Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Putting Off... Putting On

In this post, I described what the Lord was up to in my heart as I felt Him purifying me from "wrong" motives in my relationships and really bringing healing to my heart so I could be a stream of His genuine, unselfish, unconditional LOVE.

Then in this series on Alan Knox's blog, I really felt Him taking that same topic even deeper as I wrestled with the truth that true pure love is not possible by trying harder.  That the Church really does have a love problem.... and I believe the root of it is that we don't intimately know our Lord. We have a surrender problem.   At the same time, I was encouraged through that series that we as God's children, indwelled by His Spirit (and the goal being continually filled with His Spirit) have been given all we need to love others and when we are not loving, we are disobeying.

Which brought me back to what I was learning through BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and my study of Genesis - which was the power of openness with the Lord about everything.  The power of confession.   That week, I started practicing even more confessing my disobedience (which shows in lack of love to others amongst other things) and it was so powerful how God's grace and mercy and forgiveness just poured on me as I confessed and was open with Him.  What great practice to recognize what is from Him and what is not.  What He cares about and what He doesn't.  Talking to Him about all things is so impactful!

I earnestly seek God's love in my heart and life.  I desperately desire His love and grace and affirmation.  I want health in my life.  Emotional, spiritual, mental, physical.... I want healing.. for so many reasons... but a major one is so that I can be productive and serve and impact others.  I know the more I understand and receive His healing love, the more I will be able to give out.  I really do believe that I can't give what I don't have.  And that I need to be quenched by Him.... so that I can love others!... so that I can put my love muscles to work.  I do believe it all starts with relationship with the Lord.

Then, that week as a church, we read 2 Peter 1:5-9.  Through those verses and our conversation,  I was reminded again that our diligence in our walk with the Lord is directly related to our love for others.  I was reminded that in our loyalty and strenuous dedication to know the Lord Jesus intimately and follow Him.... there is a direct correlation to us knowing the Lord.... and being productive, effective in our service (and at the climax of these verses we see brotherly love and kindness).   Our goal is to know the Lord Jesus intimately as our Lord & Savior & Redeemer & Love & Teacher & Shepherd & Healer.  Everything we do in our walk should be aimed at Him, so that we would know Him better.   I do believe that when we know Him better, we will see ourselves in His eyes more and more clearer and we will become more and more the person that we believe He sees us to be. We become what we believe of ourselves.  His Word shows us over and over again who & whose & what we are -  His children, cleansed, renewed, full, complete, perfect in His love, loving, a new image - being made more and more into the Creator of that image, Jesus Christ.... and on and on!

I want to see myself as He sees me, so badly!

The next week, I started back at the basics of my relationship with Him.  Meditating on all those things that His Word says about me.  I so badly want to accept myself and be who HE says I am!  I want to be healed & full of security & love.... so that I can love others purely and truly!  And I realized that by meditating on those things.... what I was doing was "putting on the new self"

Eph 4:24  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness

Which leads me to this morning. I was sitting with the Lord and I kept asking Him questions about this..... but Lord, this putting on?  Isn't this what is so wrong with so many christians and the church - this fakeness, this "putting on", this covering up, this pretending?   Really?  You want me to just put on?  Just fake it till you make it?    Isn't that just so.... fake?

I sat on those thoughts all morning and right before naptime, as I was folding laundry (a very deep sacred spiritual discipline)..... I heard Him tell me.... yes, it IS just fake, a put on, IF you have not put off the old.  And it IS just fake - IF the new is not true.  But the truth is that Christ is in you and I see you through Christ and you are those things I believe about you... even if they haven't manifested themselves yet in your time, in your eyes.  And Randi IF you have not put off the old, then you ARE just covering up.  BUT when you quit the old.  When you turn from the old.  When you repent, confess, turn and then believe wholeheartedly what He says about you instead... even when you've been cranky all day, unloving, unjoyful and you have so much to repent from....if you put if off, then it's not a cover up!  It is truth!  It is a replacing!  Not a covering up!

