Tag Archives: Christians

Get Up With A New Determination

At the opening of 2019, I was flooded with thoughts about my life, my friendship with God, motherhood, marriage, ministry, and my relationships with others – in that order amazingly. I came to realize how my life was impacted by all of these roles. My ministry assignment in San Francisco, which has taken me away from extended family and close friends, has been one of the most difficult and yet rewarding endeavors of my life. It has opened and stretched me to a new determination. I do understand now why God allowed and opened this door of opportunity for His glory and insight.

I am going to new levels. There have been some painful moments on this journey; aloneness, but not lonely, rejection in unexpected ways, and misunderstood intentions. However, some things have been made clear to me. I have gained insight into obscure matters that blindsided me. I can see clearly now. What I love about friendship with God is that it never changes and God will never allow me to walk in the dark. God is consistent in His love and care for me as a human being created in His image. There are no contradictions in His character. His love endures forever.

I have all of this stuff inside me to fulfill and I know I have to work with a new determination to complete it. I have never been jealous or envious of the dreams and goals of others. I have been a cheerleader for other people’s dreams and have sacrificed much of my time and energy to see their dreams happen. I will continue to help others and encourage them to go after God’s best for their lives; but I woke up recently with a new determination to fulfill my dreams.

    I don’t ever want to stop dreaming. I don’t believe it is God’s will that I pour all of my life into someone else’s dream while my dream dies on the vine. God said in His Word, “be fruitful and multiply.” (Genesis 1:28) That means I should be increasing in whatever God has planted in me to advance His Kingdom.

Reader, on this journey of life, you are going to meet people in the world who are takers. They have unrealistic expectations of your pouring all of yourself into their dreams and goals, but they can never celebrate yours. You have to know when it is time to wake up or you could die asleep.  Don’t die with your dreams unfulfilled. You might have to take a season away from environments and people who are killing you. Get up with a new determination to start working on something. Even if it seems small, just do it! Help others, yes, but don’t get so absorbed that you can’t see clearly what God wants to do in and through your life. Decide today that, with a new determination, you will fulfill your dreams for God’s glory and honor!

Peace,

 

Toxic Religious Communities: Where Is The Balm?

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful evangelism training event that helps to prepare and equip believers to be more effective witnesses for Christ. We discussed ways that we could be more natural and conversational in our approach to sharing the love that Jesus modeled for us while he lived in the earth some two thousand years ago.

During this training, I was up earlier than usual every morning seeking God in prayer because I am constantly searching for ways to be a better human being in the presence of people across all cultures. This was a four-day training. I assembled for morning prayer with others who wanted to experience God’s blessings daily for the entire training session. But something happened in me during prayer on the last day as I was preparing to leave. I got in my car to drive to the airport but I could not because the tears would not stop flowing. A full hour passed before I was able to drive. While in prayer, it seemed as if the heavens opened and the Spirit of God spoke and said, “Now be released from your pain; the pain you have carried being a part of a particular religious community.” In one brief moment, God flicked through those experiences like a quick movie flashing in my mind’s eye. I have chosen in this writing not to name that community as I do not desire to hurt anyone by the things shared. However, I do want to enlighten people through awareness of the many ways we inflict pain on others who are a part of our religious communities and those who come seeking healing. We understand that there are no perfect religious communities, but there should be evidence of the fruit of our love and forgiveness in the way we treat others.

It is only because of the grace of God and good friends that I have been able to stand, as many others have, through unkindness, unjust suffering, rejection, labeling, persecution, sabotage, lies, disregard, being hindered from advancement, and ill treatment toward our children. I have had many opportunities for advancement beyond the religious community I serve, but I believe God uses our experiences to help others. He taught me how to be continually engaged in the practice of Radical Hospitality in spite of ill treatment. I am fully aware that Jesus had to do the same thing. Let me say also, that there are beautiful people who I personally share with in the same community that have known firsthand the things I and others have suffered and they found ways to encourage us and also let us know that they were praying for our families and our fellowship communities. For them I am grateful.

Through my personal experiences with humanity and having been a practicing Mental Health Professional for more than twenty-five years, I have had the pleasure of being seated in sacred spaces with people who have been so wounded by religious communities that they no longer wanted to be a part of them. Many of them sought out alternative environments because they still had a hunger in their hearts for spirituality. At times my heart was broken just hearing about their pain and suffering. They had been controlled, manipulated, abused emotionally and physically, blocked from advancement, exploited financially, and raped of their gifts and talents. Some of their experiences reminded me of my own, but I listened with compassion and the desire to help them work their way through the pain.

Religious communities should make every effort to be havens of consolation where people can come and find a real healing balm. In the natural, a balm is often an oily, fragrant substance that is used as a comforting, soothing, restorative ointment for wounds, cuts, and bruises. It is known for its medicinal value. Ideally, this is what religious communities are supposed to represent – an anchorage where people of all nations can have soothing experiences and find comfort and restoration for their hurting souls.

I have never understood why there is such tolerance for inappropriate behaviors from leaders and other participants in religious communities. I believe we all have a duty to address the wrongs we can clearly see. However, if we become mere beneficiaries of perks, then there is silence while people are being injured – some who may never recover.

The weight of my pain is lifted. I forgave the persons who hurt me at the moment of the injury. What I did not realize was that I still carried the pain. I have released it. I have learned that God will never waste my pain or yours. God will use everything that you and I have gone through for destiny and for His glory. I have to continue helping others to overcome their pain and to share with yet others how they can survive maltreatment and hurt, and still move forward with God’s purpose and plan for their lives – even when their hearts have been broken in a religious community.

If you are reading this and you are connected to a religious community that has hurt you in any way, know that God’s love is greater than what you have experienced. If you will remain open in your heart to the awesome power of God, your pain can be healed.

To Religious Communities everywhere; leaders and laity, I ask you,
“Where is the balm in your community that can heal any soul?”    Peace

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