Love, not sacrifice

Since time immemorial people have sacrificed to God, or their version of Him.  But did you know that God wants steadfast love, rather than sacrifices?  He told it to Israel in Hosea 6:6 and Jesus confirmed it in Matthew 9:12.

When the King walked the Earth He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Matthew 9:12

Hosea 6-6

What did He mean by desiring mercy, not sacrifice?  Was it because He wanted a free response from us, not one given under compulsion?

Have you ever given to people because you have felt pressured to, or because you can’t say no?  A yes said compulsively, fearfully, angrily, resentfully, feeling like someone’s prisoner, is not a free yes.

Then you have to hide behind a mask because you don’t have boundaries and you don’t have love.

“Compliants take on too many responsibilities and set too few boundaries – not by choice, but because they are afraid.” – Taken from the book “Boundaries”

Compassionate people are compliant from the inside out.  Sacrificial people are compliant on the outside, and resentful on the inside.

God desires our yes to be yes, and our no to be no.  Only in having boundaries are we able to do this.  The best thing we can give to others, besides love, is boundaries.

What did I do with what I learned?  My book tells the story.  Most of the material for this subject comes from the book “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

The way that is blameless

A child that lives with criticism, learns to condemn. It’s from a poem “Lessons from life” by Ronald Russell and also in a poem called “Children learn what they live.

Constant criticism and verbal abuse are devastating for a child.  It eats away with at their self-worth and undermines their self-confidence.   He or she will grow up under-valuing or even hating themselves.

When I grew up, I continued speaking to myself with my parent’s words.  I believed them, condemned myself for my mistakes, and “shoulded” on myself.

lessons1971

The Lord restores souls.  He wanted my future to be better than my past.

He gave me the words to Psalm 101,

“I will walk in my house with blameless heart.”

What do you think a person who has grown up with criticism and verbal abuse will think when they read that?

I pulled back from Him saying I couldn’t BE perfect, know matter how much I wanted to be.  He made me look up what “blameless” means.

Blameless means to be without culpability, fault, guilt, incrimination.  When I realised what God really wanted when He said “blameless,” it set me free and gave me hope for the future.

Have you been hurt by harsh words growing up?  If you have had death spoken over you by a parent or authority figure, Christ wants to set you free.

I want you to know that in Christ there is no condemnation.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1

May you walk in your house with a heart free from blame.

Blessed_are_the_blameless

Out of the storm

Job 38-1Have you ever asked, “Where is God?” 

Lt. Dan in the movie Forrest Gump certainly did, asking Forrest “where’s this God of yours then?” Forrest remarked, “Its really funny that Lt. Dan said that, because right then, God showed up.”  I like the scene because this puny man is having a big fight with God.

“You lift me up to the wind and cause me to ride; And You dissolve me in a storm.”  Job 30:22

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 God must have answered Lt. Dan in the storm because when it ended, he was at peace, a changed man.

Sometimes, God’s answer is in the storm.  There is a scripture that says “Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm.  Job 38:1″  

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That’s how it happened for me.   I wasn’t as defiant as Lt. Dan, but emotionally I felt just as amputated.

The question “where was God?” caused friction with one of my friends, but its a question I had to ask.  It is okay to question and ask God where He was.  We’ve got to be real.

Some years ago, I had my own storm.  I wasn’t able to call God “Father”, just Lord.   I believe the word “Father” has a lot more trust in it than “Lord”.  Finally, I asked God “Where were you when my only brother died?”

His answer is in my book.

After God answered, I had peace, just like Lt. Dan.  Now I am able to call Him Father.

Sometimes the Lord calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms the soul.

Comma, comma, comma,,,, chameleon?

Alpha and exploring the meaning of life

In the next chapter of the Kingdom, I went to an Alpha course with my friend “White Flower”, to further explore the meaning of life and our Christian faith. 

Bear Grylls recommends Alpha.  You don’t have to be a Christian to go to Alpha, although you will probably encounter the Lord while doing the course, if you haven’t already met Him.  The churches running Alpha make all explorers feel very welcome.

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To conform, or transform?

On our last night of Alpha, this is what we were taught;

Monarch chrysalis“There are two types of Christian; the chrysalis and the chameleon. The chrysalis is completely transformed, whereas the chameleon merely changes colour to suit its surroundings.  Make a new start, let God transform you inwardly by a complete change.” 

I had always found safety in conforming.  I would stare out from my camouflage at a world of hurt.  Finally, I came to a place where I had to choose what I was going to be.

Conforming would have been the safe option, but I would have stayed a chameleon.

My transformation happened in steps.

First, the cocoon.  God had been teaching me about boundaries.  Now He wanted me to enforce them.   Transforming myself felt scary and dangerous, but I had to do it if I was to leave behind the things that harmed me.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

So when it came to the last question in Alpha, how can I make the most of the rest of my life?   I had to decide whether to be a chameleon, or a chrysalis, whether to use camouflage, or a cocoon, whether to conform, or transform.

My story about that is told in my book.

Comma comma comma Chameleon

An attack of FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt)

I have struggled with unbelief, particularly in the early days, even after I found the Lord and heard what He’d promised me.  On one particular occasion, the Lord dealt with my lack of trust and reminded me of the promise He’d made.  

