Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Traditions

I am so pleased to be able to guest blog over at Terri Groethe's site Take a walk in my Shoes
To see the rest of my blog today, please visit her site!

......my most favorite of all is the giving. Sometimes we visit the Salvation Army bell ringers and bring them a hot cocoa on a windy snowy day. We adopt families for Christmas and provide much needed items. We make cookie mixes in jars for the mailman and school bus drivers. 

Scripture says in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Also, in 1 Peter 3:8- “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”

During this season of hustle and bustle and focusing on what we personally love about traditions, we need to be..... 

See the rest Here 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Confessions from a former list maker

Finding freedom from achievement-based love 

I used to pride myself on the lists I could make and accomplish. Did you see that “pride myself” part? Yea… how many times have we all said that phrase? I’ll give you little insight into my prideful list making, consider if this hits a nerve with you.

In the morning, I’d get my handy little note pad, with lines of course, and make my list of duties for the day. These were things I wanted to accomplish and would feel good if everything was crossed off, especially if I could do it by 3pm because then I could enter into the super-mom realm.  I would list them, sometimes alphabetically, in order of importance and by category… control-freak anyone?

Here’s the kicker though, when I crossed things off the list, my “worthy meter” would go up a little. My worthy meter determined my worthiness of love, acceptance and ability to contribute to life. Achievement based, conditional love. So the major issue and fear I faced at the end of the day was if there were things I could not accomplish, I felt like the day was a failure….actually that I was a failure. If my list was completed I’d wave it around like an Olympic gold medal, shaking my little imaginary empty cup for others to fill it. If I didn’t finish the whole list, no one saw the list, even the things I’d done. I’d sulk and be surly to my family, which was an expression of how I felt worthless inside.
My worthy-meter determined my worthiness of love, acceptance, and ability to           contribute to life.

I am so excited to report that Christ didn’t let me sink in that pit of feeling unworthy!! He came to my rescue and I learned about my true worth in Christ. I have known for years in my head, it just hadn’t translated to my perfectionist, overachieving heart.

God’s Word says the following about me, oh and by the way…I can do nothing to earn it! I am the apple of His eye, I am a Saint, I am redeemed and forgiven (Hallelujah!), I am free from condemnation, I am established, anointed and sealed by God, and most of all I am complete in Christ!

 Before you head into a place where you feel sorry for my feelings of worthlessness or identify and maybe think it’s not that bad…it was sin, plain and simple.
My pride of thinking I was something and could earn God’s love, my clear unbelief of who God says I am through Christ, the fact that I called myself worthless when Christ called me worthy of dying for, not believing that I am complete in Him and cannot earn a better standing, and another big one- idolizing the list! Placing the list above God.
   God is God and the list is not!

What broke me free from worthlessness, list making, and achievement-based love was confession and then choosing to believe God. Once I chose to believe what God says in His Word, He then did the work of sanctifying me through and through.

I have made a reference of scriptures identifying who I am as a new creation in Christ. I try to read them every day to ingrain into my heart so I have a new go-to thought for when Satan tries to tempt me to think the old thoughts. When it creeps up on me I have a little statement I say- God is God and the list is not!

I still love an organized spreadsheet or an organized list, that’s how God created me. However, it no longer has power over me. Christ broke the power of sin and shame and gave me the Holy Spirit to empower me to resist the devil!

Romans 6:14~  For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.

Are you idolizing something over God? Are you struggling to believe what God says about you? Seek God’s face, search Him out in His Word, it was written for you. It has every answer you need for your life today!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

You.... complete me...

Total completeness in Christ means we are incomplete on our own, we have a hole where God belongs.

Ecclesiastes 7:20 says “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” We are striving to find a way, thinking the next best thing will fill the cavernous need. You can’t escape yourself and your insufficiency no matter how much you try. We come to the end of what we can do to try and be enough.

Examples of things we work at or try to acquire and achieve in life are hope, peace, power, love, joy, needs, comfort, wisdom, purpose, security, approval, even creating our identity.

Christ is all sufficient, an all powerful provider of every need you could possibly have! God almighty is our creator and He alone is sovereign, He formed you in your mother’s womb according to Psalm 139:13-17, He knows your needs more intimately than you do. As a matter of fact, Luke 12:7 says He knows the number of hairs on your head…do you?

If we believe God to be the all-powerful, all knowing sovereign God that He is and we believe what the bible says in Colossians 2:10 when it says “And you are complete in Him who is the head of all authority and power”, why do we have such a hard time believing Him when He says that we, personally, in our little world, in our own lives, in our own heads are truly complete in Christ?

