Monday, February 19, 2018

For When You're Haunted By Endless Guilt & Shame

If you've done the Christian life for any length of time, it's no big surprise to you that the enemy of our souls prowls around like the ferocious evil beast he is.  

Looking to push our buttons, trip us up, eat us alive, his goal is to render us useless for the victorious kingdom life we've been called to live.  And he'd love to get his merciless hooks into us so deep that we end up completely sidelined, wholly absorbed in the ungodly mess we've made along the way, and distracted from the essential work we've been gifted to do for Christ.

We know he loves to tempt us into falling head over heels into sin, shaking our fists in the face of God as we flagrantly disobey those ten commandments.  The enemy is a vicious liar from the pit of hell and in that role he loves to twist even the loveliest gifts, even just subtly, into something ungodly.

But I believe that two of his big guns are the lies of guilt and shame.  

I'm not talking about the clear cut conviction of the Holy Spirit and the deep remorse that comes when we realize how we have sinned against the One who ransomed us.

I'm talking about the nebulous feelings that come over us like big wet blankets.  The enemy whispers or shouts, depending on his pleasure, hissing in the most evil of tones.  His insidious lies weigh us down, immobilize us, and keep us stuck in a pit that seems to suck us deeper and deeper into self-condemnation and loathing.

We get lost in the ugly mire of woulda / coulda / shoulda's, defining ourselves by everything negative we've ever said or done instead of defining ourselves by our Savior.  We become great big losers in our own eyes, hopelessly fixated on our past screw-ups, weighed down by our accumulation of cumbersome baggage ... instead of focusing on the One who paid the priceless penalty for all our sin.

What a waste of the precious time and energy we've been given.

The more in love we are with God, the quicker we'll be able to discern when the Spirit is clearly putting His powerful finger on specific sins in our lives.  And those are the times we we need to own our stuff.  Experience the remorse, confessing every detail of the choices we've made to the One who longs to see us unshackled.  Ask for and receive the so desperately yearned for forgiveness.  Make amends.

And then be on our way forward.

Free as a bird.  Soaring high.  Doing the work He's called us to do.  Aiming for the heights of heaven's glory.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
- Galatians 5:1  



Thursday, February 15, 2018

Invitation to Solitude & Silence * Book Open House #3

Welcome back to the Book Open House, friends.  Grab your copy of Invitation to Solitude & Silence ... or just consider the selected paragraphs from chapters 5 and 6 below.

And if you've got time, pour yourself a mug of something warm, put your feet up, and peek in on the follow-up discussions from the first two sessions.  Good stuff awaits you there.  The links are at the bottom of the post.  And it's not too late for you to jump on in to either conversation.

Love that you're here.  Love that this series is speaking into your life.  Love doing community with you. 

Chapter 5 - Rest for the Body
At first giving attention to my body in the context of solitude and silence felt uncomfortable and embarrassing, and I resisted it mightily.  I resisted not only because it didn't seem very spiritual {and I was into feeling spiritual} but also because I didn't like what I saw.  In addition to the more obvious symptoms of exhaustion, I started to become aware of the way I carried tension in my shoulders, the way I "forgot" to breathe when I was nervous or unsure or uptight, the way the cares and concerns of the day kept me awake at night because I don't know how to rest in God, the way certain activities energized me and others left me inordinately drained.  I wasn't sure what to do with what I was noticing.

Chapter 6 - Rest for the Mind
The human mind is perpetually busy trying to control things, trying to figure things out, clinging to the latest idea, grasping at the nearest straw.  It works very hard trying to make sense of things by endlessly seeking to put everything into categories and boxes and systems of thought.  Sometimes even God himself gets relegated to a category or a box in my mind rather than being free to be God in my life.  It seems that my mind will go to great lengths to fix things, control things and defend against anything that would disrupt my carefully constructed equilibrium.

Grab your keyboard and let's start talking ...


Beyond Words

Dangerously Tired



Monday, February 12, 2018

Here's 7 Ways You Can Show More Respect At Home

I've got a huge thing with disrespect.

I've made my peace with the personal and professional situations that have made this such a bugaboo for me.  But I must confess that it grinds my gears when I see another soul treated unkindly.  In the workplace, in the political realm, in the church, the schoolyard, wherever.

And how sad that families who claim to love each other deeply can be so incredibly disrespectful of each other in their own homes ... sometimes blatantly, often more subtly, passive aggressively.

I'm in no way giving myself a pass on this one.

For while we might be delightful and sweet as pie to those we rub shoulders outside our four walls, it's just too easy to take out our weariness, discouragements, disappointments, and frustrations on those we love most.  Instead of choosing to speak what's true with love and respect, we're prone to be impatient.  Maybe a bit snarky and snide.  Rude.  Critical.  And sometimes just plain unkind.

This is hardly a compelling invitation to deeper relationship.

'Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered' 
{1 Corinthians 13:4 - 5}.

We all need a safe place to fall, a secure arena where we're fully accepted and appreciated for who we truly are.  In a world gone mad with disrespect, our dwellings should be havens of kindness where all who call those four walls 'home' ... spouses, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, friends ... find themselves loved, cherished, heard, safe.

And respected. 

So what might this look like?
{I am using the word *him* to avoid the awkward *him/her/they*}

1.  You are fully present.
When you discern that he'd really like to connect, you step away from your screens or your endless to-do list.  You build trust by being still as he speaks, looking straight at him, gently tracking and listening closely not only to his words but the underlying cry of his heart.

2.  You do not butt in.
You refuse to throw your two cents in every time he takes a breath, instead giving him the quiet gift of listening well, giving him full permission to be a verbal processor as he sorts through what's on his heaping plate.

3.  You are non-judgmental.
You are grace-filled and don't minimize or brush off his concerns.  You don't morph into judge and jury at the first opportunity.

4.  You don't lecture.
You don't preach, lob Scripture at him, or toss pat answers his way.  You discern when to offer words of encouragement or direction, and ask permission before going there.

5.  You don't use humor as a weapon.
You don't put him down ... to his face or behind his back.  You refuse to make jokes at his expense or use his idiosyncrasies and frailties as conversation starters with others.

6.  You refrain from sharing details of personal stories with others unless you've been given permission.
This would include the world of social media, prayer requests at Bible Study, and random conversations with friends. 

7.  You set the tone for kindness and respect by quickly owning your slip-ups, asking for forgiveness, and making amends.

What would you add to this list?

P.S. #1  
I'm not talking about domestic abuse in this post.  If you're not sure what domestic abuse is, click here to go to The National Domestic Abuse Hotline.  Their number is 1.800.799.7233.

P.S. #2
Visit Leslie Vernick's exceptional website for wise 'relationship truth unfiltered.'  She also has a site dedicated to pastors, church leaders, and counselors right here.  Her books The Emotionally Destructive Relationship and The Emotionally Destructive Marriage are must-haves on the bookshelves of every people helper.