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I spent a lot of my life trying to behave perfectly to earn the approval and acceptance of God. Then for a few years, trying not to be smited because I had full scale run amok.
Truth is God loved me the whole time. He saw me. The real me. He knew the truth. He knew the lies I had been believing about myself and about Him. His heart broke for me.
I am clearly not fully living life to the fullest yet…but in reading Your God Is Too Safe today, I was reminded me how far I’ve come, and just how grateful I am for my relationship with Him. ❤ I continue daily to be in awe…
“Holiness is not a bid to be noticed or loved or accepted by God. Holiness, rather, is acting out and acting upon the truth that God has noticed, loved, and accepted us long before we did anything to warrant that. It’s a discovery that we’re alive when we thought we were, and ought to be, dead. Holiness is simply living into and out that aliveness.” -Mark Buchanan (Your God Is Too Safe)
This whole book is hitting me where I live because I like my safe world with Jesus. I love it being me & Him.
But Jesus didn’t heal me so I could sit here be safe and hidden forever. For a season or two yes, but not forever. He healed me so I could live my life fully! Abundantly! He is the God of bigger than I can ask or even think.
He tells me repeatedly two things…
“You think too small.”
Those two things are super scary…because I am very aware of just how BIG my God really is. I know what He is capable of doing with His kids…
Turning a shepherd into a king. (David)
Turning a barren old woman into the mother of a nation. (Sarah)
Turning a stutterer into spokesman who literally walked his people out of slavery. (Moses)
Turning an introverted girl into an outspoken Queen who risked her life to protect her people. (Esther)
Turning some guy from the sticks in a defeated country into a mighty warrior. (Gideon)
Turning an unknown wife living in a tent in the desert into a war heroine. (Ja’el)
“For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. ” 1 Corinthians 4:7 MSG
I believe that there’s potential in everyone to do amazing things. I can see the gold in people…even myself. I believe that the people above were born with everything they needed to fulfill the destiny they were born for!
Just like us, life kicked these folks down, and the world disappointed them. They were told no. The enemy lied to them. Maybe they believed it…maybe they didn’t.
But there came a point when these regular people stepped out of the safety of their little lives..and believed God. They chose to parner with Him.
As a result…a king, a mother, a deliverer, a queen, a warrior, and a heroine stepped out of the shadows and changed their world.
Knowing all this…I cannot help but wonder what will He do with me? And you?
You may not be a king…but maybe you’re a community leader, a state representative, or a mayor in the making.
You may not give birth to a nation…but maybe you’re one who empowers kids as a teacher, a mentor, or a foster parent.
You may be called to fight modern day slavery or sex trafficking.
Maybe you’re be introverted and shy…but you still have a voice!
Maybe you are designed to be a military leader or a police officer.
Maybe you are designed to raise a family and invest in those little people who will one day lead.
Whatever it is you’re designed for, walk in it! Live fully! That’s what freedom is. It’s why Jesus was resurrected!
Point to ponder while you wander… Freedom isn’t running amok and doing whatever you want whenever the mood strikes. It’s being able to be the whole you. Healed. Healthy. Real. It’s stepping out of the shadows and becoming who you were designed to be.
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NLT
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:10 NLT
Jesus came here expressly to search out the lost. The original word in Greek is apollymi. It means that which is ruined, lost, or that which is set to be destroyed.
Why? Why leave your throne in Paradise to seek out those that are ruined, lost, or those who are destined for destruction?
Save is sozo in Greek. It means to save, heal, and deliver. He loves all of you, body, soul (mind, will and emotions), and spirit.
Salvation. He saves your spirit when you chose to receive His as your Savior. It’s immediate and permanent. No longer destined for destruction are you!
Healing. Physical healing. Emotional healing. Both rights of God’s kids, because of Jesus.
Deliverance. Mainly this is about the mind and mindsets, but can also free the will to make better choices.
Jesus came to completely eradicate any trace of bondage, sickness, and hopelessness from humanity.
Point to ponder while you wander…”For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 NLT
“He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and assigns each a name. Our Lord is great, with limitless strength; we’ll never comprehend what He knows and does.” Psalm 147:3-5 MSG
Yahweh is gentle, and yet the epitome of strength.
