What Does It Take To Humble A Man?

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The fear of losing everything is not enough to bring a man to his knees. Fear is inadequate. Overrated and misunderstood, fear provokes pride… inner pride in dark, secret places. Pride that demands “MY” right. It may not reveal it’s bitter reflection at first, but, in sunless chambers, incubation can’t help but produce it’s defensive refuge of preservation.

Fear promotes false protection and deceptive strength.

Who am I, really, but a vapor, protecting myself and my rights? This is a seriously ridiculous flaw in my thinking. When I examine the Scriptures I undoubtedly discover God’s holy omniscience. He is EL ROI, “The God who sees”.  The One who so mercifully gives me breath, the One who sustains all life. The God who sees ALL things. Yet, the first and shortest question asked of man by God is this: “Ayeka?” “Where are you?”  Oh, the penetrating brilliance of our Creator’s rhetorical words, to cleverly shine light upon the inner strife of man’s guilty shame and nakedness. Nevertheless, my thoughts focus on the one who hides. His name is Fear. Fear’s need to hide is insistent and unyielding.
God surely giveth and He taketh away. If I lose all things, by the Sovereign hand of my Author and Perfecter, who is it I contend with? 
Is it God Almighty? 
No. It is my flesh.
 
I love me. And regardless the degree I may despise this or that in and of myself, I can’t help but think of me. 
What I need. 
What I want. 
What I deserve.
 
To fear the loss of self is a most devastating concept. To die willingly is most unnatural, fighting against man’s innate desire of self-preservation. As I fear losing my rights…my life…I find myself gripping tighter still, holding onto all I know as comfortable, self-serving and obedient to my will.
 
What does it take to humble a man?
 
Fear is no match to pride.
 
The answer is love.
 
Sincere, devout, sacrificial love.
Reverent love.
A love that knows no fear.
A love so strong and selfless, willing to face the cost of all loss
with hands freely open, arms stretched wide.
 
Within the convoluted layers of my heart, the Spirit of Truth, in meekness and severe honesty, exposes precisely what I deserve.
 
Death.
 
O LORD, May I be given Your divine grace to die to self, so that LOVE may live.
Whoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”  –Lk. 17:33, Ps. 139:23-24
by Dana Lange

Broken and Alive



There are many Bible verses I recite often in the quiet of my heart. They are power-filled words I have taken ownership of to guide my daily life. Different verses for different reasons. The Holy Spirit continues to be faithful in encouraging and comforting me by bringing to my mind the Word of God; a light unto my feet. I call them my “life” verses.

 Psalm 46:10James 1:2-4James 4:7, and Nehemiah 8:10 are just a few muscle-packed verses that speak holy strength, wisdom and peace to my soul. 

 And, then there’s Psalm 139:23-24.I don’t recall how long ago the Holy Spirit planted in my heart the passage written by the man after God’s own hearthowever, I will say it continues to be one of the Spirit’s favorite choices for me.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart;Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”
I’ve prayed the Psalmist’s words so often I must admit, at times, they have been rattled off in bland habit. Just recently, during devotion and quiet time with the Lord, I was met with one of my “life” verses; Psalm 139:23-24, as God would have it. Delivered by His faithful Spirit, I was compelled to think intently on the familiar expression. With deep earnestness I wrote out David’s words and made them my prayer to my Lord.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my ways; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
That very day God answered. And He answered me again the next day and the next day and the next. And today He is still answering me.
“…and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
It is humbling to be corrected by another person. However, I find it quite different when it is God speaking correction straight to my heart. Still yet, it’s a whole other story when both take place simultaneously. Talk about brokenness.Talk about love. Because of His great mercy and love, my Father in heaven opened my ears to take notice. And by His steadfast grace I am moved to repentance. 
 
Victory for the Lord. 
Victory for me. 
Victory over sin… 
Sin in me.
 
Brokenness…
Holy brokenness.
This is grace.
It is interesting to know that the Hebrew translation for the word “wicked” in verse 24 means the image of an idolIn reflection, I realize what God has been doing, revealing to me what He sees in my heart–images of idols. My selfish motives, ego-driven thoughts and “good” works that I have prepared for myself, all the while half-heartedly walking in the good works He has chosen for me in Jesus. O how easy it is to get off track, to move into what I want and what I think is best while self deception and clever disguises ignore what God wants and has prepared beforehand for me to walk in.
I am His.
…and I desperately need His grace in this life.
…and I am deeply grateful for His love that covers, His Spirit that leads, and His Word that gives life to my life.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”           Ephesians 2:10 
by Dana Lange

Journey to Romania. Part 9: Forgiveness

FullSizeRender-18Calvary Chapel Cluj, Romania

We spent the next twenty months praying for clarity, timing and direction, all the while watching as God blessed and raised finances for our move.  (The church came behind us in full force and we left for our return journey to Romania on July 5, 2011.)

