Live FREE!

“So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.”

John 8:36 (MSG)

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”

Galatians 5:1 (MSG)

Live FREE.

As we come to the end of the first quarter of 2018, it can be tempting to fall back into the same traps that slowed our progress in past years. I have become vigilant in identifying and rejecting the broken cycles of fear and doubt that once held me captive, threatening to ensnare me once again.

Walking out our journey to lighter living, means being intentional about maintaining our freedom. We may not be able to control everything that happens to us in life, but we have been given the power to respond to life in a way that maintains our freedom.

Today, refuse to be entangled in situations, conversations, relationships, commitments, habits, or thought patterns that draw you away from God, and lead you back into bondage.

Rejoice in the freedom we have received, paid for with Christ’s sacrifice on an old rugged cross, and released to us by His resurrection from the grave.

Let God’s reckless love overtake you today, and live lighter!

Exposing Shame

Exposing Shame

Shame became my companion…

So secretly and subtily that I didn’t even see him coming. Like that acquaintance that kind of tags along quietly with a group of friends, whose presence goes almost unnoticed until everyone else has left the party.

And in this case, it was in the moment that I had lost hold of my joy, misplaced my peace, had a falling out with both logic and reason, couldn’t find self esteem, value or self worth, and beauty simply refused to be my friend, that I saw him. Sitting there, as smug as can be, waiting to “console” me.

I knew that I should have dismissed him right then and there, because once he wraps his arms around you, it can be so hard to make him let go. But I ignored the knowing, and as he leaned close, I could smell his stale, stagnant breath, laden with the missteps and mistakes of so many years of my life. He parted his lips and began to speak, spewing out accusatory and condemning thoughts and ideas, that he then worked tirelessly to make me believe were my own.

The thing about shame is that he attempts to secure a permanent place with you by introducing you to his best friend – Fear of Exposure. He keeps you feeling vulnerable and naked by threatening to reveal all of your hidden faults and failures to anyone who will listen. He intimidates you into allowing him to remain your companion by convincing you that if the rest of the world knew the truth about you, he is the only one who would still want you.

But today I am exposing Shame. I am calling him out as the fraud he attempts to make me believe that I am.

Shame’s agenda is to alienate and assassinate your most productive, meaningful and wholesome relationships in the present by keeping you handcuffed, as long as possible, to your past, no matter how long ago it was. He steals opportunities before they even materialize. He locks doors before you even arrive. He works overtime to make sure that you Never. Even. Try.

You can recognize his voice because he always lies to you, tells you the opposite of the Word of God:

“Hey, you know all of that nonsense about being a new creature, that song you love to sing about all things being made new?? Yup, not true – You’re still that same person that messed up all those years ago.”

“And you know how you love to throw around this idea that God has forgiven and forgotten – Yeah, He still sees you the same way, and He’s just waiting for you to fail…again.”

“Don’t let me get started on this ridiculous notion of ‘no condemnation’ – You’re still guilty and still unworthy.”

Lies. Lies that directly oppose God’s Word and His promises to us.

In John 8:34-36, Jesus responds to the questioning of the Jews about what He meant by stating that the truth would make them free with the following:

“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, everyone who practices sin habitually is a slave of sin. Now the slave does not remain in a household forever; the son [of the master] does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, then you are unquestionably free” (John 8:34-36 AMP).

Shame attempts to convince us that the freedom found in belief in the Son of God and repentance from sin, is merely a token an act designed to assuage our emotions, and quiet our conscience. But the freedom that Jesus gives, not only releases us from our past, and delivers us into righteous living in the present, but it also removes the hand, silences the voice, and reverses the impact of shame in our lives, from this very moment and into the future.

They say that in an argument, the person who is the most wrong is the one who yells the loudest. Shame screams our past and our faults and our failures at us because he has nothing new to say or do to us. If we successfully separate our hope for the future from the pain of our past, shame ultimately loses all power. And because he has no control over the future, he strives to keep us paralyzed in the only place that we have true power to make change – the present

So today, I’m exposing Shame. I’m calling him out, and I’m casting him out. Because my future is too bright, too important, too full of potential, to allow a mere shadow of the past to keep me from embracing the place that God has for me.

And yours is too!

The Fog Has Lifted

  

“I can’t see the trees and branches!”

My four-year-old son exclaimed on our way to drop him off at school, convinced that there was something wrong with his eyes as he attempted to see through the nebulous fog surrounding the car. He became increasingly concerned when he realized that he couldn’t even see the high school we usually pass on our way. He began to worry that it had disappeared altogether, and that we would not be able to navigate the path to his school. 
Fog can do that to our perception sometimes. 

Much like that literal fog, mental fog has a way of convincing us that the structures, the landmarks, the milestones in our lives we considered to be permanent fixtures, have somehow disappeared, and leaves us feeling that we have utterly lost our way. We become convinced that it is an issue with our vision rather than an obstacle on our pathway to be overcome. Sometimes we even decide that it is a sign that we should turn back, return to what we consider to be safe, making permanent judgment calls in a temporary situation or circumstance. 

However, just as we know that the presence of fog does not mean that the buildings, trees, and other familiar sights have disappeared, the same is true about mental fog. In spite of the momentary confusion and obstruction, our purpose and path in life remains intact. But we must have a plan and method for navigating our life’s journey in those moments when we cannot trust what our eyes see before us, like turning on the fog lights on our vehicle.

I recently experienced a dense, heavy, wearying and discouraging mental fog, keeping me from being able to properly see my way. I began to doubt my gifts, my call, my ability to write, lead and teach, my direction in life and my vision for my family and future. I began to feel as if there was something wrong with me, telling myself that maybe I took on more than I was actually capable of accomplishing, bit off more than I could chew. 

Maybe my goals were too lofty, maybe my ambition outpaced my abilities, maybe I just misinterpreted this entire season of my life, and what I really need to do is go back to “playing it safe”. Who was I to think that I could walk an uncharted path or take the road less traveled??? 

Yet in the midst of nearly giving in to the temptation to wallow in fear and doubt, nearly succumbing to the urge to turn back and run to safety, I realized that to abandon my course would be the same as saying that I don’t trust the One who has called me to bring me through this trial. And in my running to what I perceived to be safe and comfortable, I would actually be putting myself in harm’s way, because the safest place to be is in the will of God! 

So I finally decided to use my fog lights – I turned to the Word of God. 

2nd Corinthians 5:7 says “For we walk by faith, not by sight”.

I recognized that as soon as I lost focus of the One who set me on this trajectory, I became easily discouraged by the landscape around me, and made myself an easy target for the enemy. It was by faith that I arrived at this point, yet in the moment I failed to meditate on God’s Word and promises to me, I began to feel as if that same faith was not enough to carry me through this more challenging leg of my journey. 

Psalms‬ ‭119:105‬ says “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

It is God’s Word that shines ‭‭in our dark and foggy places, enabling us to see our way forward when all else, when life itself, seems to scream at us that we are utterly lost.

So here I am, getting back on course, renewing my commitment to the call on my life, and reaffirming my dedication to my assignment in this season. I am once again embracing the challenge to pour out my heart as I write, sharing what God has put into it to help encourage, and hopefully inspire others. 

And I am so glad that I didn’t turn back, because the fog has finally lifted, as it usually does, and I can once again see the Son!