I feel convicted. It is easy to read God’s word and to say, “Yep, that thing right there is what I need to do…”. Yet it is quite another thing to do it. It is easy to develop a three-step plan for improvement, but it is hard to see it through. It is easy to remind yourself of all the ways you really need to change. And then to never find change.
At home, as a mom, I’ve recognized 3 things that need to change:
1. I give in to my children when they ask repeatedly for something.
2. I desperately avoid paths of resistance to keep everyone happy.
3. I have a hard time setting boundaries because I feel guilty.
Friends, I guess I feel a little angry at myself that I haven’t changed these things already. That I haven’t recognized them and reworked them. That I still struggle. That I cause issues at home sometimes. That I can’t stand it when people feel unhappy or angry at me.
I know I am wrong; I am a pushover. I am disappointed in myself.
Maybe you feel like me; disappointed in how you are, what you are doing or where you are today. Maybe you’ve told yourself you’re going to stop cussing, start praying or you’re 100% going to speak nicely now. Or that you’re going to get yourself to where you want to go.
Are we justified to feel this way? To “get our self where we want to go”? To “work up” some sort of inner-heart conversion?
Only God can change a heart.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36: 26-27)
– God gives us a new heart.
– By his work, he removes the stone.
– The Spirit, in us, moves us to follow God’s decrees and laws.
Only by a work of God can we work-out any real and lasting life change.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Ps. 127:1
So where does this leave us? In prayer and with faith.
God will complete the good work He has begun in us. (Phil. 1:6) We no longer need to be angry at ourselves but 100% trustworthy in the Saviors saving work, that is at work within us.
It’s an easy thing to forget, I know. We forget things that we are inside of often. For instance, how often do we think, “I am in the system,” or “I am inside the state of ___.”
We rarely consider where we are – although we should. Because when you realize positionally where you are, it situationally reframes the world around you.
What needs reframing in your life? Are you aggravated at a boss? Discouraged at your lack of initiative? So busy you can’t even consider God? Demoralized by the words of people around you? Unsure about the direction you should head? Feeling depressed or powerless to change your circumstances.
Remember where you are. Realize positionally that you are in God’s love to change situationally – everything.
When you are inside God’s love, you realize you are: H.I.S. You dwell on the fact you are H.I.S.
1. Hidden in Christ.
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3)
If you accepted Christ, in Him (inside all His glory, power, honor, might, strength, wisdom) your life is now hidden. You don’t have to fear the future, because you can trust in His providence to change everything.
2. Invincible in Battle.
“Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty; the LORD, invincible in battle.” (Ps. 24:8 NLT)
If you are in Christ, hidden in Him, then – because of Him – you actually become invincible in battle. This is powerful. The King of Glory can go where He wants, in a way that is invincible to the enemy of your life. Take a moment to receive this truth in your mind. Don’t gloss over this point.
3. Secured as you trust.
“Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you.” (Phil. 2:1 GNT)
In Christ, you are strong. In Christ, love comforts you. In Christ, you get everything you need to face whatever mountain stands against you.
You will not be wavered, but full of Christ. You will not be taken down, but covered in his love. You will not give up, but stand firm.
Friends, you are H.I.S. Put your trust in Him. Dwell on these three points. Situationally, you’ll find things radically change. Keep hope and find yourself, in Him.
Feelings can be frightening, overwhelming a heart to the point of desperation and misery. Or prisons, entrapping one to past experiences, traumas or memories. Often they become future proclamations, declaring over us, “What was, always will be. You’ll never escape this emotion.” Feelings, on the other hand, can be amazing, liberating and soul-rejuvenating. Just think of the best day of your life!
What do we do with them?
Up, down and all around – they move like the wind. Like a hurricane or an underground rocking that shakes the foundation of who you are. I get all this. I know how anger has made me act, in days of old. I remember getting all up into my sisters face. And the feelings of self-annoyance I perpetually lived with. The depression that made me feel like there was no good way out of life.
Feelings can be fun, or no fun. They can be old and then haunt us again.
