Do You Want To Stop Struggling With Guilt?

I wrote my opinion about something on Facebook a few weeks ago and was accused of causing guilt in someone’s life. I was so impressed that I had that much power over a person and a person I never even met. (Lord, it’s hard to be humble.)

Don’t get me wrong, I know that some people have a tremendous gift at guilt trips because they want to make you feel worse than they feel about themselves. But I promise that wasn’t my intention. For this FB post, I was simply stating my thoughts and even why I felt the way I did. I read my post over and over, just to make sure I wasn’t in the wrong. Then I let it go…let it go…(You KNOW you just sang that!)

I spent most of my life feeling guilty about things I didn’t even do and even more over the things I did that were wrong. My guilt was such a burden and so destructive that it just led to a deep self hatred and shame. Guilt is so ugly, and causes us to do ugly things. So I’m here to set the record straight and hopefully, bring you some freedom.

Before I move on, I want you to know that I wholeheartedly believe that God gave us all of our feelings, even our negative ones. He didn’t desire for us to actually experience pain or heartache, but he also didn’t desire for us to sin. Our negative feelings are an innate part of being human, and our human experience is what draws us nearer to God. With that said, I believe that guilt is a feeling that God can use and here is how I believe it works.

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There are two types of guilt:

  1. CONDEMNATION
  2. CONVICTION

CONDEMNATION is when we feel guilt the enemy uses it to pull us out of or away from our relationship with God.

CONVICTION is when we feel guilt and the Holy Spirit purposes it to draw us nearer to God.

The situation doesn’t determine whether it’s condemnation or conviction. The foundation of what we believe will lead us to accepting one or the other.

Let’s say you have tried to stop smoking. You know that it’s not good for you, you understand that you are ruining your body and can actually cut your life shorter by your choices, affecting not only your life but the lives of many. (see what I did there, you should stop smoking).

Let’s say you do a really great job and for 3 weeks you don’t touch a Marlboro. Never light it up. Then one day, work is particularly painful and you are walking outside to your car and someone walks past you with a cigarette. One whif, you’re a gonner. You don’t even try to NOT smoke. You stop and buy a pack of cigarettes, light one up on the way home. As you throw your butt out into the street, littering, breaking the law (see what I did there? Don’t litter!) you feel an overwhelming sense of shame for what you just did. The guilt floods in. You can’t control it. You’re so stupid you can’t do anything right. Why do you even bother trying. God is just so disappointed because you are a loser.

So is it possible that God intended to use that guilt to draw you closer to Him? Is it possible that the Holy Spirit is trying to whisper this instead, “Hey dude. You messed up. It’s okay, I know it’s hard. Let’s start over. Throw the pack away. Brush your teeth. And know you don’t have to do this alone. Depend on me, lean on me, when you are weak, I am strong. You stepped away for a minute, but come back to me. We will do this!” Ta da: CONVICTION

Instead, we take those negative whispers, and agree with them, smoke the rest of the pack, and feel like an even bigger failure. We feel far from God, like He could never really love someone like us, and feel the weight of our shame every single day. Dum dum dum: CONDEMNATION

When Paul wrote a letter to the Romans, he knew they struggled with sin and the fine line between flesh and Spirit. Romans 8:1

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Wait, what? Ya. That is what this means. We don’t have to let our guilt become condemnation. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you don’t live under condemnation. All of Romans 8 (and even 7) talks about this struggle between flesh and spirit, sin and freedom. I love this, too:

If your sinful nature [condemnation] controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit [conviction] controls your mind there is life and peace. [interjections MINE]

So here it is. All laid out for you, free to believe, free to change your thinking, to change your life. To bring you actual freedom.

Choose the Holy Spirit. Choose conviction. Be free from the guilt that presses down on your chest at night and makes you second guess your every decision. Free from the guilt that makes you afraid of saying the wrong thing, taking the wrong turn, doing the wrong thing. Free from the guilt whispered by people you love, and those that hate you. You don’t have to. You just don’t have to.

You should not be like cowering,fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.”

LG|LP

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I’ve Tricked You

I go on these rollar coaster rides of blogging. For days and days I will post, post, post away with all my brillance and knowledge and wisdom and insight. Then something happens…and it stops. This time, it stopped for an entire month. I just needed to refuel. I am always in need of refueling.

All this time I’ve tricked you into thinking I’m something I’m not. I haven’t done this on purpose. In fact it took me years to figure this out about me. And so here is the BIG secret. The BIG trick…

I am an introvert

Yes it’s true. I actually prefer to be alone, I refuel in my solitude and there are times I just need to sit on my couch. Not because I’m lazy but because I’m an introvert.

