Saturday, September 5, 2015

I Ain't No Sweet Orange Tree Apart from Him

Orange trees bear oranges. Banana trees produce bananas. Raspberry bushes grow raspberries. Though I realize I'm only stating the obvious, I must say it: A TREE BEARS FRUIT, REVEALING THE TYPE OF TREE IT IS. Scientifically proven, it's a law of nature. With certainty, I can know the grapevine in my back yard will never burst forth with apple blossoms!

Let's look at a different kind of "tree". Our lives. I will love because I am loving. I will be joyful because I am joyous. I will have peace because I am peaceful, kind because I am kind, patient because I'm patient, self-controlled because I know God is in control. This is the Fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

But what if I produce anger, jealousy, drunkenness, or immorality? What if the thing that hangs from my "tree" is bitter and thorny? The answer is just as obvious as the orange tree that bears oranges - it's just more uncomfortable to look at because, well, it's painful. Like anything in life, we can't fix it if we don't acknowledge it's broken. We may be shouting to everyone around us, "I'm a sweet orange tree! The only reason I'm like this is because YOU make me get like this!" That's a lie, but it's an easy one to believe. Unfortunately, it's obvious to everyone else except us: We ain't no sweet orange tree!

Blame. It's the oldest mind game in all of human history! Beginning in the Garden of Eden, the first episode of The Blame Game played out when God asked a very direct question: "Have you eaten of the tree that I command you not to eat?" Adam pointed at Eve and told God, "This woman YOU gave me, SHE handed it to me and then I ate it." As if on cue, Eve answers, "The Serpent deceived me and then I ate," or more plainly, "The devil made me do it!" I know some of you mamas out there are sighing as this is the story of your everyday life when you ask one of your kids a simple question. The finger pointing starts and the blaming flows like a river. Oh,  if only we could get a straight, honest answer!!! It's not just the kids though, right?

I lived blaming others for too long. It was yucky. Thorns and bitterness, anger and judgement grew out of blame. Through tears, I'd tell Daryl after a fight, "I don't know why I am so angry. I just am. I only do two emotions well, so you either get Happy or Angry." When things were good, it was easy to be happy, but if things got tough, I'd blow a fuse. Truth is, when the heat of life turns up, what we're made of gets revealed.

In John 15, we read familiar words spoken by Jesus: "I am the vine. You are the branches. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." Outside of Him, I can't do it! Let me lay it out on the table; my bursts of anger we not Jesus'. They were mine. Flesh of Candi. It was not a pretty sight. Just call it verbal vomit. No one wants that spewed on them! I didn't know how things would ever change because in those days, I was still playing the blame game. I would think, "It's 'your' fault I'm mad." Here's a secret: If all those who make us mad would change, behave perfectly, or move out of our lives, we'd still be mad. THEY are not the problem. The problem resides in us. What do we do though? I'd just vow to myself, "I will try harder next time not to get so angry." I'd fail. Sometimes I still  do!

Let's go all the way back to the Garden again. We see that everything God offered gave us Life. He WAS Life! He still is. The Lie the Devil pitched lead to Death. What was the Lie?

     "Did God REALLY say..."

Knowing and listening to God's truth is where we must start. God is the truth teller. God is the truth revealer. God is Truth! And His truth produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. But when I walk in the flesh, I've turned my ear away from the Life-giver and taken a bite of the same lie the Enemy has been whispering since mankind walked the earth... "Candi, did God really say love is patient? He didn't mean all the time. Nobody is perfect. You have every right to be sharp-tongued sometimes! That wasn't fair. Who could be expected to be gentle under those circumstances? You were just being honest!" Whew! It makes me sweat just to type those words. Have you ever eaten that one? Boy, I have! It was a bitter, rotten piece of something! 

