02/09/2017

Religion Vs Relationship

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:17 am by The Water Bearer

People Often Misjudge

I can hear the whispers, whispers from people who think they once knew me. Now that I have begun sharing my faith in a more public forum, the whispers are hovering… “She’s changed, She’s gone all religious!”

I understand that those who never really knew me may think that I must have turned some huge corner in my set of beliefs, because I’ve never looked like your average “Christian” on the outside. I’m far too open about my brokenness, my flaws are too boisterous to be hidden away. I am much too concerned about breaking curses inside, than focusing on a mask of goodness on the outside. I try to live in the freedom of authenticity, fully aware of my lack of perfection.

The truth is, I’ve held the same beliefs for my entire life. My first prayer was answered when I was 8 years old, and I have felt a unique connection to God ever since. The reason I may not look or act like your stereotypical “Christian” may be because my faith was never nurtured in a church environment, so I find it quite bizarre, that I am now the founder of an incredible Scripture-Based Wellness program like Sanctuary Stretch!

To be completely honest, I like being called religious about as much as most people like being called “sinners”. In fact I prefer admitting myself as a sinner, far more than religious or even Christian. I have plenty of faith and devotion, Im just put off by the picture that those words conjure up. Religion did a real number on me, my family and many of my loved ones, and probably many of yours too. In my history, to be called religious was the biggest insult going. It deemed you unfit for human interaction, it exiled you from your family and labeled you crazy! 

The word ‘Heretic’ is probably closer to the right title for me. Now before you go grab your torch and pitchfork, hear me out. A heretic is someone who strongly opposes an established belief. Therefore, if the established belief is that you must look perfect on the outside, and go to a particular church regularly, and walk, talk and act like all others in that church, in order to be saved, then yes I strongly oppose!

Obviously not everyone in Christian circles are guilty of promoting this belief, many are genuine and humble, they accept that God is working with everyone everywhere. But even still, as a whole, ‘playing God’ and misjudgment is rife and much damage has been done.

1 Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Inauthentic Connections

We are biologically designed to search for a place where we fit. A community. A tribe. We’re easily tempted to change our outsides to fit in with a particular group, rather than to stand in authenticity and risk being rejected or ridiculed. I always felt like a round peg looking for a place to fit, but everywhere I went I found people who inflicted guilt trips in order to shave a bit off me here and there to get me to fit into their square hole. A relationship with God can not be forced, coerced or manipulated, just as with any genuine relationship. It grows in our hearts as we engage transparently, more and more, which is a very difficult thing for humans to assess from the outside.

Guilt is a powerful tool to promote conformity, but the desire for external acceptance often causes us to miss the whole point of faith entirely. We were all made with extreme diversity. Billions of humans designed to be unique and complex, to have different experiences and hearts that soften under different circumstances, can not, and should not have to be all on the exact same narrow path in order to experience a true relationship with their creator. Thinking this way only promotes disingenuous mindlessness, following the herd, which scarily only pushes our flaws deeper within, where they can fester and poison us even further, and then threaten future generations dramatically.

The even scarier part is that when we have perfected our mask, and found a tribe that accepts us, we no longer desperately need a Saviour. Our relationship with God then also lacks the authenticity vital for changing our hearts.

He Came For The Broken

So if I am not “religious” why am I promoting faith? And what kind of faith am I promoting?

My faith walk has not consisted of sitting in a comfy church chair, with a neatly pressed suit, and the fruits of the spirit on show for all to see. My walk has been more like a bloopers reel. From the outside you would have seen, a terrified thumb-sucker, who grew to dabble with drugs and promiscuity for ‘tribe’ approval. A teen mum with a hideous emotionally manipulative nature. A young Mum involved in a car accident that wiped out my ability to function and achieve, taking my self-worth along for the ride, leaving me injured, anxious, depressed and battling sucidal thoughts. I’ve had numerous health concerns, panic attacks and car phobia, I’ve been dependant on countless prescription drugs and always been more comfortable around a pool table than a pulpit. Pretty much my entire faith walk has consisted of me wrestling with inner enemies, falling flat on my face, turning my heart towards Christ for His guidance and abundant Grace and being set on my feet over and over and over again.

Along this journey it may have appeared that I was far from God, and far from saved, but I can assure you that God made His awesome presence felt every single step of the way. My relationship with Him grew as my faith did, I came to depend on Him a little more, and a little more. Each time I fell was a chance to give Him more and more control over my heart and my life. He never once let me down! Every inch of suffering on that road has been filled with intention and meaning. SLOWLY refining me, as is still the case!

I have come across many people in this life, who feel far too broken to put themselves in the firing line of a religious group. Those unwilling and unable to pretend they have the fruits of the spirit flowing from every orifice. I can testify that I actually FELT the fruits of the spirits being developed and experienced inside of me, long before anyone else could see them on the outside. God knows, Men don’t!

