Archives For shame

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“And such were some of you.”

Paul wrote those words in the context of a list of sins inconsistent with inheriting the kingdom of God. It isn’t an exhaustive list but a list nonetheless that helps us capture the picture. He names the sexually immoral, the idolaters, the adulterers, the practicing of homosexuality, the thieves, the greedy, the drunkards, the revilers, and swindlers. In this broken world, Paul illuminates our collective brokenness but doesn’t leave us hopeless in our brokenness. Instead, Paul composes a way forward to ultimate healing.

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.”

This side of wholeness is a difficult place to advance. Our sins often work to claim us and shape us. It is a never-ending battle. A battle against the voice that speaks to you, “It is who you are, give in, give over.” However, there is another voice that speaks, a groaning in us. A groaning of the Spirit of God inside of us. A groaning that calls us onward to a day in the future where there is no more sin. A place where our sins that live on this side of wholeness will be buried forever, never to tempt us or disfigure us again.

Take time today to read that list of sins found in 1 Corinthians but don’t focus on the sins with which you have no struggle. Instead, concentrate on the one’s you know you have lurking in your closet. Only then can you identify with the struggles of others who fight a different sin from yours.

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My Daughter knows a young lady who cuts herself often. The depth of pain and emotional turmoil for her friend is at times unbearable in her heart and mind. These feelings lead to the cutting of her arms. The following poem is by my daughter in order to bring awareness to a very sad and dark reality for many among us

 

Blacker Than White

They carve their sins into my bones with their cold tongues. I helplessly crumble as their emotionless eyes lap up my weakness.

I cling to my last bit of sanity as their voices control me.

 Their sickening laughter, which rings through my ears, reminds me of a haunting death. Their nails, so sharp, slide down my arms and wrists.

 My skin falls off like dead rose petals.

 Hot tears start to gather under my chin as I go numb.

 They are destroying me… No.

 I’m destroying myself.

 Who are they?

 The whispers at night that compel me to stain my pale arm a scarlet red.

 They are my memories, my living nightmares.

 Someone help me, I’m choking on madness.

Drowning… I’m drowning.

By~Madison Blake Wright

 

“Experts estimate that about 4 percent of the population practice self-injury, almost equally divided between male and female. According to researchers, “recent studies of high school and college students put the number at approximately one in five,”and nearly 50 percent report physical and/or sexual abuse during his or her childhood. Inadequate parental nurturing or a suppression of emotions, like anger or sadness, may also contribute.”`Conterio, Karen and Wendy Lader. (2007, November 26) About Self-Injury. S.A.F.E. (Self-Abuse Finally Ends) Alternatives.

 

 

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Recommended Resource : Inside a Cutter’s Mind

Recommended Link For More Insight- Understanding Cutting by Dena Yohe

 

 

 

 

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Those outside of Christ have a perception of you. They know you are a follower of Christ; but how do they label you? Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

I once heard it said, “It should break our hearts that often we are known more for what we are against than what we are for, for who we have excluded than for who we have embraced.”

Years ago when I gave my life to Christ, I became part of the youth group at the church where I surrendered my life to Christ. It was an enthusiastic group of kids. They loved God very much. However, there was one thing that confused me much.

They spent a lot of time after the message in the altar praying. Now of course there was nothing wrong with that but it was some of the prayers I heard that confused me. The prayers didn’t confuse me because they were wrong. I think they confused me because they seemed incomplete. The prayers were one-sided prayers.

I would often hear prayers of repentance over sin they had committed in their lives. Of course,  there is nothing wrong with that because it’s the right thing to do. However, I would also hear prayers of repentance over things that were not sin. I’m not sure why they did that, but I can only assume it was motivated by the desire to be holy and closer to God. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that, other than you’re repenting over something that doesn’t need repentance.

The thing that was missing were prayers that would accompany them out of an altar into the darkness of their world with the love, grace and mercy of Christ as their battle cry. Instead, I often saw these same kids walk into the darkness preaching their convictions onto those outside the faith. Therefore, many of them became known for what they were against, instead of what they were for.

I once heard Billy Graham say, “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.” I love that! I don’t have the ability to convict anyone. I do have the ability to bring guilt to someone but that not the same as the conviction the Holy Sprite brings. I much rather leave the task of drawing the heart of the outsider to Christ in the hands of the Spirit of God.

