What is it in our human nature to want to sweep things under the carpet?
To keep our sin in darkness?
To live with an elephant in the room in our relationships?
To lie to others about who we really are … and to refuse to confess the things we have done to hurt others?
Why do we create false personas … in order to move ahead in ministry, business or anything these God calls us to do?
To never speak up to address something dark, evil, unkind or hurtful in ourselves or in others?
Why do we avoid seeking true Biblical repentance for the things we have done…. the kind of repentance which comes with a deep and aching Godly sorrow?
True and lasting spiritual freedom lies in our ability to bring all of these things …. and our secret places to the light. To open those crevices of our hearts and to allow the TRUTH of God’s Word to enter into our inner most being.
You know the place … it is that place within us where self-deception can come face to face with He; who is the light and the truth and be changed. John 8:12.
We all have those areas where we would rather they stay hidden.
If we want to see a move of God … in us and through us .. we have to allow God into those deep places.
To where we no longer desire to have a secret part of our lives. We want every part of us – body, soul and spirit to live in and from the light.
To no longer fear the rejection or shame of man … which is often the driving force that keeps us from living in the light. We must want the light. We must yearn for it’s purifying ability to make us more and more like Christ.
Intimacy is impossible with God and with others unless we are willing to live from this deep inner man within us.
To expose this place … with the flaws and all. This is the place where God’s love can enter in deeply. Unfortunately, we block off those areas of our heart due to pain, abuse, betrayal and trauma.
When we close off our hearts, we ultimately close off our hearts to God.
We have to turn to God, open our hearts to Him once again … and trust in His finished work of the cross to redeem those broken and hurt areas. When broken …. we have to trust His grace to rebuild our lives …. brick by brick. Truth by truth. Precept upon precept. In the Christian world, this is called sanctification. This is the process of becoming more and more like Christ. Having our minds renewed in truth. Romans 12:1-2.
In ministry, I have seen so many people, leaders and families … broken by life, people or circumstances. People who want to “move on” long before there was true Biblical restoration. Moving on … without true healing is like only putting a bandaid on a wound that keeps bleeding and will never heal.
Restoration can only come through deep repentance and bringing the issues to the light. This is true for individuals and it is true for organizations. The principles found in freedom ministry is the applied the same – whether it is an individual seeking freedom or if it is an organization in need of spiritual freedom.
The inner being … the under belly….. of the person or the organization needs a regular and ongoing exposure to the light.
Repenting from a pulpit … and walking in a sort of false humility while actively choosing to sin with others in how we treat them behind closed doors – is not true repentance. This is the very hypocrisy Jesus addressed with tremendous boldness.
Most people want to skip over a restoration and redemptive process with themselves and with others. Most of the time we avoid these areas of our life … because we have a wrong view of God. We fear what will happen if we bring everything to the light.
We think if we tell him the truth of what is going on in our inner life … he will reject us, abandon us or simply not want us because of what we have done. We fear the same thing with people. And this is often because people … will and do reject others when they get messy. They don’t know how to handle the broken-ness of others. Unlike God, they close the doors of their hearts rather than open them like the Prodigal Father did.
So, how do we begin to have restoration with God and with others?
There are a few basic steps for Biblical restoration in any relationship … that if we move forward with God in these areas – we will see His life infused into those broken relationships.
REVIEW – Take a good inventory of our heart and life!
Psalm 139:23-24 says, “search me oh Lord, test me and know my thoughts! Show me if there is any offensive way in me”. The very first step in any restoration process with God and with others is to take a deep inventory of our heart and life. We have to set aside time to ask God a very simple question, where have I sinned? Where have I fallen short of your best? Where am I hurting others by my action or my words? Where am I not living in alignment with your Word and how you want me to live like you?
We have to ask God to show us how our sin has impacted or hurt others.
We have to ask God where our sin is affecting us, our family, the ministries that we lead. Why? Because our sin will influence others. It becomes like a black umbrella that sits over others.
Sin impacts others not just ourselves.
By taking time every day …. to ask God these “reviewing” questions, it will keep our hearts pure.
Why do we want our hearts pure? Because Jesus tells us blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God! Those with pure hearts are those who are walking in deep and abiding intimacy with God!
