“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,.. Romans 8: 1
I quote this passage here today because I have some very dear friends who are very, very close to me that are having a whole lot of trouble walking in this simple truth. They love Jesus, but are living in a perpetual state of self condemnation. Because of this they feel they are unfit and unworthy to serve God or to be in relationship with those who are serving God. This is exactly the lie that the enemy wants them to believe.
When we condemn ourselves for our shortcomings instead of receiving the grace that Christ’s sacrifice provided for all of us, we are playing God with our own lives and calling God a liar. We are saying that the blood of Jesus did not fully cleanse us and that we know ourselves better than God does. When we deny Christ in this manner it always leads us to be angry, hurt and resentful towards not only ourselves, but also towards God and others.
Whom the Son sets free is free indeed and we should not pass harsh judgment on ourselves and deny ourselves of His grace, mercy and love. Sometimes I am very critical of myself and when I put myself in that frame of mind it always leads to me condemning me. When I allow that mindset it also always leads me to withdraw from fellowship with others who are serving Christ.
Guilt and condemnation NEVER come from The Lord. NEVER! The only cure for self condemnation is to take our eyes off of ourselves and our shortcomings and to instead focus totally on Jesus and all He has done to set us free. Then we must accept His unconditional love and grace, knowing full well that no one is worthy on our own merit and that we all need Him to be our Redeemer and Lord.
If you get anything out of this simple blog today let it be this: NO matter how many steps we take away from The Lord, it is always only one small step back into His loving arms. In fact less than a step, simply TURN slightly towards Him and He will embrace you with HIS Love, mercy and forgiveness. He never leaves or forsakes us. Not even when we choose to have a bad attitude concerning our own walk with Him. It is by grace we are saved! I know you give grace freely to others, but how about giving yourself some today?
Kirk Out !
“So I say live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5: 16-21
As someone who has worked as an addictions and mental health counselor for over 27 years and also personally struggled with mental health issues (PTSD & Major Depression) for over 18 years; I can say this with confidence: everyone is only like 3 seconds away from committing acts that can lead to being committed, jailed, institutionalized, or placed in a psychiatric unit. Think it can’t happen to you? Well, think again! I know what irrational, “crazy”, sinful and illegal thoughts cross my mind on pretty much a daily basis. And I know that if I entertain these thoughts for more than a few seconds I could rape, kill, pillage and burn with the worst of them.
Is that shocking? I don’t think so. I believe that everyone has fleeting thoughts that are irrational at best and criminal at worst. What we do with these less than pure thoughts right when they hit us will help determine whether our course of action is controlled and Godly, or diabolical and evil. What we do in the initial 3 seconds of having these thoughts will make all the difference in the world where it comes to our behavior.
The key is this: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ( 2 Corinthians 10: 5) I know I use this scripture a lot, but it really applies to how we live our lives everyday. When I allow the Holy Spirit to guide my every thought and action, I end up having much better days than if I ignore the Spirit’s leading. When I surrender my heart and mind to HIM I am fully able to manage all my thoughts and make them obedient to Christ.
So 3 seconds, that does not give us a very wide margin for error does it? However, His grace is always extended and He will help us every step of the way. When we freely choose to actively manage our every thought with the Spirit’s guidance better things happen than when we try to go it alone. Being Spiritually vigilant in all matters, and especially in our thought life, pays eternal dividends beyond what I am even able to imagine. But, if keeping close track of my thoughts keeps me from sin, handcuffs, straight- jackets, prison, and psych units; I will gladly make that choice everyday.
Kirk Out !
p.s. I speak from real life experience. I have been in psych units first as an employee, then years later as a patient. It sure is odd being on the other end of the keys.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all….” Psalm 34: 17-19
Today I just want to encourage any of you who might be struggling at this point in your life. I have many friends who are now up against the wall financially and others who desperately need to find solid work to support their families. I also know several folks who are struggling with PTSD, in its various stages, due to childhood sexual abuse like I endured. There are others I know that are battling depression, anxiety, or serious physical ailments. I am lifting all you friends up in prayer today with hopes of Godly intervention in your lives.
When we cry out Jesus hears us and He then eventually delivers us from our troubles. Sometimes it does not seem like He hears us because our problems continue and our deliverance seems far off, but I have come to believe that His response is immediate. When He hears our initial cry the wheels of His deliverance are set in motion and in His time we begin our healing in increments.
My healing and deliverance from PTSD and associated depression is still in progress. For over 18 years Jesus has been working within me and for me, in order to bring me to peace and total healing. As of today I have not had a full blown PTSD flashback episode in over 43 months. My road to wholeness has had many twists and turns, but along the way He has used my life to bring healing and wholeness to many others in need. In my numerous psychiatric hospitalizations I have encountered many dear souls in need of Jesus, and HE used me on at least 14 occasions to lead other patients to Him for the very first time. It seems that Jesus used me and my journey to significantly impact the lives of many others who were suffering with their very own troubles. In other words… it was God’s will that I suffered in order to bring deep healing to others. If I did not suffer from my particular affliction I never would have encountered these other folks that were deeply in need of Him. Jesus did not cause me to have PTSD, but He certainly did use it. And because of it I am a far better person today, than I was 18 years ago. Today I totally understand the great value of empathy, brokenness, humility and compassion like never before.
