and prison most of her adult life because of drugs.  Her last charge could have put her back into prison for three and a half years.   Jane wasn’t supposed to appear until mid December and got her court date moved up, plus she was asking for something opposite of what the judge and lawyers were recommending.

She has sat over four months in the county jail most recently.  She’s studied the Bible each time she’s been in, come to Bible studies I’ve led for over 16 years.  In and out.  But Jane says she is broken, finished, done with meth.  She wants Jesus and wants a different life.  I hear desperation and maybe hope.  She applied for Teen Challenge (David Wilkerson’s faith based powerful rehab program) on her own, and I mean on her own.  Her Native American background makes most of what she attempts to do apart from her culture on her own.  Here it is a culture riddled with drugs and death.

Back to court.  The District Attorney and her public defender that looked like he just got out of high school bantered sacrilegiously previous to the beginning of the proceedings.  I think they must not care about the cases as individuals, but must have to distance themselves somehow.  As the hearing finally begins, the judge  reviews her case and tells of how this looks hopeless as she reviews the years of drug and battery charges, the years of incarceration.  We sit and pray silently.  It stretches out much longer than we would like–just get to the punch line.

Finally, yes!  She allows Jane to go Teen Challenge for at least six months.  Actually it is a 13 month program and its recidivism rate in the first year is like 20% (vs. a 70% National average).  In my 17 years of jail ministry, I have not seen an inmate actually follow through on pursuing going there and a judge actually placing someone into this program.  Hallelujah!  God sees and He hears and He is working in Jane’s life to bring about a miracle.

Jane was released to leave for Teen Challenge that same day.  She motioned for my friend and I to wait downstairs and we nodded that we would.  We waited with her mom and one of her sons, and a couple of others.  When she got down in her street clothes, she first came to give her mom a hug and mom pulled her close and said in a low, stern voice “if you stay at my house, you cannot bring your Bibles with you.”  It was the voice of the enemy so quickly in her face and ours.

We stood around the corner, respectfully waiting to give her a hug and quickly pray with her.  I told her I would mail her Bibles to her, but she must have her Bibles with her at Teen Challenge.  She said, “Oh no, I’ll put them in the garage.  She never goes there.”  God is able.

I must come boldly to the throne of grace–boldly and audaciously to ask and keep asking God to do big things just as Jane did this week.  He is not an overworked judge, He is one who is one waiting to dispense mercy and grace for me.  For Jane.  For all of us.


Do the Next Thing

Written by: Justin Taylor Years ago, Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015) popularized an old poem—the commonsense simplicity and clarity of which have encouraged many anxious and weary saints. From an old English parsonage down by the sea There came in the twilight a message to me; Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven, Hath, it seems to me, teaching…

via Do the Next Thing — Justin Taylor


The Unshakeable Kingdom

unshakeable kingdom.jpg“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  Hebrews 12:28-29

I’m still stuck on Disney Land, and the ‘Magical Kingdom.’  I’m stuck on the comparison between the unshakeable, invisible kingdom that we have our eyes fixed on and the kingdoms that people try to build here on this earth.  In Hebrews 11 the writer talked about Abraham and all the others living as  aliens and strangers because “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one,” vs. 16.

As believers of Jesus and members of His kingdom, our desire is for a far off country.  We can see the invisible kingdom with our spiritual eyes in flashes and glimpses.  The secular humanists try to convince us that earth is our home and there is nothing more.  They believe that earth can be made into Heaven, which stomps on my longing for that far off country that I am designed for.  I am really not designed for this earth.  Here I am an exile and stranger and I wander about awkwardly.  Quite awkwardly at times.

People who don’t know that there’s another kingdom beyond this one store up their treasures for the here and now and they believe the beer commercial from a previous decade of a beach sitting beer drinker: “It doesn’t get any better than this.”  They have to fight aging and death and redefine Heaven and Hell because they can’t face what the Bible really says about an eternity for those who reject Jesus.

So the good news is that those who know Jesus and follow Him have a true magical kingdom to look forward to.  We get to drink from the spring of the water of life without payment.  And  here there will be no more tears, death, crying or pain, as Revelation 21 promises. The old order of things will have passed away.  We will have no need of light or the sun and moon, for the glory of God will be our light.

In the meantime, we will offer to God acceptable worship with trembling and awe.  We acknowledge that we are aliens and strangers and that we desire a better kingdom, a heavenly one.  A magical and unshakeable one.


