Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Today as I was checking my Facebook, I realized that I have over 500 friends. I thought that seemed like a lot and checked and but for a few, I know the people are my "friends." I don't say this to brag about some arbitrary number of friends I have for social networking, but I was taken aback. I didn't know that I had connections with that many people. It made me realize that my sphere of influence is a lot greater than I thought. Again, not an arrogant thought, but a challenge that I have some sort of influence at some level (no matter how minute) on that many people. One of the definitions of influence from Webster is an "emanation of spiritual or moral force." Another definition is "the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways." We have an influence on all people that we come in contact with. 

Maybe what's important here is not how many people we influence, but the fact that we have the capacity to influence people (as a moral force) to or for Christ. If our words and actions have a negative effect, whether directly or indirectly, we deter the cause of Christ and negatively sway people away from Him. If we are careful and purposeful in our words and actions, we have the power to sway people toward Jesus. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me (John 12:32). 

Just think - if all of us Christians, used our "influence" to "cause an positive effect" on all the people in our lives, we would literally turn the world upside down. That's what the twelve disciples did. They used the influence, the power, that Jesus placed in them and spread the Good News around the world. We have this same power, this same capacity in us. We can affect people around us in so many ways, directly and indirectly. It's a sobering thought to know that we can sway someone to or away from Jesus. 

Maybe what's important here is not how many people we influence, but the fact that we have the capacity to influence people (as a moral force) to or for Christ. If our words and actions have a negative effect, whether directly or indirectly, we deter the cause of Christ and negatively sway people away from Him. If we are careful and purposeful in our words and actions, we have the power to sway people toward Jesus. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me (John 12:32). 

Monday, August 29, 2011


Sunday, August 28 
On Sunday morning, as we were singing about Holy Spirit raining (reining) down on us, I felt the Lord speak to me again. (Oh how I love it when He speaks to me, especially when I feel I don't deserve it.) He so often speaks me to through vivid images. I saw three distinct images - one of rain in the desert (dry, cracked land), one of lush green grass with bountiful flowers and trees, and one of a supersaturated flooded landscape where trees and cars and mud are being washing away. He told me that each time, each season of our lives, God rains on us (For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. -Matthew 5:45). His rain is always available for every season we experience, but He must REIGN in our lives for us to receive the effects of His rain.

In the desert seasons of our lives, we can be far away from Him or simply thirsty for more of Him. In the desert season, He rains on us to refresh us to soften the dry, caked areas of our hearts and our lives. When we feel lost and alone and separated from Him, He is there pouring out His love, cooling the heat of our personal deserts. It is here that His rain sustains (to supply with sustenance- to nourish) us when we are thirsty. 

In the abundant season of our lives, we can be so full of Him that we feel we just can't stand anymore and are overflowing to minister to others. Or, we can be so full of life and the world that we just maintain (to keep in an existing condition or to continue to persevere in). In the abundant season, He rains on us, watering our gardens, keeping our fruit alive and fresh. When we humbly receive His blessings and the produce of His harvest, we thrive. It is here that His rain maintains (to preserve from failure or decline) us when we are content and full and reaping the harvest, but if we allow it, we can become comfortable and maintain the status quo.

In the flooded season of our lives, when we feel that we have it all together and pride creeps in, or when we become so overwhelmed with life, it is here that He floods us with His rain, washing away the excess in our lives. Here is where He cleanses us and disciplines us and removes the impurities and distractions of our lives so we can be closer to Him and He can use us. It is here that His rain changes (to make radically different) us. It is in the season that our lives experience upheaval. 

Sometimes I feel like I experience different seasons (in different aspects of my life) all at the same time. It is challenging and comforting to know that God sends rain in every season for our own good.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

God Will Never Waste Your Pain

A couple of weeks ago on Resurrection Sunday (Easter), a dear friend and pastor gave a powerful message about the medical science behind the crucifixion. She based her message off of the following medical information: http://www.apu.edu/infocus/2002/03/crucifixion/. Here is an excerpt from the text:
"Crucifixion was invented by the Persians between 300-400 B.C. It is quite possibly the most painful death ever invented by humankind. The English language derives the word “excruciating” from crucifixion, acknowledging it as a form of slow, painful suffering."
As the Pastor read through the process of the crucifixion, what struck me the most throughout the awful depiction of the most horrendous example of suffering was that every aspect of the crucifixion was intended to cause pain. Pain wasn't just an unfortunate side effect of the death penalty. It wasn't a malfunction of equipment of death. We all have heard of capital punishment proceedings in the past where people, equipment, or medication have failed, leaving the death process slow and painful for the accused. The crucifixion wasn't even a dereliction of responsibilities by the Roman officers, as we often see depicted in movies, where those responsible for death have such extreme hatred that they purposefully make the process more difficult and painful for the prisoner. No, the purpose of the crucifixion was to cause PAIN. The Roman soldiers who beat, abused, and maligned Jesus Christ were following orders when they struck Him with the whip. They were following protocol when they nailed His feet and hands to the cross.

