I pleaded and coerced, ran behind the bike and offered words of encouragement.
“You can do this. You know how. Just keep going.”
But as soon as I let go of the seat, his feet went down. Every time, without fail. And as much as I tried to hide my frustration, I knew it was as obvious as the sweat gleaming on my face.
I wanted him to succeed at this, but I couldn’t do it for him.
We put the bike away for a few weeks and he went back to racing his Dodge Viper around the cul-de-sac. Yes, my six-year-old was driving a nicer car than his Mama, complete with a rechargeable battery, radio and gear shift.
Little brother rode shotgun, occasionally grabbing the wheel and crashing the car into the overgrown flowerbed. A loud mixture of laughter and aggravated shouts poured out of the vehicle.
I buried myself in my latest copy of Hello, Darling and told myself the training wheels would come off eventually. He wouldn’t start high school with them on, right?
Skimming over the pages, one article grabbed me. The authors, both child psychologists, were talking about fear. Yes, this was what I needed. Some sound advice from those who understood how the mind of a child worked.
Their advice? Tell him it was okay to be afraid. Tell him it was okay, but he had to walk through it.
In the words of my favorite poet, Robert Frost, “The best way out is always through.”
Yet so often instead of confronting the fear, we want to run and hide.
I know. I’m an expert, and I’m sure my son’s behavior was modeled after his mom, the master hider.
When we hide from our fears we do nothing but fuel them.
When we confront them head on and walk through them, we expose them for what they really are: lies. And the father of lies would like nothing more than for us to live life cowering behind a self-made façade of what-ifs.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 NIV
The following day I sat down with my son and the mid-summer heat.
“Hey buddy, you want to give the bike a try again?”
He didn’t elaborate.
He paused, considering his answer.
“Because I don’t want to fall again,” he said in all honesty.
I looked him straight in the eyes and silently prayed my words would sink in.
“Buddy, it’s okay to be afraid. But it’s not okay not to try.”
He stood there, thinking about my words and taking his time. Then he turned on his heels and ran toward the garage, not waiting for me to follow him.
That evening, my son rode his bike without training wheels for the first time. His joy was contagious, and within hours he couldn’t even remember why he was scared.
As I stood there watching, God pressed his message on my heart. While fear of the unknown was as certain as the sunset, my response to it didn’t have to be.
Sometimes we just have to do it afraid.
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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.
You talk too much. Alone. Your words are simply dissertation on yourself. Alone. You judge others. Alone. You live too far. Alone. You make me feel uncomfortable. Alone. You don’t go deep enough. Alone. You are a square peg in the round hole that I have designed for my ideal friend. Alone. You are only free when I am busy. Alone. You just didn’t end up being who I wanted you to be. Alone.
No wonder I lack friends right now.
I never intended to feel so isolated and so absent of peace in the friend category, but this is what happens when your standards are higher than Mount Everest, when busyness takes precedence over connectedness and when people become more burden over blessings.
I kind of know it is my fault. I do. I have forgotten the fact that unity, relationships and bonds are a calling. When you are called to something, sometimes the jog over to the destination is a bumpy road filled with pot-holes, but all the same – you go the distance – for God.
God will always give the “go,” when all appears impossible.We simply rely on him and he shows us His way.
I implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.… Eph. 4:2
Paul tells us we can do it.
We can walk like people who know, in the end,
their God will take care of them.
We can go in humility, making way for people’s weaknesses. What better way is there to show someone you love them?
We can show tolerance – loving others just as they are, exactly as they are. What better way is there to confirm to our heart that God loves us just the same way?
We can show patience that excuses the mishaps that drive us nuts. What better way is there to become a person that doesn’t drive others nuts with high demands?
We preserve the unity of the Spirit knowing that if this person is a brother or sister in Christ we are bonded forever. What better cause for celebration and unity is there?
The result is staggering. It feels worthy of a jump-up-and-down celebration and a big victory arm raise to my bond-decayed heart: God bonds me over again with his bond of peace.
