Let Go of The Past

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.“ Phil 3:13

Many believers are able to let go of the past and live and thrive in the fullness of a new life in Christ. Sadly many cannot because they have been wounded and crippled emotionally in one way or another. So instead of running the race with endurance – they limp along the way.

There are two types of emotionally wounded believers – The first turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms,-negative behaviors – addictions, immorality, anger, etc.

The second try to pull themselves up by the boot straps choosing to bury and rise about their past through self-efforts and busy themselves with many things including work, ministry, volunteer work, charities, always doing –  often out of a need to be needed and valued rather than a healthy heart to serve. The problem is they have never deal with the pain and believe that they are living free but are still living in bondage because deep inside they still believe the lies behind the pain.

Both are hurting, and both are in denial. They may have different coping mechanisms but one thing in common….they have never fully accepted the Grace of God into the deeply wounded areas of their hearts.

Both are hindered from living the abundant life that Jesus spoke about in John 10:10

How do they move forward? The past must be dealt with in order to move forward. Burying it doesn’t work, stuffing doesn’t work, pretending it’s not there doesn’t work….sooner or later it unravels….the stuffing comes out in negative behaviors or even seemingly good behaviors, but at the root, there is something entirely different going on.

Give your hurts to Jesus. Stop running and hiding from the past. Let God heal your hurts and replace the lies with the truth of who you are in Jesus. Let go! Put the past behind, reach ahead and run the race with endurance and assurance of God’s calling on our life.

“Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. “ Hebrews 12:1-2

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The Root of Negative Behavior

People even in the church can behave in very unloving and ungodly ways. They can act out in pride and holier than thou attitudes or lash out in anger, addictions, slander and malice towards others grieving the Holy Spirit in whom we were sealed. It’s easier to judge the sinful attitudes and behaviors on the surface without taking a step back and gain God’s perspective on the matter. But doesn’t Scripture tell us that God judges the heart and not the outward?

People don’t wake one morning with a hardened heart. What could have happened to an individual who acts out so negatively, rudely and hurts self and others? What kind of hurts are they carrying around inside? Please understand that whatever hurts are buried deep inside a hardened heart does not excuse the sinful behavior. God hates sin, and we are allowed to hate it too. Nevertheless, by peering into the heart of God and seeing things through His eyes, it will help us understand the reasons why people act out and will help us gain compassion and not personalize the sinful behaviors of others.

Painful wounds in our hearts can always be traced back to the effects of sin, whether our own or someone else’s. Disguising pain with either good or bad habits, or addictions create a vicious cycle of guilt and shame. Whatever the coping mechanism, until the root of the hurt is dealt with the wound will continue to fester allowing sinful negative behaviors to continue. God wants to heal your broken heart. No matter what you have been through, God is bigger than anything you have experienced or are experiencing now. No matter where you’ve been, what you have done or what has been done to you … the Master Healer, Jehovah Rapha, can transform your innermost hurts into conduits of His blessings. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead can heal and restore you. He only asks one thing…”Do you want to be made well?” Healing is a choice.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.…”

Ephesians 4:30-32

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The Snare of Rejection

It’s been said that if you live for the acceptance of others, you will die from their rejection. If your sense of self-worth is based on the approval of others, your value is at the mercy of what others think about you. Your identity, who you are, how you see yourself is determined by how others see you and respond to you.

In our brokenness, we tend to give people a lot of power. People on the outside control my thoughts, feelings, and my will. They own me. I don’t know who I am, and I live in fear of failing to meet their approval and being rejected.

Only God is allowed to have control over our lives. We need to give our fear of rejection over to the Lord. He created us and established our worth. When we let His love pour into us, we learn to trust Him, and He will turn our fear into faith, and we will find full acceptance in the arms of our precious Savior.

If you believe that you may be living for the approval of others, evaluate the following statements and see if you identify with any of them.

”I am not good enough.”

“I have to try harder.”

“I have to earn love.’

“I flatter people so they will like me.”

“I have to be perfect.”

“I always feel less than.”

“I know what I think is not important.”

“I know that I am not likable.”

“I never feel like I belong.”

“I don’t measure up.”

If you can relate to any of the above chances are that there is a deep root of rejection driving your need for approval and acceptance from others. Please understand that just because you have been rejected in the past, you don’t have to walk in fear that you will be rejected again by others. We can be so crippled by the fear of being rejected that without realizing it we can push others away, or create situations where we will be rejected fulfilling a self-imposed prophecy which causes us to continue to believe lies about ourselves and feel alone and rejected.

 

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Do You Want To Be Made Well?