Breaking the Myth

Somewhere along the way a myth began to surface in Christian circles, that being ‘saved’ is an attractive process. We conjure up pictures of saints volunteering their time to a worthy cause with no thought for self, we picture hands raised in worship and wide smiles on faces. We picture sanity, health and prosperity, and a multitude of Christian Brothers and Sisters united in compassion and joy. We picture political correctness and perfect manners. Truth be told, the process of becoming ‘reborn’ requires complete destruction and then reconstruction, a public death accompanied with humiliation. It is a life long marathon, not a sprint. It can not be rushed. It is never a pretty sight to become desperate for God to do a work in us. Hungering and thirsting for the Word is born from intense periods of the inner war.  God is thorough if nothing else, He is not willing for us to just sit the test, He wants us to get an A+. Which of course means being tested and tested and tested again. Each time, a new level of self-deception is revealed and a new piece of truth replaces it.

And lets not kid ourselves into thinking for one minute that once we have turned our own hearts inside out and had them purified that we are going to look all shiny and new. Absolutely not, we then begin interceding for the generational curses in our families, and after that we carry the yoke of our ministries and communities. As long as we walk this earth we have more purging to be done.

A Place to Fit

The reason I have such a passion to now share my experiences of faith in such a public way, is because everyone deserves a little encouragement to turn their hearts to God. It’s far from an easy road and trying to overcome the obsticles of life without God is something I wouldn’t want to inflict on anyone. Its one thing to be separated from God because we chose that in our hearts, but its an entirely different ball of wax to feel separated from God because we are too broken to pretend we aren’t broken. Or battling too many inner enemies to worry about how offensive our external smoke-screen is. Or put off by religiosity and misjudgment.

Intimacy with God is personal, private, and often painful. But it is only with His strength that we get through it and come out a little better each time. My hope is that no matter where you are on your faith walk, you feel the need to take time out from distractions and expectations, to turn your hearts to Him and enter God’s presence. That is what Sanctuary Stretch hopes to encourage. Whether you are needing to fill your cup in order to pour into the lives of others going through trials, or if you need your cup filling because you are being emptied daily by your own trials.

All can benefit from a true intimate relationship with God, if they are willing.

Romans 10:13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 

Advertisements

13/02/2017

The Lying Curse

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 7:24 am by The Water Bearer

lies-sk

 

It was so incredibly shocking to me when I first realised just how self-deceived I was. The emotional curse I inherited is not just common in me or my family, but within many people and families spread across the globe…. The lying curse. There is something sinister whispering lies to us, using our own voice, our own logic, our own feelings. Hiding deception within the very layers of our understanding of honesty!

The lying curse has been around as long as the human race. It began in the Garden of Paradise when Eve first believed the lie that our Heavenly Father could not be trusted. Her heart knew God was faithful, but her own voice said “How can I know for sure?” Her heart knew she was blessed in paradise with her Man and her Creator as companions, but her logic said “What if there is more that I am missing?”, and her heart knew she should not listen to the lies, but her emotions said “You deserve more!”

When emotions are so powerful, when desires are uncontrollable, our awareness of the lies we tell ourselves becomes woven into the opaque structures of our fallen humanity. YES WE BELIEVE OUR OWN LIES!

We become increasingly focused on our own self-preservation at the expense of others!

ignorance_is_bliss_wall_decal_singleThe saddest, scariest part about our humanity is that even when we are staring these lies right in the face, our automatic programming to self-defend clouds our willingness to see.   No matter how long I have been aware of this curse, no matter how long I have written this blog or tried to share it’s truths, I am unable to reveal awareness of this curse to others.

“A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still” – Benjamin Franklin

You see the only reason I know of this curse and all its toxicity, is because I wanted to know. Before then no one could have convinced me that I was lying to myself, I would have been stubborn and indignant in my own logic that their accusations were unfounded. I would have been offended and defensive.

However something shifted in my heart in my 20’s, something that shattered the false sense of innocence I had been seeing in the mirror up until then. I SAW MYSELF and I was HORRIFIED! I determined myself to do anything to break this curse, and so I began a long intensive journey of self-discovery, using God’s word as my new mirror. I was adamant that I would no longer believe another lie…. Ha who was I kidding! Once I began to pick away at the surface of lies I realised the true depth of them. In that awareness I am levelled at the foot of the cross, in a place where I am dependant on Grace more than BREATH!

It takes a very specific kind of experience to shock us into this kind of awareness, and the circumstances are different for each of us. It requires a place where our heart becomes exposed, where we see our life in the truth of its dysfunction, and how far removed it is from the purpose and blessed life God intended us to have. When we truly believe the promises in the Word, and that God wants ONLY GOOD for us. That He wants to lavish us in blessings! And finally we recognise that the role we have played is not as innocent as we have always believed.

That place becomes a dying experience of sorts, where we have come to the very end of our own strength, to the end of our self-reliance, to the end of our excuses, and ultimately the end of faith in ourselves and our abilities. When we say “I can’t keep living like this anymore. I am sick of the same toxic patterns repeating themselves over and over again! I can not take another step in this same direction!” Not just “something must change’, but rather “everything must change, especially ME! and I have no idea where to start!”

