God Uses Messed Up People For Great Things

All things work together for the good of those who love God….(Romans 8:28)

Yesterday, while teaching Sunday school a young man in high school said something that absolutely warmed my heart.

We were looking at a biblical story that points to the reality that God chooses to work with people who struggle with sin to accomplish great things for His namesake. God uses people with messed up lives who are willing to wrestle through life with Him. It’s just a fact.

In light of this lesson, I began sharing about the major changes that have taken place in my life the past few years. About how my life fell apart a number of years ago and all the messages of shame and discouragement the enemy was pegging me with at that time. One of the main messages was that I was a complete and total failure and that everyone saw me that way. As I shared with the youth I said, “Through God’s healing love I have been able to find freedom from such lies and accept the new journey that God has me on today.”

This young man, perked up, looked me and said, “And now you’re here with us.”

Friend, that was a gift from God to me. A reminder that wherever God has us, is where He has us. Thus, we must choose to receive that place with joy, because there are little hearts to love there. There’s a meaningful purpose in that place. It might not be the place you’d thought you’d be, but friend, it’s where God has you. Embrace it with joy and let go of where you think you should be.

What I have learned over these past few years is that being a minister is about choosing to minister and be present wherever God has me. I’m not just a minister when I have the title. I’m a minister when I embrace with joy and purpose where God has me today to love, care for and feed His sheep.

Lord, thank you that you use broken people with messed up lives. Hallelujah, that is such good news. Continue to use me, in all of my messiness for the praise of your glory, in Jesus name, Amen.

Is Your Faith Growing You?

And without faith it is impossible to please God….Hebrews 11:6

I tend to be the person who attacks my own faith the most, by allowing certain words of unbelief and deception in. Whenever I have lacked faith, God in His goodness and mercy has always allowed something to be stripped from my life so that my faith might grow.

Friend, I want you to ask yourself. Where am I lacking faith? After you have found the answer to that question, now ask yourself, where is God growing me? There’s always a connection. Because God loves us too much to let us waver in our unbelief and doubt. He’ll create the kind of circumstances that have the potential to destroy our doubt and unbelief if we’re willing to submit ourselves to Him.

I get it though, you’re fighting the process. I understand, because I do sometimes too, but friend, don’t you see, the more you fight the process the less joy and peace you’ll have in life. The greatest times of growth that have taken place in my life have always been because I finally gave up and started trusting. God brought in the bomb to blast away my doubt and now I had to sit among the rubble, held by His love, believing He would build something new.

Our faith grows when we sit with God in the rubble, waiting for Him to build something brand new, letting go of our fears and discomforts about the whole process and allowing God to reshape us through it. There’s something that happens when we let go and trust even when it doesn’t make sense. God fills in the gaps. He comes through for us because we’ve stopped trying so hard to come through for ourselves.

Friend, our faith will be what helps us overcome. Our lack of faith will be what drowns us in life. Thanks to be God who loves us in our doubt and doesn’t leave us there. Trust Him for what you need today and believe Him for great things. Sit still long enough in the fire to be changed by it. God will make something new in you if you’re willing to believe with all faith that God can accomplish it.

Lord, why do I doubt? Forgive me for my doubt. I place all of my life in Jesus, for He is good. Thank you for your great love and transforming power, in Jesus name, Amen.

How Much Do You Love God? Can You Know?

Anyone who loves God must also love their brother or sister….(1 John 4:21)

Friend, if you’re wondering how you can know the depth of your love for God, then simply look around you and ask yourself, “How well am I loving those around me?” Have I taken the time today to BE the love of God to them?

I think what I’m learning, is that their comes a point in our relationship with God where He’s filled us up so much that the next step in knowing Him more, is to pour it out. Pour out His love and grace. Pour out His goodness and mercy. Pour out His forgiveness and redemption. It is true that we can study the Bible for hours, listen to all sorts of sermons and teachings on the Bible but not actually grow closer with God. Friend, we just can’t disconnect our love, or lack of love for others with our growth in God.

So if you’re relationship with God feels a bit unsatisfactory or dull, then simply ask yourself, “Is there someone around me that needs the love of God today?” Then share that love and watch your own love for God grow as your bring His goodness to others today.

