The Liberating Power of Truth

truthbreakchainsIn a society where almost anything goes, truth is becoming increasingly offensive. Only the truth seekers are willing to embrace truth, even when it hurts, as it often does. Paul foretold of this time in Romans 1:18-32. In this sobering passage, he states that suppression of the truth leads to utter depravity and wickedness of every kind. In other words, ignoring or refusing to accept truth leads to demonic bondage and ultimately, destruction.

In stark contrast, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32) The teaching He referred to was His word. He is the word made flesh. He is the way, the truth and the life. Truth is not a set of rules or a standard of morality, it is a Person. This should help those of us who are truth seekers to better understand why the rejection of truth has become an epidemic. Jesus and His disciples were also rejected, and He told us the world hated Him and would therefore hate us as well. 

Already we are seeing increased hostility directed against those who are bold enough to speak the truth, especially in a public forum. I believe this animosity will become greater and even more violent in the coming days. As believers and truth seekers, we must prepare our hearts, our spirits and souls, for the troubles many will face. We must know what, and who we believe, and why. We must know God’s word and His truth, for He is the Rock upon which we stand through the storms. We cannot look to our pastors, spouses, friends or leaders to be there to help us. We have the greatest Helper – Holy Spirit. He has promised to never leave us and to give us the words to say when we are confronted by opposition.

Holy Spirit can remind us of the things Jesus said, but He cannot renew our minds, or read and meditate upon Scripture for us. That is our part and only we can do it. Jesus forewarned His disciples of His impending death and resurrection. He did this, not to frighten them, but to inform them so they could prepare, as much as they knew how, to face those challenges. May the Scriptures I’ve mentioned here, along with many others, do the same for us. May God give us the grace to seek to know, live, and speak the truth every day of our lives. He will be faithful to His promise that those who seek, will indeed find what they are looking for.  As we choose to love the truth, we will have nothing to fear.

 

Advertisements

The Essential Need for Healthy Boundaries

A key factor in determining and maintaining our emotional health is our ability to set broken wallshealthy boundaries. Those who live in continual stress, anxiety, frustration, fear, etc., often do so because of their inability or ignorance in knowing how to do so or what healthy boundaries even are. Many grew up with no boundaries, such as those who were victims of abuse. But for our own sake, and the sake of those around us, it is critical that we learn.

Proverbs 25:28 says, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”  In other words, you could say a person without boundaries has no self-control — he has given control to circumstances and those around him. In Biblical times when a city’s walls were broken down, the enemy had easy access to come and go as he pleased, stealing, killing, and destroying that city and its inhabitants. This, of course, is a perfect picture of a person with no boundaries that allows the enemy to control and ultimately destroy them.

Boundaries keep us safe and enable us to be in control, not others or the enemy. By control, I am speaking of self-control. We decide how we show up in any given situation. We do not react to the demands of others, or the current situation. We can step back, get into the Spirit, and respond as He would have us to. A lack of boundaries will cause us to react in the flesh every time. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, so we have access to that grace because He dwells within us.

Setting healthy boundaries enables us to say “no” to the demands and requests of others that would drain us of energy and eat up our time, without feeling guilty. If we are unable to turn down these requests and demands, or we feel guilty doing so, it is a sign we lack boundaries and self-control. We have become people pleasers instead of God pleasers. If our typical response to situations outside of our control is fear, anxiety, anger, rage, impatience, etc., it means we have given control over to those situations and are not walking in self-control because we have not set boundaries.

We must determine in advance what we will and will not, allow to control us. It is much more difficult to make the decision in the heat of the moment. We must decide we will not allow difficult situations to steal our peace and joy. Instead, we will look for the good that God promises to bring from them. In dealing with people, we must resolve to control our own schedule and activities to include spending time with family, leisure, and time for ourselves before committing to other things. We must know our limitations; we cannot do everything. One of the enemy’s greatest tactics is to keep us busy – away from our spouses and children, tired with no time to rest, stressed and anxious because we know we can’t do it all – all the while believing we are doing great things for the Lord. This can lead to physical illness, mental breakdowns and burnout, strife and division in the family, etc.

As in all things, Jesus is our model for life and ministry. He knew how to set healthy boundaries. He left needy crowds to spend time with His Father. He never gave in to the demands of others; He knew when it was, and wasn’t His time. He took time alone, away from even His disciples, to rest and commune with the Father. He didn’t go to every sick or demonized person that needed help, but only the ones the Father showed Him. He was never stressed or anxious, never fearful or uncertain; He walked in continual peace because He had perfect self-control. Thankfully, we have Him to help us grow in this ability every day!

Have you set healthy boundaries? If not, why not? I would love to hear your story!

The Mother Heart of God

Since today is Mother’s Day, I thought I would briefly write on a topic I’ve not seen momandbabyhandsmuch written on before. Before I start, however, I want to make a short disclaimer. I am not claiming that God is female. The clear teaching of Scripture is that He contains within Himself, attributes both masculine and feminine, because we are all made in His image. My point in writing this is to briefly explore His feminine attributes as we celebrate the role of mothers in our lives.

Genesis 1:27 says, So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” If this is true, and it is, then it goes without saying that God contains the qualities of both man and woman within His own nature. We hear much about God as our heavenly Father, His ability to be a Father to those who are fatherless, and His correction of His children as a loving Father. But what about His feminine characteristics? How does God mother us?

To me, Holy Spirit is the one Person of the Trinity that exemplifies the “mothering” side of God. According to John 14:26, Jesus describes Him as a comforter, a helper or aide, a counselor; one who teaches and reminds, an intercessor. He is one who comes to our defense. All of these qualities describe the typical role of a mother. (Not that fathers can’t do these same things). I have always thought it was interesting that the only sin that was unforgivable was blaspheming, or speaking against, the Holy Spirit. It seems as if both Jesus and the Father are quite protective concerning Him, much like a son and husband would be towards their mother and wife. (see Luke 12:10)

Of course, the Holy Spirit does many other things in our lives as well – He empowers us for ministry, He lives within us, He enables us to know Jesus and the Father and always points us to them; He never glorifies Himself. (Acts 1:8; 1 Cor. 6:19, John 16:13-15) Even so, He seems to display the tender, emotional side of God’s heart toward His children in a way that is comforting and reassuring. Clearly, God is not only a Father to the fatherless, but a Mother to the motherless. He is El Shaddai – One mighty to nourish, satisfy, and supply (can literally be translated, “many breasted one”). He is truly ALL that we need!