The Magic Kingdom vs. The Kingdom of God

walt-disney-where-dreams-come-true-1-638

I was at Disney World this last week for a conference.  I didn’t go to the actual Magic Kingdom, but it was all around me, staying at a resort by Epcot.   So, watching all of the hoopla has made me think about the parallel between the Magic Kingdom of Disney World and Mickey Mouse and the Kingdom of God and Jesus.

Think about it.  It seems to be every kid’s dream: “I’m going to To Disney World, where everyone’s happy.”  I watch as the grounds are manicured and customer service is bar none.  Workers scurry around morning and night to keep the flowers and the lawns well manicured, food and drink is plentiful and people seem to be coming and going at all hours.  Taxis and airplanes bring in groups and take them away as they keep the dreams coming and going.  There are fireworks every night, jugglers and flashing lights.  How is this related to the kingdom of God?

Don Richardson wrote a book called “Peace Child” about reaching tribal people in Papua New Guinea.  He found a redemptive analogy about the remote tribe he was working with waiting for a peace child to come to pay the price for their sin.  He used it to show how Jesus was the peace child and it opened the way for them to accept the gift of salvation as a people group.  He said that there’s a redemptive analogy in every culture.

Disney World could be our ‘redemptive analogy.’ Perhaps woven into the American psyche is the dreaming of a place, a magic kingdom where dreams really do come true, is the set up for the kingdom of God.  Disney World is not that place where dreams really do come true.  It costs too much money, kids still cry, families still fight, and when you leave and fly home it snows and you have to go back to work.

But in longing for a place like that we are really longing for Heaven and for Jesus.  Jesus is the real Mickey Mouse and He really is better.  He doesn’t have big ears, but He has a big heart for the world.  He doesn’t have a high pitched voice, but He holds the world together.  He created all things and in Him all things all things hold together.  And Heaven is that perfectly manicured place where everything really is perfect.

The Kingdom of God is enduring, and when we get to it we won’t have to go back to work, we will be forever young, and all of our dreams really will come true.  Flying back in the airplane, the kids in front and behind of me all had stuffed animals, which I’m sure came at a great price, of Goofy and Minnie and all of the characters.  They grasped them tightly as they fell asleep and then as we landed and walked off the plane to a land that was much colder and much less magical.

Kids, let me tell you about a place that doesn’t have Goofy and Minnie to hold on to, but is much more magical and is really real…


I Must Get to Jesus

This was my jail Bible study last week.  I’ve been thinking about it since then, about how it was really more for me than for them maybe.  I went in with a friend.  We usually go up with two of us.  I led.  My friend used to be in federal prison for like eight years.  Jesus got a hold of her in a big way there and she has such a soft heart for people.  She has yet to really tell her testimony.  I can’t wait until she does.  It will be powerful.

We  had three different groups of women, so I led this three different times.  Some women can’t get along with each other, and all together the little room we meet in would be too full.  I like the intimate nature of groups of three and four because we can really interact.  It’s a county jail and most of the women are Native American.  We chatted for awhile.  I’ve been going in leading studies on Sunday nights for over 17 years now, and some have been in and out of jail almost that long.

My thread was about people who wanted to get to Jesus so bad they were willing to do almost anything to do it.  The first was from Luke 5:18-20.  That’s where the four guys lower the paralytic guy down through the roof because the house was too crowded to get to Jesus.  In verse 20 it says, “And when He saw their faith He said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.”  It never really struck me before Jesus saw their faith.  And maybe the four guys were changed that day too.  Or maybe they encountered Jesus before.  But they were desperate enough for their buddy to get healed that they sawed a hole through a roof.  That’s audacity and desperacy.

The next scenario we looked at was Luke 7:36-50, the woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair, tears and ointment.  She busted into a dinner party of Pharisees and was willing to cut through put down’s and maybe getting tossed out so she could do something they would never do.  In washing His feet with her tears, she got to His heart and He got to hers.  Jesus turned to her and said that He knew she loved Him much and that though her sins were many, she was forgiven much.  The Pharisees didn’t get that.  But they weren’t willing to get to Jesus like she was either.  Are you?  Am I?

Image result for touch the hem of his garmentThe third person we looked at was a another desperate woman.  She’s told about in Luke 8:42-48.  Do you notice none of these people get names?  This one is “the bleeding woman.”  She had ‘an issue of blood’ for 12 years.  If you want to get a room full of women going, read that story.  She thought, ‘if I could just touch the hem of His garment.’  And she did and ‘boom!’ she was healed.  She had to push through a big crowd to get to Jesus.

