Pursue Relationship

But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”
‭‭1 Timothy‬ ‭6:11‬ ‭‬‬

The scripture almost goes back to what I was writing about on August 19. If I am abhorring evil, I will flee from it. I can cling to what is good by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.

I have to make a choice about what I flee from and what I choose to pursue. If I am pursuing good, I will have my back on the devil, and things that are against God.

I notice also that half of the things in the pursuit category are fruit of the Spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭‬‬

So pursuing God is what I should be doing, daily. It’s about more than reading Scriptures daily. It’s about more than taking needs to Him in prayer. Although both are great starts. Pursuing Him is about relationship.

True relationship, koinonia fellowship is where righteousness and godliness are found. I have right standing with God because of Jesus Christ. I stand on that in faith, even when I feel far from God. I allow his love to permeate my life and only then can this lion personality, enneagram type five, be gentle in my pursuit.

Prayer – Lord I love that You tell me, and show me what to do. Reveal to me things that I need to turn away from that I have been deceived about and give me a deeper desire for what You have called me to pursue. I want to live a life pleasing to you and then true koinonia fellowship with You. Help me to always flea evil and pursue You.

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Ministry

  1. Ministry Strong’s G1248 – diakonia
  2. service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others
  3. of those who by the command of God proclaim and promote religion among men
    1. of the office of Moses
    2. of the office of the apostles and its administration
    3. of the office of prophets, evangelists, elders etc.
  4. the ministration of those who render to others the offices of Christian affection esp. those who help meet need by either collecting or distributing of charities
  5. the office of the deacon in the church
  6. the service of those who prepare and present food

There are over 29 verses in the New Testament regarding ministry. So often it’s easy to get caught up in the thought that ministry is done from the pulpit or on special occasions out in the community. Yet, if you look through the passages in the New Testament about ministry, the majority of them are not from “the pulpit.“

  • Martha was ministering through serving while Mary was ministering at Jesus‘s feet.
  • There was the ministry of the disciples, Judas, and Matthias being appointed in his place.
  • There was the distribution of food with the Hebrews and the Hellenist women, the ministry of serving tables.
  • There is the ministry of the Word.
  • The ministry of the gifts of the spirit in service, utterance of wisdom, utterance of knowledge, faith, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discernment of spirits, and speaking in various tongues.
  • There is the ministry of God’s mercy.
  • There is the Ministry of relief for the Saints through giving.
  • There is the ministering of Paul service to the Lord.
  • There’s a ministering spirits to serve for the sake of salvation, which is done by angels.
  • The ministry of service to the Church or brethren.
  • Ministry through testifying to the gospel of grace of God.
  • Service to the saints is a ministry.
  • The ministry of reconciliation.
  • The building of the body as a ministry.
  • Evangelism as a ministry.
  • There was service in the church of Thyatira.
  • There is the service of Paul to the Gentiles as ministry.
  • The gift of serving is a ministry.
  • Service to Jerusalem is a ministry.
  • There’s a ministry of death.
  • There is a ministry of the Spirit.
  • There is a ministry of condemnation.
  • There is the ministry of righteousness.
  • And service of God as a ministry.
  • The ministry of righteousness.
  • And a ministry in service of God.

I often think of ministry as preaching or as the fivefold ministry, but this one little word has many different facets beyond the ministry of Jesus, the disciples, and the fivefold ministry. Serving others physically is ministry serving the needs of others financially his ministry using the gifts of the spirit is ministry God has entrusted us with his ministry angels minister to us ministering to others by building them up these are all ministries

There is something for each of us to do in ministry for God. There is no way to say that we can’t be involved. There’s no reason that we should discount the ministry that we provide just because it doesn’t come from the pulpit or is not part of the fivefold ministry.

Prayer – Lord, help me to value the ministry that You haven’t trusted to me. Help me to not make excuses but to walk in the knowledge that I am serving You. You Word says whatever I do in word or deed, I do unto you. Help me to serve, to minister to the best of my ability.

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Humble Obedience

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John‬ ‭12:3‬ ‭

Anytime I read the story I’m reminded of a time as a child I over sampled some expensive perfume while at Dillard’s. A little smelled good; a lot about drove me and the adult shopping with me nuts. I feel like no amount of washing could take the smell away. Needless to say, I wasn’t allowed to test perfume after that. We still joke about it now many decades later, the fragrant reminder of pouring on perfume.