Yet, just because they show up on our doorstep doesn’t mean we have to answer the door so they stay forever. We are not obligated to say, “Come on in and make yourself at home.”
I fear some of you have done this. Sadly, now old feelings are cramping your good style. They’ve spread out all over the space of your soul, heart and mind, stealing your attention on God, negating God’s good plan for your life and telling you that there’s no way you can be enough.
People ask me what to do with “feelings”?
Well, I think when we see them at our doorstep, we peep out the side window and first acknowledge them. We allow them and we even bring them to God. There he is again, “Mr. Disappointment” I see him there, trying to get in. God, what do you think about this? What does your word say about hanging out with this emotion for too long?
Then, with wisdom, we decide whether or not they can sit in our house for long periods of time.
We can do this by asking ourselves a few questions:
1. Are these feelings going to cause me to dwell on what is “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy” or lesser things? (Phil. 4:8) Are they leading me to life or death?
2. Are they reinforcing God’s truth or are they backed by lies?
Example: If God says he is “for us”, we would not be wise to dwell in hopelessness that believes, “God is not for me.”
3. Are they helping me to love God (and others) with all my heart or do they cause me to pull away from this?
If we’re called to do all things in love, anything contending against it should be heart-checked.
Friends, we don’t have to declare our initial feelings as “bad”, ignore them or hate ourselves for them. However, we do need to see them for what they are, quickly, and make moves to let Godly-facts take precedence over wavering-feelings.
Why? Because sadness soon turns into isolation. Rejection soon turns into depression. Anger soon turns into a division. Loneliness soon turns a bottle. You get the picture.
Don’t make a long-term resident of a feeling that should only be seen as a passing-by door-to-door salesman. Yep, Kelly sees you there wanting to sell a whole bunch of stuff, but God’s got a better word than you. She’s listening to truth, over feelings. And letting that be her guide…
So much has hit me in just a few years. Leaks, a flooded house, relational problems, health issues, a hurricane… It all keeps on coming. It seems like just as one friend overcomes something, another gets cancer. Just as someone needs prayer, I get hit by a huge personal life-problem. Grr… a rain cloud has set in over my house. And an enemy is on the loose. #It’sABattle
The enemy comes to steal God’s truth, kill good intentions and destroy what God loves, without apology. He’s relentless. He stops at no one, and nothing. He salivates at the thought of biting. He doesn’t care if we’re on our last leg. #IamTired
With all this darkness, I keep focusing on the darkness. Does the same ever happen to you? #Battle
Do you keep re-hashing problem situations?
Do you agonize over what could have been?
Do you fret because you wish there was another way?
Do you play out all the different options in your head?
Darkness breeds darkness. Attention given to darkness steals our attention from the light.
God says we’ve been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. (Col. 1:13)
There is wisdom in asking ourself, “Are we dwelling on light or on the dark?”.
Battle Ready Tactic #103 (aka. light versus darkness):
Darkness never brings light. To reach the light, you have to venture past darkness.
The How-Tos of this Tactic- Get out of the dark: Think of God. Think of His attributes. Think of His Word. Think of His ways. Give thanks. This moves us from dungeon-dwelling to light-bright living. It illuminates the desires, will and ways of God. It moves us out of the place of stuck-ness, to God’s better thing.
You can start to put this into action by dwelling on these six verses:
“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (John 4:4)
Translation: Christ in you trumps the enemy warfare around you.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
Translation: The devil runs from those submitted to godliness.
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” (Luke 10:19)
Translation: Tread on the enemy, because God has given us power to do so. Nothing will injure you. Actively tread, so you don’t feel tread.
“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” (1 John 5:18)
Translation: As you shed your sinning, God effectively keeps the enemy from doing the harming.
“The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life.” (Ps. 121:7)
Translation: The God who sees you, keeps you.
“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thess. 3:3)
Translation: Part of God’s faithfulness is his protection from the evil one’s attacks in your life.
Do you feel a shift?
Friend, no matter how it looks, you are not in the dark. The enemy hasn’t snuffed out your light. Your situation is not too much of a fright for God. Your days aren’t numbered and doomed. Nope. God has a purpose and plan for your life. He has wisdom and unsearchable things to teach you. He has light He wants to shed on some of your most difficult situations.
About Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt & Live Victoriously
“The best time to be strengthened against the Enemy’s tactics of doubt, disappointment, and devastation is before he makes his first move toward us. We all desperately need the biblical guidance and preparation found in Battle Ready!”
Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries
Battle Readyis a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelve easy-to-implement, confidence-building mind-sets designed to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life. You’ll gain practical wisdom, like how to
· make new habits stick in just five steps
· disarm the seven most common attacks that plague women
· exchange self-limiting thoughts for purpose-driven, love-releasing thoughts
· implement thirty-second mind-lifters that deliver peace
· create boundaries so you live life full of what matters
Unfortunately, I usually default to the bad outlook. Somehow I figure if I focus on what is wrong, I can fix it. Or, if I see what is not right, I’ll have a better handle on it. Or, if I know every detail of the problem, I can lay out a plan. I also like sympathy from people. Emotionally, when I feel hurt, I want someone to make it better. Or, I want someone to really grasp my pain.
After a bit these actions cause issues. On-loading problems onto people almost always off-puts them. There’s a threshold people allow. They may walk away, roll their eyes, tell you to get over it or not call you back. You really have to be careful about going “too far”, I’ve found. But more important than this is – we don’t need sympathy from man, what we really need is empathy and love from God. He is the only thing who will ever fill us up.
So, how do we find this?
Psalm 57 has some interesting answers.
David complains, “I’m surrounded by fierce lions…” (Ps. 57:4)
Shortly thereafter he says, “Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.” (Ps. 57:5)
David whines, “My enemies have set a trap for me…” (Ps. 57:6)
Shortly thereafter he says, “My heart is confident in you, O God.” (Ps. 58:7)
In the place of “not so good at all” thoughts, David gets back to “good”, quickly. His mouth runs ahead of his mind for a second. Then, he catches up to “good” with God’s truth.
We can do the same. Even if we think “not so good” thoughts, we can catch right back up to goodness, by immediately changing course, just like David. We can dwell on thoughts of:
“I will waken the dawn with my song.” (Ps. 57:8)
“I will look to you (God) for protection.” (Ps. 57:1)
“…God who will fulfill His purposes for me.” (Ps. 57:2)
“He (God) will send help from heaven to save me.” (Ps. 57:3)
5. Passion for God
“My heart is confident in you, O God.” (Ps. 57:7)
David didn’t always think perfectly, but he returned to the Perfect One, quickly and readily. We can do the same. We won’t ever be perfect, but above us, around us and for us – is the Perfect One who has all our answers. He answers when we call. Not only this, He sympathizes with our pains, holding our every tear in a bottle (Ps. 56:8).
My son is at a new school.
He’s still getting used to making friends.
He’s not on the basketball court during recess.
He’s a little shy.
He’s pretty small for his age.
I’m quite sure he’s desperately wanting to be liked, approved and wanted.
We all are.
At his school relay race I hoisted him on my back. As I did, the little guy bent down towards my ear and said, “Mommy, run as hard as you can.” Something took over me. I was going to do this run for him. I’d carry him so well, so proud, so fast – he could finally have a moment to feel proud.
And I did just that. At “Go!” I exploded. Fast. Focused. Almost wild-like.
A mom told me, “Kelly, you ran so fast. I was a little worried, but you made it.”
The reality is: I wanted to redeem my son’s story. I wanted to give him a moment to be proud of. I wanted him to understand his mommy would always carry him.
God does the same for us.
We aren’t struggling alone. We aren’t stuck in some environment where no one sees us.
“When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.” Ps. 138:3 NIV
Almighty God has a mighty eye on us.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Ps. 32:8
All-knowing God understands what we’re going through.
“This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chron. 20:15 NIV
All-powerful God is working on our behalf even when we don’t think he is.
“Do not be afraid of them; the LORD your God himself will fight for you.” Deut. 3:22 NIV
All-loving God would do anything to see our breakthrough.
“Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” Ps. 144:1 NIV
Already-two-steps-ahead Father has a good plan in motion.
“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.” Is. 45:2 NIV
Altruistic Daddy would carry us, knight-in-shining-armor style out of any predicament.
“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zech. 4:6 NIV
Always, we are not alone, not left behind, not destroyed, not ruined, not the laughing stock, not forgotten, not ignored, not destroyed, not crushed, not left to rot. Always, we are helped, loved, carried and guided.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 15:57 NIV
Oh yes. I thank God for this today. What about you?
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This (suffering, pain death) shall never happen to you!” (Lu. 16:22)
Jesus replies to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Mt. 16:23)
What is a stumbling block?
It is anyone or anything that tries to stumble you as you move on God’s road. Like Peter, people may have good intentions. Their words may even be comfortable, harmless, or normal, but if they’re stumbling you, they’re worth investigating.
Stumbling blocks often make us say, “Wait, was I really meant for all this? Will God really pull through for me? Is He really that good? Is his Word really true?”
When I consider stumbling block words, they tend to: question God’s plan, doubt his ability to show up, discourage what He is imprinting on a heart.
They speak fear instead of life and doubt instead of faith.
Will God really…? How is that possible…? Are you sure you want to…?
Wise people receive wise words from others.
But like Jesus, we are wise to rebuke voices contrary to the clear moves of God happening in our heart. Indeed, Satan often uses people to do his worst handiwork.
However, we can recognize his schemes. They tend to deter us from…
God’s clear call for our life
Loving people as God is calling us to
Here, we can:
Rebuke the enemy within our mind, and ask God to give us fresh courage to see things through.
Forgive others if their words hurt us.
Pray and ask God what he wants us to learn through this situation.
Just because someone said something, doesn’t mean we have to own it. And just because we don’t own something, doesn’t mean we ignore what others have said. Perhaps they have a good point. Wisdom knows to sift it through God’s Word and prayer before deciding to accept or reject it.
I worked really hard to get up the hill. Pumping, huffing, standing, sitting, then standing again, I. Was. Going. To. Make. It. To. The. Top.
Nothing would stop me and my bike.
It’s often easy to get on a mission. We want to get somewhere and when we’re really committed, we see it through.
I made it to the top. Then came the decline.
Victory. As I glided down, I kept on peddling hard. Why?
No, really. . . why?
Why did I feed the need to peddle when it was a time to glide?
God says there is a time for everything:
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ec. 3:1KJV
There is a season to pump our legs hard; there is a season to glide; there is a season to cry; there is a season to rest; there is a season to give; there is a season to take.
Peaceful living, I am determining, has much to do with knowing the season God has placed you in. You don’t want to be laughing in the midst of your spouse’s grieving.
As I went down the hill, it was representative of a season: to glide. To let go of worries. To trust God with all the stuff I normally do. To hear his voice calling me to ministry outside of the internet. To wonder and awe at him doing really special things alone with me.
To step away from life, demands, blog requirements, and doing stuff as usual, because it’s not God’s heart for today…(noticing is half the battle).
Letting go is the other half. It’s recognizing that our current season doesn’t have to look like our last. In fact, I have to tell you, it shouldn’t. This is my opinion, however. It is my belief that when we push a round peg into a square hole, frustration feels as ever present as a hangnail.
But to move with the grace of God. . . this is like windsurfing in the direction of God’s move. You go with him. You let go of what you think things should be. You enjoy the wind on your face. You feel the moment. You come alive in what he is doing.
What season is God calling you into? What if instead of despising it, you decided to embrace it?
Prayer: God, in your presence there is fullness of joy. Keep me in your presence and peace. Keep me going in the direction you desire for me, and nowhere else. Let me go not according to what I think I should do, but according to what your heart is for me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Do you know what it is to stand up for your faith?
It’s like standing up for the kid getting taken advantage of on the playground, except the kid is you.
It’s like standing up in the court of law to speak justice, because you know it’s what needs to be done.
It’s like standing up at a sports game and cheering wildly because you have love for a team.
It’s like standing up full of sin, like the woman who committed adultery, and allowing Jesus to forgive you.
It’s like standing up against all the chatter of opposition to telling it to shut up and sit down.
It’s like standing up and putting your hands on your hips and saying, “That’s not what God says, so no way.”
It’s like standing up and speaking out God’s truths over the ample lies that surround you on the daily basis.
It’s like standing up and fighting, through prayer, for a sister going through a killer-of-a-hard time.
It’s like standing up and saying, “No, I will not lay down.”
It’s standing on the solid rock of Christ.
It’s knowing that that very rock is unmovable, unbreakable and unwavering.
It’s deciding in your heart that since Jesus was strong enough to bust out of the grave, He will be able to take you right out of your dark circumstances to move you into His light. This is standing strong.
Where do you need to stand strong?
Certainly, there is a time for mourning, crying and wrestling. There is a time. But then comes a day to say, “It is my day to bust out of this tomb of self-pity and dejection and to move into God’s light. It is time for me to stand up and say no more. No more will I be tossed like a boat of doubt, or on the waves of nauseousness or by the words of mankind. No more will I listen to the opinions of old replay or the questions of the enemy circulate. No more. Today is my standing up day. May standing up and moving out day.”
In what way do you need to stand?
“He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:4
Jesus had every right to count man’s offenses, bad words, religious spirits, hurting words, whips and mockings. He could have dwelt in that tomb of despair for a long, long time. He could have said, “Forget them, they did me wrong.” He could have let death come over us. But Jesus didn’t.
He stood up to the power of hell taking aim to bring the kingdom of God down. He stood. He stood up to take his seat at the right hand of God.
“When the Lord Jesus finished speaking to them, he was taken up into heaven. He sat down at the right hand of God.” Mark 16:19
God calls us to stand today. He calls us, today, to rise into his heavenly perspective. One that does not count the offenses of man, the injuries of yesterday, the tears we can’t move past, the people we can’t reckon with, the memories we can’t distance, the worries we can’t alleviate… certainly, all that is there. God knows it. We know it.
There it is. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen it every day, for a long, long time. But what if we chose to stand up and walk past it?
The choice is ours.
We can either give in to the weights of the world, or we can rise up and give it to the God who holds the weight of the world in His hands?
We can trust the resurrection life, Jesus. He is resurrection. In all ways. All the time. With all power.
It’s funny. On Facebook, I surveyed a lady going through tremendous pain. She’s struggling through extreme turbulence in her marriage, likely difficulties within her family and heart-stopping health issues. Yet, I thought, “She’s tough in the Lord. She’ll make it through the other side. No problem. She’ll come out stronger in the end.”
When I looked at her, I wasn’t worried. I had great confidence she’d make it out fine. God would bring her through. I knew grace covers her.
But then I looked at me. I didn’t feel as sure. I didn’t feel like God would bring me through stronger. Why?
Why am I not as sure for my trials as I am for hers?
The truth is, we often are so inside ourselves, we fail to see the rock solid truth from God’s outside-in perspective. We fail to see Him above us, grace around us and hope working through us. We neglect remembering the cross that erases bad behaviors, bad days and bad errors.
Inside us, it’s easy to forget: It is not us that makes us strong, but Him.
In heated moments, He pours out strength.
In the face of yet another battle with that person, He is our shield.
In the worst of our replies, He is restoring forgiveness.
In our anger, He is soothing consolation.
In our lack of vision, He is 20/20 fiber-optic sight.
We see trials and tremors; He sees triumph secured — on our behalf.
So the truth is, we WILL come out the other side stronger. Period. Exclamation point. By his grace.
Not because we are great, but because He is. Because He is mighty to save, our shield in every battle, our hope in every offense, our love that beats out injury and hope that quells rebellious thoughts.
Jesus is restoration and renewal, always.
His grace gives me hope. It welcomes me to stop trying to fix myself in order to live well, but to let His all-powerful love do the healing. And this feels like freedom…freedom that is my refuge, strength and stronghold of my life. Salvation for eternity, but also for today.
Thank you, Jesus. I am strong and I will come out the other side of all this, stronger.