What is better than that? Suddenly, what looks fallen apart has hope for being pulled back together again.
It’s making sense. While I thought peace was found by running from the horribly unpeaceful, I’m seeing, sometimes, it’s about submitting to the seemingly awful. As we release our high demands, our relationships fall into better hands. Hands that heal, rather than steal our joy.
Friendships aren’t just about me; I am learning. It seems obvious, but sometimes it can be, oh, so hard.
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Have you ever watched a movie in fast forward? Sometimes that is how I live my life. People are running like maniacs, cars are moving at high-speed chase speeds, words are mouthed wildly but not heard and people pass by each other, like ghosts in the night.
It’s a hectic place, a place full of to-do’s, will-do’s and should do’s.
It’s doesn’t run at a sit-down pace; it’s more of a you-better move-it-along place.
I can’t even tell you why I have made it into such a race – other than, that is my normal pace.
Yet, I am noticing, a busy heart,
doesn’t sit down so well with a still God.
Have you ever noticed this?
When our eyes are so busy watching the mayhem, the commotion, the movement, the loudness, the TV, the schedule, the hours, the children, the laundry, the job and the bills the small whispers from God tend to go, like a paper airplane right over our head. They were sent, they were apparent, but we were so in our own moment – we missed them – we missed him.
We can’t hear.
We don’t seek.
We won’t find.
If we do, it is often ushered away by lunchtime.
Mt:7:7: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Is someone at that door? I will complete this dishwasher job and then see who it was?
I am struck by the idea that we can’t find what we never looked for.
We can’t be touched by what frantic days block us from seeing.
We can’t be changed if we are running so fast gentle nudges of God fly by with the wind.
Sure, we think, “If we are in the Word, we will be of the Word.” Yes, but not always. Our mind may hold fast in the morning hour, but completely lose touch by lunch hour. The word sits on fresh soil only to be washed away by the mayhem of problems later. Our feet stand on the rock, only to move to quicksand at days end.
How do we get past this cycle of distraction,
this wheel that has no end,
this tiring race of life?
1. We follow this equation: Every minute + Every day = God First (always) If we seek God above all, all will be added onto us. Mt. 6:33 If every day is founded and set “in belief”, imagine what the structures of our day might look like?
2. We see God above iPhones, iPads, iBooks, me, myself and I. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13 If we truly open our eyes, God will stagger us with a vision of him.
3. We begin to see that not knowing or understanding does not equal:
– not having it together
– not having a way out
– not being smart
– not having a plan.
Not knowing = the way TO a straight path.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov. 3:5-6
When we realize we don’t understand, we are getting to the beginning of wisdom.
The posture of our heart, will predict the progress of our day. It will determine how much of Savior we funnel into our days.
Let’s funnel even more.
As we open the door of our heart in bigger ways to these 5 R’s, we will create more space for our big God to pass through:
1. Release. Let go to find he grabs hold. God is never a catch and release type, every time he catches and keeps. He understands that the best fisherman love to take home their catch. 2. Reliance. Choose to walk in humility instead of futility. Step over the cliff of safety, God will catch you. 3. Renewal. Ask, seek, knock (repeat). Then, find. 4. Reality. God is the only truth, not your perception of the world, not your summations, not others predictions. Soak in his presence, his life, and his love. 5. Recognition. Praise him in the sanctuary, which is your heart. Praise him continually.
Break through the white noise of these steps, breakthrough the normalcy, breakthrough the tendency to say, “I know those already.” The truth is – that mentality is what keeps you back – from him.
Think of these words and how they apply afresh to your day.
Then, when we breakthrough arrogance, busyness and complacency, we will find our first love, Jesus.
Then, we can offer our whole self for the one who already did.
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It is easy to look at our dreams and think they are the answer to our joy.
It is easy to look at another and think they have all we dreamed of – and more.
It is easy to face our rejections and to let them destroy us.
In many ways, we have set up our structures of hope and we have decided how they should be built. We know who needs to be involved, how we will put them together, what will make up the parts to success, but do we miss out in this process of self-promoting and self-reliance?
