SOAPing My Way to Maturity

In my last post on SOAPing I introduced the method of daily devotions.  I want to continue to share some of my personal devotions done through SOAPs with you so that you will see how powerful these can be in your own journey to maturity with the Lord.  I also am hoping that this will make you hungry to grab a scripture and try it for yourself!

Please share your thoughts with me.  I’m interested in hearing about how your SOAPing is impacting your life.  These can be very simple and very powerful.  Try it out!

Here’s my example from this morning… It’s titled:  The Impact of Immaturity

Scriptures:

Galatians 4:1 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage he is no different from a slave although he owns the whole estate.

Galatians 4:3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces (basic principles) of the world.

Galatians 4:7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Observations:

As I read through these scriptures last night I began to look at this from a new perspective.  I have always looked at these scriptures the “typical” way that they have been both viewed and taught by teachers and preachers but I feel that God has been pushing and challenging me over the past period of months to push the limits.  God wants me to challenge everything that I have ever been taught, to dig deeper to get His truth for me and not just what he has shown to other people.  I’m not saying that what He has shown others is wrong.  I’m just saying that just because that was the nugget of truth that set them free it does not mean that this will be the nugget of truth that I need to set me free.

The word has so many nuggets and part of the reason why people keep reading the word and it isn’t effective in their lives is because they haven’t gotten the right nuggets of truth out of the scriptures.  They are content to eat off the same nuggets God produced for other people.  But for their situations and their circumstances, God has other truths that are the right truths to set them free.  Not opposing truths, just deeper truths that speak to them directly.

So, what am I seeing here that I haven’t seen before?  What new truths and perspectives is God showing me about these scriptures that He hasn’t revealed to me through someone else’s study of the Word?

In the past I’ve looked at this scripture as a walk of maturity where a child had to be monitored and sit under tutors as they grew up into maturity until they were able to stand on their own two feet and the father said they were old enough or mature enough to manage the estate on their own.  That perspective takes these scriptures and views them through the eyes of the child of the estate and his growth from a child into an adult who is ready to take over the estate.  A child the father views as entitled and who will inherit regardless of his actions.  A child who walks in his father’s footsteps and grows to maturity.

But, there is another perspective here that I haven’t heard anyone address that God is addressing with me now.  There is the perspective of the slave.  These scriptures are talking about a person who owns the entire estate – they are the heir – the son.  The rightful owner and the one with all the control and authority on the estate.  But, because they are too young or immature to walk in that authority they are no different than a slave ON THE ESTATE THEY OWN.

They have full authority over everything but what they own (the slaves, tutors, guardians, and trustees) actually is controlling them.  Vs 2 talks about the guardians and trustees that they are subject to  — these people are actually people they have authority over but because of their age and immaturity they are subject to them.  At some point in their lives, they (the child) will step up and begin taking authority over these people – if they actually mature properly.

Depending on who the guardians, tutors, and trustees are and what areas of the estate they are in the child will mature in different areas at different times and stop becoming dependent upon them and will take authority over them or cast them out all together.  The child doesn’t mature all at one time in every area.  For example, the one who helps him take a bath will be told that he wants to do it himself when he reaches 4-6.  Even at this young age, he will take authority and dismiss her.

The person who chooses his clothes and helps him get dressed will be told by him to stop picking out his clothes and helping him when he gets somewhere between 8-14.  He will take authority and dismiss her.  He will do the same with the school teacher, the one telling him to clean his room, the nanny, the field hand, the one handling the finances, etc. until he finally takes authority over the entire estate.  Depending on how quickly he matures, he may take over the entire estate at 16 or 18 or 25 or 35…or never.  His maturity is dependent upon his decision to mature.

Application:

This is really powerful to realize.  What is this saying?  How does this apply to me personally and to the people to whom I minister?  This gives me a lot of insight into why people struggle in certain areas and not in others.  Pockets of strongholds and pockets of areas where people are still subject to slavery to sin or control of a spirit.  I see something deeper here than I’ve seen in the past.

It’s not just healing that needs to occur.  It’s not just taking authority that needs to occur.  It’s not just a breaking of the chains that needs to happen.  This gives me insight to what needs to happen in order for people to get to the place they need to be for the actual breaking free to happen.

