Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Build Up and Encourage

Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

The biggest part of being a leader is to teach. If you don’t think you are a teacher you are fooling yourself. You are teaching every day to those around you even if you don’t realise it. Some mistakes I have seen repeatedly in my life is not letting people you are leading fail. And when they fail not giving them constructive feedback or helping them grow. How fair is it to expect someone giving it a go to be perfect and succeed the first time.  Encourage, teach, give positive feedback and allow people to succeed in their failure. Give them second and tenth chances. So many people have given up because of the one chance they had that they blew and then never got chosen again.

It is like that one child that wants to play sports but isn’t as great at the rest but you stick him on the side-lines because he is no good. Does he learn to play that way? NO! You work with him and give him a little extra help and you believe that he can do it. You echo his dream and build him up to meet it. You allow the team to build him up to and you don’t treat him like a failure you treat him like a learner.

Failure and mistakes needs to be called learning because that is what it is. Learning because you don’t know how to do it yet but as you go and you see others do it you try and you try again and again until you have learned it and you have grown and embraced your dream and it is now a reality.

Come on people. The reason why we have a world full of people who have buried dreams is because no one believed in them. They blew their one chance and were never asked again. They failed which means they were gifted or talented enough for their dream. Disqualified by lack of faith and unbelief.

We need to trust people more and see their lives as an expression of the Creator. God made them and put that dream in them. He has given them that desire. Why not build each other up? Why not encourage and allow people to learn in their failure? Let God deal with the character and attitudes. Life will teach you enough without you jumping on everyone’s failures and faults.

People are painfully aware of their faults and the things they hate about themselves. Why add to that? Why point out failures when we were called to love each other and build each other up and teach, encourage, prophecy, edify and pastor? Be very careful who you criticise and belittle because that person has a call on their lives and could be on the verge of quitting for good. They may just have been criticising themselves for 10 year and your words could bring confirmation or it could break that mindset and spur them on to good works.

For years we have tried to control behaviour. Punishing people for their misdeeds and for stepping out of line. A world of rules and regulations that were meant to serve us has now only enslaved our minds and hearts. We have brought the lie into our lives that we are guilty until we are proven innocent. Yes there are some real criminals out there and my heart really breaks for those hearts that have been so hardened that they no longer feel anything for anyone and killing and harming is sport to them. We can only guess the reasons why they turned bad. I don’t feel like they were destined to be destructive and I think maybe the opposite was true that if they didn’t go very very mad then they may have been the very very best thing that happened to this world and maybe the enemy knew this and circumstances took over. It is just terrible seeing God’s creation broken and not functioning as it should. However let’s not treat each other as criminals first until they prove themselves.
We are desperate for unity in the church but can I suggest that we stop trying to hustle unity and start working from unity. We are all one in Christ, brothers and sisters, family. We already in unity. It isn’t something we need to attain but it is something we need to live.
Why do you think Timothy was told not to let people look down on him for his youth? It doesn’t matter how old you are there is always someone older than you, looking down on you and ready to either teach you or discourage you. Which are you going to be? There is always someone younger than you, looking up to you to see if you will be open to teach or open to judgement.

How will you teach and treat those around you today? Remember that God is judge and we are called to love Him and others as we love ourselves.

Challenge: Build up and encourage 3 people this week. Note the difference it makes in their lives and see if they grow more and step out a little bit more and become more courageous and brave. Come on you would want someone to do that for you too so why not let it start with you and maybe they will pay it forward.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Identity Theft

So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

We have all heard about identity theft. Where someone takes your details and tries to palm them off as their own. A person assumes your name and your identity is stolen and you are left feeling stripped of who you are.

What I am wanting to talk about today is another form of identity theft that is happening every moment of the day without you even being aware of it.
It may start off with being born a girl when your parents wanted a boy. It may be that you are teased and bullied at school and called names and mocked. Maybe you are have reached puberty and no longer know who you are anymore. You could be struggling with what gender you feel you belong to. You may be depressed and the words that are playing over and over in your head are not ones that you would say to anyone else ever.

Identity can be stolen from you through words and thoughts and unless you are aware of it you are fairly powerless to stop it but I am here to tell you that you are being lied to and robbed and that you are not powerless.

