Posts Tagged ‘Elijah House’

I have a friend whose life phrase is “live loved” which she has adopted from the God Journey folks. It deeply resonates because of its simplicity and promise that we are loved and called to do the same for others.

Ephesians 5:2-3
Be imitators of God, a therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

It’s a two way process actually, but substantially begins with being loved (or recognizing that we are loved). Usually, we experience this love first as small children in the home. The better our parents were at loving and creating security in love, the better start we have. If that love is absent, then the search is on. We all search because we all know, inherently, that we are creatures of love. It is part of our DNA.

So much of what we do as young adults and teenagers is asking, “do you still love me?” If the answer appears to be “no,” then the search for “feeling loved” expands further. And if there is no model for being loved, the chance of picking up a counterfeit increases exponentially.

Although my father loved me, his age and alcoholism prevented him from being consistent. As a child, I forgave him everything (as children do), until he died when I was nine, and my heart interpreted that as the greatest betrayal of love ever. My mother, handicapped by her own losses and mental instabilities, did the best she could, but her love always seemed to carry a proviso, a burden, a condition.

So, I performed well to merit love, from her, from my friends, from the men in my life. I became an expert chameleon, the consummate actress in life as well as on the stage. Theater and acting seemed like the perfect solution: applause equaled love. All the while asking, am I worth loving now?

Even when I met God in Christ, I was still programmed to perform and earn love. I worked through the motions and the rules. I went to church. I married a Christian man. I wore Jesus jewelry and talked the Jesus talk. I lifted up my hands at the right times and depending on the setting, I danced and swayed.

Similar to the Verizon commercial, my heart would say, “Do you love me now?”

But with each year of performing, the mistakes piled up as well. There was that inner critique, the reviewer whose assessment was always harsh and blistering.

When was the release moment? I can’t really say. I think it started when I learned about “performance-orientation” from Elijah House. And then, from there, a counselor helped me accept the truth of Romans 8:1 (Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus . . . ). And eventually, I came to really believe God loved me, failures, disappointments, and all.

And only then, I will truthfully say, did my journey to love God back begin in earnest. Only then, did I understand and experience freedom in my faith.

And what does loving God look like? I’m pretty sure it’s loving others and letting them love me. Today. I’ll start with today.

(Fast Day 2)

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I learned the enduring power of the sowing and reaping principle through Elijah House. But now I see there is an added piece to it: motive. Why I sow “whatever” makes a difference in the yield.

II Corinthians 9:6-7
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man [or woman] should give what he [she] has decided in his [her] heart to give not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [sower].

Sowing is everywhere. It’s in the money I give, it’s in the words I say, it’s in the quality of my touch, it’s in my work and more. Reaping comes automatically, in one form or another and on its own timetable. And, significantly, reaping comes in multiples of a third, two-thirds or even 100% more than the original sowing [Mark 4:20]. Could it be that these multiples are determined by motive? How did I sow?

I think too many people think that “following the rules” is enough. And to some degree that is true. The doing of good works is good. But is it enough to do if it’s with an attitude of bitterness or unbelief? I am encouraged to give of our family’s plenty and tithe, let’s say, but if I give with a hard heart, I now think it nullifies the true effect of the gift. The return is stunted.

A dear friend told me this principle applies in the smallest of gestures, even cooking. She said I should never cook a meal in anger or resentment, for the meal itself will lose its flavor. It will still be food and nourish the body but it will not reap any other blessings.

This is the main reason Christ tells us to do everything in love. It is love that provides the “salt” to every gesture, to every word, to every intent.

Teach me to plant today with the humus of love.

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Isn’t the root issue always the most important? So often, we judge people and circumstances by first impressions or appearances without looking for the heart. But looking inside can be treacherous.

Romans 11:16
If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

In the plant world, roots have very particular responsibilities. They absorb water and inorganic nutrients and they anchor the plant to the ground. They also control how quickly a plant will grow and store nutrients for later use. (Wikipedia for more on roots)

This description is not much different than the work of the human spirit who ultimately directs our growth and maturation into adults. A child whose spirit is broken will not thrive. A wounded soul is incapable of experiencing the fullness of love or hope: essentials to happiness. A slumbering spirit will no longer absorb truth.

Some years ago I was active in the Elijah House ministry. This is where I first heard about the negative power of “bitter root judgments” [See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Romans 12:15]. It is so important to search out and prayerfully confront deep root problems. As long as these issues from a person’s past are boxed up and unattended, they will continue to impair and cloud daily life (sometimes without our conscious knowledge). Elijah House was instrumental in revealing some of these obstacles in my own life and how to become aware of their negative influence. Some of those roots had to be pulled out altogether and cast away. Some were cleaned and lovingly returned to the soil of my heart by the Holy Spirit: inner healing.

When a personal spirit is united with the Holy Spirit, the process toward wholeness [holiness] begins. It is just another way of explaining “sanctification.”

Sanctification works both directions, from the outside in and from inside out. Yes, we must choose to change our behaviors and extend ourselves outside the comfort zone: loving the unlovely, helping those less fortunate than we are, investing our “talents” in those people and areas that can use them. But we must also change from within, exposing our hearts and spirits to the Light of God’s Holy Spirit. And as our roots are healed, the outside choices become much easier.

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