We can achieve temporary feelings of fullness or of being complete. It’s typically after something big happens that you’ve thought for a long time would be your answer to feeling incomplete. Getting married, having children, that perfect job etc. We can go on and on with life circumstances that we try to give the power to fulfill us. We give authority and the power to fulfill to circumstances and people. No wonder we keep having this insecure feeling of not quite being complete!

Some of us have a cavernous need and we’ve been filling it with things, substances, people, or unhealthy relationships. These things leave us feeling disappointed and always needing more. We aren’t satisfied or feeling complete, or fulfilled.

We aren’t meant to fill ourselves to completeness with anything the world offers,
its Christ’s job!

Christ is our hope, our peace, our love, our joy, our comfort, our security, our identity is found in Him, He fills our every need, and gives us wisdom when we ask! Now that’s the kind of Savior I want to have! He is wholly complete and “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”  (Ephesians 3:20)

All of those needs and more originate with our Creator and are fulfilled in our Savior Jesus Christ! Don’t settle for the incomplete, insufficient things the world offers you. Instead choose and cling to the best there is!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fervent by Priscilla Shirer- A book review

FerVent- A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer
By Priscilla Shirer

A Book Review
I had the privilege of receiving this book from the Lifeway bloggers group in order to offer a review. In my opinion, this book by Priscilla Shirer is such a critically important book for all believers.

She begins each chapter with a paragraph of how our enemy, Satan, might look at our lives and form plans to thwart us and keep us from praying and living victoriously.

It’s a sobering thing to read about. Often as Christians, we forget to realize that we are in the enemy’s cross-hairs. Satan cannot take our salvation from us, but his next best thing is to make us believe we are defeated and live defeated lives, forgetting to access the very power of the Holy Spirit that resides in us.

Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

Fervent reminds us of who we are in Christ and who we belong to. It gives great battle plans to combat doubt, fear, discontentedness, anger towards one another, chaos, lack of passion, relationship issues and the list goes on.

The key she hits is that none of those things are from God, they are tools of the enemy to make us believe a lie of defeat and switch our focus to the wrong culprit.

I felt like every chapter was the most important as I read it. I have personally experienced Satan’s attacks in each area and so I know intimately the weapons he uses that Priscilla sites.

The good news this book provides is that we can have victory over Satan through Christ’s power! Our privilege as children of God is that we can go before Him, speak with Him intimately, daily and constantly. I Thessalonians 5:17 clearly calls us to “pray without ceasing”.

Priscilla says in her last chapter… “So while I know this is a battle- a daily fight- expect your fervency to lead you to a place of peace and rest. Because God is the One who’s fighting for you, and He will surely prevail.”

I would recommend this book that provides a guide to strategic prayer to anyone! We need to have eyes wide open to what we are battling against. Priscilla Shirer hits the nail on the head with this one!

Monday, November 23, 2015

You are Significant to God

This is the final installment of the series on who we are in Christ. For the first two, please see Am I Accepted- Part 1 and Guaranteed Security for Life- Part 2

The thing about your significance in Christ's kingdom is that it's not based off anything you bring to the table or anything you can do to prove your worth. It's 100% Him, all the way! You are the message bearer. Our participation is not self-promotion, it's Christ promotion. Christine Caine said "You and I are personally responsible for the evangelization of planet Earth before the second coming of Jesus."

As a Christian, you hold the single most valuable piece of information to every person on this earth. He delights in using us because God's story of redemption and Christ's saving power is clearly demonstrated through His work in us. We are imperfect, messy people with disastrous lives. What Christ has done for us is remarkable, unheard of and is not like anything else the world has to offer. 

Our magnificent God asked His Son to step off His throne, leave His majesty behind to become like one of us to provide us with salvation and freedom from these wretched bodies of death. His story is so convincing in flawed humans because there's no way we can affect the change in our own lives that He can do. It requires His supernatural power to transform us. What a story to share!

See what God's Word has to say about our significance to Him.
I am Significant in Christ

Matthew 5:13&14- "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses it's flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing, but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."

John 15:16- "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give you."

Acts 1:8- "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 "Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new. Now all things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, the ministry that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their sins to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

2 Corinthians 6:1- "We then, as workers together with Him, also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain".

Ephesians 2:10- "For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."

