Archive for the ‘Surrender’ Category

The Ugly Side of My Spiritual Gift

Have you ever taken a spiritual gift inventory?

Very often they can be a helpful tool in pinpointing exactly how God has specifically designed you for His purposes.

Moses being inspired about a new blog post?

On many spiritual gift inventories, I’ve scored high on the gift of “prophecy.” That doesn’t specifically mean that I have the urge to go around preaching damnation to every hooker on the corners of all busy inner-city streets! But it certainly means that I’m drawn to “the truth” of God’s Word and want to share that “truth” in many ways with others—hence, my blogging takes on a whole new meaning.

But along with every “gift” or “talent” that God gives us, there’s this other-side of that same coin, that can be negative, even hurtful.

And the negative, hurtful side of being a truth-teller is an inability to have compassion or extend grace.

I’m not saying that I can’t have both in my life at the same time, but it is often a difficult balance for me to strike. I have to really lean into God, asking for His grace, when I am feeling a conviction rising up within me (especially when that conviction involves perceptions about other’s wrong-doing!).

God has been showing me this area of weakness for a lot of years. And although I think I’ve softened somewhat over the years, I still tend to err to the side of cold, hard truth. There isn’t anything that can get my blood boiling more than when a lie is being believed/propagated or when an injustice is being committed.

But when it comes to having compassion for those who make those same mistakes, I often fall short.

One way that I’m trying to work on this weakness in my life is by biting my tongue. I’ve realized that I’m not the only person in the world who can recognize God’s truth. I’ve realized that God often uses my love and compassion to influence others toward change more than my harsh words of challenge. I’ve realized that God is a lot more active than I give Him credit for. It’s not just up to me to set the wayward straight. The Holy Spirit’s got that gig down already.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I should never confront someone.

But I think I tend to feel that God cannot reveal a sin to someone without my help!

How arrogant is that?!

Which leads me to my next way of dealing with this weakness—I release the person/situation through prayer to God. I pray that God would convict, provide, direct, whatever for that person and trust God to do just that.

If I’m still in doubt about whether I should say something, I pray that God would strongly urge me to take a specific step perhaps of confronting. But then I always need to “speak the truth in love.” It’s a delicate balance that I hope to have figured out by the time I’m 90 or so!

So, what spiritual gift has God given you that sometimes trips you up?

And, how do you positively deal with that hurtful side when it emerges?

Today’s post is linked to Faith Barista and answers the question – What has God been saying to me in my time alone with Him?


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What Embracing Pain Can Do

“So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2 (NLT)

I admit it.

I’m a wimp when it comes to pain.

If there is a way to go around it, then I’m all about finding that way! But when I read this passage in 1st Peter the other day, I was convicted about my approach to life.

My Current Approach…

  • When my husband hurts my feelings, I’d rather set him straight than swallow my pride and forgive his misstep.
  • When I encounter someone who is antagonistic toward Christ, I’m dodging the subject and the discomfort it brings to share my faith.
  • When my kids need correction, I don’t always correct them with patience and thoughtfulness. Instead, I’ll unload my frustrations on them as a way to stop their bad behavior and feel relieved all in one!
  • When someone gets the very things I’ve wanted but have not received, I find it easier to fall into the arms of envy or even bitterness than to trust God’s goodness and justice.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I do these kinds of sick tricks every day—dodging the pain and suffering of being a fully devoted follower of Christ.

But did you notice what Peter says in verse one? He says that in order to be “finished with sin,” we must suffer! I don’t think I’ve ever thought about this concept fully until today. I’ve known that pain and suffering are the tools God often uses to refine and develop us. But I’ve never thought about it being the way to close the door on sin.

Now, I realize that as long as I’m alive and breathing, I will sin. But perhaps I will sin less if I surrender to the pain in my life—and dare I say it—even embrace pain?

Please hear me! I’m not saying that we should all go out and look for or conjure up pain. But perhaps we should welcome it when it comes. Perhaps pain is a blessing in disguise. And if I realized just how much God is using pain in my life to help me sin less, then wouldn’t my entire attitude change when trouble comes my way? I think so!

I don’t know if I’m there yet—ready to embrace or welcome pain—but I’m willing to think differently when pain comes my way next time.

How about you?

Do you think this would make a difference in your life?

How would it make a difference?

Growing Pains

The subject of growth and change has come up in many of my conversations and thoughts lately. Sadly, it isn’t always in the context of anticipation or excitement. But there’s a story that I’ve heard from don’t-know-where that has come to my mind as I think about this elusive pursuit . . .

There once was a little boy who told his mother,

“Mommy, I want to marry you.”

