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To Share or Not to Share

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The scene gets repeated hundreds of thousands of times each day. Two people meet over lunch, coffee, or some other relaxed venue to catch up with each other on what has been happening in each of their lives.

 

If the relationship is one that has stood the test of time and trustworthiness, conversations flow easily from one topic to another, from deeply personal concerns or beliefs to the latest fads or headlines. Each feels pretty safe as a result of previous conversations and confidences that were not betrayed.

 

It would be wonderful if that were common for our times with one another; but more often than any of us would like to admit or recall, we discover the person we entrusted found it too tempting to keep our conversation only between the two of us. Most of the time we learn about the breach. If the tidbit shared was relatively inconsequential, we are fortunate. We DO make a mental note, however, and find ourselves reflecting on what else we might have shared that could be more significant.

 

Within the Christian community, information can often be repeated or shared under the guise of a prayer request. Certainly there are times when the motives are pure. We know someone is facing a cancer diagnosis and we want anyone and everyone to be praying and we skip the request to not share with anyone else.

 

Early in our walk with Christ when we look at fellow believers as mature and IMG_0674trustworthy without question, we can be naïve and openly share information with those who may not be safe for us.

 

For some who hear, they are tempted to share or use our information to in some way make them feel more important or special for being “in the know” and passing it along to others. We don’t always receive the acceptance, understanding, and encouragement we hope to hear. Sometimes we hear what seems like religious jargon that fails to show the person really heard our heart.

 

Others of us tend to be very closed to share much of anything about ourselves. The result is usually that we have very few relationships and despite our fears about sharing, we may feel lonely and unfulfilled by the relationships that we do have.

 

What is the answer?

 

We need to grow in our discernment, learning from our observations of the person we are sharing with and also from our past experiences. That can also mean getting beyond our adolescent desires to have one “best friend” we can share everything with.

 

Each of us is a complex, unique creation, and no other person can hear, understand, or relate to every aspect of who we are. That will not usually be the case except with “thebest friend we can have who will never betray us and understands every aspect of us more than we do — the Lord Himself. 

 

The snare the enemy sets for us is to let our feelings at the moment dictate what, how much, and to whom we share. Even before hearing there is any betrayal, in those cases we can often regret how much we let roll out of our mouths.

 

That nudge to “spill our guts” is even stronger when we have not first done so in our time alone with the Lord. We all can often benefit from talking through something or processing something with another person, but it is key to remember to not neglect sharing it first with the One who hears us best and loves us most.

 

If we fail to grow in discernment, we fall into another enemy snare and close ourselves off. Liz Curtis Higgs notes,

 

“Discernment is needed. But for most of us, the greater danger is being close minded instead of open hearted, staying home rather than venturing forth, playing it safe instead of taking a risk.”

 

ALL relationships involve some level of risk, but God designed us as relational beings.

 

Perhaps the key is once again to learn to hear His voice, trust His leading, and know He will be there even when we mess up.

 

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Living Life in the Midst of Waiting

 

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I have never been very good at waiting, but it seems pretty clear to me by this point in my life that it is one of those tools the Lord uses to inform me of areas of character He has not yet fully sanctified.

 

I can’t even recall my earliest waiting experience, but I know there were all the usual ones most of us relate to. Waiting for Christmas morning, waiting to get a grade on a test, waiting to hear if I were picked for a team or a part in a play, waiting for summer vacation, waiting to go see the movie I anticipated…. and the list goes on.

 

Sometimes when we are young, we are also waiting to grow up so we get to do all those things we think are better than the things we get to do now.

 

 We tend to try to rush life along when we are young. We want to experience that first car, first date, first job, first apartment, and so much more. Maybe life as a child or teen seems to drag along because we are too often waiting on what we think will be better ahead and never savor the now of childhood.

 

My dislike of waiting highlights my impatience, my self-centered existence, and my wavering faith and trust to name just a few things.

 

As I got older, I still felt like “I can’t wait” when I was waiting on a child to be born, waiting on a decision about a new job, or waiting to hear my husband was on his way home from being overseas. That feeling began to be tempered, however, as time and experience taught me that the news was not always what I hoped for, the opportunity did not always manifest itself, and prayers were not always answered in the time or way I wished.