He is fully occupied, and yet so faithful that He never misses a single appointed time.
Yahweh is so deep and complex, yet simple enough to be described as simply as good.
There’s so much about Him we won’t fully understand on this side of eternity, and yet He invites us into a relationship with Him so He may reveal His secrets and mysteries to us.
Something to ponder while you wander…I use awesome and fully awesome all the time, but in truth the only one worthy to be called fully awesome is Yahweh. He is the true definition of awesome!
I need to share something I read on FB last week. It impacted me deeply and I am going to tell you why, if you don’t want to know why, feel free to scroll down.
I had made a vow as a nine year old that walled me in from allowing myself to be loved. It was in reaction to nearly losing my mom. While I didn’t actually lose my mom, she’s still alive and kicking and completely fabulous, the thought of losing her crippled me in a way that I have no words for. I was terrified of loss. So at the age of nine after a complete bawling session, I washed my face and looked my little blonde self in the mirror and said, “I will never need anyone again.”
Here are some effects of this vow:
1. I sabotaged relationships and only committed myself to relationships that I knew couldn’t possibly work.
2. I struggled with commitment to anything, even though I craved stability.
3. Even though I had my mom and still have my mom, I didn’t really let her be my mom. I could be found most often trying to be her mom or trying to distance myself from her as far as possible. It would be easier for me that way, like it wouldn’t hurt so much if I lost her. Wow. That doesn’t sound crazy at all, does it?
I need to take a minute to tell you about my little tiny mom. (She’s 4’10” and weighs about 100 lbs…so I call her my little momma). My mom is not perfect, but I have to give her a shout out here. I was not the easiest child to raise (rebellious, mouthy, attitudinal, angry, ran away from home and hitch-hiked to Florida with my boyfriend and one of my best friends at age 17…you get the picture). But she was always there. She never left. My mom is stubborn, honest, and fiercely loyal. She always went to bat for me, and she still does. One could do worse than to have a mom who will fight for you and against you when needed. She made a choice to love me and she never stopped, even when it was hard. Thank you, Little Momma!
4. I went to college and got a degree, but didn’t go after photography and writing which were my actual dreams. I was afraid they would tell me I wasn’t any good at writing and photography, and I couldn’t bear to hear it. So I majored in International Relations (AKA wanting to live in foreign countries where accents abound).
5. I didn’t really try or challenge myself in High School or College because I didn’t want to fail. I always took the easy road, whichever path did not require effort. Why go after what you want? If you do, and do manage to get it, you could lose it. So I didn’t take any risk. Fear of failure, check. Fear of success, check. Crazy, check check.
The kicker is that I had no idea why I did these things. I only understood recently that the reason I was so afraid was wrapped up in a fear of loss and a vow I made at nine years old.
I never told anyone of this decision not to need anyone. I didn’t even remember it until God showed me why I was struggling so hard to give and receive love and why it was so incredibly difficult for me to allow anyone to bless me or help me. This vow was made to protect myself, but really what it did was isolate me and prevent me from really receiving the love I so desperately wanted. I believed that the lie that I wasn’t really loved. I believed the lie that I was a mistake that needed to be erased. I believed the lie that I did not need anyone, not even Jesus. Although I accepted Him as my Savior “just in case” because I was afraid of eternal fire and damnation.
Yes, I am aware of what a mess I was. Yes, I am aware of how crazy all of this sounds and is. It’s why I love Jesus so much. He loved me even when I was completely unable to love Him. He loves me still. And I am crying now. (Deep breath taken here.)
I disavowed that vow and asked Jesus to help me to undo it. I don’t know what kind of help I expected. But I certainly was not expecting a season where I had absolutely no choice but to allow people to help me and ask for help. I have always been willing to give, but receiving has been near impossible for me. And now I have to let people help me, even though I have no way to repay them. I have to trust that Jesus will repay what I cannot. I pray blessing over those that have come along side of me and been helping me. I hope that someday I will be able to pass on what I have been given to other people.
