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Ice pack on my Soul  3

(written Nov 2014)

I’m thinking out loud as I sit here with an icepack on my shoulder.  :-/

I feel quite wimpish to say that I have ended up crying during physical therapy sessions on my shoulder several times this week.  The poor gal wasn’t sure what to do with me…and my partially “frozen” shoulder isn’t a bad case but it kills, what she does to me.  And now I have to do the exercises at home…ugh.

I’m very determined, though it feels like torture innoculation or something…I’ve almost cried doing it to myself, but I want my shoulder back!  So I inflict pain upon myself because I believe it’s going to make a difference.  I do have my doubts!

 

I have to wonder if this physical principle can carry over to when God seemingly inflicts pain on us.  He’s after strong joints and better strength & flexibility and freedom of movement…in our lives.

 

Some possible parallels:

 

Shoulder:                                                                   Soul:

 

Physical trauma/gradual debilitation                      Emotional trauma/gradual debilitation

 

Unknowing neglect of joint/muscle                        Denial, neglect of soul

 

Physical Pain                                                        Psychological pain/spiritual pain

 

Limited motion                                                     Limited caring/giving/awareness

 

Annoyance w/exercises                                         Annoyance facing self

 

Decreased strength                                               Decreased resilience

 

Physical Therapy = a choice to cooperate, to embrace temporary pain to work toward increased motion (slowly).

It is “annoyance with a purpose”! 🙂 It leads to increased strength and the ice afterwards helps the pain and inflammation go down.

 

Where do I need to apply PT principles to my soul?

 

Perhaps there’s been a trauma big or small…that you have not revisited.  It’s not going to just go away.  The Dr. told me about my shoulder, “the sooner the better; the longer you wait the harder it is.”  It will cause pain and that’s so that you know it’s there and it needs attention.

 

If you notice limited ability, capacity or joy, could that point to a need in your soul?  What about the annoyance of taking a look at it and asking God what he’s drawing attention to?

It’s annoying because it takes us where it hurts, where we don’t want to look, but it also begins the path toward increased movement, freedom and strength in our inner lives…leading to the ability to love freely and give of ourselves…

 

I noticed improvement after 2 weeks of PT on my shoulder…I think we can apply the same process to our souls if we pay attention to the pain.

Try this soul therapy exercise:

 

  • Stop, sit, deep breath, in and out, close eyes, wait…
  • Then notice what is the first anxiety that comes, don’t push it away, let it sit with you and tell you something about your soul.
  • Listen, breathe, accept, open your eyes.

 

What did you learn?  It may be painful.  That’s a start.

 

And what could the “ice pack” be?  Something that soothes and numbs after a hard workout to chase away inflammatory thoughts…?

Maybe ice cream! 🙂  Definitely soothes the soul.

 

Better would be soothing music of God’s all encompassing love for you or a talk with a friend about what you noticed or a moment of casting a care upon the One who cares.  (1 Peter 5:7)

 

Soul Bent  0

 

 

Our souls bend toward a negative downward pull;

 

that feeling when you get up in the morning that you’re not quite cutting it, you’re missing important pieces, you’re just not what you should be.  If we don’t shake ourselves and wake ourselves, we will continue bending

and descending into that way of thinking and welcoming “a thousand other shards of the curse…” as Russell Moore put it.

When the enemy of our souls catches us in those moments of self-disdain, we often, like Adam & Eve, submit to his taunts and give in to his rule when we are supposed to be ruling him; listening to

truth, stepping away from the accuser and toward the Creator.

 

The accuser convinces us we don’t deserve the gift of life, or love or joy.  We refuse God’s grace, thinking we need to feel worthy or earn it. We fall prey to the accuser’s schemes when he doesn’t have a leg to stand on (that’s why he’s a serpent).

There are at least 2 ditches we can fall into here with regard to this incredible grace:

2 ways our soul likes to bend.  (Ideas from Tim Keller’s book Prayer)

 

Ditch 1 = “Forgiveness can’t be free.”  ->I have to earn God’s grace and mercy through how bad I feel about my sin or how good I can make myself.  He can’t love me because of my sin.  I have to change myself. (Wallowing in self, Unbelief, No heart change)

 

Ditch 2 = “O it doesn’t matter if I sin, God will forgive me.” ->Flippancy toward the infinite payment for my sin, prayers are trivial and not life changing, repentance is really self-pity. I justify, minimize my sin or blame. (No change of false beliefs or inordinate desires).