 

God truly is sovereign! He is ever looking out for our best and how to shape and mold us to look like, be like, and do things more like Him. I don’t think any of us can imagine Him pacing impatiently around heaven because the news He is expecting has not yet arrived.

 

 Some seasons of waiting are especially difficult. Things like waiting on medical test results, homecomings for service members, waiting for some injustice to be made right, and news of a job when we are unemployed are not easy no matter what our age or season of life.

 

Scripture often reminds us to wait. How often has someone quoted Isaiah 40:31 to you in your season of waiting?

 

“…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

 

In a hard waiting season, the words may feel much less comforting than the person who spoke them may desire them to be.

 

How I wait and likely how you wait is very much affected by a great many variables including, but not limited to:

 

  • The meaning or value of the thing or one we are waiting for
  • Our perspective on whether we anticipate something positive or fear something negative
  • Our past experience with waiting
  • How we view God’s goodness toward us as well as His faithfulness and trustworthiness
  • How much we own of God’s love for us

 

As I was reflecting on this today, I tried to turn this around and look at it differently. When I did, other perspectives came to mind that were not there before.

 

  • How long did God wait for me to accept Him and make Him a priority?
  • How long has God been waiting on His church to love Him above all others and to be prepared as His bride for His return?
  • How long has God waited for me, you, or any of us to recognize the truth about Him, the truth about ourselves, and what He desires?

 

These questions begin to adjust my perspective and remind me that He does not see or experience time as I do or you do.

 

He always and forever looks at things through an eternal lens with an everlasting perspective.

 

That brings me to repentance for my impatience for so many temporal things, temporal answers, and temporal desires.

 

It also reminds me that my eagerness for His return is the one desire that should temper all else and remind me of His goodness toward us. It causes eagerness in the waiting because of the confidence in that goodness and faithfulness.

 

Will it also influence my living while I wait?

 

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The Path to Becoming

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Every year more books are written with a goal of pointing us to the path of discovering who we are or who we can become. Each one attempts to take us on a journey of self-discovery through one means or another on this quest. The number of volumes written on this subject in one form or another seems to suggest we don’t have a clear understanding of who we are or are becoming.

 

I quite agree that we take a bit of time to know ourselves. It doesn’t happen all at once.

 

We begin the discovery process as babes in the arms of our parents who give us a sense of who we are. They name us and respond to us in varied ways that start to let us gain a sense of self and connection based on our style of attachment. They are the beginnings of learning what relationships are – that crucial understanding that defines the quality of our lives according to Dr. Tim Clinton and Dr. Gary Sibcy in their fascinating book, Attachments: Why You Love, Feel and Act the Way You Do.

 

 It is during these very early weeks of life that we get a sense of what self might be. The messages (even if casually communicated) tend to sink into the malleable developing person we are growing and becoming. Not only do we receive a name, but we learn words and their meanings during these very early years.

 

“Our earliest relationships are profoundly important. They literally shape the chemical processes in the brain responsible for how we control our impulses, calm our strong emotions, and develop our memories of our early family life.” 

Drs. Clinton and Sibcy

 

adorable-baby-beautiful-36483Not only do words begin to shape our sense of self, so do facial expressions, and how we are held or touched or not. All of these come together to help form our core beliefs about ourselves and others.

 

Clinton and Sibcy state the first set of core beliefs center around 2 critical questions:

  • Am I worthy of being loved?
  • Am I competent to get the love I need?

 

And they further state the second set of beliefs center on these two questions:

  • Are others reliable and trustworthy?
  • Are others accessible and willing to respond to me when I need them to be?

 

Long before we can speak for ourselves a great deal has been communicated and internalized. Dr. Maurice Wagner writes in his powerful book, The Sensation of Being Somebody, that there are three functional aspects to this developing self-concept: appearance (How do I look?), performance (How am I doing?), and status (How important am I?). These are combined with three feelings that blend together: belongingness (Am I wanted, cared for, and enjoyed?), worthiness (Do I count?), and competence (Am I adequate? The “I can” feeling.).