During the remainder of our time in Southern California my relationship with my aunt continued to be on her terms.  We were never invited to family gatherings (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.).  I continued to send invitations to the whole family for my kids’ birthdays, but only my uncle and aunt would make appearances.  We were invited to a couple of birthday parties for their grandchildren, but were clearly given the cold shoulder when there, so that wasn’t going to be resolved.  God has His purpose in, and uses, ALL things…ALL. (Romans 8:28)

God continued to remind me of JeJe’s sharing the story of Joseph with me.  The LORD told me to weep in private, not to communicate with them.  I destroyed many drafted emails outlining how hurt and upset I was.  He wanted me to trust Him and allow Him to deal with everyone and everything in His time (Joseph never sought out his brothers, even when he was second in command in Egypt).

When we arrived in Romania we faced much opposition as we began to plant a church.  Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther were (and continue to be) greatly used.

I was now “the Pastor’s wife.”  Oh Dread! (PLEASE NEVER, EVER, call me that…I struggled with that designation the first two years we were here.)  I am just “coleen” (with a small “c”); this works perfectly because JeJe just wants to be known as “JeJe.”  Anyway, I found myself in isolation (no friends or extended family support) which brought on a lot of tears; but the isolation also brought with it good changes and a closeness with my Lord.  It was through this isolation that I learned…”Don’t despise the very thing that drives you to the presence of God.”  I actually have a tendency to be too introverted at times.  I know…, you who know me are thinking, “What?  She has such a BIG personality!”  As a child I grew up alone with my thoughts and imagination, hiding from life in my room. That can be a habit which is easy to revert to.  However, I do highly value “alone time”, especially with Jesus.

He has taught me many things these past four years.  The biggest: Forgiveness.  I always wanted to forgive, especially my aunt, but I didn’t know how to do it in a way that would completely free me from the stronghold our relationship had over me.  I have learned the kind of forgiveness Jesus had when He washed Judas’ feet and no one in the room knew it was he that Jesus was referring to as His betrayer.  Jesus had the perfect “poker face,” because His heart was right.

God brought an American woman into our church who had gone through a big healing process in her own life.  Her ministry was helping people get rid of hurts…bitterness…strongholds…and defensive walls built as protection…by getting into the presence of God, seeking His truth and giving it all to Him.  Sometimes the enemy still rises to toss it back at me, but I just say, “Thank You Jesus that You enabled me to forgive that and You died on the cross for that.” The LORD showed me that all these years I wanted so badly for my aunt to be my “mom” and she couldn’t be.  I had to ask God for forgiveness for wanting my aunt to fill a void only He could fill, and for expecting my aunt to be someone she couldn’t be.

I visited my aunt when the children and I were in the U.S. in January of 2014.  I could sense something was amiss, but didn’t know exactly what.  I knew she had health issues (and ongoing cancer treatment) and we met with her and her family.  Unfortunately, some of the family members had done a lot of hurt that I had not yet dealt with and I wasn’t ready to meet with them.  My aunt insisted we all get together.  In an attempt to “do the right thing,” the children and I attended the gathering.  We couldn’t help but be “cautious,” with walls built up around us.  This upset my aunt; however, I did ask to pray with her and her husband before we left.  As I walked out the door, my spirit told me that it was the last time we would see one another….

She didn’t communicate with me very much in the months following our return to Romania.  In mid-November, 2014, I received an email notification that she had passed away.  The email was sent to “All” and stated she spent her last weeks “surrounded by her family.”  No one called me to tell me…no one told me about the memorial service…until after it had taken place.  When one of her sons called at 5:00 am the day after the service, JeJe was gracious and kind in speaking with him.

When I first opened that email, I sobbed.  My son and daughter were sitting close by and knew what it probably was about.  James said to me, “Let them go, Mom; you have us.”  God often uses my children to speak to me.

I spent the next couple of hours sobbing and praying “in my private chamber.”   I was comforted by Isaiah 61:3

“…To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.”

God also reminded me to be like Joseph and forgive, and allow Him to deal with everything.  He has a purpose in allowing things to happen the way they have; and I can emphatically tell you now, “It is Well With My Soul.”

As I close this letter of testimony, I am overjoyed in the goodness and faithfulness of the LORD…for blessing JeJe and me with this time together, as a family, serving the LORD.  I have watched each of us grow spiritually (my family says I have grown the most, which is the best compliment EVER).  I know this would not be true were it not for Him bringing us here…for such a time as this….

It is the deepest cry of my heart for people to know and love Jesus…to find healing and forgiveness at the Cross.  There is not one ounce of rejection, hurt, pain, or sin that He did not experience Himself on our behalf.  My heart especially aches for healing and forgiveness for the people of my husband’s homeland, Romania.  They have truly “become my people,” Ruth 1:16.  May He continue to use us as His vessels to preach this GOOD NEWS in such a time as this.