Going back to the Scripture, I can’t imagine a pound of perfume being poured out. I don’t like feet at all. Then the idea of using my hair to wipe feet, well I just can’t imagine. Yet, here is this woman who so wanted to honor the Lord that she used all of a most expensive perfume. Some commentary say the perfume cost a year’s wages, that it was very rare, and came from a far off country. It’s not like they had Amazon delivery or online shopping. No shopping mall that kept it in stock. No airline, train, or even semi for speedy delivery. There was no factory to mass produce it. To me, these factors makes the perfume even more expensive.

Other thoughts that cross my mind about the scenerio, feet were not in socks or shoes. They would’ve been dusty and dirty. If His feet had been washed when He came in, it would’ve been with a basin of water. There would not likely have been soap and water.

Then there is the hair. I know there is a big push about not washing your hair frequently, right now. However, using hair to wash feet and not having some heavy duty cleanser might be too much for me. Hair is also women’s glory:

but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:15‬ ‭

She said aside her own glory to kneel at the feet of Jesus. She humbled herself and honored Him with this extravagant gift.

As I have read this in the past, my focus has always been on Mary’s extravagant gift. The cost of the perfume. The humbling of herself to kneel at Christ’s feet in the midst of a gathering. Tonight, my thought was more on what it took for her to step out of her comfort zone and wash his feet with her hair and perfume. Maybe the expense was the easier part, I know it would be for me. I would rather give sacrificially from my pocketbook then step out of my comfort zone in obedience. To the Lord though, obedience is better than sacrifice. God wants me to obey His prompting.

The prophet Samuel reminds of this fact when speaking to King Saul who was offering a sacrifice from a place of disobedience. So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22

I never thought about what led up to Mary taking this action; putting herself “out there”. Did she have the same internal debate that tried to stop her, that I struggle with? What was the factor that pushed her into such an extreme act of obedience? Certainly she had thought of how it would appear to others. Yet, she acted despite any precaution her mind might have tried to use against her. Could it be that she was more focused on honoring Christ because of the things He had done in her life? Reclining there with Jesus was Mary’s brother, Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead. She was being intentional with her actions.

There are things in my life that I give verbal honor to God for; do my actions of worship match the intensity of my gratitude? Does it cause me to step out of my comfort zone and into obedience of the things He asks of me? I admit that is a challenge.

Roy T Bennett writes “The comfort zone is a psychological state in which one feels familiar, safe, at ease, and secure. If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones. We have to be honest about what we want and take risks rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.”

The Lord’s yoke is easy. There is safety and security in Him. He will never ask of me something that will not ultimately glorify Him. I have to be willing to let go of my pride and submit to His humble requests. He doesn’t just want my expensive perfume, He wants my humble obedience. Only when I stop making excuses and step out of comfort will I be able to do great things for His Kingdom.

Prayer – Lord, teach me to humble myself before You. To give sacrificially through obedience, not just resources. I want to give You all glory and honor! Amen.

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Abhor Evil

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.Romans‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭‬‬

Genuine love. I have never been someone who wants to pretend love towards someone or to receive it from someone. Even in small things, like when my grandbabies are being a little stinkers and don’t want to give hugs and kisses. For two reasons I am OK with it.

  1. I don’t want forced affection from anyone, especially someone I love.
  2. I want them to know that “no” means “no.” If they don’t want to give me affection, I want them to know it’s OK to tell in adult or anyone else “no.” I want to teach them “their body, their affection, it is theirs to give or not.” They shouldn’t feel pressured. It’s just a good healthy boundary.

I know God gave us the same right. He wants our love for Him to be genuine not out of obligation or force. That isn’t love. It’s one of the reasons that He gave us free choice. He looks at the motive of our heart much more than He looks at our behaviors.

““What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.Matthew‬ ‭21:28-32‬ ‭‬‬

Abhor what is evil. I needed to look up abhor. Strong’s Greek Lexicon G655 – apostygeōtodislike, abhor, have a horror of. While I was there, I looked up evil too. Strong’s Greek Lexicon G4190 – ponērosbad, of a bad nature or condition. I knew that evil was bad, but in the Thayer’s Greek there was a notation that added “having the appearance of”.

God calls us to dislike, have a horror of not just bad things, but also those things that appear to be bad.

It may seem a little silly, but appearance really can have a large impact on our lives. As a teenager, I gained a bad reputation based on the appearance of my actions. It certainly was not helped by the running of my mouth. I figured if people were going talk I might as well add to it. I didn’t have an issue with people thinking bad about me, because I knew the truth.