For those of you who know me, you are thinking, “NO way!” But see here is the deal, just because I’m not shy, doesn’t mean I’m extroverted. In certain situations, I can shake hands and hug. I can lead groups and speak in front of thousands of people. I like being around people, I love hearing stories, and meeting new faces. But eventually there is a price to pay…and usually the cost is a week or so curled up in bed with a book, or chilin’ on the couch with the remote and a large Coke.

I’ve learned that blogging is a victim of the introverted world I battle with. I can write all day, in fact it’s one of the ways I process things, and refuel. But blogging is a different world. Blogging requires me to connect with the social media universe. If I want anyone to read it, I have to be the colorful bird in the twitter-verse, promoting and marketing. Tweet Tweet. I have to Facebook and connect with people throuh comments and online conversation. I sometimes hold my breath, those days I think I’m super brilliant, every time I look at my stats.

It’s exhausting.

Especially for an introvert.

So I take these breaks, and sometimes these longer sabbaticals. And then after I refuel, I am ready to get back to writing and connecting and sharing my thoughts. And I’ll do great, until I can’t anymore. I’m working through how to fix this. I have so much wisdom to share with the world (sense the sarcasm). Thank you for sticking with me and still reading my snippets on life. And forgive me?for not being such a great friend?

Are you introverted or extroverted? Comment so we can chat–I really want to know…and want to know you better! I’m changing, I’m growing. I need you to help me with that….

How has it affected you most? Can’t wait to know…

 

 

Shut Up Already

I remember my very first writing assignment in first grade. I had a cutout of a girl, who I had to color and decorate to look like me. Her body served as the place I would write a few paragraphs all about me–the things I liked to eat, the places I liked to go. Since then, I have been hooked on the 26 letters that can form new thoughts and ideas. Simple words that can make people laugh and bring people to tears.

I've been asked the question: If you could do anything in the whole world you wanted to and not have to worry about money what would it be?

Of course, for me, the answer is writing.

I have prayed over this desire of my heart. I have began three different novels, or maybe four. I have a notebook full of ideas–some I have seen written already by other authors. And God has blessed me with the opportunity…and now, for the first time ever, the motivation.

He gave me an idea…then His word to back it up.

Then during my fast…he slammed me over the head. Like for real. Like when you are playing with one of those bouncy soft, big summer balls with the kids outside. Somehow your son gets sidetracked and starts staring off into oblivion. You call his name, you call his name again. And then you realize you have the ball in your hand so you chunk it at his head to get his attention? No. That's just me?

So Jesus slammed me over the head with the ball, because I just haven't been pay attention. I may have been playing around with this writing dream, but I haven't really engaged in it.

In the midst of me fasting and praying–crying out to Jesus to give me a true purpose. And he did. My focus on writing was all wrong, it was about me, what I could offer and what I can write. When truly everything I do is about Jesus, and is simply an overflow of all he has done for me.

In my journal, I wrote these questions:

IS THERE WONDER & AWE AT WHAT JESUS HAS DONE?

ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY OVERWHELMED AT WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR YOU?

When Peter and John went before the Council in Acts 4, their goal was to shut up the Spirit led men so the message of Jesus couldn't go any further. Peter and John were warned–keep your mouth shut. This was there response:

“We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard.”

I can just see them responding in the same way I tell my kids:

“I hear you. I hear what you are saying, but No, it's just not going to happen.”

Calmly, respectfully.

It's like what the council was asking was impossible for them. It's like they were saying:

Have you seen what Jesus has done? Do you have any clue how he has changed me, redeemed me, used me? There is no way I can shut my mouth about that, even if I tried.

And that is how I am trying to live my life. This is how I am planning on writing, with an overwhelming amount of compelling of the Spirit to tell all that Jesus has done for me. I pray that you can do the same. You will have an overwhelming sense of gratefulness of what Christ has done for you, and you just won't be able to shut up about it. Not to your kids, your family, friends, neighbors, people in line at the grocery store. If you know me at all, you know that I don't really shut up anyway–so this should be easy for me.

Do you need a word from God? Do you need Him to show you something? FAST WITH US!

JULY 1

JULY 2

JULY 3

He speaks when we empty ourselves. Comment and commit. Then invite 3 people you know to fast with us!

Ever felt like you just can't shut up already about Jesus? Comment and share! I want to know!

 

HOW TO DO SOMETHING DRASTIC FOR CHANGE

A fast can defeat you before you even begin. I wrestled with the idea of not having pasta and bread three nights a week, what it would feel like to not have my morning caffeine and all the other reasons I just couldn’t for months before I committed to it. God would prompt me, I would say, “Yes, LORD!” But then every time I would think about what I had to sacrifice or what “events” were going to “get in the way.” I would talk myself out of it. I just couldn’t do it.

My commitment to fast was strictly out of obedience. Jesus fasted. If Jesus did it, we are not above it. I also was in a place where the pain of my circumstances outweighed the fear of the sacrifice, or the change that would become of it.