Just as Adam and Eve pulled their Life-line from God back in the Garden, I do the same thing if I pull my vine from His branch and expect to do anything apart from him. This makes me want to do a whole study on what it looks like to Abide in Christ. Let's finish on a sweet, a truly sweet bite. A bite we can sink our teeth into, whole-heartedly. God will never lie to us. He will always tell us the truth. Don't you love that?

Do you remember in Math class, the word IS and equals were interchangeable? For example, 4 + 4 = 8. Or we'd say 4 plus 4 IS 8. It would only work to insert the equals sign when the equation had the same amount on both sides of it, making it TRUE. Look at a few verses through that same lens.

God is Love. Jesus is Truth. He is Life.
God = Love. Jesus = Truth. He = Life.

Yep. It is what it is. Or better yet, He just says, I AM. Period.

Why should we look anywhere outside of the one who IS the truth we seek? If something is missing in your life, much like a mathematical equation, you need to look for the answer to missing the variable that will make your life-equation equal the truth. Stuffing anything (and everything) into the equation won't make it add up to truth. It only IS, when the equation is True. 
                            "His name is Faithful and True." (Revelation 19:11)

More, if you want it:
     Galatians 5
     John 15
     Romans 6-8

Friday, September 4, 2015

Irreversible Transformation

     I can't un-learn to play the piano. I could concentrate on being ignorant to my skills but it's impossible. I could try to convince myself "I don't know what to do" but my brain still understands it. I can never go back to not understanding the keys of my piano.

     You can't un-learn to ride a bike***, therefore the expression, "It's just like riding a bike." There are things that we all "just do" because it's impossible to turn off the know-how once we've got it.

     Yesterday, I told a little story about experiencing truth. Today, let's focus on the miracle of the transformation that takes place when understanding and believing truth changes us. Much like the bike, transforming truth is something that once you learn it, you can never go back and un-learn it. The change is complete. Permanent. Actually, when the Bible speaks of being transformed, it's the same word as metamorphosis - A change from one form into a completely different form! Caterpillar to butterfly. A heart of stone to heart of flesh. From dead to alive.

Just as a wooden match, once struck, becomes carbon, it can't go back to being wood. The transformation is complete. Permanent. It's changed from one substance into an entirely different one with new qualities. It is what it is.

So, what about our lives? Why don't we see change? Why do we go back to our defaults? Could it be, perhaps, we haven't fully understood where that transformation comes from? Transformation is supernatural. The biology of the butterfly is miraculous! The
                                                                                   chemistry of the burning match is marvelous!

The metamorphosis of a sinner to saint is God's work. Transformation doesn't come from trying harder. Trying to change is as real as a caterpillar wearing a butterfly costume. Trusting to change is the real deal - from the inside out. Look at this evidence:
     " is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." Philippians 2:13
     "I am convinced of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6
     "After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." 1 Peter 5:10

     Just like salvation, this handiwork isn't a partnership of God and I toiling together. He does the work. I do the trusting. It's the kind of believing (experiential understanding) that I can never un-learn. It completely transforms me. There's no going back. It's the kind of trust that can tell my mind to not worry because "I KNOW whom I have believed in, and am persuaded that He is able." The kind of belief that can put my heart at peace  though I've heard the C-word, cancer. The assurance that I can hope in a God who hears and loves me.

     If you feel stuck in the same rut, striving to change, vowing to never-do-that-again, maybe there's some area of your life that is like that wooden match, just waiting to be struck and ignited, ready to morph into the new. There's no going back once the transformation is real. But it's entirely God's work in you. Remember, the Fruit of the Spirit is NOT a to-do list in our lives. You possess them already if you belong to God. They flow from you but are not produced by you, but by the Spirit. Ask God to help you trust Him in that area of life you're struggling - to trust with your whole heart. He is able!

     "I have been crucified with Christ; and it no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." Galatians 5:20

Images from

***Just for fun, I'm leaving a link to a cool video about a guy who DID try to unlearn to ride a bike.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Story of The Best Steakhouse Ever - Know the Truth!