Spiritual Maturity.  As long as we are immature in an area, we are content to be in slavery.  We are content to be ruled over by something that we have full authority over.  Until we begin to mature, we don’t begin to recognize that there is something out of order.  Then, as we begin to grow and mature the usurp feels unnatural until we can’t tolerate it any longer.  Then, we rise up and say, “No more.  Take your rightful position in submission to me!”

This makes so much sense.  It is exactly what people need – and what I need to evaluate my own life and know where I need growth and maturity.  Where am I struggling?  This is the question people need to ask.

Am I struggling with fear?  If so, than I am immature in the area of fear and this is where I need to concentrate to gain spiritual maturity in my studies and prayer so God can help me to grow.  This is where I need to get mentoring and practical knowledge and exercise any other growth opportunities that will help me to become mature.  The quicker I become mature the less I will be willing to tolerate a lifestyle of fear.  This spirit that constantly controls me will begin to sicken me and I will start to take authority over it because I will realize that it is usurping my authority and will no longer tolerate its control over me as I mature.

Am I struggling with finances?  If so, than I am immature in the area of finances and this is where I need to concentrate to gain spiritual maturity in my studies and in prayer so God can help me grow.  This is where I need to get mentoring and practical knowledge.  I need coaching, I need classes, I need a budget, I need a plan, I need to practice fasting in my spending, I need to do whatever it takes to gain maturity in this area until I am sick of being controlled by a spirit of poverty, a spirit of greed, or whatever other spirits are controlling me and forcing my spending habits to be out of alignment with my income.  If my career is out of alignment with my need for income, I need to mature enough that that comes into alignment also. What do I need to do in order to bring these things into alignment?  What do I need to do in order to mature in this area?   What do I need to submit to in order to mature?

All of these things are a part of spiritual maturity but people don’t get the connection between how spiritual maturity connects to the natural world.  When we reach spiritual maturity these financial struggles will fall off because we will be subject to God to lead us and direct us and we will not be slaves to anything else – even ourselves in the area of finances.

Where else do people struggle?  What questions do they need to ask themselves? Am I struggling in my marriage?  In my relationships?  The same thing applies as in the other areas.  Am I struggling with the language I use?  Am I struggling with eating?  Wow-that’s a big one for a lot of people.  It’s just an area where spiritual maturity is an opportunity.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.

Prayer:

God, this is good.  Thank you for showing me this.  This was like the missing link that people need to understand to diagnose themselves.  We all want to “solve the problem” but the truth is that when we go “solve the problem” what we are trying to do is take care of symptoms.  We need root cause to truly fix problems.  If the root cause of ongoing struggles where we are still in slavery to things that we have authority over in Jesus’ name then show us our immaturity clearly so we can begin to take steps to mature.

Make us want to mature.  Make us so sick of being slaves to the things we have authority over that we rise up and want to mature and take authority.  God show us that this world is our estate!  We own this world!  You gave it to us and put us in authority over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth!  Over everything that flies in the air!  Over every principality and power that is in the second heaven!  All authority and power is ours.  The only reason we are still subject to our slaves – the only reason our slaves are ruling over us, is because we have not yet matured in that area.

It’s not a judgment of condemnation, it’s just a statement of where we are in this walk.  Show us ourselves clearly and point to us where you want us to take the next step of maturity.  I know in my life the areas where you are maturing me right now.  This year is a huge year of growth and maturity for me in areas where you have not worked before.  I am a totally different person than I was just 7-8 months ago and I know you aren’t done yet.  I receive whatever it is you need to do in me to make me completely mature in these areas.  I want to walk in full power and authority – spiritual maturity in every area of my life.

I want to be whole.  Not fragmented.  Whole.  Complete.  Mature.

 

 

 

 

 

The Flag of My Children Flies on This Hill

Where do I start?  Maybe here…Father’s Day.  A day of victory.

This weekend held yet more revelation and realization for me.  How interesting my perspective of this weekend compared to the perspective of so many.  Not bad in any way, just different.  I didn’t even realize it until today.

The perspective I hold could be viewed as a tragic by some but, I view it as our victory.  This was victory that took years to arrive at and was worth every moment of the battle.  Some hills might not look like victories — in fact until today – until just a couple of hours ago there were some hills that I didn’t realize the flag of my children flew upon.