Does God have more hidden behind that structure
we have erected in our mind that we can’t see?
Might it be waiting, unseen,
because our mind is sprinting in another direction?
I know, for me, I miss out when:
I start becoming so focused on my blue prints that
I miss the blessing God has sheltered in the “now”.
I see that girl and decide my structure looks like a shack in a third world country.
Questions become probing inquiries to steal my goods.
A request becomes an opportunity for another to use me.
My accomplishments become the savior of my insecurities.
This is exactly why God speaks this verse: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Phil. 2:3-4
God is so smart; sometimes he has to protect me from me.
God seems to know that the greatest gift is not found in me, but it is found in the outpouring of love found in him.
It’s almost like God says, “Hey, you’re blocking the view of what I really have for you –
the needy hearts in front of you.”
“You will miss them with your eyes focused on your own plans,
your own ways and your own dreams. If it is my dream, I will make it for you.
You need not stress, but until then, don’t run after ambition,
run after a heart to love.
I fill in all the gaps.”
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Mt. 6:33
I am going to listen to the truth of these words. Will you?
There are so many around. So many who need us.
They hurt and wait for someone to see that tear in their eye.
They hurt and hope for an arm to go around their shoulder.
They hurt and dream of a helping hand.
They hurt and they wait for our love.
They hurt and God wants us to meet them.
Much in the same way we hurt – they are hurting too.
What we will see is that, often, we end up needing them more than they ever needed us. God ends up using them to shape us and form us and make us into the vehicle that brings our dreams to life.
I am good at organizing my faith. It means I line up all the little pieces of my life in a straight line and expect them to fall like perfect dominos.
I expect my plans to fall into place. I expect that the dominos will hit the ground – and not me as I sin. I expect that my perfectly placed pieces will keep my faith in a straight line.
Perhaps, this is why I feel so devastated, so demolished and so pushed over when I do wrong. It is as if all my attempts to control my faith, my sin and my progress press on my shoulders, compacted and ruined.
It’s nearly back-breaking.
How can God’s ways be light when this work seems so hard?
Is this light-load wording really even truth?
Because if it is, I am living by a lie. Again and again, my faith falls and I do too.
But, what if? What if? I am looking at everything all wrong?
What if my inability to carry, isn’t so much because of him – but, because of me?
One with the weight of shame,
can’t really pass out the grace of Christ.
One whose hands cover her face,
can’t let God hold her hand.
One who laying down in despair,
can’t see up in hope.
One lining everything up,
can’t help but take everything personally when it all falls down.
And, in a heart-pumping way, I can’t help but think, maybe this line of thinking is real progress.
Because my way = the wrong way. God’s way = a chance to see his work at play.
God’s way is his Word and it restructures our approach:
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy. . . Jude 1:24
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God. Jude 1:20
The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” Luke 17:5
And he said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace. Lu. 7:50
He makes us stand before his presence.
He grants us joy. He keeps us from stumbling. He holds us in the love of God as we pray in the Spirit. He increases our faith as we ask him. He makes our faith win when we rely on him.
We don’t need us, we just need him. We don’t need strategy, we just need prayers. We don’t need plans, we just need the Spirit. We don’t need holy roller practices, we just need help.
Every time, we need his help.
All the time, we need his help.
Every hour, we need his help.
Bottom line, as our heart cries out for faith by his Spirit, he will keep us and help us. He makes our load light as we lay our load on him.
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My health haunted, “Kelly, you’re going to waste into something no one will will want to love.”
My past taunted, “You were marked, damaged and used.”
My finances tricked, “You won’t make it!”
My feelings tumbled, “I can’t do this. Things are never going to work out.”
Fear Rising. Debilitating fear. ICU worthy fear.
Have you experienced it?
Fear that leaves you feeling bruised, battered and wondering
where you’re rescue will come from?
Fear that leaves you laying paralyzed, comatose on a cot of uncertainty?
