Uncategorized

Strength deposits

““Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:31-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Even though, in your heartache, you feel like you have failed, you faith doesn’t need to. In fact, as far as I know from my experience, it’s in your heartache that your faith can rise to new levels. Because all you thought you had can be sifted down to nothing and the only thing you know you have left, is Jesus.

This is when your heart can cry out like mine did “You are everything I have and all I need.”

Today a man heard part of my story and he said “the beautiful thing about your story is that Gods strength becomes your own and you’re left with strength you can then deposit into the lives of others that will strengthen them.”

This was the message Jesus was telling Peter before Peter denied Jesus three times. He abandoned and betrayed the man he said he would never leave. He became the victim of his own heartbreak.

We can often feel like we’ve lost all chances of regaining a relationship with God. Like we blew it. But we can never mess this relationship up with God because He will always forgive us. He then decides to use us, not in spite of, but because of, our failure. Our failure becomes the very thing that brings us to the people God wants to use us to minister to.

In that place, faith rises up, Hope is restored and purpose is found. Peter went on to lead the first revival of all time. Because he understood grace, he was able to preach about it with conviction. You too will know the grace and love of God because of, and not inspite of, your heart break- so don’t despise it. He’s right there in the midst of it with you.

Let’s pray.

Father God,

We thank you that you forgive us and that your grace is sufficient in our weakness. Show us now to apply that grace to the lives of those around us. Help us to not be so caught up in what we did wrong that we fail to see the beauty of you turning it all around.

Please open my heart to the new thing you are doing and lead me to those around me that you want me to deposit strength into. In Jesus name, Amen.

Uncategorized

New Nature

Now, if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new creation. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new. And God has made all things new, and reconciled us to himself, and given us the ministry of reconciling others to God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 TPT

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Coming into you’re new nature (or into a new level in that new nature) often feels like breaking out of a cocoon. The shell that was actually created from parts of who you were before, now sheds in order to make way for who you are becoming.

Often we look at a butterfly, forgetting what it was. Once it was a caterpillar. But one day, the caterpillar stopped eating, hung upside down from a twig or leaf and span itself a silky cocoon. Within its protective casing, the caterpillar radically transformed its body, eventually emerging as a beautiful butterfly. But it took a process and that process took time.

Your new nature is a process of becoming the version of you that you were created to be. Situations will trigger built in coping mechanisms that painfully remind you of your past but graciously pull you into your present. You have to remind yourself that being recreated is a PROCESS, not an instantaneous procedure.

Neural pathways need to be rewired, old habits have to be replaced with new habits. toxic relationships have to be recognised, terminated and grieved; work and social environments might have to be re-evaluated and renewed, new boundaries have to be put in place and the list goes on.

By recognising the root causes of your sin or issues as a part of you that you can’t take with you into your future, you change and you grow; your new skin starts to take shape around your new heart. This is what refining does: it brings things to the surface, in the heat of the moment or in the fire of the night, that then allow a separation process to occur.

By separating your identity (who you are) from your failure (what you did), you can allow your strengths (the image of God in you) to surface and restore the very thing that tried to keep you from your true identity. The problem however, is that many of us see our weaknesses as hindrances to achieving our goals. We let them bog us down, rather than allowing them to be bogged down by the new us. We don’t have to become victim to our past, but we can have victory over those things and allow them to shape us into better people.

Blessing comes when we allow God to use our failures as an opportunity to display His grace. Like the Apostle Paul, we can embrace our weaknesses with a fresh knowledge of God’s strength in us.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Tomorrow, I’m going to look at how we can develop our new nature and understand how God sees you in the process. He loves you. He’s for you. With Him, you’re on the winning side so keep moving forward.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you that you set me free. Thank you for allowing me to be transformed into the image in which you created me for. You are my strength in the battle I’m facing. You are the One I look to as I reflect your nature to the world. Please help me to do so in a way that glorifies you.

In Jesus name, Amen

divorce

When Divorce doesn’t reason with law but agrees with logic

fact-4-Violence-minLogically, we know that refuge centres set up for women who are abused, are a good thing. Any good friend or father who walks into a room where a woman is being abused by her partner, physically, sexually or even emotionally, would pull that woman out and set her free. No one wants to see a loved one being abused. Victims of abuse are never going to live out their purpose as long as they are being tormented physically or emotionally. The affects of that abuse extend into the neural pathways of their brain which take therapy and recovery to rewire- if they ever get help.