This concept of reaching the end of yourself I have written on before here, which explains the tipping point between self-reliance & self-deception, and COMPLETE SURRENDER!

Surrendering to truth and surrendering to the Almighty is where your true self can begin! It is the sharp turn around a blind corner, with no foresight to cushion the fear, and yet you make that turn because you have tried every other turn and didn’t like where it led. All of a sudden humility becomes an honour, and will-power becomes a farce. That is where miraculous transformations occur!

Everything in the world will try to prevent that turn, and everything inside us will deny it’s necessity, but we deserve to see the truth, for the TRUTH WILL SET US FREE!

resist-the-devil

11/07/2016

Alterations by Grace not by Law

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Finding Faith tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:21 am by The Water Bearer

argue

God has been showing me some crazy similarities between destructive patterns in relationships and the common themes in Religion.  The Enemy isn’t very creative really, replaying the same tired old accusations in all areas of life. The most blatant being “You can’t really trust Love, can you?”.

Who can say, in our current generation, that they have never heard a woman complain about the things she hopes to change about her man?

Who can say they have never heard a man complain about being in trouble with their wife?

There is an epidemic of families being broken all over the globe and in our western culture this theme seems to be the most common.

Many women share with me their frustrations over the things about their men that they want to alter. I’m sure many of you ladies can understand, we are all sinners after all. Maybe these men are selfish. Maybe they are unreliable. Can you relate? Maybe they stay out too late while you are stuck at home with the children. Maybe they don’t help enough around the house or with the children. Maybe they aren’t romantic any more. Maybe they spend money irresponsibly. Maybe they drink too much or play Playstation too much. Maybe they don’t work hard. Maybe they go to strip clubs or look at pornography or stray physically. Maybe arguments are often and the connection is wearing thin.

In this recent social phase, Inner Enemies have heightened the emotional atmosphere, they empower us women with the accusation, “You can’t really trust Love, Can you?”, encouraging us to become nasty and emotional when our expectations are not met.  We become controlling, manipulative, restrictive. We might lay down the law, use ultimatums, make threats, yell, belittle, cry, all in order to get them to alter their ways, to satisfy us.

Men in these situations too have frustrations, they feel penned in by an emotionally unstable relationship. They feel their manhood, their authority, is being challenged, being overpowered. They often hide their hearts away and continue to make their own decisions about how to spend their time and their money, without letting her reactions sway these decisions, in a way to feel like they are still in charge over themselves and not submitting to the control of someone dominating and often unreasonable. The emotional reaction of the women is often the very thing that pushes the men further into these ‘frustrating’ behaviours. In many cases these dynamics cause division in relationships, and at the very least can cause a lack of deep connection and contentment.

Making a choice and a commitment to love someone is not a decision to give up our freedom, even though many mistake this as the case. For without the freedom to decide every day if you want to be in the relationship there is only more pressure to create division. We think once someone says they love us, they commit to us then ‘CLICK’ the magical handcuffs are on. We own them, and the right to demand that they make us happy. This is toxic thinking. Any behavioural changes that are made in this scenario cannot be trusted completely, they haven’t been genuinely made out of love, they are made out of fear and control.

Conversely there are those whose Inner Angels help them to accept their loved ones imperfections. They try to be patient to wait for hearts to adjust and behaviours to settle into a united rhythm. They want their mate to be free to choose to love them, to be free to want to do right by them out of love not out of fear. They recognise that forced compliance has short term rewards, for lasting unity there needs to be alterations of the heart. This goes for both men and women.

As an example, these women give grace when their men are late. They give forgiveness when their men make mistakes. They use every opportunity to try to show love when they could show anger. They choose to give freedom rather than control. Kindness instead of attack. Consequently, very often the men in these relationships are eventually driven by their own motivation to want to do right by their woman. They would rather call and let her know they will be late, because they know she will worry, and they know they have the freedom to stay as long as they want. Suddenly they can’t wait to come home. They would rather resist the temptation to stray because they appreciate the constant approachable love their woman gives them. They choose to do right because they don’t want to hurt her, they want to love her back. Not because of the promise, not because of the words, not because of the certificate, because their heart has been altered by the love and grace and freedom and forgiveness they have received.

This is exactly how God’s Grace works as opposed to the Law. Picture the relationship responses I just explained, as metaphors for the Christian systems of Law and Grace.

Under the Law our freedom is taken captive. Religiosity points out our flaws, condemns us, threatens us. Through fear and guilt, religion expects us to change. You are given no freedom to choose God’s will, it is expected, demanded, forced. Any changes made in this scenario are made without the strength of love, and they often are only temporary changes at best. The changes aren’t written in hearts, only in works. The connection between us and God is then fragile and unstable. Any significant test and it will crumble, tempting us to hide and compare sins.