One of my friend’s mothers thought that I was a bad kid. She made up her mind without little knowledge of who I was. The truth was, I was rather tame compared to most of the group we hung out with, I just didn’t fit her mold. I know comparison is dangerous, so I am only saying that to make the point. For her it was the appearance of bad that she made her judgement around. I never tried to hide my behaviors, or sneak around like most teenagers did.

Here’s the thing, eventually I took on the identity that I had allowed myself to appear to be. It didn’t matter that I really did not like some of the things I was doing. I ended up not living in integrity of what I believed. It was during that time I walked away from the Lord.

Hold fast to what is good. Good and evil have a hard time coexisting. You can’t be both at the same time really. Sin is evil, and while I am made righteous by Christ, I am not good when I am sinning. Choosing to walk in a lifestyle of sin, is evil. It is hard to hold fast to what is good when you are living a life that is or appears evil. God is good, we can and should cling to Him.

Prayer – Lord help me to love genuinely and to receive genuine love. Help me to be in horror of evil and anything that appears evil. Let me clean tightly to what is good. You are good!

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Don’t Give Opportunity

and give no opportunity to the devil”. Ephesians‬ ‭4:27‬ ‭‬‬

I am sure I have read this passage before and certainly heard it in the context of anger. Tonight it really spoke to me from Rick Renner’s book Sparkling Gems “Don’t Give Place to the Devil”. He listed several areas where we leave a place for the enemy to come into our territory. He makes the point that in the Greek language the scripture makes it clear it is a choice we make to give opportunity to the devil.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon. STRONGS NT 5117 – topos – opportunity, power, occasion for acting:

So we give Satan his opportunity, his power, or his occasion for acting based on our choices. It’s no wonder Scripture tells us to take every thought captive. Our thoughts feed into our feelings, and then we act on those feelings.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,”. 2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:5‬ ‭‬‬

Mahatma Gandhi said “beliefs become thoughts, thoughts become words, words become action, actions become habits, habits become values, values become your destiny.” While I’m not sure I agree with Gandhi’s linear thinking, I do agree that thoughts are the starting path to our destiny. When we follow a thought too far it can become a destiny.

I have to be careful where I choose to keep my focus when a thought comes to me. Otherwise I might chase it until I make it true. I don’t want to give power or opportunity to the enemy in my life. I don’t want him acting in my life at all. Too often, I start to blame the enemy instead of just taking back The power I gave to him in the first place.

I have to be careful with areas I take casually. Areas where I have been desensitized by “normal” and easily give him opportunity. It may not look like anger and unforgiveness in my life anymore, but I have to keep guard that I am not opening the door. I think of childhood song “shut the door, keep out the devil.” we used to sing at kid’s camp. I am the only one who can shut the door to giving the enemy access to any of my life.

Prayer – Lord, reveal to me any areas where I have given the devil access or opportunity to my life. Help me to see and have the strength to shut the door. And then Lord’s fill those areas of my life with godly thoughts so there is no room for him when he returns. Amen

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The Cause of Suffering

which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭

Suffer – Lexicon :: Strong’s G3958 – paschōto be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo. 2) in a bad sense, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight (in a bad sense, of misfortunes, to suffer, to undergo evils, to be afflicted)

Paul suffered a lot after his conversion at Damascus. He went from being an influential person persecuting Christians to be in a persecuted leader of Christians. It would be easy in his shoes to question if he was doing the right thing. Spending time in prison for preaching when he was free to murder people before had to be a hard reality. But Paul was sold out for Christ. He wasn’t ashamed of where he was because he trusted God. He knew God will fulfill through him what God has called him too.

How much of my calling have I given up when things got tough?

Do I recognize the attack of the enemy is because of the calling God has placed on my life?

Do I cower back ashamed at the attacks because I think they somehow to find my destiny?

Is my trust in God or where I think I should be?

Do I understand that it is God’s plan, His will, and if I stay with Him, though the journey may not be easy, the enemy can’t stop me?

Do I realize that I am the only one who can stop myself from completing what God has entrusted to me?

Do I recognize that only in quitting can the enemy win?

God guards what He entrusts to His children and He is not going to let the enemy have it. That was true when Paul wrote these words, and it is still true today.

