Archive for the ‘Lies Young Women Believe’ Category

And My Shame is Undone.

January 13th, 2016

I started this week off fully aware of my weaknesses in the current roles God has placed me in and determined to fix.them.once.and.for.ALL. They all boil down to getting my act(s) together. Ever feel like you need to do that? I am totally aware of the fact that many women have a lot more on […]

 

I started this week off fully aware of my weaknesses in the current roles God has placed me in and determined to fix.them.once.and.for.ALL. They all boil down to getting my act(s) together. Ever feel like you need to do that? I am totally aware of the fact that many women have a lot more on their plate than I do, but nevertheless the perfectionist in me is still more than unpleased with being less than excellent in my roles and responsibilities.

  • As a wife, I want to know what I am making for meals ahead of time rather than repeating meals out of lack of time to get creative and standing at my fridge with last minute grocery needs. I want the meals to be delicious and healthy. I want my house cleaning to find a consistent medium rather than spic-and-span to it-looks-like-we-threw-a-party. I want to be amazing at serving my husband since he works so hard selflessly serving me.
  • As a serving hand, I want to be helpful and reliable in any roles I have in ministry and in my role as an FRG co-leader.
  • As a friend I want to do my part to love and connect and fill gaps in communication that are my fault.
  • As a photographer, I want to get back  to focussing on and enjoying my passion photography and serving and blessing my clients.
  • And generally, I want to be ahead of my schedule rather than feeling like I am always running to try and catch up. I need time-management and organizational improvement. That should do it for my 2016 goals if I had any! 😉

I have begun reading about realistic organizing and scheduling for women with important but fluid and flexible and ever changing time blocks of availability. I am beginning this journey to improve these things and was feeling accomplished the night before last when I had succeeded in making meals ahead for much of our busy week. Bryan had liked them, was impressed with the change in my norm, and told me he felt like a king. THAT is how I want to treat my husband and I was so encouraged to love and serve him better like that! But it never fails that, because I am still a work in progress, I will always inevitably rest my head at the end of a busy day seeing things that fell through the cracks. I didn’t message her back. I should have prepared more for this. I should have made time to be there for that. I totally forgot about this…how could I forget?!?!

Yesterday, for just a tiny example, I woke up early to spend time with the Lord and prep everything for my day according to my new to-do list. Bags for lunches, ministry items, items to bring over to friends, ingredients for food for our FRG meeting and a photo collage to show-off our troop activities to encourage family involvement, my purse to pay for things, and makeup to put on on-the-go. I made a trek to our post with everything I had noted I needed to bring so that I wouldn’t have to drive an extra hour home and back for anything. I ushered in all of the items I needed to bring to our chapel’s women’s ministry for the day…and soon realized I totally forgot something essential. One of the roles I volunteered recently for was to photograph events for this ministry, and with another separate responsibility in mind, I completely forgot my camera. Like it didn’t even make it onto that list I was so sure was going to make me fool-proof. I swallowed a healthy dose of humility when I informed our ministry leader and received her sweet extension of grace and understanding for my mishap. Inside though I hated feeling like no matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to avoid screwing something up. I slapped a smile on my face – which stayed there once surrounded by so many fun witty and loving girls in our community. But I couldn’t shake feeling discouraged, disappointed in myself and just aggravated.

It wasn’t until being in the middle of worship at the end of this program that God would prick my heart. Singing a beautiful song, we got to a verse that says:

Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
[in] Your presence, Lord

Y’all. I felt tears just roll on down and struggled to sing the words. The Lord was revealing to me something in my heart I needed to bring to Him. My Shame. I new somewhere along the lines I was believing lies that were resulting into inward shame, and I knew that was not what I as a believer in Christ should be continuing in. But I felt stuck.

There wasn’t a moment of time to myself the rest of the day, so this morning it was still on my heart. I began to search for Biblical wisdom and insight and found a really really well-written extensive article on shame in the heart of people. It defines Shame as:

SHAME: the painful emotion caused by a consciousness of guilt or shortcoming or impropriety.

The part that resonated most with me was that there is well-placed shame (or I like to think of it as conviction and a lack of peace) which is the result of doing something or saying something or believing something that dishonors God, and  there is a shame that is misplaced. I knew nothing in my heart sought to intentionally dishonor God in my current actions, and that none of the things that actually made me ashamed were in themselves dishonoring to God. Thus I was dealing with what I had already presumed that morning prior in worship – that I was believing a lie and experiencing misplaced shame. Shame that I had no business feeling, but that brought about conviction on some things that I did in fact need revealed to me so that I could confess and seek God’s grace and forgiveness and redemption for (so my misplaced shame exposed a root of well-placed shame…something I was not living according to God’s truth thus not honoring Him). The article, along with scripture, hit the nail on the head for me –

“much of what makes us feel shame is not that we have brought dishonor to God by our actions, but that we have failed to give the appearance that other people admire….Much of our shame is not God-centered but self-centered. Until we get a handle on this, we will not be able to battle the problem of shame at its root….So in the very act of wanting to avoid shame as the world sees it, they (talking about the people of Corinth but I might as well replace they with I) fell into the very behavior that God counts shameful.”

With so much of this in mind and a clear identification of where my thinking and heart have ventured off the path of God’s truth, I knew what I needed to bring before the throne. If you are experiencing shame of any kind, I highly recommend reading scripture, checking out this article, and praying about it. This is my prayer (below)…and I share it in case it can be one we pray together if you find yourself in a similar situation!