I don’t have the right to judge the outsider. That’s the job of God when He sees fit to do so. (Judging one another in the church is for another post) However, I will share just one scripture. 1 Cor 5:12, “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.”

It’s my job and your job to love! When we love and show God’s love to the world it melts and convicts the heart of the outsider. When people met Jesus, they didn’t walk away with an opinion of what He was against. (Well, the religious Pharisees did because they needed to be shook up) When people encountered Jesus, they walked away hopeful because of what He was for.

So, allow me to ask you one last time. Those outside the faith, Do they define you by all the beautiful life-giving things you are for, or do they define you by all the things you are against?

Live like Jesus. Love like Jesus and He will change the world through your witness.

Heart Hoarding

November 28, 2012 — 2 Comments

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Authentic outside change starts with an inside work of God

We live in a very aesthetic focused world.  The world is fixated on the outside.  The gospel of Jesus is just the opposite. We are in need of rescue, not from the outside, but from the inside. You see, the trouble is you can make the outside look good while the inside is dead.

Matthew 23:27 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.

Authentic outside change starts with an inside work of God

When I lived in California, not only was I a pastor, but also I was a paint contractor. I had one particular property that had 680 units to take care of. When people would move out, I would clean the carpet, clean all the inside, and paint the unit fresh for the next tenant.

All the units looked the same from the outside. All the doors were red with a doorknocker and a peephole. You could pick any hallway and walk it, and every apartment would appear the same.

However, they were not all the same on the inside. I would often find some crazy stuff on the inside once I was allowed access.  I was once called to take care of a unit, and when I stepped inside I couldn’t believe my eyes.

The entire three-bedroom apartment was a foot deep in trash. One of the bathrooms was unusable because it had trash all the way to the ceiling. There were only a few paths that went from room to room. I was completely blown away by what I was seeing.

The apartment manager had asked the man how it got this way and he replied, “Little by little I made a choice not to get rid of what I didn’t need.” From outside, the unit looked like all the others, but inside it was a mess.

So what about you? Is there something on the inside you have not surrendered to God? Do you truly understand that we are spirit, soul, and body according to 1 Thessalonians 5:23?

Thessalonians 5:23 “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We should never come to God and give him just our outside to clean up.  We must give him all of ourselves.  Otherwise, we are seeking a religious God and not a relationship God.

Authentic outside change starts with an inside work of God.

What would happen today if you would let him have every area of the inside of you heart? All Growth in Christ demands surrender. If there is a mess inside the apartment of your heart, I would ask you to allow Him in. He will clean it all up so you can truly live free.

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Is Sex Greener On The Other Side Of The Fence?

The fastest way to destroy your marriage is to allow yourself to fall into an emotional attachment to someone other than your spouse. Nothing can steal intimacy faster than this first step away from the covenant God has placed you in when you took your vows before God and the world. Now, let me say at this point; if you want to comment adultery, it’s your choice…but know this-it’s going to cost you. It will destroy your home and the lives of many around you. There is simply no way around the fact that it will cause pain forever.

Adultery promises fulfillment and excitement that you feel you are not getting at home. The problem is, it always fails to live up to that promise sooner or later. You must remember, love is not a feeling; love is an action that you continually do and feelings are secondary. The green grass on the other side of the fence has the same sun shining on it as the grass you are thinking about leaving.

Please remember, that the decision to cross the fence comes with consequences that are enormous and last for a lifetime. It has been said before, and I agree, “No sex outside of marriage is that good.” That new adventure also has it’s own disappoints of life waiting to show itself soon enough. Those feelings of loneliness, emptiness and boredom that is diving you to pursue someone else…they will soon surface in the next relationship also. The reason why is that those feelings are inside you. In other words, everywhere you go, there you are.

It’s a fact that most people don’t set out to commit adultery. They let down their guard, and they generally drift out to sea until land seems to far to return to. It’s like the frog place in warm water: you turn up the temperature little by little until the frog is cooked. The frog just thinks it’s having a warm bath but the truth is he is being killed.

Allow me to give you three things that will help you to remain faithful and keep you from wreaking you life and others.