God doesn’t desire abuse for us. He doesn’t want to bring harm against us. He wants us to know and live out our purpose. His desire for us not to sin is rooted in the fact that He doesn’t want us to harm ourselves. Self-harm isn’t limited to putting a blade to your skin. Self-harm extends to the self-sabotaging acts we do when we don’t understand how valuable we are and how amazing God is.

I want to take you back to the story of the Israelites in Egypt. (If you’ve ever watched Prince of Egypt, you’ll get the gist of the story.) We often forget that Egypt was once their promised land.

Joseph went through years of imprisonment and slavery which led him into the palace of Pharaoh in Egypt. Here, he was able to provide for his family who were about to die of starvation in their home country. Instead, they came to Egypt so that God could provide for them and they were given a place of favour because of Joseph. Joseph had envisioned this position years before and made the mistake of telling his brothers. They tried to sabotage his vision and turned their backs on him because they were jealous of him (and thought he was crazy!) Years later, those very same brothers got to experience the grace of God and forgiveness of their brother when they realised that he, in fact, was going to be their only means of survival. Joseph not only forgave them but he saw what they did as God’s leading them into the promised dream he had had. His perspective was pure. (See Genesis 45-47)

Jacob (aka Israel) and his sons went and settled there probably not ever thinking they’d want to leave. Often we stay in a place or house or country because AT ONE STAGE, that was our promise. But God is a God of seasons and seasons change. He is a God who does new things ALL. THE. TIME.

Egypt, however, soon turned into a prison for the future generations of Israel. They were being abused and enslaved, pushed to their very limits by cruel task masters. They cried out for help, asking God to rescue them from the prison they found themselves in. Oppressed and bewildered, God raised up another man who had been through the process of isolation and rejection—enter Prince of Egypt. Moses (a native Israelite who had been brought up in an Egyptian palace) didn’t think he was worthy to be used by God. He thought he had blown all chances because in the back of the desert one day, he killed an Egyptian task master who was abusing his people. Maybe it was his heart for justice that God saw even in his act of disobedience to God’s law- murder.

God didn’t justify it, neither did he disqualify Moses. Moses was out in the wilderness for 40 years before God called him to be the answer to the Israelites prayers.

Egypt had been a promise of provision and the place where God set up the tribes of Israel- Family and order within community. It was significant in the history of Israel. Yet, years later as corruption and jealousy crept in on a larger scale, the Israelites no longer experienced blessing in that land, but burden.

Too often, we assume that the thing that God originally sent into our lives to bless us, will continually remain that way- whether it be a gift or a person. But, at the end of the day, God is God and only HE remains the same. Only when we see things like Joseph, through an eternal perspective, can we live content with the way God chooses to move us around- either geographically or relationally.

Psalm 81:5-7 (NKJV). This He established in Joseph as a testimony, when He went throughout the land of Egypt, Where I heard a language I did not understand. “I removed his shoulder from the burden; His hands were freed from the baskets. You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder, I tested you at the waters of Meribah.”

These verses are talking about the Israelites when God set them free from Egypt. It started with a testimony for Joseph, but ended up a burden for God’s people. How many women, enter into a covenant relationship, thinking that they have received their promise from God, only to be abused and tormented by the one who was meant to be their provision and their protector. They, too, are calling out to God in their distress, often in secret and feeling the pressure of those around them who are putting yokes on them that they feel like they can’t break out of.

Yokes of legalism and religiousness. Yokes of guilt and shame. Yokes of expectations for change that they can’t make happen in someone else but can make happen in themselves- if they leave. I was one of those wives and I remember coming through a two year season of intense abuse and shame and God showing me this verse. I was reminded that He cares- that He doesn’t just remove the burden from our shoulders- but He REMOVES OUR SHOULDERS FROM THE BURDEN! He pulls us out from underneath and deals with the hand that has been oppressing us, taking us to new levels of faith in Him.

But after this God has a call to the Israelites to make sure they step up their game and continue to follow Him. He says in vs. 11-12: But My people would not heed My voice, And Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels.