Prayer – Lord, I repent I feel like I have given up too easily on many of the passions You have placed in my heart. I have been like a ship without a captain tossed about by the waves. I admit that I also feel a little beat up by the journey. I know I have likely floated off course. But Lord I do know and I believe in You. I trust You and know that You are able to guard everything that You have placed inside of me. I recognize I’ve done a poor job of trying to guard things myself. So Lord I ask You to help me get back on Your path. Guide me back to those God-given passions and show me what You would have me to do. Guide me and help me obey Your voice. I am trusting You and I am not ashamed.

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For His Sake

““I, I alone, am the one who wipes out your wrongdoings for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.Isaiah‬ ‭43:25‬ ‭‬‬

It is for God’s sake that He blots out our transgressions and forgives our sin. It is His choice so that we can have fellowship with Him.

In the natural, it is hard for me to have fellowship with someone when there is something off in our relationship. I want to get it resolved so that I can connect in a real and meaningful way. I do whatever I can to resolve that off feeling. It doesn’t matter to me if I am wrong, or have been wronged. I just want to get it out of the way and move forward.

I know some people don’t want the conflict. They have a hard to addressing wrongs. I’m not one to walk on egg shells or dance around an elephant in the room. I desire for things to be addressed, if not for the sake of a relationship, for my own sake. I want the peace. Christ died for me to have it and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,”. ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:18‬ ‭‬‬

He wants us to be in unity with each other.

being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.Ephesians‬ ‭4:3‬ ‭‬‬

How much more is it for a perfect God to want to resolve things so He can have fellowship with us? He wanted it so much that He sent His son, Jesus to blot out our transgressions. He chooses not to remember our sin, for His sake. So He can have fellowship with us. What an amazing thought!

Prayer – Lord, thank You for desiring a relationship with me, so much that You sent Jesus to wipe out my transgressions. You didn’t want anything to keep me from relationship with You. Thank You for choosing to not remember my sins, so that I can stay in a relationship with you! Remind me that it is because of who You are, for Your sake that I have this benefit so that I will not allow my actions to keep me from coming to You. In Jesus name. amen.

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Haze of Confusion

Driving south on I-25, the mountains were wrapped in haze. It created a mirage that had me questioning if I needed to get my eyes checked again. The layered mountains had a depth that made it look like they were moving as I traveled towards them. When I got to my destination my husband, who was in another vehicle, explained to me that it was from the fires in Arizona. There was nothing wrong with my eyesight.

The world around me often has a haze of confusion that causes me to question what I really believe. Based on the news channel I watch I can get one side of a story that has me fully convinced into that line of thinking. When I watch another, it is an opposing view that is also convincing. I find it very easy to argue either side of the story, and yet find myself questioning what is the Truth.

Regardless of the haze in this world, there is always one place I can go for the Truth. The Word of God will never leave me questioning my sight.

for we walk by faith, not by sight—
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭‬‬

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John‬ ‭17:17‬ ‭‬‬

“Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭‬‬

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John‬ ‭1:14‬ ‭‬‬

“So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”” John‬ ‭8:31-32‬ ‭‬‬

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭3:18‬ ‭‬‬

I can walk in faith in what the Word of God says. Jesus is the Truth. The truth sanctifies. The Truth sets us free. The Truth is love. Maybe this should be our test for what we hear in the world around us before we receive it as truth.

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Journey to Acceptance

I remember the first time someone told me that I had low self-esteem. I was sitting in my pastor’s office with my spouse. I didn’t want to be there, I was hurt. I wanted out, out of the room, out of the marriage, out of the moment. I wasn’t there to hear about m; I was there for permission to leave. Instead, I was met with a truth that my heart was tender enough to hear in the moment. It was the start of exploring things I had buried deep inside. The beginning of self reflection, soul searching. I started to allow God to bring healing that I didn’t know I even needed.

Fast forward ten years, I thought I had learned a lot about who I was by this point. I had taken most of the tests, read a lot of books, journaled a lot of reflections. I had made a lot of peace with myself, my marriage, my lot in life. Little did I know, I had barely scratched the surface. Looking back, it is easy for me to understand why God only shows one step at a time. I might have turned and ran had I known all that I would uncover and work through as I began my journey.

It was about the time that I faced a rejection that blew the world I knew apart. Again I was hurt, someone had taken my dream, a God given heart dream, and used it to worm their way into my life. I thought I could trust her. I ignored the warning from others; then I found out they were all part of the rejection. It was an attack on my integrity and flat out lies. It was a month before I knew the truth about what was said and learned the web of lies that were created.