The enemy has been wanting to steal the identity away from mankind since the day they were created. When he lied to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden he took their identity into question. Mankind was made in the image of God and yet that snake decided to twist and distort this. He said to them that they won't die if they ate from the tree of good and evil but that God was holding from them that they would be godlike when they ate of it and that their eyes would be opened. Funny things they were already made in the image of God so they were already godlike. They could've asked anything from God and they even walked with God in the Garden. What happened instead was a real struggle for identity. Instead of finding themselves they found shame and they covered themselves and hid. They were so stripped of identity that they were too afraid to face God who not long before they had walked with and spoken to.

What is robbing you of your identity? What lies have been whispered into your ear? Who stuck that label on you? Do you not know that you are created in the image of God and that you are worth so much more than these words and labels that have been stuck on you.

I know it is so much easier to tell you to just shake it off than it is to actually do it. Believe me I have had so much of my identity attacked that I sometimes wonder how I am still standing but God.

The only way to understand your identity is to look to the one who gave it to you. The one who created you and made you awesome. He didn't just create us to look like just anything like the monsters on Monsters Inc, some fluffy, some with 2 eyes and some with 5 and scaly. He made us in human form to resemble Himself. If anyone knows what your identity is it is the one who gave it to you.

It so annoys the enemy that you have this identity that he will try and do whatever he can to corrupt it before you can even step out into the fullness of it. He knows that once you know your true identity you will be unstoppable and you won't be able to be lied to anymore. There is a battle for you mind and soul whether you like it or not and it isn't going to take might or power to overcome it but the truth of the Holy Spirit. You can not will it away and you cannot fight it in your own strength you need to look to your Creator and who he says you are. Then and only then can you be ready to face these issues.

You can't fight a lie with will power. They only way a lie can die is if we know the truth. Only then can we truly be free.

In the past the church have been really quick to judge those who have been stolen from. People have been using fig leaves, dirt, alcohol, drugs, anger and fear to hide their shame for thousands of years. There truly is nothing new under the sun. All have been lied to and those that believe the lie repeat the lie over and over in their minds every day. We will do whatever we can to get our identity back. We will starve ourselves and mutilate our bodies and even go as far as to end our own lives. We even try and get out identity from others or groups and gangs, all because we do not grasp the wonderful miracles that we are.

What are some of the things that you have believed that aren't true? Seek the truth at the Source of your identity and believe no longer the lies of the enemy because he only comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came to give us a rich and satisfying life. You were never made to live a broken and unfulfilled life. You were created for great things. Time to rise up and find the treasure that is buried under all the lies. You have gold within you just waiting to be found.

If your identity is in Christ then live like it. God has showed us how to put on the whole armour to fend off this attack on our identity. But don't stop there show others how God sees them. Stop judging the external garbage people are doing. Love who God created them to be.
I watched Wonder Woman last week and her final words were "It's about what you believe. And I believe in love. Only love will truly save the world."

It is about what you believe and I believe in the greatest love. That the Father so loved us that He gave His only Son to die for us so that we may be reconciled to Him in our full identities. No more shame that we need to cover up. I believe in this love and it is only this love that can truly save the world. It is time to take our identities back and love the world as Christ loves.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

True Colours

 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other. Romans 15:32

The other day my husband and I decided to surprise our 4 daughters and take them to see the new Trolls movie. WARNING: There may be a few spoilers even though I tried not to.

There were a few things that were a bit dodgy in it but overall I enjoyed the message.
The Trolls are super happy all the time so much so that the always sad Burgens (huge ogery type characters) think that to become happy that they need to consume a Troll to be happy. They create a holiday called Trollstice and on that day they have a Troll feast.
Without giving too much away and then spoiling the movie for you, the overall message is that happiness is inside of every one of us. We do not need to consume to be happy. It doesn’t come by external means.

I thought about how so many people think that when they buy this thing or that thing then they will be happy. When they have that thing they aren’t truly satisfied. The Burgens thought that by swallowing a Troll that this would make them happy and it did for a while, until they needed their next fix of Troll.

Sometimes we can feel very unhappy and really sad and slip into depression. It is very difficult to get out of it.
One of the Trolls had something traumatic happen to him the result is a rather paranoid and grey looking Troll that doesn’t give hugs and doesn’t dance or sing. He is about as unhappy as a Burgen.
His other friends help him and get him to talk about his problems and he then gets shown how to be happy again. How to find that happiness that was buried and hidden away.
Later on the Trolls lose their happiness and turn grey and sad. The once unhappy Troll then sings True Colours.

