February 18, 2013

Shhhh..... You Talk Too Much: Silence Challenge

Yesterday, my friend, Cory told me that I need to be quiet sometimes. I am not sure if he knew what he was doing but he struck a chord in me and in a nice Christian way. Cory, I admit, is one of the only persons besides my sister, dad, and daughter who can handle my strong personality with ease and who can make me actually listen to them (I'm a little stubborn, please pray for me). Cory is right though, I do talk a lot and I talk extremely fast sometimes that I rarely pause to take a breath.  I am extremely opinionated and at times I think I know it all. Well after conversely humbling me (and that puts it lightly), Cory also sent me a video that I'd like to share by Paul Tripp (a fire and brimstone pastor and author) and I saw what Cory and Paul were saying. Click the links on "video" and "Paul Tripp" to watch. And there is much scripture to back up "moments of silence" in our lives:

 "It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord."  ~ Lamentations 3:26

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
~ Psalm 46:10

“Men listened to me and waited and kept silence for my counsel." ~ Job 29:21

"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him." ~ Psalm 62:5

"For everything there is a season [...] A time to be quiet and a time to speak." ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1,7

As Paul Tripp said, "We don't have to speak all the time. It is the maturity of silence that is very important. And the more we talk, the sin nature inside of us will be within those words. So speak less and stop caressing our reputations. Rest in God and be quiet."  Because when God is silent, He wants us to trust Him or to be vigilant to what He has already said, done, or promised and will say, do, or promise.

We get so lost in talking and our little lifely distractions that we miss out on things. But the Bible declares, "[f]or everything there is a season [...] a time to be quiet and a time to speak" (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7). What Cory doesn't know is that his advice was timely because I was broken from a prior night of conviction due to a conversation he and I had about "Is God Alone Not Enough?" God had started working on me with "being quiet" because I felt He was not speaking to me, but how can He when we are always talking, texting, Skyping, Facebooking, Tweeting, FaceTiming, oovoing, and God knows what else? When are we quiet enough to hear the gentle whispers of our Father's voice? Paul Tripp says when we talk so much it is "self-righteous" because most of that talk becomes about "us." And it is true - "my blog," "my status update," "my salvation," "my boyfriend," "my husband," "my baby," "my ministry," "my book," all this "my,my,my." What about God? So, I challenge you to join me and to get quiet before God, put down all the distractions for a week or so and sit at His feet like the desperate daughters and sons we are commissioned to be and "listen" to Him for once. Yes, hush, and listen to your Daddy. He's been trying to get your attention and He's tired of competing with our little idols that we think is social media and just "conversation." If it leads you away from Him or occupies your time then it is an idol. If you will join me in this (starting tonight or tomorrow), comment below and keep a journal of what God reveals during this time and share with me in a week (February 25-26, 2013) when I blog request your answers via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

I am choosing to not talk via social media for an entire week (starting tomorrow) because that is my biggest "outlet." I am not saying that you should not "talk" but you know the areas that you "talk" the most and too much in/on and could devote that time to God through more Bible reading, praying, reading supplemental Christian books, fasting, etc. Just get close to God, so close that you could touch the feet of Jesus's garment or wash Jesus's feet with your hair and just sit there and rest in His presence. When you are done, journal your feelings, thoughts, and what God says or reveals to you.

It's exciting to think of being before our precious God! My goodness my heart smiles! Rest sisters and brothers, just rest and be okay before our Father. And listen to this if you have to, to understand silence. Jesus loves you and so do I! I will "talk" to you in a week! *Smile*

February 6, 2013

You Can't Hide From God

Let's face it, when we come to Jesus, we come shattered, battered, torn and completely wrecked. We are in need of a heart surgeon to rid that muscle of all the hate, guilt, shame, bitterness, resentment, anger, hurt, etc. that has been housed for decades inside of us. It is our heart's condition that drives us to sin or not to sin. If it beats for God, then we cleave to Him and allow our hearts to look like His. But if it doesn't then we waver and dibble and dabble with sin. In cases as such, we need to do a serious heart check because a hurt heart needs a healer.

Guess what? Jesus heals. He is the doctor for the sick. And this sick goes beyond physicality - it is the spiritually malnourished: the bulimic and anorexic - the broken individual that Jesus so desperately seeks after and longs for you to trust him to make you new and whole again. Sure, you read the Bible, pray, write in your journal, and spend quiet time before the Lord; you SERVE him with your whole heart but you still struggle with sin that keeps you in bondage. It is a secret sin. One the enemy can have a field day with you in and yield you back to his little world. You may or may not be fully aware it is sin and WRONG, yet are comfortable in that sin because no one knows and you pretend it doesn't exist. You are wrong - GOD KNOWS! But in order to sit at the feet of Jesus and get healed, we must first admit we are sick and in dire need of a physician. Allow me to share this "real life occurrence" about admitting truth.

A few hours ago, my daughter was in my classroom with me and she was rummaging on my desk and found her opened "Letter to Santa 2012" that I had strategically placed on my desk so I could add it to all her other letters that I had planned to eventually reveal to her when I felt she was old enough to not believe in "Santa Claus."  Never did I think that she would find it since it was "hidden amongst other letters."

