Get Your Gifts Back

When we see areas of our lives that are clearly not what they are intended to be, sometimes the picture of what is intended is the exact opposite. In fact, the thing that tends to torment us or challenge us the most might be a gift within us which has been perfectly hijacked. In such cases, the best course of action is to step towards the gift even more than trying to stop doing the things that are off course.

When I was younger, I was particularly good at the banter. The sharp, sarcastic jousting that cuts at any weakness was an area of strength for me. When in a room where there was that kind of cutting and slashing, I was a force to be dealt with.

The effort to stay ahead of others to defend myself and attack them verbally is mentally tiring because it’s not God’s intention for the verbal ability He put within me. He gave me language and ability to speak life and encouragement, but instead I was speaking criticism and destruction. The gift that He wanted to use to call out greatness in others was doing the exact opposite. There was no rest in it because there was no eternity in it. The rest that accompanies our gifts is in our agreement with God’s purposes in our gifts and abilities.

Since then, I have seen time and time again where sarcastic and cynical wit is actually a prophetic gift. Prophecy, by definition of 1 Corinthians 14:3, is speaking encouragement, edification and comfort. The hijacking of the gift is discouragement, tearing down and discomfort. Look into the shadow of the gift to find the true intention of design.

The Kingdom is an invitation, not a prohibition. Jesus calls us to follow and be included, unleashing everything He has put in us for eternal purposes. The law tells us to stop doing bad things; Jesus calls us to do powerful things. When we see that there has been a hijacking of our giftedness, the invitation is to step into the power of our design. The hijacking will be corrected when we agree with the purpose of our destiny.

If you’ve allowed your tongue to be hijacked to speak discouragement and dishonor, change your mind. Turn into the purposes of honor and encouragement that God has put within you. If there are other areas that have been off track, what is the track they are intended? Once those areas are released in agreement with their design, the attempt to kill, steal and destroy will be defeated by the life, abundance and creation that sons and daughters are called into.

The Impact of Fathers

I used to volunteer in youth prisons and over time developed a routine which I tended to default to when I met a young man (ages 14-17) for the first time in the facility. I would introduce myself and ask the boy his name and where he was from. He was reluctant to interact at all and would usually be looking at the floor with no interest in opening up even a little bit about himself.

I would then ask him where his father is and that would get his attention; he would usually look at me with interest for the first time. His eyes would communicate, “How did you know?” I would often have to repeat the question as he was caught off guard, “where is your father?”

The stories were always terrible; they were dead, in prison, never been around, drunk, on drugs, etc. The only reasonable response at that point in our conversation was, “I’m sorry; I’m really sorry that you have had to deal with that.” I can’t fix it, I can only hope to meet the kid where he is and show some comfort that his story and hurt is legitimate.

That was often a start to talk more about the hurts in his life that he had been challenged with and the choices that flowed from those circumstances. Connecting the heart and the head to begin to understand that he wasn’t weird for being angry and that the anger came from the hurt. Understand the hurt, hopefully choose to forgive and maybe begin to walk out of the cycle.

When I would offer comfort, however, it wouldn’t initially be received. “It’s alright,” or “It doesn’t matter” was always the response. Always. They were in prison; it mattered.

The need for affirmation and acceptance with unconditional love is foundational; we all need it. The connection to our experience with our father produces a lens within us for how we see God, how we see ourselves and how we see the world. The best dad in the world, however, isn’t the target; the Father is.

Our dad relationship is either a bridge or a barrier to realizing the love of the Father. Ideally, we have a father relationship that fosters an easier realization of trust and acceptance than abusive, neglectful earthly experiences would. Either way, though, we seek to hear from the Father, “You’re a son . . . and I’m pleased with you.”

Acknowledging the condition of our hearts related to our experience with our biological father positions us to hear from the Father. When we have let go in the natural, we can receive in the supernatural. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we can hear this testimony of the Holy Spirit. From that, we will call out, “Abba (Daddy), Father!”



Reading the Writing of Law and Grace

If you look close enough at any of us, there is evidence against us. We’ve all done stuff that’s contrary to the intention of our design. If we were under the pressure of the burden of keeping the law, we could all be dragged out into the public square for persecution.

That’s what happened when Jesus was presented with a lady who had been caught in the act of adultery. There was compelling, albeit awkward, evidence of her guilt. The people who accused her brought her to Jesus to give Him a chance to defend her. It was a losing case, for Him, they figured as the law was clear and the evidence was sufficient.

When I was practicing law, I defended people who had broken a law all of the time. People, mostly Christian people, asked me (still do, sometimes) how I could morally support the decision to be an advocate for the immoral. It’s easy. Jesus is our advocate and we did “it” in some form or fashion. The case is airtight against us, but He doesn’t turn from us.

In this case where the woman was caught in adultery, His method of defending her was peculiar. He stooped down and wrote in the dirt. Then, He stooped down and wrote in the dirt a second time. In the middle of His stooping and writing, He allowed for anyone that was without sin to begin the punishment of stoning by throwing the first rock. Nobody could, and the old men slipped away first because they had sinned the most.

Jesus wrote in the dirt as a primary tactic in His defense of the woman. While it seems strange, it was actually necessary in the fulfillment of Jesus’ purpose. God had written in the earth with His finger previously and here He was doing it, again. The first time was when He wrote the Ten Commandments. He actually wrote them twice as Moses broke the first set. Now, here He is writing in the earth again. Twice, just like the first time.

