Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"Brave Faces" By Kristan Dooley

An exert from Bigger: Rebuilding the Broken:

I made a decision the other day to take off my brave face. I didn’t just take it off, I took it off and threw it away. I don’t want to live with my brave face on any longer. I want the reality of the pain happening in my life to show for what it really is: pain.
The struggle is real and I want to acknowledge it openly. No more living with the mirage of having it all together. He won’t fix what we won’t admit is broken.
What would it look like to live in a world where people openly acknowledge the brokenness in their lives rather than suppressing it, in hopes no one notices? From a young age we are taught to tough it out, don’t show the world our pain, don’t let them see you weak. “Living out of the false self creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire us and nobody will know us.” (Brennen Manning, The Rabbi’s Heartbeat, 13.)
The truth is that we are better off because of our pain, and it is only in our weakness we are made strong.  “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.  God does not claim to be strong in our strength (although He is); He claims to be strong in our weakness.  Our weakness is attractive to His strength.  We were never meant to be the only ones holding ourselves together.  We were meant to let it fall, to let it break, and to invite Him in.
God is not the Redeemer of all things fixed.  He is the Redeemer of all things broken.
What happens when we allow ourselves to break and we invite Him in to do what we can never do on our own?  What happens when the world sees how weak we really are but, on the other side of our perceived weakness, they actually encounter His strength?
Healing doesn’t happen in the dark.  Keeping it together only keeps you away from the very thing you were created to encounter.  Don’t settle for what you can do with your pain.  Hand it over to Him and watch Him to the impossible. 

Kristan has worked in ministry for over a decade. Having recently served as a student pastor with the Vineyard Cincinnati, Kristan is transitioning into a full-time speaking/writing ministry. Equipped with a master’s degree in educational ministry from Cincinnati Christian Seminary, Kristan is passionate about taking people to a deeper place in their relationship with Christ.

Experiencing a life call that can be summed up in one word, Kristan has spent the last year writing and publishing her first book titled after her calling, “Bigger.”  God doesn’t put a band-aid over what's broken. He rebuilds it to be more than we ever asked or imagined possible. We can trust Him with what's broken, knowing He is the Master Rebuilder. 

She and her husband Dave, who is the elementary pastor at Vineyard Cincinnati, have two daughters, Ella (9) and Addilyn (7).  When Kristan isn’t speaking or writing,can find her spending time with her family on a boat, reading, spending time with close friends, and enjoying “no makeup Mondays” (her personal Sabbath day).

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"When the Chains are Broken" by Karen Cone

I stood in the back of the room listening as my friend taught about shame - that stubborn and pervasive belief that I am worthless, unwanted, beyond hope or help.

When my friend finished, a lady named Rae* spoke, "I want to say something.  I'm going to try not to cry.  My childhood was horrible.  My parents were extremely abusive and should have been jailed for the things they did to me.  But, I am sensing that I am about to be free because of what you just taught.  I am understanding for the first time that it was not me; it was not my fault that I was abused.  I can tell that God is setting me free from this lie that I have believed all my life." 

A holy hush fell upon the room as Rae shared with vulnerability the hope that God was revealing to her.  The gentle cleansing of tears flowed from person to person.  In moments like these, we perceive Him.  Jesus ... He has been there all along, but our eyes now behold reality.  The scales fall away.  We are reminded this material world is not all there is.  Jesus is not just a historical figure for us to study.  He lives.  He moves.  He frees us.

A question pierces my own heart:  Why do I resist the idea that I am broken and need help?  Pride slipped in undetected again.  Why would I let my self-sufficiency keep me from further hope, healing, and liberty?  I feel warmth grow through my neck and shoulders as the Spirit touches the tightness seemed to live there.  Stiffness built through the fear that I had to make things happen or get things done, forgetting His promise, "Without Me, you can do nothing."  God's Spirit wasn't just speaking to Rae about her freedom.  He was speaking to me.

Something happens when chains are broken.  Something greater happens when we are bold enough to open our mouths and say so.  "Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples." I Chronicles 16:24

As we were dismissing, I said to Rae, "Thank you for sharing that.  I could hear God speaking."  Rae replied, "I felt I needed to say it out loud.  I wanted the enemy to hear it."

Amen.  The Spirit moves.  Eyes are opened.  Freedom is granted.  The enemy quakes.

*name changed for privacy purposes

Karen loves to write and lead women's support group.  She is learning to walk in God's grace day to day as well as learning to extend that grace to others.  You can follow her blog at karencone.org