The Psalms also tell us that those with unclean tongues (gossip, slander, selfish prayers) and unclean hands (ungodly actions towards self or others) … will NOT ascend God’s holy hill.
Which simply means, they will be void of God’s presence in their lives!
We also want to be asking others what they see in us. We want to be accountable to others. We need to be doing this even as leaders! We have to take a deep evaluation of our lives and our ministries. If we have a huge revolving door in our churches – we should be looking at the sin with us corporately and repent and seek restoration of those we’ve hurt.
Corporate sin is a real deal. If left alone, it will eat away at the life of Christ in the church.
A few weeks ago, I was struggling with some spiritual warfare and I asked a friend to pray for me. This is one of my closest friends and prayer partners. We speak into each other’s lives with openness. Trust has been built over the years. They texted me back and said, “I am hearing the word bitter. Are you bitter with God over something?”
On the surface, I was thinking … “no, I don’t feel anything bitter in my heart. I feel pretty clean.” Self-deception. I wasn’t prideful or defensive. I was open to hear what God might want to say to me.
So, I went into my prayer closet and asked God the question, “am I mad at you Lord”?
And sure enough, God showed me that I was VERY angry with him over the lack of complete healing with my Chiari Malformation and the issues with the compression at my brain stem which is causing residual pain episodes (which are quite horrific).
I was super tired of the ongoing pain issues with my head. It was wearing me down physically and emotionally and my heart had begun grumbling with God rather than “rejoicing always”. I was slowly absorbing the lies again that “if God really loved me – he would heal me”. I allowed bitterness to absorb into my heart.
I took the bait of the enemy and started blaming God for my struggle with my health, rather than thanking Him for all the healing He has done so far! I had entered into the wilderness of grumbling rather than truly having a heart and mindset – that REJOICED always! Easier said than done – but we MUST discipline our hearts to align with God’s Word.
Thanks to my very close friend, I reviewed my heart …. I repented and my heart was restored to peace! Yeah God!
God is so good when we allow Him to review the condition of our hearts!
By allowing God to REVIEW the deep places in our hearts, we allow Him to expose His loving light to our sin.
We should never fear the light!
The light is God’s most precious gift to us.
Light is truly the pathway to knowing Him.
“Blessed be the pure in heart for they shall see God”. Matthew 5:3
When God shows us areas of our lives that need a loving touch of His grace – He only shows us this to give us a gift in return. More of Him and less of us.
The funny part of this whole issue of “review”?
God knows everything anyways! We think we are living in secret about a current issue in our lives … or our past …. and we hide it from our children or the ministries that we lead … because we feel in order to be “someone” we can’t let them know we have a past …. and you know what?
God already knows we are living in deception. He is waiting for us to bring it to the light with Him and ultimately – with others!
Nothing is kept secret from God. He is just waiting for us to come clean with Him. We can’t cover those areas up … when we do, it simply makes us into hypocrites that Jesus rebuked.
RAIN OF SORROW – Don’t move on until we have felt the rain!
The next step in restoration with God and with others …. is true Godly sorrow. Once God has shown us areas of sin in our lives (or in ministries that we lead) …. we have to weep with Him over our choices.
We have to see the true impact of what we have done. The veils of denial must be removed. We don’t move into this with shame or condemnation – we move into restoration with a rain of Godly sorrow.
I remember when I was in my abortion Bible study. It was a study for people who had abortions and wanted to heal from their choices. I will never forget it. It was one of the most powerful Bible studies I had done. I was in the midst of tremendous torment and spiritual warfare. I was crying out to God in the middle of the night. I wanted so bad for the torment to end. It was here the Lord took me to the passage about torment and forgiveness in the Gospels.
I began to see what I really did. The taking of a human life. You see, I was deceived. I bought the lie that it was just a bunch of tissue. I didn’t allow myself to see the truth that from the moment of conception, it was a human life. I was driven by selfish ambition. I didn’t want my life to change. I wanted my freedom to live my life the way I wanted.
My boys at the time were 2 years old and 4 years old. The reality that I could of had two more children swept over me. I sobbed deeply for weeks. Truth hit my inner most being. Abortion is the taking of human life. I played God. I chose death when He was calling for life for my two unborn children.