Jesus has always been with me holding me close and continually healing my broken heart and crushed spirit. I have had MANY troubles in my life, but He has always delivered me even when I did not fully understand what was going on. Now I understand that He has always been in control and my route to healing and wholeness had been according to His plan all along.
So I appeal to anyone out there who is struggling or in the midst of trouble…Please do not give up! God is for you and not against you and He is now holding you in the very palm of His hand. Do not worry about tomorrow and understand that He IS healing and delivering you TODAY. Sometimes He needs to bring us through some very deep shit and difficult situations to bring about our ultimate healing. Life in Christ is not all sunshine and giggles. Sometimes we need to go through very dark and difficult times. Many times it is extremely hard to believe and continue to walk forward because of our current circumstances. Pain and suffering are part of life and living with an affliction can be very complicated, but know this….. Jesus understands and is with us every step of the way. At least this has been my experience and truth.
Kirk Out !
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.” Acts 4:8-14
In the instance recorded above it is very clear that Jesus called unschooled and ordinary “men” to be instruments of healing and enlightenment to their community. That’s right, Peter and John who would be pillars of the first apostles were simple, unschooled and ordinary men. Can that possibly be correct and true? Were the leading men of the early Church simple folks like you and me? If this is true then modern “Christianity” has it all wrong…because today’s “church” demands that those they “call” to “leadership” be very well schooled and extra ordinary.
Those that Jesus called were called because of the relationship they had with Christ and their proven character over time. Today’s “Church” “calls” its ministers based on appearance, sheer academic performance and sermon giving skills. In short the traditional/institutional “church” hires and calls people to “the ministry” due to their ABILITY to perform in the Sunday morning show and their skills to be the CEO of the “church”/ business.
I am here to tell you that serving Jesus and others should not depend upon ones ABILITIES at all. What Jesus looks for in a servant of HIS is AVAILABILITY to the leading of the Spirit of God. The truth is that who God calls… HE also equips. Meaning that HE grants ABILITIES to do the task at hand regardless of our level of competence or skill prior to Him equipping us. We do not need to have special oratory or healing skills to be used by Jesus in any given situation.
All we need to be is available, yielded, willing and open vessels that can be filled to overflowing with His Spirit at any given moment. It is the condition of our heart that matters and not the level of our intelligence or skills. When we serve others in any capacity we will do so with the strength and ability that God provides. We will serve only with the anointing HE provides us and not with any measure of our flesh or mere human skills. It is ALL about HIM and not about us or our performance abilities. Jesus calls the unschooled and ordinary to do amazing and extra-ordinary feats. Don’t disqualify yourself from His service because you feel you are not smart enough or able……JESUS makes you able with the power that flows only from Him. Who does Jesus call? HE calls you! So please be ready for your next opportunity to share HIS gift in you with others.
Kirk Out !
“…… and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6: 8
Thank God that Jesus came here and fulfilled all of these requirements for us. Jesus was all about justice, kindness and He did walk humbly with the Father. However, I still believe that God desires us to walk in His ways and now that He has given us His Spirit it is now more than possible.
I find it interesting that we are called to DO justice, that means we are to actively walk in justice. We get to administer justice to those who need it now. Our lives should always touch the lives of others and provide justice for them in real and tangible ways. That means we are called to level out the scales and make sure that others are treated just and fairly. We should be out there on the front lines advocating for those who need to be treated fairly by society and those around them. When we see injustice in action we should always pray and then intervene as the Spirit leads us. I have seen this work in my life when I have jumped into the fray when I have witnessed people being bullied.
Once at Disney World we were getting ready to watch the parade and fireworks, My Mom was in a wheelchair so we were in an area designated for the handicapped. There was another area right next to us for the handicapped too, but some people were there who were obviously not disabled. Other elderly folks in wheelchairs were trying to get the healthy people to move, but they refused and instead started cursing the elderly folks, telling them to “F#@% off”. I felt the Spirit’s leading so I told my children to find a park employee and I leaped over the roped off section and landed face to face and right in front of the huge chief bully who continued to spout obscenities. I told this guy to move out of the handicapped section and he refused. Then I said to him, “Either move or be moved in Jesus Name!” Right then he agreed to move and apologized to me and the elderly couple. The park employee showed up a few minutes later and we told her what had transpired. She thanked me for stepping into the situation and then we all watched the fireworks and parade. On that night justice was served.
We are also required to “love kindness” and sometimes justice and kindness go hand in hand. Stepping up to confront the bully was a way of being kind to those being bullied. However, most of the time kindness involves being gentle and compassionate. To act kindly to those in need is to give them a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Better yet, is to equip them to face the obstacles they are encountering. Like giving food to the hungry or water to those who thirst. Acts of kindness make the world a better place to live in, so I always make the effort to be kind towards everyone I encounter along the way.