     "I'm going to take you to my favorite steakhouse for lunch. I know you love a good steak, so this place is perfect for you! I'll pick you up at 12:00.  It's not far from where you work. It's on 10th Ave North." 
     My stomach rumbled. I'd skipped breakfast that morning and was starving. I loved it when Carrie and I could catch up over the lunch hour. And Carrie had excellent taste in food so I was eager to try her favorite steakhouse. My husband, Jack, called minutes later wondering if I'd like to join him at his office for lunch. 
     "Sorry. I just made plans with Carrie to go to some awesome steakhouse on 10th Ave North. Let's do it another day," I explained. 
     Jack paused. "Uhm...There's no steak joint on 10th Ave North. Better have her check her directions before you go. I've been all over that street and I know there's no steakhouse there."
     "Carrie said it's where she always goes for her favorite steak." I had no reason not to believe her. 
     "I'm just saying, there's no steakhouse on 10th Ave North. But I know you'll have a good time with Carrie, wherever you end up eating. " 
     "Thanks. Love you." I hung up my phone wondering if Carrie maybe just had the address wrong. Guess I'd find out soon enough. 

     Carrie showed up at the curb right on time. I jumped in, more curious than ever about this steakhouse she'd bragged about. "I'm starving! I can't wait to eat." 
     "I know! Me, too. I'm glad it'll only take us a few minutes to get there," she replied. Moment of truth. Would we drive to a steakhouse on 10th or was Jack right after all? Lo and behold, we turned the corner of 10th Avenue North and she pulled the car into the parking lot of Hank's Steaks. 
     "We're here!" 
      Sure enough. We ate delectable steaks with all the trimmings. We left, stomachs full and my mind convinced, there was without a doubt, an amazing steakhouse on 10th. 

     Later that evening, Jack got home and asked about lunch. "So? How was lunch with Carrie?"
     "Great! And the steak was so good! I'll have to take you there sometime on a date. I'm guessing, it'll become a regular date destination from now on. It was that good," I smiled. 
     "But where did it end up being? I know it wasn't on 10th, right?" 
     Jack had always been so good with directions I couldn't believe he'd gotten this one wrong. I raised my eyebrows and smiled again. "Actually, Carrie drove right to it, on 10th. I saw it with my very own eyes. I assure you, it's there."
     He replied slightly puzzled, "Honey, I know there's no steakhouse there." I shrugged my shoulders and told him I'd take him there on a date. Soon. He obviously wouldn't be convinced until he'd experienced it for himself. Regardless, there was absolutely nothing he could say that would un-convince me that I'd eaten an incredible steak with Carrie, on 10th Avenue North.

This is a story. I retell it as an illustration of the difference between intellectual belief and experiential belief. I believed Carrie, that there was a steakhouse. I had been given knowledge that she passed on to me. I believed her...INTELLECTUALLY. But once I had actually been there and eaten, I believed...EXPERIENTIALLY. They are different. One is not right and the other wrong. (Actually, we can intellectually believe something wrong. We can also experientially believe something wrong but that's for another blogging time.)

PLEASE HEAR THIS: Experience does NOT equal truth! But when we DO experience the truth, (as in this story) we can NEVER unbelieve it! No amount of talking could un-convince me because I knew it to be the truth. 

      "Now, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." 
                  Hopeful Assurance   &    Blind Conviction
                                    Hebrews 11:1

      Clearly Confused
      Virtual Reality   
      Turkey Bacon 
      Short Sermon

Do you see the oxymorons in this verse? The bible tells us we can have hopeful assurance and blind conviction. Assurance and Conviction in the steakhouse story, came when I experienced it to be true. Up to that point, my belief was only hopeful and unseen. 

Let's look at another verse this same way. The first verse many of us memorized. JOHN 3:16
     "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life." 

Intellectual: I read (even memorize) John 3:16 that says that God loves me. I grow in knowledge of the Bible. 

