Ladies, STOP begging. SomeOne DIED to Break that Curse!

One of the results of the fall way back in the Garden of Eden is the tendency we women have to think we cannot be complete or get our needs met apart from a man in our life (“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” – Genesis 3:16b). Please remember, this is a part of a curse after Adam & Eve’s sin. But it doesn’t have to be our story because Jesus died and lives to break that curse (among others).  

When we put any man – even a most wonderful one – in the place of God in our hearts, things will get ugly. We’ll either pursue a relationship more than we pursue the very One who died just to be in relationship with us, or we’ll put pressure on our guy to be our everything – even begging him as stated in the image below.

Make sure your heart is securely placed in God’s hands before you even think about placing it in the hands of anyone else. And, choose your man wisely: someone whose track record and not just his words prove his love for God. Then… God can move your guy’s heart toward you as only God can.

NEVER
(Note:  I found this great meme on The Conflicts of Life Facebook page. Great page to follow!)

 

It’s Dangerous to just “Play”at Faith

Some of us have learned the hard way that jumping into to Christianity and “church work” (ministry) in our own strength instead of God’s strength can leave your soul bruised and bleeding.  No more playing for this girl. God has some things to do through me.  #ALLin #FirstFruitFast #AmazingIsHere #ReconnectingIn2016

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Feel like you’re in a Spiritual War Zone?

Well, that’s because… you are in a spiritual war zone!  It is a fight.  But when we’re in Christ, we fight from a place of victory because THE BATTLE IS ALREADY WON!

To end my letter I tell you, be strong in the Lord and in his great power.  Wear the full armor of God. Wear God’s armor so that you can fight against the devil’s clever tricks.  Our fight is not against people on earth. We are fighting against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness. We are fighting against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly places. That is why you need to get God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil, you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing.

 So stand strong with the belt of truth tied around your waist, and on your chest wear the protection of right living.   On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong.   And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows that come from the Evil One.  Accept God’s salvation as your helmet. And take the sword of the Spirit—that sword is the teaching of God.  Pray in the Spirit at all times. Pray with all kinds of prayers, and ask for everything you need. To do this you must always be ready. Never give up. Always pray for all of God’s people.

  – Ephesians 6:10-18  ERV

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Precious In His Sight

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Because of my faithful God, some sweet friends and mentors, and my Amazing Church family speaking into my life – I am beginning to see that the parts of my story I used to view as curse, can actually become a blessing to others when shared from the viewpoint of God’s relentless grace.    So this was written for and performed as Spoken Word poetry at Christmas With The Arts this year.  I thought I would share it here, too, just in case some piece of my story helps you see God at work in your story.

PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT

Children…. Music…. Memories….
So many beautiful things about this season
And some funny things too
Like the things we do – songs we sing
Without really knowing what they mean
Like the profound mystery
Of what really is in that fruitcake we eat
Then there’s Rudolph – nose shining brightly
What are those games the other reindeer play?
Basketball, soccer, Monopoly??

But it’s not just Christmas songs perplexing me
Other songs, too – church songs even
I’ve basically been in church
From the moment I was breathing
“Red and yellow black and white 
They are precious in His sight”
You’ve heard that one – Right?
Strange as it seems
Understanding those words
for me has been a lifelong plight
The words didn’t match up with what was in my sight

In my Sunday school to my left… my right
What I saw was white, white, white
And yes more white
Something didn’t seem quite right
But I was young – perhaps didn’t understand
Just ’cause we’re all precious to God
Maybe it doesn’t mean we live
And worship on the same the same block??
But there wasn’t time to figure that out
‘Cause getting ready for kindergarten
That’s what I was all about
I loved to learn, already starting to read
Figured – just like home and church
School kids would love on me

So on that first day dressed in the very best
My sisters handed down to me
I skipped across the playground
Excited about the friends I would meet
But things played out a little differently
You see, I experienced a facial injury
When I was maybe 2 or 3
Had severe deformities
Of my mouth and teeth
Only close friends and family
Could understand when I would speak
So my dreams of new friends were shattered
As laughter began to shriek

And relentless bullying was there to stay
From k5 to high school graduation day
Thankfully, home and church
Provided a safe place respite from the hurt
But even knowing Jesus – the pain remained
As kids laughed, mocked, even spit in my face
And I suffered oh so silently
Not a word to church, teacher, family
After all… didn’t Sunday school songs say
Christians should be happy -“Turn the other way”?

So in about second grade
We moved to a larger town
Where faces as white as mine
Were no longer the only ones around
And in a diverse community
Now – up close – I could really see
That all (“red, yellow, black, and white”)
Are truly precious in God’s sight
Well, all “others” anyway – is what I believed
I still had a “blind side” when it came to me

As time went along things appeared fine
At least —-              on the outside
With help of intense orthodontistry
And quite a few years of speech therapy
I looked and sounded almost like a normal teen
But there was that pain…. Deep and unseen
Saturating every part of my reality
“Blending in” didn’t stop the bullying
I still thought I was worthless
And attracted what I believed
I still sang “Red, Yellow, Black, and White”
But didn’t feel precious in anybody’s sight

Fast forward to adulthood
For a while everything looked quite alright
Education, great career, & husband in my life
But behind the door of my heart – closed tight
Remained so much pain  – so much strife
As I worked hard to feel loved and get it all right
But expecting anyone or anything
To complete me besides God
Blocked me from receiving & giving out
His perfect love

While smiling on the outside
I suffered silently
Depression – thoughts of suicide
Sad old friends who wouldn’t leave
I was beginning to think
That maybe church and God
Were really just a cruel and senseless façade
So my “church hop” progressed to not going at all
Or watching “mega church” from my comfy couch
But my Sunday school upbringing
Still called out to me
So I had to go back to church
– For Easter at least

