Ditching the lies. For life.

Steel Heels Ministry

Marked — May 1, 2017

Marked

Based solely upon distorted accusations, fraduluent charges, and the testimony of lying witnesses, Jesus was pronounced guilty of crimes He never committed. Betrayed, abandoned, spit upon, mocked, beaten, whipped, and then nailed to a cross, Jesus’s last breath was expelled in the presence of more enemies than friends. Clearly, Jesus suffered great Injustice.

Scripture warns that those who follow Him should expect to suffer as well. The question is: who are we to expect it from? God, the Maker and Creator of the Universe, established the idea of justice; therefore, Injustice does not come from His hand. Rather, Injustice comes from the hands of Unjust Men — those who either do not believe in, or are hostile to, God. Unwilling to submit to His Authority, they walk the path of their own ideals — what is (or isn’t) acceptable — without any sort of checks and balance system to gauge their thoughts or actions. Simply stated, they do what seems right in their own eyes. Instead of caring for others at the expense of self as the Gospel directs, they care for themselves at the expense of others. That sort of Injustice is the rocket fuel of Unjust Men.

Vile things happen, not because God orchestrates it, but because Unjust Men follow their own, deviant will. While we cannot always get the target off our back, there is a Biblical principle to follow when their arrows strike. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good….” Unfortunately, this verse is often rephrased as “all things happen for a reason.” If you’re like me, that’s a hard pill to swallow in the midst of an unforseen and unavoidable disaster that has just descended upon you or your loved ones. While that phrase is okay for the Fluffy things in life, it doesn’t hold up against the Fury that sometimes life unleashes.

The crucifixion was horrible, period. Yet what happened three days later was expectedly beautiful: Jesus rose from the grave. It’s interesting, though, that despite returning from the dead, Jesus remained a Marked Man — the nail Marks in his hands and feet, along with the spear Mark in His side, were still there. But instead of evoking painful memories, those Marks became a source of hope — that the evil plans of Unjust Men will never prevail against the plans and purposes of a Just God.

To bring something good out of what is clearly bad involves a transformation process that requires our participation. We must submit our Unjust Circumstances to God and give Him permission to dig through the Ash Heap in order to find the Gems. Only God, the ultimate Recycler and Restorer, can make something Beautiful out of what is Horrible. That’s the essence of Romans 8:28.

Every Unjust Circumstance we endure leaves us with a Mark — some sort of emotional wound — that needs to be healed. Without healing, these wounds can easily fester, leaving us with a defensive, hard, unforgiving heart. I call that place Victim-Hood — a Place that’s easy to move into but nearly impossible to move out of.

If you have a smoldering emotional wound, allow Him to dig through your Ash Heap and pull out the Gems. The Master stands ready to transform your Marks into a Masterpiece, but He cannot do it if you’ve parked yourself in Victim-Hood. To exit, take the Romans 8:28 Road — it’s the only path that will ever guide you back to the Victorious Life.

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Beloved — August 29, 2016

Beloved

The Bible says that we are Beloved by God. While I firmly believe it’s true, I have to admit that my feelings don’t always match up. In other words, I don’t always feel as though I’m Beloved. If I followed my feelings (rather than scripture), I’d probably never believe I was good enough to Be Loved.

However, Romans 5:8 gives us the assurance that God deeply loves us. That verse says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus died on the cross while we were still in our sin, without any requirement that we clean ourselves up or get our messy lives back on track first. At the very point when we were at our worst, Christ responded in love, not anger or punishment. Many have laid down their lives for their friends; others for complete strangers; but Only One was willing to die for His enemies — Jesus. We cannot save ourselves because we need to be saved from ourselves. Jesus is the Only One who can save us, and His gift of forgiveness is available to all who call upon His name and ask for it.

God’s love heals; not hurts. It builds up; not tears down. God’s love empowers; not controls. We have to remember that we live in a sin-filled world and that people (not God) hurt us. Wounded hearts keep a record of wrongs, and our defense mechanism is to guard our hearts behind a brick wall. Each time we are hurt, we put another stone on top. This is effective in keeping people at a distance, but those same cinder blocks have a major downside: they also keep God’s love out.

If you really want to be His Beloved, you have to be willing to Be Loved. God’s love for you is strong, and if you allow Him access to your heart, He will destroy the brickwork separating you from Him. Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior instantly makes you a princess of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Your King is on His throne and you are His prized, cherished, respected, and esteemed treasure. Accept His gift. Allow yourself to Be Loved so you can be His Beloved princess.