     Lord, I have bought my accuser – the enemy’s – lies. I have shamed myself wrongly and in doing so I did not see the root of my sin which is the vanity of wanting to please or be acceptable to others, the pride of wanting to be perfect (which is a pointless pursuit), and the selfishness of wanting others to think I have it all together. But what glory does it bring You, Father, if I lose sight of my need for You and my depravity apart from You and without Your grace, strength, and ability to be exalted in my weaknesses? 

     Culture says to cover your weaknesses and put up the best front. To seek success, recognition, comfort and/or power. Your Word says to rather boast about our weaknesses and not in our abilities but in You alone. 

     Thank You Lord for not letting my efforts to appear perfect prevail. Thank You for reminding me of my weaknesses (daily) and need of Your sufficient grace and strength and power, that I may not continue to buy lies or pat myself on the back, but instead look up to You, smile, and Praise Your Sweet, Tender, Mighty, Name. 

     Forgive me, Father, for getting this wrong lately. Lord, redeem me back to where my heart needs to be and help me guard my heart and mind from this continually. Thank You for Your Truth, for revealing it to me in the midst of my struggling with lies and for bringing me back to the path walking in Your Truth. I know my weak areas well Lord. You have allowed me to recognize them plainly and publicly that I might not cover (despite my best efforts) or ignore my need for You to work in me and through them. 

     Help me submit and be obedient to You to work in them each step of the way, and may I keep a humble heart having godly humility, selflessly only looking to You, and seeking to honor and glorify You King Jesus!

In Your Name, Amen. 

“God is the giver, and we are the receivers. His richest gifts are bestowed not upon those who do the greatest things, but upon those who accept His abundance and His grace.”

– Hannah Whitall Smith

 

I believe this needs to be a constant reminder in our lives, and I pray we never settle for living in shame! He has come to redeem us, to bring us abundant life and the richest form of freedom. May we not miss out on what He offers us!

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Tightening the Belt of Truth and Breaking out the Sword of the Spirit when destructive thoughts run Rampant.

December 16th, 2015

These past three years have been paramount to my personal walk with Christ in discovering that “Lies reign in the absence of truth (Lysa TerKurst)” but that “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.(2 Cor. 3:17)” Yet sometimes, daily circumstances accompanied with my default mindset and limited perspective can creep in. I am […]

 

These past three years have been paramount to my personal walk with Christ in discovering that “Lies reign in the absence of truth (Lysa TerKurst)” but that “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.(2 Cor. 3:17)”

Yet sometimes, daily circumstances accompanied with my default mindset and limited perspective can creep in. I am learning to recognize that, when I feel robbed of my joy, peace, patience, self-control, or my ability to love, be kind, or to persevere, this is a sure sign that I am forgetting to arm myself with the what the Bible refers to as the Belt of Truth and I am not consistently combating lies with the Sword of the Spirit which is God’s Word and our only offensive tool in what scripture calls the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:14). Looking back through my journal, I’ve been most encouraged when I have recognize this lack of peace, joy, etc. as an attack going on in my heart and mind and choose to combat it with God’s Word and/or truth. Here are a few things I have declared to myself when this happens that have been an effective spiritual, mental, and emotional reset for my heart and mind :

  • When I am overwhelmed, God’s Word redirects my focus. (Philipians 4:8, Romans 12:1-2, Philipians 4:6-7, Ephesians 4:23, Colossians 3:2, etc.)
  • When I don’t know where to turn, God is near, present and available. (Psalm 145:18, Psalm 16:8, James 4:8, Isaiah 43:2, Zephaniah 3:17, Hebrews 4:14-16)
  • When I don’t know the way, HE is the way (John 14:6), He desires to, He can, and He will direct my path if I trust and follow (Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 16:9), and He will make my steps firm (Psalm 37:23)
  • When I am weak, He gives me strength, I can do all things through Him, and to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Philippians 4:13)
  • When I have been broken and when I have failed, His Love has restored me. (Psalm 23:3, Micah 7:7-10) When I stumble or fall, I will not be hurled headlong (or in my mental picture – I will not fall on my face) because He holds my hand (Psalm 37:23-24)
  • When I feel defeated, I know that victory is in the Lord (Proverbs 21:31), that in Christ I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37), I know that The Lord will fight for me (Exodus 14:13-14) when He sees fit, that He delivers me from all my afflictions (Psalms 34:19), and that we may be “hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9)
  • When I struggle or am in need, God will provide (Philippians 4:19)
  • When I have asked why, I believe Him when He says His ways are higher (Isaiah 55:8-9), that His Promises work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) and for the ultimate purposes He has (Ephesians 1:11) and I remember His faithfulness in my life thus far (Let’s just raise an Ebenezer 1 Samuel 7).
  • When I bring it all before Him, choose to trust Him, and exercise an obedient heart, He delights in me (Zephaniah 3:17Psalm 147:11) and is faithful to guard what I entrust to Him (2 Tim 1:12)
When I feel unvalued or devalued by people –
  • I do not serve for recognition.
  • We were not saved by good works but for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) . Good works are not the root but the fruit of our salvation (quote from a devotional somewhere).
  • I am not consumed by the need to please man, but God alone. (Galatians 1:101 Thessalonians 2:4Colossians 3:23).
  • Perception is not reality. Reality is reality. And perception is often wrong. But it is not my job to manage the perception others have of me. My job is to be obedient to my God, and to honor Him. I cannot control the perceptions or judgements of others about me and it is a lie to think that I can or to think that it is important. It is an utter waste of time and a trap from the Devil to get my mind off of glorifying Christ instead trying to glorify the perception of myself in the eyes of others. However, it does matter,  and it only matters, “whether Christ is honored by the way people think of us. Does Christ look great because of the way we live? It matters to us whether he does” (full wonderfully expounded sermon on this dichotomy of what matters in what others perceive about us by John Piper).
  • I am not perfect, but I am NOT the labels I give myself or the judgements or labels given to me by other people. Things that are actually true: I have been bought for a price (1 Cor. 6:20), I am precious in God’s sight (Isaiah 43:3), wonderfully made in His image (Psalm 139:14), set apart (2 Timothy 2:21), protected, defended, loved, valued, understood and I know that He is with me using all things to shape my heart.