As agonizing as it is to listen to the process of crucifixion and what our Lord endured, it is at the same time encouraging because we know the end result of His suffering. I think that as we go through this life with trials and disappointments, and confusion and pain, it is comforting to know that our Savior knew pain. He knew the shame of embarrassment. He knew the agony of abuse. He knew the piercing ache of abandonment and betrayal. He knew the torture of physical pain and mental anguish. Nothing we have experienced is this life is unknown to Him. He truly does know our pain. (See Isaiah 53).

The pain Jesus endured was for our good - without it, there was no atonement for our sins. But this pain should also remind us that our Savior isn't a far-off distant, detached god who doesn't care or empathize with out lives. He weeps with the abandoned child. He is pained when we feel ashamed and separated from God. He mourns with us when we lose the ones we love. He hold us and says, "I understand" when we go through the difficult trials in this fallen world. 

What's even better than having an empathetic Lord is having one who will never waste the pain that we endure. He will take your lonely, broken heart and heal that pain, but also use the experience so that you can truly empathize with someone else. I can never understand a drug addict's ordeal and suffering, but I do remember the shame of self-abuse. I don't know the awful experience of a broken marriage, but I can understand the perfectionist's fear of never measuring up and the fear of failure. The people that we can most help are ones who are experiencing the same pain from which we'd been delivered. God won't waste the pain you have experienced in your life as long as you allow Him to heal you and use you. 

I found this quote the other day and thought it summed up everything I've been trying to say:
"You will have no test of faith that will not fit you to be a blessing if you are obedient to the Lord. I never had a trial but when I got out of the deep river I found some poor pilgrim on the bank that I was able to help by that very experience." ~AB Simpson

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Psalm 34:5

I've been meaning to start this blog for a long time. The title for this blog "Never Blush for Shame" comes directly from scripture. 

"They looked to Him and were radiant; their faces shall never blush for shame or be confused." 
~Psalm 34:5

Throughout the course my life, shame, ashamed, embarrassed, and fear of embarrassment have shadowed my existence. As a child, I was always so afraid of everything - but I think mostly afraid of failing, of feeling stupid, and of failing short of impossible, unattainable goal. Who set this goal anyway was never me or even my parents - it was a corrupt version of excellence disguised a "Straight-A" student.

I spent the better part of my childhood and adolescence craving attention and yet hiding behind layers of insecurities. I think back now and I must have spent a lot of time looking at my shoes, as I was too afraid and ashamed to walk with my head held up. 

There were breaks in the clouds now and then, when a little bit of wonder and confidence would creep out of me and, in some small way, I would start to believe I could really do anything, that I really could change the world. But then, that old lie from the oldest liar (Satan) would weasel its way back into my mind and duck my head in shame.

I graduated with high honors in both high school and college and yet, where was the fulfillment? I thought that would come when I would someday finally find someone to love me. 

But through a series of divine appointments, I found myself in a place, a church to be exact, where my life suddenly took a turn into a completely new direction. I was in a new place where no one knew me - no one had any expectations of me, and I had no expectations of myself. I just knew that the way I had lived, er existed, for the previous 23 years was not how I wanted to continue my life. 

Suddenly I was surrounded by people who looked at my hurting, shame-tucked face and told me that the Creator of the Universe, that God Himself actually wanted to have a relationship with me. Now I had grown up in a lovely church where I truly heard God's word (for which I am truly grateful), but somehow along the way I had missed that God wanted to know me. What? Why would He want me? I was no where near the perfect vessel that I thought He expected of me nor was I anywhere close to the unattainable goal I had set for myself. 

The epiphany moment for me was more of a series of events - mostly time spent trying to connect and get to know this God who truly wanted me. It was in the silent, weeping moments at the altar of God where I came to the realization that this Jesus who I had heard about and known about and read about was truly the most beautiful friend I would ever know. It was through the development of this friendship with Jesus that I was delivered (freed) from the burden of shame. Merriam Webster describes pain as "a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety." We, as humans, have all experienced this emotion as a result of the fall of mankind. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they reacted to their guilt and clothed themselves in shame. Shame is a result of sin, but just a sin should never be our lifestyle, shame should not shroud our lives. Shame binds your mind and contorts your perception. 

Cloaked in shame, I never realized the beautiful plans and gifts that God had for me and has in store for me. God's perfect will for His creation, His people, is to walk in a continual relationship with us, just as He did with Adam and Eve in the garden before the fall. When sin comes (which we all have sinned and missed the mark of perfection), shame sneaks in. By the Blood of Jesus' sacrifice and His grace, we are forgiven of our sins (when we offer true repentance), but we must be cautious of the lingering shame that can shackle us if it is allowed to run-a-muck in our lives. 

So all this being said, this scripture is one of my absolute favorites because it indicates two very important principles of walking out my salvation (through Jesus Christ). The first point is for us to look to Him. We are not created to walk alone and should not expect this of ourselves. The whole point of the sacrifice of Jesus was so that we could once again be connected with God. The sacrifice made a way to clean the sin that separated us from our Creator. The second point is that when we do look to Him, when we speak to Him, even when we mess up and have to repent, we don't have to carry the shame with us. The residual shame can also be washed away too. We will never blush for shame (again) or be confused. We look to Him, we won't be put to shame or lose our way. 

What a beautiful path the Lord has provided for us, if we simply don't trip over our own feet.