This is why safe places of close intimate relationships are so important and so powerful.   We seem fake to each other... because we are only seeing the putting on!!  We seem fake to each other because a) sometimes we are being fake because we are not putting off.... or.... b) we are distant from each other so we don't see the whole process!  We only see the putting on.

When we see the whole process that God is doing... when we see the wrestling and the taking off and confessing and turning ---- then we will see the whole process and God's transforming work.  

We also have to desire to show each other so much more than just the realness of our old self.   We have to encourage each other to allow Him to clothe us.  To encourage each other with truths like we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph 2:3) in Christ.   We have all we need to love others.  We have new power.  We are a new image.  I believe through Alan Knox's series on love, the Lord used those brothers/sisters to do that for me.  I walked away so encouraged and built up.  See.... His encouragement comes from the least expected places... like online conversations.  We all know we shouldn't expect or depend on those distant interactions.... and should bring it back to our real communities.... but the truth is He used it in my life for sure!

But, this new image - this new self we put on - it's all about what He has done and the clothing He has given us.  Adam & Eve were clothed by the Lord - not themselves.. though they tried.  Their pretend coverings of leaves were not enough.  They had to allow HIM to cover them and that is true of us.  We have to admit our nakedness to Him, confess our inability to clothe ourselves and allow Him to cover us.

A huge reason we do not see maturity in our Church today is because we don't have places to encourage each other to put off AND put on.

In some circles, we see a lot of putting on and fake coverings because people aren't putting off.... they are just trying to cover themselves!

In many places, we only see the putting on so we think people are just being fake.

In many other circles, we see a lot of "nakedness" and people being real with each other -  but never encouraging each other in the truth of what the Lord says about us!

We need close relationships so that we can speak into each others lives and build each other up - to put off our old selves, be real AND put on the new image He has gifted us with in Christ Jesus!

Eph 4:22-24  You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 

And then I read the next verse, 25 and wow, I can't believe the Lord spells it out so clearly what He was speaking to me!! Yes yes yes!! I am on the right track!!!  Praise Jesus!! I love you so much Jesus, THANK YOU!!

Eph 4:25

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 

Yes! Praise the Lord.  Seek close relationships where you can be real - put off falsehood!   Don't just cover up - but PUT OFF and then allow Him to show you who you REALLY are.   Encourage each other to put on your new self - the new life Jesus gifted you with!

Be truthful with each other about what you are wrestling with, confess your disobedience but then make sure you encourage each other to take that off.... and put the new life Christ has gifted you with on in place of the old!

This is true healing.  Healed by His love.  Seeing ourselves how He sees us.  Being so full of His love that we can't help but pass it out to others.  This is how to build each other up in Christ.

 I AM:
1.       Loved so dearly (John 3:16; Rev. 1:4-6)
2.      Forgiven of all my sins and washed in the blood (Eph. 1:7, Heb. 9:14)
3.      A new creation (2 Cor. 5:17)
4.      The temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19)
5.      Rescued from the power of darkness and brought into God's kingdom (Col 1:13)
6.      Redeemed from the curse of the law (1 Pet. 1:18, 19; Gal. 3:13
7.      Blessed (Gal. 3:9)
8.      A saint (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2, Phil. 1:1)
9.       Holy and without blame before Him (Eph 1:4)
10.   Elect (Col 3:12, Rom. 8:33)
11.    Established to the end (1 Cor 1:8)
12.   Brought near to God through the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13)
13.   Victorious (Rev. 21:7)
14.   Set free (John 8:31-3)
15.   Dead to sin and alive to God (Rom.6:2, 11; 1 Pet. 2:24)
16.   More than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37)
17.   Fellow heirs with Christ (Roman 8:17)
18.   Sealed with Holy Spirit of promise (Eph 1:13)
19.   In Christ who is our righteousness, holiness and redemption (1Cor 1:30)
20.  Accepted in the Beloved (Eph 1:6)
21.   Complete in Him (Col 2:10)
22.  Crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20)
23.  Alive with Christ (Eph. 2:5)
24.  Free from condemnation (Rom 8:11)
25.  Reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18)
26.  Qualified to share in His inheritance (Col. 1:12)
27.  A fellow citizen with God's people and member of God's household (Eph. 2:19)
28.  Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone (Eph. 2:20)
29.  Born of God and the evil one does not harm me (1 John 5:18)
30.  Blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3)
31.   His disciple because I have love for others (John 13:34.35)
32.  The light of the world (Matt 5:14)
33.  The salt of the earth (Matt 5:13)
34.  The righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Pet. 2:24)
35.  A partaker of His divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4)
36.  Called of God (2 Tim. 1:9)
37.  The first fruits among His creation (James 1:18)
38.  Chosen (1 Thess. 1:4; Eph 1:4; 1 Pet. 2:9)
39.  An ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)
40. God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10)
41.   Being changed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18; Phil. 1:6)
42.  Raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Col 2:12; Eph. 2:6)
43.  Beloved of God ( Col. 3: 12; Rom. 1:7;1 Thess. 1:4)
44. One in Christ (John 17:21-3)             
45.  A daughter of God, His Spirit in me confirms that (Rom 8:15-16)