So a couple years back in the spring we received
An invite to what is now this Amazing thing
I looked around –could almost see
That song I used to sing
“Red and Yellow, Black and White”
We’d found a loving family with big vision in sight
That reflecting our city’s diversity
Is the true heartbeat Christ

But as for me…  “Precious in His Sight”
I still struggled with that lyric
I sang the words but for me… I really couldn’t hear it
The brokenness and pain
I worked lifelong to keep hidden
Were now rising to the surface
Becoming visible – unbidden

But even when I could no longer hide my mess
These amazing people stood by me
Continuing to bless
And I learned ‘though heaven-bound
I wasn’t really free
‘Til I experienced – not just sang of –
God’s amazing love for me
And as with this church I began to do LIFE
“Restoring Hope & Loving People”
Became more than just words for (one day)
Our building’s sign

Because  I stand here restored
And loved back to life
No pretense of perfection
Scars revealed only to be healed
So today… today…  I look around and see
Much more than Red and Yellow, Black and White
They…. No we… TOGETHER 
Are so precious in His site
and now…. that Sunday school song –
I finally understand it right
Thank you, my Amazing God,
   We ARE precious in Your sight.

 

 

“God is Not Dead Nor Doth He Sleep”

heard the bells

So, our Amazing Church asked all the worship team members to submit favorite Christmas songs to incorporate into the worship sets as we moved toward Christmas.  I completely forgot about one of my all time favorites until the article below hit my email inbox.  “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day” isn’t as catchy as some of the modern Christmas tunes (like “Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer“) – but wow…. are the words powerful.  And Leslie Vernick‘s email newsletter this week reminded me that, although these words were penned in 1863, they are so very timely today. Her article below reminds of some important truths to keep us strong and centered during a time we must not allow to become a season of fear.

HOW TO REACT IN TIMES OF FEAR

This week we mourn over the hateful act of a husband and wife who forever changed the lives of the people attending a company Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.

A few weeks ago, 130 people were murdered by terrorists in Paris, France. The world is becoming a scary place. A soccer game, a pub, and a Christmas party no longer feel safe. But how do we respond? Do we stay home bunkered down in fear? Overcome by the evil around us? Or as God’s people, are we challenged anew to learn to live by faith and overcome evil with good?

Don’t get me wrong. Fear is a normal human response to evil, terrorist attacks, and anarchy. And, if we are faced with such evil, our fear response enables our body to kick into action so hopefully we can protect others and ourselves.

However, it’s tempting today to live in fear of what might happen. In addition to living in fear of what might happen, many of us also struggle with living in fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of death, fear of conflict, and fear of change. As we do that we orient our lives around avoiding what we fear rather than around serving and glorifying God. That is not how God wants us to live

The Bible repeatedly tells us to fear not. God tells us “do not be afraid.” Why? Because he knows we are naturally fearful creatures and that life can terrify us to a place of being ruled by our fears rather than the love of Christ.

It’s interesting to me that the psalmist says two seemingly contradictory things in Psalm 56 about fear. The first one is “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me? (Psalm 56:11)

And then he says, “When I am afraid, I will trust God” (Psalm 56:3).

So what he tells us is that sometimes our faith is so big we don’t feel fear. Other times, we are so filled with fear we will be overwhelmed by it if we don’t trust God.

So, if you don’t want to be ruled by your fears, here are four things you can start to do.

1. Name your fear. Whatever it is, it needs to be named and faced rather than avoided or ignored. It’s only when we face our fear and move towards it in courage do we practice the faith to trust God with the outcome. For example, if you found you had a lump in your body somewhere and you feared cancer, naming your fear of the possibility of cancer and taking appropriate action will help you have the best chance of living longer if it is indeed cancer. Ignoring it or avoiding it will not make it go away. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is relying on God’s strength to walk towards your fear in faith.

2. Get some support. In our individualistic, independent society it feels shameful to admit we need help. Yet, God created human beings to need one another and to need him. We were not meant to walk through life all by ourselves. The victims of last week’s shooting will need support to process the tragedy. I needed support when I was called to write a book and feared rejection. Sometimes we need to borrow someone else’s faith so that we can face our fear and move through it.

3. Take responsibility for your life and how it’s going. Sometimes we stay victims when we do not need to. We are afraid to make a change, take a stand or speak up against what’s wrong. We allow ourselves to be mistreated, abused, terrified and feel paralyzed to get help, get support, or implement consequences including availing ourselves of the laws of our land for our protection.

4. Center yourself in God and not in fear. By practicing step 3, taking responsibility, you choose whether you are going to center yourself in love or fear, trust or unbelief, God’s truth or human reasoning. When we center ourselves in God and live by faith, we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. We’re not supposed to. We were not given the gift of omniscience.

But Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow today (Matthew 6:34). Tomorrow will have enough problems of it’s own. When tomorrow comes and it’s scary, then he will give you what you need tomorrow to face it with faith. Living in the “what if’s” cripples us for today.

Ask yourself the question: Today am I going to live in faith or fear? Am I going to live in faith that God knows my story, faith that God is bigger than my story? Faith that God has a plan for my life and he is my helper in times of trouble?

The psalmist reminds you that when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death – you don’t need to fear evil. Why? Because God is with you (Psalm 23:4).

As the Christmas season approaches, listen to the words of this beloved Christmas carol and allow it to speak to your heart.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Friend, you can either walk forward by faith and in faith or cower in fear. I pray you choose faith, even when you still feel fear.

(If you liked this, please explore Leslie Vernick‘s books, blog, and website).