I can own my faults, sometimes it may take a minute, but God and I both know I am far from perfect. I don’t and won’t claim to be. I didn’t cause this rejection, and it was a personal attack. My initial reaction after the hurt, was self pity. I let that play for a few days. Then I moved into defense. I wrote out pages of self-defense. Eventually I deleted most of it. I knew at my core, God was my defender. I was wronged, not wrong. The facts I presented won, and on the surface level, I felt vindicated.

On a deeper level, God was revealing some old wounds that the current rejection had burst open. I needed some deeper truth that would only come from God. I started exploring the roots of rejection in my life. Feelings of rejection that I didn’t even know existed. God was not only able to show me the root of rejection in my life, but was able to bring healing. He showed me the reason behind my perceived rejection as a child, and showed me His divine protection through it all.

Before doing my soul searching, I would have described my childhood as messed up, but would not have said rejected. Behind my oldest brother who was “the golden child,” I was a favored child. He was ten years older than me; my memories of his role was spoiling me with gifts when he went into the military. Despite feeling rejection (that I now understand as God’s protection) as a child, I never owned it.

I didn’t identify the rejection because I have an amazing cousin, that shielded me from that by favoring me. I have brief glimpses of feeling rejected, surrounded my years of memories of being loved and included intentionally. As the youngest child, I was spoiled by my cousin, my brother, and my grandmother.

As a teenager, despite some thoughts of rejection, my siblings identified me as spoiled because the rules never applied to me. I wasn’t looking at the rejection, just the freedom I wanted and was able to have because my parents were too busy. It is hard to feel rejected when you are favored and spoiled. That is not to say I didn’t internalize the rejection; it just didn’t control my conscious thought.

Of course, God’s healing of the wound did not change the years I spent learning how to protect myself from rejection. I had built many walls that would have to come down. Walls that not only kept me from getting hurt, they kept others from getting too close to me. I also had fine tuned the art of pushing people away before they could reject me. I had sealed my heart so tightly, I couldn’t feel. I only knew love for my family and anger. I could put on some surface emotions, but they couldn’t be played too long. I am not good at fake.

God has been working on those walls, feelings, and drawing me into relationships for about nine years now. Relationships are hard when you haven’t had to make a new one for a long time. Even harder, when trust feels severed at the core of the one place you should be able to trust, Christian relationships. I grew up where church was my safe place, a series of hurts had me feeling guarded there too.

My childhood friends had passed away or we drifted apart as our lives took different paths. I had been in relationship with coworkers prior to the rejection, but had spent years in close contact with them. It is hard not to develop a relationship with people you are around for the majority of every day for years. Those are people who can speak into my life. God blessed me through most of my jobs to connect me with people who are genuine, dependable, and truthful.

I had my family. Honestly, I have always been content to be surrounded by family. Whether immediate or extended, it didn’t matter. Even when the extension is ex’s and in-laws. It’s all family to me, regardless of which family member they are or where they attach to my family. These are the people who really get to know me.

About that time, God brought a couple women in my life that really saw me through some tough transitions. Even if at times, I didn’t know how important they were in keeping me on a healthy path. As I was allowing God to bring healing, my life was being shaken on every front. In a three year period, I lost my job. I spent three months unemployed. We had our house foreclosed on. My mother went from assisted living, to nursing home as her health and dementia worsened, and then passed away. My son moved across the country to follow his now wife. I became an empty nester as my youngest graduated high school. I became a grandmother. My church split, twice. A core of four ladies, carried me more that I let them know. They accepted me despite my faults.

I also drew closer to God during this time. Outside of my mother, God and my spouse are where I turned when things are tough. My husband, like me, doesn’t do the emotion thing. He can be a great listener, but he don’t know what to do when he can’t fix what is wrong. Neither of us knew how to handle this new emotional me, so I learned to take my emotions to God. I didn’t like to cry in front of anyone else, I knew God could handle my weakness. I pressed in to Him, like I had during other difficult times in my life.

This week as I sat in our women’s Bible study, I saw all of this laid before me. We are doing a study by June Hunt, combining her books on Rejection and Self-Worth. We were talking about rejection. I admit much of what is said in the book, I don’t relate to; I didn’t identify rejection as something I struggled with until I was an adult. I am not someone who needs the approval of others. God reminded me of the past fifteen years. I can see the journey of acceptance that God took me on to bring healing even when I didn’t realize I needed it.