 

Think of a father giving a disobedient child that has been forgiven, a beautiful coveted gift, but the child refuses because he feels so bad about what he’d done.  He doesn’t accept or believe his father’s forgiveness. (ditch 1)

 

Or think of the disobedient child knowing his father won’t disown him, acts entitled and does nothing of what the father asks, is self-serving and feels justified. (ditch 2)

 

How distressful for the father.

 

For those of us who lean toward ditch 1 – like Peter when he said to Jesus, “No, you won’t wash my feet” (I can’t let You see or touch my dirt) and Jesus says back “Then you have no part with Me…” John 13:8.  Then Peter begs him to wash the rest of him too.

 

For those of us who lean toward ditch 2 – like the Corinthians who were still living only for this world and didn’t see the point of living a different life. 1 Cor. 3:1

 

Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

 

He leads us there to the place of being able to face ourself and let go of the thing that’s holding us back so we can receive from Him and be free.  That’s cause for joy!

*

“…we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain…but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships…”   2 Cor. 6:1,4

 

So, we receive His grace not because we tidied ourselves up nor so that we can just live however we want.  It’s a gift so we can walk in newness of life.  Free to love and give and go through difficulties with purpose.

 

What have we not yet received or opened that the Father so painstakingly paid a high price for, because we don’t feel we deserve it? (ditch 1) or because we really want something else, like our own way? (ditch 2)

 

What do you need to do to get out of the ditch?

Soul Grit  0

 

Elizabeth, Mother of John – Forerunner of Jesus

 

The angel said to Mary, “…behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son.”  Luke 1:36

 

Living under Roman oppression in her own land, being called, pegged as “barren”, Elizabeth stuck to the truth she knew, fulfilling the God given requirements of the time. After centuries of her people not hearing much from God, she still believed the ancient holy prophets’ words and carried on with worship, despite major disappointment in her life. I’d call that soul grit.

 

“And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly…”

Luke 1:6

 

And seeming a bit late, a beam of Son came, rebelling against what the world around was telling her, and re-named her. Like a cloud-covered dusk sneaking in light in the nick of time, Elizabeth’s womb awakens to its Maker’s curious bidding all but too late. Weary-of-hoping, settling-for-being-less in other’s eyes, she herself is startled to the reality of something new in her. Past her time and beyond any relevance of her day, she receives a joyful honor that only a few understood.

 

“your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.”  Luke1:13,-15

 

God seems to like to do things like that in our later years: surprise us with newness. I’m seeing it especially in those who take notice of His stirrings, who resist the pull from truth and the lure to complacency. I see it in those who risk indulging in faith. He infuses with a wink things in us we’d given up dreaming about, when we feel used up and irrelevant, like Moses after near fatal failure and a lot of years. God’s timing seems so off.  

Mary was too young;

Elizabeth was too old. Moses was way out of date. But God who is beyond time bestows on time a gravity that deeply effects eternity. What will I do with my later years?

 

I’m noticing some newness going on in me and working on resisting the pull to complacency. And wait, I think I see a burning bush!

 

How are you attuning to receive the new He wants to conceive in you?

 

Soul Expand  4

 

Psalm 119:32 “I will pursue your commands, for you expand my understanding.”

Let this exercise of Reflection and Reordering expand your confidence and hope as you face another year

Expand your soul!

 

 

For a pdf on the content Expand2018

 

Soul Thanks  0

I was utterly moved by Ann Voskamp’s post yesterday

 

http://annvoskamp.com/2017/11/how-to-live-through-anything-these-holidays-when-youre-finding-it-hard-to-even-breathe/

 

describing despairing and crumbling people she’s met who have been transformed by a change of understanding through giving thanks.   When we think we’re being slighted or missing out, or reeling with shame or we can’t figure out why a certain thing is happening to us or to a loved one, we’ve got to wake up.

 

How painful and piercing are God’s words to His people in Malachi 1:2

 

“I have loved you,” says the LORD.”

 

And imagine the insolence and smugness when they answer:

 

“How have you loved us?” 

 

I’m afraid I can get into that mode. But we don’t have to stay there.