Can Christian men abuse their wives? The short answer to that question would be explained in these verses. God still gives us free choice and God ultimately has established laws of sowing and reaping. Wives are not responsible for the choices their husbands makes. He will be accountable to God for all his actions as she will be responsible for hers. Too many wives are out there taking responsibility for their abusive husbands actions. They get caught up in blame and shame and low-self belief…often because they’ve been emotionally abused to the point that their minds and souls have surrendered to apathy.

God wants freedom for us. He doesn’t expect us to live in slavery and oppression, abuse and neglect and risk harm. Adultery isn’t the only option God gives for divorce. He died for the person, not for the institution. He loves His daughters and He hears our cries. In my last two years, I’ve heard too many victims of abuse, try to justify why they left an abusive relationship because they feel judged or they stay in abuse and addictive relationships because they don’t want to break God’s commandments.

Divorce is not the unpardonable sin. Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is. If the Holy Spirit exists in a marriage, then there is going to be freedom and liberty. “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NKJV).

Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed. Hallelujah.

Uncategorized

Somewhere Over the Rainbow: One Christian’s Worldview on the Same Sex Marriage Dilemma.

Today I saw a rainbow.  It was flying on a flag outside a public business, drawing attention to the current bill for “equal rights.”

And I can’t help but think back to the original rainbow. The one that God placed in the sky to remind Noah that He had made a promise to not destroy the earth with a flood again. (Genesis 5)

See, that’s what we believe, as Christians. Well, most “Christians”, but biblically, that is how the story reads. This is the one I am inclined to believe: the story that God; uncreated and triune, Divine and Sovereign, Spirit and without gender, spoke the world into being and then created man to inhabit it. Then man fell so far away from what God originally intended for Him, that He sent a flood (and a rescue from the flood that only Noah and his family took advantage of), and promised to not do that again.

Enter: Rainbow. The rainbow reminds us of His redemption for Noah and the redemption that is available to us.

I’m not talking from a “religious” stand point (as I’ve heard some people ask why this whole “same sex marriage” issue affects the religious people).  You see, 20 years ago I traded in religion for an actual relationship with this Jesus who met me in my sexual brokenness, moral inadequacy and emotional destruction and told me I could be His friend and (as I accepted His offer of friendship) redeemed me by His love.

As I’ve gotten to know Him over all these years and gained a better understanding of His nature and His heart, I seek to emulate that to the world around me.  And His heart is for love. And His heart is for relationship. But He has set up some guidelines that keep us from harm and heart break.

Now, you have to know this about me also.  I’m about to file for divorce. Marriage is something still that I believe in and I believe it can be done in the right way if we get it started with the right motives and make vows to the right person that God (not ourselves) has appointed for us to be with.  I also had been living in Ethiopia (where BEING homosexual is a crime worthy of jail time) and watched bills pass in my home country of New Zealand and then in the USA for same sex marriage.  I never entered the debate as I had my own debates going on at home, in working with women with their own sexually broken problems that landed them in prostitution and in my own mind. So, I write this and speak out now because I’ve read the rhetoric and believe we Christians can explain ourselves a bit better.

So…

Going back to the rainbow and when it was first placed in the sky, or a little before that actually when God created man in Genesis chapter 1.  In verses 26-27 of that chapter it says

“And God said, Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.” (KJV)

Here, God creates the completion of man or mankind: Male and Female. He said that THEY together were the expressed image of who He was and is.  It was when they were BOTH made that the fullness of His image was expressed.

In light of this, we see the purpose of marriage, as God intended it. It was to express His image to the world. Male and female both display within themselves, different aspects of who their Creator is and what He is like. We see them biologically joining together in this sacred act called “Sex” after they enter into a covenant relationship called “Marriage”. It’s meant to be a promise relationship, like the promise that God gave to Noah- one that wouldn’t be broken or retracted.

The issue that most of us Bible-believing Christians have then, (when it comes to same sex marriage) is often birthed out of these two contending factors: 1. That marriage is an actual expression of the Creator of marriage Himself. 2. That when we limit marriage to one sex being involved, we only get half a representation of who God is.