 

If you sense a lack of joy, peace, patience, love, self-control, hope, faith, etc., I pray that it be an indicator of an area in which God’s Word and Truth can identify a chink in your armor  in which you may be vulnerable to the lies of the enemy. I pray we continually dive in to His Word and Truth so that His power can combat our enemy,  renew our minds and hearts, and boldly claim freedom and victory in our hearts and minds today.

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Like Apples of Gold…

December 9th, 2015

Recently I’ve been learning a lot  about how to better love and honor people, and I find myself eager to look for and find praiseworthy things in people among me to build them up or compliment them. I know how it is to be a woman (or just a human being in general), and sometimes […]

 

Recently I’ve been learning a lot  about how to better love and honor people, and I find myself eager to look for and find praiseworthy things in people among me to build them up or compliment them. I know how it is to be a woman (or just a human being in general), and sometimes it means everything to hear some one say a kind word about how you look, the efforts you are making in things in your life, and simply acknowledging and praising the good in who you are. My goal has become to genuinely see the beauty and good in people and, when I look for it, it is always possible to find something to sincerely appreciate and share in an encouraging compliment to brighten their day. Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced what it’s like to be down, and my heart doesn’t want that for anyone.

torn down

I know I am probably not the only one, but sometimes it seems that this life choice to be an encourager can be a lonely one way street.

What God’s been teaching me through it is to find my encouragement in Him alone, and yet to be grateful when He does use someone to brighten my day with a kind word.  Recently I walked into a gathering and was surprised to have multiple people compliment me. I will be the first to tell you that – for me – THIS IS NOT NORMAL. But looking back I will say that I never knew how much I would have needed it. After this gathering, I would soon experience the opposite end of the spectrum and find myself at the end of the day feeling defeated and like a failure. It wasn’t until I talked to my Mom that I burst into tears. But it wasn’t what you would think.

I was indeed sad and discouraged and feeling less than loved or valued, but I didn’t break down to tears until I remembered the unusual and beautifully kind encouragement God had sent my way just before He knew I would face temptation to feel worthless. How extra loving it was to send this gift of encouragement my way, and I was reminded He is always working to teach and shape my heart in the good and the hard. I  am so thankful that, when I need it, His Word never fails to overflow with the lasting encouragement I need. It is my help in filtering out negative or destructive thoughts or assumptions I may make and editing my thoughts to only the truth in His Word about who I am, who He is, and what really matters.

When I worry about what others might criticize about me, I know He knows my heart and I have peace and choose to accept that that is enough. And I am also thankful for those people who loved on me with their thoughts and words when they easily could have kept their thoughts to themselves or chose to pick me apart and identify all my flaws instead of praising the good. My new and true hope in reflecting on my own experiences is that we never hold back a kind word…because we may never know how much that word means or how God may just use it to send some extra love and encouragement to somebody when they need it most.

Unfortunately encouraging words aren’t always received when we can use them, but this is how we learn to go to a faithful and overflowing source of encouragement – God’s Word. When I need a word of lasting encouragement, I am never disappointed to find it in scripture.

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And being the pinterest quote saver I am, here are a few quotes and scriptures about the power of kind words and looking for the good and praiseworthy in others!

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And this brought to mind this song written for people to encourage each other in the Lord. What a favorite!

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All in a Day’s Work for the Gardener

May 20th, 2015

Don’t you just love how God teaches us about Himself in the simplest but often more-complex-than-they-seem-on-the-surface type of ways? He chose to teach us so many things about His character through the simple picture of a Shepherd tending his flock of sheep. Jesus also tells us that He is the true Vine (in whom we […]

 

Don’t you just love how God teaches us about Himself in the simplest but often more-complex-than-they-seem-on-the-surface type of ways? He chose to teach us so many things about His character through the simple picture of a Shepherd tending his flock of sheep. Jesus also tells us that He is the true Vine (in whom we are to remain) and we are the branches…and that His Father is the gardener. (**sigh**) I am going to deviate for a second – but I have a point!

Since this is the first time in over a year that we are going to be living in one place for more than 18 months, I was excited to grow an herb garden to save a little money on groceries and add an extra punch of fresh nutritious flavor to our meals. So far, all I invested in was this basil plant. Obviously, it is looking a little gangly since I have not yet developed or fine-tuned my green thumb.

BASIL

When learning about my own “gardening needs” according to scripture recently, I was drawn to search for tips on helping my sad basil plant. As it turns out, harvesting basil is the key to keeping it healthy. When harvesting it, you have to cut the leaves off just above the second set from the ground. According to this article I was amazed to find that “the single stalk will now end here, and two new branches will now bud and grow from the set of leaves you left behind.” What seemed like it might kill off my plant actually doubles its productivity – wow! Unfortunately, as you can see in my loved but naively neglected little plant, I did not prune it, but only plucked some bottom leaves in efforts to not hinder it from growing…WRONG! And  – it sprouted flowers. Instead of taking action like a knowledgeable experienced gardener, I thought “good for it!” Boy was I wrong again! Apparently as I sat down to research and write this post this very morning, I learned that once the Basil plant produces buds, you are to nip it in the bud if you want your Basil plant to stay healthy…otherwise it will die as they are annual plants meaning they grow only one season before dying. ;( As I read that my mouth dropped open and I ran and snatched those stupid flowers off my plant…I will let you know I guess if I was too late. Darn.

