GOD the Wallbreaker: Not a Prisoner of My Past

‘For I will restore you to health and  I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘because they have called you an outcast, saying: “It is Zion; no one cares for her.” ‘
Jeremiah 30:17

Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion and instead of disgrace, you will rejoice in your inheritance.
Isaiah 61:7

I’ve seen it all in my lifetime –and you can probably relate: senseless persecution, unfounded defamatory assumptions, snap judgments based on circumstances beyond my control or because I stand for GOD when the world says I shouldn’t — or don’t when I should, when I know better but  let my flesh have its way; mean-spirited and selfish accusations or gossip bearing zero resemblance to reality and masquerading as well-meaning advice or “constructive” criticism;  or sometimes actually meant to destroy and discredit me and bring me down or keep down to the same level of misery as my detractors and critics. Or those who will not allow themselves to be part of GOD’s plan for their own life, let alone mine, because of their own hurts and broken places.

Nonetheless, THIS I KNOW:

GOD sees every prejudice, blind and unfounded assumption, unfair judgment, persecution, unkindness, and ignorance, or blind eye of inaction, or experience of invisibility, or lack of compassion or involvement that has ever come against me or reared its ugly head in my presence or behind my back. He knows the cry of the outcast and He has heard my heart for Him. There is no wall he cannot break down. My GOD is a wallbreaker!

No matter what anyone else thinks or says, I matter to Him and only what He thinks of me matters.  I must resist believing the lies of insignificance or perpetual failure. I am NOT stuck because my GOD is bigger than anything that comes against me, or that dares to stand in the way of the promises He has made me.

He is bringing healing and restoration, in place of shame and disgrace and false assumptions of ill repute, even as we speak. I am not an outcast, for He accepts me. I am NOT uncared for, for in His eyes, I am a cherished daughter and He loves me beyond measure. I am NOT a prisoner of shame and disgrace, for He is bringing transformation, even now.

My GOD is a wallbreaker — working even now to demolish strongholds and bring me to a place of rejoicing, even greater than what He has already done for me.  He will never fail me, for He is GOOD and He is FOR me! I stand on that promise in complete faith that He will bring about every good thing that He has promised me, for the opposition does not stand a chance of resisting the power of my GOD to bless me in every way He sees fit. May it be done to me as He has promised!

Dear LORD,
I know You are a GOD who demolishes strongholds and breaks down walls that have the audacity to try to stand between Your will and Your beloved. I stand now in complete faith and boldness that You will do all that You have promised and that not a single roadblock will thwart Your plan to replace what has been broken in my life with healing and restoration beyond my wildest dreams. I want to be part of Your Unio Mystica that reflects Your perfect glory to a very broken world. May it be so just as You have said. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Blessings!
Tamara Christine

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day.  2 Timothy 1:12

Confidence Though I Cannot See

“You who know, O LORD, remember me and take notice of me. Take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Your patience take me away. Know that for Your sake I endure reproach. Your words were found and I ate them. Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I have been called by Your Name, O LORD GOD of Hosts…Therefore,” thus says the LORD, “[Since] you have retuned to me, I will restore you — before Me you will stand…I will make you…a fortified wall of bronze; and though they fight against you, they will not prevail over you. For I am with you to save you and deliver you,” declares the LORD. “So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent.”

Jeremiah 15:15-16, 19-21

Dear, LORD, my LORD,
Such is my prayer — that I would be found faithful to walk in the disciplines You have taught me, that You may show Yourself mighty on my behalf, according to Your Word. (2 Chronicles 16:9)  Let Your words be found in me and find a resting place in my heart and mind, that they may take root and grow and be a continual joy and delight, a nourishing meal and sustenance for my soul to grown in strength and confidence of Your provision for every good thing and every provision and fulfillment of every promise, no matter the reluctance and opposition that comes against me. I stand on Your promises of continued restoration and deliverance and redemption of all past wrongs. My confidence is in Your sufficiency and power to the breaking down of strongholds and determined opposition. You are able to bring about the transformation necessary to make Your promises come true, regardless of the depth of brokenness coming against me and Your work in my life. My hope and my confidence  is in You alone. May it be done to me as You have said and promised. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.


Blessings!
Tamara Christine

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD, your GOD will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“I am not ashamed, for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12

When Jesus Speaks, My Circumstances Listen

But Jesus said…”Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.  
[keep on believing]

Mark 5:36

Impossible situations. No way out. No amount of striving or working had helped–or would help. But when Jesus speaks, circumstances change in an instant and it happens just as He says.

In the midst of our tumultuous circumstances of the last few years, at least one well-meaning person has advised me, “Pray like it all depends on GOD and work like it all depends on you.” GOD is not a magical genie granting wishes on demand and catering to my every whim without any effort on my part, so I won’t deny that there is some wisdom there. To be sure, GOD will not dance to my tune and is not at my beck and call. Without a doubt, it does not work like that. I can’t manipulate and control GOD nor paint Him into a corner where I pull the puppet strings and He acts according to my desire.

But in trying to prove my faith and participate in solutions, I can wander down the garden path in the opposite direction of apathy and learned helplessness. When my working and striving becomes my idol, I start to unconsciously think or act like that my solutions depend on impressing GOD so with my work and sacrifice or by the book adherence to “holiness” or “faith” that any failure on my part means I am disqualified from His blessing or promise. I feed an insecurity that says, “You messed this up by not being perfect. You have to do more to prove to GOD that you deserve His blessing and promise. You’ll only get it when you’ve “earned” it with enough compliance and goodness. It’s all your own fault if you don’t get it.”