The first time God wrote in the earth, He wrote the law. The second time, He wrote grace. Jesus came to satisfy the law for us since we can’t, just like the old men couldn’t. Our perspectives of God and people, starting with ourselves, are reflected what we are writing. We are either writing law or grace and we are only able to write what we receive, first. Realizing that we are not unlike the women allows us to receive grace and it allowed me to defend other people who did “it,” too, just like I have.

Easter Is Freedom and Life

It’s Easter weekend and churches everywhere are scurrying around to make things just right for the big crowds. Pastors prepare sermons meant to captivate the casual attendee with the hopes of an eternal impact. People show up this one weekend in an effort to check the box to be right with God somehow. The formula of Easter, however, can’t match or meet the fullness of Jesus.

Jesus started talking about Easter early on in His ministry and for the first time in John 3, when He said, “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.”

He referenced a story from Numbers 21 where Moses was instructed by God to build a model of a snake on a pole because people were dying from their rebellion. God gave them life if and when they were able to lift their eyes off of their circumstances and look at the snake on the pole. Jesus would bring eternal life in a similar way; He would hang on a pole (a Cross) and if people would look to Him, they would have eternal life.

The snake on the pole, is what Moses brings and that is the law. Jesus, however fulfills the law for us with grace and truth. (John 1:17)

Many of us continue to operate out of the law even if we say we believe in Jesus. We think if we do the right things, we’ll get the right results and find the right favor. Our good intentions leave us staring at a snake on a pole instead of receiving the resurrection of Jesus to fulfill the law within us.

Easter is about the risen Christ who went to the Cross to pay the price of our rebellion. If we’ll receive the sacrifice of His offering, we won’t have to perform compared to the rules anymore. We get to receive His abundant life within us to be put on display through us. It will cost us everything, but it’s better than staring at a snake on a stick.

There Are Imprints on Our Soul and Glory Resides Within

Stuff happens, and it will happen again. Bad things are part of our stories and we’re not done dealing with things that we would prefer went another way. We’re going to have trouble for as long as we’re here.

That stuff makes imprints on our soul. Our soul, is the battleground of glory. God’s glory resides in our spirit, if we have received that glory through the sacrifice of Jesus. That means we have given up our lives for His. If so, the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead, lives within us. It’s in us for us, but also for the world. The intention is that we carry glory to put Him on display through our lives.

The soul, that is our mind, will and emotions, is all that stands between a world full of hurt and darkness and the glory of God which can radiate from us. The stuff that’s happened and is happening from that same world in need of a glimpse of His glory is leaving divot marks all over our soul. Our mind is confused by the messages of the world, our emotions are hurt and insecure as we work out our identity and our will wavers as we are work out God’s glory in our lives. We have scars, ditches, graffiti, and all kinds of other imprints and distractions in our soul.

We won’t walk into the fullness of our design, which is to be included in the great and glorious nature of the Kingdom of God, just because we are “good.” We won’t figure out the secret combination of perfection in our soul by reading more or attending more conferences. We’ll only free the Freedom within us by grace. Only where we rely on Jesus and His grace do we have a shot at the fullness of the purposes He has placed within us.

There are imprints on our soul and His Spirit will overcome every single one of them. By grace. By giving up. By not caring. By allowing Him. By agreement, not by performance. By identity, not by position.

Jesus, I yield myself and my wounded soul to You on this day. I give you my life because You gave me Yours. I believe Your glory is true and real and yield now to the greatness of You within me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Wicked Choices are Fueled from Wounded Places and False Identity

concentric-circlesThe stuff that we do which is unhealthy and wicked doesn’t have to be our story. We can exchange our depravity for holiness by grace. Jesus will accommodate that exchange where we offer up our will for His. First, we have to consider ourselves and ask Him to show us the things that aren’t His best for us. In the video that I made accompanying a blog the other day, I referenced Psalm 139:23-34, which is: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”

We can ask the Lord to search us to see if there is any wicked way in us and He will lead us from it. Not a bad idea as wicked ways produce destructive results. Sometimes we’ll fool ourselves and think we are right when we are wrong. His whisper of truth is a course correction that will save us from difficult consequences.

The original word which is translated as “wicked” means, “1) pain, sorrow and 2) idol.” So we can understand the prayer of Psalm 139 to mean we want God to search us and show us any painful, sorrowful or idolatrous way within us. This is a great clue into the function of our soul.

Where there is wickedness in our will (behaviors), there is a reason for it. Our wicked choices are driven by our broken soul. If we examine our wicked ways and ask the Lord to show us, He will often take us to a lie that we are believing. From that lie, we are making bad choices. If we’ll continue to ask Him, He will often show us a wound the lie took root in. Somewhere along the way, something hurt us and we believed a lie about us and/or God that led us to self-protect from getting hurt again. If we get to the hurt, it can be healed. It it’s healed, the lie has no place to fester.

When we believe a lie that comes from a wound, we promote ourselves to god over that area of our lives. We reject the protection and provision of God and determine that we are better as god in that area. We don’t risk the vulnerability of hurt again to his protection and we self-protect figuring we can control it better than He did. That will result in increasingly depraved choices and difficult consequences. The spiral of depravity has begun.

“Search me, O God” will take us as deep as we are willing to go. If we’ll trust Him to show us, He will not only exchange His will for ours, but He’ll heal the hurt that led us to the place of making ourselves idols over those areas of our lives in the first place.