I Just Need to Vent

Girl talk
Do you ever “vent” about problems to other people?  If there is a crisis in your life, do you call up a friend to fill them in on all the details and examine every aspect, hoping to find peace or a sense of control of the “situation” by getting it all out?

I used to do this all the time.  If someone hurt my feelings or a situation upset me, I would frequently spill my guts to my husband at the first opportunity.  Or call up a girlfriend if he was unavailable.

Do you ever find yourself talking about the same situation over and over with several people?

When I would get upset, I used to vent to anyone who would listen.  I would talk and talk about the people or situation- thinking that by getting it out I would feel better.

Even by using the word vent- I think we imagine if we get it out of our brains and share it with someone else that somehow this will bring peace to our troubled mind.

Here’s the problem.  Most of the time, talking to someone does not bring me peace.  In fact, many times it only stirs me up and upsets me more- and that sends me to the phone dialing a new number in hopes of seeing if talking to someone else will help.

Honestly, I had not really consciously thought about how prevalent this cycle of “solving problems” was present in my life.

God revealed it to me, and convicted me- and I began to realize that talking to my husband or friend many times was just complaining.  I wasn’t seeking advice really- many times there wasn’t anything that I could do except go directly to that person and talk to them…and usually I wasn’t going to do that.

What I needed to do was stop- and pray.  Examine the “why.”  Why am I so upset?  What about this situation troubles me?  How can someone else help me “solve it?” And if they can’t maybe what needs to change is my heart- my perspective.

People will hurt us in this life- say inconsiderate and harsh things for no reason- speak without thinking of how their words could hurt.  We do it too- our tongues are fire.

James 3:8-10

but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

It should not be- but it is- and we all feel the pain and hurt of it- and we also inflict that pain upon others.  How do we respond when people hurt or disappoint us?

It dawned on me this morning- that “venting” was really me seeking from others reassurance.  I wanted them to confirm that what others said about me wasn’t true.

A deeper question- who tells us who we are? Who speaks truth to us? 

Do we allow what others say about us to become our identity?  Are we filled with anxiety when someone says something hurtful or negative about us- even when it is not true?

When a person has the ability to hurt us deeply- it is, in part, because we have given them that ability.  We have placed value on their opinion- and in fact, we may have elevated their opinion of us higher than the truth of who we are in Christ.

“How then can you hope to have inward peace? The heart’s fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest. Continue this fight through the years and the burden will become intolerable. Yet the sons of earth are carrying this burden continually, challenging every word spoken against them, cringing under every criticism, smarting under each fancied slight, tossing sleepless if another is preferred before them.”
A.W. Tozer   The Pursuit of God

I remember reading those words not so long ago and thinking- yes, that has been me.  Getting all worked up because of a rumor someone is spreading about me, or hurt that someone criticized me in some way (even if they didn’t mean to), feeling inadequate as a Mom, as a wife, as a friend (maybe people would love me more if….).

But Tozer also presents us with the secret of peace- to cease striving in this endless rat race of comparisons.

“The meek man…has accepted God’s estimate of his own life. He knows he is as weak and helpless as God has declared him to be, but paradoxically, he knows at the same time that he is, in the sight of God, more important than angels. In himself, nothing; in God, everything. That is his motto. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He rests perfectly content to allow God to place His own values.”
A.W. Tozer   The Pursuit of God

Dear friends, let us shirk off the burden of trying to please everyone, of worrying about what other people think of us or whether we are meeting their expectations and seek only to please God.

Embrace the freedom of living in the reality of who you are in Him- that identifies you- and gives you worth.  Nothing else.

How do we hold on to how God sees us?  When we are constantly criticized at work? Put down and gossiped about?  Even when we go above and beyond what is required at our job?  When we are innocent and have done nothing to deserve being treated like we are?

We memorize God’s Word.  We hold onto it- we pray it, we say it. When we feel alone and unappreciated.  When our co-workers are gossiping about us on the other end of the room, we close our eyes or close out the world around us- and let God speak true to combat their lies.  Let Him be the voice we hear and listen to.

If we can discipline ourselves to this daily- when others try to speak lies to us- they will fall away unheard- for we are protected by the Armor of God.

Ephesians 6:14-17

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Hear these words as well- hide them in your heart:

John 1:12- I am God’s child– “To all who received Him, He gave the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name.”

Ephesians 2:18- I have access to the Father– “Through Him we both have success by one Spirit to the Father.”

Romans 5:1- I have been justified-“Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 6:20- I belong to God– “You were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.”

Ephesians 1:7-8- I have redemption– “We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our sin, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us in all wisdom and understanding.”

1 Corinthians 2:16- I possess the mind of Christ– “For who has known the mind of Christ, that he may instruct Him; yet we have the mind of Christ.”

1 John 5:4- I am victorious– “Whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.”

Romans 8:2- I am set free– “The spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

1 John 3:1- I am loved– “Behold what manner of love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is because it did not know Him.”

Dear friends- I pray that the truth of who we are in Christ will resonate so deeply within us- that we will cling to Him so tightly- that no other words will break through that impenetrable Truth.