That is the enemy speaking lies from the pit of hell. Nothing I do can impress GOD! While I shouldn’t sit around and do nothing and expect GOD to jump to and give me everything I ever wanted as an entitlement; or that it will appear magically out of the blue, dropped in my lap with zero effort to live a godly life on my part, His blessings do not depend on me!

On the contrary, it depends on His heart for me and that is always  for good.  In His time, it will never fail to happen. When He speaks the word, my circumstances listen. They jump to attention and obey the Word of the Master and the impossible becomes possible in the hands of my GOD.  I just need to keep believing in His word and promises and that He is able and willing, not that I am capable or deserving. It will turn out just as He says!

Christian blogger

Blessings!
Tamara Christine

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

 I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day.  2 Timothy 1:12

Choose You This Day

Choose you this day whom you will serve…

Joshua 24:15

ThChristian bloggerousands of years before Robert Frost penned the words, “the road less traveled,” (later brought into popular psychology by Scott Peck’s book of the same title), Joshua issued the epic ultimatum to the vacillating Israelites, “CHOOSE you this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”  Later, Jesus Himself would speak of the narrow road and the blessings awaiting the few who find it. This whole idea of life altering choice has come into stark relief this week as GOD got up close and personal with me on a particular issue.

See, in all transparent honesty, I have this problem with letting my mind wander into daydreams about certain things I dearly desire. You might think this is normal and natural. I have been guilty, more than once, of justifying it because it is “just temporary,” an interim pacification of feelings until said dream actually comes true. But, when my fantasies take the place of filling my heart and mind with GOD’s peace and patience in waiting on the real thing and set my expectations for His way to conform to my visions and scripts of how this will play out, I am wandering into the danger zone where sin lives.

The last few weeks I have had a certain dream a few times. This was kind of an unusual dream for me since God usually wakes me up or interrupts the plot before anything really happens in these kinds of dreams. But the third time this dream came around, oh He interrupted alright. He confronted my flesh in a head-on collision: “You can choose this, but then this is all you will ever have.” That stopped me dead cold in my tracks, even in my somnolent state and stuck with me even when I woke up.

Do I really want to let flesh and fantasy and pipe dreams fill up the spaces between now and God’s time to bring these things to pass for real? Do I want to camp on the temporary and appease my feelings with elaborate wishful thinking scenarios that distract me from having faith that things will turn out exactly as God has said? (Acts 27:25) My flesh does, that is clear, but is this what I really want?

Without hesitation, the answer is a resounding NO!! The choice is clear. I can choose the instant gratification and temporary satisfaction and appeasement of entertaining the fleshly fantasies. I might even be able to manipulate circumstances enough to get a partial measure or appearance of what I long for and then be stuck with imaginary and second best forever. Or I can choose to wait for the full measure of blessing that comes with waiting for GOD’s way.

OUCH!  When You put it that way, it’s rather a no-brainer! I choose GOD!  My flesh may rebel and pull hard for easy, fast, instant or manipulated solutions for its own satisfaction. But I choose God’s way!! I truly do want the greater blessing of waiting on His way and time. As the old saying goes, my flesh is not the boss of me.  I want the full measure of Him guiding and directing my life and bringing lasting solutions and true satisfaction.

Dear LORD,
I choose Your way. Please help me with the rebellious parts that pull for fantasy and expedited, manipulated solutions! They are loud and messy, but not my heart and no match for the Power of my GOD!  I want Your way!  As for me and my “feelings”, we will serve the LORD!! In Jesus’ Name. Amen

Blessings!
Tamara Christine

 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12

God is My Glue

He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:17

I was recently reminded of something my pastor says, “Never doubt in the dark what GOD has promised in the light.”  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’d wager a guess that I am not entirely alone in feeling the urge to rush GOD’s promised end results after hearing from Him, especially when a difficult period of life seems to stretch on without end. After extended periods of recovery from the intolerable twists and turns of life that have taken us down roads I never would have chosen to go, I have grown in my ability to trust GOD through all kinds of instability and uncertainty, but I have not yet arrived at perfection. [cue the mock “surprise” — ha!]

There are certain things that I am certain beyond a shadow of a doubt with multiple confirmations from trusted sources that GOD has said to me about where He is taking me, the end result of enduring all the trial, rejection and struggle to climb out of the hole only partially of my own making.

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
Isaiah 54:4

And in regards to my own fiery trial:

…the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them.
Daniel 3:27

He WILL vindicate me completely, utterly and entirely and give me a new start in every possible way. That’s the kind of GOD He is. I know this. I have seen this in many ways already in how He has walked with us and provided for every need at every turn. Yet I still leak, just like the Israelites in the desert. I don’t want to…but I do every time there seems to be a setback or a roadblock in moving forward in one area of recovery or another. I am weary of it all and I just want it to be over with and completely inhabit my Promised Land in peace with every specific promise He has spoken to me fulfilled and no more collateral damage from life’s implosion to bring the smell of fire or insecurity upon me. No more fear that life is flying in all directions out of control.

