In so many ways, 2015 didn't go according to plan (according to MY plan anyway). I got laid off from a job I had for over 10 years, I GAINED weight instead of losing, I lost a dear relative to cancer who I "just knew" was going to beat it, I made some poor (idiotic) decisions that I "just knew" I was so beyond, I had some unexpected turns in the ministry God entrusted to me, and my plans to be in Florida for Christmas and surprise my beloved nephew and niece were thwarted and instead I spent Christmas week at home sick. I know we all have our list of "unexpecteds" this year.
Today I was feeling my brokenness and the lack of control that comes with so many twists and turns and while in prayer I cried out to God and said, "Don't let me forget who I am!" I quickly heard Him say to me, "Who are you?" and I felt prompted to go to my journal and begin writing the answer to that question ~ from God's lens. I sat with tears rolling down my face as I began writing who God says I am. I wrote who the Word says I am, I wrote who He has told me that I am in the past, what others said they felt God told them about me, and what God was speaking to me at that very moment.
I know some are reading, and wondering, "So, what did He say???" Well, I'm sorry but I'm not going to share my list with you. Instead, I'm going to challenge you to get quiet before God and write your own list. For when we hear directly from God who we are, it somehow drowns out all the other noises, and we realize we can face anything and be who we were destined to be!
Will you take the challenge?
WARNING: I have A.D.D. and it may show in this article as I hop from Hunger Games to the United States to Sodom. #ADDstrikesagain.
I’m a fan. An avid fan of the Hunger Games movies. I saw Mocking Jay 2 this past week with my niece, nephew and sister. Over the next day or so I was thinking of the similarities between the United States and the capitol of Panam. I mentioned this to my niece and nephew, to which my 10 year old "take everything at face value" niece said, "No it isn't, we don't dress like that or wear make up that looks like that". My introspective 15 year old nephew on the other hand quietly said, "That's true". As an example, I sited to both my niece and nephew the fact that in America we take a day marked for thankfulness and turn the whole weekend into a quest for getting more. I further explained to my niece as best as I could that I wasn't referring to the way they look, so much as their extravagance, pride, abundance, lack of concern for what's going on outside of their realm, and hunger for entertainment at any cost. While reflecting, I couldn't help but think of the following scripture:
"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy."
Ezekiel 16:49 NASB
So, wait a minute, is this scripture actually saying that the main sin of Sodom wasn't homosexuality? God didn't destroy Sodom because of "them gays"? I believe that's exactly what it's saying. (The heart attitude in this verse, however, does lead to all types of lusts and sexual sins, inclusive of homosexuality). Of course in the United States we are seeing homosexuality run rampant. However, that is not the root cause of our problem. The root cause is "arrogance, abundant food, and careless ease". God has been dealing with me on all of these areas. I have pride in that I think I can at times make it on my own without consulting God. I have abundance of bread, and abuse the food I'm given by engaging in addictive eating and gluttony while others starve. I often am idle and craving to be entertained. God help me. God help us. Next time we are tempted to judge the homosexuals around us, and point to them as the cause of the demise of our nation, let's take a hard look at ourselves and the church and consider the ways in which we can purge ourselves from the scriptural guilt of Sodom. After all: "For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God's household" I Peter 4:17 NIV. .
Parent's are always trying to protect their kids. This is why we often can hear them saying things such as, "Don't eat the dog's food", "Please stop pulling things out of the cat's litter box", "If you eat too much candy you will vomit", "Please stop putting peanut butter on your sister", "Take the toilet seat off of your head" and most importantly, "Wear clean underwear, because you never know when you might get into a car accident".
Sadly, however, it seems that many parents I've seen today are more protective against the dangers of dirty underwear than those of the internet. According to Covenant Eyes more than 7 out of 10 young people hide online behavior from their parents in some way. Over 35% of boys say that they have watched pornographic videos "more than they can count" Even if you're thinking "my child would never do that", the internet is full of predators. There are marketers for pornographic companies that literally target children. They intentionally associate their material with common search words that small children will use so that they can hook them at an early age. Additionally, porn companies will use incredibly common sites to name theirs after, yet change the ".com" to a ".net" or other ending, preying upon those who make a common URL error. In 2010 more than 25% of young people surveyed indicated that nudity has come across their screen without them searching for it (I am sure now that statistic is higher). No age is too young to protect your child. I have adult clients who have shared with me that they were first introduced to porn as young as 7 or 8 years of age.
Please, if you wouldn't stick your kid in a war zone, or a shark tank do not allow them unprotected internet access. If we love our young people enough to make them brush their teeth and wear clean underwear, how about protecting them from real dangers! In this age, there really is no room or excuse for ignorance. Please check out some of the sites below today and get filtering and accountability for your child (and yourself!) on phones, ipads, laptops, PCs and any other device. It's the loving thing to do. After all, the internet ain't Mayberry.
K9 Web Protection
Internet Filter Reviews
At the end of October I was blessed to speak at and be on a panel for the "Stand 4 Truth" conference. At this conference were leaders from across the nation representing every walk of life, all rallying together for the cause of protecting marriage. My life will forever be changed because of this one day event. I can't stop thinking about one of the things that transpired there that really caused me to ponder a great deal.