The story is told in my book.

I think we all struggle with doubt, especially when the Lord is silent.  I copied this Word for the Day from Radio Rhema NZ, that I received around the same time I had the FUD attack.  It helped me, and it may help you or someone you know who is trying to recover from a destructive relationship.  If this helps, God bless, I know what its like and I’m blogging for you.

Rebuilding Trust

When your trust is violated, you become distrustful and you start questioning in areas you never did before.  Sometimes you can’t receive the very love you need because in defense your wounded spirit vows, “Nobody will every do that to me again.”  The real damage is not what you went through, but what you’re left with: terrible doubt.  The woman at the well had been through five broken relationships, and when she met Jesus she didn’t know that He was different.  He had to take down her defenses or she’d have missed that greatest thing that ever happened to her.

Jesus is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).  Even though you can’t go back, He can.  He can turn on the lights in those dark places and break the chain that binds you to memory.  “The former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17).  You don’t have to wait until you get to heaven to experience this; He can do it for you now.  But you’ll never experience a moment of what He’s promised until you learn to trust again.  Trust God, and trust the people He sends to bless you.  Yes, you’ll be disappointed.  Don’t look for perfect treatment from imperfect people.  You’ll get lots of practice in forgiving, but that’s the Christian life.

The people God can use the most are those who have been made whole in wounded places and strengthened in broken places.  Ask Him to help you take down the wall of fear and learn to trust again.

Do you want it more than you are afraid of it?

I’d been working ever since I was seventeen and decided on a change of career after my children were born.  I spent their early years studying part time for a career in IT, while working part time as a teller at a Credit Union and part time as a Science Technician at a College . 

I was a part time this and a part time that, and a full-time Mum.  In the year after I qualified, a job came up for a Systems Engineer.  After two interviews I found I also had to sit an IQ test.

I nearly talked myself out of the job there and then.  I’d sat a similar test at the same place, the only programming shop in town, 15 years before and failed.  I didn’t want to go there again, but the Lord reminded me of what I had read in a book called ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale.

“Whatever you’re doing, give it all you’ve got.  Give every bit of yourself.  Hold nothing back.  Life cannot deny itself to the person who gives life his all.  Throw your heart over your difficulty, throw your affirmation over every barrier, throw your visualization over your obstacles.  Throw your heart over the bar and your body will follow.

I’d never get another opportunity like it, so I ran at it with all my might.  This time I passed the test ahead of all the other applicants and won the job.

That was the first hurdle over.  I overcame my fear of failure.

My advice for the first hurdle is don’t let life say no to you.  Have another go.

In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure,  – Bill Cosby.

The next hurdle was starting the job and finding I’d been given the workplace bully as a mentor.  I wish I could say I sailed over that hurdle too, and put her in her place.  I didn’t.  I didn’t confront her because abuse was familiar to me, and I needed whatever scraps of knowledge she would grudgingly give.  I did not overcome my fear of man (Chapter 30 starts this part of the story).

We ran into each other recently, which was quite a surprise as we live in different cities and haven’t seen each other in years.  I’ve moved on.  With God’s help and a big push from Him, I gained a Diploma of Business, and now have my own business which has been running for seven years.

Still weighing and assessing me, she could see I am happy, secure and confident.  She’s still in the same big company, worried about redundancy and her mortgage, and can’t imagine working for herself.  I’d say I’ve got a lot further in life without scorning people or throwing them under the bus at work.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Proverbs 3:34

Proverbs-3:34

So for the second hurdle – workplace bullying, keep calm, and believe in yourself.  Its not about you, the bully is the one who is insecure.  Nothing they say about you is true.  If you’re stuck with the bully, stand your ground and confront them.  If you can.  If you can’t, learn how to assert yourself or leave them behind, because they’re never going to stop.  Is your desire for success greater than your fear?

Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it. – Bill Cosby.

In-order-to-succeed-your-desire-for-success-should-be-greater-than-your-fear-of-failure

The seven deadly sins

Two years ago, my son moved home with his cat Shadow, who he had rescued from the mean streets of our old home town.  When he first adopted Shadow, the cat was skinny, scared, and pathetic.  Shadow’s trust in us has grown with his weight. 

Now he’s a big fat cat who lolls around on his back doing nothing all day.  I’ve pointed that out to my son saying “Look at that – if he was Catholic he’d be guilty of at least two of the ‘seven deadly sins’, gluttony and sloth!”

Do you believe that the seven deadly sins of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony are in the Bible?  They’re not.  They were invented by theologians and they are not listed in the Bible.

SevenDeadlySinsHere are the seven sins that are listed;

There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. 
Proverbs 6:16-19

This list of sins aren’t called deadly, but they are things the Lord hates and finds detestable.  Why?  It’s like murder, and there are consequences.

There is a proverb that says “Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is one who gives false testimony against a neighbor.”  Proverbs 25:18. 

The confrontation deals with  a false witness who poured out lies, and stirred up conflict in the community.  The man in this chapter sowed discord amongst us, and it caused us all to stumble.

The story never made it into the book.  My editor said I needed to “murder a few darlings.”   

Proverbs 6_16_19