I want the financial and emotional recovery to be a done deal. Behind me. Nevermore to raise its threatening head and tempt my flesh to fear and despair. To raise lifelong demons of loneliness, desperation, rejection, failure that tempt me to try to take control and make things happen the way I want and to school everyone around me in the “right” way to create a false bubble of security and temporary fulfillment in order to stave off having to face the truth of alienation and rejection and all the accompanying negative feelings.  To avoid facing the fact that I am, in fact, not the one in control; that I can’t whitewash the situation with my daydreams of idyllic perfection and fantasies of a stress-free, everything I want happily ever after. To deny the reality that my wishes and desires do not have the magical power to make everyone act, say and do exactly what I want and that artificially magnifying the illusion that I can or have achieved such a protective bubble only creates more heartache and disappointment when it all falls apart.

The Truth is the only glue that will hold the broken pieces of my life together and make something beautiful out of it is GOD.  He knows the end before the beginning and declares it to be so, so it is. (Isaiah 46) Nothing can thwart His design because He knows just how to take all the shattered dreams, rejections, failures, bad choices (mine and others), every bad judgment and evil perpetrated by me or against me and put them all together to bring about His plan and His will. What He puts together, He holds together and no one can take it apart or destroy it. That is quality beyond anything I can create or put together on my own!

If I try to rush to the end result of His promises because of my own broken insecurities, desperation, loneliness, fear or doubt, I will get an imperfect result that comes apart because it is my own doing and a temporary fix, not GOD’s perfect plan. It won’t stop Him from bringing about His will, but it will be a detour, like the 40 years in the desert–an unnecessary delay brought on by failure to remember and trust GOD’s faithfulness.

I need to cultivate His patience and peace in my heart and mind and let Him put things together — relationally and financially– in His own time and way so that I get the added blessing of Him holding it all together. I want the unbreakable protection of being in His will and under His covering. No more rushing results to temporarily satisfy the flesh with the imperfect fruits of impatience. I only want what He has declared over my life and is holding together. I already know how disaster and heartbreak lie when I take my own shortcuts. It’s so NOT worth it!

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary  principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

When I do that, I am settling for a knock off, second best, an “easier” alternative, lesser than what He calls me to, promises me or decrees. Expedient shortcuts that satisfy fleshly impatience don’t help. Trying to “outsmart” GOD and get what I want NOW doesn’t help.  Neither does trying to “out-wise” Him with the assumption that I can obtain His promises more quickly, effectively or efficiently on my own without His help; or that such a thing would even please Him or be as good as waiting for His way and time, even if I could. Which I can’t.

Note to self: Stop interfering in GOD’s plans and acting like it is OK because I am trying to bring about the same promised end anyway. The ends do NOT justify the means; nor will my co-opted road lead to the same place He wants to take me, no matter how close in appearance it appears to be. The substance and durability of the thing will not last as it is a sham, only similar in outer form, lacking in the glue of having GOD inserted at every point in its formation. As excruciating and maddening as it may be to take the long road, the best results come from waiting on GOD to be the glue that holds all the pieces of the dream He has placed in my heart together forever. The real deal is always worth the wait! (Rx: Repeat daily and hourly as necessary until this sinks in!!)

Dear LORD,
Thank you for hanging in there with me, holding me together while I struggle to let go of control of all those empty spaces of desperation, fear, panic, and loneliness that tempt me to rush in to “fix” it with temporary measures that imperfectly satisfy the flesh for a time, but do nothing to satisfy and sate the deep longings of my soul and heart. Help me to wait for what You are holding together for me, no shortcuts, impostors or knockoffs. Help me to stop seeking relief in way stations and byways–second best temporary fleshly indulgences, but rather to let You fill all those empty, desperate places with You — all the hidden places, the unconscious places, the places I am so accustomed to in the landscape that I don’t even see or know they are there. Shift my paradigm to reveal all the faulty basic assumptions that leave me vulnerable to the lies of the enemy; and fill all those places — seen and unseen — with Your Truth, Your Sufficiency, that You would be my enough for whatever comes. This is my heart and my desire even when my flesh fights against it. Help me to hold onto You and only You; and to remember Your faithfulness and trust You for every future provision–emotionally, spiritually and financially. Root out all that is not of You and works against Your perfect will and plan in my heart and mind, until only You are left to work Your perfect plan in Your perfect time. Let me be so filled with You that anything or anyone You add to my life is a bonus and a blessing and not a GOD-replacing idol. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Blessings!
Tamara Christine

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will go with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day.  2 Timothy 1:12

The Evergreen Hope of Christmas

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living GOD, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
Timothy 4:10
Every year, I hear people — in real life and online — who get all bent out of shape over their perceptions of pagan symbolism of evergreen trees, Christmas lights and the commercialization of the Christmas season. I will not rehash my emphasis in previous writings that the method and style of an individual’s celebrations is completely a matter of the heart’s intent which is more important to GOD than a particular form or for some outright avoidance.  Nonetheless, I have long held that symbols only hold the significance they carry for a person in a particular place and time, according to their own conscience. GOD will not hold me responsible for what a given symbol may have represented to someone in ancient times, if in all good conscience, it is a representation of my worship to me today and only calls to mind and heart a reverence for the things of GOD,  and my hope in His Son and His Word.