Although we were like minded in the cause for which we were gathered, some of us had doctrines that differed from one another drastically, Though all there labeled themselves as Christian, one group in particular that I was able to talk with and listen to repeatedly spoke of being "worthy". They had to be "worthy" to go to certain temple dedications, be baptized, live eternally, serve in ministry of any kind, etc. The leaders even go so far as holding regular "worthiness interviews" with the members. I was told that according to their belief that Satan tried to convince Jesus to just let everyone into heaven after He died on Calvary, but that Jesus said , "No", because we had to prove ourselves worthy. If I understood correctly what I was told, our sojourn on earth is to prove we are worthy of Calvary.
Honestly, I walked away pretty saddened. What a bondage to performance. (Don't get me wrong,I have plenty of areas of bondage in my own mind I'm trying to break as well). But this made me really ponder what I believe. I came up with this: I am unworthy in my own worthiness; yet He has made me worthy in my unworthiness. Calvary covered that for us, my friends. The cross wasn't so I could prove my worthiness ~ it was Jesus saying He knows I'm unworthy, yet He wanted to make me worthy (Thank You, Lord)! After all, how worthy is worthy enough to pay for such a sacrifice from our Lord? How long is long enough to "not sin" to be worthy?
No matter how many times we fall, if we stay in Christ, we are worthy ~ because of Calvary. Our sin is cleansed the moment we ask forgiveness ~ whether it's the 1st time or the 5,000th time. Be encouraged, though our sins be as scarlet, He makes us whiter than snow. Our foolishness doesn't disqualify us from anything ~ handing it to Jesus is what qualifies us.
Titus 3:5-7 New International Version (NIV)"5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."
What in the world would make a fish go after a worm on a hook? Perhaps it’s because he’s just a total idiot. Or he’s a disgusting gluttonous pig who can’t control his desires. Maybe it’s because he’s evil. Possibly it’s because he’s worthless and doesn’t even deserve to live at all. No, in reality, the fish goes after the worm on the hook for one reason: he is hungry and doesn’t comprehend that his meal is on a hook that will eventually take his life.
Why are we bent toward pornography, masturbation, compulsive sexual thoughts, same sex attraction, or a host of other ways that we may act out sexually? Perhaps it’s because we are just total idiots. Or we are disgusting perverted pigs who can’t control our desires. Maybe it’s because we are evil. Possibly it’s because we’re worthless and don’t even deserve to live at all. No, in reality, we go after our unhealthy ways of acting out sexually for one reason: we are hungry and we don’t realize that our “food” of choice is on a hook that will eventually cost us our lives.
“A person who is full refuses honey, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry.” Proverbs 27:7
Hunger is one of the strongest internal forces we face as humans. We see from the above scripture that when we are hungry even our taste buds work to satisfy our hunger in that they trick us into believing that something horrible is indeed delightful to the taste. Such is our appetite for sex. What we don’t realize is that often our appetite for sexual pleasure really has little to do with sex. It has to do with a hunger for acceptance, to belong, for relationship, and for emotional and physical intimacy. Anything other than healthy relational intimacy with ourselves, other people, and our Maker will not truly satisfy our hunger. Meeting our sexual and relational desires in a way that God never intended will have the same result as the fish biting into the hook. Only Jesus offers bread and drink that truly satisfy.
Less than a year into my own recovery I went to a conference for women who were on a journey of healing from sexual addiction. It was an intensive three day experience with a lot of group work and also individual artistic reflection. For one of our assignments we were given a poster size piece of paper and markers. We were told to use the tools to draw how it feels to be trapped in our addiction. Now, anyone who has known me for a while can tell you that my artistic talents are definitely not in the realm of expression through drawing. My sister got that gift ~ not me! So, needless to say I was less than thrilled when receiving this assignment and I even may or may not have sighed and rolled my eyes. But, much to my shock, something struck me and I knew exactly what I wanted to draw and was thrilled because it depicted so accurately what I felt. I drew in the upper left hand corner of the paper a very small female stick figure (you guessed it, that was me). Then, in the center of the paper I drew a very large planet earth ~ complete with a few continents and stick figures all over it. In between the earth and myself I drew a jagged and wide chasm. In between the earth and the chasm and crossing slightly into the area of paper where I was I drew a large ferocious dragon. I wrote a big letter “A” on him. This wasn’t, “The Scarlet Letter” so the dragon wasn’t being marked for Adultery. This letter A represented a word that has wreaked perhaps more havoc than Hawthorne’s “A” ever could. The letter “A” on my dragon stood for Abandonment ~ what I had come to call the “Big A” in my recovery.
What I was depicting in my drawing was that I felt completely separated by a chasm from the entire world. And the evil “monster” that was keeping me in fear from crossing that chasm was the trauma of past abandonment and fear of present and future abandonment. What I learned was that I was too frightened to cross that chasm alone. As I dared to cry out for help and allow the people that seemed so distant and unreachable to hear my cries something miraculous happened. Undaunted by the dragon that terrified me, they crossed over the chasm to me. They patiently waited with me until I realized that I too could cross over. Together we journeyed back and joined all of the others. The dragon is still there, but he’s no longer the life dominating force he once was. He is now weak and small. Occasionally he deceives me into thinking that he’s powerful. But upon further examination I see that there is no fire coming from him, he is just merely blowing smoke!