 

Take in these quotes from her post:

 

“What you think you can’t handle — might actually be God handing you a gift.”

“…giving thanks isn’t a pollyanna game — but a powerhouse game-changer”

“God asks us to give thanks in everything — because this is the way you live through anything.”

 

“Giving thanks is life giving.”                              “…barren places can break with bloom.”

 

Isn’t that so comforting? I’m thankful God shows me what’s really going on in my heart. How I can saunter in an entitled attitudinal haze. I’m thankful that he can change my heart to be thankful!

 

Thankfulness is a great weapon against small mindedness.  “Give thanks in all things…” 1 Thes. 5:18

 

How could you practice thankfulness today?

Soul Shame Room  3

Jesus scorned shame. He hated it.

Because it hinders, muffles, binds, squeezes and keeps from truth and growth. It tried to take him but he didn’t let it.

 

“…Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

 

It’s like that annoying parasitic weed I often found in my little garden trying to subtly make it’s choking way

around my plants. Shame bids us away from community, away from acceptance, forgiveness and joy to bow under its power of self-disdain and regret. The path in my soul to the shame room was pretty well worn, visited too many times…though I noticed a few weeks ago as I was making my way there again, that the path had some foliage growing on it; parts of it were becoming overgrown, especially the second part heading into the door. I’m spending less and less time there.

See, I’m learning to catch myself on the way there and make a U turn! I was heading there after I didn’t get a response I thought I should and feeling the inward pull to withdraw into the lies of “I don’t matter” and “They don’t want you” and instead I said, “No, that’s actually not true. I do matter. I’m not going there today.” Shame was wooing me and I called its bluff! Wow. I felt myself do a 180 toward truth

 

and get right back in the conversation, letting go of the inner pull…and with joy at that! We have power over the imposter of shame. We don’t have to go to the shame room. We can scorn it, just like Jesus did!

 

Now that’s freeing.

 

Dr. Thompson in Soul of Shame says “To be human is to be infected with this phenomenon we call shame. …many of us carry shame less publicly often outside the view of even some of our closest friends…common scenarios carry the burden of shame in ways that we work hard to cover up. And our coping strategies have become so automatic that we may be completely unaware of its presence and activity.”

Do you find yourself at times on your way to the shame room?

What keeps you there?

Have you tried a U turn lately?

Soul Trying  2

Guest post by Bradley J. Scott

Trying or Training?

Inspired by John Ortberg’s The Life You’ve Always Wanted

 

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.”

1 Cor. 9:25

 

Lord, I am on the verge of a breakthrough of understanding the difference between a “trying” mentality and a “training” mentality with respect to my spiritual growth. The eye opener came when I looked at my training for the “Ragin Games CrossFit Competition”. Ariana and I have gone all in. We’ve transformed our eating habits: zero processed food, no HFCS, no msg, almost no sugar… the list goes on. And it has taken a lot of research and deliberation to change these things.

 

But I realized, for the first time in my life, I’m not even tempted to get Oreos and Doritos.I don’t even want to eat the free doughnut at church, and I have a sweet tooth. Why? What changed? I’m training. I have a goal. I’m focusing everything in my control on bettering my performance. Training, eating, sleeping… I want to be the best version of Brad I can be; to see how well I can perform in competition when I’m dedicated to it. Doing a competition halfway is pointless and would just become frustrating again.

 

First off, I noticed I became more disciplined in my faith at the same time. More consistent devotion times, more victory in taking thoughts captive against temptation, I was developing a desire for discipline. A life unmarked by surrendered discipline is a life without purpose.

What I’ve now realized, after fighting temptation hard again for a few days, trying to confide in some accountability partners, and trying not to sin, is this: I’m still trying. I’m not training. I still want the oreos.

 

Now, I need to define my terms here or we’ll get confused. With regard to fitness training I would still “like” (taste, yummy…) to eat Oreos; I’ll call this “flesh want”. BUT, I do not desire to eat Oreos because there is so much more cost than gain with respect to my goals (my deepest desires). I’ll call this “soul desire”. It’s far deeper, and is based on a perspective that considers the long-term (eternal) reward/cost instead of the momentary flesh want.

 

SO, I have a goal for my performance; I change my life habits, eating and training (get it in the schedule, do what it takes) because my soul desire overpowers my flesh want. Mind-set change: I’m not trying any more; I’m training. I’m putting myself under the influence of the Spirit.

