Monday, July 15, 2013

Bitter Roots (Part 2)

How do you get to the root?

 I.          Identify the source

Getting to the root issues requires some real soul-searching. You must dig into your past to identify the source of you pain.

-          Were you abused as a child – sexually, physically or emotionally?
-          Did you witness domestic violence?
-          Were you raped?
-          Were you raised in the foster care system?
-          Did you have an abortion?
-          Have you lost your parents or a child?
-          Have you experienced trauma as an adult such as divorce, abuse, or domestic violence?
-          Are you estranged from your parents, a child or another family member?

This list cannot cover all the possibilities of the ways Satan will attack your life. You must seek God for revelation of yours. As women, we tend to bury the hurt and think that we are over it. But burying it is what causes the root of bitterness to grow.

II.   Grieve

Once you identify the root, you must grieve. If you don’t grieve and feel all the emotions about the pain in your life, you will never get over it. This is hard. It can hurt so bad to go back and revisit the pain. No one wants to feel that. But it is the only way to true healing.

There are many stages to the grief process as initially documented by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. These stages are for any type of trauma or loss, not just death.

The first stage is shock, in which you are paralyzed about what has happened. You then move to denial, burying the pain and refusing to deal with the effects of what has happened; many people get stuck in this stage.  During the grieving, you also get angry and you might lash out with very strong emotions. At some point, you try to bargain or try to get out of the pain. You might also fall into a depression, sometimes lasting a very long time. Eventually you test out solutions and finally accept your situation and move on.

These stages do not provide a straight, linear path. They can come in waves, in any order, and sometimes repeat themselves. You might go back and forth through multiple stages several times before you reach acceptance. But one truth stands: until you go through the cycles, you will never completely eliminate the root.

III.                Break through with force!

Pastor Stan Ellis of Christian Life Center taught once about breaking through barriers and invading the unlimited. He spoke on Matthew 11:12, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Pastor Stan said the word “violent” means forceful aggression (spiritual, not carnal). We must use force to break through our past. It is a fight! It will not come easy and the enemy is relentless.

“Our struggle is not against the flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

You must fight in the spirit every minute of every day. You must make the choice over and over again to do things differently. You must seek God for strength and perseverance. He will walk with you through the battle.

IV.                Get help

Pastor Stan went on to suggest that to break a barrier you need two people: an intercessor and a predecessor. I believe this is true when breaking through our past as well.

You need an intercessor – someone in whom you can confide and who will lift you in prayer on a regular basis. Remember, it is a battle and you need all the support you can get.

You also need a predecessor – someone who has been through something similar and has broken through. They can give you advice, support and, most importantly, hope – if they can break through, so can you! In addition, they can also help you identify pitfalls and challenges that will come your way as you force your way to breakthrough so that you can keep your guard up and stay strong in battle.

You may find a predecessor in an individual relationship that God sends your way. You may also seek to join a support group to be around multiple people who are going through or have been through a similar experience. At Christian Life Center there is group called Celebrate Recovery – a program designed to help you get over whatever is holding you down. I encourage you to attend. (Go t0 to find a location near you.)

In addition, you may need to seek the help of a professional counselor. A professional counselor can help you dig into deeper issues while maintaining objectivity to guide you through the healing process. 

Whatever path you decide to take, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Everyone has been through something and we are all on this journey together to help one another.

V.                  Embrace the reality of who you are in Christ and who He is to you:

a.       You are God’s daughter, a princess, the apple of His eye.
b.      You are forgiven, righteous and whole in Him.
c.       He is your peace, your protection, your provider, your healer.
d.      He is with you always and He is not mad at you!

 John 10:10 starts by stating:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

That is only half of the verse. Jesus goes on to say:

“…but I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

God wants good things for your life: joy, peace, prosperity, abundance! I encourage you to dig into your past, eliminate the roots of bitterness, and become all God created you to be!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bitter Roots (Part 1)

The enemy is relentless. He plants seeds of destruction in your heart through abuse, hardship, rejection, and any other means necessary. That seed, when rooted within, grows and takes over. It is like a weed in a garden – if it is allowed to grow, it takes over and kills any good, healthy plants around it. It must be pulled out at the root. If any part of the root is left, it will rejuvenate and grow again.
Interestingly, some weeds are actually quite beautiful. Look at the Crimson Clover to the left. It produces a dark red flower that appears lovely and healthy. However, its beauty is deceptive because it is very invasive and can choke out healthy grasses and plants around it.

That’s how many of us are in our lives when we bury our past. We look like everything is okay on the outside; like we have dealt with our past and have moved on. And even we can believe that things are okay. But in reality, all we have done is bury the root. In the darkness of our hearts, that root grows and eventually it will push through. If we let it go long enough, it will take over and choke out all the good in our lives, just like the clover in the picture below.

Are you struggling with materialism, anger, food addiction, drugs, alcohol, adultery, fornication, or any other type of vice? Those things are just the symptom of the root inside.

The Bible addresses this directly:

"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (Hebrews 12:15)

Bitter root grows when you don't deal with your issues, which causes the fruit of your life to be bad. You then seek relief through other means: anger, materialism, food, drugs, alcohol, and other vices. You also become toxic to other people and draw other evil spirits to you.

You can't change your past, but you can change your attitude about your past and the impact your past has on your present and future. This starts by dealing with and working through the pain and allowing God to penetrate deep into your soul. It is difficult and painful, but definitely worth it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Take your thoughts captive!

Sometimes the enemy attacks in very obvious and overt ways. More often, though, he attacks subtly by putting negative thoughts in your mind about yourself. He uses these thoughts to pull you away from God and away from your destiny. 

The enemy is relentless and will continue to pound you down until you stop him. And you can stop him. You are in control of your thoughts. You can take captive the negative thoughts and make them positive. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5:

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” (emphasis mine)
My pastor says that he doesn't want any thought in his mind about himself that God doesn't have about him. We must do the same. So the next time a negative thought comes into your mind, replace it with a godly thought. Here are some examples:

I am ugly.                    I am made in the image of God and I am beautiful!
                                    (Genesis 1:26)

I am stupid.                 I am smart and I have the mind of Christ!
                                    (1 Corinthians 2:16)

I am a loser.                 I am a conqueror!
                                    (Romans 8:37)

I can’t do anything.     I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!
                                    (Philippians 4:13)

I’m no good.                God is good and He instructs me in his ways!
                                    (Psalm 25:8)

I’m not worthy.           God has numbered the hairs on my head – I am worthy to Him!
                                    (Matthew 10:30)

I have done awful        I am forgiven!
awful things.                (Psalm 130:4, Acts 10:43, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14)

Start today to take control of your thoughts. Changing your thoughts can change your life!