Even if something was used for pagan or evil purposes in centuries past, my GOD is in the business of redemption.  He transformed an ancient torture device from a symbol of death and shame to a declaration of victory and life.  He can do the same for Christmas trees, lights and the myriad other traditional symbols of modern Christmas.  One person’s interpretation of a symbol has no magical power to imbue that object for all time with some mystical evil, pagan spirit. It only holds that meaning as long as a person or society believes in that meaning. Once that meaning has passed from public consciousness, it no longer means that, especially if GOD has redeemed it and turned it into a witness for Himself.

You can say the same of the commercialization of retail turning Christmas into a season of gimme gimme, obligation and debt instead of the spirit of giving that represents GOD’s ultimate gift to all humanity in sending His only Son to a humble manger to live on Earth as a man so He could better communicate His love and desire for authentic relationship with us. He wants to be with us so much that He was willing to send Jesus to take our sins on Himself and die on the Cross for the forgiveness of those sins and rise again on the third day to give witness and testimony to the glory and power of GOD and draw people into intimate relationship with Him.

Just because some people treat it as a secular obligatory gifting opportunity and feel it is an onerous duty to spend money they don’t have, to buy pricey gifts they can’t afford, for people they hardly take time for the other 364 days of the year, doesn’t mean it has to mean that to someone who is honestly trying to honor GOD’s ultimate gift, by celebrating the beginning of the redemption story come to Earth in the form of a baby.  If you let someone else’s misunderstanding or disrespect of the holiday ( derived from the Old English for holy day), guilt you or interfere with your enjoyment of celebrating your Savior, you alone are responsible for letting your joy be stolen.  If you want it to be about Jesus, then put your heart into it and make it that way for you and your family. What anyone else chooses to do and the attitude of their heart, is between them and GOD.

Exactly how that looks and sounds will be different for each person or family. I am not here to prescribe a particular manner of celebration. I only want to urge Christians not to allow anyone else to define a “proper” Christmas celebration for them; nor to feel that because of pagan roots or commercial interests, that they must avoid any kind of Christmas celebration whatsoever, if it brings them joy, promotes family relationships and brings them closer to GOD in the spirit of worship.  If it doesn’t, well, maybe it’s better to celebrate at a different time that inspires a worship heart. But, please don’t not celebrate because of someone else’s conscience and miss the wonder and rejoicing in your heart at the remembrance of your LORD and Savior’s birth.
Blessed be the GOD and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3
Perhaps the most seasonally appropriate illustration is the ever present evergreen Christmas tree.  Even though ancient pagans used branches as winter solstice decorations and the Roman use of evergreens as temple decorations for Saturnalia, they do not own the rights to define what evergreens mean to all people for all time. John 1 makes it clear, “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.”  So clearly, GOD created evergreens and placed them on Earth before the Romans and ancient pagan thought up any unholy uses.

1 Chronicles 29:11 tells us that everything in the heavens and earth belongs to GOD.  In Isaiah 55, the trees of the field clap their hands in praise of their Creator. If anyone has the right to determine the eternal significance of something, it would surely be Him. In journalism, when we say a text is “evergreen”, it means that the story is not time sensitive, but stands the test of time and is relevant to any time and place. The story will not go out of date but contains information that people can relate to now, next year or 10 or 100 years from now. What a perfect description of the hope of the gospel that started with the fulfillment of countless prophecies in the birth of a baby in Bethlehem!

Jesus is the living embodiment of that idea for as Hebrews 13 tells us, He is “the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Romans 1 explains, “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” meaning each piece of creation is a glimpse into the qualities of GOD as a testimony to Him. It is not too much of a stretch then to say that the evergreen nature of fir trees is a picture of the unchanging nature of GOD. Keeping this in mind and being careful to worship the Creator and not the created, the Christmas tree is a wonderful symbol to help us remember Who GOD is, what He is like and the fact that because of what He did in Bethlehem, and on Calvary, our hope for eternity in His presence is also evergreen. It does not expire, run out, wear out or get old. Decorate with lights and you have a further illustration of the Light of the World. 

This is not stretching verses to make them fit my preconceptions and wishes.  The problem is that we have been so inundated with worldly interpretations of Christmas, we have forgotten the origins that predate by millennia, the pagan and Roman influences and the modern advent of a retail-driven holiday. A fairy tale Santa may have been turned into the focus of the season, but there is nothing more appropriate to celebrate GOD’s ultimate gift to us, than to engage in the spirit of cheerful giving and showering our loved ones with love — with or without store bought gifts and sweet treats. It’s really not about the dollar amount, big or small. It’s about the Hope that came to a humble manger in Bethlehem, whether the date is exactly right or not, to invite us into a close relationship with Him and because of that we have an everlasting, eternal, evergreen hope for eternity with Him. Now that’s a good reason to celebrate any time, any place!

Merry Christmas one and all!
Again Isaiah says, “There shall come the root of Jesse, And He who arises to rule over the Gentiles, In Him shall the Gentiles hope.
Romans 15:12
Blessings!
Tamara Christine

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will go with you wherever you go.  Joshua 1:9

I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day.  2 Timothy 1:12

More to Christmas Than Romance! [Video]

I think I am the only person I know who doesn’t have cable. When funds are tight, basic necessities take priority over frivolous extras. So, what Christmas movies we don’t own and want to watch, we either have to check out of the library or catch on TV.  Netflix is useless for any movie you’ve ever heard of anymore and if it’s more than a year old, forget finding it in a Redbox. (There were some definite advantages to brick-and-mortar video stores. CHOICE ranks high on that list!)