“…but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” Romans 8:5

 

I also have a goal spiritually – to glorify God and grow and be conformed into His image until the day I die.

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Phil 2:12, 13

 

This is a much deeper goal than physical training. A goal that is far more important to me. (To be clear, only the Holy Spirit in us can reorient a flesh want to a soul desire. Otherwise we’re just trading in one flesh want for another!) Yet I have not been able to completely switch into a training mindset spiritually. I don’t feel all in, but I desire/long to be so.

 

I can desire and long to be fit all day long… while I eat pizza, but I will never be fit until I get knowledgeable, create a training plan, and make it happen – attack one issue at a time, figure out a solution for each, and execute. True training takes a lot of testing, trial and error, to see what works. Some things that seem good won’t work – scheduling, types of foods, energy levels…etc. But I continue to refine my plan and push through, because it’s not a new year’s resolution; I’m not looking for immediate results, I’m looking for long term transformation through His Spirit working in me and me obeying. (Character change via habit development)

 

“Longing transforms obedience.” CS Lewis

 

The parallels from body to soul are plain.

Do I want victory or not? Yes? Then start training.

Create a plan – change one thing at a time.

 

My current plan:

(We are all in different places and situations in our lives; this is just a sample for where I am right now.)

Start Training: (One thing at a time.)

  • Get a good hour of devotion time with the Lord – (preferably first thing in the morning)
  • Prayer alone with God (should be before bed ideally to cast off all my concerns from the day and refocus on the Lord)
  • Review Bible verses – Eph. 6:17 This is my ammunition for war prayer.

 

Thank you Jesus for this Breakthrough: “Training” has a goal and a plan and gets after it. “Trying” has an undefined goal and no plan.

 

“I discipline my body and make it my slave,” 1 Cor 9:27

 

“… train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things” 1 Tim. 4:7,8

What’s your next step in training for godliness?

Soul Callings  5

My sister-in-law, Roxy Scott, preparing for her first grandchild, planned a baby shower for her daughter-in-law where she passed on some age-old, yet very relevant wisdom that her own life beautifully displays. Here’s a glimpse into what she had to say:

Ephesians 3:14-4:2

 

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

Motherhood is not a job and it’s not a hobby –

                            Motherhood is a CALLING.

 

Our highest calling, of course, is to glorify God in whatever we are doing, including motherhood! A calling for which the Lord is preparing you and for which He will enable you, if you walk humbly with Him daily!

 

Some days, as you wait for your delivery, you might be thinking, “Come on, I’m tired of waiting, let’s get this going – I’m READY!!”

Other days you’ll be thinking, “What have we gotten ourselves into?  I’m scared!”

 

And once baby comes, those last thoughts will probably happen more and more often! In fact, one thing I’ve often said is “like marriage,

Motherhood will bring out the worst in you!”

 

That sounds awfully negative, but we better face the facts now so they don’t surprise us! We are unqualified and inadequate for this calling on our own!

 

Motherhood is humbling and humiliating because our real [old] selves will be exposed when we’re pushed to the limits of our own capabilities and our own patience and gentleness and love!

 

Jesus has a way of graciously and mercifully bringing us to our knees by showing us our own inadequacy and yes, sin, – so that we will respond rightly to Him in repentance and submission and a desperate hungering need for Him!

 

We need HIS grace, forgiveness, mercy and steadfast love for this task, this calling. We need Him living through us! So that HE can accomplish His purposes through us – and one of the greatest purposes of a mother is to disciple her children.

 

Your children need to learn from you – to see what it looks like to repent, receive forgiveness, grace and mercy, to humbly bow before their Lord and know HE wants to be their sufficiency.

 

There will be days when we’ll be tempted to wallow in guilt or in the trap of comparisons or in a critical spirit. These will all steal the joy from this blessing of motherhood!!

 

Be reminded that Jesus is asking you to walk in a manner worthy of your calling – humble yourself before Him and let Him enable you to walk in humility, kindness, gentleness and love – Quickly

go to His Word!

Wake up every day purposely with a song in your heart, anticipating how Jesus will show Himself strong on your behalf! Thank the Lord that His mercies are new every morning – embrace them and enjoy the fresh slate our Savior offers us!

