Saturday, February 19, 2011

The War of Self Talk

I know I promised part two to my Bezalel post, and I will get to it, because God really did show me some awesome things, but it will have to wait for another day, because this morning, the depth of that message is faded a little today, because I am struggling.

I don't really care for the term "self talk" because it wreaks all too mightily of a psychology term, and well, I'm not a big fan of Psychology. Hear me out, it is "man's study of man" and so to me that indicates it is inherently flawed. My bigger issue is how often it gets equated with Biblical truth, and it's not, not even close. But I digress, and that's not the point of this blog.

"Self talk," it's the sound of my own voice inside of my head. The fact is, it is the loudest voice in my life. It's constant. I hear the sound of my own voice all the time.

This morning I would like to cover my internal voice's proverbial mouth with a big piece of duct tape just to shut it up.

It's just a (relatively) typical Saturday morning. It's Ethan's birthday, so that makes it special, but he and his dad are off on a birthday morning excursion. Jake's away at camp, so Just V and I are here in the house. She got up and made herself breakfast and is in watching TV (though she should be cleaning her room) and I got up and did my devotional time and started my day.

Part of my daily devotional is writing in a journal to the Lord. I tend to get distracted when I pray, and this is where I focus and talk to Him about my life, my feelings and thoughts. It's where I whine to Him, cry to Him, thank Him, ask Him, praise Him. It's where I take all the thoughts and talk in my head and I turn it towards Him.

So this morning as I wrote in my journal it was full of doubts and concerns. There was probably some whining, but it wasn't extensive. I just poured my heart out to Him, and today, my heart is struggling.

After that I got up and started getting a load of laundry together. I only have a few things that fit right now, because I threw away all my "fat clothes" when I lost all kinds of weight. But I've put on a lot of it, so my thinner clothes don't fit again and I'm sort of stuck in this middle weight limbo. As I filled the laundry basket I told myself what an idiot and a failure I am for putting 23 lbs back on. I'm mad at me, because I was doing something right, and then I stopped. And then I started doing something wrong. And now I feel stuck. What a loser.

Yesterday we got hit with a HUGE unexpected expense. Our refrigerator died, and it cost over a $1000 dollars to get a new one, with a decent warranty (using the term "decent" very loosely there.) The whole process was stressful, we lost all kinds of groceries and we had to get it home in the truck in the rain. My dad and Neal had to work hard to get it in the house, removing doors, risking their backs, and it still got damaged getting it in too, so we paid a $1000 and we messed it up already (and it was from an outlet with a little damage to begin with.) So my self talk is questioning whether or not I have done something to displease the Lord.

When people's steps follow the Lord,
God is pleased with their ways.

Psalm 37:23 NCV

This verse was in my reading this morning, and all i could think was, I'm trying to follow the Lord, but it doesn't feel like He is pleased with me. Could this just be "life"? Probably, but my self talk always looks to my own fault in everything. Am I not a good enough steward with what I've been given? Does this unexpected expense translate into discipline for not taking good care of our money? For not being faithful enough? This is where my mind goes. This is the self-talk I hear in my head.

It's very accusatory. Do you hear it? It accuses against me, BIG TIME, and it accuses against God too. My self talk is an accuser. Go google that, go google "the accuser." Go... I'll wait....


Did you do it? Did you see? Who did Google say is "the accuser?" It said the same thing as my Bible says, "The accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accused them day and night before our God has been thrown down." Revelation 12:10. Unfortunately that "throw down" is still prophecy yet to be filled, and so right now, Satan goes on accusing.

I don't know how or if to argue specifically that the enemy of my soul is in my head, but I do know he is the god (little g) of this world and because I am living in his world I undoubtedly have the power to be influenced by it, and therefore, by him. And I think my self talk, is rooted in the wrong place today.

The good news is that there is an answer.

We do live in the world, but we do not fight in the same way the world fights. We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses.
Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy's strong places. We destroy people's arguments and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God.
We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NCV

Capture those little boogers of thoughts who are running off in all different directions being defiant disobedient snots. Grab them by the tail and bring them back to obedience. Sounds so simple, but if you read the passage closely you will realize that the process is actually a part of an act of war. We're taking the enemy down, and we're doing it in his own territory. There's only one way to accomplish that, you've got to be armed to the max.

Enter God's armor:

So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest. On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One. Accept God's salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times with all kinds of prayers, asking for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready and never give up. Always pray for all God's people.Ephesians 6:14-18

Never give up. Days it feels like there will never be any rest. I am in a season of those days. The battle is intense, and some days much of it is in my head. So I've got to armor up for the fight.