He chose you, loved you and died for you while you were still a sinner, before you ever thought to choose Him. He appointed you to be an heir with all the rights of a natural born child, He has changed your life, given you the very same access to the power He used to raise Christ from the dead. He uses your broken vessel of a clay pot to be reformed and used in glorious service to Him! He came into this world to forge a relationship with you because He loves His creation so much! 

You are significant in God's plan! He wants to use you. Don't miss the opportunity to experience this joyous part of being who you are supposed to be in Christ.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Guaranteed Security for Life

This is the second installment of the 3 part series of who we are in Christ. For the first part please see Am I Accepted? 

Security is an important issue to us today. Security for our homes and city, for our computers and technology, security for our jobs, healthcare, retirement and finances, security for our children, security for our cars and driving experiences, for our country and soldiers. It literally permeates every part of life. However, none of them is permanent and for all of eternity. They waiver, are unreliable, they depend on flawed people, and you can't take any of them to eternity with you.

Have you ever considered that you are permanently secure in Christ? It doesn't change from day to day and definitely not based on your behavior or anything you can achieve. It doesn't change with external influences either. It is a gift Christ provides us when we receive Him as Savior. You cannot lose your salvation because He is the perfect covenant keeper. No where in scripture does it speak about an event or decision that removes your security in Christ once you are a believer.

Considering where you spend eternity is undoubtedly 
the most important decision of your life, 
it is paramount to understand that you are secure in Christ.

To add to the importance of understanding this is also grasping that He has started a work in you. A work to sanctify you into His image. Sanctifying is a supernatural change that takes place when Christ changes your heart and mind into becoming more like Him. All four of the gospels and Romans chapter 12 expound upon Christ's character that we are to emulate. As Christ followers, our goals are to worship God almighty, become more like Christ everyday and tell others of the miraculous saving grace of Christ.

You may be skeptical. You might think that your past behavior, or even current life choices are to terrible to forgive and therefore make you null and void to having complete security in Christ. The bible says the exact opposite, as clear as day. You have to choose to believe that The Bible is the spoken Word of God and is truthful through and through. It is relevant and for you today, right now, in what ever circumstance you are in.

See for yourself...
I Am Secure In Christ

Romans 8:1&2 "There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me FREE from the law of sin and death."
You don't have to daily punish yourself for your choices and sin, Christ has made you free!

Romans 8:31-34 "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us."
God fights for His children and equips you with what you need to do His will!

Romans 8:35-39  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written " For Your sake (Christ's) we are killed all day long, we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquers through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor demons, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The middle of this passage talks about Paul the apostle and others like him who are persecuted and killed for their preaching of the gospel. This list is compelling proof that truly nothing will remove our salvation from us. 

2 Corinthians 1:21&22 "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." 
It is the full Trinity that establishes you, anoints you and seals you with the guarantee of the Holy Spirit. Did you see that scripture uses the word guarantee? A synonym for secure.

Galatians 4:7 "Now you are no longer a servant but God's own child. And since you are his child, God has made you His heir."
We have full establishment of all God's riches and are secure heirs to heaven.

Philippians 1:6 "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you 
will complete it until the day of Christ." 
That means I am in progressive sanctification, Christ is working on me until the day He returns.

Philippians 3:20 "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly await for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ."
Not only are you a child of God here on earth, you now have a new home to look forward to in eternity.

Hebrews 4:16 " Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." 
God desires us to claim the promises of grace and mercy from Him with the boldness of a child walking into their own home and asking their parents to help in times of need.

As a believer, you possess the ability to ask God's forgiveness, expect mercy and grace, and complete security in your salvation. You are not just a sinner sliding under the radar, getting in by the skin of your teeth. God, through Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection, has provided you with the full benefits of a natural born child. You are the apple of His eye and desires you to participate in the full fellowship as an heir with Christ!

The final entry in this series will be on our Significance in Christ.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Am I Accepted?

This is part 1 of a 3 part series, guaranteed security for life is part 2 and You are significant to God is part 3.

So much of life is achievement based. It is an expectation that we'd accomplish all stages of growth for a baby, a toddler walking, a kindergartner learning the basics of reading, 5th graders leaving elementary, 8th graders leaving middle school and finally graduating high school. Then we move on to pursue many other things like college, careers, marriage and family. Life is constantly about accomplishments and being accepted within our little worlds, our communities.

Many people struggle with ways to feel accepted and that is why they strive so hard towards achievement. So that they fill the longing to be accepted.

God has created us in His image has set our souls to long for eternity in heaven. This is why we strive for the bigger and better and for unconditional love and acceptance. God created us to long for it because He is the bigger and better! 