46. Obtained an inheritance (Eph. 1:11)
47.  Access by one Spirit to the Father (Heb. 4:18; Eph. 2:18)
48. Overcome the world (1 John  5:4)
49. Everlasting life and will not be condemned (John 5:24; John 6:47)
50.  Received power, the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)

51.   The greater One in me; thus, greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)     

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Root Work --- Loving Others

I do believe one of the ways God is freeing me from people pleasing is through undeserved criticism, misunderstandings, rejection.   So I can thank Him for these struggles... because I do know He is using them for my good and His glory.

After some more messiness this week in relationships, I really have a head full of questions and thoughts.  I so desperately want to love people.... but I can't just make myself love people more.  I've tried.  That type of love always has a self motive in there.  It's not pure even if it looks pure.  I know it in my heart.... and over time it will show in the way I've let resentment built up or critical spirit or just when things get tough.   If we are not loving for the Lord and just being the funnel.... our love is not pure.  It is selfish love. Everything man does really has self motive in it somewhere.... except when they are Spirit full and Spirit lead and focused on the Lord.

So here's some bullets of where my thoughts are in this love process:

  • How can I care deeply for others... not to be mistaken for... caring what others think about me?
  • Why do I care so much what others think of me?? I believe He has shown me that answer is two-fold. 
    • 1.  I am very social & a people person.  Some personalities more than others enjoy people & interactions.  People are my idols in many ways.  
    • 2.  I have a lot of growth needed in seeing myself as God sees me.  My twisted self image needs a lot of healing.  He needs to change my thinking & heart to see myself as He sees me.  I know this so clearly.  I *know* so deeply that I need to be nourished by the Lord and find my fulfillment, value, affirmation, admiration, love from Him above all else.  I know He will use others in that process as well, but I need to be nourished by Him first so much more.  Knowing how He sees me and loves me is the key to this.  I so desperately want to grow closer to Him and know His love.  For so many reasons...but being able to be free from needing attention from others is a huge reason.  
    • 3.  I want to be a good witness and point others to Christ. I care deeply about the messages I send in my words & actions.  I do very much feel God's call on my life to positively impact others for Him.  I accepted that spiritual inheritance passed to me from my grandma when I surrendered to Him and felt Him passing on the torch that grandma had carried
And then:  
  • Matthew 6:19-20 has always stuck with me and I've always taken it to mean to treasure what will last for eternity...meaning people...not things.  I see now that it probably refers to all things eternal.  Closeness with the Lord, spiritual blessings, rewards in heaven & people, too.   I've always desired to care more about people than anything else on earth.... and I think that is a gift from the Lord.... but as usual, the enemy (or my thinking) just takes a small piece of truth, twists it a tiny bit and takes it to the extreme. So I'm left trying to store up people (I don't even mean numbers but just planting good seeds in people).... without really truly surrendering to God's will or God's way or God's time.   That's a lot of self.   Which means, I am really acting like this is my work and not His. Ouch.  I know He will use me.... but not until I am convinced HE builds His Church and it's His work in me that works.  I'm just the tool in His hands.  When there is so much self... that means I am so very dependent on how people are responding to my seeds which shows itself in caring too much what people think about me.  
