Category Archives: Releasing Control

Breaking Bad: The Call

It’s tough being a prophet.Prayer Rock Word

(For those who haven’t read my other blogs, my redemptive/motivational spiritual gift is prophet. Read more about it here.)

What was I saying? Oh right. It sure is tough being a prophet.

So many times, I see truth in someone’s life and I just want to tell them. I don’t even have to know them—I can know just enough about them to see their struggles and know their pain. I don’t think I know everything, but I do know people…and I use what I know and what God shows me to see truth before it plays out in their lives. It’s a terribly awesome gift to have—if you understand how God wants you to use it. I can “see” into situations and see truth about others, which in retrospect should be a gift that brings joy not only to myself but to others.

But the part of this gift that I always, always forget about is the call to prayer. Every single redemptive/motivational gift of prophet is called to intercede for others. In fact, the downloads we receive from God about others, those truths that we can plainly see, those things are not things we are to always say or dwell upon—they are given to us so that we can give them back to the Lord in prayer. And as someone who likes to be right and sometimes likes others to know it :), I have a very, very difficult time doing this.

It’s not that I’m not learning at all. Last year, I met with someone and left the meeting thinking that this unhealthy person was going to wreak havoc on their church in some ridiculous way. I could have met with the pastor of their church and told him what I believed was going to happen based on the person’s unhealthiness. I could have called the person out about their unhealthy behavior. (These are the two things that I usually do when I get revelations or insight about someone.) Instead, I decided to just pray for them—that’s what I felt led to do. Oh, this person still wrecked a ministry in their church…but I didn’t feel ownership of the issue because I had prayed about it and prayed for the person. I had done what God had asked me to do. And I felt peaceful about it.

But unfortunately, that’s the exception and not the rule—at least for me. And what’s worse is that many times, the Lord will plant a dream or thought of someone in my head, and I will forget about prayer and run in the wrong direction with it—and what I mean by this is that instead of praying for the person, I will do the opposite. I will either dismiss it and forget about them completely, or I will begin thinking about them obsessively, especially if it’s a guy. And I know that, looking back on my life, I have wasted many opportunities to pray for someone who the Lord has laid on my heart because I thought they were in my head for a different reason. I have lost the opportunity to pray for someone AND I have objectified them in some way. What the Lord means for good, your flesh and the devil will always try to pervert and destroy—and even though I know this, I still let it happen. What’s amazing, though, is that what the devil intends for harm, the Lord can still use for good. He can redeem ANYTHING and ANYONE.

Eight weeks ago, I had a dream about Captain America star Chris Evans, and the repercussions of these last eight weeks have helped me to realize how I can begin to cultivate an important part of my calling. But more incredibly, it’s been instrumental in the birth of breaking bad. More soon.

My First Love

Success. Everyone wants to tell you how to get it. In the business world, companies that made it big want to tell you how to succeed—even if they are Christian. Recently, I have been struggling with the idea of success. A few months ago, I was doing all the things that everyone told me to do to be successful: I was doing my social media posts, I was writing blog posts, I was talking to people about my business, I was scheduling events. I had a business plan for 2015, a brand new calendar to write my new business stuff in, and a head full of steam. I was “hustling,” as a friend of mine and I started saying about ourselves.

love sky by winnond

image courtesy of winnond / freedigitalphotos.net

 

I planned a brief vacation with my mom, with full intent of “getting back to hustling” when I returned. I couldn’t work on vacation—I was in another country and wanted to be present with my mother. So I put away my cell phone, my blogging, and all the nice new habits I had acquired. When I returned, I picked up my cell phone…and some weird virus that left me mostly incapacitated for the month of November. Then my father died in early December, and I spent the rest of that month mourning and recuperating. I realized that I was exhausted. I had been doing a lot. But save for one week in November, I had forgotten how to BE.