What do you have to push through to get to Jesus?  I have push through a busy schedule, other people’s demands, through stupid distractions, through crowds, traffic, tiredness, laziness and all kinds of things just to get to Him.  There are times when I find myself saying inside “I just have to sit with Jesus.”  Sometimes I want to scream it.  Other times my soul whispers it.

To the women in jail, I encourage them to get radical to get to Jesus.  They will do whatever it takes to get to a party or to get a hit of drugs, or to get a boyfriend.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:29-30 that if your right eye or right hand causes you to sin to cut it off.  That’s radical!  We have to be radical to get away from sin and we have to be radical to get to Jesus.  Unconventional, desperate, audacious.  We have to saw holes in roof tops, break into dinner parties and push through crowds.

Do whatever it takes, but get to Jesus and hold on tight.


In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge

col 2-3.jpgThat’s what Colossians 2:3 says.  Have you ever really thought about that verse?  It’s come to my mind quite a bit lately, like when I’m really stumped.   What I think it means is that when we need wisdom and knowledge we can turn to the treasure chest of wisdom and knowledge–Jesus.

The more we delve into Him, the more wisdom and knowledge we find.  Colossians 2 as a whole talks about things that I’m not sure we really know what they mean.  I memorized the book of Colossians years ago and I review it occasionally on the way to work.  This week I’ve been on verses like the one above, as well as verse 9-10: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”  Teach me O God.

I’m am Elementary Principal by trade.  Quite often I face things more complicated than I prefer.  I don’t know if I’m looking to coast now that I’m in my late fifties, but things have gotten so much more complicated with broken down families, law suit hungry people and mental illness that’s maybe demonic affliction but disguised by diagnosis’s if all sorts.

This last week had some of those days where I really needed the treasure chest of Jesus’ wisdom and knowledge.   I guess I can’t really go into much detail, but I can say that as I tried to deal with a very disturbing situation, Colossians 2:3 was on my mind.  I bought some time by walking down the hall to get coffee and I walked and prayed that God would show me the answers I was looking for, because in Christ we have all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge—claiming that verse.

Slowly all parties involved worked through the situation, first with the boy and the school counselor, then his dad.  In the middle of that next night I felt God give me more insight into the boy’s psyche and how to approach the consequences and follow up.  My answers from God weren’t lightning bolts but I got through the day with about ten other side issues swirling simultaneously and can say  that this week was a “win.”

 


Better than Dove Chocolate and a whole bunch of money

chocolateThe commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.  The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them  there is great reward.  Psalm 19:8b-11

David is revelling in God’s Word.  Are you starting to get the idea that the Bible is a big deal?

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.  Commands and precepts are similar.  They aren’t God’s suggestions, they are “must do’s.”  We can’t take them or leave them or explain them away.  The commands of God are pure, or radiant, and they give us light.  David wrote in Psalm 119:105 that God’s word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.  In other words, as we stake our lives on the Bible and obey what is written in it, we will receive guidance from God.  He will direct our steps.

Take the opposite side for a minute.  If you don’t have any regard for God’s commands, your eyes will be dark.  Have you had ‘dark eyes’?  Do you someone else like that?  They are troubled and evil minded.  And, your path will be muddy and jumbled.  You won’t get to where you try to get to.  Something will always get in the way.  That’s because you’re not doing things God’s way.  Things won’t work out then.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.  In Proverbs 1:7 we find that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (or wisdom).”  If we fear God that means that we take His Word seriously and have an intent to obey, knowing that God always gets His way.  God’s word is clean, pure, and perfect.  And God’s Word endures forever.

There aren’t many things that endure forever.  Our stuff doesn’t.  Our hobbies don’t.  Our souls do, what God says (His Word, or the Bible) does, and things we do that have eternal value last forever.  Matthew 6:19 tells us to store up treasures in Heaven.  One way to do that is spend time on spiritual things, like prayer and Bible study.

The rules of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.  Other words for rules are judgments, laws or ordinances.  God’s judgments are just and righteous.  Psalm 119:160 summarizes this well by saying, “The sum of Your Word is truth, and every one of Your righteous rules endures forever.”  If you pick a fight with God, you’re bound to lose.  So surrender to the rightness of His ways and you will find peace.

More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.  God’s words are more precious than a big bank account.  And they are sweeter than Dove chocolate.  Can you say this?

By them is Your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.  God’s commands give us warnings for those who violate them and rewards  for those who keep them.  The rewards are usually not monetary, though it can involve having a blessed life.  That blessed life extends from this life into a guaranteed eternal life in Heaven.

May you have the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to obey God’s commands and to experience God’s rewards.