Where in the world am I going with this? I know I know… I am getting to the point. 😉 According to the Bible, God our Father is the gardener in our hearts and minds when we follow Him, and He desires His followers to bear [much] good fruit! (John 15:8) He says that His disciples are recognized by their fruit. What is this fruit? Obedience, the spread of the Good News and addition of new believers, love, and/or Christian character most commonly known as the Fruit of the Spirit. Likewise, false prophets and those who profess to believe but do not will also be known by their fruit, or lack there of.  We can only bear good fruit or bad fruit, and in order to bear good fruit we must seek, endure correction, and be willing to be pruned of any potential bad fruit caused by sin. Like my basil plant, when we are properly pruned all potential death-causing flowers are kept from blooming. 😉

SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO ALLOW GOD TO PRUNE AWAY OUR BAD FRUIT AND NIP IT IN THE BUD IN ORDER FOR US TO PRODUCE THE GOOD FRUIT AND BE EVEN MORE FRUITFUL. AND SOMETIMES HE MUST UPROOT IT ENTIRELY.

Recently I was in need of some uprooting. Occasionally, I tend to get a decorating idea in my head and it all too quickly becomes an obsession that clouds any financially responsible, logical or reasonable judgement. Before long I was obsessed and googling some items for a perfect summer table-scape. Sounds innocent right? Yea I thought so too. I told my self all kinds of innocent reasoning to justify why I must have it and have it completed now. But as He often does, God in His loving kindness was bound to reveal some heart issues deep down so that he could begin His gardening work. Sometimes I am stubborn. After an hour of online shopping, planning, and asking for early Birthday presents from Mom and Dad (no purchases made yet), I began my quiet time studying God’s Word. It is hilarious to me that I glanced right over anything suggesting I needed to look at God’s Word regarding my heart and its temptations in this particular situation, but at one point it was so obvious I chuckled. I had decided to begin reading through the Bible on a 1 year plan, and God hilariously brought me on Day 1 (I should’ve known) to the very first woman and her fall to temptation. I have read, studied and even taught on this story in the Bible multiple times, but today it applied in a particular way. Matthew Henry’s Commentary noted

         “The place fixed for Adam to dwell was not a palace but a garden. The better we take up with plain things, and the less we seek things to gratify pride and luxury, the nearer we approach innocency. Nature is content with a little…but lust craves everything and is content with nothing.”

Okay Lord, I am listening, I wrote in my journal. Multiple and separate books I picked up kept addressing the compulsive tendency for people to crave stockpiling things. I am not usually this way, but I knew I was fitting in perfectly at this point in my mission to decorate my table. The commentary boldy went on to say that Adam when he participated in the first sin “plainly showed contempt of what God bestowed on him and a desire for what God did not see fit to give him. He would have what he pleased and do what he pleased. His sin was, in one word, disobedience.” Ouch. I realized something in my heart was off…in the wrong place…wanting something that wasn’t innately wrong, but wanting it for the wrong reasons. Unfortunately I knew I had deceived myself (since all sin involves believing a lie) somewhere along the way and that I needed God’s help to show me where my wrong thinking was rooted so we could uproot it. I prayed that through the continuance of reading He would unmask the deception in my heart.

So what is the good news in the commentary when we find ourselves walking down this path with Adam and Eve (as I sure did)? “Sooner or later, it (sin) will bring shame, either shame of true repentance which ends in glory (best case scenario), or that shame and everlasting contempt, to which the wicked shall rise at the great day (I think we can agree this is the worst case scenario). See here what is commonly the folly of those that have sinned. They have more care to save their credit before men that to obtain their pardon from God.” Wow. I realized an ugly sin struggle from my past was manifesting itself in a new way here. Immediately I believe God showed me the root of my problem. Actually he showed me the seed and the whole blasted plant so that maybe I could share it with you, share a laugh, and help us remember that all bad fruit begins deep in our hearts with a seed and whole elaborate but sneaky process before sprouting into sin. I introduce to you from my own journal – my “Sin-flower“. You love the name at least – right? 😉

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1.) The Seed  of my Sin- Unbelief

I am humbled and convicted to begin more-actively exercising belief in all areas after being reminded by this article that the root of all sin is unbelief. I know this article calls it the root of all sin…but for my post and illustration – it is the seed. The very beginning. Unbelief that God is enough. In my case, it was – as the article author said – “refusal to believe in the rich provisional resources that are already ours in Christ–we’re not believing that, by virtue of our Spirit-wrought union with Christ, everything we need and long for, we already possess.” If He provides something as insignificant as table decor for me – whoopty-do. Who actually cares? What difference does it make in the grand scheme of things? I know this may be such a ridiculous example, but I believe God knew it was a teachable moment for this child and that I would share it with you! :)

2.) The Root: Pride + Insecurity

I hate this one. All of my life I have struggled with insecurity entangled with pride. I want to impress people (pride) and, when I think others will be unimpressed or that I will be embarrased, I am insecure. This struggle mainly used to manifest in how I valued myself based on my self-image and performance as a photographer and I spent a good portion last year seeking God to help free me from that wrong-thinking with the truth of who I am in Him. So having already battled this, I was less than excited to see this lack of confidence in who God says I am popping up in how I feel about my household. After 5 moves in 5 years our furniture is looking less than snazzy. Chunks of certain furniture pieces are actually missing after this last move. I knew it made no sense logically to toss our furniture and replace it since this will not be the last of our moves and life will continue to wear on any furniture, so I wanted to try and do the next best thing to try and prevent myself from feeling insecure when having visitors. In my silly little way, apparenty table decorations would save the day. Gee.

