Thursday, October 31, 2013

Moving On

i'm finding that the things most worth sharing about the life of a Christian come forth from the lessons learned through our struggles.  We all have battles, regardless of our maturity or faith. We all experience ups and downs. Regardless of whether our battles  and issues have anything to do with anyone else, we can learn a lot about our own hearts from those issues. It does us no good to examine others and ignore what is going on in our own hearts. That being said, I want to share my most recent insight with you, not only to be transparent about my struggles but also to form a "journal" of sorts that I can also refer to when I feel I've lost sight of what I have learned. 

I am at a point in my own life where I have started fresh, so to speak, i looked forward to this so much that I couldn't wait to leave Louisiana. I suppose I thought that leaving would free me of those who hurt me and / or attempted to control or manipulate me. This was by no means our reason for moving since we prayed endlessly over this decision. Things in our life were "comfortable" even as difficult as some of our relationships with various family members were. It wasn't an easy decision by any means and was one I was unwilling to make without God's assurance. Even now, i am sure He wanted us to come here as I wait on things to unfold. 

Yet I find myself looking back. Looking back can be a good thing, but it can also keep us from moving on. The things we tend to look back at can be good, bad or a mix of both. Memories, like any other series of thoughts, can be quite powerful. They can motivate us or they can cripple us. They can make us feel warm and fuzzy or they can cause us to become bitter and angry. For that reason, it's crucial that we keep a check on what's happening in our minds, even when our actions seem to be following God. 

Good memories can easily keep us from moving on, although most people think that this never serves us a disservice. But they most certainly can if we allow those fond thoughts to prevent us from adapting to change. We can get so caught-up in the good parts of our past that we cripple ourselves by refusing to see what the future holds. Let's face it, God does some beautiful things in our lives using change of some form or another. We, as Christians, were not called to a lifestyle that caters to our "comfort" levels. 

Bad memories are usually those things that left us wounded during a particular point in life. These are among the majority for me. I know that thinking about them will make me miserable but I do it anyway because I somehow think that playing it over and over will teach me something. Silly, huh? You would think I've learned by now.  I don't like what it does to my heart to think about it but my stubbornness stops me from doing what I know is right at times. It's scary to think about how quickly we become bitter and full of unforgiveness when we refuse to move on.  

The whole time I've been looking back, I have also spent regular time in scripture, devotionals, worship and prayer. But that time, as much as one might think, didn't keep my heart from going south - literally! It did, however, help me to identify it much sooner than I have been able to in the past. It led me to self-examination against who Jesus calls believers to be. It's really hard to seek God without seeing ourselves as we are. And as I stared at the bitterness and anger that I began to develop, I could do nothing but repent and ask God to change my heart once again. I love how He never gives up. 

You see, it's so easy for us to lose sight of what we've been taught. It's so easy to revert to our own old ways. But the Christian walk isn't easy at all. We are called to keep moving on. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Over the past several months, there have been several stories about sink holes and the threats caused by them. My family  recently moved from Louisiana to North Carolina and while in Louisiana there were some sink holes impacting our local area. Out of curiosity, I  asked a male coworker to explain what a sink hole is and what causes it. He explained it a bit something like this:
Sinkholes can be formed naturally via erosion or manmade via digging. They are basically air pockets underground that make the ground unstable, also threatening to collapse the ground surrounding it.  They can't been seen easily and take careful evaluation several layers below the surface in order to identify. If evaluation isn't done properly and regularly in some areas, sinkholes pose a threat to nature, homes, roads and even human lives. 

As I evaluate my own heart in my most recent circumstances, The Lord has revealed to me some sinkholes in my thinking. They are areas where I have a lack of faith and a need for growth. They started with my latching on to mindsets that are both harmful to me spiritually and contrary to who Jesus is and why He died for me. They require my careful attention to the potential damage, therefore must not go unaddressed. 

Just to offer you some background, we moved after feeling led to do so after much prayer. It all started with a lot of prayer for my husband in his struggle with his career over two years ago. God gave me a promise but even then I knew it would call one or both of us out of our comfort zones. In August, while I was on a business trip, my husband was offered a promotion with the stipulation that we moved to NC. It It was a huge step of faith as I had to choose between my comfy job with a steady paycheck and stepping out on faith to see God's plan unfold.  Now that I've been out of work for a few weeks, i find myself doubting God and His goodwill towards me. You might ask how I can take such a leap of faith, yet be filled with doubt afterward. It's simple. I have experienced the impact of one of those air pockets that reveal my lack of faith. Ouch!

You see, as we go throughout life and experience various trials, we can easily develop mindsets that are contradictory to our faith and / or harmful to us in our ability to enjoy life and live it to the fullest. When we allow the wrong mindsets to take root in our hearts, we begin to feel "stuck" and as believers we have already been freed. They keep us from believing God in a particular area of life if we hang on to them. If we carefully examine these "pockets" of doubt or wrong-thinking in ourselves, we continue to grow. But if not, our growth is stunted. 

In Luke 8, Jesus told the Parable of the Sower. He then explained it to the disciples as they expressed a desire to understand it. 
   "And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." Luke 8:9-15

I don't know about you but I read this scripture and pray that God will help me to be "good soil". We are all equally as prone to being one of those others. But if we aren't evaluating and reevaluating our hearts regularly, we can get caught up easily in the wrong thinking. Proverbs 23:7 says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:" It's crucial that we stay in the state of evaluating our hearts. It's also hard to get caught up in judging others when we judge ourselves before God's Word. 

Here are some aspects of evaluating sinkholes that God taught me.
1. Know God's word. We risk full-blown collapse if our hearts don't know God's word because we then become vulnerable to everything else, let alone our emotions. There are a lot of things in this world that pose as light, yet are not. It's crucial that we not rely solely on church, preachers or evangelists to teach us. We shouldn't just attend church on Sundays and come away from service griping that it wasn't what we needed. We need to seek a relationship with God ourselves, Scripture is God's gift to us if we really want to learn more about Him. He blesses us when we seek Him and put His way ahead of our own. See Romans 10:17 and Jeremiah 23:13
2. Ask for forgiveness and faith where you know you don't have it. Remember the possessed boy in Mark 9? Jesus revealed a sinkhole in the boy's father's thinking. The man replied, "I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 
3. Stop trying to "figure it out" alone and embrace your vulnerability knowing you are safe in Him alone. God never said we'd have it all figured out or that there is this stage wherein we should stop learning. I've heard many Christians and non-Christians alike voice this belief that something is wrong with a person of faith if we expose any weakness, don't have it all together or express a gap in our wisdom/ knowledge. This is so not true!  We have unfortunately discouraged many and led many others astray with this teaching. Christ called His beloved to be teachable and always be in a state of learning. See 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy  2:2, John 16:13, Hosea 4:6
4. Examine yourself habitually. Be willing to learn about yourself in all situations. In my struggle, I first found myself experiencing loneliness like I haven't in quite a while. I learned here that I really didn't believe that God is with me. I knew i needed to seek The Lord and I couldn't get enough of His word but knew it was the way to battle this war inside me. The Lord blessed me with peace once again but I cannot just quit doing those things if I want to continue to grow. See Psalm139:23-24
5. Take every thought captive. Be cautious of what you allow to take root in your mind. It can become who you are. 2 Corinthians 10:5

Be encouraged that although life can be difficult, we do not struggle alone. Fight the good fight and don't stop short of the finish line, my friends.