And now I am crying again…sheeesh. I seem to cry a lot these days. Not because I’m sad. But because I am overwhelmed by love and generosity and kindness of the people in my world. Something I never would have experienced if God hadn’t shown me this deeply embedded root. Gratitude abounds in a time when I don’t have a whole lot that seems to be going right.
That being said…here’s a post by Jo Ellen Stevens. (Note: I copied the following word for word. I did not write it, nor do I own the content.) I hope that this helps you.
WHEN MY VOW BECAME A GOD
Jo Ellen Stevens
” If a man vows a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break and profane his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” Numbers 30:2 (AMP)
The Lord spoke to me the other day out of the blue and began to show me something about many of you. He began by reminding me of my story. When I was very, very young I was married to a man that was abusive both verbally and physically. I don’t tell you this story to gain your sympathy or to make excuses for my life but to see you set free of something that you may not even realize has controlled your life for many years…
While I was married to this man back in 1969 I became pregnant with the only child that I ever had and is now with the Lord.. Because of some of the abuse I believe I lost this child.
When I began to miscarry he took me to the Airforce hospital in Michigan that we were stationed at and there he left me in this cold room with no one to be with me.. I remember there being another person in the room in another bed . I was in full labor because I was about five months along.
I remember at one point a nurse coming in and saying to me that I needed to be quiet so as to not disturb anyone else.. So as silently as I could in that much pain I finished having this miscarriage. The next morning I woke up to go to the restroom and passed out..The next thing I knew I was back in bed and they told me that I had, had a DNC. I didn’t even know what that was I was just 16 years old and didn’t know much about life…
When I came out and went home my husband began to tell me how fat I was, so I ate nothing but beef broth until I was down to my size three clothes again. I found out from someone that my husband had been at a party all the while that I was in the hospital with another woman.
The next week we went to a place with some friends and I was in the back seat and started crying as I was telling the other lady in our car about my miscarriage and my then husband stopped the car abruptly and turned around and began slapping me over and over..
I told you all of this to show you where I was going with this.. Many years later after I had been divorced and had gotten married to my husband now of 25 years. I was in my basement ironing and I was asking the Lord what caused my perfectionism that had driven me and everyone else nearly crazy for many years..
He showed me that at that moment that the incident happened that I had Vowed a Vow in my heart that I would never let another man do that to me again..That I would always be the prettiest and the skinniest, the best house keeper etc….
…He said that I needed to disavow that which I had vowed.. I cried all day but God set me free..
Now just the other day the Lord spoke to me again and said this…. He said that when you vow a vow that was not of him that the vow begins to inwardly govern your life and it becomes a God to you instead of Him..
He said many of my people in tough situations in their lives have become perfectionists and many other things because they vowed a vow that was not of Him..They have blocked out my will for their life because it had become a constitution to them…
He said that He wanted me to bring this out so that any of you can ask the Holy Spirit to shine His light on these areas and you can be set free to be obedient to Him again…
So ask the Lord right now to shine His light in any area that you have made your own constitution. He is ready to set you free…. It is not an easy thing to do .It will tear you up inside but it is a good tearing.. You will feel so free when this happens!!
Many of you will be healed in your body right now as you allow this to happen…. Glory to our Deliverer!!!
Father, we ask you to shine your light on those places in us that we have not yielded over to you because of ungodly vows in our time of pain.. We ask you to cleanse us of that and let your Holy Spirit teach us how to walk in freedom and obedience to your will In Jesus Mighty Name!! Amen!!
Arise,shine! Jo Ellen Stevens
When someone gives you a gift, just accept it and say, “Thank you.” It’s really not a difficult concept. But when receiving from God, I still tend to struggle with this. I feel as though I need to clean up my own mess and earn God’s help. That is the definition of religion, people trying to impress God with what they do and to make themselves worthy of God’s notice.
Well if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this; God already loves you as much as He’s ever going to. Do you know why that is? Because He already loves you completely and unconditionally. What you do or not do doesn’t change the love He has for you. He’s a good God who wants to bless people and enjoys giving good gifts.