As a result, I was interested when ION started advertising that they were going to become the Christmas movie channel after Thanksgiving.  After the first set over the weekend, I am already done — for one specific reason.  Evidently, their idea of what makes Christmas “magic” is romance. Every single one was a thin variation on the idea of finding or reuniting/rediscovering your “true love” by Christmas Eve.  As if romance is the point of Christmas. Of all the Christmas-related story lines, they have reduced it to only an unrealistic notion of Christmas inspiring you to find your one perfect happily ever after.

I suppose they are partly right — Christmas IS about love, GOD’S love for a broken and dying world and His willingness to send His only Son in the flesh to restore the sin-broken relationship between GOD and His beloved people, the crown jewel of His Creation.  But, it surely ISN’T about Christmas being some kind of magical time in which all wishes and romances come true. It isn’t about human love, finding the right man/woman to ride off into the mythical sunset in a white horse drawn carriage and never come back to earth.  Maybe they are confused and don’t know how to translate God’s ultimate love story into terms they can understand so they water it down and make it just about fairy tale romance.

Trouble is, life is never as neat and tidy and perfect as they make it out to be; and Christmas is not a panacea for every ill in the romance department. Just because it is the holiday season does NOT mean every troubled marriage will be instantaneously fixed or that the estranged love will come home ready to make it all right again; or the MIA/KIA report will turn out to be mistaken and the heroine’s true love will make it home just in time for Christmas; or the perfect mate will just fall into your lap, look adoringly into your eyes and carry you off to your dream home; or turn out to be a prince/princess with untold wealth … or any number of variations on the Christmas fairy tale story line.

Not to be a cold, depressing downer….but honestly, if this is what Christmas is about for you, you have totally missed the point of the baby in the humble manger in Bethlehem. Not to mention, you are setting yourself up for disappointment because  Christmas, New Year’s (and later on Valentine’s Day) exaggerate emotional hopes and expectations beyond all reason. Once the “magical” feelings that come with the holidays pass into a new year and reality sets in, no relationship can perpetually live up to the high expectations of  the swollen and exaggerated emotions of starting in the season where the primary driving force is fear of loneliness and a desperate longing to make a fairy tale come true and create an epic romance story to tell the grandchildren. There can be no solid foundation in the holiday-driven “love blindness” so when storms come and the magic fades and your prince/princess turns back into a frog, it all comes crashing down and heartbreak ensues.

Reality check: The high won’t last. After the “happily ever after” moment, comes the realization that your “true love” has foibles, follies, warts — and comes with baggage and bad habits. If you make a decision about the rest of your life while on the high of “Christmas magic,” and a holiday-inspired yearning for companionship, without considering the rest of the story and whether you can live with the good and the bad for the rest of your natural life,  you are driving yourself right over an emotional cliff when the magic wears off and he/she is not all you hoped and dreamed of in your rush to “love.”

I’m sure there are couples out there who would argue with me and will be anxious to prove me wrong. There are always exceptions to every rule and I am sure somebody out there has a successful relationship/marriage, even if they did launch between Thanksgiving and New Year. But as a general rule, high caution is strongly advised when dealing with newly budding romance during the holiday season. If you are of the type to get carried away by the fairy tale hopes and wishful thinking, hold off aunashamed Christian month or so and see if you still feel the same way or if the feelings fade with the ambiance of the season.  If this person truly is your “true love,” he/she will wait and still be there. If it isn’t, it never was real to begin with — and I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am so done with imaginary romance. I spent too much time there as a teen and a college student 30ish some years ago. I want real, or nothing. All in or not at all. I’m too old to play middle school games.

In the meantime, I’m going to focus on the One who I know for sure loves me beyond all compare and celebrate the advent of His Son who came to earth as a babe in a manger as Emmanuel — GOD with us. That’s the only love story that matters during this season of Christmas! No matter the actual date, no matter the origins of the holiday, no matter that retail has tried to steal Christmas and make it into a commercial, secular holiday. GOD sees my heart and any day, any time is a good time to celebrate the beginning of the greatest love story ever created and the fact that GOD can and has redeemed any possible pagan symbolism that some worry about just as He did with the cross, and made it His own — a symbol of perfect love, hope and new life in Him. Retailers can try to sell it all they want, but the true meaning of Christmas is not for sale. He is a free gift to all who call on His Name and believe in the saving power of His death and resurrection — because GOD loves me (and you) that much.  There is no greater love story than the one that started inauspiciously in a manger in Bethlehem.  No Hollywood-inspired fairy tale romance love story can hold a candle to GOD’s Divine love story for all the ages of all humankind!

 


Music video by Bill & Gloria Gaither performing The Love of God (feat. Gaither Vocal Band) [Live]. (P) (C) 2013 Spring House Music Group. All rights reserved.


