Fingerprints

Fingerprints

 

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, but I keep coming back to the fingerprints. If my funeral was tomorrow, what would people say about me? What kind of fingerprints have I left on their lives? I hope they’d say I’ve left the fingerprints of Jesus, but I’m not too sure that’s what I’d hear, if I could hear the people speaking at my funeral.

 

I think about the past, and the many years I lived for myself, for my pleasures, chasing the lusts of my flesh. I encountered many people during that time who knew my dad was a preacher, who knew I was raised in church, but who also knew I was “promiscuous” and no different than any other “worldly” person. Those people don’t know me now; they only know the “me” of that time. I wonder what kind of fingerprint I left on their life about God, the Church, and Christianity. Sometimes the thought is more than I can bear.

 

And I think of my husband. I wonder what he would say. Would he describe me as the “Proverbs 31” wife? Would he say I left the fingerprints of faith on his life, or the fingerprints of a control freak that was selfish and an overbearing nag? Would he be able to say he understood a little more about the Jesus I always spoke of, because of my character, or that my character conflicted with the Jesus I preached?

 

My husband has seen me from the beginning to the end, from the best and the worst. He met me in my addiction/eating disorder days, he managed to stick with me through my crazy days of psychotherapeutic drug treatments, he even stuck around when I over-compensated for my failures and became a Pharisee beating him over the head with my Bible. He still stands by me as I serve in church, write, and pursue an education in counseling. He’s a quiet man, but supportive of me in all things. Sometimes I think he’s left more of a “Jesus” fingerprint on my life, despite our differences of faith perspectives. Certainly God has used my husband to speak truth to me in ways I haven’t always understood and sometimes even resented. God is good like that, and I am grateful for all He has taught me through my marriage. I love my husband more every day, and hope that if he were to speak at my funeral, he would say that his wife failed in some ways, but Jesus changed her life for the better, and through that, made her a better wife and better mother. But, if I were to die tomorrow, I’m not too sure that’s what he’d say.

 

I think about my friendships. I have a couple great ladies in my life who have been a huge support spiritually. Though we haven’t known each other long, we are spiritual soul-mates. They sharpen me as “iron sharpens iron” and draw me closer to God just through knowing them. They are leaving the “Jesus” fingerprint on my life. But would they say the same about me?

 

Without a doubt I know some of the friendships of the past two or three years did not turn out that way. I’m pretty sure some of those people would describe the fingerprint I’ve left on them like a crime scene photo. Ugly, bloody, brutal—selfish, argumentative, judgmental. Much like the people who knew me during my prodigal years, these people know the me of the Pharisee years. And sometimes the thought of that is indeed, more than I care to consider. I have tried to “fix” some of these bad encounters, but sometimes the hurts inflicted burn the bridges beyond what can be rebuilt, at least on this side of heaven.

 

And maybe most importantly, I wonder what kind of fingerprint I have left on my daughter’s life? Have I displayed the “Jesus” in the Bible verses she has memorized? Or have I displayed the version that says, “I only approve of you when your behavior is good.” If she were to stand at my casket, could she say her mother showed her Jesus? That her mother was real, honest, authentic, open, and also caring, compassionate, and ready to show grace and mercy?

 

Last weekend Pastor Pat delivered an excellent message (as usual) about “time”. Afterwards we received a sheet of paper to map out our life plan. It contained some key steps like identifying important relationships, our priorities, and how we want to be remembered. I haven’t been able to fill mine out yet. I’ve been somewhat paralyzed as I wait for the doctor to call me with the news. Perhaps the road I thought I would travel will not be what I envisioned even a few weeks ago.

 

Either way, I’m in a time of contemplation. No matter what happens, I know God has used this “illness” to get my attention and get me thinking about the fingerprints I am leaving on people’s lives, what I can do to possibly clean the messy fingerprints off the past and create new ones, and what I must surrender to God today so the new fingerprints reflect Jesus, not Rebecca.

 

 

Finally, I think of a message a great man of God and influential teacher in my life delivered a couple years ago in church. I’ll never forget these words, “The only thing that matters in life is your answer to this question: what have you done with Jesus? What have you done with Jesus?”

 

I’m not sure what’s in my future, but I know this: Jesus has set my heart free, and I hope and pray you have experienced that same peace and freedom that surpasses any human understanding. If you haven’t experienced this full life that Jesus wants for you, won’t you consider doing so today?

 

Having lived life “my” way I can say the end result is never worth the perceived freedom of making your own choices. God’s way is really better, really. It gives meaning to life, and a future beyond the few years we have here on earth. It makes all of this pain actually worth something. And even the happy times are more meaningful when God is present.