The purpose of our longing is to drive us to Him, 
the One who can fill our deepest needs and longing!

He not only created us with this inherent need, but He also provided us with answers. I have felt convicted to share a 3 part blog series about who we are in Christ. This first segment is focused on the fact that in Christ, we are accepted and belong!

God's Word has made it crystal clear that He chooses us! Let that absorb into you...the very same God that created this incredible world in 6 days and possess the power to raise Christ from the dead chose YOU before He ever laid the foundations of the earth. Christ thought of you when He was dying on the Cross for your sins some 2000 years ago.

Let God's Word speak to your heart today.

YOU are accepted in Christ:

John 1:12- "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to be called Children of God, to those that believe in His name."

You are adopted as God's own!

John 15:15- "No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what His master is doing; but I have called you Friends; for all things I have heard from the Father I have made known to you."

How often do you speak with your friend that saved your life?

Romans 5:1- "Therefore having been Justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Our sins are removed from us when we confess and ask God's forgiveness!

I Corinthians 6:17- "But he who is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with Him." 

Your very existence and essence of your being is one Spirit with the Living God!

I Corinthians 6:19&20- "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's." 

That price was the precious blood of Jesus.

I Corinthians 12:27- "Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually."

How are you functioning as a body part in the full body of Christ? 

Ephesians 1:1- "Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the Saints who are in Ephesus and faithful in Jesus Christ."

He made you a Saint!

Ephesians 2:18- "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father."

You can speak intimately with God anytime, anywhere!

Ephesians 5:1- Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the pleasure of His good will. 

You are God's pleasure!

Colossians 1:14- In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

To be redeemed is be freed from captivity by payment...Jesus!

Colossians 2:10- And you are Complete in Him who is the head of all authority and power.

Do you see that scripture says we are complete in Him? Lacking nothing- complete.

Let it sink into your soul today that in the eyes of God, you are accepted in Christ! You can do nothing to earn it or achieve His approval or acceptance. His acceptance of you is not based on you and what you bring to the table. It is based on Him alone and the perfect justifying, redeeming work of Christ on the cross.

The next topic to come in this series is that you are SECURE in Christ!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mysterious contentment vs. Ever-present discontent

Philippians 4:11- Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

Ever hear of these cliché’s or sayings – “We all have a God-shaped hole”, “We start each day with an empty cup, and you can try to have others fill it or ask Jesus to fill it”  “Don’t gain the world and lose your soul”.

The verse above is in a passage written by the apostle Paul talking about being in prison and being able to find contentment in whatever place he is in and concludes with the verse- Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Many people choose Philippians 4:13 as their life verse, not realizing that it points to the whole passage talking about finding contentment in Christ in whatever circumstance you are in. It’s not meant as a “get your quick fix of empowering encouragement” for whatever task you are trying to complete. We have to look at the whole counsel of God and make sure things are in context when we use them.

So let’s talk about this mysterious idea of true contentment. Many people search it out like they are in a game of hide and go seek, as though it’s just out of reach.

Our world offers contentment in things. Why do you think there’s a new phone every 6 months, or new cars every year, new computers and programs, new bigger homes being built, options upon options no matter where you go be it Starbucks for 80,000 different ways to get your coffee or the famous “Have it your way” slogan of Burger King. We have more television shows than a person can watch, and here’s a biggie…. More “ways to God” than there ever used to be.

Maybe you don’t fit into those general categories. Maybe your's resembles the desire that creeps up while you walk through the mall, or the shoe store, or handbags, the hair salon, or the nail salon, the gym, or Hobby Lobby, whatever it may be. I am by no means saying these things are bad in and of themselves. It is the love of them, the burning need to have more, and the fake feeling of contentment you get from them that only lasts until you want something else.

As a believer in Christ, your source of contentment is in Jesus Christ! It is constant, sufficient and there’s a never-ending supply! It will never disappoint.

Just as your need to fill your stomach is daily, so is your need to choose to fill yourself with the things of Christ daily.

Are you wondering why it always feels like something is missing? It’s Jesus. We are made in His image and with eternity in our hearts. No wonder we search and desire something bigger and better!

Stop filling your need or contentment with the world, because scripture says in I John 2:15-17: Stop loving the world and the things that are in the world. If anyone persists in loving the world, the Father's love is not in him. For everything that is in the world, the desire for fleshly gratification, the desire for possessions, and worldly arrogance is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world and its desires are fading away, but the person who does God's will remains forever.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How do you Stand Fast in your Freedom?