I had viewed those hills as lost to the enemy but now I see that they were not lost hills, but hills of victory.  I just needed a different perspective to see my flag, our flag, waving in the wind.

It took today to see it.  A different day, a different perspective, and the words of my oldest daughter brought it all home for me, “How sad,” she said.  Those words brought my entire life into victorious perspective and I knew for certain that I had won the victory for my children.

In order for these words to make sense, I’ll tell you a bit of my story as pertains to the weekend and how the words, “How sad,” could possibly prove that our life is victorious.

Friday, I posted pictures of my husband and I on Facebook saying something to the effect of, “I have spent the last twenty-four Father’s Days with this amazing man whom God created just for me!  You are perfect and I love you.”  This didn’t seem odd to me at all.  It was only natural to me that I would appreciate the father that I most admire in the world – my husband.

Later, either Friday or Saturday my oldest daughter changed her profile picture to one of her Father and herself at her wedding a couple of months ago.  She just got her pictures from the wedding back on Friday so I didn’t think too much of it but I did wonder why she posted a picture of herself and her dad instead of her and her husband as her profile picture.  Then, I thought, “Oh, how sweet.  She loves her daddy.”  It never occurred to me that she was posting a picture of her and her daddy for Father’s Day.

Then, as Saturday and Sunday progressed I started seeing tons of people posting pictures of themselves with their fathers saying, “Happy Father’s Day,” especially wedding pictures of daughters and dads.

I thought this was interesting.  Posting a picture of me with my father would not even occur to me.  The concept itself was foreign. The only reference point that I even have in my life for a father is my husband.  So I did what came naturally to me, I posted a picture of me with the only father I would think to honor – him.

On Sunday, my youngest daughter posted a spread of funny pictures of her and her dad, “selfies” of her trying to get pictures with him but he kept running off or hiding from the camera.

At our Sunday family dinner our two daughters were talking about the pictures they posted on Facebook of them with their dad and I mentioned that I had realized today when seeing everyone posting pictures with their father’s on Facebook that I had two fathers, my birth father and a step father but I had never taken a single picture with either of them that I was aware of my entire life.  To this, my oldest daughter responded, “That’s so sad.”

Huh…sad?  I guess it is.  But what is incredible to me about this entire story is that my children and I have such a huge gap in the concept of “father”.  I consider this a great victory.  I have no concept or reference point for having a relationship with a father whatsoever.  So much so that I don’t remember taking a single picture together.  There was no father to walk me down the isle and I have no concept of what it means to have the love of a father – period.

But, my children – every single one of them – have grown up in a home with their father loving them.  Every one of them with tons of pictures to prove it!  None of them can conceive what it would be like to not have their father in their lives.  None of them can comprehend what it would be like to not feel loved by their daddy. This is why their flag flies on the hill.  This is why I declare victory!

My second oldest daughter, my first daughter by birth was actually raised most of her life in the home of her father and not by my husband and me.  For years, I looked at this as a hill lost but today, God showed me how my flag – HER flag is flying in victory.  She got what I never had.  She got to have what every one of my other children had.  She wasn’t deprived of seeing her father every single day of her life.  For this I am grateful.  For this I declare victory!

I love every one of my children more than life itself and there is nothing I would not give up for them.  There is nothing I would not give for them.  But I realized today that I have given each of them something that is quite possibly more precious to me than the very air I breathe.  Something I never had – to know the love of their father.

SOAPing Your Way to Intimacy

At our church we practice a form of daily devotions called SOAP.  This is an easy way of connecting with God by just taking one scripture and allowing God to speak to you.  Doing this helps us to develop a more personal relationship with God through His word.  This practice was first taught in a book by Wayne Cordeiro called, “The Divine Mentor.”

SOAP is an acronym. S=Scripture, O=Observations, A=Application, and P=Prayer

It’s just that simple.  Basically, you select a passage of scripture to read and when a scripture catches your attention choose it as your SOAP topic for the day.  That’s your “S”.

Then, write down your observations about the scripture.  Whatever you see in the scripture from any perspectives.  That’s your “O”.  Next, write down how this applies to you and your life on a personal level.  That’s your “A”.  Then, write out a prayer concerning these things.  That’s your “P”.  It’s that simple.

