Do you get in the car and, immediately,
start running down your list of worries?
Do you try to keep calm
but inevitably lose your cool with that one person?
Do you try to be near to God,
only to get caught up with fear things won’t turn out well?
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you. Is 26:3
I’ve got to figure out what it means to be steadfast because one thing I know is that – I want peace.
Lately, I’ve been moving my two kids in duck-formation; they know by now, they better follow Mama. I am going places. Doing things. Accomplishing stuff. There’s order, discipline and diligence in our house. People, best follow in line.
I think it is pretty apparent to all – I’m running my house like a jerk. I’ll be the first to admit it.
Wake. Breakfast. Don’t spill it on the floor. Get your plate to the sink. Get those clothes on. Why isn’t your lunch box in your bag? Can’t you get those shoes on yourself. Shuttle. Home. Dinner. Get a book. Hustle kid. Move it. Don’t talk back. You are getting time out. Clean that floor. Lights out.
I look like the wicked step mother, my kids look like Cinderella incarnate. I horrify myself.
You will not keep in perfect peace, those who minds are controlling, obnoxious and abhorrent because they trust only in themselves. Kelly 1:1
You all, I am not God, but I am a woman who knows the opposite of Isaiah 26:3 and it is what I wrote above.
I feel convicted.
Truly, to only see my way is to miss God’s. To be demanding is to raise the flag of pride. To bark marching orders is to lose pleasure in Him.
But, to release a mind into the fullness of his Word, leading, promptings and character – is dig up perfect peace.
I feel released.
Able to see more clearly, I realize: She who stays in peace is she who dwells on Him, who is Peace.
On the other hand, she who stays in worry and anxiety is she who settles for fakes. She’s like a girl who walks down the streets in New York City and grabs imitation handbags when she has wads of cash in her pocket. She’s the rich girl, the one with everything, who picks up and studies 5th rate Chinese Chanel bags because she thinks she doesn’t have enough. She forgets she is rich, so she settles. She suffers. She buys up stress instead of the real deal – God’s peace.
I buy up stress instead of staying steadfast and certain in God. Do you?
Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8
I don’t know about you, but I often rely on vain idols:
The Facebook F: Here, I focus in on a girl’s clothes, and completely forget about my devotional time. The Pinterest P: With this idol, I figure my friends will judge me based on napkins and centerpieces. I try to be perfect. A mirror: I stare at it and criticize myself. My bank account: I think it will protect me more than God.
The prized possession of steadfast peace is lost
when a girl bends down to grab lower shelf goods and gods.
What are you reaching for?
Let me remind you, steadfast love always sits high and mighty.
To identify it from fakes, it looks like this:
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:9-10
Steadfast love looks not like a crazed girl on an elliptical trying, sweating and endlessly pumping – but a gal just being, just sitting, in Christ’s love. It is one open, ready and willing to receive his riches. One who lets God determine her value.
What does this practically look like?
It looks like:
Seeing devotional time as sitting time,
not striving time, with God.
Viewing success as Godly-connection
rather than always-perfection.
Letting go of the psychotic pace to
continually dwell in God’s grace.
Quieting your inner-hater,
to find the Always-Lover.
Relaxing with God in the moment,
rather than demanding he reconstruct your future.
Remembering all Jesus did,
not what you need to accomplish.
To be stead–fast is to walk steady in the idea you will not move fast.
It is to walk steady at God’s pace – moving only with him.
So, today, rather than rushing, huffing and puffing – and blowing our house down, this truth we can cling to. We don’t have to push ahead. We don’t have to yell and scream and feel anxious that people are going to mess up. We only need to slow down, grab his hand and trust, He will carry us through- straight up to perfect peace.
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It’s the thing every Christian wants but is afraid to admit.
It’s the thing we chase, yet hardly find.
It’s the thing we’re ashamed to claim as our deep longing.
As a child, my school was an extension of church. It’s where I tested out happy. Joyfully, I laughed, talked and told stories. I was loud, excited and eager. I was – alive, even, until I learned I wasn’t acceptable. Until, the teacher pulled me by the arm, kneeled me before a statue and told me I was wrong – sinfully wrong for it. My hard knees on a hard floor proved happy doesn’t work so well.
Happy bubbles get burst easily.
Another time, an opportunity of a lifetime showed up on my doorstep. I screamed in my house, I jumped up and down, twirled the twirl and danced the jig. Yes! Yes! Double Yes! This was what I had been waiting for.
I ran to tell a most trusted friend. I smiled, blabbed and anticipated the moment we would scream in unison. What I got was – dead air. Then, came the dry words of, “Oh, that’s good. Now, what were we talking about before?!”
Unhappy can’t easily get comfortable with happy. They repel each other, quite often.
Better not to be happy, right?
After hearing a whole lot of sermons like this: 1. You just gotta carry your cross in this world.
2. A horrific thing happened? Oh, that’s God’s will.
3.) We are only living for eternity… you start believing this world actually is the hell you fear.
Somewhere, along the lines we ended up with a theology of agony,
I rebuke that line of thinking. Jesus didn’t come to break us down. He didn’t come to ruin us. And, he certainly didn’t come to make us slaves. While we are assured we will hit pain and suffering (2 Tim. 3:12), God’s forever-assignment for us is not a downcast spirit, dejection and demoralization.
So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Gal. 4:7
We don’t have to live like morose monks – when people, problems or pricks hit us –
because we are loved children, with a good Father.
What good parent wants their kid to continually suffer?
What good parent holds back the greatest joys of childhood?
What good parent doesn’t band-aid up a cut and send the kid back to the playground?
What good parent doesn’t leave their child with the best things they ever owned?
Christ in me is the power of joy – flowing out from me.
Christ in you is the power of joy – flowing out from you.
Jennifer adeptly helps me realize by accessing who God made meto be, I can launch – happy and free.
Do you know what makes you happy?
Did you know you have a happiness style (Take the Happiness Quiz)? You may be a: Doer (a little like me), Experiencer (a lot like me), Relater (a lot like me), a Giver (not like me) or a Thinker (a lot me).
Okay, ya’ll, you busted me, I’m a whole bunch of ’em.
It’s okay though, because I want to embrace them – all 3 of them. Somehow, I figure, God loves nothing more than when we step into the full beauty of who he created us to be. It’s like we zip off the world and we step out radiant. We are His masterpiece, after all.
Might it be time we agreed with God? We can be happy with who we are, without shame.
I love how Jennifer puts it, “God delights in your delight. He takes pleasure in your pleasure. But, it doesn’t end with our pleasure alone. Oh no. You see, this is all for his pleasure. This is all about God.”
Happiness transcends me. When we are fully who we were made to be – we light up the world.
Rather than grunting in pain to a world about how hard it is to be a Christian, we light it up with smiles, songs and dances that glorify God!
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Mt. 5:16
People who know God “ought to be the happiest people in all the wide world! – A.W. Tozer
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The Happiness Dare:
Pursuing Your Heart’s Deepest, Holiest, and Most Vulnerable Desire
Jennifer Dukes Lee has good news for anyone who’s ever secretly, longingly (even guiltily) dreamed of being happier: It’s okay to want to be happy. God cares about your happiness; He created it as a sweet spot, a gift, and something you can faithfully, freely pursue. And He’s daring you to trust Him enough to discover it.
We all have our monsters. The real vile ones are from days of old; they give us night-shivers to remember. The fast ones whip us, encouraging us to more quickly chase perfection. The obnoxious ones form in our mind, informing us we are no better than our worse fears. The slow-moving one arrives like an envelope with amounts past due, they point to the depths we can never climb. But, the worst – the absolute worst – are the types that tell us our big God is small. They that tell us we fooled ourselves; God doesn’t really come through for our likes. These ones are beasts. Tall. Ferocious. Salivating. Beasts. Throwing insults.
(Goliath) said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?”
And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 1 Sam. 17:43
Our Goliath-monsters speak too, you know?
Am I not threatening enough – that you think you can beat me?
Am I to laugh, that you think you can beat me with prayer?
Am I an imbecile, that you speak thousand-year old bible verses and think they’ll work?
Am I not injurous enough, that you believe in something you cannot see, when you see the heights of me?
Am I not pleasurable enough, that you would come at me with the thought God makes you enough?
Look at her…
The finger points.
The chants ensue.
We stand there. Nearly naked.
We feel the assault on a God who seems silent.
We wait, looking left and right hoping to do something. Needing – to do something.
What giant monster taunts you?
What does he say?
When I was a waitress, we used to say, “I’m in the weeds.” It means someone is about to dump a plate of spaghetti on your head because you’ve gotten too far behind. It also means that the appetizer you’re holding should actually be dessert and you are pretty much hated by multiple tables. You crawl under a table cloth at the at point. You are stuck. You hate yourself.
I have a book coming out a couple of months. I’m in the weeds. The monster is there. He speaks, “Kelly, you have no time, you have no ability, you have no power to succeed.
What others have in talent, you don’t. You’re an imposter.”
Yet, when I fight to hear God’s voice. Something surfaces.
When you hear insults over invading love,
you can be sure that you’re hearing the insidious voice of a monster,
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands…All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)
I love how David talked back. We, good girls, don’t do this enough. We’ve been taught to cross our legs, dot our i’s and cross our t’s, but we’ve hardly been taught to snap back. We’ve hardly been taught to stand up for ourselves.
But, what if, rather than being women of subservience to bad monsters, we talked back?
What if, instead, we got defiant, not reliant on these voices?
I almost see it… women, rising, a valiant insurrection,
not directed at husbands or people who annoy us, but at the internal voices of lies.
I want that.
I want to talk back to these insidious voices with truth
so insurmountable it instigates a movement of unstoppable women for Christ.
Now, that little monster voice tells me, “Kelly, you’re sounding extreme again.”
But, you know what? I shush it up and go “bad-girl” on it.
I laugh in it’s face.
I say, “God can do all things. So, shush it up! I am tired of your lies. You’re a dog that I should laugh at you.”
David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. (1 Sam. 17:49)
1 Stone. 1 shot. 1 sling. 1 voteof full confidence in his Lord. 1 belief that it didn’t matter what he had, but who he had. 1 ounceof trust that miracles can and do happen.
David didn’t need much.
I don’t need much.
You don’t either…
God is the everything we need.
He is the Filling to our gap.
He is the Provider to our debt.
He is the Answer to our need.
He is the Way through our dead end.
Find His life to gain life.
That thing that looks too big to accomplish – is smaller than God.
That thing that seems like it will kill you – cannot overcome the life of Christ.
That thing that plagues you with a screechy voice – is silenced by the peace of God.
Let the monsters speak, because there is one who speaks louder. Who rides higher. Who is greater. Who will ride in victory, apparent, in glory before all mankind.
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. Rev. 19:11-15
The fight is on your behalf. If you don’t believe Jesus can win for you – I don’t know who can.
Next time the Goliath-monster starts spouting off again, tell him to shush up and sit down, Faithful and True is on your side! And, with Him, you’re about to win.
Today I am excited to welcome Kim Breuninger from Twin Lakes Church to Women’s Ministry Monday. Kim’s words speak encouragement and liberation in who has God has created us to be. They encourage me.
“What’s your ‘shiny’ name going to be Kim?”
“Umm…I don’t know.”
As part of a playful team of women planning a retreat with the theme ‘SHINE’, I struggled to come up with a funny, creative and ‘shiny’ name to equal theirs. My newly named friends, Crystal, Jewel and Tiara teased and laughed with each other as they worked, eagerly anticipating the weekend ahead of us. While I, the more administrative task-oriented type, could only come up with some neatly organized spreadsheets and the question, “Lord, why can’t I be more like them?”
Eventually, the team brought a nametag to me. They had chosen a shiny name for me! Pearl. Pearl? I thought of Minnie Pearl, a TV comedian from the 1960’s, dressed in a frumpy dress and a straw hat with a price tag hanging off it yelling, “HOW-DEE-E-E-E!” I was a little disappointed with my new identity, but wanting to fit in, I did my best to act like part of the team and cheerfully ‘shine’ with the others.
On the second night of our retreat the guest speaker taught from Matt. 13:45 (NIV), “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” She went on to make the point that most precious jewels are found in the earth, but the pearl is found inside a living creature, setting it apart from the others as the only living gem.
I felt ashamed. God’s Word had finely divided the joint and marrow of my thoughts (Heb. 4:12 NIV). I heard him say “Kim, I searched for you, I chose you and I bought you at a great price. I created you in my own image, made you unique from anyone else and gave you a special blessing, a gift, all so that just as you are, you might be a blessing to others. I love YOU.” His words struck my core. He’s done all this, and yet what do I do? I neglect my true calling trying to be like everyone else instead of the jewel God created me to be.
I’ve kept my nametag from that retreat for over twenty years. It reminds me that although I may feel inadequate, my unique traits and gifts are just what God is looking for. It’s my personal love note from my redeemer and King.
In Christ we’re called to “shine like stars in the universe” (Php. 2:15 NIV), but the process of transformation, turning from a life dulled by sin and doubt, begins with the choice to place our trust in him, the Light of the world. Transformation requires our thoughtful involvement. Just as a pearl begins as an insignificant grain of sand and is refined by constant irritation, so we become set apart from all others, a radiant testimony of who we’re created to be, as we learn to live in faith and God’s truth.
Are you experiencing the blessing of who God has created you to be?
Do you believe he’s shown you his great favor, so that you can be a blessing to others just as you are, wherever you are?
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a young girl from a dusty unknown town. Paul was imprisoned, chained to armed guards. Timothy was considered too young for the job.
Each of them chose to look beyond their circumstances, to God’s Word.
They trusted his purposes, not popular opinion,
and became a blessing to others, to us, even to this day.
Kim Breuninger has lovingly served the women at Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, Ca. for the last 24 years. Her desire to encourage women through life’s challenging seasons, and the healing many of us seek, has also taken her to Zambia, Africa where she’s spent many years teaching and encouraging pastor’s wives.
Kim is wife to her handsome husband, and Koinonia Conference Grounds Director, Dave Breuninger. Together they’ve raised their blended family of 5 children, all married with 6 grandchildren, (so far! J ).
Yesterday, I pegged a bottle of sparkling water at my shopping cart. I lost it. After battling the running-of-the-bulls (aka. mothers at Target) pushing to grab glue, paper and alcohol (aka. hand sanitizer), I lost it. After standing in a 7-person deep line, making it to the front, only to be informed the lane was close, I lost it. After seeing said-cashier, roam around aimlessly with nothing to do, I lost it. After dealing with two toddlers who were sleep and food-deprived screaming gymnasts in my cart, I lost it. After contrapting them safe into their car seats, only to find a security device still wrapped around my sons newly-purchased USB headphones, I lost it. After opening the trunk and being pegged by bags and bottles of water that wouldn’t stop rolling down the parking lot. I. REALLY. Lost. It.
I. Threw. Things.
I tried to ruin a cart with canned water.
Today, it happened again. The moving truck said he’ll be late – by 2 days. 48 hours of whoops-we-scheduled-you-wrong. How does that happen?
I banged my head. I caught a cold. I blasted people. Was it their fault? It didn’t matter.
I was at my wits end. Wits end is the place where you are convinced your life could end if you continue on this warpath.
1.) Everyone is enemy.
2.) Peace is as lost as your once-rational mind.
3.) Anguish, anger and annoyance beat up inanimate and intimate object alike.
After you act bad enough, you say, “Why am I losing it? I’m supposed to be Christian,
not a woman of demolition!”
There were about 10 instigators that got me to this point. People who knew the wrong word to speak, arguments that bubbled, fears that seemed as prevalent as Zika mosquitos. I hadn’t been bitten, but was already dying.
I wonder what Jesus thinks of me when I lose it?
I know God says be slow to anger. Ja. 1:19
I know God says anger lands in the laps of fools. Ec. 7:9
I know God says to rid yourself of anger. Col. 3:8
But, I also know, Jesus didn’t die to demand absolute-perfection,
but to cover ever-abounding weakness (with his perfection).
In Jesus’ time, there were perfect-looking ones.
Take a look at how Jesus talked to these types: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.“ Mt. 23:27
I suppose, what is comforting is – even in the heat of my 100-mile an hour, metal pitch – I didn’t look like a “whitewashed tomb” beautiful on the outside. Rather, I looked different: Ugly on the outside, wanting to be alive and clean on the inside.
While we judge ourselves on outward actions,
God is far more concerned about inner intentions.
Sometimes, better is a purely wrecked heart before God, than a white-washed tomb before man.
Sometimes, better is a crazed woman rapidly-approaching God, than one hiding behind doilies, daisies or drugs.
Sometimes, better is an unleashed moment, if it brings long-needed cathartic repentance before the King.
Let me tell you, Jesus can handle your worst moment, tantrum, fight or foible.
It is not too much for him.
He won’t disown you.
He won’t back out.
We think that Jesus can’t handle us, yet he handled the most deadly carcinogen, called sin, on the cross. He handled whips on his side. He handled insults and spit, vile and vitriol. He handled all that.
Can’t Jesus handle a LaCroix Passion Fruit flavored
can hurled at a red cart?
I think he can.
He can handle Kelly-unleashed, untamed and unruly. He can handle you too.
I guess, looking back, rather than throwing bullets at plastic, I could have thrown my head right onto the steering wheel, shut down the cries a seat behind me – and just cried too. I could have called out. I could have pleaded to feel His love. I could have let Him know – I feel crazy. I could have breathed deep. I could have given myself an encouraging word, a word that says, “This is hard Kelly. There is a lot going on. Extend yourself the patience and grace that God would.” I could have heard the voice of Jesus.
Today, though, I look back and remind myself, God doesn’t tally up the ways I defect from His Christian fan club. He doesn’t cast me to the long-line in order to reach His throne. He doesn’t demote me. He doesn’t despise me.
His plans are to uprise me.
More and more, I am seeing, I must come undone, so I can be redone in Christ’s image. When I get beyond my mind, I find his.
Sometimes, it takes losing it to find Him. Surely, it is not the best path to God, but sometimes, it is the path that makes you realize – that control you thought you owned? Well, you never even purchased to begin with. He did, when he died on the cross. With this, you find yourself on your knees, in a low stance, that almost always raises you high – directly into new hope.
Something works, even when you feel everything about you doesn’t.
I wanted to be with God. I wanted to spend time with him – I had carved out this time for just that – so I climbed up onto his lap, imagining he was holding me.
I craved love.
Yet, as I rested in his arms, I realized something – something I had never had before: I was scared. Like a newborn, with arms flailing, my body tensed. I felt at-risk, vulnerable and, most of all, I felt like God might hurt me.
Where did this come from God? I never knew.
When you get before God,
he gets his truth before you.
And this is how it is. Nearly every time I make an effort to come before God – by waiting to hear, expecting his Word to work and being with him – I dig up some little flicker of gold that is transformational to my spiritual walk.
This time, it was this: If I believe God’s a God of injury, not ministry, my approach towards him will always be cautionary.
Like that game of “catch-me-when-I-fall,” if I don’t believe I can let go, fall back and be caught, I’ll never fall – fully surrendered. Instead, I’ll imagine my head being split open – every. single. time.
Internally, I will put on an imaginary helmet; I will:
– Overdo it
– Forget about him
– Get distracted
– Live anxious
So here I stand. Wanting to fix. Because that is what we do when things are broken – we fix. Right? I want to get out my screwdriver and adjust my loose bolts. Or get out the jackhammer and hit myself over the head with it a couple times. Or to recite a bible verse and get my mind straight. I want to rewire and redo myself until I FULLY. TRUST. GOD.
Yet, a voice of true inner-ministry rises; God’s voice:
Draw near to (me) and (I) will draw near to you. Ja. 4:8
There is a counselor inside us, the Holy Spirit, wanting to counsel. There is a God of love, who waits for us to receive his gift. There is a moment of joy that is ours if we wait for its arrival.
Like the UPS truck. If we look out for God, we will see him drive up.
If the gates are closed, we will miss him. If they are open, we will get the gift we’ve been looking for.
When he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come. (Jo. 16:3)
I want this. I want to be so held by God’s heart that my fleshly heartbeat fades under the resounding covering of his. I want to be able to let this love in; this holds risk.
I will be let down.
I will be fully seen and not accepted.
I will have to change.
I will be rejected by God.
Usually, we hold God back,
because at one time or another,
man held us back.
God’s love will never let us down. It looks not like that person who hurt you. It looks not like those feelings that destroyed you. It looks not conditional. Or dependent on performance. It is steady. It is perfect. It works. It heals. It renews. It changes you and me into the likeness of Jesus. It opens new doors. It heals relationships. It mends a broken heart. It cleans up old messes. It induces forgiveness that brings life. It creates wild momentum in your heart, neighborhood and even the world. It brings nations back together and brings Jesus to earth.
Let it in.
God, the truth is: Vulnerability feels vulnerable.
Openess feels open. Love feels risky.
You feel overwhelming.
Help me feel okay with the power of your power to change me. Help me trust you more. Help me be in your love. Help me feel your acceptance. Help me know you won’t leave me. Help me abide in you. Amen.
Today, it is my joy to welcome Tracey Rogers to Women’s Ministry Monday. Her words both uplift and remind my heart that there is safety in my struggle and hope in my longings. Thank you, Tracey.
I got lost in the wilderness.
I hadn’t planned to even go out there, but there I was right in the middle of unfamiliar territory. I did, however, know what was on the other side. THAT I knew, so I was confident on how to maneuver myself through the uncomfortable deserted land.
But I got lost.
No, not literally. The deepest I have been in any kind of wilderness is a color-coded, well-worn hike through many Tennessee State Parks; hardly a place for loss.
No, my wilderness was God’s doing. Leading me out of my comfort and leading me into a place of uncertainty and trial and pressure and temptation.
The wilderness is not an unusual place for God’s people.
He often leads them into the wilderness.
Moses was called by God from the burning bush while Moses was in the wilderness.
Elijah receives encouragement from God while spending 40 days in the wilderness.
The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness –
unlearning the pagan influence from Egypt and becoming a people of God.
They found their identity in the wilderness.
Even Jesus, Himself spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted before beginning His earthly ministry.
David, too has a season in the wilderness.
David was anointed king of Israel as a young man, and through a series of God-ordained coincidences he found himself in service of the present king of Israel, Saul. I imagine David saw the path to kingship. He imagined that he would learn from Saul; be mentored by this present king so he could one day step into the role that was destined for him. Although David knew the way the story would end, with him being king, I think the process ended up being very different than he expected. Saul began to see David as a threat and David was forced to run for his life. Where did he run?
To the wilderness.
The wilderness is a place ripe for God to shape and grow David into the king He called him to be.
1 Samuel 21-31 record David’s time in the wilderness. I don’t think this turned out to be the way he expected God to grow him into a king, but that is exactly what God did. In thewilderness, David went from shepherd to leader.
David learned how to handle opposition.
David was met with challenges, yet followed God.
The wilderness was where David found shelter in caves, yet knew the shadow of God’s wings.
It was where David found rest beside still waters and found his soul restored.
And David, had tests and temptations, but resisted them and proved worthy of the call.
The wilderness isn’t just for God’s people in the Bible. He is still calling His own into the wilderness today, and that is where I found myself.
But I carved the path. Wondering, how can I get out. How will God actually work things out?
Real surrender is not the act of acknowledging hard times,
but of letting God walk you through them, altogether.
What path do you follow? Is it providing refuge?
“Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,
For my soul takes refuge in You;
And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge
Until destruction passes by.
I will cry to God Most High,
To God who accomplishes all things for me.
He will send from heaven and save me;
He reproaches him who tramples upon me. Selah.
God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.” Ps. 57:1-3
And so I remained in the wilderness, but no longer felt lost. I found comfort and I think that is exactly what He had in mind.
Tracey Rogers is a gifted Bible teacher who brings passion and enthusiasm to the life-giving Word of God. Tracey speaks with authority and authenticity leaving her listeners wanting to spend more time with God in His Word and inspiring them to live lives that shine His light. Tracey has also taken her revealing teaching lessons and unique insights and put them in her new book, Life Lessons from the Book of Job.
She lives in Franklin, Tennessee with her husband of almost 19 years, Kevin, along with their children Preston, 15; John John, 13; and Josie, 10. In addition to serving on the adult groups staff at Church of the City, she has been incorporating her love of scripture by teaching Christ-centered yoga for 4 1/2 years.
Uber scares me. I rode on it one time and I convinced myself I was about to be trafficked and brought to South America on first sight of the car. I was wrong. He was nice; I got where I needed to go. The next time, things took a different turn.
It was desolate and dark. I stood on the curb heart beating out of my chest, pondering whether to hide behind the nearby bush. I’d watch UBER wait for me, then see him drive away. Perfect! I could go inside to safety. I didn’t. I am glad, boy, am I glad, I didn’t.
“I am a Pre-K teacher,” the driver said, “You know, kids say all types of things.”
I nodded and continued, “One kid said to his misbehavin’ friends, ‘Aww…you’re in trouble…I am going to tell Jesus on you.’”
Little did she know – I know that kid.
He lives in me. He talks the same:
“You’re being insecure. I’m telling Jesus on you…”
“You’re not spending enough time with God. I’m telling Jesus on you…”
“You’re not acting nice to the family. I’m telling Jesus on you…”
When we believe Jesus is out to get us,
we have a hard time believing Jesus is out to love us.
“…You are trouble in Jesus now! He’ll never bless you, help you, want you, lead you or provide for you now, you little delinquent.”
God more resembles a punisher than a lover.
Does Jesus ever feel more like a high school principal than the Prince of Peace?
People avoid principals! They take the opposite route, to avoid them. They fear his office. They know retaliation is prevalent. They fear him in a way where they forgo wanting to be near him. They keep safe distance. I do. I don’t want to get hurt, shunned.
Is this you?
7 Ways to tell if you’re Distancing yourself from God:
1. You fear God’s mean face before you think of his abounding grace.
2. You fear admitting wrong because you believe God’s compassion can’t be that strong.
3. You feel if you accept God’s good gifts, you will owe him something.
4. You think you are unworthy of forgiveness.
5. You are certain who you are and how you act, disqualifies you.
6. You work really hard to be loved.
7. You feel great when you’re great and a heathen when you’re horrible.
5 Truths that Move God from Authoritarian to Author of Peace
Remember, for children of God, God’s grace more than meets the strength of mess-ups. There’s no ounce that can stand under the power of the cross. “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (Ro. 5:20)
God’s love requires nothing from you, but gives everything to you. When you receive and then receive some more, suddenly you start to believe God is good, truly good. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
Meditate on the idea… If Jesus died for us while man treated him like the scum of the earth, if he received whips and lashes on the account of our sin, if he died a slow an agonizing death and won – won’t he continue to forgive you today? God demonstrates…love…: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Ro. 5:8)
Say, “I am sorry. Forgive me God.” It will restore you every time. The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. (Ps. 103:8)
Believe this: God isn’t a rule-master, but a Master who knows his love, law and liberty will set us free. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mt. 11:30)
There is no punisher hoping to hurt you. The complete sum of Love pursues you.
Will you let him in?
God doesn’t love you dependent on good actions. He doesn’t disqualify you based on your wrongs. He won’t outcast you because you look different. He sees past your personal convictions of guilty. He released you 2000 years ago – when Jesus paid for it all.
My story of marriage shattered and with it my childlike dream of love. But like Job, I found hope. My summertime musings turned into truth the day I invited God to take my simple dreams and make them into His beautiful reality. The key to dreaming is accepting God as the keeper and developer of the dreams.
I opened my heart and looked for Jesus in my life. I asked Him “why” questions over and over, and found my answers in Him. In the process, my dreaming didn’t stop, and in the reworking our patient God taught me this…
We nurture dreams when we feed them with hope, purpose and trust.
What begins as a fleeting thought can easily blossom into hope for the future. What looks good on paper may turn into a career that lasts for thirty years. What is broken can be made whole again.
Dreams are the visions we imagine and release to God to mold, shape and grow. When we let go, God creates amazing beauty. He makes all things beautiful!
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. Psalm 147:8-9
Many people in the church complimented me on my strength. Little did they know that behind the strong façade I was a wreck. I kept smiling. Sometimes I said that I was tired, but nothing more.
I failed three out of six courses. The Lord was gracious. I was able to get a note from counseling center which allowed me to drop off those courses. There was no fail on my transcript. I couldn’t continue the program. I dropped out.
At the time, it looked like a defeat. I left my dream of becoming an environmental specialist behind. I was not going back to finish the program. How could I when I wasn’t able to pass even the smallest lab reports. Our God is so wise. Sometimes, when the road was not meant for us, He will let us to walk until we are crushed and can’t continue down that way.
With Him are wisdom and might; to Him belong counsel and understanding Job 12:13 NASB
My dream was buried under the rubble of personal and emotional problems. I became more focused on the Lord. I became more involved with my church. My heart became settled. Read more.
Sleep has always been a thorn in my side. I am a night owl who is required to rise early, and while I meet my responsibilities that require me to rise early, falling asleep is never easy. It doesn’t matter if I go to bed early, drink tea, take sleep aids, or try relaxation techniques. Those methods help to some degree, but they aren’t enough to lull me into a relaxing full night’s sleep.
I lie there tossing and turning, counting down the hours until I will have to get up. I begin to worry not only about what I may have forgotten, but also about whether I will get enough sleep. My mind races to figure out how to ensure that I have the energy I believe will be required to accomplish what I have planned for the next day.
Anxiety takes over because I pressure myself to perfectly manipulate circumstances that are beyond my control.
Then God reminds me that I am following Him, not the other way around. Read More.
Newsflash! God doesn’t give us a certain amount of faith and hope we use it for the correct issues. He gives us faith and grace for each moment, as we need it!
Despite these truths, at times it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this. But this shows how little I know of God in comparison to how much there is to know of Him!
Honesty moment? It’s a tiny, little, teeny bit similar to how little I know about sports in relation to how much there is to know. (I mean let’s be real – I had to ask what sport the Blackhawks play. By the way, it’s hockey.)
I need to choose to understand that when God says He cares about me it includes the little things. Even things like college, jobs, internships, and friends (and learning how to make dinner without demolishing the kitchen!). He’s present in all those places, not just when I’m experiencing dramatic life change. Read more.
How Do You Break Free from Anxiety and Overcome Settling in Life?
A year ago, God asked me to do something ridiculous. He asked me to share my story; to write. He asked me to be honest, to unmask and let others know I struggled. When I struggled with anxiety, I felt shame because Christians aren’t supposed to worry. We aren’t supposed to be hopeless and feel desperate, and we aren’t supposed to quit.
Panic keeps you paused and passive.
God didn’t want me to remain muted and overlooked. He wanted me to be courageous and confident.
Me, the girl who likes to blend into the background?
Honestly, I still feel awkward.
I’m still afraid.
When you’re used to hiding, it’s hard to have confidence. I’m vowing to unmask and not withdraw this time.
“God, how can this be? The doctors said the mastectomy was necessary. I’d never dreamed I’d lose that. But I hoped after reconstruction I’d look normal.” With tears streaming down my cheeks, I stared at the pale hospital wall. “I’m only 34!” Now it had failed. What I anticipated rectifying the effects of cancer on my body, on my appearance, on me, had failed. Now the only option left was for me to gain thirty pounds and have a procedure requiring six months recovery.
I knew I’d never opt for it. I had three daughters ages 11,7, and two. I’d already lost two years with my family, stolen by cancer, no way I’d voluntarily surrender more.
“God,” I cried, shaking and sobbing alone in my hospital room, “I know You’ll redeem this. I just can’t imagine how.” I stared ahead, trying to comprehend it all. “But You will find a way somehow, some way; You’ll use this for good.”
“You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Man may judge by appearance, but I judge by the heart,” Scripture burned in my brain. “Your heart is beautiful,” His voice whispered into a mind struggling to comprehend such a concept.
I sobbed all afternoon, praying, “God help me fully trust You.” Read More.
Strength in Fragility: How To See Beyond Our Weaknesses
“God is pressing upon this season to see things from a new perspective. To recognize that although I may be fragile, who I am able to Trust in is not.”
God’s love never wanes, His strength never wavers, His comforting never ceases, and His guidance is resolute. Frailty becomes gift worthy when the weakness allows us the freedom to be our true self. This in turn allows the wonderful truths about our Lord and Savior to shine into our glass facade.
Our Lord invites us to embrace the insecurities within us and see them as stepping stones to greatness. He encourages us to believe his love is an oasis for our weakened spirit where we are able to sip his living water, revitalizing our soul and providing strength for the journey.” Read more.
10. Kim Fredrickson Author, “Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend” Twitter: @kimfredrickson
Having a terminal illness with no cure is rough to say the least. Despite such devastating news and the way my life has changed, I’ve been blessed by God’s support and the love and encouragement of family and friends. There are still blessings and things to be grateful for if you look for them.
Self-compassion (S-C) has helped me get through these tough times. When I was diagnosed with cancer, and then PF, I decided to be a good friend to myself. S-C helps me be kind and caring to myself in the ways I talk to myself, take care of myself, encourage myself, and accept the volumes of prayer and support my friends and family offer. I am committed to not turn on myself or abandon myself during these difficult times. God has not, and will not abandon me.
I know He has a purpose for PF in my life, and in the lives of others. I honestly wish I didn’t have to go through cancer or pulmonary fibrosis. I wish I would have a miraculous healing. I know God doesn’t waste any pain or hardships as I submit to Him and allow Him to use what has happened in my life for His purposes…
I googled Luke’s condition, marking the last time I’d experience peace for the next sixteen months. Hopes and dreams for my boy collapsed one by one with each account I read. When I wasn’t cluster feeding my infant, I was reading of botched surgeries and broken lives. I wasn’t sleeping and soon slipped into a dark place. Instead of enjoying my infant, our last, I found myself distancing myself from him. It hurt to love him. I’d lie him back in his crib as soon as I was done nursing him, simultaneously feeling guilty for not savoring those precious moments and knowing that lingering over him only caused more tears.
On one particularly bad night I reached out to a few of my Christian girlfriends. I was wracked with anxiety and depression and knew I could no longer do this on my own. I told them everything, Luke’s condition, my fears, our indecision, how utterly hopeless I felt. It was hard to press “Send” but also strangely freeing when I did. There is power in bringing the darkness into the light. And I was tapping into it.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46
From an Outfit of Foolishness to Duds of Discernment
I felt God near me, and the morsels of His Word were enjoyable. I had been trying to read my Bible on a regular basis. I applied the plan to read the chapter from Proverbs that corresponds with the calendar day of the month since it has 31 chapters. It helped me begin the habit of spending time regularly feeding my spirit.
Then one day I started seeing a disturbing pattern. I wasn’t quite sure, so I skimmed for confirmation. Yep. It was there.
I saw myself accurately described in the verses I read. It was staring at me from the black text printed on the thin white paper of my Bible:
I. am. a. fool.
It was one of those moments when you get to the bathroom after sitting at the restaurant table with your friends, and you look in the mirror and discover what everyone else had probably already seen. Read more.
Recently I read that many of the craftsman and artisans who built the great European cathedrals didn’t live to see them completed. They never knew the satisfaction of seeing it all come together.
The craftsmen were more than skilled laborers performing a job in exchange for a livelihood. They viewed their work as service, even worship, to God. Many of them intentionally hid some of their best work within walls, fully intending it for HIM alone.
They weren’t afraid their work wouldn’t be seen; they knew the one who truly matters did see it. He sees. The Gospels remind me that he knows if a sparrow falls. The psalmist declares:
“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.” (Psalm 56:8, The Message)
The challenge is clear. How can I move from feeling invisible to doing everything with the intention of being invisible?
I needed to know that I was enough. To know that others liked me and would include me. Unfortunately, it left me looking for acceptance among people, which will always leave us wanting for more. We can never please everyone and most won’t love us unconditionally.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10
I’ve always been sensitive to being left out or left behind. I’ve had my feelings hurt unnecessarily at times when I’ve made assumptions about not being included. It’s been a process of years to heal from those wounds and slowly learn about my Father’s love and my worth in his eyes.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
I was spending time with God. All was good in the land of faith and love until some little neuron fired off and decided it was high time I look beyond my online devotional.
“Kelly, did any babysitters apply to your job listing?” I asked myself.
I clicked away. No one applied, I clicked back. My devotional time continued…God loves me, he wants me, he rejoices over me…Should I research search engine optimization for my blog?”
Your distraction is why you only feel a fraction close to God.
Convicted, I clicked back. Yet, again I started reading my First 15 devotional, “You are not a failure in his eyes. He is wholeheartedly glad you are his. He longs to fill you with the knowledge of his gladness today. He longs to give you a revelation of how deeply in love with you he is. The Creator and Sustainer of all rejoices over you as his creation. You are not a mistake. You were made intentionally because your God longed to have relationship with you. I should write a blog post in response to this before I entirely forget what I want to say.”
Distracted, again, I closed the half-read devotional, click some clicks and start producing.
When we pull away from God, we never give His life a chance to soak into ours.
God must wonder where we go when we do this. We stand with him face-to-face, only to become like those people, the ones who look left and right trying to search for something or someone better. There’s nothing better.
Faith-Restorer #1: Say, “I am sorry God. I am sorry I get distracted.”
This morning, when my daughter woke, the first things she did was run into my arms. All she wanted was to nestle in. There was no other question, motive or move. It was me, only me. It was her, only her, knowing she was cared for.
When we get quiet to hear from God, his whispers recharge us.
When we get deep with God, he deeply moves us.
When we set down our plans, he speaks his.
When we rest with no other motives, he directs ours.
Being with God is pushing aside commotion,
to sit in compassion.
Eyes set, mind steadied and ready to receive, I returned to the devotional.
“God doesn’t see me as a failure.” He forgives me. “He is wholeheartedly glad I am his.” He wants me every moment. “He longs to fill me with gladness.” His ongoing growth far exceeds my momentary progress. “I am not a mistake.” I don’t have to live my life proving and posturing to make myself believe it.
When I sit still with God, He fills.
When I let go of my to-do’s, he pursues.
When I get quiet, fear is quieted.
Faith Restorer #2: Sit in the center of God’s truth and you’ll be held strong in it.
I wiggle back in my seat, to get more, to dive deeper. God speaks:
“…He will quiet you by his love…” (Zeph. 3:17)
What is an ADD spirit – is quieted by God’s love. This love calms energized nerves, spare-thoughts and unruly temperments – to smooth waters of peace.
Love is the hunt we are always chasing, and yet,
it waits, patiently, for our return.
Faith Restorer #3: Let in God’s love, versus running from it.
Fall face first into it, knowing it will catch you in grace, restore you in peace and strengthen you in the mighty hands of an Almighty God.
Faith Restorer #4: Respond to God’s transformation.
Christ’s love often gives us first-sight of liberty. This can feel overwhelming, strong or scary. But, what gives comfort is knowing that the work is not yours, it’s God’s. What he calls you to, he will equip you through. What he has for you, is good for you. What he began, he will complete.
You need not fear it and rush away.
You need not worry you will fail and give up your fight.
You need not wonder about others.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
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