Father, I want to be your love to everyone that I meet. Help me to do that for your glory. Forgive me when I get so focused on everything I’m doing that I forget to love those I’m with, in Jesus name, Amen.

Is It OK To Be Angry with God?

How long, Lord?…(Psalm 13:2)

If we’ve lived any bit of life, we’ve said it, haven’t we? How long Lord will this trial continue to be present in my life? When will this test end? How many more days, weeks and months must I die to this deep desire in my life?

We’ve all felt it, haven’t we- disappointment and maybe even anger with God, over His timing and His plan for our lives? As Christians it can feel wrong to be disappointed with God’s plan, so we shove down our sadness and anger about it and just use a number of Christian platitudes instead because it feels like we’re just supposed to be happy about it.

We might say something like, “You, know, it’s hard, but I’m trusting in the Lord! God is good, so I know His plan is good!” When all the while, we are being internally wrecked with anger over why God would allow such a thing to take place in our lives.

Friends, before we can speak the words that are true of God, HIs goodness, His plan, etc. we must first go to Him in honesty about our anger and disappointment over what happened. Only then, can we proclaim His goodness, because friends, our anger won’t accept what’s true of God until we deal with it first.

It is completely fine to wrestle with God and go to Him with your pain and confusion over what took place in your life. God can handle all of that. He isn’t angry over that. In fact, the Bible is full of people wrestling with God over the things that took place in their lives. Obviously, those words were preserved in Holy Scripture so that we can know it’s OK to go before God in a similar manner.

The truth is, the closer I get to someone in relationship, the more friction there’s going to be, but there should also be more honesty with one another because of the trust that has been built up. The more I grow in relationship with my husband, the easier it is for me to have hard conversations with him. I rarely am brutally honest with someone I don’t know well. So why on earth would we act that way with God?

So friend, if you want to grow closer with God, then be honest with him about your anger towards Him. It’s really OK to express that. Healing takes place when we do that. Just yesterday, I sent up a prayer, “Lord, you could have stopped it but you didn’t. I don’t understand that. It seemed so unfair. Why would you not stop it if you could?”

Friend, God welcomes those prayers when they are prayed out of a heart that loves Him. He’s a good Father who wants to meet us in our sadness, grief, anger and pain. Not a Father who turns us aways when we wrestle through life with HIm. Could it be that’s why your relationship with God feels like its not growing? Maybe He feels a bit distant and silent? Could it be there’s unspoken anger, grief or sadness you have over something you felt like He should have done for you? Then speak it to Him and break the barrier of silence between you and Him.

Lord, life can be so challenging. I don’t always understand what you’re doing. Sometimes your plan makes me angry. I just don’t get it, but I know that you love me, so I anchor my life on that love today and place all of myself in all of you, in Jesus name, Amen.

No Condemnation

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus….(Romans 8:1)

The past week or so I’ve been beating myself up a bit about something that happened. I felt like I could have done more. Had I done things differently maybe the relationship would have been saved, I kept telling myself. I didn’t realize how steeped I was in self-condemnation until yesterday when I asked my pastor and friend to pray for me.

As he prayed, I’m sure of it, the Lord led him to say, “I want to set Heather free from feeling like this is her fault.” Since that time in prayer yesterday, I have felt a deeper freedom. I’ve been able to let go of what I had been holding on to.

Friend, the enemy is crafty. He whispers little lies of self-condemnation so that he can make you feel like a failure in God’s eyes.

This is your fault, he’ll say! You should have chose differently! If you wouldn’t have done this or said that, then things wouldn’t have went this way! It’s true that sometimes we are at fault in the things we do and say and we should own that. However, it’s also true that some things falling apart are simply due to the reality of living in a broken world full of sin. Some people and circumstances follow the voice of deception and friend, when that happens, as much as you pray, hope and believe, sometimes things just don’t go the way that is best. At least, not in that moment. Trust me, it is always better in God’s eyes for relationships to be restored and healed, but as much as we pray, sometimes human beings don’t align themselves with God’s will. Now we have to deal with the pain of that.

Over this past week, I kept asking myself, “Lord, I did all I could, why on earth would you allow things to shake out like they did? How does what happened give you glory?”