This post is dedicated to honor a very important anniversary today, the day God answered my quiet, unsure plea for deliverance.

On the wall, over my fireplace mantel, is the verse Galatians 5:1: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

This verse captures everything that I have gone through in a year of recovery and restoration. 

Stand Fast is to prevail against, to hold one's ground, to remain firm. There are actions to standing firm. It's not just an idea or thought. It's is affirmative action! 
So how do you Stand Firm? 

In Christ. That is all. 

It is nothing you personally do to try and change yourself, change habits or whatever self-help book you read. If you are not absorbing God's Word into the marrow of your bones you will never understand what it is to Stand Firm in your freedom in Christ. Everyday immersion in the Word, deliberate and with the purpose of letting Christ sanctify you through and through is the only way. Let Him have access to every thought, every action and even to transform your wayward emotions.

Did you know that after a word search for synonyms of Liberty I found "birthright"? Oh do I feel that to my core!! My birthright through Christ makes Liberty an inherited promise, a right, a privilege, and a fact! When Christ went to the cross and cried "It is Finished!" to bring my ravaged soul salvation, He provided this birthright so that when I became a born again believer I could live everyday in that freedom! It's right there, in front of us. We have to want it and choose it for it to become a reality in everyday life.

To be entangled is to be in a trap, a snare, a sticky web, to be muddled, puzzled and confused. Second Corinthians 11:14 tells us that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. No wonder why we get confused! Do you know how we can avoid being entangled in a sticky, confusing web? To know the Word of God so thoroughly that you can spot the difference between darkness cloaked in a mask of pretend light to the awe-inspiring, majestic and breath taking Truth of Jesus Christ. There is no substitute and there is no other version.

A yoke of bondage is slavery. The Miriam Webster dictionary says it is "an arched device formerly laid on the neck of a defeated person." A slavery we choose. We walk right into it, sometimes without even a question or a pause, just head long running into the yoke of bondage. Shackles and chains that we put on ourselves and allow Satan to turn the lock. We are befuddled and confused in an entangled web of deception. Satan weaves lies so crafty and containing tiny portions of half truths and self gratifying feelings that we hardly realize we've fallen into a pit. 

Someone needs to hear this loud and clear today: 
You are Free in Christ! 

Satan has no rights over you, he doesn't own you, he can't keep you against your will! You are God's child, His possession. You remain in bondage because you are allowing Satan power over you. God is bigger and stronger than anything you've done. His death on the cross was all sufficient and completely covering of all your sins. It is an event that happened in the past tense that provides a present day overcoming power and is the unobjectionable perfect provision for your daily freedom! You have the right, in Christ, to say to your yoke of bondage, NO Longer!

I imagine in my head that when my tiny, timid, unsure plea for deliverance reached heavens ears, Jesus said "Well for goodness sake girl...it's about time! I've been longing to give you what I have stored up for you, I just needed you to actually want it!"

That unsure, timid girl has been growing in knowledge and Truth. For years, I have known God's Word. It was in me, in my head...not my heart. It has been as though God plucked me out of the pit and placed me in seclusion for the one purpose of doing the hard work of restoring my wrecked soul. In doing so, my faith has grown strong, my belief of who I am in Christ has emboldened me to speak it out, and I even had a friend recently tell me she thinks of me as a fierce warrior. Oh, that God would make me into more than twice the foe of hell I ever thought I could be!

Praise you Lord Jesus for the complete redemption and restoration that only You can do!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Am I called into Ministry...?

Am I called into ministry….?

Years ago, I used to admire women's speakers. The motivational, gifted in exhortation-style speakers. I thought... "Wouldn’t it be awesome to be that one day!?" My next train of thought went on to something like..."what on earth would I talk about?" What have I been through in life or what has God taught me that makes me so passionate that I could travel the country speaking life into women's hearts? 

Well, I will tell you, I certainly wasn't ready, both in the level of experience or in the areas of surrender and dependence on God. I was prideful with the little bit I knew, and mostly wanted to be on a stage proclaiming it. 

The statement that God works in mysterious ways is truer than you know. I am 11+ years later in maturity and far more experienced in the grace, mercy and restorative gifts of God. God knew then, unfortunately, the many trips through the pit I'd need to make before I'd believe Him and truly follow Him only.