Under Grace freedom is given and love is abundant. Every day you get to choose if you want a relationship with God. Everyday God gives us our own free will to decide for ourselves if we want to grow in our commitment to Him. When we slip and fall and we turn to Him, we are not belittled or condemned. We are met with Forgiveness and Love, Strength and Help. He is always waiting for us to come to Him no matter how many times we fall. His spirit, which grows inside us, is what writes His laws on our hearts because we have chosen to soften our hearts every time we choose Him. This creates humility and self-awareness, altering our behaviour and our hearts, and builds a connection with God that nothing can break!

Inner Enemies have confused our twisted emotional version of Love with God’s version of Love. We know how we feel when our loved ones disappoint or hurt us, and so we assume God must feel that way about us when we sin.

However God is Love!

Most of us are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast. Love is not proud. It does not dishonour others. Love is not Self-seeking. Love is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs.”

We expect this kind of love from others and yet we rarely are able to give it ourselves. We assume God must have this same flaw. But God IS Love, His spirit gives us the ability to love others in this way. So then let’s swap His name for ‘Love’ in that previous scripture.

God is PATIENT, God is KIND. He does not envy. He does not boast. God is not proud. He does not DISHONOUR others. God is not SELF-SEEKING. God is NOT EASILY ANGERED. God KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS. God does not delight in evil but rejoices in TRUTH. He always PROTECTS. Always TRUSTS, Always HOPES, Always PERSEVERES. God NEVER FAILS!

So it becomes clear that the Enemy has been using this accusation “You can’t really trust Love, can you?” in our relationships, but he has also been using it in Christianity. “You can’t really trust God, can you?” The Law, which was supposed to define love, has been used as a tool to condemn us, pushing us away from God’s love, from God’s Grace. We must realise the deception in this practice and accept the abounding Grace Christ came to share with us. Grace that makes us want to grow closer to Him, the closer we get, the more alterations He shines through in our behaviour.

Please don’t misunderstand here, no one is saying that it is okay to stray, to neglect, to be selfish in a relationship. However nor is it okay to condemn the faults of those we love, and expect them to change just to suit us. In this way the Law has its purpose, it is God’s way of communicating to us what sin looks like, as a violation of Love. In the same way we can communicate with our loved ones which behaviours cause us to pull away and protect our hearts. Keeping in mind all the principles of what LOVE IS, as stated above. Just as God stands firmly on the truth of the Law, we also stand firmly on the conviction of our Christ-centered expectations in our relationships. But Love, LOVE is the key!

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

1 John 4:18-19 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Galatians 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

Simply put…..If freedom is given, mercy is abundant, then love becomes the powerful force that encourages our hearts to want to change!

law vs grace

 

 

 

18/06/2016

Go Ahead and Ask!

Posted in Finding Faith tagged , , , , , at 8:23 am by The Water Bearer

doubt

I have this friend, a friend who is more like family. I have a longing in my heart to undo all the damage that Religion has done to him and replace it with the Love of God. Sadly it has become a taboo subject. He knows I have an abundance of faith and yet he finds it laughable.

You see his only memories of God, Christ and the Bible are tainted by an abusive and legalistic school system. Forced to believe in a God he could not identify with, and expected to behave in ways completely foreign to his nature. He was told to accept teachings that made no sense to him or God would send him to an unending place of torment and fire. Now this is bad enough in itself, yet he was abused further for asking challenging questions when he had doubts about the teachings he was being held captive by.

For those of us who have also experienced this type of controlling religiosity, and because the scriptures are often confusing for us in our immaturity, it is no wonder many pull away from God, from Christ and from the Bible. Especially as the basis of any faith comes from a place of what makes sense to us, not just what we are told, otherwise it simply unravels as we grow in understanding and maturity. We begin to realise that the theories we have been taught no longer line up with our reasoning and comprehension. Just as Santa Claus is easy to believe when we are very young, as we grow, we start to have doubts, we begin to ask intelligent, rational, and reasonable questions such as, *How does he reach every house in only 24hrs? Or *How does he get to the Christmas tree of houses that have no chimney. *Why do we let someone we have never met into our homes when we sleep? *Why did I get all these presents when I have been naughty?

This friend of mine is extremely intelligent. He values wisdom and historical knowledge and reason. So when he was punished for investigating the parts of religion that made no sense to him, he gave up any shred of faith he may have had in the God of the Bible. His rational doubts were met with irrational responses, which gave him few other options than to conclude that they were all talking a load of rubbish.

His teachers were afraid of his challenges, they were angry at his doubts, and yet the truth has no need to fear investigation.

In this fantastic message which I heard recently, came this insightful quote. “Doubt creates a space for faith to exist, for without doubt, faith is irrelevant”

Doubt is a vital and important part of developing the stability of faith. Without doubt, God becomes a concept only for the naive and the ignorant. Without doubt there would be no challenge to pursue truth. Without doubt we would believe every lie. There is an enemy of God out there, deceiving and lying, and as far as I can see, those who aren’t allowed to doubt, and aren’t allowed to question, end up  either accepting the concept of a God different to the One True God. Or they give up on God and try to get as far away from the notion of God entirely.

