Welcome to your journey towards freedom! As you seek or walkout new found freedom I want to share a few tips. Number one saturate your atmosphere with praise and worship music.
Why? To begin with, the Scriptures speak of the Lord inhabiting the praise of His people in Psalm 22:3. When Paul and Silas were imprisoned, they were praying and singing together when their bonds were loosed, as well as the others in the prison who heard them singing (Acts 16:23-26). God delivered His people from their enemies as they sang and praised the Lord (2 Chronicles 20:18-24).
When we worship, we turn our focus from our difficulties to God and His greatness. I've learned that this puts them in perspective, and makes us see them as small as they really are.
There are times when I am so focused on something that in reality is not very important, worship does help to put it in its place.
However, sometimes I think that this type of statement minimizes truly traumatic events and occurrences. Yes, God is bigger than anything that happens to us, but this does not mitigate the significance of our hurts. God wants to walk with us through those times.
I have found that during my darkest times, worship reminds me of his closeness and his comfort. I take courage in the words of the songs of those who have been through struggles of all kinds as well.
But there seems to be something more tangible that happens when we saturate our atmospheres with worship music. I'm not entirely sure of all of the whys and hows, some would explain that quantum physics has something to do with it. I believe it a manifestation of the Spirit of God that lingers when we worship. Worship resonates at a frequency that seems to transfer itself into the structure of the place and it lingers on long past the time that the last note died away.
I've been to churches and cathedrals where God has been worshipped for hundreds of years. There's something unique in the very atmosphere of many of them. It's reverent.
Because of my experiences in those places of worship, when I first heard about playing worship music in my home in order to saturate the atmosphere with the Presence, it made sense. And, what could hurt? I was going through a difficult time, and I needed all the help I could get to keep moving forward. I played Christian radio 24/7. I began to notice a difference. There was a lightness in my house that I didn't feel elsewhere.
There are several resources that I've found helpful, and I'm sure there are others that I don't know about. I don't think that it has to be a certain style or kind of music. I do think that it matters if the artists singing and playing are doing so from the right place and with the right Spirit. That's why I've specified worship music here.
Not all Christian music is worship, in my opinion, although I enjoy most all of
it if I'm just listening. But, if I'm wanting to shift my atmosphere, then I pay more attention to which music I sense the Spirit in the most.
The second tip is to personalize Scripture. I take 3x5 cards and write out the verse or verses so that they pertain directly to me, putting my name in them as much as it works. I then read them aloud to myself as often as needed.
For a long time, I would write out my prayers and write what I "thought" the Lord might be saying to me. I was learning to hear the voice of the Lord.
Eventually, I could discern what was the Lord, what lined up with His word and I would write those out so I can read them to myself to help my mind align with Him.
One person I heard had so many that they bought a photo album to put them in so that they could more easily flip through them.
For example, Psalm 100:4 reads as follows: "Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."
There are 2 ways or at least 2 ways to personalize this. First, I can say: I will enter his gates with thanksgiving. I will go into his courts with praise. I will give thanks to him and I will praise his name.
Or: Cynthia (put your name in or the name of a loved one) will enter his gates with thanksgiving. Cynthia will go into his courts with praise. Cynthia will give thanks to him and Cynthia will praise his name.
So why do this?
I personalize the verses so that I make a greater and more personal connection to what the Scripture is saying to me. Since I grew up in church and reading the Bible, oftentimes it is easy for me to just skip over things because of familiarity. However, when I take the time to personalize the verse(s), oftentimes I am encouraged (or challenged!) in a new and different way by what I'm reading.
I regularly switch the versions of the Bible that I read as well. It helps me to see the scripture in a new way.
I also think that personalizing the Scriptures helps me to "own" them. They aren't just something someone a couple of thousand years ago wrote, this is what God is saying to me right here and now.
I read them out loud because Romans 10:17 says that hearing the Word produces more faith. There is something powerful about hearing the word.
Writing things out longhand theoretically makes a greater connection with your mental processes than typing. There are those who recommend keeping a handwritten journal for this reason. I find it easier to hand write on a 3x5 card than try and print on it.
I write them on 3x5 cards probably as a throwback to school writing projects before Google. But, they are still a nice size to write most verses out and they are sturdy enough to flip through often without falling apart. You can also prop them up next to the coffee/teapot, tape them to the bathroom mirror, or whatever so that you see them frequently. Having a stack in the car to flip through while stuck in traffic makes good use of that time and probably would keep your blood pressure lower!
Number three is to read the Word, aka the Bible, daily. The Bible has much to say about itself. If we hide it in our hearts it will help us not to sin (Ps 119:11). It is the sword of the Spirit, the only offensive weapon against the enemy in Ephesians 6:17. It is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path (Ps 119:105).