I’ve decided to share my SOAP from yesterday because I’m always transparent in my blogs and because I want you to understand what this looks like in practice.  However, yours may look and sound a lot different because this is personal to you.  God will speak to you in your own personality and your relationship with him will look different than mine.

I encourage you to start SOAPing because this practice is very effective for really connecting with God.  But I don’t encourage you to try to have my relationship with God.  I encourage you to have your own that looks like the way you relate to God.  Talk to God the way you talk to Him.  Write as much or as little as your personality dictates you write.  Let Him speak to you in the language you understand.

Here’s my SOAP… I hope this is helpful and encouraging for you.

 6/13/14 – Obscurity

Scripture:

GW – John 1:5 The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it.

KJV – John 1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Comprehend:
From G2596 and G1983; to take eagerly, that is, seize, possess, etc. (literally or figuratively): – apprehend, attain, come upon, comprehend, find, obtain, perceive, (over-) take.

Observations:

I see something new and different here today that I’ve never noticed before.  In the past when I’ve read this scripture I’ve read it as the light came in (Jesus) and shines in the darkness and I interpreted that as “ before the darkness”.  The mental picture I always had in my mind when I read this was that we, the people, were the darkness.  It was our darkened minds.  Jesus came and shined the light in front of us but because our minds were darkened we comprehended him not – we didn’t receive him.

But that’s not what this scripture is saying at all.  When I read this in the GW translation at first I thought that it had been misinterpreted because “comprehended” in the KJV was translated as “extinguished” in the GW.  But when I looked closer at this I realized that the GW was right and I was wrong.  What I had thought, or maybe what I had been taught, was wrong.  The darkness isn’t us.

The original word for darkness here is From G4655; dimness, obscurity (literally or figuratively): – dark (-ness).

So the scripture says that Jesus shines his light into the dimness, into an obscure place, and the obscurity does not seize or take possession of his light.  What it is saying here is that the obscurity (even if it is the obscurity of our minds) does not have the power to overpower the light of Christ.

This is why Christ came into the world and he was just a small obscure baby.  Just one man.  He never tried to make a name for himself.  He didn’t have to seek fame.  He walked in humility.  Even in obscurity.  But the obscurity could not consume him.  It could not extinguish him.

His power was so great that obscurity would never cause his power to be extinguished.  His light is so bright in contrast to the darkness that the darkness can never consume it.  That one baby.  That one man – brought salvation to the world and transformed everything.  His power still reigns and his message is still spreading powerfully across the earth.

Application:

We don’t need to be concerned with making a name for ourselves in order to be effective as a church or as ministers or as Christians.  This is such a confirmation for me.  I already know this and I’m fully persuaded but temptation is always right there before me.  People intend for their statements to be complements, but what they really end up being for me are temptations implanted in the back of my mind waiting for an opportune moment of weakness to pounce.

Genesis says it so eloquently, “Sin crouches at your door waiting to pounce.  It wants to control you, but you must master it.”  These temptations come in the form of: “You should be preaching on TV,” or “You should be preaching to thousands,” and “You remind me of Joyce Meyer.”

I feel like God gave me the perfect response the other day to the “You should be preaching to thousands” compliment, even though I am probably not supposed to say it out loud to other people, it’s more like an inside joke between me and God, “Well, if God thought that too then, I would be preaching to thousands.”

I don’t have any lofty desires.  I just want to love God and love God’s people.  I just want to help people and preach the Word.  I want to teach and help people take the chains off their lives.  I want to let God use the stuff I’ve experienced to others’ benefit.

Prayer:

Lord, when you gave me that response the other day it just filled me with joy, set me free, and made me laugh so hard!

I’m perfectly content to preach and teach in obscurity.  Because I’m scared, ashamed, have low self-esteem, or any of that stuff?  No, of course not.  I just have no need to become famous.  I want you to be famous.  I want to see people’s lives changed.  Obscurity can’t wash you out!  Obscurity can’t extinguish your power.  And fame can’t make you any more powerful than you already are.