When she confronted me with the opened letter, she had a smile on her little mischievous face and we just cackled like hens --- I was BUSTED. I could not deny the truth; I had hidden it for so long and now that the truth was OUT, I just had to come clean.  Now, God does not have to go in our souls and by happenstance come across the things we conceal like my daughter did -- GOD KNOWS everything about us because He created us, so why do we hide behind the truth and conceal it with lies? Why do we hide behind sin (habitual, intentional, and unintentional)? Why are we allowing sin to arrest us and hold us hostage within our own bodies? Is it guilt, embarassment, shame, pride? Or is it because we want to live in sin and pretend it doesn't exist? Sin HURTS God. Sin hurts not only you, but others involved. Had I lied to my daughter when faced with evidence that Santa Claus did not exist, she would've been crushed to find out later in life, so I chose to be honest and not lie. So when God puts a mirror before our face and forces us to address sin, we should do that and not lie or pretend it does not exist. God exposes because He loves us and wants us to be in obedience to His perfect will and perfect way.

Sin is a battle with flesh. But Jesus came so that we would have a way to overcome sin. Understand that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Rest assured though, God had a plan for our sinfulness - Jesus Christ. Where the law condemns, Jesus saves "for the son of man has come to seek and save" the lost (Luke 19:10). Isn't that amazing that God loves us so much he sent His son to atone for our sin? And that includes the saved who struggle with secret and hidden sin. Don't hide anymore. That sin will destroy you if you stay in it.

I will be blatantly honest and openly admit that I struggle with pride immensely. I depend on myself for a lot of things and that causes me at times to think I can do things that ONLY God can do. Pride gets in the way and can cause me to act out in emotions and then regret later on. So imagine how I felt when God placed someone in my life who exposed that sin to me. I was totally unaware that it existed but I ran to the feet of Jesus and pleaded with him to help me rely solely on God in all aspects of my life. I did not hide the revelation, yet I revealed it and sought help of the ultimate physician. That pride leads me to not trust in God and lack faith. Who has time for that in this chaotic world? I don't have time to doubt like Peter and Thomas, I need to believe like the sick woman in the parable in Mark 5:21-43. And then chase after Jesus so desperately that I am overjoyed just to touch the hem of his garment for healing.

If you are struggling with sin or even if you think you aren't, ask God to reveal any hidden areas in your life and follow this:

Confess and Repent.  Lie out on your face and get humble before God and pour out your heart to Him. Tell Him you struggle and need help. Repent. Understand that repentance is TURNING away from your sin. Not RETURNING to it in a few days. Acts 3:19 says "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." At some point we should love God more than we love sin. Sin pleases us (the flesh), not God. God is concerned with our hearts and spirit. Holiness and righteousness pleases God.  Keep God in His rightful place and do not run to humans first. They can't fix you nor fix something out of their control. Run to the throne, not the phone. God is the ONLY one who can transform your life while the blood of Jesus cleanses your soul and permeates your body.

Find an accountability partner and/or seek Godly counsel. Don't let the devil shame you into thinking that you are "telling your business" and people will judge you. Who cares? Your soul is on the line and I am sure you would rather greet Jesus than satan. This partner/person(s) must be a Christian and one you trust to walk with you and hold you accountable for your actions.  God will also send Christians into your life. Be vigilant to His works and allow those people to help you walk upright. Stop pushing everyone away. They will not judge you but will approach you in love even if it appears to be "harsh." Tough love is the best love in the name of correction. As Hebrews 4:12 states,"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Refuse and neglect advice from anyone in the world. Their master is satan, not God. A worldly person has nothing to offer someone who is chasing after God. All the world can do is lead you to hell and "ain't nobody got time for that."

Avoid temptation. If you know you struggle with the lottery then stay away from the inside of the store when you get gas for your car. Use the outside debit/credit machine. Close out the gambling games on your computer.  If you are a glutton then take extra food to a nearby homeless shelter. Struggling with lust or being faithful to your spouse? Then get rid of your computer if you have to. Have you seen "Fireproof?" That man beat his computer  to pieces because pornography was causing him to not love his wife as he should. If the women on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are a luring attraction to you then DEACTIVATE the accounts or delete and BLOCK them. If you like to gossip, then you deactivate your social media, too because it is full of people's business. You know your struggles so choose to not make them strongholds in your life. Some doors we just don't have to walk in but we CHOOSE to sin. It is a choice. If you KNOW something is your WEAKNESS then RUN from those areas. If you don't then you are choosing sin over your love for Christ and that opens up doors to more sin and moral staining. This is evident in Joshua 24:15:  "But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve [....] But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."

Read testimonies and memoirs on the sin you struggle with.  I love watching cardboard testimonies on YouTube and also reading blogs about people who have triumphed over their fleshly desires with/by the grace of God. Human accounts make us feel as if we are not alone and also adds authenticity to what we can overcome.

Pray. Stay in constant communication with God.  Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The more your mind and heart is on God, the less time you have to allow the devil a workshop to set up his ploys. You can pray anytime you want. God is always available.

Remember, you can't hide from God. He is omnipresent and omniscient. He loves you enough to take you as you are, but he doesn't want to leave you there. He has plans to prosper, not harm you (Jeremiah 29:11). Let Him. Choose God over sin. Don't let sin win.