Blessings!
Tamara Christine

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will go with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12

After the Promise: When God’s Plan is ‘Hurry Up and Wait’

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9

OK, so we know that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, without error — but is it just me, or does anyone else ever get the feeling that something was lost in the translation of this scripture. I kid, of course, but God’s idea of “not slow” and mine usually operate on entirely different time scales. Kind of like Worf shifting to the parallel universes where time ran at different speeds in the Parallels episode of the last season of TNG. In my universe, I want time to run quickly when I am waiting on the fulfillment of a promise or wish or hope; and slowly when I want to savor a happy moment. In God’s universe, however, time seems to crawl, especially when there is something to wait for.  It can be maddening and crazy making when I am sure God promised me something and then we enter a stage where the Jeopardy theme seems to be stuck on endless repeat.  Really, God? What is all this “hurry up and wait?”

There are a ton of pat Christian answers about trusting God, waiting on His timing, not worrying, letting God and giving it to God on one hand; and on the other, in the words of Journey, “Don’t stop believing.” 48 years in the church and I’ve heard it all, from “name it and claim it” to “if your prayers are not being answered, you lack faith.” Some preach a gospel of false humility that says I don’t deserve anything and just have to be happy with whatever God sends (without checking to see if He is actually the sender). While others want me to paste on a smile and pretend to be happy and carefree about not getting what I want because “It’s all in God’s hands, dear. Just let go and let God.”

The problem is that although there may be kernels of truth in each of these that make them seem plausible and Christian, is that if I do any of the above expecting that will be the golden ticket that will make God grant my wishes, I am bound to be disappointed. God does not act at my beck and call. His idea of what is good for me is usually different than what I think is good for me.

Sometimes other people are involved in the fulfillment of a promise and their universe may run on an entirely different time scale altogether. In other words, even if I am ready, they may not quite be there yet. God may still be smoothing rough edges and doing healing and restoration in their life that once done will make the future joint venture so much better than if I try to rush ahead and jam the puzzle pieces together before the joins are fully formed, smooth and functional.

I will cheat myself of God’s best if I try to force fit two people who without God’s healing and shaping will only end up triggering one another’s weak spots and learned defense mechanisms from previous hurts. I also have to remember that the waiting game is not just about waiting on someone else to get their act together and self-righteously pretend that I’ve got it all together, if only they would stop dawdling around and shape up. My job in the waiting isn’t to criticize and advise others but to look at what kind of shaping and cleanup work God still wants to do in me.

My feelings about the matter I am waiting for though can be messy, disorderly and not easily subjected to logic or containment. If God has promised me something, I know believing is the right thing to do. But I have to resist the temptation to “help” things along to make the fulfillment come more quickly; as well as the distortion that  slow fulfillment means I misheard God so I just need to give it up — but what if I didn’t so I need to hold on, leaving me in a perpetual state of self-doubt about what I really heard and if I am inventing a promise that conforms to my own wishes; or that sacrificing what I want will somehow impress God and make Him act more quickly to assure me that that is not what He expects of me. It can get to the point, that anything I do is just an elaborate ritual or ruse to see if that’s going to be the magic ticket that makes everything finally come together. Even when I think I have let go, part of me is still looking at God going, “OK, I gave up my dream. Where’s my prize?” In case there was any doubt, newsflash:  This Will Not Work!

The truth is that balancing holding on in faith and giving it up to God is a tricky balance. Neither belief without wavering nor letting go guarantees that I will get the result I want. Insisting on either is a dangerous form of magical thinking that tries to bind God to my will because of the “nobility” of my faithfulness or sacrifice. In giving a situation into God’s hands I have to be willing to accept that the answer might be no, no matter how the idea tears my heart apart; and the final good result might not be what I am expecting and hoping for…and trust that whatever it is really is as good as God says it is no matter what my feelings are screaming.

Because if yours are like mine, they will give a toddler a run for their money in competing for an Oscar in temper tantrums when God’s plan is “hurry up and wait.” Most people wouldn’t know it to look at me. But while all is quiet on my Western front, there is usually an emotional storm brewing on the inside. So that’s my interim job — while I am waiting for the one God has promised — not to fix anyone or anything else but to look for the deep roots of my emotional messiness. I need to acknowledge where brokenness and hurts of my past have misinformed my emotional knee jerk responses and let Him retrain them into Godly responses and bring True Peace that is shined, polished and truly ready to fit into the complementary puzzle piece He is preparing for me.

Good evening LORD,
I confess my patience is seriously flawed and imperfect. Thank You that You do not let anything happen out of Your time, even when I rage against the seeming delays. Please show me where I need to root out and replace wrong emotional responses with the Truth of Your perspective. Help me to unlearn the misinformed emotional habits of the past and not carry them into future relationships. Teach me to be the perfect match for the puzzle piece You are preparing for me and help me not to rush the process but trust that Your timing is good.  Help me to hear Your voice and not the fleshly screams of my emotions. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
Blessings!

Tamara Christine

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your God will go with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12

Dead Dreams Encounter The Lifegiver

He is not the God of the dead, but of the living…
Mark 12:27

When you have been through the fire and the storm like I have, there comes a point that it can feel like certain dreams are dead, buried and gone forever. Crushed to dust, burned to ashes. No hope of revival. Just living the rest of your life existing on the crumbs of what might have been but will never be; and trying to convince yourself that you are OK with it, when if you are truly honest with yourself and GOD, your heart is crying out for a second chance, longing from the deepest parts to do it right this time, to do it GOD’s way.