The seven letters to the churches in Revelation are one of many lists of seven in the Bible that correspond to the seven spiritual gifts in Romans 6. As a prophet spiritual gift, the first of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2:1-6 has always beckoned to me. I was recalling this over the holidays, thinking about where I am and what it means. Here’s what it says:

I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2-5)

More than ever, this passage spoke to me. Of course God knows my deeds and my toil and my perseverance—that I have endured for His name’s sake and have not grown weary. But soon after my father’s death, I realized I had left my first love. Was I spending time in prayer? Sure. But I was spending more time “doing” God’s work than I was “being” with Him. For the same reason that I put away my cell phone while I was on vacation to be with my mom, God wanted me to put away these deeds and get back to my first love—being with Him.

So what does that mean? Does that mean PPG Ministries is no more? Of course not! But it means that I have to give up some of the “comforts” in my business for now, like posting on social media. I’m trading those things in for quality time at the feet of my Master. I want PPG Ministries to be filled with God, not with me. My business really belongs to God, anyway—so I know I can trust Him with it. And I’m finding that this is its own purity challenge—the challenge to bring holiness into all areas of my life, not just my sexuality.

Maybe you’re out there, having forgotten your first love, and you need to hit the reset button. Maybe God is asking you to give something back to Him so that He can refine and purify it and you, and make you both better than you ever knew. My challenge to you today is this: will you let Him? Will you trust God enough to give back to Him what is already His? If so, join me on this journey of purification. I don’t know where it’s going to lead, but I do know that God’s plans for us are for good and not evil, to prosper us and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). And as further proof of that, here’s how that passage in Revelation ends:

To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

So are you ready for this year? Or more importantly, are you ready for this God? Ready or not, here He comes. 🙂

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: Post Recovery

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” –Hebrews 10:24-25 

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

After attending Celebrate Recovery for a year, I felt God calling me back to my former church—yes, the one I had left abruptly. I had made amends with my pastor, and he had told me, “Oakdale will always be your home.” However, I somehow believed that completing a recovery process meant that I wouldn’t face any obstacles and that I was finished with my work. So even though I returned to the church a different and better person, God was not finished His work in me. I had a lot of growing to do. In fact, I found that I was still struggling with people and with how to use my gifts. So after a brief stint back, I left again, hoping to find a place where my gifts could be used—even though my heart was not in the right place.

My search turned up dry, though, and in the midst of feeling out of community, I became involved with a man who offered me false community and intimacy. He claimed to be a Christian but was not practicing or in community with other believers. We began a relationship while he was still married. I somehow convinced myself that this was not adultery because he and his wife were separating. However, because I had stopped talking with my close Christian friends, I had no accountability. It was a brief relationship, and thankfully, God delivered me from it and opened my eyes to my sins. When the relationship ended, I repented and returned once again to the church I had left—to the community of believers who showed me the grace and love I had been searching for.

The latest years of my life have shown me a few important things:

  1. Recovery is ongoing. Even though I was free from my pornography addiction and related issues, I was still struggling with my relationships. My beliefs about relationships with men and my own worth still needed work. And I realized that my thought life was still an issue—daydreaming and control issues ran rampant. I did not leave Celebrate Recovery fully healed: I left healed of many issues, but I still need constant work to continue to grow in my walk with God.
  2. Ongoing recovery requires community. I didn’t have to stay at Celebrate Recovery, but I needed to be in community SOMEWHERE. When I stopped attending church, hanging with my Christ-like friends, and allowing myself to be held accountable, I fell into sin very easily. I went down the slippery slope so fast, I was unable to recover in time. I praise God for His grace, but I know that not having community was the biggest reason I fell into sin. Now I make community a priority in my life—so that recovery can continue!
  3. Every community is made up of sinners like me. When I left my church, it was because I didn’t believe people were communicating with God about how to use my gifts. As it turns out, I was the one not in tune with God. No matter what church you attend, no one there is perfect—including you. I had to temper my expectations about people and about God. And I had to realize that people—even and especially my Christian friends, would disappoint me and even hurt me. When I understood and accepted those things, staying in community became that much easier.

When I returned to my church this last time, I spent one year in a ministry supporting in the background. I finally submitted to God, allowing Him to develop patience in me and allowing Him to use that year to mature me in very specific spiritual and emotional areas. And when I humbled myself before Him, He lifted me up (James 4:10)—to the perfect worship leadership position for me. I currently serve there, and though it is challenging, I know that God is using this time to develop and grow me even more, so that I can face the next eight years with full confidence in Him and who I am in Him. And that is the reason I sing!