  • So the next layer of this is that at the root of it all... my love for others is mostly just self focused a huge portion of the time.  I don't love because I am so full of love and I just want to love others.  Mostly, I love people for a result (people feel loved, good, the result is my seeds worked, I was effective.  People see something good in me and admire me...hopefully that will lead me being able to tell them about Christ without hesitation). 
  • Wow, I just realized this all boils back down again to me trying to perform for the Lord.  I am trying to earn His grace and favor.  I don't feel valued unless I have purpose and am producing results.  Yet, time and time again, He has shown me that He loves me... "just because".  I am valuable, because I am His.  Like I tell my kids all the time about His love for them.  Ouch.  I can't believe how much everything in our lives is affected by our view of the Lord!!!! and our relationship with Him!!!!
  • Yet I also can't go too extreme here.   God does use me to make people feel special & loved & that is so important... but I do realize that He doesn't want good enough... He wants to totally heal my heart little by little.  I really don't want anybody to feel like I used to feel around people who claimed to be Christ followers...but that's not a good enough reason. He wants me to have a Christ focused heart surrendered to His purposes.  He wants me to be soo full of love from Him, that it just overflows and I become loving.. not because I'm trying.   
  • So even if I have a godly & healthy end picture in mind (making other people feel loved & special & seen....and to glorify Christ)....He wants to make my heart even better.  Totally pure & no self in there.  
  • *Genuine* love is my witness.  Jesus's amazing,  only-He-does-this, "just because" LOVE that overflows onto others.     I need more of it... so I have more to pass out.  
  • My other witness is also my weakness. I can be a witness and glorify God by being real about my struggles & showing my dependence on the Lord.  
  • It's a hard thing to accept that people see Christ in me not when I'm "successful", "thriving".... but when I'm dependent on the Lord, normal, willing to accept my imperfections & others, peaceful, gracious, kind, fruits of the Spirit, yet  real and humble and quick to acknowledge my weaknesses.
  • I heard Ann Voskamp say that weaknesses take the sharpness of perfection off of our lives... so we are huggable to others.  More able to hug others, less sharpness is on there, worn down through imperfections and now gracious (my paraphrase)
  • At the basis of that acknowledgement that weakness is witness..... is how important it is to understand that so much of my thinking is sooo deeply rooted in the world that I often line up to the world's incorrect opinions & views of "success" and "God's favor".  I forget so easily that God's favor doesn't mean perfection.  It doesn't mean perfect feelings.  It doesn't mean ease.  It doesn't mean comfort.  It doesn't mean health wealth prosperity.  It doesn't look any certain way at all, actually... since we all have different roles, passions & purposes.   His favor shows itself in heart ways.  Genuine love, fruits of the Spirit, peace because His Favor is His grace - shown in His presence & love - with us - no matter what. 

I know I won't be perfect on this.  Only the Lord loves perfectly.... but I so desperately want to genuinely love others.   I don't want to do it because it makes me feel good.  I don't want to do it to earn His favor.  I don't want to do it to receive love back.   I just want to love, just because!!  Just because it's IN me and how can I NOT love?!?!

I do experience this here and there.... but not enough.  I care way too much what others think.  I care too much to be effective.  I care too much for what is in it for me.  And that others see what I'm doing.

Every time I think I'm "over" that caring too much to be effective..... finding my purpose in how GOD uses ME.... (the first victory being when I mourned over the dreams and plans I had for my life...totally surrendered them & cried and found rest in allowing Him to decide how to use me, finding contenment in the daily work He chose for me as wife & mom).... it rears itself up in another form.  So strange.  I didn't even see what was at the root of all this until just now writing this!!