3.) The Leaves

Matthew Henry notes on this story of Adam and Eve that “The excuses men make to cover and lessen their sin, are vain and frivolous; like the aprons of fig leaves (like Adam and Eve made), they make the matter never the better: yet we are all apt to cover our transgressions as Adam.”  The leaves of my own sin-flower were so appropriately compared to the leaves of Adam and Eve. They were my excuses or reasons I needed these innocent decorations. They were my attempts to justify, or cover, my wrong-thinking. And I did such a good job at this it is scary. I mean, it took taking a long time and a deep look to see the wrong in my heart after repeating things like “I just want a pretty table setting for when my family is here,” (why I must get it NOW), and “I am not asking for new furniture, so this is minor,” and manipulating the financial responsibility of purchasing something outside our decided budget by asking for an “early birthday present.”

4.) The Stem : Discontentment + Ungratefulness

When we focus on what we don’t have rather than all God has blessed us with, how discontent we become! How ungrateful we become for what God has so graciously and generously bestowed upon us as He sees fit for our best interest. Like holding the reins of a run away horse with white knuckles, before I knew it I was in a place of discontentment, a place I did not intend to be. Once I realized where I was, I had ask God to help me to skid to a stop.

5.) The Bud : Lust for things

I know it looks like a flower in my photo. Maybe it is. But I would like to say the bud of my sin-flower, or the progression of my bad fruit bearing, was the beginning of the actual obsession – my lust for things. Funny it was the last thing produced but the first thing I became aware of – and God had to work His way backwards from there. Lusting for things has not been a frequent routine for me as much as other things, so I am praying God keeps this from becoming a pattern in my life. While I believe He could nip this thing in the bud, I pray that He help me uproot every ugly destructive part of this weed so that I can only bear good fruit to His glory (John 15:8).

Perhaps the most beautiful thing in this messy experience for me was having lies revealed and holding my situation up to the light of the truth. As true as John 8:32 says, as soon as I was reminded of the truth and I allowed it to become a lens through which to view my desires, it was freeing. I was finally able to let my obsession go. Does this mean I wasn’t curious when an Ebay seller wrote me back or that I will never get a tablescape? Probably not. But it does mean I realized that when I do make any purchases or develop a desire things, it will not be a polite demand for things my way and in my timing. I want it to be in a healthy way and purchased with a pure heart and circumstances not manipulated by me. As you might imagine, I wrote my Mom (she and Bryan always get a laugh at my painstakingly humbling struggles) and shared this whole process with her concluding with “I do not want any decorations for my birthday anymore…but I do need a prayer journal since mine is filling up faster than expected.” 😀 Oh my life – tell me I am not the only one.

John 15:2, in light of the Greek translation broken down here, can be paraphrased as “…moreover for those in Him bearing fruit He will cleanse or purge of any undesirable elements so they can bear even more fruit of higher value”  Doesn’t that sound worth it?! I think if it could, even my basil plant would agree. 😉

Do you have a similar story? I would love to hear from you! Email me! :)

 

 

 

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Keeping it Real : Blogging Fail

April 7th, 2015

When I felt like I should start this blog, I was filled with excitement but also fear and doubt. With our biggest relocation yet just weeks away, I was afraid that I would fail at continuing something I viewed as a personal commitment and become just another good-intention-turned-failure. So I developed a solution. I would […]

 

When I felt like I should start this blog, I was filled with excitement but also fear and doubt. With our biggest relocation yet just weeks away, I was afraid that I would fail at continuing something I viewed as a personal commitment and become just another good-intention-turned-failure. So I developed a solution. I would do something easy. I would begin by posting 16 blogs on the book “Lies Young Women Believe” – a book I cannot recommend enough (I learned just as much if not more than the group as I led some Jr. High School girls through it) – but this happened to be a book I already had typed notes for last year, thus making the goal to blog weekly attainable and something I could prepare ahead of the move.

 But as I sat down to type them, it felt forced, awkward and blah. The messages that had been so powerful to myself and the girls in the group just months ago felt out of place now. I resolved that God would guide me and put on my heart when and what to write and signed off the blog.

 That Sunday, our Pastor began talking –

“Sometimes when life changes, we try to go back to what we knew and do what we used to do to get what we used to get…and in this new season that we’re in – what we used to do doesn’t work anymore. This is really true for people spiritually. People complain and they want to encounter God like they used to. They think ‘We used to sing Shout to the Lord, why don’t we sing Shout to the Lord anymore? The last time we sang Shout to the Lord God was there and I encountered Him and it was so powerful.’  This is what God was fighting with Israel all the time about. They were taking an unchanging God and trying to make Him go back to what He did yesterday for them to encounter Him today, but He’s not doing it. He is not going back to do today what He did yesterday because, if He did that, then we would worship the encounter instead of the God of the encounter.”

 

The Message translation of Galatians 3:3 puts it this way – “Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!” 

And the Message translation of Romans 9:30 puts it this way “…And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:

Careful! I’ve put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,     a stone you can’t get around. But the stone is me! If you’re looking for me,     you’ll find me on the way, not in the way.”

This experience combined with the truth in these messages convicted me on a few things:

  1. I had developed a form of Idolatry. I was so excited about all I had learned from the study in the past that I was more fixated on the encounters and understanding I had back then than on God…who is more concerned about doing something new today.
  2. I was lacking Faith and Trust and it was hindering my obedience. I needed to intentionally choose to have faith and trust that “He who began a good work” in me would “carry it out into completion (Phil 1:6).” God gave me a call to do something, so why was I trying to figure out how I could accomplish it on my own without Him?
  3. Last but not least, I had begun to let my Pride try to fix everything. When my doubt (lack of faith) and fear of failure crept in, my pride stepped in to try and prevent failure, which is how I made a plan to pre-write blogs from that prior study.