Finally, we are to “walk humbly” WITH our God. Notice we are not walking in front of God or behind Him, but rather WITH Him. To me this speaks of keeping in step with The Spirit at all times. HE is our guide and out of humility we should surrender to walking in step with Him. However, true humility is to totally bow down before Him and surrender our will. I did a word study many years ago and was surprised to discover that one of the very root words of humble was “to be bold”. True humility involves going boldly before His throne and then bowing down to whatever leading The Lord gives you. Then of course we should lift our heads up high as we perform whatever actions He leads us to endeavor. Our confidence should always be in Him as we boldly go wherever He may take us to do His will. We are ALL called to be His instruments of justice and kindness in this seemingly lost and fallen world.
Kirk Out !
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ”For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8: 35-39
The last 18 years PTSD and related flashbacks of childhood sexual abuse and rape have really put me through the wringer. I have experienced a few highs, but many, many, very deep lows. And right now I have several close friends facing various trials of faith. I just needed to be reminded and to remind these dear friends today that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Jesus.
However, I know of one thing that can sure seem like it does separate us from Christ’s love, and that one thing is self condemnation. When we judge ourselves too harshly, it is like we put up a wall between us and Christ. I am well familiar with self hate and loathing. When I was in the throes of PTSD flashback hell, I said and did unthinkable things to the ones that I loved. I was lost in the past and I thought they were more of my abusers and I would do anything to create space between me and them. I drove them away with harsh words and actions. I even tried to drive God away from me because I was so ashamed of my behavior during PTSD episodes.
I held myself to an impossible standard of upright behavior and when I failed to attain that standard, I judged myself as being totally unworthy of love and concern. I mean how could a Christ follower act in those ways? My loved ones, psychiatrists, and counselors told me I was not fully responsible for my actions, but I could not hear them through the walls of pain and remorse I had built for myself.
Even without the PTSD I have always been very hard on myself. I have always been quick to call myself a hypocrite when I fell short of a perfect “Christian” walk. Grace was something I could freely give to others, but never to myself. The outcome of my Super-Christian mentality led to deep and dark depression and even more self hate.
In the last several years I have been humbled by the ever-amazing love and grace of Jesus The Christ. I hit my rock bottom and lost nearly everything, but even in the midst of great pain and loss there was Jesus. He was always there, but I could not recognize Him because I tried to view Him through lenses of religious perfection. When I finally just surrendered and gave up, He picked me right up and placed me on my feet again. Now here I am ready to go as many rounds as necessary to win the battles that He now picks for me. Now I realize that the only standard is Christ and that NO ONE measures up because we all fall short. The only one who can meet that standard is Jesus and the good news is that HE meets the standard for each and every one of us EVERY time. We NEVER measure up, but HE ALWAYS DOES!
I was concerned about judging myself properly because I was worried about not measuring up on JUDGMENT DAY. Now I realize that judgment day is not about me or what I have done, but it is all about Jesus and what He has done for us in advance. To my friends who are struggling…just give up and surrender WHATEVER is holding you down. Just accept His grace, mercy and love and learn how to walk in it. I know EASY to say, harder to do, but if I can do it surely anyone can. Remember that no low is too low for Jesus to reach and deliver. I know and I am praying for you all.
Kirk Out !
Today I have two distinct thoughts rolling around in my head and I am not sure if either one of them is blog worthy. So I am just going to throw them out here and see what happens.
Thought one: “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men.” Stephen said that in Acts 7 just before he was stoned to death. Another version says it like this, “The Spirit of The Lord no longer dwells in temples made by human hands.”
So whenever a Pastor or anyone else refers to their “church” building as “God’s House”, they are telling a huge lie. Right here in my town there is a “church” called “His House”. The pastor there is a friend of mine and I have told him flat out that they need to change the name, but he just doesn’t see it that way. Many times I have heard “men” say “Welcome to God’s House”. Just how sad is that? To be that far from the truth? The truth is that those who follow Jesus are God’s house, we are God’s building made of lively stones and His Spirit lives in us.
Thought two: The only times Jesus passed an offering plate was in offering fish and bread to those who were hungry, like in John 6. Jesus never took up a collection so why should we? Problem is that less than 4% of the money collected by traditional “churches” actually goes to real ministry like feeding the poor and taking care of the elderly and orphans. Over 96% of the “churches” intake of funds goes to building funds, maintaining buildings, paying Clergy, and institutional maintenance. None of which are really needed to actually BE the church and serve God and others. The Church abdicated its role as the mercy giver when it became an institution instead of a Body, and now the government is trying to fill that spot. And it just doesn’t work well that way does it?
I am sorry if this blog doesn’t measure up, but I am intoxicated with love after spending the day with my 4 grandchildren at my daughter Becca’s. I got to hold, love and play with the twins Gus and Annabelle (who are almost 2 years old) Owen who is nearly 4 and Kaden who is almost 5. They all fill my heart with joy and I love them all so very, very much. So today I simply shared what little else I had on my heart and mind. My heart is so filled with sincere love and right now nothing else matters. Plus the fellowship at Becca’s was awesome. Very free, open, bold and non-conventional. We had no need or want for a Clergyman and instead had dear friends and family tell the story of their relationship with Christ. If anyone wants to add or subtract from what I have shared here today, please do so in the comments?
Kirk Out !