BREAKTHROUGH CAN HAPPEN WHEN PAIN OUTWEIGHS FEAR

I needed something different and I needed more of Jesus because I was just too much. Even for myself to deal with. And when you can’t even deal with yourself, friend, you better do something drastic. I still stand with an abandoned heart needing Jesus to seep into certain areas of my life.

Do you need Jesus to seep?

Into your marriage?

Into your husband’s heart?

Into your child’s life, so they can be free from that addiction?

Into your bank account?

Into your daily self-doubts?

Into your health?

I implore you–do something drastic with me. Commit to fasting with me –and dozens of others–on

July 1, July 2 and July 3.

As you begin to prepare, here are some things that are true about fasting:

  1. You can always talk yourself out of a fast or doing anything that requires any level of self-discipline.
  2. Events, holidays, birthdays are always right there. You might have to forge through.
  3. You can’t think about what you have to sacrifice, you must focus on what you will gain
  4. You really can’t do it. If you can give that food up on your own, you need to consider sacrificing something more difficult.
  5. Fasting is about sacrificing FOOD.
  6. FASTING is a form of deep prayer. If you give up food and don’t pray you are simply starving yourself.
  7. Fasting is NOT a diet or a means to lose weight.
  8. Your dietary sacrifice can be anything that is challenging to you. You don’t have to go all out and not eat at all. (Especially if you haven’t been cleared by a doctor.)
  9. You must begin praying NOW about what your fasting commitment should be.
  10. You must be specific in what you are going to pray for.

Can you do it?

Yes

Because…

We don’t do anything alone.

We do life together.

Jesus commits to being there, to helping, to loving, to listening, to bringing freedom.

 

Let me know if you are IN by commenting. And then share this and challenge 3 friends to fast with us!

To our lives changing, because they will, my friend, they will.

Tiff

HOW NOT EATING CHANGED ME

At the beginning of May I entered into a 21 day fast. It was the second time I've done this crazy thing. But what I found even crazier is that there are people who have been Christians forever and ever and ever who have never ever fasted before.

Now I'm not super Christian who fasts all the time and does everything right and who is always obedient–in fact I'm quite the opposite. Just a few nights ago you could have found me fully clothed, sitting in an empty bathtub with the shower curtain closed screaming at God because he doesn't seem to be listening.

This was the very reason I began my 21-day fast because I needed God to listen, and more than that I needed Him to speak. I have been drowning in grief and confusion and every voice I heard was muffled and water logged, so I exhausted myself wondering if it was God speaking, or simply one of the echoes of my temper tantrums that daily emerged. I needed to empty myself…to empty my stomach…to remove distractions and caffeine and all the things I love so the sounds of my heart could maybe become audible.

This fast: no bread, no sugar, no meat and water only. Not quite as strict as my last one, but no less difficult–I love me some caffeine…I LOVE me some bread, I adore, absolutely addictively adore, sugar. I knew my soul needed Jesus more than my tastebuds needed anything. And so I embarked.

For twenty one days:

I prayed and prayed.

I read scripture.

I cried.

I yelled.

I discovered some really ugly…like really ugly parts of me.

And He answered.

Not every single thing in the way I hoped, or in the timing I wished for. In fact daily I'm still going before the throne and praying for a specific miracle. But I emerged with a new perspective, well..mostly.

With every fast comes the specific requests. Mine were personal and filled with hope.

Please lift depression from my daughter and give her vision for her life.

Please give me some sort of vision for my own life, because why do I wake up every morning?

Please please please break this financial bondage that we are in. Too many years, too much stress, too many curses.

Please just fill us. Empty our lives of us and fill us up with you.

God has answered my prayers for my daughter, given me a new hope in him, even though I hate it here still. He has filled us up, drawing us each nearer to him–however, we are still broke.

Fasting isn't realllllly about having Jesus wave his wand and bless you, answering all of your prayers because you so sacrificially deny yourself of something you love. What it's reallllly about is you becoming less like you and more like Him. He will answer prayer, but only if it's in your best interest. He will answer prayer but only if you have a heart change first. He will answer prayer but only if it transforms you–making you less and Him more.

Him more. In your mind…your heart….your thoughts…your requests.

I'm not hating because he didn't methodically check off my list of requests. I'm loving because I am free in a way I wasn't free on April 30th.

I'm a work in progress–and so are you

So plan on fasting with me.

For three days:

July 1

July 2

July 3

And the rest of this week I will convince you why …. I will show you how he worked in my daughter's life. I will envision you with the vision He gave me. I will explain the importance of obedience and fasting and obediently fasting. And we will do it together…Changing our hearts, and changing the World…solely for Him.

Are You In?

Comment and Share with me your emphatic or reluctant “YES!” And stick around the blog this week…

LG|LP Tiff