I used to be so afraid of conviction, like I didn’t want to have everything wrong. But these days I am more willing to endure the embarrassment from them because I much prefer the benefit of being corrected and guided to truth and right thinking than to remain foolishly stumbling off the path God wants me to walk. While this is quite humbling to share on the internet, I needed to share it because so often we can get a glimpse of something God wants us to get involved in yet forget that

A TASK GOD CALLS YOU TO ACT ON CANNOT BE DONE EFFECTIVELY APART FROM HIM IF HIS PURPOSES ARE TO BE ACCOMPLISHED.

I am so thankful that God’s Word acted like a mirror for my heart (James 1:23-25) because without being convicted on these things I would essentially have little bits of idolatry, pride, and lack of faith stuck in my teeth like lettuce. 😉 So…have I been able to blog once a week? Haha – NO. But was I reminded of a truth worth sharing? Definitely…and I think that is much more beneficial I hope!

Whatever He calls us to do, we must remember to continue trusting Him because, despite the obstacles or challenges we see ahead, what seems “impossible for man is possible with God”(Luke 18:27).

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Dealing with Lies : Progress Not Perfection

February 2nd, 2015

Saturday’s post was about how Satan often takes what you desire most and promises to fulfill it if you reject God and ignore His word and set out to fulfill your desires on your own rather than in a way that aligns with God’s Word. In yesterday’s post, we talked about 4 ways we often […]

 

Saturday’s post was about how Satan often takes what you desire most and promises to fulfill it if you reject God and ignore His word and set out to fulfill your desires on your own rather than in a way that aligns with God’s Word. In yesterday’s post, we talked about 4 ways we often cooperate and take the bait – giving those lies power and effectiveness. When we are caught up in a whirlwind lifestyle of believing and living accordingly to lies and we come to recognize our destructive thinking and bad or sinful habits, we can often feel guilty and shameful. But, as Beth Moore explains God’s intent in her book Breaking Free, He never sheds light on our weaknesses or shortcomings for the sake of condemnation (Romans 8:1). God makes us aware of hindrances so He can set us free!” Knowing the right way to discern the mixed feelings that accompany recognition  of these weaknesses/shortcomings is so important. You will be faced with both more of Satan’s lies and God’s truth.

As Beth Moore put it in So Long Insecurity, “The enemy of our souls has more to gain by our setbacks than by our succumbing to an initial assault. An initial assault catches us by surprise…setbacks, on the other hand, just make us feel weak and stupid. I should have conquered this by now. They steal our hope and make us want to quit…we will never be so secure that we will never be shaken…in order to grow and move forward with God something has to happen to make me want to leave where I am. Even when you are frustrated with moving 3 steps forward and 2 steps back – isn’t that still 1 step forward? Some pretty big progress as we run against the hurricane winds of a godless culture? “

The key is to focus on Progress, not Perfection. 

It is very important when recognizing you’ve believed a lie and messed up to learn to recognize Jesus’s voice by knowing His character (through studying it in His word) so that you can sort His voice from that of the accuser (aka Satan) so that Satan will not have a second victory. This is just one more way Satan will try to block out God’s voice and healing truth and try to kick you while you are already down. Satan’s lies are always condemning, questioning, and confusing – He is our accuser. His accusations lead to shame. But Jesus’s conviction will be loving and specific. He will reveal a sinful action or attitude and show us what to do to right our wrong. This is what leads us to life-changing repentance.

Take for example the adulterous woman in the John 8:1-11 (Oh I love this story!).

She was found, “caught in the act of adultery”. Imagine that humiliation. The men around wanted to stone her. They humiliated her and were full of accusations, condemnation, and shame-inflicting intentions towards her. Jesus steps in says “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”  Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (As some suggest,  I’d like to think He wrote the 10 commandments, so that it was apparent to all of them that not one of them was righteous.) 9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

LOVING, SPECIFIC CONVICTION WITH CLEAR DIRECTION. 

That is the God of the Bible. That is our God. :)

 

While full of mercy and forgiveness, don’t be mistaken – Jesus didn’t beat around the bush telling her to knock it off. So whatever God convicts your heart on, I would knock it off! But the forgiveness of those who seek God’s mercy is a life-changing forgiveness and small step in breaking free and changing your destiny. There are always consequences that accompany poor choices, but I encourage you that if you have recognized an area like this in your life, God is wanting to do a mighty thing in your heart. His love for you and desire for you to come to Him never wavered regardless of any choices you have made. So be strong and patient. Take responsibility and endure whatever consequences come, because by seeking Him and His mercy and forgiveness with a repentant heart, you will see how God can truly work all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom 8:28). One of the most impactful scriptures that show how to cling to God in the midst of a personal failure is –

Micah 7:7-9

7 As for me, I look to the Lord for help.
I wait confidently for God to save me,
and my God will certainly hear me.
8 Do not gloat over me, my enemies!
For though I fall, I will rise again.
Though I sit in darkness,
the Lord will be my light.
9 I will be patient as the Lord punishes me,
for I have sinned against him.
But after that, he will take up my case
and give me justice for all I have suffered from my enemies.
The Lord will bring me into the light,
and I will see his righteousness.

(I have no clue where they’re from, but these quotes are in my journal and I love them)-

“Guilt leads us to performance, but conviction leads us to repentance (a changed heart and mind).”

“Guilt is a ball and chain, but conviction is a gift that keeps us close to Him when Satan tries to use our feelings of guilt and shame to distance us from God.”