Experiential: I believe John 3:16 in my heart (experience) and am saved. 

Problem: Knowledge alone does not transform us. Intellectual belief can make us smarter, but does not guarantee or constitute faith. Look at the Pharisees. Actually, look at being a little child and memorizing John 3:16. That wasn't saving faith. That was just knowledge. Knowledge isn't wrong, but it doesn't transform us until our belief is there.  That's when we know the truth. Faith isn't only knowledge. Paul wrote to the Ephesians about this he said he prayed for them " know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:19) 

Sometimes we wrestle with these two things, believing something in our head that we KNOW to be true, but believing something in our hearts that isn't true. This is why we can say with our mouths, "My God will supply all my needs..." while fretting about finances during the night. Remember, Jesus said, "And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free," NOT "if you memorize the truth, it'll set you free." Head knowledge and heart knowledge do different things in our lives. If those beliefs are in conflict with one another, like the finances example, it's called being double-minded. 

James 1 says "...he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. He is double-minded, unstable in all he does." Read all of James 1 sometime. Actually, if you're going to read the first chapter, you might as well just read it all! It's so good!!! It's only 5 chapters. Ask yourself this question while you read it: Do I believe this to be true, so much so, that nothing in the world could un-convince me of it's truth? This is the kind of faith God has called us to have in Him and His Word. Remember... 
     "Now, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Heb. 11:1

If you feel like the person who's more like the wave, being blown and tossed with the winds of life, maybe it's time to sit down, in the quiet and ask yourself, "What do I really believe?" If you've never experienced the kind of faith that's active and more than head knowledge, a faith in God that makes you a new creation, a transforming trust in the only One who saves, Jesus, then today is a good day to ask for this kind of belief. "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life," Jesus says. Read John 3 and James and ask the Lord to come, to lead, to show you. Much like that steak, once you've "tasted and seen that the Lord is good," there's no going back. If you're a follower of Jesus, he doesn't want you to just believe in him, he wants you to believe him. Believer, read John 16 and 17. These are the final things Jesus was saying to his friends before his death. In John 16:33, he said these things, "so that you may have peace." If you don't have peace today, this may be just for you. Your intellectual belief won't bring you peace. You must believe him in order to experience life changing peace. 

When you believe, brace yourself. True transformation begins...

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test adn approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

Monday, August 31, 2015

Through the Fire, Heroes Emerge

Heroes. We all have them. Who are your heroes?

Hero by definition is someone of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities.

Here's my short list of Hall of Heroes:
     Corrie ten Boom
     Richard Wurmbrand
     George Muller
     John Bunyan
     Abraham Lincoln
     C.S. Lewis
     Martin Luther
And from the bible:
     Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
     Joseph (the one with the awesome coat and slew of brothers)
     Queen Esther
     and the prophet, Elijah
I can not help but be moved by the way these people lived and died. One of the common factors in EVERY single person on my list is they endured hardships courageously and stood strong. This is what inspires me about each of them. They trusted God in extraordinary ways.

What makes some people come through hardship with so much grace? In my studies over the past years, I'd say it always, always comes back to the way they view God and are able to trust him completely. It's not because they were great, in and of themselves. It's because of the One in whom they trusted, was great! Hardship and Heroes. They seem to go hand in hand.

Even as a young girl, when I'd read the accounts of my heroes, it didn't stop with admiration. I found myself wanting to be like them. Funny, isn't it, how we want what they have, but not the trials they went through? What if I truly believed that everything in my life passed through the hand of God, for a purpose, for good. Be sure you hear this though: it's not that everything is good. The death of a loved one, cancer, wars... they're horrible! But what if I believed that God wouldn't allow anything into my life that he didn't choose. If this is true, the verse, "If God is for us, who can be against us," is much more powerful than I'd ever believed before! (Rom. 8:31)

Remember Job? Let's look at him for a moment while we ponder this thought.