Once we begin to ask the right questions we can begin to piece together what makes sense to us, and that forms the foundation of our beliefs. Religion tells us to believe what we have been told no questions asked, but God wants us to ask and ask and ask. To never stop asking, never settle on a belief until we find the answers that match the still quiet voice of reason deep within our core.

Here is a place to start… Why would God want us to ask the hard questions instead of just simply believing what we have been told? – The answer is genuine connection and Love!

To prove that we are all made in God’s image He put the desire to be loved, not just the desire but the necessity. Not just to be loved but to connect on a deep level with something other than our own conscious ego. Because He is Love, because he wants to connect, He needs to connect.

Look at it this way, if you found someone you wanted to connect with, someone you wanted to love you, and you gave them a love potion. Sure enough you have their attention, their confessions of love, their attraction, their passion. Yet your trust, your connection, is not based on the genuine truth of their love, it is based on your trust of the potion.

This is why He wants us to question and to discover reasons that make sense to us to Love Him, to decide of our own free will to love, to connect, to trust, to revere. So that He can have trust in our love for Him. Then and only then is true unity, euphoric connection, ultimate fulfillment, possible for both us and for God!

Points to ponder….

*Truth can handle being reasonably investigated

*Lies are abundant and deception is rife

*Doubt is essential and discernment crucial

*God loves us and wants to connect with us

*Why not ask the tough questions

The scriptures say that God is Love. God is full of Truth. Let us not become naive about our beliefs, swallowing whole the lies of the enemy that seek to corrupt the virtue of God’s Love. Seek out the truth, discover what makes sense to you in your pursuit of God’s Love through His word, through a personal relationship with Him, questioning all who claim to understand Him. Its time we did away with these poisonous teachings of an abusive and unreasonable God, determined to send us to our unending torture, when the reality is that His love is the only way we can overcome all that seeks to destroy us. Lets no longer be like children who misunderstand the loving authority of their parents. Lets build a reasonable and rational foundation for our faith starting with the truth that God is Love!

study

06/03/2016

A Road Paved With HIDDEN Intentions

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 1:09 pm by The Water Bearer

road

When I was a young adult I made all my decisions based on what I felt was right. I trusted my feelings above all else. I truly believed that I was upstanding, that I was honourable, that I was right. Aren’t we all so good at self-delusion?

In my mid twenties I welcomed my Dad back into my life, and he introduced me to God and His word with new perspective. I began to see how the words on the pages cut through the lies the enemy had been using to hide my intentions from me. Lies that encouraged me to compare myself to others so I could deem myself to be better, smarter, kinder, more organised, more loving, more righteous than those around me. Easy enough when I compared myself to those who appeared to be lacking in areas I was adept in. A labyrinth of lies stood between the intentions of my heart and my conscious thoughts. Each secret pathway was filled with excuses, with comparisons, with emotions. I was completely unaware of the truth in my heart.

heart labyrinth

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” Jeremiah 17:9

I had yet to learn how to investigate the heart of the girl in the mirror, without the rose coloured glasses Inner Enemies had placed over my eyes.

The word of God did just as the scriptures said it would. It cut through to the bone and exposed my hidden intentions that I had been completely oblivious to.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”. Hebrews 4:12

Seeing the truth about my wicked heart was a turning point in my life. I was shocked into self-awareness, ripped from the false sense of security the labyrinth of deceptions had given. I saw a heart that was self-seeking, dishonest, and emotionally manipulative. Yet the hardest blow came when I saw that not only were my emotions manipulating those around me, those I ‘loved’, they had also been manipulating me!

In my youth I had a gift of twisting my own lies into the most believable display, I was very good at convincing others of my mis-truths, sometimes I was so persuasive I began to believe my own lies. Once I felt the conviction of how clearly I had been deluded and how easily I had fooled myself, I began to distrust my feelings, rather than allowing them to make all my decisions, I gave in and let the word of God do it’s healing work in me. I began instead to despise deception and I developed a love and pursuit of truth, as a result God has used the sharp edge of the sword to cut away each segment of that labyrinth of lies. I came to understand that this is how God uses our sin, plus His word and His grace, to sew His laws into our hearts.