“But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.” Hebrews 10:39

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,” Ephesians 6:14

I want to encourage you to keep seeking truth and Jesus.

“Keep asking,[a] and it will be given to you. Keep searching,[b] and you will find. Keep knocking,[c] and the door[d] will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door[e] will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

I Love this song below and the reminder it is that He has new Mercy for us every day! :)


****This material is from my notes, quotes and paraphrasing of the Bible and the books I love on the Resource Page…primarily Lies Young Women Believe for this blog series.****

 

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Baited

February 1st, 2015

In yesterday’s post, we talked about lies in our life effecting how we live and how Satan intends to bait us and get us to cooperate to let our own sin destroy us. Today is focused on 4 ways we cooperate with lies we face by looking at Eve as our example. (This post is […]

 

In yesterday’s post, we talked about lies in our life effecting how we live and how Satan intends to bait us and get us to cooperate to let our own sin destroy us. Today is focused on 4 ways we cooperate with lies we face by looking at Eve as our example. (This post is a collaboration from my thoughts including notes and quotes from the study Lies Young Women Believe and Believing God, along with other quotes I’ve connected to its theme of what I’ve been learning along the way.)

 Genesis 2:15-25, and 3:1-6

There are four things Eve did to cooperate with Satan’s deception:

  1. She Listened, when she should have run. Eve knew she was free to eat from any tree – but that one – so what was she doing hanging around it? The same is true with us. Sometimes we know what situations or what pastimes easily suck us into believing lies thus making poor choices, but we don’t have to hang around it. In fact, when possible, if we would “Flee the evil desires…and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace…”(2 Tim 2:22) instead, we would probably never be around the lies long enough to have them mess with our minds.  If you have a relationship through which you hope to help someone, great. Just take time to step back and make sure you know who is influencing whom.
  2. Eve chose to dwell on Satan’s lies. By entertaining a conversation with the serpent showing that she was considering what he said. Before long, she was doubting that God’s restrictions were reasonable and assuming that he was withholding something good from them. (Gen 3:2-3) The truth was that God is a generous God. He gave them all the other trees in the garden, except one. When we allow our minds to dwell on what God commands we must not do rather than what He abundantly gives us, we lose sight that God intended His laws for our blessing and benefit. “The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.”(Deuteronomy 6:24)

***Side Note***Does it ever feel like God’s “rules” are stupid?

The thing is, we are free to choose how to chase fulfilling our deepest desires. We can try to do it our own way, but it will result time and again in two outcomes (among others I’m sure) – A.) – It will gratify us for a moment only to leave us unsatisfied still craving the next “fix” to fill our desire, and B.) – It is not pleasing to God who has so lovingly given us direction in the true way to find the abundant fulfilled life that is available to us.

“Freedom does not mean that right to do whatever we please,
but rather to do as we ought.” – Fulton J. Sheen

I don’t know exactly when the light bulb illuminated, but at some point during college it dawned on me that my parents weren’t strict and protective to make my life boring and miserable – but they wanted to protect me in hopes that I wouldn’t have to face the emotional and physical consequences that were likely from making poor choices. They could see further down the road of my life than I was looking. It is the same with God. His commands are not to restrict us. God’s commands are for our own good to free us from the consequences He knows will follow from living any other way. As a mentor once explained – imagine a chain-link fenced yard with a child playing with a kickball. The child might feel like it is unfair and want more room to play, but the truth is the yard has plenty of room to play and is the best place for him to play, and if there were no boundaries to stay inside, the child might run out into the road to get his stray ball and get hit by a car. God’s commandments are the same way…just without the fence therefore with the freedom to choose – because He wants to teach us to choose to trust. The same is true in marriage for example. When God commands a husband and wife to be faithful to each other, He knows that this is the purest and best love possible in the harsh imperfect world we live in, and He wants His children to be able to experience the BEST love possible as He intended rather than a version of love tarnished by mistrust, doubt, insecurity, anger, and heartache. He wants the BEST for his kids. The key is to FOCUS on God’s blessings, not what is forbidden.

3.  Eve believed Satan’s lies & mis-remembered what God said. She told the Serpent that God said they can’t eat “or even touch it”. God never said not to touch the tree. This is so so SO important. In Believing God by Beth Moore, she says that the majority of Christians, or even America, doesn’t have a problem with believing in God – the Bible says even the demons believe and shudder (James 2:19) – so Satan does the next best thing. He doesn’t care if we believe in God if he can manage to get us not to believe God, and what He has said. But knowing, believing, and trusting in God’s word is an essential part of our Armor against Satan. We can’t be surprised that we are believing lies when we don’t know the truth, but when we take time to study scripture continually we will be armed and ready. (“I have hidden your Word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11).

Sometimes falling prey to living your life trying to fulfill your desires on your own (and thus believing the empty promises the world and the lies of the enemy offer) seems so routine and like such a bad habit it feels like we will never be able to change. Temptation is the “invitation to meet my needs outside the will of God.” While it gratifies you temporarily on the outside, God’s provision satisfies the soul (Phil 4:19).  Jesus defeated Satan’s temptations in the desert by quoting scripture. Let Him be our example and encourager, for He said “What is impossible with man is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). Like Jesus when tempted in Matthew 4, we must know God’s word and be able to speak it accurately to combat anything or anyone parroting Satan’s lies in our lives. Most of the deceitful fronts of attack we will talk about boil down to these five promises in God’s Word:

  • God is who He says He is.
  • God can do what He says He can do.
  • I am who God says I am.
  • I can do all things through Christ.
  • God’s Word is alive and active in me.