     The story begins with the angels presenting themselves to God, "and Satan came along, also".  So the Lord says, "Where have you been?" to which Satan replies, "Roaming the earth." Observe carefully now because it's the LORD who begins by saying, "Have you considered my servant Job?" He proceeds to brag him up a bit. Satan retorts, "Job doesn't have to fear because you've protected him. But if YOU stretch out YOUR hand and strike everything he has, he will surely curse YOU to your face." God tells Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself, you won't lay a finger." 

God was going to use Satan for his own purposes in Job's life. Hard to understand, but keep reading.

     All within a day's time, Job lost his herd of livestock, and some servants were killed by enemies; fire came from the sky and burned up his flocks of sheep and more servants died; the Chaldeans took his camels, killed more servants; and his sons and daughters died when a wind blew the house over on them and killed them! Job's response is this:
          "Naked I was born, naked I will leave. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.  May the name of the Lord be praised."

     Job's story continues with him being struck with painful sores from bottom to top of his body. His wife then says, "Curse God and die!" And Job responds with, "Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?" His sufferings were great. Then to top it off, his friends show up to say the LORD is doing this because Job must be at fault for something. Surely the LORD would do something to rescue him if he were in fact pure and upright. Again, Job had a rebuttal, "Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him."
     Finally, in chapter 38 the Lord speaks. He never answers a single "why" question. He only answers with WHO he is.  At the end of Job's biography we see that it's the LORD who blessed the latter part of Job's life even more than the first. He gave him twice what he'd owned before. And Job's extended family "consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him" .  He eventually had 7 more sons and 3 more daughters. He died, old and full of years, we're told.

     It's easy to read this story as "Poor Job. Passive God. Aggressive Devil." But there is no where throughout the entire story that GOD is not seen as the one in charge of all that's allowed into Job's life. Satan said, "YOU protect him.  YOU should stretch out your hand and touch him." The wife says, "Curse GOD!" Job says, "Though YOU slay me, I will praise you still." 

You may be saying, "I don't want a God like that!" Yes. Yes, we do. Would we rather that God is just a passive God who allows outside, purposeless forces or a powerful Devil to rule our lives? That we sit at the mercy of some cosmic chaos with no direction?  He is a holy God with the power to do exactly what's needed in our lives to refine us. How different would I endure hardship if I saw that it all comes through my loving Heavenly Father's hands? 

Though God is able to rescue from the fire, he often doesn't. But he ALWAYS goes through it with us. Oh! There is so much I wish I could type to convey what is tugging at my heart about this but I'm going to leave this blog with a few scripture references to complete this thought. I hope you'll take the time to read them.

Before moving on in my blog about freedom and peace, trust and rest, I HAD to lay this foundational stone to stack my other thoughts on. I'm compelled to believe that He is the "author and perfecter of my faith." And I've heard it said that we are either coming out of a crisis, in the middle of a crisis, or headed into a crisis. I don't want to be caught off guard. I hope to be firmly planted on the Rock, like so many of my heroes who have gone before and shown me what it looks like to trust in Him.

Incredible verses and stories about faith in adversity:
     Daniel 3
     Hebrews 12
     1 Peter 4:12-13
     James 1:1-16


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

There's Good News and Bad News

What does real transformation look like? We try all sorts of things to get results in our lives. We desire change for the better but keep sliding back into old habits. There's even a slick little quote floating around stating "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Is it dumb luck that some people get results? Are some people just doomed by fate to a life of misery? Why are we so apt to keep doing the same things even though we hate it? 

The answer: Human Nature (a.k.a. our flesh) This is why alcoholics fall off the wagon; why mothers who've vowed never to yell at their kids again, do. Abusers continue to beat, thieves steal, addicts get numbed one more time, procrastinators will get results...tomorrow, eating disorders destroy bodies, liars fib, and sinners sin. How do we NOT walk in our flesh when it's our nature to do so? 

