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Deep Thought Thursday: The Next Generation

I’ve been thinking about the generations behind me lately. A lot actually. And whether or not I am doing my part in teaching them and guiding them. We all have a part to play in the lives of those around us.

Today I was thinking about the generation of Israelites leaving Egypt. About how many amazing miracles this generation experienced leaving Egypt. And yet they grumbled and complained and failed to believe God. 

Hebrews 11:6 tells us to please God you must do 2 things: Believe God Exists and Believe that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

This generation believed in God, but they didnt believe God. My theory is because they had never actually believed they were free. They still had a slave mentality. 

Meaning they never dealt with the trauma and issues that resulted from being slaves, therefore, didn’t have the capacity to believe. In other words, they had broken places and wounds that they didn’t bring to God. Joshua and Caleb were the only two that could see from God’s perspective, despite having been enslaved. So healing and true freedom were available to all, but only two received it. 

As a result of not dealing with their issues the entire generation, save Josh and Caleb, died with unfulfilled lives.

Heartbreaking. 

The next generation were either small children in Egypt or were born in the desert. They believed in God and believed God (the majority at least) and were able to take possession of the Promised Land.

But this generation also failed.  

They did not properly teach their children the ways of the Lord. And as the years passed, and additional generations were born, they wrote off what they did hear as “old stories.” They didn’t know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. They didn’t understand their covenant rights and responsibilities.

That generation didn’t live according to the guidelines God gave them that would make them stand out and be successful over the people around them. Instead they wanted to be like the people around them. This desire got them into trouble. See the book of Judges to see the cycle repeating itself.

All of this because a generation failed to teach their children and their children’s children that God is the Great I Am and He will do what He said He would do.

I have realized that I am guilty of the same things as both generations.  I know God is good. I’ve seen it and experienced it first hand! And yet, I too struggle to believe in the goodness of God. 

It is a battle every day for me to keep believing and walking towards what God has for me. It was easier for me to believe my future would be great when I was younger…since there was sooo much future ahead of me. 

But at 42, the enemy keeps whispering in my ear that I missed my chances. That I am too old now. Saying, “who are you to believe such audacious beliefs about my own future. You aren’t any different from the rest of the ordinary people. A cog in the machine.” 

I know those are lies. But on the harder days they seem easier to believe then to agree with this: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, ” Ephesians 3:20 NIV

But I cannot give up. If I give up that teaches those behind me to give up and stop trusting God. So even when for myself I don’t want to keep fighting and moving forward, I do it for the kids in my life. 

I am not a parent. But I am an Aunt. I am a big sister. I am a spiritual mother. And in that vein, I will not quit. I know God is faithful. I know God is good. So I will continue even when the enemy’s lies seem more believable than God’s promises.

The promises God has given me are very close to my heart, very personal. So I tend not to talk about my relationship with the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit internal because it’s not a light and breezy conversation for me. It’s real. And it’s deep. And that makes it difficult to bring up when you’re playing mini golf or grabbing lunch.

I want to see the people in my life to start where I end and go further than me. To believe even bigger for themselves. Partnering with Jesus on things even bigger than my audacious imagination can conceive. 

But I feel like I am failing the next generation by not teaching them about Jesus and telling them about what God had done. I love these kids more than my own life, but when it comes to really telling them what matters, I stumble and falter. 

I don’t know how to teach them. I don’t know how to explain all that I know about the goodness of God or the incredible miracles He’s done in my life. 

BUT!

But I am a writer. So I write here on this blog. I sent texts of encouragement. And I do my best to live according to Kingdom Principles. I do this not out of guilt or fear but because I owe Jesus my life. And so I will share real stuff here.

At 17, I threw away my virtue and what I knew to be true because I wanted so much to be loved and have a partner for life. It took me several years of counseling with ministers and spending much time in the Presence of God so He could heal the damage I did to myself.  That’s not easy to bring up in random conversation is it?
It isn’t easy to tell people that it took Jesus years to get me to understand that if I didn’t forgive myself, He couldn’t heal me. Forgiving myself for being self-destructive was easier than forgiving myself for hurting other people.

Guilt, like fear is a bully! Guilt is an eater of your soul. If not dealt with it will eventually devour your soul and begin chowing down on your body.

Guilt often leads to self-hatred. And self-hatred, my friends, leads you to believing that God’s promises aren’t for you. To believing that you don’t deserve anything good. It causes you to settle. And if not dealt with can eventually cause auto-immune diseases.

The disease my self-hatred caused was ulcerative colitis. Auto-immune diseases according to the doctors tend to run in families but otherwise do not have a cause.

Sorry Doc! But they do have a cause! And it’s not stress. It is Guilt. Unforgiveness. Bitterness. Self-hatred. You want to read about this from an actual doctor, check out Be in Health.

Auto-immune is your body attacking itself. Ulcerative colitis is painful. I was on IV nutrition. I had 2 surgeries, 20+ days in the hospital, and eventually my colon removed.

But what happened while I was going through the painful hell of UC, was that I sat still. I was in the hospital by myself, quiet. And Jesus used this time to reach out to me again. He didn’t make me ill, but He used me being ill to reach out to me.

He had never stopped pursuing me or loving me despite me flipping Him off in college and telling Him I didn’t need or want His bullshit rules. Yes…I literally flipped Him off. 