Each day, I am living out my Happily Ever After, in a land Far-Far-Away, having a “ball” with my Prince Charing…a man I never even dreamed I would be blessed to have as my husband…and two incredible children.  God’s purposes and plans for us are truly best.  Why, oh why, do we often tell Him we know “better?”

Now, I plow and serve for Him as I await for my King to take me one day on His chariot to His Kingdom that awaits….

To God Be The Glory; Great Things He Has Done (and continues to do).

(You can follow Coleen on Facebook at savioricomeblogspot.com )

 

Journey to Romania. Part 8: Head of the Family

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JeJe asked me for the checkbook and control of the finances…a very brave man was he! I was so upset!  We had both recently listened to a couple of good sermons on financial responsibility by Charles Stanley and Andy Stanley.  JeJe had developed a plan of action and it started with taking the leadership of our home back into his authority.  It meant he would be calling the shots with the finances; decisions would be discussed but he would be making the final call on them.  I fought him so badly on this…to the point where he left the house to go be alone with God and allow God to deal with me.  He did.  Was I a hearer of the Word only and not a do-er?  Did I really want to fight and disobey God by disobeying JeJe?

JeJe developed a budget and we stuck to it, tough as it was.  Within nine to twelve months bills were paid off and God was blessing our finances.  Two years earlier the LORD had resolved the situation with our pastor in Romania by taking him out of ministry for good.  He was found guilty of many things, some much worse than I previously mentioned.  God had used us in that situation with the supporting U.S. church and we found Romania would never leave our hearts.

Someone asked us, “Do you guys ever think about moving back to Romania?”  We both quickly responded with an emphatic “NO!”  The very next day that would all change…

I dropped the children off at school early that June morning. I was off to do my list of errands when the LORD clearly spoke to my heart, “I need you to go home.  I want to talk to you.”  I had such a sense of “urgency,” and I began to shake uncontrollably.  I went into our apartment, sat down alone with God and began to weep.  He spoke clearly to my heart that He wanted us to go back to Romania.  I was both excited and scared all at once.  I stayed awhile silently weeping, then texted JeJe at work to tell him what the LORD had spoken to me.  A few minutes passed before he responded. “I think you may be right.”  He came home shortly after and we prayed together.  We picked up the children from school and told them what we were praying about.  Both were excited.  We couldn’t believe it.  This had to be God because neither one wanted to ever go back to Romania after a family vacation there in 2006.

A couple of weeks later doubt and fear entered in.  What about my children’s futures?  What city did You want us to live in?  The old one, filled with hurtful memories? Many people were angry with the sin and deception of the American pastor and the church was no longer together.  One hundred twenty people were all scattered.  Thoughts of doubt and fear continued…What about this?…What about that?

These thoughts haunted me until early September when Pastor Bob preached a powerful message from Acts about how Paul was called first to preach to his people.  JeJe was so excited about our new calling; he shared his excitement as we prepared lunch at home and asked me, “Aren’t you excited? “NO,” I replied.  A look of shock and disappointment crossed his face.  I continued, “But I know He wants us to go.  I heard His voice…clearly…and I am going to obey His call; but I am asking Him to help me be excited about it.”

We prayed together.  The following Thursday I began attending the Women’s Bible Study at CCEA.  I didn’t know anyone in my group…I had asked God to “put me where You want me.”  They said it was time for prayer requests and I thought we would just write them on a piece of paper and be done.  Oh, no! The leaders wanted us to go around the table and share our requests. My heart was so heavy, when they got to me, it broke.  Every lady immediately got up from her chair to lay hands on me and pray.  What a blessing.

The next morning I drove to CC Costa Mesa to begin the Women’s study there.  I had been asked to help my friend with the Romanian Language Group.  I knew God had something special just for me because we were going to be studying Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther.  I knew God was preparing me to return to Romania.

I sobbed during the entire drive there.  As I was pouring my heart out to the LORD a Casting Crowns song played on my radio. “…Such a tiny offering, compared to Calvary; nevertheless, we lay it at Your feet…”  I parked, took some deep breaths, fixed my face and went into the main Sanctuary for the opening lesson.  Cheryl Brodersen came out and taught on Jeremiah 29:11 and how God had given that verse to her for her oldest daughter when they first moved to England to be missionaries.  Everything she said went straight to my heart and I cried in thanksgiving to the LORD.  That verse was no longer just on a coffee cup or note pad.  It was MINE! His plans were perfect for me and my family; they were for a hope and future.  That’s MY PROMISE KEEPERS PROMISE !!!

by Coleen JeJeran, Missionary to Romania

(Look for Part 9 of Coleen’s story soon)

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