This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

Facing up to the true wickedness of our own heart, which has so well worn a righteous mask, is one of the most self-damning experiences, and Inner Enemies love to overplay their hand. They will try to use this awareness to shroud us in guilt, guilt that is so hideous we become afraid to enter into God’s presence. Inner Enemies tell us that our sins are too appauling to forgive. However when we learn that God’s grace is far more abundant than our sin, if we recognise this trick and learn that so long as we confess our sin to God He is faithful and swift to forgive us. He will bring us into a new covenant where another level of Holy Spirit is given to us, to fight against the lies, against the guilt, so that God may do a miraculous work on our hearts. God can then fulfil His intentions to circumcise the hard and wicked outer case of our hearts, to reveal a soft place for His voice to be established, and malleable hearts that bend to His will. Then He can give us all the blessings a righteous heart deserves and more.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

“For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; with favour You will surround him as with a shield.” Psalms 5:12

“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” Psalms 34:17

“LORD, who may abide in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart;” Psalms 15:1-2

“Behold, I will lay your stones with colourful gems, and lay your foundations with sapphires. I will make your pinnacles of rubies, your gates of crystal, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.” Isaiah 54:11-14

  crown

 

11/12/2015

Imitation Faith

Posted in Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , at 1:51 pm by The Water Bearer

fake

One of the major reasons I have avoided religious institutions during my faith walk, is due to the abundance of Imitation Faith which I have witnessed, and I realise I am not alone in this. While I thoroughly love being part of a faith-group where I can share in worship, and servitude, which challenges me, and yet supports me in my faith walk, I have found it difficult to find lasting support for the type of relationship I have with my Lord and Saviour. Still I keep an open heart, an open mind, and a willing spirit to go wherever He directs me. The true test is to be completely myself and not contort into someone I feel the church might support, I must focus on the promise that God supports me, and that is all I need. That being said, I have been blessed many times within church walls as God has moved me in and about. In fact I am currently befriending a new congregation and excited to see how God moves there.

Evidence of Imitation Faith disheartens and upsets me. Sometimes the imitation is glaringly obvious, you can tell within one interaction. Often the imitation appears so similar to the genuine article, making it difficult to identify, and it can take quite some time to recognise. If there is the possibility of hearing from the Lord through a Donkey, we have to have open ears no matter our whereabouts. It’s hard to explain how to tell the fake, because it’s not always due to behaviour, or language, or anything exterior. Sometimes it can be genuine for a season and then become corrupted. It is a constant battle of discernment. Genuine faith is an internal, private journey with submission to the specific, individual guidance from God, with opportunities to exercise our faith and obedience to fulfill each request, developing and maintaining a covenant with Him. Through each unique relationship, God reveals Himself to us, this is how we develop a familiarity with God’s Character so we can recognise, trust and truly love Him. Imitation faith attempts to push us all onto one same narrow path, it fails to grasp how vastly unique each of us is and which level our faith is at, or what is required to gain the next perfect level. It can severely mislead believers away from their God given path with guilt, than towards it with support. It’s no wonder that it can be something to be wary of. Much evidence throughout the bible states that within the Nation of believers there were only ever a remnant who obeyed God, only a remnant who trusted Him. Something else to remember is that Christ spoke in parables for a reason, to hide the truth, to prevent the imitation from knowing the secrets of the gospel. For good reason….

Matthew 13

He that hath ears, let him hear. 10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 And he answered and said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath.13 Therefore speak I to them in parables; because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.14 And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive:15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them.16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.17 For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not.

Recently during a great conversation, I was reminded of a metaphor which my Dad used to explain imitation faith to me when I first began my adult faith walk. It was invaluable for me as a ‘Baby Christian’ to understand how easily we can be deceived into building imitation faith as apposed to genuine faith.

There was once a man who was flat broke, he had many bills to pay and debt collectors breathing down his neck. During a moment of extreme desperation he fell to his knees and prayed “If there is a God, please help me pay my bills”. The next week he was walking along the road on his way to a job interview for a job he would rather not do, when he discovered a briefcase, unlocked, full of money. Now the money was counterfeit, but the man didn’t care to wonder nor check. He went to the post office and paid his bills, it worked. His debt was cleared, he thanked “God” and he decided not to go to the job interview after-all.

The metaphor is that the pursuit of faith is just like the man’s pursuit of money, he needed it, he prayed for it, yet he found something less than perfection, less than righteous, less than true and he accepted it. He accepted it because it was an easier ‘answer’ to his prayer than the job interview God had actually provided, for a job that would have taught him priceless lessons about himself, about hard work, about responsibility, about the character of God and how to develop true faith in Him. He would have received an abundance of Godly blessings that would not only have covered his debts, but given him a lifetime without worry of money. He didn’t push past the imitation in order to search out the genuine, and settled for much less.

Lord, cover our mind with the amour of your salvation, that we may see and perceive, and hear and understand. That we never settle for the easier false options in our walk, and that we are blessed to be privy to your hidden truths, which fall on the soft soil of our hearts and not be stolen away, or overgrown with falsehood. In Yeshua’s Mighty Name I Pray! Amen!

 

breifcase

 

25/02/2014

Who is Really in the Mirror?

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:05 am by The Water Bearer

One thing I have found to be a true blessing, along with spiritual faith, is self-awareness. It is one of the most important things we need to achieve growth and inner peace in this life, and something I write about often.