As I was reading, I identified with one statement in the fear of rejection list. As an adult, I consider myself shy and unsociable around others. I will talk if engaged or if I feel comfortable, but otherwise I stay introverted, especially in a group. When I allow myself to be sensitive to the Spirit, I will speak up; I have learned it is better to be uncomfortable in the minute than to stay comfortable in the moment and live with regret. I don’t remember when the switch occurred, or maybe I was a good actor growing up; my mom used to say I didn’t know a stranger. I am not sure shy would have even been in my vocabulary.

Then the book moved on to the classic symptoms of those who have been rejected in the past and as a result have a fear a future rejection. The list reminded me of things from the past, or areas where God is still working.

Anxiety – I have a real apprehension when someone says trust me. I smile even as I type this because when I first met my husband “trust me” was part of something he said all the time. I did learn to trust him, even though the rest of his saying proved false. In 2015, God really began to show me how my younger self had deceived even my thoughts towards Him. The first tied to this was about trust. That was another thing that really rocked me, because I always knew despite everything I have walked through, my faith was solid after I came back to the Lord following my best friend’s death. I didn’t recognize the difference between faith and trust.

Distressed – I can’t really trust others not to desert me. My father was arrested when I was in 1st grade. He was out of the home for some time following. My brother joined the military when I was eight. Death entered my life early. I lost my grandfather and great-grandmother when I was young. Family was always a big part of my life. I was eight when my best childhood friend died. I didn’t understand that them leaving was not personal.

Flat emotions – My heart is so deeply hurt that I can’t seem to feel excited about anything. Being happy and being angry were the only emotions I remember being free to express as a child. When you are hurting and can’t express it, it becomes anger. I was a very angry person, and could explode easily as everything else was flat. Excitement very rarely looks like I feel inside, because I don’t want to be disappointed if whatever I am excited about doesn’t happen. My grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, tend to bring out excitement in me, but even then it is generally short-lived. It’s interesting that I can help others get in touch with their emotions and have no problems with sitting with others in their emotions, yet, have a hard time identifying my own and I really have to have some time to process how I am feeling before I can sit with them.

Self-pity – I’m always ignored. No one reaches out to me. This one I admit I still sometimes struggle with. People call me when they need something, and I am always happy to help or connect them to the resource they need. I feel like very few people just check in or ask me to go do something. I realize part of that is me, I tend to need a structured schedule and I don’t really put myself out there as someone who needs connection. Most of the time I don’t, but there are times when I really want that, even though I find it hard to do myself.

Withdrawal – I’m not willing to be vulnerable again. This is another one that God has to really check me on. I know that making connections requires being vulnerable. I don’t have it all together, and pretending I do doesn’t help those who are walking where I have already been. I find it easier to be vulnerable one on one, and if there is something I have to offer that can encourage the person in front of me. Being vulnerable isn’t comfortable. That risk of rejection intensifies when I am vulnerable. Again, I have learned that being uncomfortable in the minute is far more comfortable then living in the feeling of regret and like I have disappointed God for not being obedient.

Then the book moved on to outer signs of rejection. While I’ve overcome many of those things, I can see where God was working on me in His timing to bring healing, even before He showed me the root of rejection that was in my life. Some areas He is still working, He has to move slowly with me because I can be stubborn.

Addiction – seeking solace and addictive behavior and effort to numb your pain. This is an area where, again I never defined my addiction. I was smoking and drinking almost daily in my early teenage years, I was popping pills and smoking pot most weekends. I had almost stopped those behaviors completely when someone shared their addiction story and I found myself relating to every part of their life. Even now though, I recognize that I have an addiction to food. I am able to see the unhealthy relationship I have with food and that I tend to turn to food as a comforter instead of God.

Arrogance – acting superior to others. I have been accused of being arrogant. As a teenager I used to say “I’m not conceited, just convinced.” It was a super arrogant statement, one I honestly am not sure I believed. In my heart, I believe all people are equal. There are times when God has to check my thoughts when I get into the comparison trap. I can start to get a little self-righteous until God gives me that reality check.

Competitive – assuming I have to be the best. I was in my undergraduate studies when someone pointed out how competitive I am. It took me aback for a bit, but as they shared I was able to see the truth in their comment. I am the parent who never let my children, nieces or nephews, and/or grandchildren win, unless they could do it in their own right.