Maybe that hasn’t been expressed well by well-meaning believers who don’t know how full of love and grace our Father is, and haven’t themselves yet experienced the fullness of His mercy.   “They” are just trying to bring truth to life in this day and age where verbal and social media diarrhoea is highly contagious.  What they may sense is a righteous indignation but lack the empathy for what the implication of their statements may arouse.

If we take a biological example of how this looks, I started to think of a baby born with a missing chromosome.  Where there is deficiency, there is often a malformation or mutation within the baby’s make up.  The baby still lives and breathes but we know it doesn’t have the fullest experience of life that it could potentially have.  It may bring life to those around them but essentially, this baby is lacking a chromosome and it’s inability to achieve certain activities in life reflect this deficit.

The same thing (in light of what we believe of God, the Bible and how it applies to science), we are taught in school even that in order for a couple to reproduce, they need to be of the XX and XY combination.  So we see that something is missing in this union of XX and XX or XY with XY and we feel uneasy about it.  Our minds haven’t taken in what our hearts know is deficient yet deep down we know that it isn’t the best and ALL of what is meant to be.  It’s like a baby who cannot achieve certain things in it’s life because it’s deficient of what was meant to be a part of it.  If marriage is meant to be for a man and a woman and all of what that entails and is able to produce (and the list is long), then we get that sense of injustice.

If we believe that God created marriage and He IS love, then Love expressed fully is through both a man and a woman joined together in covenant.  God is love.  Reads our Bible in 1 John 4:8. The originally intended, authentic essence of Love is expressed in a male, female union called marriage.

But the debate says “Love is love.”  I understand there are desires for people to get together in relationships with the one they love. My stand would be that; we all make choices and we’re not trying to make it for you. Our stand is to protect an institution that was created for more than just “love”, it was created to bear the image of the One who WE love because He first loved us.  Even while we were still sinning and deficient of all that was meant to make us essentially “good”- He made us good by paying the price for our sin.  Sin is essentially a choice to do what’s counterfeit of what was originally meant to be-that malformation and mutation that we are all susceptible to.  It’s the worship of something else, rather than the worship of the One we are only meant to worship.

We Christians still fail, as do you, and we’ve maybe failed in expressing the deep desire we have to protect this sacred covenant of marriage as it was originally intended.  We want to conserve it’s existence so that it continues to display the glory it was created for- like a heritage building that marks land and time and significant events, marriage marks for us, a sacred union not just between two people but between God and humanity.  Jesus is coming back for His Bride.  He, essentially wants to marry us and take us home with Him.  But that’s for another blog…actually my next book.

He loves you. And so do I. But I would still vote No.

Uncategorized

If Sex was an App

If Sex was an app, wouldn’t we all be going out there to get the newest apparatus to download it onto? We wouldn’t just want the app but we would want the best experience of it-so most likely we’re going to download that app on our biggest device- the laptop. I mean, that’s where it happens right? Our lap top?? (Bad pun, I know).  But seriously, it’s not a hand held device that is going to satisfy the opportunities this app will create.

 
We would need to know we had the latest iOS that had the capability to upgrade that baby as soon as we needed to. We wouldn’t short cut the processes we needed to take in order to make sure we had the latest version, the fastest access, the best features.
We would put that baby in our “favourites” folder and have it on a special password so no one was able to see what we were getting up to on that app: I mean, that’s how we want sex right?  Convenient, anonymous and discreet.

 

Like all the other apps on our phone, this app would start consuming our thoughts- while we were at work, having coffee with our friends, or even while we were taking the kids to the park…that app would be at the forefront of our mind MOST of our conscious and potentially our unconscious state.  It would keep us questioning our addictive tendencies…yet we continue to throw those thoughts into the trash folder of our mind.
Can you imagine all the features that would exist on that app? The other players we would invite, the scenery we could pop into the background, and the…well, you can use your imagination here. This app would be most frequently used of all the apps on our phone or mobile device, I’m sure.

It would top Facebook or social media app downloads by far, because while we all have an innate desire for connection like Facebook offers, we also have an innate desire for intimacy.