I found myself going through a trial/temptation that I was constantly getting pushed in an area of life where I was weak and didn't rely on God, but myself. My own will power, my own plan. What I didn't realize is that it was a sifting. A sifter, in baking terms, is something you use to sift the bad out of the good, and are left with chaff so to speak, the garbage. God was sifting me and I didn't recognize it or care. The problem was the thing God kept trying to sift wouldn't come out, I was hanging onto it. Don't you think for one minute God's done with one time of sifting. He will use whatever means necessary to make it sift out. This includes my 11+ years in bondage to sin. I just kept going round and round with God, it truly is amazing watching His never-ending patience display itself.

I am now on the other side of this sifting. Yes, it finally sifted! An extraordinarily painful, but necessary, experience. There was no way I would have ever been able to effectively, selflessly serve the Lord with Kingdom purposes whilst dragging my shackles and chains around with me. The noise alone of my bondage would’ve been too distracting!

So now what?

I find myself having a completely different point of view. Those questions I asked above of what I could possibly talk about to women…well God allowed me to go through the years and years of sifting to show me what I could speak about one day. He literally did take my mess and turn it into His message.

God very clearly has laid it on my heart that He did not free me from bondage to sin for me to be silent about it. Scripture says that if we do not praise Him, the rocks will cry out. This rescuing was so extravagant that the bricks on my house will surely cry out if I don’t obey Him and praise out loud for His restorative mercy and grace!

 I have no desire to stand in front of people and explain my worst failures and describe my years of circling the drain of the pit. The problem is, the message is that you cannot go too far for God to chase you and rescue you, and for anyone to get that message…they have to hear my story of failure to hear God’s glorious message of redemption and restoration.

Satan would love to bury me in absolute terror, doubts and questioning. Also, he likes to tell me that I can just quietly thank God for my rescuing and go on about my life, living as a quiet, good Christian woman. He comes as straight lies and he masquerades as half-truths.

Truly I tell you, the second that message hits my thoughts, it’s like holy sirens from heaven are going off in my head, bright red flashing signs saying “Lies!! Lies from the pit of hell! Do not believe it!!”

So what’s a girl to do with a crystal clear calling from God to speak the truth of His love when there is no real path laid before me? The following scriptures are a balm to my anxious soul right now.

Psalm 46:10: Be Still and Know That I Am God
Isaiah 55:8: Your ways are not MY ways and your thoughts are not MY thoughts, declares the Lord
Lamentations 3:25-26: The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord
Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

I have concluded that one day God has a certain something for me to do. He has put that certain something, like a seed, growing in my heart that one day will come to fruition. That time has not yet come. So I will soak in His Word, sit at His feet and worship, sing at the top of my lungs of His great love, and trust His heart and His infinite wisdom. I will be making sure, to the best of my ability, I am in exactly the right spot and aiming at being the exact person He wants me to be so that I will one day be used to my fullest potential. He is Sovereign, He is God and I am not. That is all I need to know. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

To the Christian trapped in sin...

To the Christian trapped in sin…

This is what I wish someone had told me years ago when I was trapped in a web of lies and sin. I was buried in bondage so suffocating that I didn’t know how to draw a breath of clean air from the Holy Spirit.

It was right there, available, the whole time. Only I never knew, or believed...or even cared.

I was in a dark, cold jail cell. Picture it with me. Hard concrete walls, cold, void of any light, joy, happiness, and most of all- void of Truth. The curious thing is even though I was a prisoner…the door to the cell was wide open!

You see, when Christ died for our sins, He died for them ALL. He swung that creaky jail cell door open wide with Salvation and Redemption. Our part is to get up off the jail bed and walk through the door to the freedom He gives. It’s already there, ours for the taking! I was a believer, in that, I had accepted Christ as my Savior, but I had slipped into a season of sin and bondage like none I have heard of since. I literally walked into the jail cell on my own and sat down and stayed.

What kept me solidly on that jail bed was fear, lies and deception. To name a few fears- Fear of complete rejection, fear of devastatingly hurting the ones I love, fear of severe condemnation, fear losing all my friends, fear of failure, to sum it up, it was fear of losing everything in life I loved.

The lies and deceptions are what gave birth to the fears. I was convinced that everyone in my life loved and accepted me based off of my performance, my achievements, because this is how I felt my own worth. I was buying Satan’s lies quicker than he could put a price tag on them. I believed the lies quicker than I believed any of God’s Word and what He says about me. I believed the lie that I was a worthless person and deserved every punishment I got. I believed God was disappointed in me and sorry He ever called me. I didn’t believe the Grace and Mercy preached from the pulpit Sunday was the same Grace and Mercy offered Monday morning. Condemnation was to be swift and sure, I had truly gone too far.