Critical spirit – being condescending towards others. This one is probably the hardest to admit. I have to be careful of my tone as sometimes my personality still comes off as condescending. I can easily find the strengths in others, but I have been critical of those closest to me. God has taught me to keep my mouth shut. He has bound the critical spirit and allowed His Spirit to help me see others through His eyes.

Defensive – arguing with others for self protection. I have a knack for arguing. If I am in the mood, I will argue just to argue. I will defend a point I really don’t care about, just for argument’s sake. I never saw it as self-protection. I still remember standing in the entry way of my house, completely engaged in an argument with my spouse. Not audibly, but I knew God was telling me to shut my mouth. I admit while I was silent to my spouse, I was definitely giving God an earful. There was a shift in my marriage that day. Not that I don’t still have to catch myself, but I have learned to pick my battles.

Isolation – becoming a loner as a means of self protection. Again, I am not sure when this really took hold in my life. After I got pregnant, I left most of my friends behind because I wasn’t going to continue the lifestyle I lived. I transferred schools and was younger than all my classmates. As my children got older, there were not parents my age. Those who were my age didn’t have kids or had babies. And those who had kids my kids age, generally had other kids my age. I was older than most of my classmates in college. I was younger than most of my peers. I didn’t know where I fit in and at some point I stopped trying to find my place.

Legalism – complying with the rigid rules based on black-and-white thinking. I recognize black-and-white thinking as a cognitive distortion. I didn’t think of it as legalism, yet it was engrained in my thinking. I thought I had to be at every service if the church doors were opened. I thought that if I didn’t ready my Bible every day I disappointed God. I lived by these rigid rules, legalism had a stronghold in my life. When I traveled for work, I made sure I went to a church. If I got off work late, I pushed myself to make sure I didn’t miss service. When I heard a message that was disrespectful to be late, I would struggle because I couldn’t miss services and I couldn’t be late. This also played into the next outer sign.

Perfectionism feeling like a failure unless you do everything perfectly. I remember walking out of a job because I did not feel like I could do it 100%. I felt like if I couldn’t do it perfectly, I couldn’t do it at all. I didn’t quit, but I really had to have a reality check that I was never going to be perfect in any job. I have to allow God to change my point of view, because that thought immobilized me more times than I can count.

Performance-based acceptance – believing your acceptance is based only on how well you perform. I remember when God showed me that I had a work’s based mentality. I knew that God loved me. However, my actions showed that I felt like if I did certain things God would be able to accept me.

Undisciplined – lacking self control and boundaries around others. I don’t have an issue with boundaries, if anything I can be a bit legalistic when it comes to my boundaries. On the outside I can appear to be very disciplined because I operate in a structured routine. When I get out of that routine, it is hard for me to stay disciplined. There are things that I know I should be doing – writing, exercising, eating better, where my lack of self-control shows. I haven’t found the routine that has helped me stay disciplined in these areas.

June Hunt’s book on Rejection then talks about the reactions against God. She writes sometimes people who have been rejected rely on self protection and deny the protection of God. I look at the walls that I built knowing that it was because I did not trust that God could protect me from the hurt of rejection. That breaks my heart because I now know God as my Protector. I see His hand throughout my life. I see His protection, even if I couldn’t see it in the moment. It didn’t always look like I thought it should, but He was always there.

They rebel against the Word of God. I was raised in church. From age two, I steadily had the Word of God planted in my life. I was eight years old when I accepted Christ as my Savior. I still remember the first time I walked away from Him. I was a teenager and saw the hypocrisy of church leaders saying one thing and doing another. I wanted no part of it. For about five years, I rebelled, I ran. I did everything I knew was on the “don’t list.” When I came back, I still walked in rebellion, living with one foot in the world and one foot in the church. I wanted to believe, but I wanted proof. When I believed for my father’s healing and he died anyway, my faith was crushed. I walked away again. It wasn’t until I learned about a personal relationship with the Living Word that I was able to surrender to Him and start applying the Word that had already been planted in my life. He continues to grow me in His Word.

They resist the thought of trusting God. I mentioned above and shared in a previous blog the journey God took me on around trust. It was a resistance that I didn’t even know existed. It wasn’t until I was alone in prayer during my first Journey retreat, working through The Prayer Cottage and the Sacred Garden that God opened my heart to my issue with trusting Him. Learning that faith and trust are not the same thing. I had faith God could, I just didn’t trust that He would for me. Again, my life abounds with God showing me that He would, that I could trust Him, but I allowed the earthly example I had to taint that trust in God.

