Saturday, April 20, 2013

Living in unity


God dealt with my critical spirit and bitterness. He has shown me that there are areas in my life that I need to change, and there are areas in my life HE needs to change. There are three things that I can do to promote unity and to reduce the risk of causing discord within my church family:

Do NOT hinder the Church“These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” {Proverbs 6:16-19}

God hates it when we create division and trouble in the body of Christ. If we are having a problem with someone or something within the church, we need to deal with it in a Godly way. It rarely involves telling anyone who will listen about it. Speak to only the people involved {Matthew 18:15-17}


“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
Be in the same mind
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians. 1:10).

We are to “speak the same thing” so that there will be unity in the body of Christ. That means we need to be in the same mind and focus on what we have in common - which is Christ and His Word. It's very easy to focus on our differences and allow them to divide us, but it's not what God wants.

Submit to those in charge

“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” {Hebrews. 13:17}

We are to cooperate and submit to our spiritual leaders. We are to show respect and honor to those that God has anointed and placed in charge of our branch of the body of Christ. We need to see them as God sees them and that is that they are recognized as the authority in that particular church. This doesn't come without accountability to that responsibility! We have no right to dishonor and be rebellious towards those that God has placed in leadership.

MY PRAYER
Dear Father,
Remind me to speak with a pure tongue, that uplifts and builds up your Church. Thank you for placing the people that you have in leadership and help me remember they are your annointed and appointed. When I rebel or resist their leadership, I resist you.  Help me to remember that it's so much better to live together in unity. Help me keep my actions pure and my attitude sweet. 
Amen

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bitterness and the Critical Spirit



crit·i·cism  Noun

The expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes

“Why do you criticize and pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you look down upon or despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. And so each of us shall give an account of himself - give an answer in reference to judgment - to God. Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother.” {Romans 14:10 - Amplified Bible}

I am guilty of possessing the critical spirit. I have repented and have asked God to deal with it. This has been incredibly tough for me to admit. It was even harder to admit to God that I had a serious problem and I needed dealing with. God wasn't exactly subtle in his delivery of the fact that I had a critical spirit. He told me straight out and I was in serious danger of doing some irreparable damage.

So what is a "critical spirit"? Based on a study from www.victorious.org :

A “critical spirit,” is an obsessive attitude of criticism and fault-finding, which seeks to tear others down — not the same thing as what is sometimes called “constructive criticism.” The only criticism that is ever constructive is that which is expressed in love to “build up,” not to tear down — it is always expressed face-to-face, never behind their back. 
My critical spirit came out in the following form:
1. Gossip
2. Speaking disrespectfully about my church leaders
3. Negative views on the denomination as a whole
4. Criticizing the church in all areas.
5. Negative thinker
6. Picky, looking for faults.
7. Complaining

The Bible tells us not to tear down our Christian family through criticism or judgment, as this can be a serious stumbling-block and cause irreparable damage to their faith. I could have made someone stumble and fall because of my careless and destructive words! I cannot tell you how sobering that knowledge has been for me, especially remembering the scripture. "But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.{Matthew 18:6}*GULP*

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Although it doesn't say in so many words, I think that this next passage deals with the attitudes and actions of someone with a critical spirit. 
"..Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy." We are to allow the Holy Spirit to renew our thoughts and attitudes. I can tell you now that the Holy Spirit is in no way connected with a critical spirit. Those with a critical spirit may feel justified and righteous in their criticism and negativity, but it is not Godly. 

"So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body." Have you ever heard the saying, there are three sides to the truth? There are - your side, their side and the truth. Perception plays a huge part in how we see the world. If we are critical and negative about something, that will warp our sense of reality and how we see situations. We could inadvertently tell lies because our sense of what really happened and what was really said was warped by our perception. Instead of discussing our issues with one another to all and sundry, we should just keep quiet and deal with the matter privately and in the Biblical way. If we can't be sure it's the 100% truth, we need to stay silent. 

"And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil." By not dealing with anger and resentment quickly, we give the devil a chance to get in our ears and start filling our heads with nonsense. It can quickly escalate into a bigger problem and destroy relationships.
"......Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."  Someone with a critical spirit can be spotted as soon as they open their mouths. Our words are to be encouraging and building up the church, not tearing it down.  

And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. {Ephesians 4:23 - 32}

There is no place in our hearts for a critical spirit. It muffles the voice of the Holy Spirit. It creates disturbance and hostility within us when there should be peace. 

MY PRAYER
Lord, Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me. Renew my mind and attitudes. I want to be more like you. Help me speak words of encouragement and be an uplifting part of the Body of Christ. Help me deal with my disappointments maturely and in a way that brings you glory. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

From Disappointment to Bitterness


Bitterness
resentment: a feeling of deep and bitter anger and ill-will.

Anger and ill-will is a sign that I have held unforgiveness in my heart. From this unforgiveness I have not behaved as I should. “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him” {1 John 2:10}. If I had dealt with my unforgiveness and resentment earlier then there would have been no stumbling. But. I didn't.