1. Keep the marriage bed on fire and purse each other

Take the time to talk with your spouse about your needs, wants and desires. Share with each other what you are looking for in the bedroom. Come to an agreement for the sake of the marriage, your kids and God. Submit to each other the bible teaches us. Cultivate romance in your relationship again. I would encourage you to pursue your spouse the way you did when you first started dating. If you are not still dating your spouse, you need to restart that as fast as you can. Get a baby sitter and leave the kids at home. Go to a movie and a meal. Hold hands and look into each other’s eyes. Talk about the beauty of the past and dream with each other about the beauty of the future.

2. Close the door on your heart to any other except your spouse

Make yourself accountable to a friend that will ask you about your flirting with others. Be open and honest with them and ask them to pray and ask you regularly about it. The bible teaches us that faithful are the wounds of a friend. Trust me, you need someone in your life that will speak truth without watering it down. You eyes are the gateway to the heart. Give your eyes back to your spouse and that feeling of him or her no longer having your heart will return like a flood.

3. Don’t deny you are being tempted

You and your spouse need to make a decision that you can freely and opening talk about your temptations. Temptation is not wrong. Temptation is not a sin. However, once you act on temptation sin is birthed. If you were at the office and someone was flirting with you or you were flirting with them…when you get home sit down and talk about it. You and your spouse need to decide in advance that these kinds of talk can and should take place without judgment. Confession can be risky, but the truth is, they can also save your marriage before it is too late.

Finally, if you are on the other side of adultery and have divorced and maybe even married again, and then grace and mercy from God is there when you repent of your sin. My advice would be this…go to the top of the post and read it again. Don’t commit the same SIN again.

The Blessing Of Being Disliked

September 26, 2012 — 2 Comments

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Yeah, that is right! I believe there is a blessing in being disliked, if you can be who you are, and not something or someone they want you to be. When God made you, He was intentional. I think one of the saddest ways to live life, if you name it living, is to go through life being someone you are not. In other words, you are living a life you think they except you to live. You are not being true to the person you are. You say to yourself; “I’m not who they think I am; I’m what I think they think I am!”

I guess at the end of the day I want to be who I am. I do not want to become something or someone that I’m not just to get a pat on the back. I want to live life; so that when I die, it will have mattered that I lived in the first place. I want to experience being faithful to the real me, and not what they want me to be. How about you-do you feel the same way?

What am I trying to say? I’m telling you to stop being someone beside yourself and lead your life strong just the way God made you. I’m not sure where I heard it, but I agree with this next statement… “I would rather be disliked for who I am than loved for whom I’m not.” If someone doesn’t love you for who you are then they don’t deserve to be in your company. Just remember this today…everything about you is exclusive (the way God made you) and everything about you matters.

The bible says  in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Now go be the YOU God made you to be and change the world for His glory.

 

Got Porn?

September 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Surfing For God by Michael John Cusick is a must read for anyone struggling with the addiction of porn. He openly places his struggles and victories on the table for the reader to see and experience. By sharing his life he addresses many root issues of pornography. In his book, he argues that in today’s society, “When a man surfs the Internet for porn he is really surfing for God.”

Michael deals with the empty promises, personal brokenness and shame in great detail.

Concerning the empty promises he address some of the following issues.

Porn promises validation of our manhood without requiring strength
Porn promises sexual fulfillment without relationship
Porn promises intimacy without requiring risk & suffering
Porn promises passion & life without connection to your soul
Porn promises power over women without responsibility & humility
Porn promises comfort & care without depending on others

Speaking to the issue of personal brokenness he never leaves you without hope of full restoration to God and others. There is a beautiful sense of light at the end of the tunnel. Michael doesn’t sugarcoat anything; he tells it straight about the damage porn does to relationships and to the soul of a man. However, it must be noted again that he paints a great ray of hope to be free. “If you are losing the battle, please read closely: following Jesus consists of so much more than trying harder and white-knuckling your way through it. You can be free.”

As for the issue of shame he writes, “To be naked and unashamed before God meant that Adam and Eve were both free and able to offer to God exactly who they were, without holding anything back or hiding their true selves. They were fully known, just as they were created to be, and they were fully okay with that. This led to an uninhibited intimacy with God and with each other.” (In my opinion this is a great chapter that really stand out. Chapter 6)

In closing I would add that it’s a must read for any man and a must read for the wives of husbands that have struggled with porn. It will help the wife get a better insight into what is really going on at the root of the issue.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”