I have lately been thinking about those who may not have as much self-awareness as others, about those people who haven’t changed much over the years, and are still stuck in the same old patterns they have always been.

I read a little something recently, it said:

“If you are the same person, with the same perspective you had a decade ago; then you have just wasted ten years of your life!”

Before I gained some Godly self-awareness, I thought I was self-aware. I thought I was a ‘good person’. I prided myself on having good intentions and wisdom. My heart was in the right place (or so I thought), I knew the difference between right and wrong (or so I thought), and I was a good friend and family member (or so I thought).

Back then I had no regrets, I had no lingering, self-conscious guilt, because I always had a very good explanation for my actions. It was usually something like, “I meant well”, “I felt ….”, “I’m only human”, or “I had no choice” (because of what someone else did first).

I had little or no remorse for my own actions, (unless of course I got hurt in the fallout). I never set out to hurt anyone,  and if I did hurt someone else, I found a way to believe I was right, and that made it ok with me. I saw no reason to change, I was onto it (or so I thought). I used my excuses, and understanding to stay in my own spiraling cycle.

When I became aware of how God saw things, it smacked me in the face and it hurt!

I was SELFISH! I saw things from my way and didn’t consider that perhaps there was a better way. Sure I was always rushing to help people, I was thoughtful and did kind deeds all the time. I tried to find ways to show my affection for others so that they would know how much I thought of them. But I didn’t realise that I was really only doing it to be seen as a good person, not because I was actually a good person. I couldn’t admit the truth to myself so I figured all the trials of life were not lessons I had to learn, just tests to see if I was strong enough and if I could keep my faith through them.

Life will do it’s best to help us become aware of ourselves, and if we stop avoiding it we will be amazed by the realisation. And while it is a challenge to work hard and break the cycles you have been stuck in your whole life, it is definately worth it.

In a recent therapy session we were discussing the downfalls of having no self-awareness. My therapist put it this way “If you don’t regret your actions that affected yourself or others in a negative way, then you avoid the reasoning to need to repair the situation, and refuse to take a realistic look at yourself and make necessary changes.” In other words, these people can’t apologise without explaining why they aren’t really to blame, and they don’t see the need to alter the way they handle things.

He also said that “People who excuse their own actions and don’t own up to the pain they caused another, will continue to hurt others and will usually end up very lonely, they will also wonder why”.

How sad is that! Out of a lack of self-awareness we can damage our relationships so badly, and some will never find the inner peace of growth, or a new perspective and the truth about themselves. It may leave them without a clue as to why they feel isolated from others. We can easily blame everyone else yet we refuse to accept blame ourselves, it would simply be more productive if we swallowed our pride and took a good look in the mirror. That is the only area of our lives that we can bring about a true transformation.

The serenity prayer is one commonly found in households all over the world. It aims to tackle this self-awareness problem. We need the courage to face ourselves head on, to see the truth about ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to bring about a change in our lives, one we will never regret.

“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

15/02/2013

You want me to drink that?*

Posted in Encouragement, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:52 pm by The Water Bearer

jug

I often go back and read my previous posts, I reflect on how I was feeling at the time I wrote them. I am reminded of little gems of inspiration that I may need to apply again and had forgotten. I sometimes think, “Man that’s quite an over-share! Why did I let those deep feelings slip out for all the world to see?”. I could get critical and think my more “needy” posts may appear like a slick of oil in my water jug, unappealing and in need of a rinse out (Not very refreshing Water Bearer!).

I realise my down times mar my usually positive nature. I am well practiced in trying to hide my imperfections behind a big smile and a bouncing dance-step. It certainly seems clear that some, who hope to interact with me closely, would rather the strong, faithful and fun Water Bearer, than the broken shell that’s left when my weakness is exposed (I know which one I like better!).

I have lost count of the times I got served a dish of criticism when I exposed my wounds to those who couldn’t handle the sight of me cowering in tears, or when I’ve been highly sensitive and reactive after an extended visit to, what felt like, the valley of the shadow of death. I see it in myself too, when I instinctively want to control and implode my children’s sadness. Wipe away the tears and sort them out, then and there.

My intention for my writing has always been to encourage, inspire and quench the thirst of doubt, however I believe honesty is more refreshing than constant optimism, and especially more so than denial. I am grateful for the opportunity to share with others what this life is teaching me. Sure, it would be less confronting without all the fear and desperation, lets be honest, but our Inner Angels are at war with our Inner Enemies, and that after all is the title of this blog.

Each and every one of us has thoughts we wish we didn’t have, not all are for sharing with every person we come across (a little appropriate timing and tact was a lesson I had to learn via the extended edition…with bonus tracks), yet many of us learn young that we shouldn’t think like this or that, and decide it is better to just pretend we didn’t.

Our truth is that, ours. If we hide our truth down deep and pretend it’s not there, never happened, not affecting us, we push it into a place where Inner Enemies have free reign. They fester in the dark, poisoning us from within.