 

As research has studied the brain, attachments, and relationships more and more deeply, it can feel overwhelming to realize all of this and more. Add to the family we grow up in all the other adults and children that begin to add to or reinforce our beliefs and your head can be swimming.

 

Nearly all of us have echoes of something said to us on a playground or class by a peer or the words of praise or criticism said by a teacher or coach. Sadly, we are more prone to remember those things that were hurtful or painful, negative or rejecting. Sometimes we take up those very habits that we repeat to ourselves about ourselves.

 

anger-angry-anxiety-897817It is not surprising then that we can be on a life-long journey to try to discover who we really are and who we are meant to be. Sometimes we struggle to confront the lies we believe and too often we still doubt.

 

As I spend time reflecting and reading about the life of Peter, I am interested in his  journey. Until Jesus came along and invited Peter to follow Him, he was a fisherman known as Simon. He appears to tend toward impulsiveness and may have learned to be a bit rough around the edges as he toiled many nights on the sea with his nets fishing.

 

What encourages my heart and blesses me is that Jesus knew this rowdy fisherman was far more than the smell of fish. He knew who He would be, and He knows that about each one of us.

 

In Matthew 16:15-18 we can read the interchange where Jesus asks his disciples who they believe He is. Peter is the first to answer and says He is the Messiah, the son of God, but consider what Jesus tells him in response. He changes his name to Peter and tells him he is the rock on which he will build His church and even Hades will not overcome it.

 

I cannot help but wonder if Peter’s mouth dropped open in shock at that point. He knew himself as a simple uneducated fisherman and he was captivated by the call of Jesus to become his disciple, but to be the rock on which the Lord’s church would be built must have seemed incredulous.

 

The important part of Peter’s time spent walking with Jesus day-by-day was how time in His presence helped Simon (a.k.a. Peter) become the person Jesus already knew was there.

 

Eric and Kristen Hill in The First Breakfast describe it this way:

 

“Simon, with Jesus in him, becomes Peter. Simon, the fisherman, transforms into Peter, the Rock. Peter’s answer to Jesus’ question reveals what had been born deep in his heart. And it causes Jesus to affirm back to Peter exactly who He says Peter is to be. It is the Jesus in him and with him that allows Simon to rise up and step into his new identity as Peter.”

 

 That is the hope for each of us. Transforming grace born from the Lord who lives within us tells us the truth and in so doing helps us become what He has seen all along.

 

He accomplishes the impossible. He corrects all the messages and beliefs that contradict the truth that God placed in each one of us when we were created by Him, but it happens for us like it did Peter – by spending time in his presence.

 

When you hear it in the depths of your being from Him, it settles the question of “who am I?”.

 

Consider how Eric and Kristen Hill remind us of that:

 

“You will know yourself, as you are already known. And because I am with you, you have a new name, and a new identity, and a new mission. Not because of you, but because I am with you. Because of who I am and what I will do in your life. My Covenant is greater than your commitment. And because I am with you, you are free to know yourself as you are already known and rise up and be who I call you to be.”

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How Do We Know?

 

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Photo by Rob Blair

 

As a former teacher, licensed professional clinical counselor, marriage and family therapist, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, I am fascinated by relationships and how we come to know what we know.

 

Learning begins before we even realize we are doing it, but it is a great gift the Lord has given us and if we steward it, we will continue to learn throughout our lifetime.

 

I am intrigued by learning even in this seventh decade of my life. I value all I have learned to this point but continue to explore and delve into new areas and new things. Ask my grandchildren and they will tell you I am sometimes attracted to random facts I am prone to share simply for the joy of discovering them.

 

The ways we learn are many and the more of them we employ, the better learners we become. For most of our school years we can think at first glance we learn most from the books we are required to read, study, and master, but that would be a partial truth. We learn from the teachers as well, not only the facts, processes, and ideas he or she presents, but how he or she presents them and attributes value to them in one way or another. But it doesn’t stop there.

 

img_2087-1We learn from the bus driver, the custodian, the school secretary, the cook, the hall monitor, other teachers that are not ours, and other students we intersect with each day we are in school. We also learn from films, plays, concerts, sporting activities, special speakers, our successes, and our mistakes.