But it really seems like it will just never be; and so you soldier on trying to make good on the parts of life you can control or have some influence over improving and turn a good face to the world and pretend like it doesn’t matter, when it oh so very much does. But who wants pity and self-righteous advice about “getting over it” or Christianese platitudes about “waiting on GOD’s timing and plan” (even though this last is an obvious truth to anyone raised in the church as I was, it’s not always timely to say that to a person in emotional pain because it glosses over the validity of their feelings without actually providing any comfort or help) when you can’t control the choices of other people necessary to bring your dream to fruition and you don’t know how to stop the longing in your heart…or even if you should, because maybe it really is from GOD and the time just hasn’t come for fulfillment yet. That one tiny ember of hope keeps the dream from dying completely but it gets buried deep under the dust of deferred hopes that make the heart grow sick, as Proverbs says.

Maybe it is just me –although I suspect not. But walking out of the collateral damage of an unbeliever who chose not get help for serious safety issues and declined to live with a believer (1 Corinthians 7:15) any longer, put on hold a lot of dreams for a long time. It’s coming up on two years since I received the final dissolution and that part of the nightmare was over, nearly three since the beginning of the end; and at least 15 years before that praying, hoping and begging God for a Saul to Paul transformation that never happened. That kills or insulates a lot of places in the heart that forget how to feel properly because they are so busy protecting themselves.

But funny thing about GOD–He’s full of surprises. He can drop the forgotten or abandoned dream right in your lap when you least expect it and whisper in your ear, “Pay attention to this one.” And suddenly you’re reeling with alternate bouts of shock, joy, confusion, doubt, fear (that this isn’t just your imagination or too good to be true), anticipation, hope…  Maybe, just maybe, our GOD of second chances, really is trusting me with a chance to do it right this time and I so don’t want to screw it up.

“At that time I will bring you in,
Even at the time when I gather you together;
Indeed, I will give you renown and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I restore your fortunes before your eyes,”
Says the Lord.
Zephaniah 3:20

Because my GOD is the Resurrection and the Life and when dead dreams encounter the Lifegiver, they have a way of waking up and walking out of the grave like Lazarus. Although the fullness of fulfillment can still be an excruciating process that makes you doubt yourself and wonder if you really heard GOD say that or just made it up in your mind because of your own deeping longing and wishful thinking. I imagine this is how it was for Abram, waiting for the promise of Sarai’s baby to come true for all those years; or Joseph exiled from his family and his people in Egypt wondering if his youthful dreams were just dreams after all.

Yet how sweet it is when there comes a moment, that GOD’s reassurance and peace and love and comfort opens its arms and reaches out to receive you in a warm and welcoming strong embrace that says “You aren’t wrong. This IS happening. Trust Me.” If you’ve never had one of those God hug moments, I can’t describe it adequately. There is nothing in the world like it and I want to live in that place forever when it happens.

It’s easy for Christians to over-spiritualize struggles and camp on the fact that we will have troubles in this world (which, of course, is true). But some people make it seem like that’s all we can expect here on earth and that nothing will ever be good for us this side of heaven. This kind of thinking is no help at all in the middle of an excruciating waiting and shaping process. Nothing that marginalizes or invalidates someone’s legitimate feelings about their struggle is ever appropriate or helpful! It’s one thing to jar someone out of a pity party that is holding them back or just seeking attention rather than solutions; and something else entirely to dismiss all emotional content to the human struggles in life as irrelevant and in extreme cases, “evidence” of perceived ungodliness in someone’s life that bears no resemblance to the truth.

The goodness that awaits in heaven is, of course, far greater than anything we will find here on earth. Yet, Psalms promises that we don’t have to wait for the hereafter to experience good things from GOD.  He loves me enough to give me a taste of what is to come, “in the land of the living.”

I would have despaired unless I had believed
that I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD!
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord!

Psalm 27:13-14

I just have to remember to be patient while He finishes working out the details that are not up to me.

Dear LORD,
Hold me close and teach me patience to wait while You shape my promise to perfection before final delivery. You know very well how intensely I feel about this promise and how above and beyond all expectations I can already see it to be, fueling my passion to move forward. So help me to exercise self-control through You in me and wait on Your timing and trust that I will see this goodness poured out “in the land of the living.” In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Blessings!
Tamara Christine

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will go with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12

Not as Easy as It Looks

Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?  (God–Evan Almighty)

I’m going on record on behalf of everyone walking through serious fires of life and trying their best to hold onto their faith and trust God with the outcome, to pray and believe He has a good end to whatever the trial happens to be, to walk in faithfulness and believe that victory is coming. It’s not as easy as you make it out to be! Please stop telling us that if only we were doing it “right” or had more faith or prayed more or the right way or crossed our big toe over our right knee while blinking three times when the Big Dipper is at a 45 degree altitude in the the sky while simultaneously shouting “Hallelujah!” and sharing, liking and amen-ing every “God will bless you if” meme on Facebook, Twitter and whatever other social media you frequent, then our situation would be instantly fixed. (Repeat: IT’S NOT THAT EASY!)

Implying then that if it is not we are not sincere enough, mature enough, constant or consistent enough or that our faith in God is somehow flawed and imperfect and we need to listen to you and let you “fix” what’s wrong with us because your way is the “surefire” ticket to easy; and if we don’t, we are just stubborn, ungrateful, prideful fake Christians and you guilt us about your perceived deficiencies in us which are really just personal preferences and not Biblical mandates.

