Wrestling with Assurance, Part 2

My pastor really tried to give me assurance that I was in Christ. But the more I talked to her, the more I realized she and I didn’t believe remotely the same. I started to wonder about her assurance. “Are you really in Christ? Do you really know God, or do you just know about Him?” Suddenly, my perspective started to change. Maybe I really do know God because I have been seeking Him with everything I have. I am not seeking Him with my mind. I am seeking Him with my heart. I desire Him. I want to know Him.
I remember Rhett. He was an employee of our firm. He worked on a lot of my jobs. I remember he knew God. It was evident. He was full of love. It was this love I had never seen before. He wasn’t flirty. It wasn’t even a brotherly love. It was just this love—I couldn’t understand it. It didn’t have any judgment attached to it or anything. He introduced me to this thing called agape, which is unconditional love regardless of how you behave. If you are a sinner, no matter how much sin you are in, I love you because God loves you. 

You know what? It is God’s kindness that leads man to repentance. It’s not man’s judgment. It’s not God’s anger leading man to repentance. It’s not God’s judgment leading man to repentance. It’s His kindness. That is how good God is. He is kind. When people experience His kindness, it leads them to repentance.
So I was able to learn from Rhett that there was this love available from God. I can have it and experience it. But the problem was that I still wasn’t really sure. Here was the roadblock for me. I didn’t understand the fullness of God’s forgiveness of me. But when I said yes to Him, He erased everything. I didn’t have to be at some place. I didn’t have to be perfected. I didn’t have to be changed. I didn’t have to change my ways. The moment I said yes, He erased my past. See, I had not erased my past. It was still on the hard drive of my mind. It was so evident; it would haunt me every day. I had so much regret, shame, and pain associated with my past that I couldn’t erase it.

One day I was in a Bible study with three hundred people, and the teacher talked about how Moses had failed and how God had forgiven him. At the end of his life, even though he couldn’t go to the Promised Land, God, in His love, allowed him to see where the people he had led for forty years would go. He let him see their future. “This is the prosperity all of these people will have that you have led them to. This is the fruit of your labor.” God used that moment and woke me up. He shook me, and He gave me this message: “If I can forgive Moses, I can forgive you.”

What He gave Moses wasn’t just forgiveness; it was grace. It was like a gift. He didn’t have to show him where those people were going. He didn’t need to do that. That wasn’t required. It was the love of God upon Moses. It is who God is. It is His character. He is love.

I remember I left there and took a pamphlet of assurance. I read it when I sat in my car. The rain was pouring down. I sat in my car and sobbed. I wept. I was like, “I forgive myself, God. I let it go. I will stop reminding You of my failures. I will stop speaking of my past sins because they have been erased. They are gone. And because I have sinned so much, I love You so much.” I literally spent one hour weeping with joy over it. It was a relief. It was literally as if no man ever needed to tell me I was assured. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt.

I know to this day that I am assured of my salvation. I remind myself of it. That is who God is. He is in the business of forgiving and forgetting. I want to be like Him. I want to forgive and forget and not to build walls or change relationships with people because they have offended me. I don’t want to be one of those people who builds up a monument to their past with the way people have treated them or offenses taken. I want those things removed. I want to be loyal. I want to be a stayer, not a player. 

When you forgive and forget, the past is gone. You can’t say, “I can’t trust you,” “I won’t hurt you,” “I can’t trust you because you hurt me,” or “I can’t trust you because you did this,” because you have forgotten it. You just continue on. I think it’s love and unity.
I get God’s kingdom now because I understand forgiveness and forgetting. Although my flesh is offended at times, it quickly gets out of it. It quickly resolves. It quickly forgives. It quickly gets back into trust. It quickly surrenders. After what God did for me, how can I not do that for others? How can I not live in forgiveness and forgetfulness?
I praise God for the assurance He has given me. If you are holding on to any guilt or shame, I want you to know Jesus came so you would not have to live in guilt, condemnation, or shame. It is not your portion. It’s not your prize. Your prize is freedom from it. You also have been forgiven. God has forgotten. Stop reminding Him of the sins you have done and the past you have because He remembers them no more. Man may remember and rub your nose in it, but God does not. And He never will. You are forgiven. It’s forgotten. And guess what? You get the opportunity to follow in His footsteps and ask Him for this same heart.
I ask, Father, right now, that You would make us all forgivers and forgetters in Jesus’ name. 