 

Some of you may know that there are a number of different learning styles that point to how we may learn or retain new information better than others. These include auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic. Our best chance of success in any learning environment is for the source of the teaching to match our own style. Too many students start to believe they are not capable because their styles are not what is being used to convey the information. That is especially true for children whose primary learning styles are tactile or kinesthetic since those increasingly disappear after children begin third grade and onward. Instruction increasingly becomes more auditory and visual.

 

I am prone to be more auditory with visual coming in next. My husband is more kinesthetic and visual than I. Solving a problem or locating information works pretty well when the two of us team up together since we cover most of the bases.

 

God understands how we are wired and how we each learn better than anyone. It could be that is why He understood that Jesus needed to come to earth to show us Him, point to life, light, truth, freedom, love, and grace. He also knew there would need to be others who would keep those things alive and growing when He returned to heaven.

 

That’s where the disciples of Jesus came in. He spent more time with them than anyone else. Being with them, they learned who He was over time more than Him telling them who He was. Instead of telling them, He showed them.

 

It’s what we most need as well. Hearing about the Lord is very good and today we can do adorable-boy-child-1006103that through so many avenues that the first disciples would be amazed, but for as good as this is, we come to know Him best by spending time with Jesus just as they did. That is how our hearts recognize who He really is.

 

In Matthew 16:13 Jesus asks his disciples who people say that He is. They respond with a variety of answers of what people are saying, but then Jesus gets to the heart of the matter and makes it personal, But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

 

Peter is the one to answer, You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  How did he know with such certainty?

 

In The First Breakfast by Eric and Kristen Hill, they point to the answer:

 

“Jesus didn’t go around announcing His credentials or making a big ceremony about His name or title. He just enters their lives, preaching the good news of His gospel of grace. He walks with them on the road, and He looks in their eyes as He listens to their questions. He heals the sick, gives dignity to the poor and the outcast, and spreads out an invitation to all to follow Him.

 

He spends time with them, and rather than telling them who He is, He just shows them. And spending time in His presence – with Jesus – that is how their hearts recognize who He really is.”

 

How would any of us answer the question if we were asked today?

 

How would we know?

 

How would others know if they relate with us? 

 

Would they hear words about Him or see Him because we show them?

 

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Photo by Rob Blair

 

 

 

 

And the Vision Grows

 

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Photo by Leo Cardelli from Pexels

 

To have a vision is an exciting thing and something that carries with it a great responsibility to walk out and persevere through the challenges that come on its way to fruition. It is not unlike the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13 where seed is sown, but there it is sown, and the results vary.

 

Some visions begin with great promise and enthusiasm, but like the seed sown on shallow soil those die. Some fall because the rocky soil of too many challenges defeat them.

 

As I reflect on visions and what I have observed over time and various arenas where visions are seen, I am persuaded that those that grow are those planted in good soil. No soil is as rich as what God provides. Such soil allows a vision to take root and grow if it is nurtured and remains rooted in Him.

 

March 2, 2016 I shared a post entitled “A Story Worth Telling: RAHAB Revisited” that gave readers a glimpse of such a vision begun 17 years ago to reach out to women who fell prey to human trafficking. It was a humble beginning, but the woman the Lord entrusted with the vision was obedient and passionate. She sought the Lord at each step and with no funding nor real understanding of how big the vision was, she persevered.

 

Bring-Me-a-VisionOn August 15, 2018 I shared a post introducing you to the book I authored, Bring Me A Vision: A Story of Redeeming Hope, detailing the life story of the woman the Lord used to bring RAHAB Ministries to life. The story did not end there, nor did it end when this woman retired as CEO of what had become a non-profit organization serving hundreds of women in the Akron, Ohio area.

 

February 25, 2019 I wrote a post entitled “Bring Me A Vision Revisited” looking at the impact of the book on those who purchased it and the subject of the book as well. She and I sought to turn proceeds from its sale into monies for RAHAB Ministries.

 

But the exciting thing to share with you as 2020 begins is how this initial vision continues to grow as the Lord provides and gives the increase.

 

RAHAB Ministries reminds all of us (not just those women and girls it serves) that there is reason for hope.