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Be Mary — March 21, 2014

Be Mary

Right after teaching the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus enters a village and a woman named Martha invites him into her house. The story, beginning in Luke 10:39, says “And she had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.'”

Martha, who had invited Jesus in, busied herself with the task of serving — making sure her home was just right for HIM. But Mary, understanding the unique opportunity before her, sat down at His feet and received a lesson that was just right for HER.

Martha opened up her home, but Mary opened up her heart.

What about you? Are you like Mary — have you opened up your heart to Jesus? Or are you like Martha — afraid to let Jesus in because no matter how much you try, you just can’t get rid of the Skeletons and Dirty Laundry in your Closet? Don’t waste your time trying to clean up your life — it’s NOT your job. Let Jesus do that. He is the ultimate cleaner and He is ready to cast out the rotting bones, scrub out the stains, and breath new life into you. Jesus deeply loves you and NOTHING can separate you from His love. Let Him in. Grant Him access to your heart, and He will clean up your life.

Be still. Be renewed. Be Mary.

The Pattern — February 23, 2014

The Pattern

Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  God’s word tells us that we are made in His image. God does not reflect us — we reflect Him. He is the Pattern — we are the copy.

In business, the quality of a copy hinges on whether it is a duplicate of the original document or another photocopy. The same is true in life. God is the Pattern, and He must be our go-to source if we want to reproduce His qualities in our lives. Yet instead of mimicking Him, we get consumed with mimicking His copies. And when we do that, we become a very poor reflection of who God is.

My own father showed little interest in me as his daughter. I spent so many years believing the lie that God was just like my dad — uninterested and unavailable. But that belief was both twisted and untrue. My Heavenly Father is the Pattern, and my dad is simply a poor reflection. God was available to be copied, but my dad chose not to reproduce the Pattern in his own life. We can either be a reflection of the original Pattern, or we can be a reflection of a poor-quality copy.

Who do you Pattern yourself after? Let God be your Pattern. Look to Him. He is always available and can be duplicated at any time.

Examine — November 24, 2013

Examine

The battle of Jericho is told in Joshua 6:1 — when Joshua and the people of Israel, led by priests blowing trumpets, marched around Jericho’s outer walls once a day for six straight days. Then, on the seventh day, the procession of priests and people marched around the city seven times. Upon completing the seventh lap, Joshua told the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city.” Then the Lord God did what only he could: at the unified shout of his people, the walls of Jericho crumbled and fell to the ground. The Lord God commanded that the silver, gold and containers made of bronze and iron were to taken and placed in the treasury of the Lord — all other property was devoted (marked) for destruction. Everyone obeyed — except one man. His name was Achan, and the Israelites were about to learn just how devastating the sin of one man could be.

In preparation for their next battle, Joshua sent men to spy out the land of the Amorites. Seeing that they were few in number, the spies returned to Joshua and reported that the Amorites would be easily defeated. And they would have been, except the Lord had removed his hand of protection because of Achan’s sin. So when the Israelites attacked the Amorites, it was the Amorites, and not the Israelites, who were victorious. Instead of cries of victory, the Israelite camp was filled with cries of mourning and wailing. Defeated and dejected, Joshua tore his clothes, put dust on his head, and lay with his face toward the ark of the Lord. When he asked the Lord God why they had lost the battle, the Lord replied: “Get up! Why have you fallen on your face? Israel has sinned; they have transgressed my covenant that I commanded them; they have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen and lied and put them among their own belongings. Therefore the people of Israel cannot stand before their enemies. They turn their backs before their enemies, because they have become devoted for destruction. I will be with you no more, unless you destroy the devoted things from among you.” (Joshua 7:10-12)

Joshua called all the people to stand before him, so he could Examine them. When it was discovered that Achan had kindled the Lord’s anger, Achan confessed saying, “Truly I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful cloak from Shinar, and 200 shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, then I coveted them and took them. And see, they are hidden in the earth inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” (Joshua 7:20-21)

Achan deliberately disobeyed God’s command — he knew he was not to take anything from Jericho. But when he saw beautiful, valuable things, he was so attracted to the thought of possessing them that he took them, in direct disobedience to God’s command. He allowed desire, rather than discipline, to rule his heart.