For me, it creates an underlying feeling that I am either not going to make it or that others will pull the plug on me.
That no one will rescue – and all will abandon.
But, someone will…
Do we see him?
It’s the great physician. And, as bad as your charts may appear or the specialists may indicate, you are not left with a sense of doom. You see, for your fears may destabilize and metastasize, but they can never tranquilize God’s power.
One pretty gal, turned queen, understood this. If she didn’t speak up, her fellow Jews wouldn’t live on. They’d die. And truly if she spoke up to the King, she would die too.
Could Esther follow God’s plan, despite the pending threat ready to kill her?
This woman needed an IV of courage.
And, she got it. Likely Esther noted that:
Fear is almost always the wall to one’s greatest calling. Esther’s dream may have been for the jews to live free, but could she step up to the King?
It’s the superhighway that leads the opposite direction of the way, the truth and the light. Esther could die if she spoke to the king, but could she really step up?
It usually arrives when your comfort and safety levels don’t expect it’s shock. Esther was living in the kings court after all.
It throws big obstacles in your path that seem impossible to tackle. Haman’s wrath on the Jews was palpable.
Did she see the details of her pain, people and problems
are never lost charts in God’s billions of files?
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Heb. 4:13
Her declaration in response to all of this was, “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” Esther 4:16
She knew her need for critical care – and she sought the right care-takers.
She didn’t lay around considering the ceiling art in her court, she:
1. Embraced the reality of the situation and didn’t halt in stagnation.
Mordecai told her she could be killed for speaking out, but still, she knew who stood above it all.
Fear can’t grow under the great physician’s light of truth. Perfect love casts out fear after all.
2. She got serious. Most fasts are just absent of food. Yet, Esther asked for no fasting from food or drink. Meaning, she didn’t take her feelings lightly and knew she needed an extraordinary, not an ordinary rescue of her feelings.
How often do you call on the prayer support of the faithful when fear starts to mount?
3. She was decisive. There was no, “I want to wear that shirt, no this shirt, no that one. I can’t decide.” She heard the truth, she got the support, she lifted the prayer and made the decision to act.
How often do you walk confidently after you have sought God confidently – trusting that the feelings may not be there, but your God is?
When we trust God and act like Esther, we don’t need critical care units to bring us back to life, because we become the critical care units to dead. We bring new life, just as she did.
We bring Jesus’s transformation.
It’s sometimes death-worthy.
But, it’s powerful – and we are called to it, just as she was.
We have the same force behind us. We have the same support network available to us today.
Will we reach out to it when we need it?
The truth is – we can’t beat the force of fear, unless we know the force of God. And, if we don’t know and believe in the force of God we will remain IV’d to the poison of fear.
It leeches life.
God teaches life.
It threatens to kill.
God sets free.
It puts you in a bed of despair.
God offers a lifeline of hope.
Where will you set your eyes?
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Fear freezes us. It keeps us from moving ahead. It stops us from witnessing. Fear paralyzes us when God tells us to serve Him. It mutes us when He says, “Speak!”
I don’t have to know what is ahead.
God knows, and when I walk by faith, that is enough.
Friend, what fears are holding you back today?
Learning to depend on God will be the greatest blessing you can experience.
Through my disability (loss of sight), God gave me abilities.
He enabled me to trust him completely.
He gave me the ability to serve him and to encourage others through writing and speaking.
He has shown His mercy, because four years later, I still have some vision.
My Reflection: Perhaps it’s not so much what we see, but what God wants us to see as we trust our disabilities to him.
Anytime we flip the switch in our minds and hearts and focus on pleasing God more by pleasing our mate something changes deep inside our heart. It’s like the door called self opens and love and light flow into the place once darkened by negativity or complaining.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2
My Reflection: Sheila says switching power is found through clenching God’s Word. This is how we flip the switch. Then we see the truth and we walk differently.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2 (ESV)
I needed help with my shopping tendencies, so I told my bible study girls to “get in my business.” Something radical had to happen. I gave them a pass to speak truth into my life even if it meant my own embarrassment and humiliation.
