What Jesus Gives You Cannot Be Taken Away

For a couple of weeks now the album Blackout by Steffany Gretzinger has been playing on repeat. It’s been one of those in season albums for me as every song on this album has had some sort of meaning and ministered to me.

And just today, as I was putting together an Ikea nightstand that’s been sitting in the box for about two months just waiting until I had time, I was listening to the album mentioned above and her song Blackout was just another Aha moment for me – hence today’s blog post.

This is the song’s description from her website:

Blackout heralds the message that even when circumstances bend towards chaos, light that shines from the inside out cannot be dimmed. 1

The last few months have been hard as I have journeyed through dealing with a person who was out to do me reputational harm. He likes to focus his energy on doing everything he can to harass me, including using passive aggressive behaviours, bullying tactics and name calling.  And because I believe God has called me to take a stand and to endure in this volunteer position, I am staying the course and will continue to do so. (No, not in an abusive way!)

Staying the course has taught and reminded me of many things. It has taught me to be patient and to continue to cultivate a deep reliance on God. When someone falsely says something about you, I think our natural tendency is to want to fight back, to want justice – Now! But I’ve remained remarkably calm during these last few months- that’s a God thing! In addition to that, I have asked the Lord to reveal to me any areas that my heart needs to change and any lessons I need to learn during this season. I don’t want this opportunity wasted if I can grow in and through it, especially as God continues to call me to deeper refining and deeper levels of trust.

I’ve been reminded once again that God is my righteousness and His righteousness cannot be taken away.  The throne room is always open to those longing to connect with God. I can’t tell you how many times I have leaned into that sacred space and asked God to be my victor and to expose those things that are not in accordance with His will. The Psalms have been particularly meaningful in this season. David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), and time and time again we find him calling out to God for justice and waiting for God to act.

Staying the course has taught me in an even greater measure that my confidence to lead and do what’s right is not dependent on what another person thinks of me – it’s part of stewarding the call. At the very end of his letter to the Colossians, Paul also sends a message directly to Archippus. Paul says to him, “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” (Co 4:17)

I wonder if Archippus was dealing with other leaders who were trying to cause him harm? We’re not told what is happening, but whatever it was, it warranted a reminder from Paul for Archippus to stay the course and complete the ministry that had been entrusted to him.

During this season it has been critical for me to remember that we fight not against flesh and blood – this is a crucial perspective if you want to continue to show up in life and lead with integrity. Behaviours may be evil (we can judge fruit), but every single person is God’s workmanship that God is seeking to draw unto himself and to transform from the inside out.

I absolutely love who we are in Christ and that Christ in us cannot be taken away or dimmed! How amazing is that?! So the next time you have to show up in the midst of the hard, ask God to continue to shine in and through you.

“You can’t turn out a light shining from the inside.”

-Steffany Gretzinger

If this post speaks to you today, take some time to remind yourself of the things that Jesus has given you – new mercy, His peace, His abiding presence in you, a hope, a future, etc., that cannot be taken away. Let your heart, mind, and spirit be strengthened by His truth about you and the things He’s given you, which no one can take away!

Reverend Carmen

Good Intentions Don’t Excuse Bad Behaviour or Consequences

It’s been a fruitful journey of learning these last few years. A journey in which I have had to lean into corrective measures and where I have intentionally sought out feedback on how I’m doing. And one thing I have tried to avoid is making these excuses: It wasn’t my intention to do that, or it’s not my fault that happened.

And truthfully, sometimes it wasn’t, but I had to be willing to listen to what my choices did and how they affected others. And then, based on that clarity, I had to intentionally make different decisions based on the lessons I was learning. I leaned in and learnt new behaviours.

And choosing to change your behaviours requires incredible vulnerability. It requires self-discipline to journey through the parts of yourself that we most often want to avoid. It means that there is a bridge that I must cross, and that bridge is leading to a new, transformed me. But the choice is mine. I’m responsible for taking that step of obedience in the right direction. Sometimes it’s scary, especially if behaviours are entrenched in us.

Good intentions don’t excuse bad behaviour – ever.

As I cross from one place of transformation to another, sometimes agonizingly so, I learn lessons. Lessons such as don’t react to everything. Don’t read everything. When I make a mistake, own it, don’t look for excuses for the bad behaviour. Ask for forgiveness when and where appropriate.

It’s so essential for any leader to be mindful that what they do and how they do it affects others – and it touches and transforms their own soul.  It’s vital in leadership to learn new skills and to mine the depths of our souls, seeking to learn who we are and the hurts that we need to leave at the cross, never to be picked up again.

Always remember that your identity is in Christ. Let His truth be the loudest.

Embrace it. Cling to it. Daily remind yourself of it. Meditate on it. Be still in it, allowing it to reach every corner of your soul.

I have loved this Hillsong song in recent months.

Another of my big lessons from these past five years has been this: the ones whom I journey with, the ones who are companions and friends on the journey,  must be chosen wisely. Why? For they will influence who I become as I seek to live receptive to feedback and transformation. I want not to be around toxic people and behaviours. I don’t surround myself with those who make excuses for bad behaviour. I pick the wise, the loving, the kind, the ones filled with grace AND truth because, at the end of each day, their presence in my life makes me a better human being.

We face our greatest leadership challenge every morning in the mirror. – Andy Stanley

Are you stuck in patterns that you know aren’t working? Are your good intentions really just excuses for bad behaviour? When you connect the dots in your life, are you where you are based on the choices you’ve made or not made? Are you an excuse maker? A blame shifter?

Here’s the good news friend, Christ came so that we could have new life! We don’t have to stay where we are. I don’t have to stay where I am, and neither do you. The choices (or excuses) we make today do not have to be the ones we make tomorrow!

Jesus said the following:

I have come as a Light into the world, so that whoever believes in Me [whoever cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] may not continue to live in darkness.” (John 12:46, AMP)

and

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (John 10:10, AMP)

New life is ours to live! “His grace runs deep.” I choose life. What do you want?

Reverend Carmen

 

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