A little over 12 years ago I was reading the amazing book by Joshua Harris, “Not Even a Hint”. The title was based on the New International Version’s rendering of Ephesians 5:3 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality….” In the book Harris was incredibly open about his previous struggle with masturbation. In writing he referenced the fact that although hardly anyone talks about it, the majority of people have masturbated. He then joked that most of his readers upon seeing his open confession of masturbating likely thought, “Better you than me”! Being a fellow struggler in that area, I was so saddened that I began weeping as I wondered why no one was willing to be brave enough to be open about this subject. It was that day I decided that if God set me free, I would be willing to share the truth about this bondage so that others could become free. So, today is the day that you get to read about my struggle and think, “Better you than me”!
I can honestly say that it has been over ten years since I have masturbated. Yep, I’m currently single and also haven’t physically been with anyone ~ so that means 10 orgasm free years. I know in our society orgasm is the pearl of great price. Nonetheless, I’ve survived to tell my story. Much to the shock of society I didn’t die from not having an orgasm nor did I kill anyone. It actually really is possible!
I was exposed to pornography at a young age, and masturbation and a fantasy life developed from there. This was an activity that I soon became involved in compulsively and addictively. I often would engage in this several times a day and became enslaved. I tried to break free many times. Even after becoming a Spirit filled Christian I was still trapped. I would go back and forth in my mind as to whether or not this behavior was wrong (although I really did know deep down that this was NOT God’s plan for me). One day the Lord dealt with me regarding my sin through the following scripture: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus….” Colossians 3:17. Now, to be honest with you I’ve always somewhat prided myself in being an intelligent person. But even with all my smarts, I still couldn’t figure out a way to masturbate “in the name of the Lord Jesus”. That wasn’t the end for me, but it was the beginning of the end. I knew that what I was doing was a coping mechanism, and the Lord also spoke to me from Jeremiah 2:13: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water”. Wow! What God was telling me was that not only was I failing to allow Him to meet my needs, but to no avail I was trying to find my own way to meet my needs. This was another step on my journey to freedom. Lasting freedom came, though, as I began to be relational with God, others, and myself. Because true healing from any type of sexually addictive behavior comes when we learn to be intimate.
There is hope for anyone struggling with this issue! I was bound for 23 years, and Jesus set me free ~ His desire is for you to be free as well.
I’ve seen and heard them, and I’m sure you have too. I’m referring to all of the Bruce Jenner jokes. It’s sad to me that the same world that promotes gay and transgender rights laughs at those who struggle with such issues. What’s far more grievous to me though is that I’ve seen some of my brothers and sisters in Christ laugh at and tell these jokes. I will not attempt to paint myself as totally innocent here, for I too have been tempted to snicker at some of the things I’ve seen on Facebook. The real question though is does God think this matter is funny? I somehow can’t see the Lord standing in heaven looking down at Bruce Jenner and rolling in laughter as He calls Gabriel over saying, “Hey, Gabe, would you look at this. What a freak!” What is happening here is the enemy is duping our society. We are made in the image of God, male and female. So if the enemy can get us confused about the genders, he can get us confused about Who God is. That’s his plan of attack in this hour: Distort the created image of God to mankind, and God Himself will be distorted to mankind. I’d say he has been pretty successful in his efforts, wouldn’t you? Just as the creation’s identity has become a blur, so has the Creator’s.
Although all of this deeply troubles me, there is something that weighs on my heart much heavier. As a whole, the church finds it easier to judge the identity crisis going on outside of its walls than the one going on inside of its walls. “What identity crisis?” you may be asking. Well, just the fact that we are mocking others who are deeply broken in itself points to us not understanding who we are. Our gossip, low self-esteem, addictions, anxieties, depression, people pleasing, self-righteousness, self-reliance, denial, sexual sins, prayerlessness, and a host of other things all point to our own identity crisis. And, if you’re saying “Well, I’m glad I don’t suffer from not knowing exactly who I am in Christ” I’d like to congratulate you ~ you get first prize for being confused. In claiming that we know exactly who we are in Him, we are proclaiming our ignorance. Learning who we are in Him is a process we will be going through until the day the Lord takes us home. Who are we exactly? We are His beloved sons and daughters. What does that mean exactly? I’m not fully sure, but I’ve found out somewhat as I’ve pondered His Word and spent time in His presence. By God’s grace I plan to spend the rest of my journey on earth finding out exactly who I am to Him and in Him. The real way the Church can be the Church is by fighting the identity crisis within, not mocking the one without. Let’s make every attempt to ask God to help us understand who we are in Him. The more we walk in our true identity, the more we will be able to help others walk in theirs.
Kimberly ~ Counselor, speaker, teacher, author and most importantly broken but beloved daughter of Jesus.