Until that amazing day when Christ ripped open the clouds, came down and dragged me out of that pit, that jail cell, so completely that there was never a fear of ever returning. His redemption and restoration for me was so thorough and comprehensive, down through the core of me, that the new me has no resemblance to the old me, other than my scars. He made very sure I knew He had made a calling on my life and He was finished waiting around for me to use the ladder He gave me to climb out of the pit.

The lies were all smoke and mirrors, a shroud. Satan is after the testimony of the Saints, to soil the bride of Christ. A defeated Christian who believes Satan’s lies is his goal. He is the father of lies and can weave a lie so crafty and well suited to you that it masquerades as truth and light. Until you hear the lock click on your shackles….

What I say to the one caught in sin is stop believing the lie! Christ’s work on the cross is complete provision for all your sins and you cannot go too far. When Scripture says in Romans 5:20 that where sin abounds grace abounds more, it’s as though sin has made a mark and grace runs right past it, covers it and blots it out completely. Whatever lies and deceptions Satan has sold you, there is a way out! Truth is so pure and so right, it will knock the wind out of your lungs and crush you in love and grace. I remember at one point nearly crying uncle over the amount of grace I had been shown. I could hardly take it. The magnitude of God’s love hit me like a Mack truck and kept backing up and running over me until I got it through my thick head.

Don’t remain on that jail bed any longer, the door has been swung open wide and Satan is trembling in his boots waiting for the moment you see through the fog and walk through the door to the light. Be victorious over sin, you were called to it!

I Corinthians 15:57- But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Listen and be blessed by this great song describing this thing we call Amazing Grace.
Call it Grace by Unspoken

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Have Victory Over Your Thought Life!

2 Corinthians 10:5- We are casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ

Many Christians have read this verse. Most have no idea exactly how to do it. It seems like something we should do, seems important.

This article is written with the born again believer in mind. One who has accepted Christ as their Savior and is indwelt with the Holy Spirit. That is the only way this will work, is through the power of the Holy Spirit.

The battle field of every human is the mind. It is where you become more like your surroundings and circumstances or more like Christ. It is where pride and self-sufficiency happen or surrender happens. It’s where you decide if you are going to live as who you are in Christ or how you and the world think you should live. You either have a defense built toward Satan and the influences of this world or you do not. Scripture says our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the Spiritual powers of this world.

This verse is revolutionary, especially in today’s world of self-centeredness. Through a heart- wrenching, life changing experience I have learned just exactly how important this verse is. There is a way to do this and based on the circumstances you are in, there are steps to success.
This verse is literally an instruction that will change the course of your life. I am talking big things like, never gossiping again, never picking up a drink for the alcoholic, staying sexually pure for those struggling with lust or impure relationships, not being cold-hearted and mean in your speech, stop swearing, and, in my estimation, a huge one- overcoming emotional trauma from abuse.
I’m going to list the ways I have learned to use this verse as both a guide post, reminder and support system. I will tell you up front, this is not a “one and done” type of thing. It is daily choosing Christ, putting on the full armor of God according to Ephesians 6:10-18. You have to be diligent and look to the future where Christ gets the victory and you are free!

    What it means- Any sinful thing, thoughts or otherwise that sets itself up against the Lord your God. Scripture is full of verses and descriptions of what sin is. If you are a believer and the Holy Spirit resides in you, He will tell you when it’s sin, you need to listen and heed the warning. To take captive the thought is to literally put it into bondage. It doesn’t get to rule, reign and wreak havoc. It doesn’t get to set up house and live in your head. It doesn’t get any control whatsoever. You are in charge of your thoughts and you are responsible for them and what you do with them.

     Recognition and Repentance- When you’ve been involved in something sinful, been abused, or have some sort of an addiction that won’t leave you alone, your thought life can be a nightmare. You can feel like you’ll never be freed from it. You’ve got to recognize what the thoughts are and where they lead you, take charge before they start to control you. Repentance comes when you’ve turned away from sin and do not want to do it any longer. Changing your thought life is exactly that, turning away from something old and changing it to something new.