I will pour your love and truth out to one.  I will pour your love and truth out to three.  I will pour your love and truth out to twelve.  I will pour love and truth out to fifty or a hundred.  I will do the same for a thousand or ten thousand.  I won’t know the difference anyway.  I never count how many people are in the room because I truly don’t care.  I don’t care how many – I care WHO.

Help me to always touch each one as if they are the only one.  I never want so many that I forget whose they are — they are yours not mine.  They are not my disciples – they are your children.  They don’t need me – they need you.  There’s nothing I can say that will help them – but plenty I can say that will hurt them if I have my own interests in front of theirs.

Obscurity can never hide or extinguish your power but it can only magnify your power in me.  I choose.  I choose to walk in obscurity.  I choose.  Whether I preach to one or one thousand or one million – I choose to be obscure.

If and when you observe me doing otherwise, shut it down.  Shut me down.  Don’t allow me to continue.  Don’t let me bring harm to your people.

What Do You Really Really Want?

When you take the time to be still and just talk with the Lord and let him bring questions to your mind that you have to honestly answer you learn a lot about yourself and your true desires.  Tonight, I sat in the back corner of a local restaurant in San Diego for a couple of hours where I was happy to have a distracted waitress who left me alone to focus on spending some time journaling and sorting through some thoughts with the Lord.

As I entered into my private conversation with the Lord I approached Him thankful that this week, which happens to be the third week in a five-week travel span, I will finally be able to completely focus on spending time with Him and on preparing my next teaching series.

I’ve known for a couple of months that I had this trip coming up to do some work for a client and while I was not rejoicing in the thought of being away from my family during the week I knew that I would have a lot of private time to spend with the Lord.  Since I never get large buckets of alone time at home five weeks of focused attention towards the Lord sounded like I was about to experience a much needed deep spiritual surgery.

Realizing that it took me three weeks to get to this point frustrated me and I so began a conversation with the Lord that brought deep revelation to my life regarding things I truly desire.  Things I didn’t even understand about myself.

I started a conversation with the Lord about my career and ministry: “Why am I so divided and scattered.  I’ve got competing priorities.  How do I balance this life I live?  I have multiple competing priorities.  Things that are important to me.  ME.  Is that the problem?  Is that the struggle?  I want to give it up but at the same time I don’t want to give it up.  I enjoy work and working and being a professional.  I enjoy success and doing the things I do.  Why do I do it?  What is important?  Do I have to do it all?  Do I need to back out of some things?”

After rambled for I while longer I said the magic words I say so often, “I want to stop working.”

J. Val Hastings asks a question when coaching, “What is the one thing that you really, really want?”

Tonight as I sat down and spent time with the Lord His question to me fell along these lines.  He said, “When you say you want to stop working, what do you really want?”

Until you truly understand what you want, it is impossible to get those things. Once you sort through all the noise and completely understand what you really want more than anything and cast aside all the stuff that isn’t important he can walk you through the plan to get there.

I discovered some really interesting things about what I really want tonight.  What I discovered was that until tonight I didn’t have clarity about what I really want.  I also discovered that I didn’t understand the motivations around what I really want.  I discovered that I already have everything I really want except for the number one thing that trumps all.

But now that I clearly understand what I want and why I want it, I can prioritize my life and build a plan that brings me to fulfill my number one thing.  Now I know what to focus on.

The Lord puts the desires in our heart but we have to listen to him to truly understand what those desires are.

The Bible says that where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint. When we don’t really understand where we want to be we just fly by the seat of our pants trying to get there and can’t figure out why we keep ending up in places that are unfulfilling.

Withdrawing my entry from the rat race

Between ministry and work I travel often and what I have noticed most about people is that they are stressed. Today I am in the DFW International Airport on my way to San Diego and just 15 minutes prior to boarding time an announcement rang out over the intercom stating that there was a gate change from gate A39 to A17, which happens to be on the opposite end of the terminal.

I watched as people with worried looks on their faces hurried to the other end of the terminal in order to get to the new gate in time to board the flight. The path to the new gate included a trip on the “Skylink” which is the airport’s internal shuttle system that brings passengers from terminal to terminal within the security gates. These shuttles are automated cars without drivers that stop at one-minute intervals to pick up and drop off passengers.

