Reading vs. Living

This is a guest post from Bethany. She is a senior in college studying History and World Religion. Right now it is her ambition to work in the missionary field. I am very proud of Bethany for making her parents’ God, her own.

The other day my dad came to ask me if I would do a post for his blog. Now at first when he asked I was like absolutely not, what do I, a senior in college, have to say. God had other plans though. I felt I needed to write this piece, not because I am an expert or because I have figured it all out, but because I have messed this up multiple times and I know what it is like to ignore what He is saying. I have also seen the amazing things that He can do when we do listen.

God wants us to prosper. Now this doesn’t mean He wants to make us all millionaires, but it means He wants us to improve and grow in all areas of our lives. It says in Matthew 7:7-11 how God will give us good gifts, even better ones than our earthly fathers can. He knows what we need and what we desire.

Now one would think we would trust a father who wants us to prosper and who wants to bless us, but we don’t. We ignore what He is telling us and ignore the good gifts He has already given us. We desire to follow Him, but we don’t do anything to do so. I have seen many believers with passionate hearts to love and follow the Lord, but then I look at their lives and something doesn’t match up. They say they love God and will do anything for Him, but then they are unhappy and broken. God isn’t a god of bondage and brokenness. He is a god of healing and freedom. This begs the question of what is happening.

How many times have you read the same passage in your Bible? How many times will it take before you really see it? I have listened to people go on about how God has convicted them on something, but then I watch them continue to act in the same way. They talk about Matthew 6:5-8 which warns us about being a hypocrite in prayer. The Pharisees would stand out on the corners and pray so that they could be seen by others. The same person who explains they have been convicted of this is seeking my praise on their prayer life. I may be wrong, but didn’t God just convict them of this. I have seen this in my own life, reading Matthew 6:12,14-15, about how we must forgive our debtors or God will not forgive us. I have read this numerous times, but I convince myself it can’t be talking about me. I make excuses, “Well that person really hurt me so I don’t have to forgive them” or “They deserve my unforgiveness because of what they did.” These are lies that I convince myself of because I don’t want to forgive. I value myself as better than them not realizing that I have also sinned. I don’t deserve the forgiveness God grants me, but He still gives it to me.

When reading the Bible, it is easy to put distance between ourselves and what it is saying. It is easy to do our morning bible study and walk away never thinking about what we just read. God didn’t intend for this. The Bible is not just another book on our to-read list. The Bible is meant to change our lives. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” This is something powerful we have been given. Are we going to waste it?

The next time you sit down with your sword in your hand, don’t just read it, but allow it to change you. A key to growing with God is your heart position. Go into it open to what God has to show you. Be willing to be changed. It may be uncomfortable, but it is worth it.

Now with anything remember to pray. We are human. This means we will mess up and we will continue to miss things, but it doesn’t mean we have no hope. Luckily, we have God and James 1:5 says He will give wisdom generously to those who ask. So start asking. Let God change your life and take action with what He shows you. God won’t force you to choose Him. He won’t force you to answer His call, but remember this is a father who wants to give you an abundance of good gifts. Start living the Bible and you will be shocked at what you find.

I pray for all of us as we open our hearts to your will. I pray the next time we open our bibles that we see it in a new light. I pray we start acting on the things we see and start living a life that is yours, in Jesus name.

Names Can Break Bones Too

When I was 9 years old my father left for the first time. His alcohol abuse was ruining our family. It wounded me in a way that would stick for a long time. This isn’t an unusual situation. It happens all the time, right? The problem was what happened next. The next day I wanted to escape. I left for school early and sat at the entrance. A friend walked up and asked what was wrong. I shared. His next comment stuck like glue … “I know someone else this happened to and they are messed up. Statistics show that you will probably turn out just like your father.” In itself that might not change somebodies course in life but it was reinforced. Over the next few years I was bombarded by comments like, “You look like your father.” and “You do that just like your father.” Pair that with daily bullying in school and you add comments like”dumb, fat, stupid, unliked, unathletic, jerk, nerd, gay, homo and small.” Heap on poor treatment from teachers who new my father along with family members and friends who did not portray the best example. Nobody really knew how much I was hurting. It wasn’t really on any individual but the bottom line it caused me to consider myself worthless. How is it that I turned out? I have an answer for this.

Proverbes 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. ” The power of death! Literally, words could do more than break bones, they could kill! I was alive but I was living proof that words could cut deep. However, there is a message of hope too. Life! I needed to be free of those terrible lies which had been repeated to me. It started with a promise. Proverbs 16:7 “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” I just needed to be more like Jesus and not let what other people thought to guide my way of thinking. Psalm 118:8 “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” I was giving those lies too much weight when I should be looking to God’s affirmation. I did realize that I needed to forgive those who wronged me. Mathew 6:14 “For if you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

There was another very important part of my healing process. I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that my biological father did not love me enough to give up drinking until I realized that my heavenly Father loved me enough to sacrifice His son. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Once I began to understand this one thing it opened the doors to the rest. I needed this truth to stand on to make the hurt melt away and free myself from the lies that were ingrained into character. I realized that I also needed forgiveness from God and others I had treated wrongly because of this hurt I carried. The suffering I had endured had carried over into my relationships. Not only that but I started noticing something. Hurt people hurt people. People who treated me poorly were likely hurting themselves. It allowed me a sympathy for them.

1. If you have been hurt by words then pray right now for God to heal those wounds.

2. Pray for help in forgiving those who have wronged you.

3. Pray that God would forgive you for empowering others words over His own.

More than 40 years later I can still sometimes feel that hurt. What I can claim now is victory in Jesus. Matthew 5:11,12 “Blessed are those who people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great…” Today I am more resilient than ever when it comes to name calling. Now I understand better that I am blessed because of people who called me names. I am in fact much more likely to speak positively and want to help those I see hurting. After all isn’t that what Jesus would have done? I can’t help but think what if. What if my very young friend showed mercy and offered encouragement instead of comdemnation. What if a teacher said you can instead of you can’t. What if people just kept quiet instead of using hurtful words? I will choose to rise above what people say and look to my Father for his approval.

My prayer for you is that you will trust in God for your sustenance instead of the words of man.