God didn’t come in that moment of truth to condemn me. Although He did come to show me the truth of what I had done and in that moment He wrapped His arms of love around me and whispered to me, “you are forgiven Lori. Now, forgive yourself”. I was in bondage because deep in my heart …. I held a vow in my heart that I would NEVER forgive myself. I sobbed some more. Then, I finally forgave myself for two abortions. Peace and restoration with God happened.
We have to truly cry for what we have done. We must experience a rain of Godly sorrow.
About ten years ago, I had a friend and prayer partner who did some very unkind things to me. Very hurtful actually. We had shared such a close and intimate friendship. I forgave her the moment it happened but our friendship ended for a season. A few years ago, I ran into her at church. Instead of putting on that fake, let’s cover it up smile, she saw me from across the court yard and she began sobbing. Like the deep belly tears. She came up to me and began repenting for each and every thing she did to me. She named them one by one. I knew in that moment she had spent time with the Lord and he revealed her stuff to her. She wasn’t coming to me in a spirit of shame but in a spirit of repentance. It was a rain of true Godly sorrow that was with her. In that moment, God told me she was safe … that she had been broken and that I could trust her again. God restored what the enemy tried to destroy. She is one of my most faithful friends and intercessors. She saw how the enemy used her to not only try to destroy me but also a precious friendship that was ordained by God. What the enemy tried to destroy (a powerful prayer partnership), God redeemed powerfully through her Godly sorrow.
We can never have reconciliation or restoration without a rain of true Godly sorrow.
This is the one of the most important steps in restoration in any relationship because it reveals if our heart have truly seen the impact of our sin. It reveals whether our repentance is authentic or not. It reveals whether or not our heart has been open to God’s love.
We must forsake those fake smiles for authentic relationship!
REPENT & FORGIVE – Turn around and let it go!
The next step in restoration is to repent. I’ve been talking a bit about this already. To repent means we must name our sin and to actively turn from it. The word “repent” actually means in Hebrew, to turn in the opposite direction. It means to make a U-TURN.
We can’t turn from something if we don’t know what we are turning from.
We also have to forgive those who have hurt us. The act of repentance and forgiveness is truly the act of letting go. Both require a movement of the heart away from sin. Whether it is the sin done to us (which requires forgiveness) or if it is our own sin and bad choices (this requires repentance and a turning away from that thing that is hurtful to us or to others).
Both require a movement of God’s grace and strength to do. If we think we can do this without God – we can’t! Galatians 3:3.
If we are struggling to repent or to forgive, the best place to start is by asking God for the grace and the supernatural help to align our hearts with God’s Word and to do what He is asking us to do.
The deeper the pain, the betrayal, the abuse … the harder it is to let go. But with God’s help, it is possible.
REBUILD – We must renew our minds with TRUTH.
The next step in restoration is to rebuild what was destroyed because of sin. Sin destroys lives. It will seek to kill any relationship. It tries to creep in and destroy what God has called and ordained.
The Bible says that Satan comes to seek, kill and destroy and that Jesus comes to bring life. John 10:10.
Praise God for we have a God who will destroy the works of darkness. The work of the cross has made a way for the work of Satan to be destroyed. The work of the cross has disarmed all powers and principalities! We have to learn how to apply the truths of the cross to our lives and to our relationship!
What Satan just destroyed in our lives because of sin (our own sin or sin done to us from others) …. we know that with our God – HE can rebuild ANYTHING!
God will restore what the locust has eaten. Question is – do we have the faith that God can and will do it? Do we believe that even despite our sin … that God can rebuild what was destroyed?
I remember once, I was in a hard situation where I knew people were saying very unkind things about me. I have a strong gift of discernment and in words of knowledge and so, sometimes … I just know things.
At this time, God was showing me that someone I worked closely with really didn’t like me. Their smile said something else and so I was very conflicted in my heart. And because I didn’t trust this ….. I looked into something I shouldn’t of. I sinned. It is a sin that I wish I could of undone.
Have you ever done anything … and the moment you did it – you asked God to forgive you immediately? This was one of those sins that I wish I wouldn’t of done because it had a huge impact on my heart and life. I repented deeply with the Lord.
In doing this, I read something this person wrote about me that shattered my heart.
