Monday, March 26, 2012

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones

Over the past few weeks I have been under an amazing amount of spiritual attack.  The attack actually started a few months ago as we formed a team at my church to launch a Celebrate Recovery ministry.  Initially the attack was in the form of many organizational and logistical obstacles to overcome.  But then a few weeks ago, the attack turned very personal in nature when my motives and recovery were questioned. 
When this first happened, a friend told me that I was being bullied.  That is exactly what it was—only this time it wasn’t being done by some school age kid, it was by an adult.  It was a painful process to walk through.  As I did, I was able to share with my 14-year-old son how to take responsibility for my part in the matter, offer and seek forgiveness and to walk tall in midst of the continuing attack.  I was thankful to be able to turn this into a teaching moment with him.  Like my friend, he recognized it as bullying from the start.
In hindsight, I can definitely see how Satan used this to throw me off course and to attempt to derail me from being on this team.  Sometimes I even became my own worst enemy in the process.  When I was young, kids used to say ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’.  As an adult, I know that those words are not true.  Words do hurt people.  And in fact, quite often people intentionally do use words to hurt people.  After all, hurt people hurt people.  Their words can and do stick with you—if you allow it.
The voices from people in our past, including bullies can keep us stuck in the past and prevent us from living the life that God has called us to.  Satan wants us to keep believing those lies.  He puts the bait out there and wants us to get hooked on it.  Once we do, we can easily go down the road of doubt, self-condemnation and becoming a victim.  It is not a pretty sight.  I know because I have been caught up in it in the past and have to constantly be on the lookout for it.
That is precisely the reason I love Celebrate Recovery.  It is all about working through our hurts, habits and hang-ups.  Quite often it is the words that have been spoken into our lives in the past that we don’t let go of.  We repeat them in our mind or we listen to the voices in our head that tell us we are not good enough and that God could never use us or love us after what we have done.  Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to work through those hurts with others who also struggle and have found victory over it through Christ.
I know that Satan is not done with his attacks against me or this ministry.  He knows it is a threat to his dominion.  I also know that God is not done with me yet.  He is using my trials to build me up into a better leader.  I have a group of amazing mentors, accountability partners and prayer warriors around me that have walked this road as well.  I know I am not going down a path that has not been walked before.  I have some battle scars, but will proudly reveal them to those who want to walk this journey with me.
I have often been reminded of Ephesians 6:12 over the last few weeks.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  Then God’s still quiet voice also reminds me of his promises as in Jeremiah 29:11: 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.”
In the face of persecution and spiritual attack, we have a choice to make.  Are you going to let the ‘stick and stones’ lies of the enemy define you or are you going to believe what God tells you about your identity in Christ and His plans for you?  I choose to believe God.  I know He’s got my back.  What about you?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why I Write

I haven’t been doing much writing lately as I have been dedicating most of my time to a major ministry project at my church.  A few days ago though, I took some time out to submit an essay to a writing contest. 
It really got my writing juices flowing, got me out of my head and in touch with my heart.  As you will see in the submission below, my writing comes from a place of passion and call on my life.  I attend monthly Christian Writer’s Meetings that help me to build my writing skills, but more importantly they encourage me to pursue my writing for His purposes. 
Writing prompt:  In 300 words or less describe why you write.  I struggled to keep it to 300 words, but this is part of my learning the craft.  The winner will receive a full scholarship to attend the NW Christian Writer’s Conference.  That was nice incentive, but even better for me was the chance to sit down and reflect on how important my writing has become in my life this past year and what motivates me to do it.  I am very grateful that God is taking me down this path.
Why I Write
I had just been through one of the most difficult weeks of my life.  My mother had suffered a severe stroke 18 months prior and now I had returned home after dutifully handling all of her end of life matters.  I went through the painstaking process of having her cremated, writing her eulogy, speaking at her memorial, and saying my final goodbyes in a ceremonial foot washing.
While on this trip back home, God took care to reveal hidden treasures in my soul that connected me to my mother, but I hadn’t previously realized.  He gave me beautiful glimpses into the ways that I am like her.  It was an amazing gift of freedom and wholeness.  In the midst of these revelations, God placed a heavy burden on my heart to start writing.  And, I did. 
I found my voice in my writings, heard God speak to me, and share His visions for my life.  God revealed the story that He wanted me to write and placed a much bigger call on my life. He has given me dreams to offer inspiration and hope to others from a grateful heart. 
Even today as I cling to the transformations that God has orchestrated in me, I fondly remember the words my writing teacher shared when I was on the fence about my writing ability.  It was from a book by Louise De Salvo “ …if you want to write you must follow your desire to write…if you want to become a writer, eventually you’ll learn through writing—and only through writing…if you want to write and don’t because you don’t feel worthy enough or able enough, not writing will eventually begin to erase who you are.”  This is why I write.