The story that kept popping up to me was the story of God giving Naaman a gift. It’s found in II Kings 5. Naaman was a great Aramean warrior, who was beloved by his king, and also happened to also to be a leper. Naaman’s wife had a maid from Israel, who told Naaman that she knew of a prophet who could heal him. So Naaman went to Elisha’s house. Here’s the story beginning in verse 9 and going through verse 16.
“So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”
But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.
But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!
Then Naaman and his entire party went back to find the man of God. They stood before him, and Naaman said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”
But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.” And though Naaman urged him to take the gift, Elisha refused.”
Naaman’s pride said, “That’s it??? There must be more than simply bathing in a dirty river? This can’t be right. Shouldn’t there be some sort of ritual or cost involved.” But there wasn’t. God simply required Naaman to believe, then He healed him. Naaman was the leader of the army that had just defeated his people in battle. Yet still God loved him. Yet God healed him without expecting anything in return. That’s the goodness and giving nature of God.
This just blows my mind.
Deep Thought Thursday: God’s not looking for a show.
“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.” -Jesus (as quoted in Matthew 6:1, Message Version)
So if God doesn’t want us to “play righteous” or to “be good”? What does He want from us?
He doesn’t want anything FROM us, He wants US. He wants the real us. The REAL YOU. The REAL ME. No one can have an authentic relationship with someone who is fake and pretending, including the Almighty God.
I remember the first time I really got real with God. I was in a class called Healing for Women.* We were supposed to come to class and journal every week. And I’d been faking it the whole time. Meaning I was showing up, participating in class, and doing the journaling BUT…I wasn’t really being real. I was telling people what I thought I was supposed to say. Speaking Christian-ese. Then one Saturday night I got real. I filled pages and pages in the notebook I was journaling in. It was ugly and it hurt like all get out, but I was real for the first time. Then I read it and sobbed. One of the things I realized was that I was livid at God. And I just “knew” that being angry with God was a sin and I was going straight to hell. That being said I still went to church the next morning (maybe my church attendance would help me with the hell problem). During our hug and handshake time, I had a full-fledged breakdown. I went to the bathroom to finish my breakdown out of the presence of my pastors, friends, and church family. No one needs to see that.
On my way to hide out, I literally ran right into my friend Michelle because I couldn’t see through the tears. Here’s the gist of our conversation:
“Jilly, are you alright?”
“No. I’m going to hell.”
Looking confused. “Um, why do you think you’re going to hell?”
“Because I’m angry with God.”
“You don’t think God knows you are angry with Him?”
Me looking confused. “Um?”
“Jilly, He knows. But now that YOU know, He can deal with it. Just admit it and apologize to Him and move on.”
“I can do that?”
Nodding head. “Definitely.”
Now I “knew” that God knew everything. Hello, He’s God. Duh. But it never crossed my mind that despite the fact that He knew I was angry with Him and falsely accusing Him of causing every bad thing in my life- He loved me unconditionally anyway. Who is this God who loves whacked out broken people who blame Him for all the bad stuff, take credit for the good He does, and generally disregard His Word? He must be crazy, that God.
But something happened right then. Something changed in me. I got hungry. For the first time I wanted to get to know this “crazy” God. I knew of Him, but I didn’t know Him. It’s like Job at the end of the story having his eyes opened, and seeing God clearly for the first time. The God I thought He was would have smited me outright. But this God knew my mess and still loved me. Wow. I was wrong. I misjudged Him completely.
My being real with myself led me to be real with God. Being real with Him, led me to seeking Him, to really know and have a relationship with Him. I began to seek Him. And when I sought Him, I found Him.
I found Him to be trustworthy, faithful, loving, kind, and welcoming. He’d always been that way. He’d always been right there, as close as the air I breathe. Even though I turned my back on Him, He never left me. He never gave up on me. His arms were always open to me, I just didn’t know. That’s who God really is. The real Yahweh. He cannot lie. He cannot be anything other than who He is. And that is what He wants from you. To be straight up real with Him.