So the mother explained to her little boy that she was flattered, but she was already married to his daddy. And that one day he would grow up and want to marry someone that he loved too.

The little boy said, “Well, okay, but then my wife and I will live with you and daddy forever!”

The mother, once again, had to explain that someday he would not want to live with her or his father, but would want to buy a house of his own to live in with his wife.

By this time the boy was becoming frustrated. He didn’t like the sound of all of this. It meant changing from the cozy, loving home he had always known to some far away place with a stranger.

Little did he realize that as he grew older, he would want these changes. He would grow into them.

I think this story illustrates how we all feel when it comes to growth and change. We like our comfort zone. We like things the way they are. And even if we don’t, we’re afraid of where growth and change might take us—to the unknown. And who knows whether the “unknown” is better than what we already know and are accustomed to?

However, when we compare our resistance to that of the little boy who could not fathom life as an adult, perhaps we can catch a glimpse of the amazing journey that God wants to take us on . . . if we will let Him.

Is there an area in your life where you’re afraid to grow or change?

Are you resisting God or godly friends because they want to challenge you to go to the next level?

Remember that there’s so much more you can and could be experiencing, if you will only surrender to God’s refining power in your life. He loves you and doesn’t want to leave you where you are, because there are so many bigger and better things to do and to be in this life. So don’t let discouragement, insecurity or unbelief keep you from being the man or woman God knows you can be with His help!

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Are You Wondering Why God isn’t Helping You?

People look to me as a counselor to help them resolve conflicts in their lives, and I want to help them! But there’s one thing that has to happen for progress to begin—a willingness to admit the problem. You might think, “Well, duh! Isn’t that what the client is doing when they come to see you, Beth?” And I would say, sometimes “yes” and sometimes “no.”

It takes great courage to admit a problem and leave it out in the open for examination and challenge. But unless the client is willing to tell me what the real problem is, I can’t help them.

It’s like going to a doctor with a broken leg and telling him that your stomach hurts. Maybe you do have an upset stomach, but the real problem is your leg! So you walk limp out the door with a prescription for Nexium, when you really need a cast.

God is the same way. He doesn’t force himself into our lives and demand that we tell him our problems. But very often, if we don’t turn to Him, He’s the first one we blame for not fixing our problem(s).

I’ll admit it, I’ve resisted God. If you want to look at a post during one of my resistant moments check out “Boxing with God.” But I’m so glad that I’ve dropped my “dukes” and leaned into His strong embrace. It has made all the difference!

Every single day He’s teaching me things as I rely on Him. It’s not easy. To tell you the truth, it can be down-right uncomfortable to deal with these painful lessons and revelations. But at least I’m getting what needs to be healed, healed!

God is a gentleman. He’s patient and will not force Himself into the problems of your life. And He’s not like a busy-body who “rescues” you from troubles that you don’t even think or know you have. And when we finally do turn to Him with our pain, sometimes His prescription seems to hurt almost as much as the cure. But . . .

He knows what He is doing! He is the Great Physician.

It may take more time and possibly more pain than we want to go through. But just think of how terrible it would be if you kept your “broken leg” without going through the pain of treating it properly. You’d experience ten times more pain and difficulty in keeping that crooked leg—aye, Gimpy?!

So, go ahead – make an appointment with him today. After all, the Doctor is always in!

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My Humiliating Misstep

Have you ever gotten so obsessed with doing something that you did something really stupid in the process?

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I have done this so many times it’s not funny. But on this occasion, I was simply going to church and hurrying to find a certain person before the service began. My mistake came when I tried to scan the crowd for this person while walking.

So here I am, walking briskly up to the glass doors in front of our church. I passed through the first set unscathed. But there’s this second set you must pass through in order to step inside the atrium. I probably slipped to the side of the glass door to get another angle before stepping inside, and as I did, I failed to notice that the door was now to my right.

Now remember, I was busy scanning!

But my perpetual motion left me running smack dab into a glass wall!

Here’s a secret I discovered:

The good thing about a glass entryway is that you can easily see whoever is on the other side of the glass, and the bad thing about a glass entryway is that everyone else can easily see whoever is on the other side of the glass—and in my case, crashing into it!

As I peeled my nose off of the newly smudged glass wall, I was quickly jolted back to reality. And just as I was, I caught sight of a teen boy who was on the other side. I didn’t stay long enough to see who else had caught sight of my utter humiliation. Unfortunately, it was probably a dozen or so high school boys who were there for a youth focused weekend retreat. But I digress.