Thank you for reading my story and hearing my song! I pray that it has blessed you and encouraged you in your own walk with Christ! 

This Is My Story, This Is My Song: The Fourth Eight

“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

story song by Grant Cochrane

image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / freedigitalphotos.net

My break from ministry did not last long; after about eight months, I found another job in youth ministry and moved closer to DC. I thought things were turning around…I was starting to settle down a bit. But something still was not right. I was not happy in youth ministry. Perhaps I was burnt out; perhaps youth ministry was not for me. Whatever the reason, I was searching for community and had yet to find it. I left that ministry job after a few years and moved to another church in the same county. Meanwhile, a ministry friend invited me to attend a young adult Bible study that her new pastor had started. I ended up not only attending the Bible study but leading the worship band at her church while still serving as the youth minister at another. However, like they always had, things fell apart at my youth ministry job, and I was once again searching for what to do with my life. I applied for the worship pastor position at my friend’s church (now my church) and didn’t get it; thus, I continued to struggle with what God was asking me to do. After a few weeks in Phoenix to settle my brain, I took the first job I was offered at a data company back in Maryland.

In the next year, my life exploded as I was imploding emotionally. I had a terrible fight with my pastor and left my church and worship leadership position abruptly. I decided to stop talking to my family altogether. I was really struggling to make sense of my life. I hated my job, my family, and my life. And then, I began attending a young adult ministry at a nearby church and I met him. He was an incredible man…my total opposite, perhaps, in that he was sensitive and compassionate in great contrast to my brash honesty. I was attracted to him like a moth to a flame. He was good looking and funny, and I just wanted to be around him. Our friendship was filled with pain and confusion, though, mostly because he was the first God-honoring man I had ever been attracted to and, thanks to my warped porn-and-lust-addicted mind, I had no idea how to treat him. Even though we had admitted a mutual attraction existed, I was (unbeknownst to me) completely un-dateable. I wanted so badly to have someone love me in the ways I had never been loved that I pushed and pushed…until finally, I pushed him away for good. I was broken, and for the first time in my life, I knew it. The day after our friendship ended, I attended my first Celebrate Recovery meeting.

One lesson I learned from my fourth eight is to never underestimate where the desire for true love, acceptance, and intimacy will take you. My longing had taken me to many worldly places—pornography, partying, fantasy, and deeper into myself. However, the longing was never truly filled, and in the end, the pain of staying the same—always losing relationships and jobs—became too much for me to bear. I knew where to find true acceptance and love—I had known since I was eight years old—but I had not been willing to surrender my pride to the pain of changing for the better. I had never TRULY surrendered my issues to God because of my need for control. But in the fourth eight, everything changed. I wanted to know true love and I wanted to know how to love—and the only way I could find those things was to run straight into the arms of the Author of love, who was waiting to heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds.

Where has the longing for true love, acceptance, and intimacy taken you?

Authentic Responsibilities: Make No Mistake?

Authentic Responsibility #5: As a human being, I will make mistakes. I am responsible to make appropriate restitution which may include expressions of regret or sorrow, but not guilt.

mistake man by stockimages

image courtesy of stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net

Before I entered Celebrate Recovery, I was a die-hard, self-proclaimed perfectionist. Immediately prior to entering CR, I worked at a small, private WAN-LAN company in accounts receivables. I applied my entire perfectionist theory to my job in this company, wanting to excel in every possible way. After working there for only five months, at the company Christmas party, I was awarded the Employee of the Year award. During the party, my boss made a speech in which he noted that during my five-month tenure at the company, I had not made one single mistake. I was elated at this; my coworkers were not impressed at the praise lavished on me. And a few months later, when I finally did make a mistake, I realized how much pressure I had been putting on myself to continue my perfection streak, and how I had alienated most of my coworkers.