Now, I hope you're not feeling bleak at this point. Keep reading. But in order to get to the good news, we've got to look at the bad news first. When we typically look for a solution for our "bad habits" we either:
     1.) Try and stop doing something - OVERCOME
                 or we

     2.) Try and start doing something - PERFORM

Both solutions have a dismal long term success rate. Why? Because they are both based on self-effort and works and not faith. We really have no power to overcome or perform our way out of this state. Now, some of you may be thinking, "I am strong. I've beat my issues. How dare you judge me!" Hold on. I'm not saying you may not have times when you've managed them better than others but let me ask you this: When the fires of life show up and the pressure is on, you're pressed from all sides and your negative emotions begin to swell, will you want to return to your old habits? Will your eyes long to find porn, your mouth water for a taste of alcohol? Will your anger build walls and throw bricks? Will you do everything in your power to control the situation or will you just shut down completely and check out? If you're a Christ-follower, you've heard that we are to walk in the Spirit and walk by faith, not by sight. How? And where is this peace that God says we'll find in Him anyway?

Here's the good news; It's there. Just as he says... it's found in Him.
     "Don't be anxious about anything... the peace of God will guard your heart and mind in Jesus."
     "May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times, in every way."
     "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." ***

Peace doesn't come from trying to feel peace, from overcoming your pain or outperforming your old habits. Peace is a product of the Spirit, the Fruit of the Spirit, in fact. So, here's a question to ask yourself? If I'm not experiencing this peace he's offered, WHY? Could it be because you're not truly trusting him? Does it feel true that "I can be worry-free and have complete peace in ALL circumstances?" The reason I ask if it FEELS true is because our feelings stem out of what we believe. If it doesn't feel true, (not is it true, because we know it is because his Word tells us so!) then ask him, "Lord, what do you want me to know about this?" Seek him and trust that he will answer you.

Let me finish up today's thoughts with the complete verses from Philippians.
     "Don't be anxious about anything, BUT in everything, BY PRAYER AND PETITION, with thanksgiving, PRESENT YOUR REQUESTS to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me; He delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

*** Philippians 4:6-7, 2 Thessalonians 3:16, Isaiah 26:3 Check these out in your bible today and ask God, "Is this true?"

Monday, August 24, 2015

When We Don't Know What To Do, We Do "Something"

Have you ever been in one of those awkward situations where you didn't know what to say, so you just said "something" and then regretted it? Me, too. Or you had a time you strongly overreacted and later wondered, "Why did that upset me so much?" Mm hmm.

I believe people live out of default settings; things we believe and don't even realize it. Maybe you've had a moment like this in your life: Your husband comes home after work and casually asks, "What did you do today?" (Cue music that reveals danger is near. Very near!)
     "What do you mean, 'what did I do today'? Do you think I sit around here all day doing nothing?" Surprised, your husband's eyes widen as your head starts spinning and glass starts shattering (figuratively speaking, of course.)

So, what just happened here? Why the explosion from a perfectly routine question? I believe it's because there's a deep seeded lie that's playing in the heart unknowingly and the question just brought it to the surface, pushed on it, and revealed itself.

This has happened millions of times on earth. It's happened a hundred times just in my own home! Fortunately, I had a friend who knew how to help me with my "issue".  She said, "You've got a lot of lies going on in your head!" For years, I lived with a Committee of Voices silently shouting at me and I didn't realize that my reactions were often just manifestations of carefully disguised lies. My "you are worthless" lie would rear it's ugly head. I'd react and lash out at the ones I loved, much like the story at the beginning.

You can not believe the truth and a lie at the same time!

The bible calls this being double-minded (Jam. 1:8) I may say I believe something, but my actions are going to prove whether or not I really do. Here's an example:
     I can say,"I believe the Lord will supply all my needs." That's a biblical concept so I can be assured that it's true. I can even teach this concept to others. But...have I ever worried about money? Worried I wouldn't have all my needs met? So, the question becomes, "What do I really believe?" My mouth may say one thing, but my heart is somewhere else. I may even believe that I trust His provision, but when the pressure comes, I'll live out what I truly believe in my heart.