Sometimes we commit subtle sins. And other times we directly disobey God’s commands. Yet too often, like Achan, rather than confess our sin, we bury it, hoping to keep it a secret. What about you? Do you know what is hidden underneath the tent of your heart? Sit before the Lord God. Give him permission to Examine your heart, and allow him to show you any areas he wants to change. The Lord God is a gentleman — he does not come at us with condemnation. Instead, cloaked in gentleness and love, he reveals what we have hidden. God already knows what we have done, so confession isn’t for him — it’s for us. Confession is the vehicle which transfers our sin from us to Jesus. Jesus becomes the new owner because he paid the price for it. Sin, once it is confessed, no longer belongs to you. So if you find yourself carrying it around, put it down — it’s not yours to carry anymore.

Only One — October 21, 2013

Only One

Did Jesus really have to die in order to save us from our sin? If you have ever asked that question, you are not alone. Jesus asked his Father that very question. And he didn’t just ask it once — he asked it three times.

On the very night he was betrayed, Jesus lead his disciples into the garden of Gethsemane and tells them that his soul is sorrowful, even to death (Mark 14:34). He falls down on his face and prays to his Father (Matthew 26:39). Being in agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:44).

During that intense time of prayer, Jesus asks his Father the same question three separate times: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”  The question Jesus asks is a valid one: Do I really have to die on the cross? Or is there another way? Yet without any hesitation, Jesus surrenders his will: “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

In the midst of turmoil, as the will of Jesus collides with the will of God, Jesus begins praying, laying everything down — his questions, doubts, and concerns — at the feet of the Father, knowing that the Father is the Only One who can handle them.

In times of crisis and pain, when darkness threatens to overtake you, seek out the Lord God. He is the Only One who knows the future, the Only One who can answer your questions and remove your fear, and the Only One who can give you the wisdom you need. He is the Only One who can save you from your sin, and the Only One who can bring healing and wholeness into your life. He is the Only One who is available 24/7 so call upon him — he is faithful and he will answer you.

The Kingdom — July 4, 2013

The Kingdom

In Matthew 25, starting in verse 31, Jesus tells his disciples that when the Son of Man (Jesus) comes back and all the angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. And before him will be gathered all the nations. At that time, Jesus will separate the people one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep (those that have surrendered their lives to Jesus) from the goats (those who have not). In verse 34, Jesus describes what will happen to the sheep who are on his right. To them he will say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” And then in verse 41, Jesus describes what will happen to the goats who are on his left. To them he will say,  “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

In the very beginning, God prepared a Kingdom for YOU. It was designed with YOU in mind. It is an inherited gift, given to YOU by YOUR Heavenly Father. To receive the gift of The Kingdom is to spend eternity with YOUR Heavenly Father.

Although we categorize Hell as a place people go to, a more accurate description is that Hell is a place that God does NOT go to. To be in Hell is to be eternally separated from God.

Hell was NOT prepared for you. God designed and prepared it for the devil and his angels. In the end, when Jesus returns, Satan, who was once one of God’s angels, will be forced to permanently leave Heaven because he will not surrender his own will. From the very beginning, Satan has refused to submit to the authority of God. Instead, Satan longs to be like God — to have his own kingdom — one that is devoid of God’s presence. And God, in his great mercy, will, in the end, give Satan exactly what he desires. Satan’s kingdom is called Hell. And in that place Satan will be free to rule and reign as he sees fit. But that isn’t enough to satisfy him. After all, what good is a kingdom without people? So in order to fill his kingdom with loyal subjects, Satan works day and night, stamping out any belief that God exists, with the ultimate goal of getting as many people as possible to reject God. And when the pews of Hell are full, Satan will require the payment of both their allegiance and their worship.

From the very foundation of the world, two kingdoms have been prepared. Hell, which God prepared for the devil and his angels, and Heaven, which God prepared for YOU.  Both kingdoms are eternal. One is a blessing, and one is a curse. But only one was prepared for YOU.  Why would you want to be stuck, for eternity, in a kingdom that was NOT prepared or designed with you in mind? The Kingdom of God is an inherited gift. And here’s the best part: you don’t have to die to receive it — Jesus already did that for you by taking your place on the cross.  The promise of eternal life is available today. Your gift awaits — accept it. Surrender your life to Jesus, the one true Lord and Savior, and receive The Kingdom that God prepared in the very beginning just for YOU.

Surrender — May 24, 2013

Surrender

In Matthew 25:31-32 Jesus says, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Later on in that passage, Jesus says that those on his right (sheep) will inherit the kingdom, but those on his left (goats) will be separated from him. I was intrigued that Jesus would use the terms “sheep” and “goats” to describe people. Being a city girl with limited exposure to barnyard animals, I had to do a little research in order to put this passage into context.