Mama Bear’s Cubs Face Rejection

I never really expected my girls would endure friendship rejection. Most definitely I expected to raise my kids in a Christ-centered home and community. Surely, they would not be subject to the God-less relationships similar to my childhood.
I should have known this was a terribly incorrect assumption when my oldest was in the first grade. I hung out with her teacher one day at lunch and observed. While all the other children were playing, my daughter meandered around the two-foot-high timbers bordering the Christian school’s playground perimeter. She repeated this lonely walk-a-thon daily. She rarely played or engaged with the other kids. The teachers never said a word, but I should have noticed the early piercing of her heart. Throughout that entire first-grade year, my little six-year old would beg me to homeschool her.
So, that’s how I came to homeschool my kids. I’ve been doing it for a long time now. We noticed and took decisive action to right the wrong in her heart. Friends had broken her spirit.
But the wisdom of the Lord would prevail. My oldest daughter, now almost 17 years old, has enjoyed many friendships and rich community time since our homeschool journey began. However, even with close friendships, a single rejection can break her heart and impede her ability to be thankful for what she does have.
Have you or a loved one been a victim of the negative power of rejection?
Why do friends stop texting, inviting, or including? My child and other teens I know can be surrounded by a multitude of friends, yet completely alone. I have overheard some say, “Never alone. Forever lonely.” There is an epidemic of hurting teens who appear included and well loved on the surface. The signs of hurt and loneliness are evident, though, in other areas of their lives, such as strife with parents and siblings, sudden withdrawal from friends and family, or lashing out in anger.
I want to pause and acknowledge that even my own children have sometimes been the rejecters instead of the rejected. I ask you, please forgive us if you have been that friend we unwittingly excluded or denied.
What’s a mother supposed to do about this deep and wide issue of heartbreaking, repeated rejection?
We leave it to these young girls to solve their own relationship problems while we consume Christian books learning how to help our kids marry and protect their purity. However, the way they live in relationships today is a great picture of how they will live them out as a wife and mother.
In the name of privacy and (unearned) trust, are we truly expecting these little self-centered hearts to work it out for themselves?
I have this sickening feeling that many of our children could be developing a pattern of quitting or divorcing things that no longer thrill them. Like me, I am sure you desire your children to be finishers, faithful to the end, to forgive and forget quickly, and to demonstrate endurance with people.
But how will our daughters learn to be good friends if we don’t teach them along the way? How will they be faithful wives if we don’t teach them to have endurance now?
I submit to you that it’s time to help this generation lead their heart while learning to be a good and faithful friend.
First, we must be acutely aware of how our daughters operate in friendships. We consistently need to be sitting on the outside of their social circles, listening and asking tough questions like,
“Why are you not spending time with this friend anymore? Tell me what’s really going on. Don’t withdraw your friendship just because an issue came up.”  
We need to teach them: Friendships require open discussions, even if it’s embarrassing, because working through difficulties creates deeper, stronger relationships. Don’t kill friendships with walls against intimacy simply because someone hurts you. Deal with the adversity. Run straight into it with truth and love.
Secondly, we need to teach our kids to love without expectation. Even if someone starts to dislike them or even hate them, they should choose love, and the source of love lives in us. We are called to practice forgiveness at least 490 times. Do you really want your kids to practice un-forgiveness or divorce with their friends just because they can’t work through a challenging moment? Let’s encourage our children to chooseto be a good friend to have—how to be a “stayer” and not a “player.”
Thirdly, we must teach them to lead their own heart. The truth is that I can’t keep my daughter’s heart from breaking and I have limited control over how other people treat her. However, what I can do is teach her how not to have an easily offended heart. I can teach her to lead her thoughts by taking them captive.
Lastly, I ensure my daughter knows who she is in Christ—that she is trademarked by God. Period. A trademark is legally protected; your brand is legally yours. Likewise, your identity in Christ is yours and cannot be changed by any other person’s choices or opinions.

Ultimately, the ability to be a steadfast friend in Christ speaks to the way we measure success in home education. I would venture to guess that if you raise a person who is a faithful friend to others, your child will grow to be a good friend to you. Someday, your positional authority as parents will fade into the sunset and what remains in your child will be a brother or sister in Christ whom you have taught, hopefully, to love with His love. When our own children are good friends to have, they reflect the love of Jesus, which amounts to a greater accomplishment than any ACT, SAT, or MBA.

5 Lies That Prevent Forward Movement

Five deadly lies that will prevent you from

moving forward,
making progress, and
achieving your calling!
  1. Unworthiness — I have nothing to offer.
  2. Insecurity — What will they think about me?
  3. Unforgiveness — Unforgiveness is a prison.
  4. Guilt — Carrying guilt is a heavy load.
  5. Fear — Fear keeps you in your comfort zone.

Unworthiness

“No one would listen to me.”
“I have nothing to offer.”

Sure the enemy wants to keep you here! Do you know what you are doing when you live according to your feelings of unworthiness? You are allowing the enemy to make you useless! The only thing that is true about you is what God says, and He says you are worthy! Is that enough for you to say yes? (See John 15:13.)

Insecurity

“What will they think about me?” 

People come and go. They love you when you perform well and want to give up on you when your performance is poor. It’s all about you, isn’t it? Your reputation is the only thing that matters. Guess what? There is a greater security than other people’s opinions of you. It is the security of being in the hands of God! (See John 10:29.)

Unforgiveness

Unforgiveness is a prison. As long as you are holding a grudge against yourself or someone else, you will never feel worthy enough to ask God for more than you can ask, think, imagine, dream of, or fantasize! (See Ephesians 3:20.)

Guilt

Carrying guilt is a heavy load. It is like trying to run in a marathon with a 40-pound weight on your back. Have you ever seen The Biggest Loser? After the contestants have lost 50 to100 pounds, they are required to carry the weight they have lost on their backs. Jesus already carried this for you! Carrying your own guilt is like choosing to carry the lost weight on The Biggest Loser instead of putting it on the luggage truck. Foolish! It holds you back. (See Psalm 38:4 and Matthew 11:30.)

Fear

Fear keeps you in your comfort zone. Really, we should fear our comfort zone because it makes us complacent. God can’t accomplish His greater plans through your life if you are stuck in place because these plans are WAY bigger than your comfort zone! (See Exodus 14:13.)

God has a purpose and a plan for you! Today, what will you do to expose lies and stand in the truth?

*There are many lies. Here you find five of them.