Belt of truth - there is no room for any deception, half truth, darkness or deceit.

Right living - when you're in the army, you have to obey orders, follow the leader, remember Who is in charge.

Good News - where it on your feet? That's right be moving forward sharing the gospel of truth.

Faith - our shield. What has always struck me about the "shield of faith" is that it is the one piece of our defensive armor that can move. Every other thing that protects is fastened very specifically. But your faith, you move that wherever the enemy is shooting his arrows, even when it's inside your own head.

Salvation - Keep it clear in your head,always, if you belong to the Lord, you belong to the Lord and He sees you through Christ. Your salvation is secure.

The sword of the Spirit, the Word - can I just say it? I love my Sword. Madly and passionately, I love God's word. My mathematical brain rejoices in the simplicity of all the "if, then's" of God's Word, and so very many of the "If's" have been fulfilled by the Lord, so "then" based on Him, I have so many promises to hold.

How I long to be a skilled swordswoman. Sometimes I am. And sometimes, I leave my sword over on the side of my bed while I am stuffing dirty clothes in laundry basket and get hit with an attack I'm not ready for. And the Bible says, you must always be ready and never give up. Oh yeah, and then there's that real critical instruction to Pray!

Is there a battle going on in your brain? Are you accusing yourself? Worse, are you accusing God or His character?" It's a battle, a huge one in the spiritual realm, and whether or not you realized you signed up for this war, you are in it. Armor up, and respond to the accusations with the Truth (capital T). Crack open the case and pull out your sword. Speak the Word of Truth, to yourself and to the world around you. We're going to take the enemy down, and we're going to do it on his own turf. Shut that sucker up, let's take some ground.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bezalel - Intention & Purpose Part 1

I have been reading my bible twice a day, every day since the first of the year. With no pride, because I know it is only the grace of God, I tell you I have not missed a single day. I have been reading through the "Unlocking the Bible" reading plan.

The reading plan breaks down into four portions: Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. It may sound like a lot, but the Proverbs portion is only a few verses, the day's Psalm is sometimes even broken down into portions. It's never more than a chapter or so of NT, and never more than a couple chapters of the OT. I really like the reading plan, and I read Psalms, Proverbs and New Testament first thing in the morning and I read the Old Testament passages at night before I go to bed.

Part of the reason I end with the Old Testament at night is because a lot of it reads almost like a bedtime story. I also figure the more challenging portions of the OT (Hello Leviticus!) will just make falling asleep that much easier. Right now I am in the book of Exodus. Much of Exodus reads like an engaging story, reading the tales of Moses' adventures before I go off to sleep. However, there are portions of if it that have a definite Levitical feel. Big yawn.

Last night I started in on chapters 37 & 38 of the book of Exodus, and I wasn't instantly enthralled. At first look they tell the all too detailed description of the making of the Ark of the Covenant, as well as the Table, the Lampstand, the Altar for Incense, the Altar for Burnt Offerings and the Bronze Bowl. They even tell about the curtains for the courtyard of the Holy Tent being made. It tells in great detail of the work that a man by the name of Bezalel did. All those items I just listed? They were made by the hands of Bezalel.

The instructions were very finite. The ark was measured in very specific inches. And as I was reading I thought about how careful he had to be in his work. I have built my fair share of furniture via IKEA. We have a huge entertainment center in our living room that Neal and I built together. It probably had three or four dozen pieces, and it was painstaking to match things up and get everything put together, and we had instructions with pictures! It was a lot of work, and all we were doing was basically putting a puzzle together. It occurred to me how much more complicated it must have been to form these things out of raw materials. And the importance of them far outweighed the value of a place to put our television set.

As I read, I could picture in my mind this man, Bezalel, and the extreme care he must have taken to create these things. I could picture him running his hand down the edge of the frame of the ark making it smooth, and building the lid to match up and seal perfectly. He had to make it not only perfectly functional, but also beautiful. Over and over again it read, "Bezalel made," "Bezalel attached," "Bezalel put," "Bezalel hammered..." Each piece, careful and detailed.

I thought to myself about how I get when I am working. Tonight I was making a button for my blog and it took a lot of focus for me. My daughter came up to me to ask me a question and I snapped at her because I was struggling to get something "just so." And the truth is, it was just my own perfectionism in a work that was far from critical.