However, when we have a place to share our truths, when we find the courage to let our weaknesses bathe in the light of honesty, we can remove the poison and begin to heal. The light is where our Inner Angels can work on our truths, our weakness, our fear.

So to all of you who have continued to drink from this here well, oil and all, I thank you. Your encouragement and prayers, your empathy and acceptance, are allowing my grin and groove to continue in my daily life outside the blogosphere. You are such a blessing to me!

19/01/2013

Loud Lies (a poem)

Posted in General, Musings, Poetry, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:33 pm by The Water Bearer

Loud.

Why so loud?

Valuing some quiet,

Pursuing it,

Yet it eludes me.

 loud-lies

Conflicting advisers,

Explaining who to be.

Adds insult to injury,

Until I’m more unsure of me.

…..

Am I a foreign concept

While I’m being me?

I know that I am,

Distracted easily.

 

Bouncing along, higher now.

Laughing loudly,

Reactive.

My grip slips.

 

Things around begin to spin.

Up could even be down.

Where to grab on?

What is truth?

 

Reach out blindly, and grab,

This feels real.

But no, it’s only lying again.

Reality comes with a Slap!

 

Face full of dirt again,

Sheepish from the deceptions.

Retreat, withdraw,  until,

I am filled once more with truth.

08/11/2012

The Harsh Truth*

Posted in Encouragement, General, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:01 am by The Water Bearer

As someone who values truth, I can at times get quite protective of it, and will defend the responsibility that comes with sharing it. This post reflects such a time.

Over the years, I have come to see that there is a very real difference between the ‘painful truth’ and the ‘harsh truth’, yet they are often confused as being the same.

A painful truth is a reality that is difficult but must be faced.

A harsh truth is a piece of information, relative or not, that is delivered in a harsh manner and can cause more damage than is necessary.

So many countless times the ‘truth’ is used as an excuse to criticise and berate.

Pointing out imperfections over and over, hoping to ‘help’ someone alter themselves according to our opinion, is not the same thing as telling someone a painful truth.

If we deliver an opinionated criticism and receive a bad reaction, it becomes common to believe that the one rejecting the statement couldn’t handle the ‘painful truth’, when often this is not accurate at all.

Defending ones right to be at peace and accepted in their own imperfection, is not the same thing as reacting badly simply because they don’t like the “truth”. Misjudgments, lies and false accusations have the power to cause pain and negative reactions, just as much as, if not more than, the truth does. This needs to be considered, rather than making assumptions, when assessing a response.

Before we begin sprouting opinions willy-nilly, or giving weight to ‘harsh truths’ from others, we need to seriously ask ourselves, how many unsavory traits are actually sins that need to be ironed out by another imperfect human?

(Prophetic note: This is in no way attributed to times when God uses His prophets to deliver His direct word to identify actual sin. That would be another post on ‘painful truth’ entirely.)

In our youth we often assume we know it all, we have it all going on. We move out from under our parents control and the power to make our own decisions can cloud our self-perception with pride. In this state it is easy to believe our reasons to be harshly critical of others.

Having an honest opinion doesn’t automatically make it a truth that needs to be shared, unless perhaps you are asked directly to express that opinion.

As we get older we have the opportunity to develop self-awareness. If we can accept the truth about ourselves, it opens a door for us to realise that we don’t know it all, and we don’t have it all going on. Reaching this level of humility helps us accept people and their faults. It eases our expectations and our desire to manipulate others. It also helps us learn to be gentle when delivering a potentially painful truth.

We are all uniquely made, our personalities, talents and weaknesses are a mixed bag of specific traits. Some of these traits rub others up the wrong way, some are over-powering and cause discomfort, some are appreciated and even admired, some are abhorred and reprehended. Any one trait can cause different reactions from different people, depending on their own mindset at the time. One particular trait may be what people love about you, and others may be put off by the very same thing. And we can’t please everyone, we will only cause ourselves more misery if we try.

The rights and wrongs of someone’s individuality is a grey area, and opinions should be taken with a pinch of salt and not become something to condemn oneself about. Honest self-assessment and the company of honest, yet tactful and accepting people can help this self-assessment to grow in a healthy way.

The truth has gained a reputation of being harsh because of those who deliver it in a harsh manner. Truth is a blessing when delivered properly, with timing, tact and taste (according to my fabulous blogger friend T.K. Coleman), and is more likely to be received properly when these things are correctly in place…Yes there are still times when a truth said with tact is still rejected, but that is a position of  possible rejection those, who share the truth, must be willing to take. While expressing any truth at inappropriate times, with little or no tact or taste is extremely damaging and will usually cause defensive reactions and not be received well at all.

We must avoid using the ‘truth’ as an excuse to condemn and manipulate those around us. Decades of misuse of the word “truth”, has damaged it’s reputation and people’s desire to pursue it. Be responsible with the truth when you must deliver it, and avoid listening to those who tarnish it’s pure and freeing nature.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32 (NLT)

Next page

%d bloggers like this: