A few weeks ago, I told you about a flower that got pulled out by the bulb. I replanted it.
I also told you how, I believe, the enemy wants nothing greater than to pluck out the bulb of our faith. Deep truth in fertile soil only survives.
We talked about this…we pondered those beautiful flowers.
So, everything was fine and dandy, until, snow got in the forecast. Until, my beautiful budding beauties were about to clobbered by a mega snowstorm.
Then, my heart started up again. Worrying like I do. About – flowers?!
What?! While most worry about finances, pension funds, and pilgrimages to far away lands, here I am – worrying about flowers!? While other people are fretting about unsaved folk, disaster planning due to health catastrophes and pleading coverage for substance abuse therapy – here I am worrying about petals – yet, again?!
Normally, I’d silently call myself stupid! and call it a day. But, not today.
Today, I’ve learned to create space for what God is speaking. The Spirit is always working, ever-counseling and constantly grabbing for the attention of our hearts and mind. Will I listen? Will you?
No matter what they all think? No matter how stupid we look or feel?
By not listening, just think of all we miss: How much we deny ourselves. How we look past what God is doing, because we feel we have to be on this hamster wheel of progress, schedule and monotony. How we think we are running after the right stuff, only to find out chasing urgent is all wrong.
Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 1 Cor. 3:18
I consider those flowers in the snow. And, when it is snowing, I give them a second glance on the way to the car.
Their little yellow noses pop up from under the white blanket of freezing. I smile at them.
Then, I think, what God wants me to see. It comes: They are closed.
Before, when they were in light and warmth the petals were open. Picture-ready flowers.
Yet, now, while being battered by ice, snow and wind they are closed. Closed and shuttered for a non-tropical hurricane. There’s no getting in.
I hold on to the message given to me, as if it is a clue for Kelly Balarie as she traverses this dangerous world. It’s this: When the high winds of the world come (and they will!), close your shutters and pull in close to God.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Ps. 91:4
It works like this:
When you feel frazzled because you aren’t dazzling the world,
shut out the show and slow things down.
When people are speaking at you from five different sides,
shut off the voices and find His voice of peace.
When life keeps telling you, you’re no good,
shut off the messages and read God’s Word.
When social media reminds you you’re a step short,
shut off the computer’s power and rest in His power.
When you feel as weak as a woman one day short of death,
shut down, be still and know that He is God.
When everything and then everything goes wrong,
shut off negativity and ask for God’s objectivity.
When you feel stupid for doing something,
shut off your inner-voice to see if God’s voice is calling you deeper still.
When you remember all them laughing,
slam shut the memory and open up truth:
you can do exceedingly abundantly more than you ask or imagine.
When you’re afraid you’ll fail, shut out doubt.
Just as God feeds the birds, He’ll feed us. Just as God protects the flowers, He makes way for us to protect our hearts.
Life, no doubt, lives like war. Daily, we wake, and don’t know what attack might come our way. We don’t know if we might get that phone call, if our small health issue may turn into a big problem or if we may hit a relational snag that leaves us knot-tied for weeks.
We wake up. Usually, we blindly head into it.
I don’t know about you, but a lot of days, I feel like I wake vulnerable, open for attack and easily knocked down. The battles move so fast, some days, it is hard to get ahead of them. It is hard be be one step faster or to create a battle plan, especially when you don’t know what is coming.
But, lately, I’ve been thinking much about moving from defensive faith to offensive faith. I think the stance makes all the difference.
A defensive faith stance is:
– Waking and going through the motions
– Reading God’s Word in the morning then going into the day
– Praying when troubles hit
– Asking people to help you when you are in a serious ditch
– Acknowledging God when something really great happens in your life
An offensive faith stance is:
– Waking and proclaiming God’s truths over your life (God is with me, for me, above me, before me…)
– Moving God’s word from your head to your heart by dwelling on it throughout the day
– Praying perpetually, in the car, in your house, in your free time.
– Having a team of people to support your faith walk. Knowing they will check in on you.
– Praising God as you see his glory through your day.
– Thanking God continually for all you have.
A Christian on offense moves into the battlefield not only able to withstand war, but ready to win. They see not only what is coming against them, but they are prepared with a tactical plan to love, when usually they’d be prone to fear. It changes their eyesight. Rather than being a pawn they are now a son or daughter of the King, one loved, provided for and helped along the way. They are an active force of good on the spiritual game board of good and evil. God knows they are ready, I believe. He sees their faith and willingness to prepare. He rewards them for seeking him diligently.
This person understands, it is not their own willpower that wins, it is not their mindset that overcomes, but it is the blood of Jesus that won for them. In humility, they stand under God so that he can move over their lives and into the lives of others.
This kind of person proclaims: Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle – my lovingkindness and my fortress, my high tower and my deliverer, my shield and the One in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me.” (Psalm 144:1)
It wasn’t a question. From the time he’d walked in the door my tone had been short and snippy. He knew I’d had a long day and needed time to myself, even though I was insisting on cleaning up the dishes.
After stalling several times on my way out the door, I left. I played worship music in the car and talked to God about the things that were bothering me.
I didn’t take much time to listen. I didn’t pause to see whether he had an answer to my endless list of concerns and complaints.
But since our God is faithful and more patient than I deserve, he kept speaking.
One day in early February the weather was crazy warm. Spring warm. Our family went for a walk, and my five-year-old paused every five seconds to pick up rocks and sticks. He found his favorite bridge (a slat of wood) and hopped across, quite pleased with himself as he ran down the other side of the ravine.
Will you continue reading? Today Abby McDonald is hosting the #RaRaLinkup and we’d love for you to join us at her place!Click here to join us!
I went to the bathroom and balled my eyes out. Everything I wanted, wasn’t showing up. Everything I needed, didn’t seem to be happening. Everything that I figured good, was far from me.
God, where are you? God, did you leave me? God, why aren’t things happening for me?
God seemed lost. His help seemed distant. His loving hand, removed.
Help me, God!
Not knowing what to do, I did the only thing ever left to do – when you don’t know what to do: I opened God’s Word, expecting He’d teach me, lead me and restore me.
He did. These verses changed my heart; I believe they’ll change yours too:
28 Verses Proving: God Will Provide
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19)
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Heb. 11:6)
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. (Psalms 81:10)
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Ps. 84:11)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Mt. 6:33)
The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. (Prov. 10:3)
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Ro. 8:32)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Eph. 3:20)
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Ps. 18:2)
Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. (Gen. 22:8)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11)
Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. (Gen. 9:3)
The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. (Ps. 34:10)
And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Mt. 21:22)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (Jo. 15:6)
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. (Mal. 3:10)
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. … (Mt. 6:25-34)
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Mt. 7:7-8)
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Eph. 3:16-17)
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (Jo. 14:13-14)
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)
And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. (1 John 3:22)
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (Jo. 14:26)
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Pet. 3:13)
The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Ps. 145:15-16)
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8)
For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:9)
Sin. It’s a tricky thin, isn’t it? Those of us in Christ don’t want to participate in it, but somehow we easily fall prey to it. We all know there is no hierarchy when it comes to sin. Lust is just as wrong as adultery. Anger is just as wrong as murder. It all quenches the Holy Spirit and it all breaks the Father’s heart.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15
Recently, I had 3 consecutive weekends of attending 3 ridiculously dynamic women’s conferences. I was literally on the highest of highs. It was amazing! I am very much still processing all that God spoke to me and all that He did during those 3 weeks. He marked me beyond words.
After all of that spiritual activity, the enemy hit me hard. I don’t normally attribute much to him, but this was nothing but him. He was waging war for my soul in the worst way. He attacked my mind with no holds barred.
I don’t tend to deal with outward sins as much as I do with inward ones. You know the ones I’m talking about…envy, comparison, anger, bitterness, apathy, etc… The list really could go on and on. If you’re anything like me, those inward sins can bring more shame and guilt than the outward ones. It’s quite easy to hide these sins from the world. Honestly, the shame and guilt came very close to knocking me out for the count. I felt as though I was spiraling out of control. The past few weeks of battle came out of nowhere. I had been beautifully walking out my calling. God had been opening many doors of connection and I had experienced some of the sweetest times of prayer and worship.
One of the events I attended was Beth Moore’s conference called LIT. It was geared to women in their 20s and 30s. Christy Nockels led Heaven touching worship. And Beth, along with Jennie Allen, Priscilla Shirer, Christine Caine and Melissa Moore all shared about this call to communicate. Everyone spoke to the fact that it is a weighty call and there is a cost to it. In order to fulfill this call, we need to first be filled. This filling ONLY comes from time spent in the secret place of God and us. This time with God is not reserved for those who may minister from a public platform. It is for EVERY believer because we all minister and share Christ in some way. We all have a measure of influence.
I’ve been contemplating how such a door was opened in my life for the enemy to slip in could have occurred. I know I’m a flawed human, but I never want that to be an excuse for me to be comfortable living in sin.
Realize the enemy will attack who God has created you to be.
A week ago, I heard a sermon about how the enemy will specifically come for us in direct opposition to who we are. I hadn’t ever thought of that before. If we are a person of faith, He will bring doubt. If we are pure in heart, he will bring corrupt thoughts. If we have the gift of healing, he will bring illness. He sees our potential. He wants to destroy that potential by whatever means necessary. He wants to destroy the impact that God wants to accomplish through us.
The key to fighting this is to pray against him breaking any strongholds he is using to keep us bound. And then, we replace those thoughts with Scriptures that call out our identity and God’s desire for us.
Don’t let the enemy bring dissension.
I am all about community, but over the past few months, the enemy has been working overtime to create division among several friends and me. He has authored confusion and offense and all manner of hurt feelings. In those times, we are to pursue unity despite our emotions. Our emotions say isolate. The enemy wants us to isolate. But the Lord’s heart is for us to be in fellowship.
We must have brave, hard communication. We speak truth in love and always share our hearts in grace.
Camp out in the secret place.
Everything flows out of the secret place. Everything we do. Everything we say. All that we are flows from this place. Anything done in our own strength will falter and fail. The Holy Spirit must be our strength. He is the only source of power in our lives. Much of that power is harnessed when we allow Him to renew our minds in His promises. This power can only be accessed when we have spent time alone with Him in prayer, worship and studying His Word.
This time is non-negotiable. If we forgo it, we forgo everything. We forfeit the word He wants to speak to our hearts. We forfeit all of the good works He prepared for us. We forfeit the ministry that would touch the lives of others so that they may come to know Him. This time in the secret place is how we overcome and walk in victory.
I want to live in such a way where I am aware of the enemy’s schemes and where He doesn’t have such easy access to me. I don’t ever want him to think he can easily deter me from my calling and purpose.
Let us live in the overflow of the secret place…
Overwhelmed by His presence Over our heads in His Word Overcome by His wonder
Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
I love Rachel Macy Stafford. I’m her fan – a fan of her heart, a fan of her work and a fan of her authentic pursuit of life. She knows all this. But, what she doesn’t know is, I often, desperately need her words. Some days are just too hard – and then I get hard on myself. Some days are just too overwhelming and I lose control. Some days are a punch in the gut; her words bring me back to life. They revive me. This is what her new book, “ONLY LOVE TODAY” is – it is fresh air, new hope and an opportunity to try again. I can’t rave about it – or her – enough. I am a fan.
Here is Rachel’s Story (Comment and share this post on social media to win her new book, ONLY LOVE TODAY):
“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process
is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” – Brené Brown
It been almost two years since my friend lost her sister to cancer. She still talks about it—the pain and disbelief, the pressure to move on, the things that help and the things that don’t. She talks about the good days and the nearly indescribably bad days.
I listen to everything she offers. I tuck it away for safekeeping. With my friend’s help, I’ll know a better thing to say when someone hurts. With her help, I have some perspective on inconsequential problems when they’re getting more attention than they deserve.
Each time my friend shares her struggles, triumphs, and truths, I am struck with admiration and awe. She never wanted to be an expert on grief, but she is. She never wanted to know what words and actions bring a moment of solace to an aching soul, but she does. This is now my friend’s story, and as much as she’d like to deny it, she’s chosen to own it—quite bravely and brilliantly, I might add.
I thought of my friend and her unchosen expertise when I had a CT scan shortly after her sister’s passing. It was the first time I laid beneath a big scary machine and held my breath for dear life. When the machine began to inch forward slowly, I thought of my friend and her story. I wasn’t sure how my story was going to play out, but I decided I would own it. Tell my close friends. Say, “I’m scared,” when I felt scared. Ask for help when I was in pain. Above all, I knew it was important to pay attention. So I vowed to take it all in—the good and bad. Perhaps I’d discover something worth sharing in the process.
Four weeks after the CT scan that saved my left kidney and possibly my life, I was home from the hospital. I was swollen and sore. I was groggy on pain meds. I was having trouble thinking of words. I was kind of a mess, but I had something I felt must be said. I pulled my laptop computer gingerly onto my lap and typed some words to my friends and family on social media. I remember worrying for a brief moment if there were incomplete sentences, misspelled words, and extra periods. Words were blurry through my grateful, teary eyes, but I pushed ‘publish’ anyway. Here is an excerpt:
“I am home from the hospital recovering from kidney surgery and feeling incredibly thankful to be here. It’s been many months of infection and uncertainty, but I finally have peace. I am on my way to more years, more love, more life. My little public service announcement in the midst of this overwhelming gratitude is this: If you feel like something is not right in your body or mind, please don’t dismiss that feeling. Make an appointment today. If you are not satisfied with the answers you get or things do not improve, keep searching. Keep asking. Keep listening. Keep going until you get answers. You are the only one who can truly look after you. And your people need you to be here.”
An interesting thing happened. Two of my neighbors contacted me over the next few weeks to tell me those words prompted them to action. One of them made an appointment regarding a persistent pain she’d neglected to look into. Another friend said she’d been worried about her spouse’s health and my words were the perfect words to offer him.
Through my life’s mess, I provided a vital message.
Thank you, God.
In that moment, I felt better than I had in months. The uncertainty and pain I’d endured weren’t all for naught. For the first time, I saw my story not a curse, but as a blessing. It was a blessing to be the messenger.
Perhaps you sit here today in a mess you haven’t shared yet. Maybe you thought it had to be all figured out before you told someone. Maybe you thought it had to have a happy ending before it could all be revealed. Maybe you thought you had to have perfect punctuation and periods in all the right places for it to be seen. I hope I can help you see your life’s mess in a new way. This is what came out in a tiny notebook during my first walk outside after having two surgeries in one month. Perhaps there’s something here for you …
Owning Your Story
You never wanted to know how to survive divorce.
You never wanted to know the joys and heartaches of autism.
You never wanted to know the signs of addiction.
But you do.
You never wanted to know rock bottom.
You never wanted to know how to leave an abusive relationship.
You never wanted to know it was possible to bounce back after a financial crisis.
But you do.
You never wanted to know the pain of caring for a parent who doesn’t remember you.
You never wanted to be the strong one.
You never wanted to know the car could be a safe place to cry.
But you do.
You never wanted to know a family could break.
You never wanted to know how to put the pieces back together in a new way.
You never wanted to know a new normal.
But you do.
You never wanted to know the perfect response when someone stares at your child.
You never wanted to know the courage it takes to ask for help.
You never wanted to know how to find joy after having lost it for so long.
But you do.
You never wanted to know when it’s time to sever the ties in order to have inner peace.
You never wanted to know how hard it is to say yourself, “Change begins today. My loved ones deserve better.”
You never wanted to know the weight that can be lifted when you say to yourself, “It wasn’t my fault.”
But you do. You do.
And perhaps as time has passed you’ve discovered that to deny your story hurts more than the story itself, so you’ve chosen to own it.
To speak out, even when your voice shakes.
To tell the truth, even when it’s not pretty.
To encourage someone else, even when you can barely encourage yourself.
To get up and face the world, even when you can barely look at yourself in the mirror.
The tears that streak your face at the most inopportune times of the day, at the most inappropriate moments, are the lines of your story. And each time you own it, someone else is not alone in hers or his. Your jumbled mess, whether whispered as a prayer to one or shouted courageously to a room of hundreds, could be the message someone needs right now. Perhaps by sharing our story, pain will ease and hope will find its voice.
You there in your mess: Thank you for being. Your life is a message. And through your story, there is power to save.
Comment and share this post on social media to win Rachel’s new book, ONLY LOVE TODAY.
What you just read is a small sample of what you will find in Rachel Macy Stafford’s highly anticipated new book, ONLY LOVE TODAY: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less, and Choose Love (release date 3/7).
With a unique flip-open, read-anytime/anywhere format, this book is soulful encouragement for busy individuals yearning to anchor themselves in love despite everyday distractions, pressures, and discord.
ONLY LOVE TODAY began as a mantra to overcome her inner bully, but it is now the practice of Rachel Macy Stafford’s life. It can be yours too. Click here to order.
Click here to learn the easy step to receiving your collection of hand-lettered pre-order bonus gifts! #onlylovetoday
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I crossed off another day on the calendar. Soon I would load up my Chevy Cavalier and move into my first, tiny, post-college apartment. I’d purchase my own food each day. I’d wear Business Casual Monday through Friday, and pull an IBM lanyard around my neck each morning. I’d sit poolside on weekends, reading all the fabulous novels I never had time for while in school.
There were so many things to look forward to when we were young. We took a step, turned a year older, completed a milestone, and then we looked ahead to the next great thing.
Being a teenager.
Earning a driver’s license.
Living on our own.
Childhood dreams were made of these things.
It was the same through college, where we checked off one step at a time, eyes always fixed on the next great season.
Before I knew it, I was learning the ropes of the corporate world and counting down the days until my wedding. After that, we looked forward to this trip or that and hoped for a baby and added to our family and survived multiple toddlers at once, and we continued to build.
My whole life I’ve been climbing, building, and looking ahead to the next great thing.
Sometimes now, I find myself looking back. I long for the good old days.
They passed far too quickly, if you ask me now. I wouldn’t have said that then, but I was clueless. I often failed to realize so much hidden beauty between the chaos. We don’t know what we have until it’s gone, after all.
We are prone to wanting what we don’t have, what we hope to have, what we used to have.
We look ahead, hoping for an ideal, assuming the next season will be something better. We want the current hard stage to pass. But then a new season arrives, and with it, new difficulties we didn’t plan. So we look back and long for old comforts.
At least, I do.
We find something similar in Hebrews 7, where some newer believers were longing for the not-so-good old days.
They were suffering persecution, and many of them wanted to return to the law, to Judaism. Then they would be part of the crowd again. When life got tough, they lost sight of the Better Hope they’d been given.
They lost sight of Jesus and His amazing benefits.
For the law made nothing perfect, and a Better Hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. Hebrews 7:19
We could talk for hours about the Law, but we probably wouldn’t want to. What I mean is, it’s hard for us to understand all the implications of living under the law as opposed to living under the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. But the difference was everything. Jesus still makes every bit of difference in our daily lives.
Because of Jesus, we have this amazing privilege–to draw near to God.
Under the law, worshipers had to stand out in the courtyard while the high priest represented them before God. They also had to fulfill so many regulations.
We have a full-access pass to the Throne of Grace. He makes His home within us. Maybe we’ve lost sight of this gift?
We know our greatest good will never truly be found in the next great season or another chance or a smoother road. That’s because our greatest good will always be found in drawing near to the Lord Jesus.
What if we exchange all our longing, for building into and climbing toward and waiting on a place where “real” life really begins?
We’ll be looking forward to the next great season, after all.
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
Driving in Texas, I saw a tow truck with tow lift in the back that looked much like a cross.
It reminded me: With Jesus, we’re never stalled. Jesus who was high and lifted also lifts us and carries us to safety.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. Ps. 91:11-12
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock… Ps. 27:5
Jesus is our ever-present tow truck…He carries us, in his power to where we were meant to go. He delivers us to safety when we let Him bring us.
Just think, when life stalls, Jesus is our hope.
When we feel we might break down, he waits for us.
When we are quite certain we just got our self into a car crash –
he lifts us above the shattered glass and broken metal – to safety.
When we feel down and out, he lifts our spirits up as we seek an eternal view of our problems.
Where does your life feel stalled? Broken? Injured? Unrecoverable.
You know, when I was about 17, I totaled my parent’s van. It wasn’t my fault – a Mac truck hit me. My gas chamber exploded on impact and, when the police arrived, the said they were surprised I was alive. They said that the car should have exploded – with me in it. Things reeked of gas.
My van got towed away. I stood there.
We never know the small ways God is saving us, the ways he is towing us to something greater.
But, every day, we can choose faith. Faith that says: Father, daddy, I believe that you have a plan in my heartache and a plan through my pain.
For the fact of the matter is – if you’re still breathing, God is still purposing to use you. If you are still waking in the morning, he is still working. And, if you are still moving, he is guarding you.
Do not lose hope. Don’t lose faith. And, certainly, don’t give up.
God is towing you to straight into deliverance – whether on earth or in heaven. Hope in him and his great power to lift us, really, can never be lost.
It’s your self-hatred.
It’s your hand that wants to slap yourself sometimes.
It’s that memory that classifies you as horrible.
It’s the action that ruined who you are.
It’s the person and what they did that you can’t get past.
It’s what holds you captive to the flesh.
Shame moves as unending pain…
You get angry at yourself about it. You hate that part of you. If you could scalpel away the emotions, you might. But, you can’t, because you feel stuck; you’ve been branded as sinful, horrible or tainted.
I know – shame. Shame is this little beast that lives inside. What he does is summon up guilt, guilt so insurmountable it’s untamable. Then, that very guilt goes so wild; he rips apart holy.
He tells you…
“You can’t be a temple, when you were tempted and tainted in that way.”
“You can’t be God’s child, when you hurt another like that.”
“You can’t be in God’s light, when you found yourself so sullied in the dark.”
“You can’t win when you’ve already decided your inadequacies make you a loser.”
“You can’t be of worth, when everyone else has declared you – worth nothing.”
If Jesus is hero, shame is enemy #1.
This enemy captured me for a large portion of my life. I declared myself, silently, as an unworthy follower of Jesus because shame spouted off his propoganda – and I listened! I knew truth, but I couldn’t accept it. I knew who I was, and I figured, God knew too. We had a silent agreement – shh… I wasn’t good enough.
Are you living by a silent agreement?
Shame takes sons and daughters, ones declared pure as snow and tells them they’re as tarnished as sin. He says, “Wash as you may, but your disgust and disdain can never be washed off.”
How has he marked you irredeemable?
He marked me too. I finally realized something, however: I can’t walk free if I am walking chained. Seriously. It’s an either/or choice.
Either I will walk in the fullness of freedom or I will walk in the chains of shame. And, at risk of sounding too simplistic, because I know making your way to the other side can seem like a mountain-wide length of difference, in some ways it is a simple belief that frees us.
All things are possible. (Mt. 19:26)
Even more than what you believe possible – is possible. (Eph 3:20)
There is almost nothing more God wants to do than to free you. (Lu. 4:18)
So, what feels impossible to let go of, with God, is possible. What feels insurmountable to forgive yourself for, with God, is forgiven. What feels unspeakable and incarcerated in the jail-cell of “don’t talk about it” – is let go by God’s grace.
The Lord reaches his hand out to you. Will today be the day you grab it? For, he wants to lead you somewhere. He wants to bring you to more. He wants to set you free so you set others free. Open up and let Jesus sit down with you right now. Let him wrap you in the cover of forgiven and forgotten, and thrown as far as the East is from the West. He longs to bring warmth to the cold lies shame has told you for so very long.
Dear Lord Jesus, right now, I ask you to draw near to my friends who are suffering in shame. Perhaps they’ve been suffering for a long, long time. Perhaps, right now, they feel undone. Perhaps, they don’t know what to do. Put your arms around them. Pour out your love. May they see your face of compassion and redemption. May they know your heart to love them. I pray they hand over what is not theirs to carry any longer. May they know you carried it on the cross. It is finished, done and over. May they release it now into your great abyss of love. Amen.
“So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:16
This. This verse right here. It gives me the chills. It’s one of those things that makes you sit up straight. It reminds me of coasting on a bike. The thing about coasting is – you can’t coast up to God, you’re always coasting somewhat downwards and away from him.
I don’t want to coast. I certainly don’t want to be looking at the world and living my life, only to die and find out – I was never really that close to him to begin with.
Whoops! Big Whoops! Eternal Whoops!
You all know I just wrote the book, Fear Fighting. So, it’s not that I have to fear what I am doing wrong, it’s just that I have to fear God. Get my eyes on him. Seek him. Be with him. Pursue him.
Like dominoes, everything falls in line when we do this. We get near him and he gets in us. I like that.
With this in mind here are my 25 Ways Not To Be Lukewarm:
3. Practically search out ways to love others
4. Read scripture
5. Ask God for help.
6. Submit all your plans to God.
7. Enjoy creation with God.
8. Remember Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.
9. Forgive others.
10. Forgo anxiety and replace it with praise.
11. Encourage another person.
12. Hold fast to the belief that trials are training you into the image of Christ.
13. Grab on to faith, even when you feel like you are falling.
14. Thank God for everything.
15. Die to your selfish ways and live for Christ’s.
16. Renew your mind in truth, throughout the day, every day.
17. Worship through songs and Psalms.
18. Seek to understand others, verses judge them.
19. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide, then follow.
20. Seek holy in everything you do.
21. Put on the armor of God (Eph. 6)
22. Proclaim the gospel, no matter how scared you may feel.
23. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Speak it over your life.
24. Receive and extend grace. Repeat.
25. Uncover your heart and ready it for God’s transformation.
The good news is – even if we’ve lived lukewarm, we don’t have to fear our salvation. If we are saved, it is as done and done is done. We also don’t have to fear that we messed up, drifted away from God or turned our back for moment. Why? Because God’s love is greater than our deep worry we won’t be loved again. It extends beyond our feelings, thoughts and hurts. It reaches in – and once again – accepts us.