You with the sad eyes
Don't be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small
But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow
Show me a smile then
Don't be unhappy, can't remember
When I last saw you laughing
If this world makes you crazy
And you've taken all you can bear
You call me up
Because you know I'll be there
And I'll see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow

Having friends around you that can help you up when you are down and have lost your happiness is very important. I know that we don’t always feel like we have friends when we are depressed. The world becomes this small dark place.
Happiness. What is happiness really? We have happiness that comes from something funny that we saw or heard. We have happiness that makes us feel good for a bit until a new emotion hits like sadness. The one I am talking about is that state of being that trumps any other emotion. Joy. I know I have written about joy before and I am still trying to figure it out. But one thing I know is that joy is always there. I always have access to joy. I never have to eat a troll or buy a new handbag to get joy.
Life overcomes us though and sometimes we need a friend to come beside us and remind us where to find our joy maybe even remove the darkness that is blocking our joy.

Truth is we need friends in our lives. We need people praying for us and not judging us. People who don’t attack the way you act but who call out the joy. People who can see past the fa├žade and who see the hurt and try and hug it away and take us by both hands and pull us out. People who will fight for us.

Grief, loss, shame, hurt, guilt. Some of the worst feelings in the world. They tangle through our very being. They pull at who we are and try and unravel us. They leave us in a state of depression that we feel we will never escape from. Just when we thought we had reached a point where we have them dealt with we round a corner and they are there ready to assault us again.
Grief. A feeling that sits under the surface of your every day. You never know when it will come to the surface. Maybe a memory, a smell, a favourite flower. Sometimes in the quietness of the night. It sneaks up and pounces and goes through your heart and up out of your eyes in floods of tears. When it has been around a while it doesn’t come out in floods, it ends up sitting like a lump in your chest, refusing to move.

Loss. Similar to grief but disguises itself as something innocent but really it is fuel for grief. Loss reminds you. Loss tells you, you are alone. It tells you that you will never love again. You will never open your heart again. Loss breaks your heart and tells you it will never be mended.

Shame. Shame is that little creature that lives on your shoulder telling you that you are a terrible person for feeling bad and not knowing how to act properly. Shame tars your soul. It moves in and makes itself comfortable in the guise of self-improvement. Shame confuses and blinds. It steals your identity and robs you of your joy.

Hurt. Cuts deep. It aches and bleeds. Hurt leaves you gasping for air as it tries to expand in your chest. Unable to contain it you think you may burst, until you do and tears flow. Hurt is messy. It never puts on a well contoured, bronzed make-up tutorial with winged eyeliner. Instead it stirs up anger. It stirs up moods you didn’t even think were possible to express before. It makes you less likely to trust again and twists your view on reality. Something someone did or said will replay over and over in your mind and hurt comes back to remind you.

Guilt. Justified or unjustified, guilt is the knife that stabs you in the back. Guilt shouts ‘If only you…’ If only you had not done that or said that. If only you had it all together and you weren’t such a mess. If only you had told them you loved them one last time. If only you had gone and seen your friend that day. If only you hadn’t left them alone that day. If only. Guilt attacks your mind making you feel like you aren’t acceptable. Like you aren’t good enough.

Grief, Loss, Shame, Hurt and Guilt are deadly. There is no overnight cure. It takes time to work through these emotions. There is forgiveness. Forgiving yourself and others. But it is a process. Sometimes it needs to be a daily decision to forgive. There are times when you forgive and that is it you move on but when it is 3 degrees deep even surgeons know that you need to add extra stitches on each layer and then there is still the healing after. Some hurt, grief, shame, guilt and loss are not superficial. It can be layers and layers going deep down.

How do we heal these wounds? I found the only way is time, love and understanding. Not everyone knows or can know what you are going through just like you don’t know what others are going through but with a dose of compassion and genuinely caring for the other person you can dive into those dark places and bring hope to a dark situation.

God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He brings healing and He knows the best way to do the surgery that is needed. His hands are skilled at removing dead tissue and cleaning wounds from infection.

I know that in my own attempt to fix someone’s problems I have gone in with a spoon and tried to dig the hurt out of them. Like a bull in a china shop I have done more harm than good. Had I just shown love and looked passed the person’s anger or frustration. Had I look at the heart as God does and seen the hurt buried deep in their eyes, the grief that has lined their face and the heavy load on their backs. Get alongside people and help them up so they can see clearly. Find the gold inside and let it shine brighter than the ties that bind.

We all just want to be happy and have joy. Some have just been on a journey that has smothered this. That is why God gave us each other. To encourage when shame takes seat. To hug when grief leaves you speechless. To fill the gap loss has left. To bring hope when hurt has harmed and to absolve when guilt accuses.