Christian movies have gotten exponentially better in the last 10 to 15 years, I will grant you that. Nonetheless, they generally portray very emotionally and relationally and spiritual complex issues over which no one person has control of the solution no matter how much they pray and rebuke the enemy — and condense it all into a nice neat, easy solution in around two hours…because this is cinema, not real life and you can’t leave people hanging if you want them to come to your next movie and bring their friends.

OF COURSE God is ABLE to do what is shown. It’s just that in real life, people don’t react in the perfect way and everything doesn’t come together and work out so easily and smoothly and instantaneously. God is not a magic genie or a short order cook and prayer is not a magical incantation with fixed, limited and predictable results. Certain Christian authors, who shall remain nameless because I am not trying to point fingers and be mean, are guilty of the same thing. Everybody gets a happy ending.  It’s like crisis-crisis-crisis for 340 pages and somehow someone prays, and in the last 10 pages suddenly everything just falls into place and the deadly diagnosis turns out wrong, the stubbornly unrepentant straying husband has a sudden and inexplicable change of heart and all is ice cream sundaes and roses, the dream job comes available and you’re hired, the cancelled adoption suddenly comes through anyway, the prodigal comes home, the star-crossed lovers are reunited, long lost family suddenly reappears and is rich and famous and in love with the hometown girl from Nowhereville and carries her off into the sunset to a dream home and an easy life of luxury and endless supply of money.

I mean, really people, does this sound anything at all like real life? In real life, people make bad choices and sometimes they don’t repent and change their behavior no matter how long and hard you pray. In real life, sometimes husbands are abusive and you have to flee or they abandon you and don’t come back–ever, or they are unfaithful, either physically, emotionally or mentally with porn–and sometimes a combination of these at the same time. In real life, promiscuity sometimes has unfixable consequences and sometimes the deadly diagnosis actually kills. In real life, you can apply for jobs–any job, for months on end with no results and money can run out and no rich relative or friend just drops into your life and magically saves the day at the last minute. In real life, the hot Hollywood heartthrob doesn’t just happen to run across the small town girl and fall madly in love with her and end all her money troubles in one fell swoop.  Sometimes life is just hard and it stays that way, no matter how much faith you have, how much praying and rebuking you do.

So enough with “listen to me and I will give you an EASY button for your life.” It doesn’t work like that. People still have free will and I can pray and GOD can be willing but if they choose to continue being a jerk, He won’t force them. It does not mean I, as a person, or my faith is fundamentally flawed, however and in need of your self-proclaimed expertise to fix. I can’t make anyone care about me and I can’t make anyone listen to God, have an obedient or repentant heart. I can’t make them treat me the way I want to be treated, I can’t break down their prejudices, fears and brokenness that hurt me when they refuse to acknowledge the problem.

As the quote from Evan Almighty says above, God surely hears our prayers but He doesn’t necessarily package up an easy answer and drop it in our laps. He gives us the opportunities to grow in our areas of weakness. He provides the means to learn and change hurtful behaviors. But we have to actually want it enough to step up and do our part and work for it, actually take the step to accept what He’s offering; be prepared that when the answer requires the active participation of another person, they just might say no and refuse to step up to the plate.

It doesn’t mean you are flawed or that your faith is defective. It means we are broken people and sometimes our brokenness rubs against others and leaves emotional cuts, bruises and scars.  It means that when it becomes clear that someone is toxic and resistant to change, we have to let them go and remove ourselves from the vicinity of where they can hurt us –but it does not diminish our worth as human beings in the  eyes of God or His ability to use us and bring about something beautiful for His kingdom through us still.

It means that the sooner you accept the fact that when your life doesn’t come all wrapped up in a pretty bow with perfect solutions and cooperative repentant people of character who actually act the way they are Biblically supposed to when confronted with sin, the more peace of mind you will have. You won’t need to feel all guilty and beaten down for failing God because it’s not you. It’s this sin-broken world that has shattered us so badly that we are walking through shards of other people’s brokenness and they will hurt us sometimes because that’s the nature of broken glass.

The sooner you figure out that it’s not as easy as it looks in the movies and novels and that is not a failing on your part, the sooner you can focus on the messy business of learning to live with, love and forgive broken people who cause unintentional or careless hurt but do not actually have any malicious intent toward you. I need to remember that when someone is carelessly insensitive and dismissive: this isn’t the person who tore a hole in my heart and left a bruise that still stings when someone unknowingly touches it. I can’t hold this person responsible for the sins of the one who hurt me or expect them to tiptoe around me afraid of offending my broken places.

I have to learn to separate the temporal hurt of unthinking daily callousness from the chronic intentional hurt that left emotional scars and bruises that I don’t often take out and look at, preferring to live forward into a new normal and not continuously back to regret and castigate myself for the past. It won’t make life perfect and it won’t provide instantaneous easy solutions to every problem and relationship in my life. But it will allow me to live free from the shame and guilt of the past, both that which I heap on myself and that which others want to “generously” donate to my “recovery fund.” (Just say NO to unwanted donations!) And that is a place where God wants me to park my brain and let His Spirit take care of the rest of the healing. (Although my brain is fidgety on this so prayers are appreciated!)

Blessings!
Tamara Christine
Christian blogger

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous for the LORD your GOD will go with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

I am not ashamed for I know in Whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day. 2 Timothy 1:12