Something came over me as I prayed those words, “So that you might be more fervent in prayer for this person.”

I have a hard time accepting the fact that I wouldn’t be the person to lead them to Jesus, but now I have the opportunity to join in fervent prayer for their restoration with God. Could it be that the enemy, the devil, wants to fill our hearts with so much condemnation that we now neglect to be in faithful prayer because we can’t get passed what happened, accept it and now move forward in faith that God CAN still redeem it even without our personal, hands on involvement?

That is my prayer. Lord, let it be.

Father, restore and redeem all the things the enemy broke down through sin. Make good things out of things broken and please reach my friend with the truth of Jesus, Amen.

Trauma Can Change Us

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other….(1 John 3:14)

Trauma has a way of reshaping us, doesn’t it? Our traumatic experiences, the people who left us instead of loved us all have a way of changing what we think about others who are like them. If we’re not careful, we can start to believe that all people are _________________.

Jesus compels us, by His life, to lead and finish with love. I think it can be fairly easy for us to lead with love, but as soon as we’re hurt, it makes it so very hard to finish with love. After all, our traumatic experiences should never cause us to love less, but more. Each experience should cause us to see people with more compassion, not fuel hatred in our hearts towards the people who caused us pain.

Thanks to what I have been through in life, I now have a much deeper compassion for those working in the church and those who have experienced some type of abuse as well. Abuse can come from the places we least expect it and it can be so conflicting when it comes from the people who are supposed to be God’s representatives to us. I know I have hurt people with my faith and for that I am deeply sorry and I have been deeply hurt by those within the faith as well. Friends, we would do well to take seriously our own personal journey’s of healing, so we don’t continue to hurt those around us.

Traumatic experiences happen because there’s unhealed trauma running around that just happens to collide with you. You can either let it cause more trauma in your life and hurt more people around you or love more deeply the people God has placed before you. I want to choose the latter because this life is too short to focus on where we’ve been wronged. Instead, let’s keep our eyes on the one who is good, loving and kind and be that for others who are wrestling through their own painful experiences.

The sad reality is that whenever there’s a person attached to some sort of church trauma, it can make that person question, is this what God is like? God forbid that trauma should come through us and Lord, forgive us, change and transform us from within your church when it does.

Lord, you are a good, kind and loving shepherd. Forgive me when my own pain causes me to hurt other people. Forgive me when I make it about myself and can’t see the other person with deep compassion. Make me more like Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Reconciliation on Yom Kippur

First go and be reconciled to them….(Matthew 5:24)

Today, on the Jewish calendar, it is Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is considers the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. A 25 hour fast is conducted and those who participate are expected to do some deep self-reflection, asking forgiveness from God AND forgiveness from those they have wronged, so they might start afresh and anew with God.

Friend, what about you? Who do you need to seek out to right some wrongs with? Who have you hurt and how can you make it right?

One of the most painful things we can experience in this life, in my opinion, is the severing of relationships and friend no relationship ever severs apart from sin. Personally, for me, I have a hard time accepting an unreconciled relationship. It really hits me deep. It bothers me, because I know it goes against every good within the heart of God.

I have had two occasions in my life when I have tried to right wrongs with someone and they rejected me. Both of those times have been so discouraging. Friend, I know if you probably have those relationships too. All I can say to you is that you did all you can. You humbled yourself, you asked for forgiveness, you tried to make it right and now, for whatever reason, they weren’t ready or willing to be reconciled to you.

Know that before God you stand complete in Him, forgiven and cleansed. Also know that He grieves with you over your unreconciled relationships. Truly, what God loves most is for people to live in harmony, loving and caring for each other. This is the truest way any Christian can live the gospel is to extend that same type of radical grace and forgiveness to each other. So go and right your wrongs if you haven’t and know that, just like me, and I’m sure many others, you just might be rejected. However, just like I have also experienced, you might actually become reconciled to that person through love, grace and forgiveness.

Lord, today I ask that you might show me who I need to be reconciled to. Who is it Lord that I need to make amends with? If it is you, show me my sin, if it is someone else, make that clear to me, I pray and for those who have rejected my invitation to be reconciled please work within their hearts and soften them with your grace, in Jesus name, Amen.