Dumb and fearful, sheep simply do not make good decisions. For example, they are known to eat poisonous plants, and an entire herd can easily be wiped out in a panic-stricken stampede. Sheep are totally dependent upon their shepherd for food and protection. Without him, sheep would not survive. A sheep knows the shepherd’s voice, and the shepherd knows each one of his sheep. And the shared bond between the two is so strong that the shepherd won’t hesitate to search for lost sheep, even if it’s just one.

Goats, on the other hand, do not bond with their shepherd. Stubborn, curious, and independent, goats refuse to Surrender their will. They believe they know what is best for them. They are always looking to go their own way, and when they set out, goats expect to lead, not follow, their shepherd.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and those that have accepted him are called his sheep. According to the scripture above, we are either a sheep or a goat. So what about you – which category do you fall under? Do you walk with the shepherd like a sheep, or do you go your own way like a goat? If you’ve walked way from the Good Shepherd, return to him. Surrender. Give him permission to lead you.  He deeply loves you and is ready to welcome you with unconditional forgiveness, and cover you with waves of love, mercy and grace. Let him lead you. Let him provide for you. Let him protect you. Your shepherd knows you. Do you know him?

Ensnared — March 4, 2013

Ensnared

2 Timothy 2:23-26 says: “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

This scripture holds special meaning for me.  A friend game it to me after my first husband left me — he’d met another woman with two kids and decided that his relationship with them, rather than with me, was the one he really wanted. It was a deeply painful time, but these verses gave me the clarity I needed in that dark and lonely valley.  I kept my conversations professional – I spoke with a calm tone of voice and carefully chose my words. In this way, I did not ignite stupid arguments that would have only fueled more conflict. I began praying for him, his girlfriend, and her two little girls with the hope that God would intervene and change their lives and restore them to him. Praying for someone who has deeply hurt you is extremely difficult. Yet, over time, it not only brought peace into my life, I was eventually able to forgive them and completely move on. Now, when contention or conflict comes at me, especially from close family or friends, I am able to see beyond the flaming darts to the 1 who ignites all controversies  – the devil. He is known as the Father of All Lies, and he is a Trash Talker, an Oppressor, a Manipulator, and an Accuser. He does not know the future, yet he projects F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) into our thoughts, in order to get us to take our eyes off God.

The devil’s twisted words are divisive and destructive, and he speaks through people to get to us. As opposition comes at us, we need to keep in mind that the people projecting contention and strife are simply the mouthpieces – not the source – of the conflict. And our prayer for them should be one of hope: that God would lead them to repentance, with the full knowledge of the Truth. We only have 1 enemy, and he is the only 1 who fights against us.

When conflict arises, give God permission to do whatever is necessary in their lives to break the chains that have Ensnared them. Then let go of it and let God work it out. And the peace you are seeking will be found in the release (not the retaining) of the problem. Want the conflict resolved? Give God permission to resolve it. Then let go and let God.

Pursued — February 14, 2013

Pursued

Jeremiah 44:2-5 says, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: You have seen all the disaster that I brought upon Jerusalem and upon all the cities of Judah. Behold, this day they are a desolation, and no one dwells in them, because of the evil they committed, provoking me to anger, in that they went to make offerings and serve other gods that they knew not, neither they nor you, nor your fathers. Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!’  But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their evil and make no offerings to other gods.”

When we worship God, we reflect back to him our acknowledgement of who he is – the 1 true God: the Maker and Creator of the universe, our Provider, our Protector, and our Savior. Our relationship with God is a covenant: just like a wedding, we vow to remain in the relationship for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. In worship, we re-pledge our love and commitment – that we will maintain our covenant relationship with him, even when our circumstances and our feelings threaten to lead us astray.

Every day you are Pursued – by your Deliverer (God) and your Destroyer (Satan). The Deliverer wants to give you joy. The Destroyer wants to steal it. The Deliverer truly loves you and will remain faithful and committed to you through the ups and downs of your walk with him, unlike the Destroyer who will never stop reminding you of sin that God has forgiven and forgotten. If painful circumstances and trials have led you astray, turn back. Your Deliverer deeply loves you and wants a personal, committed relationship with you. Enter into worship re-pledge your vow to him. Whom will you worship today? It’s your choice. Choose wisely.