P.S. I felt led to sell a purse at a consignment store as an act of obedience. When I went to pick it up, the owner told me that she couldn’t understand why it didn’t sell.
But I knew.
God gave that purse back to me, and now I carry it as a reminder of His mercy and grace—with confidence! Whenever I carry that one, I am careful to share my story of grace with anyone who will listen!
My Reflection: How can we grab the support of others to finally push through that loitering sin?
When I saw him, all I can say is that what I felt was pure joy. After 3 years, three months, and two days (of agony-filled waiting), my child who was lost had been found, and that was all that mattered.
Wasn’t that how I came to God?
Wasn’t He the one who was waiting for me,
watching for me in the far-off distance
when I wandered home in my ruinous pain?
Before there was an explanation, a repentance, a hope of restoration, there was that moment when I walked right up to Abba in my brokenness and pitiful rebellion, and we embraced. I can only imagine that for Him in that moment with me, all that mattered was that His child who was lost had now been found.
I was found — in that moment. I was home.
My Reflection: How might you be running from God today? How might he receive you if you would only return? I think he would cry tears of joy to see you return in that one small way to him.
The world may not see my pain, but God does. The duties may not go away, but God will walk beside me and help me to carry the load.
Not only does God see my pain, but He is near to my pain. And he has promised to heal my broken heart.
Can you picture that?
God wants to pick you and me up gently in his arms and hold us tightly and remind us that even when the world is crashing down around us…
He loves us. He is in control. He is good. He has conquered the world! There is HOPE.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
God called me away from everyone else’s thoughts and ideas and invited me to spend time in His word. Just the two of us. No other influence or interpretation. No other filters or explanations.
Just him talking to me through the Bible.
Friends, I’m not kidding taking a break from bible study was scary for me. I was afraid of loosing the accountability. Afraid I’d miss the social aspect. Honestly, I was afraid I wouldn’t understand a thing I read. I’m still somewhat new to this whole bible study thing.
God kept gently calling, asking me to trust Him.
He was right.
My reflection: Sometimes getting away from talking heads, helps you to hear the one who is at head. Sometimes, all we need is his voice.
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? Psalm 118:6
Are you facing something new? Did you hear God call? Are you questioning whether you heard correctly?
Make a calculated decision in the face of fear, with eternity in focus. Continuing the venture into new territory, I learned about and submitted various stories and articles, often proceeding with knees knocking (Kristi took the risk of facing rejection and walked intentionally even though she was scared).
It was about God, about eternity, not me. Battles in the Old Testament were calculated as well. Think Jericho. They “heard” what to do, then they “did” what God called them to do. The victory wasn’t as quick nor easy as a snap of the fingers. They didn’t eat from fear’s plate. They ate of the Lord’s faithfulness instead. You and I can too.
My reflection: We may not feel safe, but we can move forward with whatever stands before us knowing that we are!
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I should have done better.
Why did I do that?
I am such an idiot.
Ever spoken these words over yourself? I have.
I take all the things I have done and I judge them for my performance, my worth and my value.
As if these things are the summation of all that I am, can do and will be.
As if these things determine my day, my faith walk and my feelings.
I am hard, oh so hard on myself – hit-myself-with-a-2×4 hard sometimes.
But, is this even godly?
Is this even biblical?
The truth is:
1. He already handled them as he poured them all out over Jesus on the cross. (Is. 53:6)
2. He seizes them up and throws them out. (Jo. 1:29)
3. They are taken and covered by his holiness, grace and righteousness. (Ro. 4:7)
4. God moves my sin as far away as my hometown is from Chinatown. (Ps. 103:12)
5. They are lost, not to be found. Pardoned, for those he has saved. (Jer. 50:20)
6. Like a dead body thrown in the water, never to be seen again, God throws our old sins into the depth of the sea. (Mic. 7:19)
7. He remembers no word of them. (Heb. 10:17)
8. He blesses us in the process of removing our sin. (Ro. 4:8)
9. The guilt, the shame, the part that we feel responsible for – he nailed to that cross. (Col. 2:14)
10. He leaves us white, holy, renewed, revived, whole, complete, righteous, pardoned, sanctified and justified in him. (Ps. 51:17)
As the weight of sin moves out the weight of hope can move in.