 

How do you want to be remembered? What kind of fingerprints are you leaving on the lives of others? What can you do to allow God to change that this very moment? We can’t change the past, but God promises that He will make even our ugly failures work for our greatest good if we would only choose to love Him today (see Romans 8:28). Today is the day to make new fingerprints. Friends, please don’t delay. You don’t know what tomorrow holds, but with Jesus, you can know that your tomorrow is safe and secure no matter what life throws at you. And that is the only place to be. His fingerprint of peace rests on my heart; I hope it rests on yours.

 

“This is my comfort in my affliction, for your Word has given me life.” Psalm 119:50

 

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Living Free Life Group–Quotes (from April 28, 2013)

Remember:

 

 

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; Jesus has come so that I may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

 

 

Highlighters:

 

 

“We deceive ourselves when we hear the Word but don’t do it (James 1:22; 1 Peter 1:13). We deceive ourselves when we say we have no sin (1 John 1:8). We deceive ourselves when we think we are something we are not (Romans 12:3; Galatians 6:3). We deceive ourselves when we think we are wise in this age (1 Corinthians 3:18-19). We deceive ourselves when we think we are religious but do not bridle our tongue (James 1:26). We deceive ourselves when we think we will not reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). We deceive ourselves when we think the unrighteous will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6: 9-10). We deceive ourselves when we think we can continually associate with bad company and not be corrupted (1 Corinthians 15:33).” The Bondage Breaker, pp.167-171

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“False prophets and teachers flourish simply because Christians accept their ministry without spiritual discernment.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 172

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“God is more concerned with church purity than church growth, because church purity is an essential prerequisite for church growth.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 174

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“Declaring that your words are directly from the Lord when they aren’t is an incredible offense to God. Manipulating people by claiming a word from the Lord is spiritual abuse.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 174

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“Being physically attractive and having a charismatic personality are not biblical criteria for validating a ministry or a teacher. The standards are truth and righteousness, and false teachers malign both.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 176

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“The motive for true discernment is never self-promotion, personal gain, or to secure an advantage over another person—even an enemy. Discernment has only one function: to distinguish right from wrong so the right can be acknowledged and the wrong can be disregarded.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 179

 ***

“The light of truth is the only valid weapon against the darkness of deception.” The Bondage Breaker, pg. 181

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“We have all the resources and protection we need to live a victorious life in Christ. If we’re not living it, it’s our choice. When we leave a door open for the devil by not resisting temptation, accusation, or deception, he will enter it. And if we continue to allow access, he will assume squatter’s rights. We won’t lose our salvation, but we will lose our daily victory.” The Bondage Breaker, pp. 192-193

 ***

“Choosing truth, living a righteous life, and donning the armor of God are each believer’s individual responsibility. I cannot be responsible for you, and you cannot be responsible for me. I can pray for you, but if you go into battle without your armor on, you may get hurt. As much as that may be a matter of concern for me, I still cannot make those decisions of responsibility for you. Those choices are yours alone, but you do have a choice.” The Bondage Breaker, pp.193-194

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profilepic3Rebecca Aarup is a redeemed prodigal, set free from over a decade of mental illness, eating disorders, addiction, and more. She now enjoys sharing her story of freedom and transformation with a lost and hurting world, as well as teaching about spiritual warfare and the importance of understanding our identity in Christ.

Rebecca is also an author and freelance writer, having written devotionals and teaching articles for a variety of publications including The Secret Place (Judson press), Evangel (Light and Life Communications), and Mustard Seed Ministries. Beyond writing, Rebecca is a wife, home-schooling mom, and Bible student at Liberty University. She lives in Glendale, Az with her husband Chris and daughter, Samantha.  You can read more from Rebecca by following her on twitter and facebook.

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The Junk in My Trunk

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Matthew 3:8

Suggested reading: Isaiah 59

Waking the Dead by John Eldredge

Imagine you’ve beautifully decorated a cake. You spent years studying how to decorate it to perfection, and all that knowledge has paid off. Your cake looks marvelous, anyone would want it at their wedding. That is unless they cut into it. You see, you spent so much time learning how to decorate the cake, you never took the time to learn how to bake the cake! Your ingredients were not measured correctly, and were not good quality. You had a beautiful cake that was inedible.

This describes the majority of us. We’ve accepted the teachings that we “should” act a certain way. So, we attempt to decorate our appearance (with the best of intentions) rather than fixing the inside. It’s called legalism. “Surely a real Christian wouldn’t act that way!” Perhaps that “Christian” has too much junk in their trunk, and they don’t realize it.