This past week, I went to to a conference in Denver. I thought it was going to be about biblical counseling. It was. But it was more. I soon realized this wasn't about helping people through hardships. It was about God's Truth in our lives. Not head knowledge truth, but truth I believe with action. It's the word the bible uses as "faith" and "trust". And as the sessions went on, I began to see that we often need to sit back and look at what we are believing is truth.

Jesus said in John 8, "If you hold to my teaching...  You will KNOW my truth, and the truth will set you free. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

"No one tells anyone when they are in counseling, but they tell everyone when they are free," said our speaker this weekend.

I am one of those the Lord has freed! Freed from sin and death. But also, freed from guilt and shame. I've decided to write about this because of the healing the Lord has done in my heart and mind over these past 10 years as I've asked him that huge question over and over, "Is that true, Lord?"

If you relate to the story of the exploding wife, or the ruckus of the voices in your head, or you're just tied up, believing one thing while proclaiming you believe another, then I hope you'll consider stopping by this blog and reading what I'll write over the course of the next weeks. I've found freedom and I don't want to keep it for myself.

Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life. Even if you aren't his follower, oh, I hope you'll still read this anyway and test if what you read is speaking to your heart at all. If you're thinking, #religioustrap, consider reading my story. It starts at the beginning of this blog. Candi... Meet Grace or Thou Shalt not Chew Gum in Church.

If you're tired of shackles, weary from worry, hopeless about your circumstances, I know where freedom lies. It's not about just "getting through" life's struggles. Anyone can do that. Believer or not. That only takes the ability to inhale and exhale. Let's do more than just breath. Let's thrive! When we don't know what to do, let's do more than just "something".

So, my believing friend - "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what the will of God is - - his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

And those of you not sure about Jesus, (or me! for that matter), "Do you long for something more?" If so, it may not be a coincidence that you're reading this today.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Peace of Mind

"Let's face it, there is no one more spiritually neurotic than the woman who lives inside her head!" -Beth Moore, Living Proof Conference 2013

"My ability to be at peaceful rest is connected to my ability to trust God."

These are a few words I found written in a notebook from a conference a couple years ago. They remind me of how much God has quieted the clamor in my mind over time and replaced doubt and lies with His truth and peace. My habit used to be I'd replay conversations in my head long into the night wondering, "Should have said that? Oh, I talked too much! Should I have done more? Could of, should of, would of..."

Lies make us second guess, not just ourselves, but God. Oh, how easily the Serpent can still whisper, "Did God really say...". Are you exhausted from the wrestling match of lies? Those lies that say you're not enough, you're too much, you're worthless, you're not really forgiven, nobody truly loves you? Do you long for peace? The infinitely deep peace that can quiet that "neurotic you" no one else hears yelling in your ears?

"Don't worry about ANYTHING! Instead, pray about everything. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is more wonderful than you can imagine. His peace will keep your thoughts and hearts quiet and at rest as you trust Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7 summarized)

It's not that there isn't stuff to worry about in our lives, it's just that we can throw all those worries on Him and trust Him completely. Instead of clamor that assaults us, we can ask Jesus to stand guard over our thoughts. He'll only tell us the truth. He will never lie! So if you find you're weary and lacking peace today, take it to Him in prayer and ask Him to speak truth into your life. Bury your nose in between the pages of your bible and read until your heart is full! (If you don't know where to start, I highly recommend Philippians.) We've got to quit going to ours heads for understanding and running to the mountains for peace. We need more than a simple walk near a beautiful beach for little peace and quiet to still our souls. We need real, lasting peace that only comes from time spent with God.

If I were to write you a letter today, I'd start it like this...
     "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" because there is nothing better I could wish for my friends and family! I hope you hang out with Him today. He's awesome!