He wanted a real relationship with Adam and Eve too, but they chose knowledge over Him. He wanted it from the Children of Israel too, but they chose religion and the law over Him. This is what God had to say about their choice of the law over being real with Him:
“I hate all your show and pretense—
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings.
I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.
Away with your noisy hymns of praise!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice,
an endless river of righteous living.” Amos 5:21-24
God does not want another performance or a faux show from you. He wants you to be raw and real with Him. He doesn’t want you to pretend to be good or act happy. He wants to give you real joy and real peace. He wants you to come to Him broken and honest, so He can heal and help you. He can heal any broken place that you open up and give Him. He can restore anyone and anything that comes to Him. Nothing is too difficult for Him.
But He can only work within the confines of our choices. So if you choose to wall yourself in and pretend that you are fine, He’ll honor that choice. It’s not what He wants, but He’ll respect your choice.
While I chose to keep myself shut up and not let Him in, He respected that. He never left me, but He didn’t interfere either. He never forced His way in. But when I opened up a smidge, and let Him in a little. He healed the area that I let Him in. Then I let Him in a little more and a little more. Each time I invited Him in, He brought healing and peace with Him. He’ll do the same for you.
Choose to be real with Him. David was real with God. And God called David a man after his own heart. Did you hear me? God called the man who got another man’s wife pregnant (AND was responsible for that same man’s death) a man after His own heart. Why? Because of their relationship. He saw through David’s behavior to his heart. He knew David, the real David, because David never held anything back from God. Good, bad, ugly. He gave it all to the Lord. Don’t believe me, read Psalm 51 where He lays the Bathsheba debacle before the Lord. That Psalm shows a real relationship with God.
To be real or not to be real. Choice is yours.
*If you are a woman living in SE Michigan and want to take Healing for Women, go to this link for information. This session is closed but the next one starts 11/25/13. It will change your life.
Picture this. A prisoner has been pardoned. But instead of leaving the prison, the prisoner sits there in the cell. The shackles have been removed. The door is open. The prisoner could just walk out and be free. Yet the prisoner sits there because he’s not chosen to walk in freedom. His perception and perspective is that he is and will forever be a prisoner. But the truth, the reality, is that he’s free. He doesn’t believe the truth but has chosen to believe a lie.
If you are caught up in the cycle of addiction, you are that prisoner.
If you are beating yourself up over the past, you are that prisoner.
If you believe that you are worthless, you are that prisoner.
If you believe your situation is hopeless, you are that prisoner.
If you think that things will never change, you are that prisoner.
If you are allowing your past to bind you and prevent you from moving forward, you are that prisoner.
If you believe your past is more powerful that Jesus’ sacrifice, you are that prisoner.
Jesus came to reconcile us to God. Reconciliation was His main purpose. But that was not the only benefit and purpose of His death and resurrection. Luke 4:18-19 (Also found in Isaiah 61) tells us that He came to restore us body, soul and spirit. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
He came to reveal the whole truth. The truth of His Kingdom, who we are, and how God feels about us. (In case you don’t know He loves us A LOT).
He came to show us who the Father is by doing what He saw the Father doing.
He came to heal your body and your heart.
AND He came to set you free. John 8:31-34 says,
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Even though you have been set free, you need to walk out that freedom. A slave (prisoner/unbelief) mentality and not understanding their true identity kept an entire generation out of the Promised Land. See Deuteronomy 1. They still saw themselves as slaves. They cried out to go back to Egypt. Their wrong perception of themselves and their lack of belief robbed the ENTIRE GENERATION of their inheritance. Only two men of the millions that left Egypt from that generation entered the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb. Did you hear that? Two out of millions! And the only difference between those two and the rest of their generation was that they believed what God said, not what anyone else said. Did you hear that? They believed God. Not their circumstances. Not what they saw. Not what everyone else said. They believed God.
What’s my point? Well my point is that you need to believe what the Lord says about you and your future. You need to stop speaking negatively over yourself and beating yourself up for your past mistakes. You have value. You are loved.
Your situation is not too hard for God. Joseph went DIRECTLY from the prison to the palace. See Genesis 41. You don’t think God can do that for you? Nothing is impossible for God. NOTHING.