A weight of hope that shows us:
We are holding the hand of the innocent lamb, until the day his kingdom comes.
There is a future, a plan and a glory awaiting us
because we belong the one to whom all our sin belonged.
There is nothing that can come against us,
because the deal is done, the war has been waged and the victory belongs to Jesus Christ.
The power of love is as attached to us as an arm-brand marking us as owned.
Jesus’ love is forever ours.
We have still-water peace always available through the power of knowing God,
not striving for him, but simply knowing.
Jesus died so we didn’t have to.
He sent the Spirit so we could live day-by-day with a new and living hope.
This power is alive and active – in us.
Do we rely on it?
Do we see it?
Or, do we operate by pounds and pounds, weight over weight of shame and guilt?
When we let the power of shame, guilt and discontentment take hold, the power of God is squelched. Yet, when we see God’s power for what it is – powerful – and his sin bashing skills for what they are – working, we live free to walk in the hope, love and grace that is Jesus.
I think I hear God calling me today, to let go of performance, praise and perfectionism. I pray, that with humble hearts, we all can let go of what we are not, to grab hold of all that Christ is (death that ends our death so that we can have life). The truth is that he rejoices over us and wants us to believe and activate the power he has already handed over.
“The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph. 3:17
4-years old and on fire for God, who can say that isn’t a great thing? It’s all find and dandy until your son starts to push the small parameters of your own faith.
Then things start getting sticky.
Just yesterday, although this certainly is not the first time, he ran up to me saying, “See those kids playing over there? I am going to ask them if they know God. Is that ok mommy?”
He loves to do this. He tells them about God. About Jesus. About the bible (like I said, he loves God).
Shouldn’t I be happy?
Yet, my first reaction is often:
Their mom is going to hate me.
My son is going to get hurt one day.
I am going to feel embarrassed.
Part of me wants to protect him from feeling alone and cornered for what he believes. “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Tim. 3:12
Part of me thinks that I must protect his faith and his feelings, like a mother bird guards a nest. Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Cor. 16:13
Part of me wants to protect myself from how his words and Christianity make me feel. If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mk. 8:38
But this kid and my “self”, don’t even belong to me,they belong to God,
so how can I let them rule me?
God is the only one in control
and it is his Word and his will that will rule, reign and refine forever.
My efforts are fruitless; his Word is fruitful.
I don’t want my heart boiling with the fire of God while my actions are cool with the complacency of social correctness.
I don’t think that is cool with God.
So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold– I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Rev. 3:16
How can God’s Word slice and dice broken hearts
into powerful, new and free creations when we tremble over the cutting process?
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Mk. 16:15
Perhaps, God is calling us to see the world, much through the same eyes of my 4-year old. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 18:3
Through eyes that see:
A world needing the joy and love that he knows.
Friends who we want to meet in heaven.
People in need of Jesus.
My son doesn’t seem to care too much about the smiles, the cordial greetings or the good gossip spoken over him, but simply the heart that stands before him.
He seems to have not been jaded yet.
Somewhere along the way though, I have.
I have let people’s opinions become as valuable as gold,
while letting God’s standard go beneath the fold.
Perhaps instead, we refine our first thoughts to ask, “Do they know Jesus?”
Of course, it may not be the first question we ask, but perhaps now we will recognize it as their first need. Then we can ask ourself, “How might I first speak Jesus into their heart?”
To internalize this question is to verbalize life-defining words that endure the test of time.
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I felt down. Sometimes my emotions move with the wind, with the circumstances.
Certainly, I know God says not to be like one tossed to and fro like the doubting waves (Ja. 1:6). I’ve got this. I understand this. But, I still do this.
I don’t want to, but I do.