 

What calling do you need to embrace now to glorify your God?

 

Soul Suffering  2

 

 

I have 4 kids, all of them the age of Joseph (the 11th son of Jacob) in his prison years in Egypt. Now if I were Joseph’s mom, I think I’d feel pretty slighted. I’d probably be gaunt from prayers and worry and yearning. I’d cringe at the unfairness, while trying to reconcile the sovereignty of God with the cruelty of man.

 

Deep into the narrative we find the word, “kindness…”   Well, it seemed a little late. It would’ve been nice to have some of that kindness at the pit where his brothers were brutally throwing him away, or when they were selling him or when Potifer’s wife dramatically lied about him.

 

However it appeared to him, Joseph didn’t waste his suffering. It’s hard to believe an abandoned young man in his early 20’s would steward his suffering so well. Maybe out of a survival instinct, or a real sense that those dreams he had, would somehow come true (Gen. 37:7-9). But he neither focused on his traumatic past nor on a hoped-for future in a way that immobilized his present. Surely he had moments of grief, agony and worry about the future. How could he not? And surely he looked for ways out of his present situation.

 

Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house.Gen. 40:14

 

But the realities of the past and uncertainty of the future didn’t hold him, or keep him from being “all in” in the present. This wasn’t a natural thing. He had the Divine presence. How that looked, we don’t know, but we do know it made a huge difference in the midst of intense suffering.

 

There was this underlying partnership:

 

  1. Whatever Joseph DID,
  2. God MADE to prosper. (Gen. 39:3, 23)

“His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.”

 

But it didn’t always end up the way Joseph would have wanted.

 

After getting his hopes up to get out of prison and asking the cupbearer to mention his skill to Pharaoh, he was again let down and spent 2 more years in the prime of his life, “wasting” his time.

 

God could’ve kept him from having to go to jail, or from being sold as a slave in a foreign land, or from such cruel rejection from his brothers. God could’ve made it a lot smoother for him. But His ways are deeper, higher, wider and they bring about good in the midst of chaos and other people’s stupidity. So he “prospered” in prison!

 

“He who has suffered in the flesh is done with sin.” 1 Pet. 4:1

 

Joseph was in jail for honoring God, for his integrity, for doing right for his boss. This was classic character testing using temptation and injustice. This was God’s intimate orchestration to move him further along in his journey as well as in His greater plan; the little story within the big story.

 

How easily self-pity, loneliness, complaining, entitlement, or despair could’ve taken over and probably tried to!   But Joseph was lifted above it, and he rose to it. He and God were in it together.   His trust was way beyond his circumstances. I want to be like that!

 

What circumstantial tests stare you in the face?

What has God intimately orchestrated for you?

We have God’s presence! Are we in the mess with Him or are we just trying to get out of it?

Soul Courage  0

 

In the midst of travel for meetings, my mother-in-law’s sweet memorial service, family reunions and distance discussions & decisions, my recent journey group managed to finish our sessions.  It was an intimate and moving time together.  Cecile was a delight to get to know.

 

Guest post by Cecile Sanders

 

This year marked my 3rd attempt at working through a book by Josh McDowell called ‘See yourself as God sees you’. As I wrestled through the first few chapters, a challenging question he poses, kept bouncing back to my heart: “where in your life are you chained because of a memory from the past?” As much as I desired to explore the question, courage just eluded me. But then God intervened, as so often in my life, by means of His perfect timing and creative acts of love.

 

I was honoured by an invite to be part of a journey group with three precious ladies from all over the globe. As we shared our lives with each other, literally and painfully walking through our journey lines together, God enabled me to be brave enough to face some of the dark spaces I have been avoiding for years. It was no spectacular event or weird and wonderful visions, just a deep sense of God whispering His unconditional love and acceptance to me that dispelled some lies I have come to believe. He transformed my cycle of fear, frustration, and fury into a new childlike confidence in Him as a good Father, One who is more than willing to help, forgive and just be with me. God gave me the courage deep down in my soul to step out and take on something I believe He has laid on my heart for years. Instead of finding excuses or fearing failure, I am excited to tackle writing my first book.

 

God provided time away from my life responsibilities, a place where I could truly connect with others who get my life and understand me – even though they didn’t know me – but mostly I discovered a deliberate space in His presence with His truth pouring into my heart and mind.