Expecting perfection from yourself (or someone else) is unrealistic. Authentic responsibility rejects the idea of perfectionism and accepts that we cannot yet achieve perfection, no matter how hard we try. So here are three things to remember if you are striving for perfection:

  • You will make mistakes. Not if, but when. No one is perfect, and Romans 3:23 says that we all sin and fall short of God’s intended glory for us. So accept that fact. Stop striving for perfection, because it will constantly elude you and make you feel like a failure. Give it your best, commit yourself to excellence, but understand that we are constantly being perfected and made holy as we live this life—and we won’t achieve absolute perfection until we are united with Jesus in heaven.
  • Making mistakes means growing in humility. What keeps conflicts, arguments, and dissension going among us? Pride. We hate admitting that we are wrong. We hate making mistakes (especially so-called perfectionists!). So we refuse to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord—or anyone else. However, authentic responsibility says to the Lord and to others, “I was wrong, and I apologize and will fix it.” Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” When I was trying so hard to be perfect, I was not allowing myself to grow. When I started my next job, I made several mistakes within the first week—and allowed myself the experience of learning from them. And when we learn from our mistakes, we gain humility and wisdom.
  • Guilt is not the same as regret. Guilt says, “I am a bad person.” Regret says, “I did a bad thing.” Guilt, shame, and condemnation focus on your character and personality. Regret, remorse, and sorrow focus on the action. Because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1), because we are cleansed if we ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9), we do not have to feel guilty. The Holy Spirit may convict us for our mistake, but we have the freedom to reject any condemnation.

Make no mistake, and you make no improvements in yourself. Instead, accept the authentic responsibility that allows you the freedom to make mistakes. But be brave in your pursuits to correct your wrongs, offer restitution, and express regret and sorrow. Not only will you learn more about yourself, you will grow in areas that are pleasing to the Lord.

In what ways has being imperfect helped you to grow?

Becoming Fearlessly Fulfilled: Releasing Control

I was running late. I am always the first one to arrive in the office, so my tardy presence was going to be noticed. My boss was probably going to say something. If he asked why I was late, I would just tell him that traffic was bad. No—traffic was fine, and he took the same route to work that I did—I can’t lie. Instead, I’ll just be honest—I got a late start this morning and I would just explain that to him and apologize. I would work late today to make up for it, if he wanted me to. Great—I had (obsessively) planned out every moment of the interaction to simulate complete control, but I had none. My boss didn’t even notice I was late.

control by arztsamui

image courtesy of arztsamui / freedigitalphotos.net

As I was reading an entry from Jesus Calling, I was floored at my obsessive thought patterns and my need to have control of everything. Many people suffer from this need, but we don’t have to! We can release control. Here are four things I learned in Celebrate Recovery that I’m constantly trying to release control of:

  • What I think should happen. I have my own thoughts about what should be going on in my life. But God has other plans! In fact, He assures me that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8). And honestly, I’m glad God doesn’t suffer from obsessive thinking like I do, because that would be scary. And if God doesn’t think like me, then I need to release control about the plans He has for me—because He’s got this and I can trust Him!
  • When I think it should happen. I think I should already be married. I think my business should’ve taken off at the outset in June. I think a lot of things that I believe are going to happen should already have happened! However, what I keep having to remind myself is that God’s timetable and mine are, again, completely different. What seems like forever to me is only a short time to him (2 Peter 3:8). And what He is doing in me during the wait is far more important to Him than when I receive the prize.
  • How I feel during it. Impatient. Scared. Lonely. Nervous. Anxious. Excited. They are all feelings, but they are just that—feelings. I acknowledge my feelings, but I should not give them control of any part of my life. When I “follow my heart” I have to be careful of what the Bible says about my heart: that it is the most deceitful of all things and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9). Instead, I should take my feelings to Jesus and surrender them to Him during my wait.
  • How others might react. People are always weighing in with their opinions. “You should do online dating.” “You should push your way through.” “You shouldn’t wait.” But the Word says, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). How others react cannot dictate how you or I live our lives. The only One we live to please is God—and we need to release control of pleasing anyone else and how they will react.

When you release control in these areas, you allow God to give you peace and joy as you become fearlessly fulfilled. He is doing it for me—He will do it for you, too!

In which of these four areas do you most need to release control? Share in the comments or use my Contact Me page to share and receive a free 30-minute Identity Intensive!