I have spent many years learning the Bible, doing studies, and attending classes, but those facts did not set me free. As a believer I continued to struggle with eating disorders, addictions, and ungodly attitudes. It was a daily struggle which often ended in despair. “I’ll never be able to do this!” There are many denominations that would label me a “non-believer” based on my actions. What was my problem?

When I went through The Steps to Freedom in Christ I started to understand what was holding me up. Yes, I did have a heart that sought after God, but I had too much junk in my trunk making it impossible for me to drive up the mountaintop of freedom. I struggled every day with wanting to do the right thing, then failing to do it. I chalked it up to Paul’s struggle in Romans 7:24, “Oh wretched man that I am!” I guess it’s the way it will always be; trying to do good and failing. I was taught and believed this was the way of the Christian life, ups and downs; failures and successes.

I had tried to forget about my past and move on for many years, yet I had failed to deal with it head on. One thing I did was list every physical act partaken of with another man that was not my husband. I had to write down their names and what I did. I even had to write down my husband’s name and everything we did before we were married. I went through the list systematically renouncing the deeds and the spiritual bonds it produced. Those were things I tried to forget for many years. I never realized that just pushing the memories away didn’t fix the problem. I had made spiritual agreements with these people and these bonds needed to be broken. Just because I had re-dedicated myself to Jesus didn’t mean the spiritual bonds of sin were severed. Had God already forgiven me? Of course! He forgave me as He suffered on the cross for my every shameful choice, but I couldn’t experience freedom until I acknowledged and renounced my actions.

Repentance isn’t for God, it’s for me.

This process was repeated in every area of my life, not just sexual sin. I’m talking about down to “obeying the laws of the government”. Yes, that means speeding and other traffic violations whether or not I was “caught”. Does this sound extreme to you? I assure you, it’s not. A lifetime of junk piling up set a wall between me and true freedom.

I am living life on the mountaintop now because I finally emptied out the garbage. I acknowledged its existence, renounced it and repented, allowing me to experience the freedom of Christ completely. We’re wearing ourselves out trying to get up that mountain with 500lbs of bricks on our backs. We’re fighting a losing battle by decorating a cake with inedible ingredients.

For the first time in my life I am “living” the way I should; not out of effort but because I have been changed from the inside out.  If my trunk is filled with junk I’ve never faced, I will have no room to retain the truth of Jesus that results in changed behavior.

Am I perfect? No, but I am equipped, armed, and ready for the spiritual battle that rages every day of my life and that has allowed me to walk in my position with Christ as a saint.

New Life

I think I am still “hungover” from Sunday, that is, emotionally hungover. Despite my exhaustion yesterday, I felt as though I were soaring with the eagles. I’ve been trying to stay integrated in the truths that have allowed me to receive the freedom Christ provided.

In The Steps to Freedom in Christ, there is a list of lies believed about God, and the corresponding truth. I have been reading them (out loud) over and over again since Sunday.

I renounce the lie that my Father God is absent or too busy for me and I choose to believe the truth that my Father God is always with me and eager to be with me.

“‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.'” Ezekial 34:11-12

As I was stepping into the shower yesterday my daughter said, “Mom wait! You forgot to get on the scale!” I stood there dumbfounded for a moment before responding, “You know what? Mommy doesn’t need the scale anymore.” She shrugged her shoulders and climbed in the shower with me. At that moment I realized how my behavior had been affecting my child. She was so used to seeing me get on that scale every day, she had been stepping on it right after me. She is only 4! “Oh God, forgive me for teaching my daughter this harmful pattern, help me create new habits for myself that she will want to mimmick.” One of these new habits is reading out loud The Overcomers Covenant in Christ. Samantha enjoys sitting with me while I read it, and asks me questions about it.

It’s not enough to eliminate bad habits, they must be replaced with new, wholesome habits.

I renounce every unrighteous use of my body and I commit myself to no longer be conformed to this world, but rather to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, and I choose to belive the truth and walk in it regardless of my feelings or circumstances. – from The Overcomers Covenant in Christ (Neil Anderson)

Today is a new day, the second day of my new life, and I am seeing things with a new set of eyes. My husband came home and I had a new love for him.

I look at my daughter and see radiating innocence and beauty.

I look at food and see nourishment, not punishment. For as many ups and downs as I’ve had in my Christian walk, I have never experienced the life I am living now. I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm (Eph. 2:6) and for once I believe that is true for me, not just everyone else. I am God’s temple (1 Cor. 3:16) and I am complete in Christ (Col. 2:10).