The thing is that sex isn’t like an app on a laptop but, it’s more like a component within the hard drive that keeps it running. We were born with a sex drive. We don’t need an app- we’ve already got one inbuilt into our own operating system – it’s called the reproductive system. It’s as real as the digestive system you need to process the food you eat and the limbic system that causes your heart to pump blood around your body. That baby is real! You don’t even need to download it, upgrade it, search for it… it’s already found you out!!
You just need to learn how to operate it and understand why it was installed by your Creator in the first place.

It’s not like any other component of your hard drive- it’s the one that opens up complete access to your very soul.

See we know the value of sex and I’m pretty sure we understand the importance it plays in every day life (none of us would even be alive if it wasn’t for it). Little attention do we pay, however, when it comes to protecting it from the many virus’s that can destroy the effectiveness it was created for – the procreation, the intimacy, the covenant.

He who sins sexually, sins against his own soul.  1 Cor 6:18b

That word sin implies that it’s something that can be misused and necessitates that we take precautions.  In other words, the way you apply that sexual desire affects the operating system of your soul.

It’s not just an app.

It’s not just an act.

It’s a spiritual connection.

sin1
noun
1. an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.

I don’t know what you’re like with virus protection on your computer but I’m pretty bad. I slack off when it’s time to upgrade the package I got for free online – it takes time and it takes effort. But the results are laptops and memories that have been completely lost for all eternity.

I’m not talking safe sex here people- I’m talking safe souls- because at the end of the day, (or the night) it’s your soul that’s getting tethered to the soul of another in the process of this amazing act. The act that was created for a marriage union- a tethering of two souls that strengthens the existence of one: a Divine synergy.

synergy
noun
 1. the interaction or cooperation of two or more organisations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

Untamed desires that counteract the moral, divine law that’s set up to give you abundant life, seem like fun until the consequences start to pop up on the screen of our souls. Oh, those pop up screens drive me crazy!  They’re unrelenting and if you don’t know how to deal with the source of that thing popping up, you know we need to take it to the IT doctor. In the end, those viruses will have to be dealt with.

What do those pop-up viruses look like? (Other than the physical viruses that are transmitted sexually?

 
They’ll look like INSECURITY- because what security is there in a physical act that’s not associated with a committed relationship?

They’ll look like CONFUSION- because we thought that getting the Sex app meant it came with a feature called “Love” but we can’t find love in a physical experience.

They’ll look like FEAR- because fear of rejection likes to pop up when settings were saved in your value system that aren’t erased by downloading the newest imitation “acceptance” sex tries to offer.

They’ll look like LONELINESS- because your worth somehow got mixed up with your ability to perform for a man/woman who ended up getting an upgrade and leaving you in the dust.

See what the manufacturers forget to tell you when you settle for the app and don’t use the real deal?

The application that actually needs to be downloaded into the hard drive of your heart is one called “Purity”. Apply purity to the sexual area of your life and you’ll enjoy life a whole lot more. Purity doesn’t expire once you become married but it gets an upgrade. It means that you’ve already set it up as part of your operating system so it’s more likely to function within the framework of your marriage. Sexual purity within marriage installs a firewall against adultery and cheating. Purity guarantees that there will be a reward for your sacrifice.
Not only are we sexual beings but we are spiritual beings. There’s an element of the sexual desire that can be tethered from a source other than your own – it’s in the room but it’s not within you. It’s within the atmosphere. It’s spiritual.  Your senses pick it up when you come into contact with another person.  (This is something I’ll go into more detail about in my book.)

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. Psalms 119:9

This may seem like an unattainable goal but so does losing 80kgs when you weigh 160kgs like my cousin did. How does a person with that much weight to lose achieve such success- they take one day at a time.
Today, read the word and apply what you learn to your daily life. It’s good soul food and it’s living water. It helps you to renew your mind so your body stays pure. Feed your spirit instead of gratifying your flesh and the bible promises that “you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”…

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.  Galatians 5:16-17

Like you would get the newest and best apparatus to download your “Sex app,” so too is there a better mode for operating the “Sex act”. Marriage doesn’t just play an important role in providing safety in displaying vulnerable intimacy but it proves to be the best way to experience sex. Don’t settle for second best.  Don’t get ripped off from having sex the way it was designed to be.  It’s actually not too late to start again.

Get Purity.  Walk in the Spirit. You can do it!

Love,

Michelle