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Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. {Hebrews 12:15}

We are given fair warning! WATCH OUT! Look for that root, expect it to come and deal with it as it does. The Bible says that it is poisonous, that it grows and will trouble and corrupt you. Well I can tell you that it does. It robs you of peace. It robs you of joy. It consumes you. It's poison getting into every part of you, skewing your views on everyone and everything. It ceases to be directed at one person or circumstance, but spews out bitterness like a geyser, and there is no control of the flow. The Bible tells us what to do with bitterness:
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you {Ephesians 4:31-32}

We are to get rid of it! Dispose of it. Chuck it away. Remove it from ourselves. We are to change how we act and respond to one another. Be kind, be tenderhearted and forgive. Either way, it's a decision. We can decide to hold on to our anger and bitterness, we can choose to speak harshly or gossip nastily OR we can choose to be kind and forgiving. 

It's all up to us. 

We can do it my way, or God's way. We can allow my flesh to rule and continue on being bitter, or we can exercise self control and show the God who is living in us through our actions. It's our choice

MY PRAYER
Lord please rip out that root of resentment and bitterness. Replace it with goodness, kindness and self control. Help me to remember your word and your views on bitterness and unforgiveness. Help me to see a root trying to take hold and to deal with it promptly. Amen

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Expectation

After my last post, I have finally got my thoughts together and have been trying to learn where I went wrong. In a nutshell it's this: I have been disappointed in our church. I have felt impatient and annoyed because certain things that I felt should have happened were not happening. I have felt disappointed because my giftings have not been used. I have felt disappointed because friends keep leaving the church - and I have blamed the church (wrongly). I have felt discouraged because I did not attend church for months (due to my special needs son) and I did not receive any pastoral care of any kind for months and months. I have been disappointed. I'm a wounded church goer. I'm one of those "Offended" church-goers - the ones I used to make fun of!

Being disappointed is ok - but it's what you do with your disappointment that really counts. I did not handle mine well at all. In fact mine turned into bitterness and I developed a critical spirit. This is an incredibly ungodly and destructive attitude to have and I have exercised ungodly and destructive behavior as well. I did not realize until recently just how dangerous I have been! I have failed miserably! But I am not discouraged! I read a great blog post by Plumbline (awesome blog by the way and I highly recommend it) and she said:
"Even in the failure, there is a redemptive quality - when the failure is an open door for God to begin afresh in us what we could not do through "mental determination"
I am at the end of myself. I can't make myself into this amazing, gracious, person. But God can! This is part of the refinement process and I am more than happy for God to do the work. God is reshaping me and molding my thinking to be more like his. Over the next few blog posts, I want to share with you what God has shown me and how he has had to change my thinking.

Unreasonable expectations of the church and leadership has let me down

DISAPPOINTED: Adjective
(of a person) Sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill one's hopes or expectations.
(of hopes or expectations) Prevented from being realized.
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Nicely said Shakespeare. Expectation is the root of all heartache. I can't believe I didn't get this earlier! I have experienced someone else's unrealistic expectations on me. The person is perpetually disappointed in me because I don't know about these expectations or I don't let them control how I live my life. Expectations are annoying!!  But yet, I have had expectations in our church and Pastors and they haven't delivered. Big surprise? Well looking at it from this angle - I can say that no, it's not a surprise. But while I was in the thick of it, it was a great source of frustration to me. How could they muck it up so badly??

Years ago I left a smaller church where I had more input and influence to go to a much larger church where I was a nobody. I was used to how things ran in the smaller church and I don't like how things are run in this much larger church. This is my own problem and attitude - not anyone else's. I have to learn to adjust, submit to my leaders and trust that God is working even though I don't understand it. They are doing their best and I have to recognize that and stop being such a know-it-all! It's not the Holy Spirit that is telling me that everything they do is wrong - it's my critical spirit!

Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit {Hebrews 13:17} It is in my best interest to submit to my leadership and trust that God is using them. They have such a huge responsibility (one that I wouldn't want!) and that is to watch over the congregation and help them grow spiritually. My daughter sometimes can be quite difficult. She is stubborn, sassy and can be quite argumentative. Trying to guide and train her can become wearisome. At least she has an excuse (she is on the spectrum too) - what kind of excuse do I have for behaving like a child? The answer is none!

My problem was I wasn't trusting in God. I was placing expectations on men and women who are human, who are going to make mistakes, and probably have no idea that I have these expectations! This is what the Lord says:“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. {Jeremiah 17:5} My trust was not placed in God, but in humans. It was only a matter of time! I have had to shift my expectations off the church and it's leadership and place them on God who will never let me down or disappoint me. Why? Because God is faithful. God keeps his promises. God is Good. “My soul, waits silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him” (Psalm 62:5).

MY PRAYER
Lord I messed up! I placed my faith in man and not in you. I have been hurt and disappointed - not because I have been attacked or hurt intentionally - but because I had unrealistic expectations. Help me to recognize when I do this. Help me to submit to my leadership and trust that you are working all things together for good. Lord when I don't understand what on earth is going on around me, please help me to rest quietly in you. Help me to accept the authority that you have placed them in. Help me to be a support, not a hinderance to those you have annointed and placed in our church. Amen

Monday, April 8, 2013

Clean me up

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I've messed up. God revealed to me last night something that had developed within my spirit that was less than stellar. I have had to repent of this - and the amazing thing is that in my repentance, my spirit felt free. More free than it has in ages. How long has this sin bound me in chains? I have allowed myself to a slave to sin and it has restricted me. But no more!

I will explain all a bit later on when I've got my thoughts together - but I want to share that God dropped this Psalm in my heart, while I cried out to him - "Create in me a clean heart - and renew a right spirit within me." So today that is my heart cry - that God will renew a right spirit within me.


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