I’m telling you people the love of God is a mysterious and powerful force to love me and pursue me through rebellion and into a hospital bed.

I went to church for the first time in years during this time, and a part of myself woke up during worship. I missed worship and church. 

When I came back to God, I expected punishment and wrath for disobedience. 

But that’s not how God’s love works. 

This is how God’s love works; “So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first.” 1 John 4:17-19 NLT

What I received was forgiveness, like the prodigal son. The Father was overjoyed to see me. And as I sought Him, He made it clear to me that performance and stellar behavior is not what pleased Him (see Hebrews 11:6). Seeing me get free of self-hatred and self-destructive habits. He wanted to heal me. 

When I was praying, desperate for an answer, He spoke to me audibly. God, Himself, spoke to me.

Now I know that we can all hear the voice of the Shepherd. He speaks through the Word and through angels and etc.

But for me right then…God loved me enough to speak to me directly and answer my prayer audibly during worship. It changed everything for me.

I started taking classes about healing. Then I went to counseling. I was so desperate and hungry for change and healing that I was in the church every single time the doors were open. Worship services. Sermons. Classes. Intercessory prayer. Group counseling. Counseling. I did this for about five years.

Today I am a very different person. I still am working on things with Jesus. But from a place of wholeness not brokenness. 

But how do I take all that I’ve learned and experienced and boil it down to bite sized child appropriate pieces to share with my kiddos? This I don’t know. Maybe that is why the 2nd generation failed in teaching their kids, they didn’t know how.

I continually pray and ask God to help me plant seeds. And to send people who know Him into their lives. And I seek to live a life that inspires them to seek God and to really live! Because teaching the next generation about who God is and who they are in God prepares them to change this world for the better. And is so vital. And we all have a part to play.

Where are you in the journey to the promised land? Are you the 1st generation? The one who needs healing? 

Receive God’s love. Receive God’s healing. You cannot give what you do not have. You cannot help your kids or anyone else if you don’t first take care of you!

Are you the 2nd Generation? Are you struggling like me to to teach the next generation? 

Ask God to show you how to reach tjem each kiddo is unique. God made them. He knows them even better than we do. Then pray for them. Declare God’s promises and blessings over them. Live your life as an example. Plant seeds. Water seeds. Listen to them and watch for opportunities to teach Kingdom Principles and share God’s love. 

Point to ponder while you wander…”After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us.I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-8

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Rainbows are a Sign

Rainbows. I love them. And I usually start singing Rainbow Connection by Kermit the Frog…or at a minimum just smile.

There are lots of things associated with rainbows…the most popular being pots of gold…of course. Who doesn’t want a pot of gold? 

But the truth is that rainbows have a much deeper meaning beginning after the great flood as recorded in Genesis.

​”Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. When I send clouds over the earth, the rainbow will appear in the clouds, and I will remember my covenant with you and with all living creatures. Never again will the floodwaters destroy all life. When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” Then God said to Noah, “Yes, this rainbow is the sign of the covenant I am confirming with all the creatures on earth.” Genesis 9:12-17

What a beautiful promise and covenant sign! 

But to me, rainbows are reminders that God keeps His promises. All. Of. Them.  Including the ones He’s given to me. 

He is a good God who keeps His promises. But sometimes life gets to us and we begin to doubt. We doubt that His promises are true for us. But they are true. They are true for you. They are true for me!

About 3 weeks ago I saw a double full rainbow. It was incredible! I saw it happened in middle of a frustrating situation. Seeing it gave me peace, because it reminded me that I wasn’t forgotten.

Yesterday I saw another huge beautiful rainbow! And then another one this morning out my window at work. I am so thankful that God speaks to me in pictures when I’m struggling to hear His voice clearly.

 And I have been frustrated and that’s causing me to struggle to hear Him. I have begun to doubt a particular promise He gave me (one of two promises that mean the most to my heart). 

God didn’t try to convince me or argue with me. He simply reminded me with beauty that He is God. And that He keeps His promises. He is the best Daddy.

Point to ponder while you wander…He is good. All day. Every day. He is always speaking and encouraging us. We just need to keep our eyes and ears and hearts open to receive what He is trying to say.

Wonderful Wednesday: Don’t Stop Believing

Don’t stop believing!!

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” James 5:11 NIV

Running low on strength to persevere?

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He trains me for battle, my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You give me your shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me.” Psalm 18:32 & 34-35 NIV

To be still and know that He is God requires you to believe Him not just believe in Him.

Do you believe He will do what He says He will do? Do you believe He is a God of His word? Do you believe  He is faithful.

If you’re struggling with believing Him, I recommend two things. 1. Worship. Nothing reminds me of who God is and His faithfulness more than worship music. 2.  Study the lives of those mentioned in Hebrews 11, their perseverance, their relationship with God, and God’s faithfulness to them.

Something to ponder while you wander…true perseverance means no matter what you see or feel, you don’t stop believing God.

Allow Yourself To Believe

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrew 11:1

Sometimes we stand in our own way. We are afraid to just believe that we will have what we hope for. Don’t allow fear to steal your hope. Instead allow yourself to be persuaded that God is good & He will do what He said He will do. He desires to give us His best for us even more than we want His best for us.