If you aren’t filling your mind with truth, it is inevitable that you will believe lies. And what you believe will determine the way you live.

 

       4.Eve acted on Satan’s lies. She ate the fruit.
So what fruits are you eating? What baited hooks keep tricking you into a rat race of empty promises? If you aren’t sure, check out this book that was so beneficial to me – Lies Young Women Believe. It is geared towards the youth, but as I led a study with middle schoolers it was reaffirming that the lies still trip me up and it helped me nail down what I struggle with most and how to break free from incorrect thinking.
If you can clearly see a lie that you have been believing and the way you are acting because of it – evaluate how it is working for you. Every sin in your life begins with a lie. We listen, dwell, believe, and act. Eventually the sinful natures become a pattern in our lives and we find ourselves in bondage where we feel like we will never be able to stop. What can we do to overcome the lies putting us in bondage? Believe God, and seek the truth.

When we are caught up in a whirlwind of lies and come to recognize our destructive thinking and bad, or sinful, habits, we often feel guilty and shameful. Knowing the right way to discern those feelings is so important. And that is what we will talk about tomorrow! But for now – a song I love –

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What You Believe Determines the Way You Live

January 31st, 2015

^ Proverbs 27:6 ^ “I’d rather you punch me in the stomach with the truth than pat me on the back with a lie,” I repeatedly told Bryan as we began getting more serious. You see, I’d been lied to before, and I never wanted to experience the unraveling effects on myself and others that […]

 

^ Proverbs 27:6 ^

“I’d rather you punch me in the stomach with the truth than pat me on the back with a lie,” I repeatedly told Bryan as we began getting more serious. You see, I’d been lied to before, and I never wanted to experience the unraveling effects on myself and others that came from a dishonest relationship again…with friends, family or anyone. Since God got a hold of my attention and faith as I mentioned in my testimony, He’s begun working on me little by little, and in the last few years I have begun to recognize that while I had a growing faith in God, I needed (and I continue to need) to correct my thinking and living little by little.

I want you to know that I am NOT a Biblical scholar, theologian, or expert on the Bible by any means. But I am reading and learning, and learning and growing in my understanding…and all the while gaining little bits of wisdom as I see what I am learning ring true as I live life. I will not be writing about anything that isn’t relevant to what God has taught or is teaching me in my personal life. As my pastor once said, “I am just a beggar telling another beggar where I found bread.” :) And good, sweet, life-giving BREAD (I mean heyyyyy!) is enough to excite me in hopes that we can relate and benefit from God’s Word together. This post is a collaboration from my notes from the Study Lies Young Women Believe and Believing God, along with other quotes I’ve connected to its theme of what I’ve been learning along the way.

A lie is “an inaccurate or false statement with deliberate intent to deceive.” It is “an imposter of the truth.” We will probably be talking about dishonest lips in the future as it is a theme throughout Proverbs, but today I want to talk about the lies that distort our reality and affect the way we choose to live.

2 Peter 2:19 says “Whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” The term “overcome” means to defeat, conquer or control. Just to mention a few things capable of overcoming our attitudes, conquering and controlling our thoughts and actions and defeating our hope – fear, doubt, anger, sadness, loneliness, pride, insecurity, greed, envy, laziness, hatred, impulsiveness, the list is endless. Many of us are experiencing the consequences of being enslaved to harmful patterns in our lives and are experiencing those above mentioned emotions that overcome us without recognizing the lie they are connected with. If we can identify the lies we didn’t realize we have been believing, we can break free from continuing down that path.

The Bible says that Satan is the father of lies – (John 8:44). His lies begin with planting doubts, half-truths, falsehoods disguised as truth. And he is smart. He throws us a baited hook, so that we will bite.  Satan takes what you desire most and promises to fulfill it if you reject God and ignore His word and set out to fulfill your desires on your own rather than in a way that aligns with God’s Word. 

What is one thing you want more than anything?

 Example: I want to feel….pretty, attractive…

                                           ….loved, cared for….

                                                ….important, successful, recognized, powerful…

                                                           ….comfortable

Examples – An easy example that young girls and guys alike face is the desire to be attractive – usually it is a combo like the desire to be attractive and loved and important, etc. So instead of clinging to what God charges young people to pursue, we might spend way too much time and effort to meet this desire or combination of desires instead – and by any means necessary – healthy or not. I want to feel pretty or attractive. Unhealthy ways to fill this craving might include things like ….taking a million selfies to get one perfect one to post, shopping for new clothes way too often , or I spend unreasonable hours on makeup or hair or attempts to cover my flaws, or I dress or do whatever it takes to get any kind of attention from people, or I will do whatever it takes to get or stay skinny. All of these are harmful habits started with attempts to fill that one deep desire. Every harmful habit, or sin if we may call it that, in your life begins with a lie. Lies are found everywhere…in our emotions that warp our perspective, in our culture and social media, conversations with friends, etc. Some consequences of believing lies in our own lives can include self-sabotaged broken relationships, fear, depression, guilt…the list goes on. Satan’s goal is to help you let your own sin destroy you. He taunts us to accomplish and fulfill what we desire our own way or how the world seems to chase it rather than the wisdom of what God’s Word tells us about where to find fulfillment of our deepest desires.

So where do lies get their power to destroy our lives? Satan’s lies may be tempting, but they have no power without us. 

Unfortunately, instead of standing firm and confident in the truth we can find in God’s Word, we often allow ourselves to play a part in tripping over the lies of the enemy like a fly hypnotized by a light on a bug zapper. The first lie we can read about was told by the enemy (in serpent form) to the very first woman – Eve. Tomorrow we will look at 4 ways she cooperated with Satan took the bait.