They recoil from true fellowship with God. I grew up knowing of God, but I was into adulthood before I really knew God and could fellowship with Him. God had changed a lot in me life, but I wasn’t sure about the idea of Him really having input into my daily life. Although I started my journey well before I ever learned of The Journey process, I really understood fellowship when I had my first retreat. I thought five to ten minutes of prayer was good, I had no idea what to do with myself for an extended prayer time. Allowing God to fellowship back with me was a new experience. I walked away from that day with a deeper desire to stay in fellowship with Him.

These are all thoughts that flooded my mind in a brief moment as I sat in the women’s meeting. I was physically present, but God had taken me on a journey of acceptance. He reminded me if the things that He had carried me through. He was able to show me how I had buried that process and how allowing myself to see it all could help others see that He accepts them also. God wants relationship with His children. He wants us to trust Him even when we don’t feel like we can trust people. He accepts us, even when we can’t accept ourselves and feel like no one else can either. He wants to show us that when we obey His Word, He will take all our pain from past rejections and hurts and lead us into a life of fellowship with Him and others. He wants to take all of us on that journey of acceptance.

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True Value

Last night at Bible Study, we were talking again about “Kintsugi, also known as kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold (Wikipedia).” It is a beautiful analogy of our lives with Christ and how He uses our brokenness for His glory as we share our testimony infused with His grace.

I was pondering that picture this morning, and realized what we have been given is even more valuable than gold. He infuses us with faith, He doesn’t waste anything, and He never fails. We we really get that truth, the value He places in us can’t help but shine through.

Scars produce Faith According to the American as Academy of Dermatology Association, scars naturally form when our body heals from an injury. When we injure the deeper layers of our skin, cells make collagen to repair the wound. Because your body makes this collagen quickly, it’s thicker and less flexible than the rest of your skin. The thicker, less flexible tissue is a scar.

When our wounds were created, often times we left the infection to fester as we attempt to “heal ourself.” When we allow God to work in those wounded places, yes, those wounds get opened back up. It can be painful as He pulls out all the muck that has been festering just under the skin. He cleanses the wounds. When He is finished though His DNA is infused into the cells that are repairing our wound. Our faith is increased, because we see and know the work that God has done in our very own life. The thicker, less flexible scar protects us from the darts of the enemy that will come and try to reopen those old wounds.

From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Galatians‬ ‭6:17‬ ‭‬‬

above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” Ephesians‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭‬‬

God uses Everything -We are God’s chosen vessels. I have shared this on Facebook before, but I purchased a small Seed Spreader from a local tribal member. She explained to me that they are usually much bigger, the hole is bigger and the seed are placed inside and this tool is used to scatter the seeds for planting. Moisture gets in and some of the seeds germinate. When the season is over the pot is busted to loose the new plants that germinated. The broken pieces are ground down and used to make a new pot. I love how they didn’t waste anything, it’s a beautiful picture.

God doesn’t waste anything either. He plants seeds, and while they don’t always grow where they should, they are still available when we reach that brokenness. God is even able to use our brokenness. I love that picture and that I will have a reminder of that during this season. I don’t know what He will make out of the brokenness, but I know He will.

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.Jeremiah‬ ‭18:4‬ ‭‬‬

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭‬‬

He Never Fails – He is faithful to His promises. His love is unconditional. His grace is new every morning, and it empowers us to do what we can not on our own. His forgiveness is our example to extend forgiveness to others. When we allow His love, grace and forgiveness to piece us back together, those same attributes are displayed to the world around us as He shines through is. He is faithful to His children.

And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.Luke‬ ‭16:17‬ ‭‬‬

Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.” Psalms‬ ‭89:33‬ ‭‬‬

Love never fails...”. ‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭‬‬

Brokenness and wounds don’t have to be permanent with God. He will use our past to build our faith. He is not surprised by our brokenness, but can use every part we give to Him to help us and others. He infuses our life with His love, grace and forgiveness. He will not fail to finish what He has started. The truth is, He finished it at the cross.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭‬‬

Our value isn’t always seen by the world. They may see the outward brokenness, the scars, and the pain and discard us as not valuable. The truth is there is nothing that can be done to us that can change our value. There is nothing that can be said about us or to us that can change the Truth of our value to God as His children. There is nothing that we can do to change our value. Our value comes from the price that has already been paid for us. Our value comes from our Creator, our Savior, and no one and nothing can take that away.

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