The Bible is also the best place that I know to learn about how God has worked with and through people since the beginning. There is much that we can learn about who God is and what he is like by reading his Word. This is especially true if you read several different translations, versions or paraphrases.
I'm not saying that you have to sit down and study the Bible for hours a day. That's not a realistic goal for most of us. You can sign up for several Bible studies or verses of the day and have them delivered to your email or phone every day.
I encourage you to check out my podcast Daily Devotion, one chapter per podcast, with short commentary and then I pray about what we have learned in 15 minutes or less. Who can't put aside 15 minutes a day for Godly Devotion?
If you have a long commute, or you make arrangements to arrive to work 15 minutes early so you can devote that time to Him.
Many study Bibles have reading plans in them if you have a particular goal in mind. There is even a Bible that's arranged so that if you read sections every day you will read the whole thing in a year.
You can find reading plans that are arranged chronologically, some start at Genesis 1 and go straight through, and some read part of the various sections each day.
If you're artistic or like to doodle, there's a new trend you may have heard of that involves creating art in the Bible itself related to that portion. That is not me.
Other things that I've done are to do topical or word studies. I go to an online concordance like Bible Gateway or Blue Letter Bible and look up all the verses that pertain to a given topic or word.
You can do the same with the names of God or maybe an emotion that you are struggling with and see what the Bible has to say about it. You can also just open it and start to read and read until God speaks to your situation!
Taking time to listen to the Spirit is an excellent way to gain more freedom. Two-way journaling is a great way to refine your listening.
If I have a question on my heart or mind, I write it out in my prayer journal and then wait for his answer. I am finding that this is an invaluable tool, not just for freedom, but for pursuing my destiny.
1. Saturate your atmosphere with praise and worshp music. We even play the music when we are not home. Our home is soaked in praise and worship music 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
2. Write our personalized scriputre verses. Read them aloud daily. Reading aloud releases the sound to your atmosphere and you also hear the word.
3. Read the word or listen at least once daily. Dailyaudiobible.com is a free resource you can listen online or download the Bible being read each day. (the program goes through the Bible every year).
4. Take time to sit quietly and listen to the Spirit. Keep a journal for this purpose is very helpful. Practice being obedient and do the things that He He asks of you. Having a Godly friend or mentor to bounce off what you thik you've heard is a great way to grow more confident in this. Always run any major decision by a few people whom you know who love you and hear from God.
5. Forgive quickly any offense(s) and continue to forgive thos things that try to come back up. Forgiveness is a process more than a one time event, expecially for every hurtful things. As you declare forgivness ask the Lord to heal the hurt of those events. Remember you do not have to tell the person you are forgiving, nor do you neceearily have to allow them to be part of your life.
6. Find a community of believers to be a part of. We were not meant to do life alone.
7. Exercise your spiritual giftings
8. As negative thoughts come accross your mind, immediately tke them captive Tell them no, and declare (usually) the opposite over yourself or your situation.
9. Practice thankfulness Consciously look for things to be grateful for, look for all the good you can find.
10. Remember that this a process and give yourself grace and mercy to not get it all right. Don't try to do everything at once, just begin somewhere and keep moving forward.
If you fall, repent, wash your self off get up and move on.
Any thing that you are worried about or have fear and anxiety over is under the influence of a lie from the enemy in some way. His job description is to steal, kill, and destroy. Most of the things we worry about, are afraid of, or are anxious about are rooted in lies we learned very early on.
I have another chart that I give out to my clients that helps identify the lies and the entities that are probably involved with them. We don't really know the names of most entities, but we refer to them by their function. For example: shame. Some of the lies that shame might tell us are, "I'm so stupid, I shouldn't have done that.", "I've gained weight and everyone will think I'm lazy.", or "I should be a better ___, I'm worthless."
The biggest difficulty is to discover what the lie is, which is what an inner healing session can help with (contact me if you would like more information about a session with me). Or if you have a friend discerning, bold, and courageous enough, they might tell you. But, one technique anyone can do that I find successful, is to ask God to show or tell me what it is. Sometimes, He gives me a picture, or I'll have a dream, or He will whisper it softly to me. He always does so with kindness, gentleness, and great love. He wants us to get rid of these lies so that we can experience the freedom that Jesus died to give us.
Once we discover what the lie is, it's a simple process to break it off: repent, rebuke, kick the enemy out, and declare the truth. So, let's take something obvious as an example, and I'll show you how to break off those lies. Let's say that I believed the lie that "I'm stupid." The base emotion for that would be shame, and so that's how we'll identify the enemy involved. I would pray something like this:
Father, forgive me for believing the lie that I'm stupid. I repent of believing that lie, and I revoke all agreement with the spirit of shame. I gather up this spirit of shame, and any others with it, and I cast them to the cross of Jesus. I place the blood of Jesus between all of them and me, and declare that I have the mind of Christ. I am intelligent and able to learn and make good decisions. Father, help me to believe this truth.