And then I hate myself for doing it – for being a doubting Thomas, demanding to see God’s purposes for the surrounding injuries.
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Jo. 20:27
You arrogant girl, God doesn’t bless girls like that! He hates that.
Good “Jesus girls” don’t have to witness the details of the wounds to trust there is a better plan. So why do I?
I don’t have to see the holes to know that God put them there for a good reason. Can’t I trust? Can’t I just see that the pain of today is there because God has a plan in tomorrow?
Many times I can. Other times I can’t.
And, when I can’t, shame becomes the holding cell that distances me from God.
Certainly, grace keeps the jail cell doors wide open, unlocked and unobstructed, but shame holds me in, telling me this is where I belong – contained and convicted. It bars my mentality to a purposeless state. It makes me feel like a life-sentenced prisoner doomed to isolation for my bad behavior as a Christian mess-up.
Girls who act like that never get out. They can’t be used without faith.
The bars of this cell open and close like clockwork:
1. Emotions of fear lead to…
2. Doubts about God which lead to…
3. Shame about my doubts, which leads to…
4. Distance (due to: embarrassment, worthlessness, anxiety) from God
But, I am tired, dead tired of being trapped in a cell – a cell that doesn’t have to be literal to trap you. I am tired of breathing in the anxiety of God’s wrath and the fear of my worthlessness.
Because the truth is, this cell is dingy, old and full of fear; it’s not helping me much anyway.
I have the bounty of grace right before me, and it’s about time I seize it.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” Lu. 4:18
And I did something different and it worked! I was astonished.
Let me explain:
1. Know your past. Where you were hurt in the past is likely where you will feel damaged in the future. Old dog, same tricks. The devil knows our sore spots and he loves to reopen them.
2. Identify in God’s word the truths that hit your past and current pain points.
3. Speak these truths over yourself. Proclaim them. Speak them. Preach them. Teach them. I don’t care, just get up and walk around and own them. Rather than sitting like a prisoner waiting to be someone’s fresh bait, step up and realize Jesus was already the (perfect and complete) bait for you. He won and you will win too – come the day of Christ Jesus.
4. Believe in the words you say. Receive the full authority that Christ has placed in you, by the power of his Spirit, when you believed. Don’t half heartedly pray or meekly say, “I trust.” Make your words your anthem, your pledge of allegiance, your covenant. Let them be binding truth and declarative words.
(Please note: I am not talking about declaring riches or blessings over yourself, I am talking about declaring truth about who God says you are and what he has done.)
Here is what it looked like for me:
(Imagine: Standing Kelly, walking Kelly, powerful Kelly, vocal Kelly, speaking aloud) Lord, you reign. There is none beside you. There is none more powerful. You don’t hold doubts against me, as I confess, you forgive me. You free me to your purpose. There is absolutely no condemnation in Christ Jesus. I am loved, entirely, fully, completely. You bring all truth to light and you set captives free, you will set me free. You have a plan and you will see it through…(and you get the point).
But, the point is, the more I spoke, the more I believed, and the more I believed, the more I felt relieved.
His active Word cut sharply through the sludge of my mind to unveil the new creation that I am – to myself. As the junk moved, the truth shined.
Christ’s power, mixed with the illuminating light of the Spirit, always uncovers truth.
Yesterday, I came doubtful, afraid and as spazzed as a kid on sugar, but through belief and ownership of his Word, I seized God’s renewing power for myself. I didn’t see the enemy near. I didn’t see my problems. I didn’t see trepidation. I didn’t see my regrets. I realized that the enemy cannot stand against one standing up.
I am a warrior for Jesus – and he doesn’t need wimps, he needs fearless children unafraid to speak truth.
Who run to the tomb no matter the cost.
Who see a mission during their long wait for the Promised Land.
Who see the dead things around them and speak life into them.
We are these warriors.
Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.
How can we be warriors when we sit downtrodden in cells of worthlessness and shame?
God has life-altering power ready to be poured out over us. Do we speak it like we believe it?
Lets us live in the purpose that Christ has already won for us.
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