He said that I am an Amelia Earhart and that I would start off in ministry strong but like she did … but that I would die and disappear out of ministry forever. Never fulfilling God’s calling on my life. In reading those words I knew they were words of death and not life.
Although the words pierced my heart because I loved this person dearly. For some reason, Satan loves to use emails and people’s words to try to destroy my heart.
I respected this person with all of my heart. The words about Amelia Earhart sat like a curse of death over me for years. Why so long? Because somewhere deep in my heart – I believed those words to be true. I allowed the voice of the father of lies to be stronger than the voice of my Father in heaven (as revealed in Scripture).
God had to take me through a process of rebuilding my heart with the TRUTH that God’s calling on my life is irrevocable and He called me to heal the broken-hearted and to release the captives. I had to believe what Father God was saying. We have to get to the point in life that the fear of man no longer rules over us and we live in and from the voice of God as revealed in Scripture alone!
I had to rebuild my life and slowly …. my calling … brick by brick. My sin and the person’s sin (by writing out word of death / Proverbs 18:21) nearly destroyed me. The truth is … God called me and set me apart for good works since I was born! He called me and set me apart while in the womb!
We don’t rebuild our lives out of a spirit of condemnation or guilt – we do it in the power of God’s grace! We do it by deeply repenting!
It is the love of the Father that restores us. It happens when we come into ALIGNMENT with TRUTH. The truth that is only revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
We have to know, believe, declare and live …. from the TRUTH revealed in God’s Word about ….
- Who God says that He is (as Father, Son and Holy Spirit)
- What God says He can do.
- Who we are to Him (all because of the cross).
- What God can do in us and through us for His glory alone!
We must know and stand on the TRUTH that the cross has defeated the work of sin and of darkness and has given us the way to LIFE! (Study Colossians 1 & 2 for an understanding of the supremacy of Christ).
We must be determined to rebuild what sin tried to destroy … brick by brick. Day by day. Month by month. Year by year. Truth upon truth.
We do this by renewing our minds in the Truth! Romans 12:1-2.
We can’t build a beautiful castle overnight. Especially if that beautiful castle was just destroyed to rubble! If we destroyed someone else’s castle – we should be apart of the rebuilding process.
The lesson here – is we can’t skip these principles for restoration! Each one is vitally important if we want to have a THRIVING LIFE!
REAP – We will reap all that we have sown!
When all those steps have been taken, we can then begin to reap the blessings of a relationship that has been through a Godly restoration process. True Biblical love can flow when there has been a deep review of the human heart, a true raining of Godly sorrow and true Biblical repentance and forgiveness …. which then will lead to a rebuilding of lives and relationship …. and then the reaping of a harvest of Jesus’ life!
Now, in all of this, I am not saying this is to be a works minded or law based process. This has to be a work of God’s Spirit. Galatians is so clear that if we work in the flesh … we will come back under the curse of the law! We don’t want that!
We have to trust God to lead us in this process. We have to apply the Biblical principles of restoration and freedom ministry.
What I am saying, is that there are spiritual principles and precepts in the Bible that if … they are not obeyed … in our lives and in our relationships … we will never experience the spiritual freedom that Christ gave His very life to give us!
God did His part. We have our part to play. This is what all the commands in Scripture are there for – to lead us to life …. and to blessing.
Jesus died to give us the opportunity to review our hearts. He died to give us the ability to feel His heart towards sin (and how it hurts people) and to align with the rain of Godly sorrow.
He died to give us the opportunity to repent and forgive. He died to show us how to rebuild our hearts and lives (and those we have sinned against) by renewing our minds with Truth. And He tells us that when we live in alignment with His Word … we will reap a harvest. We have to see the Word of God as God’s authority for living! It will truly lead us to LIFE!
The castles in our lives will be restored and thriving when we choose to engage in the steps of restoration!
I know this blog was a long one today. I just couldn’t leave any part of this out. Each part is important. And so was each story – each testimony of God’s grace and healing in my life.
If you need God to rebuild an area of your heart or life …. this is a great song to begin your prayer time with Him! May this fuel your quiet time with the Lord Jesus today! Don’t forget to open your Bible! I feel the greatest temptation facing the church today is to put feeling and experience before the Word of God. We can’t ever forsake truth for experience! Trust He; who is the Word to lead you in the restoration of your life and calling!