Amazed, I watched as an entire plane full of passengers attempted to cram into one shuttle car in order to get to the new gate quickly. As the shuttle threatened, “Please step away from the doors. The doors are now closing.” People continued to cram into the car. One man actually squeezed into the door as it closed and got his bag and his leg caught in the door forcing the door to open back up. Upon opening back up, more people packed into the car.

I stood on the outside of the car and watched the doors close while the people on the other side looked at me fearfully. I just waved at them and said, “It’s okay. I’ll catch the next one.” Remember, the shuttles pass in one-minute intervals as per the overhead announcements that keep saying, “The next shuttle will arrive in one minute.”

What’s the point? Why do I tell this story? To illustrate that people are overwhelmed. This leads to anxiety and fear over things that don’t deserve the energy. Think about this scenario with the gate change. People were in a state of panic over a simple unplanned change. They were worrying about missing their flight because of a last minute blip. A heightened state of anxiety made them all bypass logic and go straight to fear. “Oh no, I only have 15 minutes until boarding time! How am I going to make it to the other end of the airport in time to get on the plane?”

As I watched 150 people panic, this is what passed through my mind: 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Instead of panic, I reasoned, “Fear does not come from God so I know that fear is an unacceptable response to this situation. Worry and anxiety only lead to fear so I know that this is not the reaction that I need to have to this sudden change. I have power over my actions, reactions, and thoughts so I am going to make decisions regarding how I react, act, and think right now. I am not going to be frustrated with people or this situation because God has given me a spirit of love. And finally, God has given me a spirit of a sound mind. That means, that I have the ability to think through this issue logically and act in a logical manner.

1) The airline has announced a gate change. That means that they are aware that the entire passenger manifest has to move to a new gate even though boarding time is 15 minutes away, 2) It does not take 15 minutes to walk to the other side of the terminal even if it is 20 gates away. It does not even take 15 minutes to take the Skylink to a completely different terminal. 3) The plane boards 30 minutes prior to take off and the crew makes multiple calls for passengers that have checked in and not boarded prior to closing the plane door all the way until take off time. You can actually wait until 5 minutes till take off to board the plane and still get on. 4) Even if I miss this flight there are two more flights tonight that can get me to my destination.”

There is power in walking in the peace of God. God has not created me to walk in fear. He has not created me to walk in anxiety. He has not created me to be stressed. He has given me a sound mind. He has given me peace that surpasses all understanding. I don’t have to worry. Worry has never added a moment to any of my days – worry has only accomplished adding fear to my life. God has not given me a spirit of fear. God has not created me to be a part of the rat race. He has created me for peace. I choose to withdraw from the race and walk in peace.

Internal Vows

I grew up hearing about how my birth father was abusive to my mother and to my older brother. My mother left him when I was only eight months old so I don’t remember the abuse personally. I never saw it, I never felt what was inflicted upon my family or me, but I lived in the aftermath.

It wasn’t something my mother had tons of stories about and it wasn’t something we talked about all the time but it wasn’t hidden either. We knew. And it was enough to make me deeply angry. The strange thing was that I didn’t really realize it until now but my anger wasn’t just directed at my father. Yes, I was angry that he could be such a monster. But since he wasn’t a part of my life he wasn’t real to me. He was just this invisible monster that didn’t really exist. Some unknown fairy tale that people told stories about. The father who didn’t love me. The one that regardless of what people said about him, I secretly longed to have hold me in his arms and prove to me that it was all a lie. Of course, that never materialized.

This deep anger that I had was at the injustice of it all. How could my mother just stand there and let him beat on her? How could she let him beat up my brother who was only four years old? How could she let him throw him on the floor and stomp on his chest? Why didn’t she stop him? Where were my grandparents when this was happening? What about my aunts and uncles? Didn’t anyone care? They all talked about how much they hated my father but no one seemed to love us enough to protect us either! They had to see the bruises on my mom and my brother! They lived only 3 doors down and they saw us every day. Why wasn’t anyone doing anything during all these years? Why wasn’t anyone stopping it?

My mind would hear these stories as a child and I didn’t realize it then, but in my subconscious I kept thinking, “This doesn’t make sense! You keep telling me these stories to prove how horrible my father is but you are just as horrible! YOU let it happen! All of you! You let it happen!”