Repeat as needed.
Sometimes, one round of such a prayer is enough, and the lie doesn't bother us again. For sure we have kicked out that spirit of shame, because of the authority we have in Christ, but there are others. Sometimes, we need to continue to break off the lies and declare the truth because we have a habit of that thought pattern. So, if the lie rears its head again, just pray the prayer again, and keep on doing so until the lie no longer troubles you. Declaring the truth out loud, often, is another good way to shift those thought patterns.
And, here's a key: Do NOT get into guilt and condemnation because it wasn't "fixed" instantly. You've probably believed these lies for a long time, it may take time to rewire that part of your brain with the truth! The Bible says that God counts up our righteousness and forgets our sins. Let's be more like Him and make note of the times that we succeed...and by succeed, I mean make any sort of progress. If that lie used to cross your mind 1000 times a day, you are winning if it only does so 500 times! If you focus on that win, soon it will be 100, then 50, then 10, then 5 and then, suddenly, you will find that you rarely, if ever, hear it!
And this, my friend, is freedom indeed!
forgive quickly any new offenses and to continue to forgive those things that try to come back up. Unforgiveness is a serious issue, and one that will hold you in serious bondage. Peter asked Jesus how often he should forgive his brother. Jesus tells this parable to answer the question:
Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. "When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. "But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. "So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.' "And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. "But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' "So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' "But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. "So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. "Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. "My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." Matthew 18:21-35, NASB
Note, that the slave who refused to forgive was handed over to the torturers... That bondage is the natural consequence of not forgiving. Even the medical communities are discovering what Jesus alluded to 2000 years ago. Unforgiveness puts your body in a state of stress and pressure which then can result in diseases of all kinds. Not good!
I grew up with the idea that forgiveness was all or nothing, you either forgave, or you didn't. However, I've now learned that forgiveness is a process more than a one time event, especially for very hurtful things. When ever those memories and feelings resurface, I must choose to forgive again. It may be that I am reminding myself of my choice to forgive, but either way, I find I need to do this more than just once.
As you declare forgiveness, ask God to heal the hurt of those events. This is a piece that I missed for quite a while. It's the same premise that the spiritual world, as well as the natural, abhors a vacuum. It's not enough to just clean out the bad, I want to fill up those areas with the good to be well and truly healed.
This is primarily a transaction between you and God, not you and the person. It may be good to go to the person and express your forgiveness, but not always is that wise or safe. Forgiveness doesn't mean a regain of trust and relationship, either, necessarily. If a person has shown themselves to be untrustworthy, you can forgive them and yet still maintain healthy boundaries. Forgiveness doesn't mean that everything is okay, it means that you are set free from the torment of unforgiveness!
FIND YOUR COMMUNITY
find a community of believers. The important piece of this, is to find a group with whom you can connect in a meaningful way. Finding people who know you well, and are able and willing to speak into your life. We were not created to do life alone. God, Himself, was not content with just being the Trinity, but He created humans for friendship's sake.
The typical place to find a group of believers that one thinks of is church. I write this with some trepidation, because I know that for many of us, church has been a place of our greatest woundings. The body of Christ can be vicious to its own... So, for the purposes of this post, I'm referring to a broader concept of the church, than just going to a building on Sunday morning.
How do we go about finding people to be in relationship with who are like-minded believers? By like-minded, I don't mean who think exactly like you. I personally find that to be very dull. I enjoy hearing and learning about different perspectives. But, it is important to have a solid foundation on the basics of what you believe, and the direction you want to head. If I am wanting to become more like Christ, then I need to align myself with others on the same path.
This might be a home church, or a small Bible study, the local house of prayer, or something of that nature. Ask God to show you where to go and with whom to connect. Micro-church is a term I've been hearing a lot lately. If you can't find one, maybe you can start one! Gather with a friend or two and watch a webcast of a service, maybe.
I think that we need to recognize that people are not perfect, Christian or not, and if we are expecting them to be, then we are a part of the problem. Should Christians be better at loving others? Absolutely! Jesus is our example and whom we should emulate. But none of us get it right all of the time. So, forgive and give grace when needed....and make sure that you're doing your best to love others, believers and not, well. I'm referring here to honest mistakes, not toxic patterns of behavior.
We also need to know that not all groups are safe places, and we should carefully choose the one we wish to attend. Some leaders are controlling and manipulative and should be avoided. Some tolerate toxic behavior from group members. If you run across one of those, try somewhere else. They are, in my experience, not super common, thankfully! Again, there is a difference in growing and pursuing healthy behavioral choices. Mistakes are bound to happen, but pay attention to how those are dealt with by leadership. This may take time to discover.
