It has been laid upon my heart to share from a few bloggers I follow…
Tami is my sister from another mother. Seriously, we have not known each other very long, and we only know of each other through the internet, but OMGosh, the more I know, the more I am convinced that we were separated at birth! 😀 She writes in a bold and simple fashion… full of truth and examples, so that the reader feels as if the words came directly from them! THAT is a gift. If you enjoy these two samples of Tami’s thoughts, make sure you visit her blog, Lessons by Heart!
1 06 2013
I have a grave – and a tombstone. It was a long, slow, painful death; but I finally laid down and died!
The process began with a counseling session with my pastor’s wife, Barbara. She is a sweet, compassionate and gracious woman. She’s also very courageous, wading into the mire of people’s lives dressed in the Armor of God and armed with the Sword of the Spirit.
I would tell her about some mistreatment or other that I was experiencing. She would commiserate with me for a few minutes, but then with pursed lips, she would slightly shake her head and say those words I hated to hear, “What do you think the Lord is trying to teach you in this?”
It was like having a needle “scritch” across a record!
“No, you don’t understand. This is what they did, this is how they are treating me.” I felt hopeless, confused, like I was sinking.
“Tami, is God in control?”
“Then, while He did not cause this to happen, He allowed it. If He allowed it, there must be something in it for you to learn, don’t you think?”
Ugh! I hated those conversations. In the end, I would see the truth of what she was saying and have to agree that there was indeed something in me that needed to be changed.
Another phrase she often stated was this: “But it’s not about you; it’s about Jesus.”
This always came on the heels of a confession that I had not received validation from people for whatever it was I thought I was called to do: teach, write, sing, etc.
For instance, I wanted to sing a solo with our worship team. After all, I have a great heart for worship…it’s what I live for. No one else saw my “potential,” though. As a result, I was passed over time and again. That really hurt. I wanted to hear that I was right, they were wrong…then I wanted her to “fix” the problem.
“Is worship about you? Will Jesus be glorified – or will you? What are you really after here?” She asked these questions warmly, her eyes probed the depths of my own.
Barb is great at getting to the heart of the issue. The Lord has given her an incredible gift of discernment and tons of wisdom to go with it.
I finally had to be honest with myself and admit that I wanted to use worship to gain approval and acceptance from others. Ouch! That smarted.
Once I saw my true motive, she would encourage me to talk to Jesus about what was uncovered, give me a chance to repent, and ask the Lord to give me a pure heart.
We went through this process countless times, and about numerous topics.
“We have to learn to die to ourselves. That’s what the Lord is after. Until we are dead to our sin, we cannot be alive in Christ. Life does not revolve around us. We don’t want to promote ourselves. After all, who can we save? If at the end of life, these people know how wonderful we are, but don’t know Jesus, what will happen to them?”
She has a great way of putting things into perspective.
Dead. Hmm. Mentally, I just couldn’t get there…
…so I went into my back yard…
and dug a grave.
Not a big one, but one big enough and deep enough
to bury a photo of myself.
Then I made a tombstone and set it on top.
Now I have a grave. I can mentally see myself as “dead.”
This is not a move I recommend for the faint-hearted.
Jesus was obviously pleased with my desire to live fully for Him, for after that I began to be passed over, ignored, and overlooked almost daily.
It hurt – but then, dying hurts.
Then glorious things began to come my way. He began to use me in prominent ways. He could because my goal was no longer to promote me, but to make His name known.
Sometimes my stinky old flesh rises up from the grave. I can tell when the “old me” is up running around, though. People are repelled. I’m obnoxiously obvious by the rotted stench of my pride.
The process is repeated: confess, repent, revisit the grave, ask for help to make my life about Jesus and not about me.
Being dead has its benefits:
I don’t have to take things personally anymore – it’s not about me.
I can serve without caring if anyone notices – it’s not about me.
I can tell others how much Jesus means to me – He gets the glory
I don’t have to “do more” or “try harder” – what can a dead person do to improve themselves?
Approval comes from the Lord alone. He is the One I seek to please. (Galatians 1:10 – Do I now persuade men? Or do I seek to please men, or God? For if I still pleased men, I could not be a bondservant of Christ.”)
FREEDOM! The freedom to become the person Jesus created me to be.
The day I “died” was the best day of my life!
12 06 2013
Christians being eaten by lions? Now what’s wrong with that picture? I wondered.
Most have seen movies that include scenes with a Roman Colosseum. People are pitted against people, or against beasts. One of their favorites was feeding Christians to the lions.
Wait just a minute! From a Biblical perspective this is all wrong. Jesus (the Lion of the Tribe of Judah) doesn’t eat Christians. He loves and cares for them.
In an instant, a whole new understanding of prayer came into view.
No doubt, you’re familiar with the Armor of God: the Belt of Truth, the Breastplate of Righteousness, the Helmet of Salvation, Shoes that are the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace, the Shield of Faith, and the Sword of the Spirit…and an oft left-out piece: Prayer.
Let’s consider the shield for a bit. In the days of the Roman Empire, the one used was roughly 2 1/2 feet by 4 feet…big enough to shield the entire body. When a group of soldiers stood side-by-side, their shields formed an impenetrable wall.
Place them in a circle, and what do you have? A Colosseum!
For you see, when we join in prayer, we have effectively encircled our enemy. The Lion (always victorious) can then take him out.
Like I said, this is completely backward to the Roman Colosseum.
There are a few times in the Bible when the Lord says, “I looked for a man to stand in the gap, but could find no one.” The verse takes on a different meaning when seen in this light, doesn’t it?
This causes me to wonder how many times total victory was thwarted, the enemy allowed to escape, because I failed to heed the call to prayer. Hmm, mmm.
It came as no big surprise that Satan took one of God’s spiritual truths and turned it into a grisly game for entertaining the masses. After all, he’s twisted every other thing God designed for our good and His glory.
For instance, God invited His people to several week-long parties to celebrate their relationship with Him in song, dance, and pot-lucks. Today we have concerts where people gather for the sake of worshiping other people, sing songs that tear them down, and dance seductively. Some parties last all weekend – sometimes turning into orgies.
God invites us to be filled with His Spirit, Satan invites people to be filled with alcohol or drugs so that He can fill them and control them.
God designed marriage to illustrate His faithfulness to us, Satan destroys marriages, and many people in the process.
God uses stories to teach us about Himself. Hollywood uses stories to teach us about evil and vile things.
God wrote a Book, so did Satan.
God calls for gatherings for the sake of worship, so does Satan.
God instituted a system of animal sacrifice to atone for sin until Jesus gave the final sacrifice. Now, no more bloodshed is required. Satan still demands sacrifices – not of animals only, but of humans as well.
I could give many more examples, but you get the idea. Anytime we see perversity, we see a twisting of a spiritual truth.
…like Christians, who were eaten by the lions in the Colosseums of old.