As a small child, I made an internal vow that I would never allow a man to beat up on me. My husband would never, ever hit me. I would kill him before I let that happen!

And there it was. The internal vow that would rule my life, lurking in the subconscious until the Lord revealed it to me and set me free. This vow would haunt my husband for 24 years as he lived under the constant verbal reminder of, “You know, if you ever hit me I’ll kill you,” when there was never a reason to suspect that he would touch me.

You can hear the audio teaching on this topic where the Lord revealed this vow to me during a session and I broke the vow during a live class. The class contains other examples stories of internal vows that might be helpful. The link to the audio recording can be found on my website at: http://womenofhope.podcastpeople.com/posts/57000

What are internal vows?
Internal vows are damaging promises we make in order to comfort ourselves in times of pain, frustration, or difficulty and these promises are never healthy. We swear things to ourselves in attempt to create protection from pain in the future. But instead of freeing us from pain in the future, these vows actually tie us to our past in an unhealthy way.

There are three major problems with internal vows:
1 – They are unscriptural – “Do not swear an oath…all you need to say is yes or no; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5: 34, 37)

2 – They have an unforeseen effect – when we make an internal vow, we set the course for our lives. These vows often have a “sleeper” effect where they slip into our subconscious and we don’t realize that we are living by our vow yet they still rule our decisions. Internal vows can make people do things that are completely out of character trying to keep the vow. They can take over our better judgment and cause us to act unreasonably.

3 – They are the most powerful level of commitment – because they are rooted in such deep pain and turmoil, they can easily become the most powerful and guiding force in our lives. When it comes to what a person is going to do with his life it typically comes down to his priorities and values. Because internal vows become a part of our core belief system, most people value their own internal vows above their commitment to God and family. Internal vows are the highest level of commitment for most people even when they do not realize that the internal vow exists.

Our greatest commitment should be to the Lord, but when we’ve sworn to ourselves that we will do something or not do something, subconsciously that commitment overrides any commitment we have to God. These vows can easily become a crippling obsession. They can guide us in ways that make it nearly impossible to develop and maintain a truly healthy relationship.

How can we identify internal vows?
Internal vows are made when we experience pain in situations in the form of hurts, humiliations, anger, etc. and we make a strong judgment or come to a strong conclusion about people or situations that there is a lack of justice that we are experiencing.

In response we make a vow that might look something like:
• No one will ever hurt me again
• I’ll never be vulnerable to anyone again
• I’m never going to be poor like my parents
• I’m never going to allow myself to fall in love with anyone ever again
• I’m never going to trust anyone else in my life
• I’ll never let anyone else make a fool out of me again
• I’m never be strict with my children
• I’m going to give my children everything they want
• My spouse will never treat me like that
• We will always have food in my house when I grow up

These vows tend to be off balance.

They draw a strong conclusion about a specific incident and apply that conclusion like a blanket to an entire lifetime in a general manner.

They create a heart of stone and unforgiveness surrounding an event that carries over into similar events for the rest of our life as long as the vow is in place. But God is able to remove the hardness from our hearts because he said he would replace our heart of stone with a heart of flesh. (Ezek 36:26)

How can we begin healing internal vows?
At the very core of an internal vow there is a lack of trust. These vows are a way of saying to God, “I don’t think you are going to protect me. You aren’t going to heal my pain.” We don’t trust God to be there when we need him most so we take control. Instead of trusting God with our hurts we find strength within ourselves and take matters into our own hands – because we have convinced ourselves that we can’t trust God to help us.

In order to heal, we must first identify when we have made an inner vow. Then we must surrender the vow to God and be willing to trust God to:
• heal the initial hurt that caused the vow
• help you forgive where forgiveness is needed
• surrender control of the inner vow to God and repent
• show you balance and new ways of handling this area of your life going forward

If you are interested in this topic, I have found a book that deals with it quite well. The book “When Life Hurts” by Jimmy Evans has a chapter devoted to Internal Vows but he also discusses internal vows throughout the entire book so it is worth the read. The book can be found at this link: http://www.amazon.com/When-Life-Hurts-Finding-Healing/dp/0801017114/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402149332&sr=8-1&keywords=when+life+hurts+jimmy+evans