Not only may the right group take time to find, but it may take time to develop a relationship with the people in that group. Don't give up too quickly. If the group appears to be healthy, and they are people who are encouraging one another to grow, and you have some things in common, then give it time to become your place of connection. By time, I don't just mean days and months, but I mean minutes and hours spent with them and interacting with them.
As one who has been very introverted (I'm slowly growing into more of an ambivert), I know the temptation to just go and sit in a corner and call that good. Unfortunately, I also know from experience that this does not work well at all. So it is also important to consider the size of the group. Especially for those of us introverts, smaller is better. But for everyone, it is more important to have a few core people, than many around us who only know the surface.
What I hope that you take away from this, is that there is a need for all of us to find someone who can encourage us in our healing journey, in our life and relationship with God, and that we can do the same for them. If you find several, that's even better, however and where ever that may be. They may take some searching to find, but it will be worth it!
exercise your spiritual giftings. There are many different tests that you can take that will help you discover your giftings.
My personal opinion, is that these tests are good as far as they go. But, I think that any and all giftings can be utilized by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (NASB)
So, I'm going to cast my net a bit broader than what is typically covered in spiritual gifts tests. I'll use myself as an example. The photo at the top of the post, is a painting that I created during worship. I have found that I connect the best to God, and feel his pleasure the most, when I am engaged in creative pursuits.
The only time that this is not the case, is when I have bought a lie or have some other sin issue that is hindering my relationship with God. So that's my cue to seek His face, and discover what it is and to get rid of it.
I believe that this would be true of whatever our particular gifting would be. If it is normally easy for us to serve others, or to teach, or to solve problems, or to do whatever it is that we are good at; and things are getting more difficult, then this can be a cue for us to check and make sure that there is nothing getting in our way.
Our giftings also help to keep us connected to the greater body of Christ, which as was discussed in the last item, is also helpful. It also assists us to take the focus off of ourselves and onto others around us, where ever we utilize them. For example, I believe that God releases more of what He wants to in a gathering of believers when a piece of art is created, so when I post my work or paint live, I am allowing others to benefit from my encounter with God. (To follow my adventures, and see some of my other work, you can also follow my other blog at alicearlene.com)
I've never seen painting on one of the spiritual giftings tests, so don't be limited to what you see there if you choose to do one of the tests. That would be a great question to ask of the Lord during your journaling or quiet time.
The Journey to Freedom
Freedom is a process, a journey, and to give yourself grace and mercy to not get it all right. Don't try to do everything at once, just begin somewhere and keep moving forward. If you trip and fall, repent and move on.
This has been one of the most difficult things for me in my journey, but since I've adopted this as a strategy, the rewards have been remarkable. One of the best ways I've found to do this, is to celebrate every little bit of progress, regardless of how small it seems. I had a lifelong habit of being very hard on myself. Perfectionism is a brutal master under whom to be enslaved. It always focuses on what you haven't done and how far you still have to go.
I first heard about this technique, or at least it first started to sink in, from Abi Stumvoll. She taught at Bethel, Redding one evening, and I caught the live stream. She celebrates all of her victories. All of her successes. Even the small ones. She said that when ever she did something that she wanted to do, as opposed to not doing it, she was winning. So, if I go for a walk, I’m winning! If I only go twice this week, I’m winning! It’s more than I would have done if I hadn’t gone.
Abi said that success was motivating, and I’m finding that to be true. I mean, seriously, does castigating yourself ever make you want to do better next time? It just makes me want to crawl into a hole and hide. Because why should I bother? I'm losing...
So, what does this look like for me?
I can get upset with myself because I bought another lie of the enemy. I can get overwhelmed and discouraged that there is so much to get free from and it's going so slowly. Or, I can rejoice that I spoke the truth over myself. I'm winning! And, I read 5 verses in my Bible yesterday. I’m winning! Or maybe I went 10 minutes without a negative thought.
You will notice that I did not say that I always listen to the truth, or that I always read 5 chapters a day in my Bible. What I haven't done, isn't the point. The point is I have done something towards my goals. I'm winning!
And, as I rejoice in the small accomplishments, do you know what happens? They become bigger ones. I begin to look for the small steps that I can do, and do them, instead of getting discouraged. An example of that is taking one of the items of this freedom guide, or something that I heard from God and focus on doing that once. If I do, I’m winning! Maybe I'll do it twice tomorrow, I'm winning! If I do it three times next week, but twice the week after, I'm still winning! That's better than before I started when I didn't ever do it. Do you see how fun this is?!