It’s easier to stuff pain inside, wear a painted smile and pretend that everything is okay, but masking issues of the heart only perpetuates our hurts.

Eventually, undealt issues spring up and defile all areas of our lives including relationships. Inwardly our souls are crying out to be healed. At some point, we may grudgingly seek help. However, it is essential to understand that in order to be healed we must be willing to be healed no matter how painful and difficult the journey.

Jesus asked one question to the lame man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5:2 “Do you want to be made well?” This is the pivotal question for every person seeking healing for emotional wounds. The simple truth is that not everyone wants to be made well. They may start off eager with the best intentions, emotionally feeling that they cannot go on another day, but at the end of the day, do not want to be made well, and those who do not want to get well are not going to get well.

Why would I not want to walk in the freedom from the bondage that Christ set me free from? F-E-A-R! Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of what may be uprooted and exposed, fear of pain, fear that we may have to give up (someone or something); Or we may not be desperate enough yet.

Perhaps we have grown comfortable in our dysfunction and are comfortable in a victim role. We may not have reached a breaking point yet where we face losing someone we love, such as a spouse, or a relationship, maybe even a job, our freedom, and in our minds – we tell ourselves as bad as our current situation is – “it’s not as bad as so and so’s”, or at least we know how to respond, or how to continue to do life and even serve in ministry. However, we are putting on the painted smile while living in a prison in our own mind. But make no mistake…It is never God’s fault. If we do not want to embark on the journey and “be made well” – we won’t get well. Healing is a choice.

If you are in a place where you are desperate enough to get help and want to be made well, then I pray that nothing will hinder you from getting the healing that you need and will encounter the Healer in a deep and intimate way.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
Psalm 147:3

DO YOU WANT TO BE MADE WELL?

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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence inflicts damaging effects not only on the abused but the children who witness it. They learn that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict and affects the family generation upon generation unless the cycle is stopped. Have you been affected by domestic violence? Please know this is never okay. If this is taking place right now, remove yourself and your children from the home and go to a safe place. There are many Christian and Non-Christian organizations that can assist you in leaving a violent home.

While the abuser is acting out on hurts of the past and needs God’s love and redemption, you are precious and valued, and you were not put on this earth to be abused. Pray your loved one gets the help they need and leave the door open for healing, restoration, and reconciliation. If they refuse to get help and choose to continue to engage in abusive and violent behavior, impose healthy boundaries to protect yourself and seek God. He will show you the next step. If you are truly seeking His heart and not your own personal desires or worldly advice, He will direct you.

Don’t allow yourself to be influenced by the opinion of others even well-intentioned Christian brothers and sisters, who quite often counsel abused women to submit to abusive husbands quoting verses on submission. You are not called to submit to sin. Seek the whole counsel of God …

“Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)

” Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.” (Colossians 3:19)

“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)

“Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;  for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19-20)

“Love does no harm to its neighbor.” (Romans 13:10)

To submit to violence and put yourself and children in harm’s way is to go against the will of God because God’s will never goes against His Word.

Have you or are you engaged in a physically abusive relationship? Please get help and rest assured that you are not alone. Your faithful Father will never leave you and forsake you. There is help for your hurting heart.

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Christ Centered Counseling

There are a plethora of self-help books available offering various theories and approaches to dealing with the rooted issues of negative emotions and behaviors.

Modern day psychology is valuable in understanding the soul (mind, emotions, and will). This is the area that gets sick. The rooted systems in our life can make our souls extremely sick. A psychology approach can diagnose the problem and offer

A psychology approach can diagnose the problem and offer solution. However, since the solution offered is rooted in humanism and, therefore, manmade, there is no true long term healing that can occur. At best it can help change behavior, and give you tools for self-discipline, or positive thinking. That is not freedom.

There is no lasting victory because it does not deal with sin. It does not allow for the blood of Christ to cleanse us and change us. It merely puts a band-aid over symptoms. It may address anxiety, depression, outward manifestations and symptoms of deeper issues – but often the first solution offered is medication and never gets to the root. So people are not getting the true healing they are seeking.

As Christians, we know that only God has the power to heal us from the inside out and set us free. That is true victory. He doesn’t just change behaviors; He transforms, renews, restores, redeems and breaks the chains of bondage. Psalm 147:3 says “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Isaiah also tells us that God is the “Wonderful Counselor.” John 14:6 says “the Holy Spirit is the Counselor.” Therefore, true freedom is found only by applying biblical truths to the wounds of our heart. Jesus is the balm of Gilead. He is the ointment that heals the wounds of God’s hurting children.

 

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Authentic Identity

We are precious children of the Living God. That is our true identity.