My point is – I have a tendency to get caught up in “doing things” before I walk through a door. It’s not that the “things” I’m doing are bad necessarily. It’s just that I need to focus on taking one step at a time. Very often when I worry about and try to do the two or three things that are miles down the road, I run into a wall.

It may be. . .

  • a wall of self-doubt or
  • a wall of resisting God or
  • a wall that requires more skill or dedication or faith than I’ve allowed God to build in me up to that point

In other words, the time is not right for me to proceed forward. I need to slow down and listen to what step God may be prompting me to do that I thought was unimportant, already accomplished or didn’t even know was a need. I guess this is my reminder, and hopefully yours too, that we need to slow down enough to keep in step with God and listen for what He wants us to do each step of the way in our lives.

So what is one step that God wants you to take today?

Mine is to remember that it doesn’t depend on me. And to trust God, who is able to face those challenges down the road with and through me!

Chillax and Know . . .

I noticed a few weeks ago that one of my FB friends commented that she didn’t quite know what it meant to, “Be still and know God.” So since I often look for inspiration from all areas of my life, I wanted to write about that very question. But before I do, let’s look directly at this verse and a few others just before it in chapter 46 of Psalms:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging . . . The Lord Almighty is with us . . .

‘Be still, and know that I am God’ . . .” *

I don’t know about you or where you live, but I haven’t experienced any major earthquakes or witnessed any mountains falling into the sea in my neck of the woods. Life may be hard at times, but so far, it’s not been catastrophic for me.

But even if it was falling apart, God would still be with me—with us. In other words, if God can keep us safe in the worst of circumstances, then he can certainly help us with the small matters that plague us from day to day.

So then what does it mean to “Be still”? I think it means to stop striving and controlling. I think it means to surrender. I think it means to trust God instead of trusting myself or my circumstances.

Recently, I had a friend jokingly tell me to, “chillax.” I’d never heard of that expression before (although according to the online dictionary it has been around since 1999!). The term, as you might guess, is a combination of the words “chill” and “relax.”

I think the word “chillax” is very descriptive of what God wants to say to each one of us. If I were to translate this passage into modern day language, maybe God would say something like this,

“Chillax my peeps! Trust me, I got this.”

All humor aside, God just wants you and me to know that he has it all under control. In fact, I think that every time we worry or fear, we’re actually insulting his power and goodness. So the next time you feel yourself giving in to anxiety just “chillax” in God’s mighty embrace. The mountains may fall, but if you fall, he’ll be there to pick you up!

*Psalm 46:1-3, 7a, and 10a (NIV)

Today’s Post is linked to:

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

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I Put My Boxing Gloves Down

Recently I was resisting God in an area of my life. I wrote about it in my post, Boxing with God. It took me quite a long time to finally decide to drop my guard and surrender to him.

At that point, I made the decision to do whatever God wanted me and my family to do. I realized that he would get us through any challenge or circumstance as long as my family and I, in particular, yielded to him.

It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life, but once I was on the surrender side of the equation, things started to happen—things that I never expected or believed were around the corner.

Since that day (October 9th, 2010), God has allowed not only blessings, but also changes that are hard to completely understand at this point. In fact, I’ve felt like I’ve been in limbo in many areas of my life for at least two years now.  But now that I’ve finally decided to surrender this area to God, he has initiated movement in my life–going from zero to 100 in a millisecond! In fact, it’s a little hard to catch my breath!

As many of you already know, one of those changes is the transfer of our foster daughter to another home. It is a tough situation and we are praying that God will be her ultimate parent in the days, months and years to come.

One great blessing in our time with her has been her decision to receive Christ as her personal Savior back in July. I believe that was a genuine decision on her part and I pray that, “He who began a good work . . . will carry it on to completion” in her life. We hope that she will stay in touch and we will be able to see God’s completion in her life.

Another change and blessing for me in this past month is what I believe is a God-given vision for a new ministry, my new blog – Messy Marriage. God had given me the idea for a “Messy Marriage” book years ago, but not until last month did I think about beginning a ministry to those with messy marriages.

I hope that you will visit this new site and perhaps subscribe or become a follower. I hope to use my blog as the beginning platform to meet the needs of those who struggle in their marriages. I have a heart to help people who are in the trenches of a messy marriage or who simply want to make their marriage better and stronger.

This blog will continue biblical and psychological posts, but my posts regarding the marriage relationship will only be found from now on at Messy Marriage. Please pray for me as I begin this mission (with the help of my husband on occasion).

I believe that God uses every circumstance in our lives to give us understanding on how to help others with the hurt they are experiencing. And I’m thanking God for the opportunity to turn the messes in my marriage into lessons and blessings for others who struggle.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Today’s Post is linked to:

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

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