     The Power in His Name- There is no way to do this without the power of Jesus. He’s the creator and sustainer of this earth and He created your mind, He has the power to change it. Your job is surrender. Believe me, I know it’s not easy and it doesn’t feel good to give up control- coming from a formerly enslaved control-freak. Did you see that first part “formerly”? I can tell you how to do this with some authority of experience because what I have had to walk through to find freedom is no small task and I am here to tell you it’s possible. When my thoughts would overtake me, crash down on me like a tidal wave, I knew in my heart I had to cry out to Jesus for deliverance. It came small and weak at first, but I was open to surrender because I had no other way, nothing else worked. As I practiced day in and day out, sometimes several times an hour, I began to watch the miracle work. I’d say “Lord Jesus, I don’t want these thoughts, I want to have the mind of Christ. I refuse to let them take charge over me, Lord please change my mind. Help me to think new thoughts, I give this to You and ask You to change me”. Sometimes it was more of a short plea “God I can’t do this, I need you to do this for me”. One thing I can tell you for certain, He hears your cry and comes to your aid. It is completely in God’s will for your mind to be transformed to be like Christ and when you ask that of Him, He’s all over it, no doubt about it!

    Do Not Give Up- Honestly, it’s tiresome. Some days I just want to be done and give up, Christ reminds me of how far we’ve come together and that he going to finish the work He started in me. What you will learn is true daily dependence on God. The issue you’ve got is that Satan has had a heyday putting up His wall paper of lies in your head. Your feelings of worthlessness, guilt and shame, hatred towards someone, desire for justice without mercy instead of love, selfishness with your time, talents or treasures, the overwhelming desire to talk about someone behind their back, to justify your bad behavior, make up lies or excuses, shift blame, lust after someone in your head and justify it by not telling anyone or blaming your circumstances, feeling entitled to your feelings no matter what they are because someone caused you to feel that way. ALL of those things and many more are things Satan plays with in your head. I’m telling you in all earnest, if you allow any of those to marinate in your head and you give them any time to ruminate around, you will have a terrible time being successful. This can create a foothold for Satan in your mind. If it stays there and you allow it to remain, Satan will always come back to that area and harass you with it. You have to be diligent to remind yourself you are changing and God’s doing a work in you. Take that thought captive, don’t let it go any further.

     What to do instead- Once you begin to take the thought captive and turn it over to God, you begin tearing down the wall paper Satan has put up. You’ve got to put up the wall paper of God’s Word in place of it or Satan will come back with a vengeance to take back what he lost. All that time you spent in those thoughts, whatever your circumstances may be, you now have to spend time reading God’s Word and becoming familiar with it enough to use it in time of need. 2 Timothy 3:16 says that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching and reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  You’ve got to read and find verses that help you through your circumstances and that replace the old sinful thoughts that lead to sinful behavior.

     Re-imaging or thinking about it in a new way- Sometimes memories and thoughts are just so powerful and tangible that they bury you. I have learned to renounce the sin that was held in that memory or thought and declare out loud that it has no power over me anymore. There’s something powerful in the spoken word. When you can declare to that thing that you are forgiven and freed it begins to take a new shape in your head from something that was held over you and had power to condemn, to now nailed to the Cross. You can be free and can say so out loud! I have also had to make a new memory in an old place before, or even envision the cross around the memory.

Examples and suggestions- I have had quite a myriad of experiences ranging from normal people problems of selfishness and gossiping to alcoholism, sexual immorality and abuse recovery. I understand exactly how hard this is but I also understand the irreplaceable feeling of being free and victorious. When you need verses for your circumstances, look in your concordance or in a topical scripture guide online. Ask God to help you think how He thinks about that person or thing you went through. Even if being loving and forgiving is the furthest thing from your mind, ask Him to do the work of changing your heart and mind, He will do it. Read the Psalms until you find yours. I promise you, it’ll jump off the page at you when you find it. God breathed those words thousands of years ago with you and your hurt in mind. When I was a struggling alcoholic, thoughts of drinking again would threaten to overtake me, and I’d pray immediately for God to help me and remove the temptation, to help me change my mind. Each and every time God was faithful. When you are overcoming desires to gossip you need to think about that person like Christ does. He died for them and loves them as much as He loves you. When you have been abused and you are haunted by images and memories, you must stop them the second they come into to your head and pray immediately. There is no other way to find victory. Time will be a helper and aid towards you not feeling physical pain at the reminders, but the only way to not allow it to overtake you and gain the control over you is to grab it without hesitation and pray. Pray asking God to change the memory, ask Him to remove it or to lessen the pain, ask Him to give you a new image like the cross around it, or a verse to quote when it threatens you. Sometimes memories are the worst part of recovery and that’s why this exercise is so important. God didn’t put it in the Bible to offer a suggestion, He put it in there knowing we’d need to actively practice it daily in order to allow Him to transform us into the image of Christ. These are the ways I have done this and have found victory. I hope it can be helpful to someone else.