As I read about Bezalel, I felt certain that was not the atmosphere in his workshop. I could picture in my mind the peace of God as he focused and worked. Each piece was different, making gold rings, shaping winged creatures from Gold. To go along with the Ark he had to shape acacia poles for carrying it, and they were covered in gold. I thought about what that process must have been like. He had to have melted the gold down that the Israelites brought him, liquifying it making it useful to cover the Ark and the poles and such. The lampstand too had to be formed for it was "made of pure gold," the Bible says. I could picture him "hammering out its base and stand." The art of it, it said he even shaped part of it to look like "almond flowers." It was a piece made for specific purpose and it was made to be beautiful.

I was struck by the vast number of details and the great effort it all must have required. All of this work, all done by Bezalel. He even "made a wall of curtains to form a courtyard around the Holy Tent" Then it sums things up in Exodus 38:22 where it says, "Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD had commanded Moses." Then almost as an afterthought vs 23 says, "Oholiab son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan helped him. He could cut designs into metal and stone; he was a designer and also skilled at sewing the blue, purple, and red thread, and fine linen." He helped with the finishing touches, but this labor, was Bezalel's labor, and I supsect it was a labor of love.

I wish I could express to you the sense I had as I read. Such profound and important work, and it fell all to a single man. Later in the passage it talks about where all the metals used in this process were taken from. It talks about how all the Israelites donated and paid for the supplies, it says there were 603,550 men over 20, and all I could think was, "yet only Bezalel was chosen for this job." Can you picture the weight of the responsibility on this man? Can you imagine how time consuming it must have been?

In my mind I would think, "Delegate!" There were over half a million men to choose from, surely the work could have been done much more quickly if only they would spread thew work around! But it was NOT to be so. For some reason, this profoundly important duty was meant for a single man. I had to search him out, I wanted to know more about him. So I did a search on biblegateway, but there wasn't a whole lot more to be found. But in chapter 35 of Exodus, it did say this: "The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God and has given him the skill, ability, and knowledge to do all kinds of work."

Surely I was right! Bezalel's workshop must have been an incredible place to be. It was as a house of worship, I am sure. Bezalel surely was intentional and purposed as he worked to create all that the Lord commanded. What a privilege it must have been to take the gifts and talents he had been given by God and use them for God. Bezalel had surely felt his purpose in life, and perhaps in more than any other season, in those days, he must have felt he was truly living it out. He was living the life he was created for, a life with intention and purpose.

To be continued...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In the Darkness

"MY LIGHT SHINES ON YOU CONTINUALLY, WHETHER YOU ARE AWARE OF IT OR NOT. During the wee hours of the night, your thoughts are often distorted—even catastrophic. Although you may feel as if you’re enveloped in darkness, remember that darkness and light are alike to Me. I am with you, and My Love for you never fails. You need the Light of My Presence supremely more than you need the light of day."

I read this last night just before bedtime. It was very timely.

The hour was very late for me. After a long day of lazing about and watching movies with my girl, I was up alone till after 2 a.m. reading my Bible and and journaling... and struggling.

My heart was heavy. It's been sinking low like that a lot lately. And I find myself sad, without really knowing why.

For a girl who considers herself to be more of a thinker than a feeler, I really am not fond of feelings that I can't really explain, much less understand.

Lately the lows come in waves. There is a lot of stress in life around here. And the details of it are in the forefront of my vision all the time. I know the truth about faith, and that it's in what I don't see and not what I do. And yet, we are human and flesh and reality is, when we are faced continually with challenging things, no matter how strong our determination, or even how great our faith, we are never completely immune to our flesh where fear and anxiety can fester.

In faith I can respond to fear but I cannot prevent it. To assume that I should have that control is not to understand the human nature.

We cannot control the emotions or even the thoughts that rise, our faith and obedience come to fruition with the way we respond to them.

Fear is not the opposite of faith, but if we let it it will be a catalyst for it.

I have experienced some very dark moments. I am not sure I would dare to declare some of the thoughts that cross my mind suddenly and unexpectedly.

Last night I felt very low, and things seemed very dark. My heart ached. It seems to be doing that a lot lately especially when I find myself alone in the late night hours.

When I headed to bed I grabbed my kindle for a final devotional of the night, and the passage above was what I read.

The Lord is mindful of me. I am so often amazed at Him. His timing is amazing, His attention to detail could not be more intricate.

I am a woman of great faith. My confidence in the Lord is great, but my nature is human, my weaknesses are profound, but God's strength is made perfect in them.

The same is true for you.

If you find yourself feeling alone and in the dark, be assured, Jesus has never left you. He is faithful. When thoughts and feelings, even fears come upon you, do not allow it to cause you to be discouraged, or question your faith, instead, choose your faith to respond to them.

Just reach out. It's as simple as a prayer, or grabbing your Bible. Reach out, stretch your faith.

God is faithful.

He is with you.

He will respond.