I *know* I have to get my eyes off myself and focus on the Lord.  I know that's the answer.  I know Jesus is always the answer.  It's just a struggle to surrender that and work out that process in daily life.  He needs to transform my mind and thinking.   I need to be truly nourished by Him, rest in Him.  Get love and affirmation and nourishment and connection from Him so much more!!

I so desperately need to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.  I am trusting that He will continue to do this.

I praise the Lord for Him guiding my thinking on this.  This is a step.  He is helping me get to the ROOT of these issues so that my soil is healthy and ready for all these seeds He is growing in me!!   The root work, the ground work is tough toil.  It is pretty painful and there's not a lot of outward results seen.

So that's where I am right now.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Frank Viola's New Book - God's Favorite Place on Earth

Frank Viola’s new book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth, has just released. If you get the book between May 1st to May 7th, you will also receive 25 FREE books from over 15 different authors.
Click to ordering information and easy instructions on how to get your 25 free books.
“In Frank Viola’s hands, the story of Lazarus—like Lazarus himself—once again comes to life. In a world where hope is battered and life can so easily beat down the human spirit, we are reminded once more of the possibility of becoming a host of Life.”
John Ortberg, pastor and author of Who Is This Man?
God’s Favorite Place on Earth realigned my heart toward Jesus and His mysterious, confounding, surprising, beautiful ways. It’s not often I learn something new when reading a book, but Frank Viola’s sharp storytelling and insightful interpretation made me hunger for more of the real Jesus.”
Mary DeMuth, author of Everything: What You Give
“God’s Favorite Place on Earth is the kind of book I’ve discovered I need to periodically find and read. Frank Viola’s pen and voice are consistently both penetrating and trustworthy. Beyond his invitingly beautiful writing skill—which makes reading a joy and a sight-seeing tour that brings God’s Word into 3-D when he relates narrative passages, I’m grateful for the depth of his themes.”
Pastor Jack Hayford, Chancellor of The King’s University, Los Angeles
“This is a masterfully engaging book that distills the vision of the Christian life into one focused quest: To be God’s favorite place on earth today. I recommend this little volume to all Christians and Christian leaders.”
Mark Batterson, New York Times bestselling author of The Circle Maker
“Combining masterful storytelling, historical knowledge, biblical insight and practical wisdom, Frank artfully uses the Gospels’ depiction of Lazarus and the small town of Bethany to lay out a beautiful and compelling vision of a God who longs to make every human heart and every church ‘His favorite place.’ This is a beautifully written, timely, prophetic work all would benefit from reading!”
Greg Boyd, pastor and author of Benefit of the Doubt
“A lot of people write books, Frank writes stories and in this one we once again see why he’s such a master. Honored to call him a friend, excited to call him an author I love to read.”
Jon Acuff, bestselling author of Start, Quitter, and Stuff Christians Like 
“Frank Viola surpasses himself in his best book yet—a work of serene, soaring magnificence. Part novel, part biography, part theology, part Bible study, Frank’s imaginative touch and command of prose haiku leaves the reader resolved more than ever to be a Bethany—God’s favorite place on earth.”
Leonard Sweet, Drew University, George Fox University,
“Reading God’s Favorite Place on Earth by Frank Viola, my soul began to burn from Chapter One. To delve into Lazarus’ heart and thoughts … I received a beautiful glimpse into the life of Christ on earth. Lazarus’ stories make a perfect foundation for God’s truth, God’s intimacy. I can’t wait to share this book!”
Tricia Goyer, USA Today best-selling author of 35 books
“In spite of my Ph.D. in Theology, I had never considered the importance of Bethany in the life of Jesus.”
Phil Cooke, media consultant and author of Unique
“The best thing I can say about Frank Viola is this: When I read his books—and I read them all—I don’t think much about Frank Viola. I think about Jesus. And I learn to love Him more. This book is no different. Read it, and you’ll find yourself thinking, if you’re like me, ‘I knew Jesus was great, but… Wow!’ And that, at least from me, is as good as it gets.”
Brant Hansen, Radio personality and blogger 
See all 47 Recommendations at 
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