The world tries to give us false and negative identities (ugly, worthless, unwanted, not good enough, etc.) But our precious Savior wants us to be firmly rooted in the truth of who we are in Him (pure, spotless, beautiful, special, wanted, accepted, and loved).

Identity always forms an action. If we see ourselves as unworthy, our actions will follow and vice versa. When we begin to see ourselves as Jesus sees us – precious and beloved, we start to choose to live and behave in our right identity. We then enter into a sweet place of utter and complete brokenness where we see how we have tried to cover the shame, dirtiness, and unworthiness by trying to mask, look good, justify, perform, compensate, work harder, earn God’s love or withdraw altogether.

It is then that we can surrender all the faulty ways we have tried to earn love and acceptance and embrace the sufficiency of the love of Christ displayed at the Cross of Calvary. I am beloved and made Holy not by any action of my own but because of what Jesus has done for me. The moment we embrace that truth as our right identity, we are set free, and our roots of faith grow deep in the soil of our hearts that will sustain, protect and nourish us through the seasons of life.

 

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The Ban Aid of Bitterness

When we are hurt emotionally, the fastest way to stop the emotional bleeding is placing the band-aid of bitterness on. It keeps us from feeling the pain and on guard of being hurt again. It also keeps from feeling God at work in our lives or His call to do His work.

God’s word warns “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springs up and cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15) Once bitterness has taken root it causes the wound to fester and grow. Anger, depression, anxiety…all grow out of bitterness.

To get rid of the ban aid of bitterness we need to allow God to come in and clean the wound so that it can heal properly.  Because even though it’s been covered through various coping mechanisms, is still there and it still hurts. Just like a cut that got infected, emotional wounds have to be cleaned so that we are out of the way of God healing them.

Like poison bitterness can slowly kill us. It can harden our hearts to where when God points it out to us we turn our back on what we need to do to get rid of it. The good news is that we have a Savior who can heal our broken hearts and bind up our wounds so that we no longer have to pretend that everything is okay and stop putting on a happy face when we are crying on the inside.

Take your hurts to Jesus. He can clean out the wound causing the infection of bitterness that is making you heart sick and preventing you from giving or receiving forgiveness and living in the fullness of His love and grace.

 

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Victory In The Battle of The Mind

Many struggles in life often are fought on the battlefield of our minds. That’s why James writes “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4:1). That’s why we are exhorted in God’s Word to demolish any thought that goes against what God says is true about any given situation.

We are in a Spiritual battle and need to take every stray thought captive and repent, correct it and align it with the truth of God’s Word. If someone has hurt us or wronged us, and are having hateful thoughts towards that person, we need to take that hateful thought captive immediately so that bitterness does not take root in our hearts and defiles us. (Hebrews 12:15)

We need to stop, realize what is truth in the situation, take responsibility for our wrong actions, ask for forgiveness, acknowledge when they are wrong, understand that we cannot change another person, offer forgiveness, release them to God and choose not to hate. The victory in the battle is won when we discipline our thinking, so it focuses on thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and are praiseworthy to God. (Philippians 4:8)

Negative emotions like anger, bitterness, hate, jealousy, fear, anxiety can kill us. They are joy stealers. They suck the life out of us and hinder us from living abundant lives in Christ. The good news is that we are not powerless. God has given us a choice to meditate on life giving thoughts or thoughts that bring death in our lives and render us defeated. Choose life! Choose victory!  Make it a practice to capture every negative thought and choose to replace them with good ones which come from the truth of God’s life-giving Word.

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Embracing Our Brokenness

Why is it so important that we do not fall into the trap of thinking that we have to be perfect? Because there are no perfect people! But trouble comes when we expect ourselves and others to be perfect. Perfect people don’t have problems so we feel “pressured” to be perfect and cannot admit our problems.

When problems are not presented to God and each other, we cannot be comforted, or if in private desperation we cry out to God and see relief, we cannot share our testimony because we would have to admit to the problem in the first place. That means that we cannot comfort others! What a loss to the person needing help and the blessing for us in helping others.

We would miss the whole point of what Paul is talking about in this passage of scripture.  When we can stop fighting our brokenness and instead accept it, we can surrender our need to cover the shame by trying to be perfect, earn acceptance, get validation, prove our value and worth, or check out of life in various ways so we don’t have to face our brokenness. When we do this we live in survival mode and miss out on the abundant Christian life grounded in this truth – It is in my brokenness, powerlessness, and in my weakness that my JESUS is made stronger.

Only when this truth resonates deep in our hearts are we able to identify with other’s brokenness. Let’s cry out to God and be comforted and invite others to experience the same kind of comfort we received. This is the true Christian life!

 

 

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