We are loved eternally- completely- just as we are- through the blood of Jesus Christ and our acceptance of the gift of salvation.  Grace abounds- blotting out every sin.

Live in freedom today.


May Love Be Our Banner

I have long considered sharing a post on this subject, and events have occurred recently which have once again pushed it to the forefront of my mind.

I have long been dismayed by the use of graphic images of babies mutilated, torn apart, and bloodied as part of the pro-life movement.

Having worked with women who have had abortions and deeply regretted it, as well as having friends that have also had abortions- I know that this kind of graphic depictions can be very upsetting, resulting in nightmares and a return of guilt and shame even in cases where they have sought and received forgiveness in Christ.

LifeSiteNews.com recently posted a story criticizing a denomination for its pro-choice stance as well as a video of pro-life protestors outside of a church on Sunday morning with these awful graphic images on huge signs.

I am not saying that the images do not depict reality- in fact, I am sure that they do.

The thought that immediately crossed my mind was- how would I feel if they were outside my church?  I realized, I would be upset.

That would be so upsetting to my children to see-do we consider how these graphic images might affect an innocent mind?

I don’t think my children need to understand the ins and outs of abortion yet.  I don’t want to have to explain those graphic and distressing pictures.

In fact, truth be told, I don’t think the pro-life movement should use those pictures at all.

I wish that we would focus our energies on supporting crisis pregnancy centers in our local areas, educate ourselves about abortion and have conversations with people about it- at work, at our churches, at schools, in our neighborhoods.

Take responsibility to be a voice, pray for women who are going into the abortion clinic, offer to talk to them- shower them with love- but don’t shove graphic signs in their face.  Please- don’t do that.

Because if they regret the abortion later- might they possibly be reluctant to go back to those people who were holding graphic signs and yelling “Abortion is Murder” for help?

If we really value life, that means every life- the life of the mother too.

Do we want to alienate her by using emotionally traumatic/disturbing images and phrases while at the same time we profess to love her unborn baby?

As Christians- does our love only extend to that baby growing in the womb- or does it also reach out in compassion and love to a woman facing stressful and life-altering circumstances?

While still considering how we may reach out in love to these women- let’s reflect on what True Love looks like:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

I believe we can speak the truth in love while seeking to prevent a mother from having an abortion.  We can reveal churches who have caved to political pressure and are not strong in their pro-life stance without standing outside their doors on Sunday mornings with graphic signs.

Let us consider how Christ would go about reaching out to these women- and pray for discernment to honor Him in the way that we defend and advertise our views.

Note:  LifeSiteNews.com does a fantastic job in many respects of defending life- and spurring on the pro-life movement.  I believe this article was a rare misstep on their part.



Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Be Different
Do you ever find yourself making judgments about other people’s lifestyle choices?  How much they spend on their cars, eating out, clothing?  How about the movies they watch or how many hours they spend playing video games?

Many times we let judgmental statements slip through our lips without realizing who they might hurt.  For instance, you are with a group of people and someone says, “We have a mom who lives next door to us and she is on Facebook all the time and then she complains about how she never has time to get anything done.”

Statements like these cause wounds that sever or disrupt the unity that Christ longs for us to have as a church.

This is a simple example of making a statement without knowing all the facts- but we are assuming things about that person and how they spend their time and associating negative and judgmental attitudes towards their chosen behaviors/lifestyle choices.

Let me say at this juncture- I am guilty of this!  I know I am- frequently.  So when I heard a sermon preached on this subject- I knew I needed to spend some more time chewing on it- and repenting of my judgments about others- that keeps me from loving them as God has called me to in Christ.

There is freedom in Christ.  Yes, we have clear things that God calls us to abstain from- we have clear things that He calls us to do as an outpouring of the grace and love He has shown to us.

But judging others on “differences of opinion” was not one of them.  In Romans, Paul addresses this very issue.

Romans 14:1-12

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

We are all unique- and in our uniqueness as Christians- there are differences in how we go about putting our faith into practice.

When Paul addresses those who are weak- he does not criticize them for holding onto traditions that may not be “necessary” but instead urges those who are “stronger” in their faith to be patient with them. Also, the one who is “weaker” should not disdain or judge those who choose to participate in behaviors they disagree with.

During the sermon he pointed out two temptations that emerge out of dissimilarity in the church.

  • Disdain
  • Judgment

When we begin injecting our evaluative opinions into the Gospel- we undermine the work that Christ longs to do in us and through us as a body of believers.

Does this mean that we have to go against our own conscience so that we all agree on all matters?  No.  That’s not what Paul is saying.  We follow the conviction of the Holy Spirit in our own lives, test it against Scripture, and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to do the same.

We love them and embrace them along with all the differences that entails.  Rather than letting those things separate us- let’s delight in the beautiful uniqueness that is the church.

Be Different in This Forked Up World

May the Gospel fully penetrate our fellowship so that while truth and obedience matters and diversity exists, we nevertheless love each other out of reverence for Christ.

Note: So much of the credit and insights in this post goes to Pastor Dan at Lakeland Church.  For a link to the original sermon and sermon notes, click here.