 

Human trafficking has been with us since the beginning of recorded history. Despite the efforts of various entities over time to stamp it out as it spread around the globe, it has continued and is prevalent even in countries in the western world where it appears unthinkable.

 

Perhaps it is unthinkable because it is so often unseen and yet intersects with every other criminal element in society. Maybe it is unthinkable because we prefer to believe that evil does not exist or is not so prevalent and often hidden right under our noses.

 

All the good efforts from any and all entities and resources are no match for evil background-beautiful-beauty-532168save God alone and He is the hope that was in the seed first planted in RAHAB Ministries and He is the hope and foundation from which it continues to grow. The vision is walked out every day by 50+ staff and dozens of volunteers on the front lines willing to sacrifice and bring love and hope to those who have none in practical physical ways, but also powerful spiritual ways capable of defeating darkness in ways other resources cannot.

 

Individuals participating in this ministry are willing to put faith into action and walk into the darkness in order to bring light to those with no hope. Their humble calling stems from recognizing that brokenness happened long ago when Adam and Eve fell and none of us is immune from it in one form or another. They see and recognize that brokenness and darkness are more universal and pervasive than our headlines shout at us each day in every corner of the world.

 

The good news is this very evil darkness caused the light of God and his great love to shine ever more brightly. Jesus loved us so much that He left heaven to step into the darkness and evil to reveal and point us to the light. The incredible example He set is walked out by those called to serve in RAHAB Ministries and these individuals are the experts on the subject of human trafficking far more than academic studies about it.

 

These individuals know that despite no prosecution, it doesn’t mean human trafficking isn’t happening. They know because they have walked into places where it is hidden from view, in places you may least expect.

 

In the past year RAHAB Ministries has opened Rebecca’s Place, a safe house for adolescents, that is filled and has a staff who demonstrate the unconditional love these girls have never known. It is unlike anything else because such a place doesn’t exist elsewhere.

 

RAHAB has always watched to see where and how God is working to chart their course instead of making a decision founded in good ideas alone. They have walked with great faith as staff has grown and the budget is a multi-million dollar one. Some government grants have provided great blessings, but grants change and funding can be less or go away.

 

In a recent podcast Greg Colbeck, Chief Operating Officer, said, “We take a step and expect the ground to show up.” Their trust and faith as they daily seek God for direction is continually challenged. It takes everyone to stand against this evil device – the government, foundations, the church, and countless individuals.

 

How big is the need?

 

The last three months of 2019, 216 different women came to the first house RAHAB acquired – the drop-in house. (That is only a small glimpse of the women served at the adult women’s safe house, the adolescent safe house, jail, streets, strip clubs and more.) That same house is overseen by a woman who was among the first RAHAB touched. Her love, passion, and powerful testimony of healing and hope goes to the heart of each woman who enters through the door. It also recently spoke volumes when the Ohio Attorney General visited to observe the work going on there and told her, “I’m proud of you.”

 

More and more counties are asking for help moving the ministry outside Summit County, Ohio. Calls come in from other states and countries as well to learn more about this vision and ministry. Stark County is adjacent to Summit County and for some time a prayer team of those who participate in the street and strip club ministry have walked in the darkness there. What is needed is a drop-in house there as well.

 

As churches become more aware of how they can be tools in God’s hands, more are stepping up into the battle for light, hope, and life. One church committed to make 2020 a year they help raise resources to build two drop-in houses in Stark County in areas where they have identified a lot of human trafficking takes place, but it will take more people and many more dollars to provide the ongoing ministry there.

 

If you want to keep up with how God is moving or participate in this movement, and pray for its protection, provision, and growth, check out the website www.rahab-ministries.org or tune into their podcast. (You can find that link on their website.)

 

The vision continues to grow to combat the darkness and evil and to help those caught in its web find hope, healing, love, life, and freedom.

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and he has anointed me to be hope for the poor, freedom for the brokenhearted, and new eyes for the blind, and to preach to prisoners, ‘You are set free!’ I have come to share the message of Jubilee, for the time of God’s great acceptance has begun.”

Luke 4:18 (TPT) 

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