Have you hurt someone, but can’t seem to apologize?
Is there an argument you feel completely entitled to uphold?
Does anger overwhelm you?
Do you have the feeling your assumptions were completely off base?
Are you ashamed of what you’ve done?
Sometimes, I internally know I am 100% wrong, but externally cannot admit the truth. It’s like my heart knows what it needs to do, but my mouth can’t speak.
It feels like everyone might hate me or turn away. It feels like I might be the bad egg that falls down the chute. Bye-bye…Kelly….!
Ever been there?
Perhaps, you’re trying to maintain a good status at work, or defending an issue you know you need to change your mind on or coming down on hard on one specific person because you always have. Maybe you do this. . . all to the detriment of truth.
But, it is the truth that sets us free. (Jo. 8:32)
John Piper boils this vicious cycle down to one issue. He puts it like this:
“Pride is the enemy inside us that speaks to us like a friend. Its counsel sounds so much like self-protection, preservation, and promotion we are often blinded to the fact that it’s destroying us and others. It rises in great indignation as a prosecuting attorney when others’ pride damages us, but it minimizes, qualifies, excuses, rationalizes and blame-shifts our behavior when we damage others. We can easily be deceived into believing that our pride wants to save us, when really, it’s our internal Judas betraying us with a kiss.” – John Piper, DesiringGod.com
What if rather than being tethered to insular pride, we were released to outpouring love? What freedom might God have for us?
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.
Everyday, I know I should at least fit a walk into my schedule. I should get my shoes on and move beyond the boundaries of my complacency, so I don’t:
– lose strength
– waste away
– gain unintended weight
– make my heart unhealthy
We all think about our physical health, at least sometimes. We take vitamins, make vegetables, drink water, take the stairs. Even if we aren’t so good at it, we normally think about it, or how to improve it. We know it is important to our vitality.
But how often do we consider our spiritual health? Our spiritual fitness?
So we don’t:
– lose strength in the Lord
– waste away, only to find ourselves one with the world
– gain unintended weight, or baggage, we are not meant to carry
– find our our heart unhealthy
Today, let’s stop for a moment and consider why our strength and fitness in the Lord is so important.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” 1 Cor. 9:26-27 MSG
We want to be spiritually fit. But what does that mean?
I believe it means we:
Are led by the Spirit and not the flesh.
In the Spirit, we are strong. But if we’re driven by our own efforts, we quickly learn — we’re weak.
Follow Christ’s life, truth and ways.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:11
Be fishers of men.
When God calls us to cast our nets into risk, and we do, he often encourages our hearts to keep doing it. Here, we learn to be risk-takers instead of home-dwellers.
Fellowship with God, constantly.
In Christ, we come out of our weakness, stress and fears to find ourselves equipped and empowered by his grace.
Have a readiness to go.
The more we get our running shoes on, the easier it gets to move out the door.
Stand firm in our identity.
When we know who we are, it doesn’t work so well when the enemy tries to tell us we are someone else.
When sin drops off of us through confession, we become more and more alive. We’re aware of the God who lives in us and all the promises he has for us. Rather than getting caught up in our shame, we become enamored with His name, Jesus.
Today, may you and I choose to walk in spiritual fitness.
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.
I wanted to write the girl a message of encouragement, but felt… embarrassment.
It wasn’t that I did anything horrifically wrong in the past. I handled our interactions the way I believed God wanted me to. But I didn’t know if she thought I did so well. There were some tensions. This bothered me. Greatly.
I hate tension.
So, I kept testing the waters. I sent her little messages, trying to gauge her emotions as it pertained to me.
I didn’t get much back. Blank messages. Which irritated and inflamed my injuries even more.
The idea that she didn’t like me made me imagine her spreading the word to everyone that I was:
It made my heart twist, tie and snap almost like raw rope.
They all hate me, miscategorize me and misunderstand me.
Perhaps I unfriend them first. I must push all them away.
Have people hurt you in this same way? Misunderstanding your motives? Misconstruing your efforts? Ruining relationships?
My friends, what strikes me today is: Jesus.
Jesus was offended. Jesus was misunderstood. Jesus was miscatagorized. Jesus was taken to trial, when he wasn’t guilty. Jesus was hurt, when he didn’t do anything wrong.
Jesus knows these feelings. He also knows the depths of our heart. He knows the cry of our pain. He knows our little schemes to make things right. And most importantly, I believe He knows…
There is a time to speak.
A time for space.
A time for prayer.
A time for grace.
A time for (Add yours here)
And, ALWAYS a time to love, unconditionally, without strings attached.
What is God calling you to?
In order to accomplish #5, we often have to lean on God to see which specific response (see: #1-5), He is calling us to. Sometimes, the best way to love someone who is against you is to just pray for her. Sometimes, the best way to breakthrough is to see life through their eyes. Sometimes, the best way to reconcile is giving space so God can heal their heart. Sometimes, the best way to love is to just let things go and trust God to be faithful to defend you, restore you, renew you and reestablish what was lost, over time.
But never is there a time to let fear be our driver. Fear steals what God is working out in faith. We cannot permit this. It moves us from free-to-love to chained-by-fear. It keeps us endlessly worried rather than expectantly wondering what our Almighty God will do next. Fear always is a failing mission.
Never should we do in fear what God welcomes us to do with unfailing love.
What no-strings-attached love is God calling you to unleash today?
Remember Bam Bam? He was the prehistoric cartoon baby who walked around with a bat.
Well, I feel like mean Bam Bam is chasing after me out of nowhere. He’s trying to make me go starry-eyed, hitting me over the head with questions.
What I you’re not really good enough for God? Bam.
What if you do things wrong and you eternally offend God? Bam.
What if you don’t save yourself from your problems and end up unwanted? Bam.
Bam Bam attacks. How is He attacking you? Make no mistake, although he may be sneaky, Bam Bam is our enemy. He is. He chases our heels with questions of what if.
What if God doesn’t really love you?
What if you really did mess up your kids forever?
What if you can’t ever change?
What if that person never changes?
What if you lose your house, your family, your dreams, your salvation?
We have to stand up to Bam Bam. It is the only way. We have to speak back at Him and chase him in the other direction with evil-repelling truth: God’s promises that make him run scared.
“His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Ps. 91:4
If you have a personal Bam Bam, talk back. Fight back with promises, such as:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Eph. 2:8
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 Jo. 4:18
“So then, it does not depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Ro. 9:16
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out.” –Jesus, Jo. 6:37
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned…” Jo. 3:17
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Jo. 10:28
Take whatever is fighting against you and be like Jesus when he was tempted in the wilderness. (see Mark 4:1-11) Fight back with truth. Done. Period. Adios Bam Bam. We’re not listening to you anymore!
Recently some good friends of ours had a prayer, a very important prayer, go unanswered. Well, perhaps it was answered in a way that they have yet to see. Now, in this moment, it feels unanswered. They feel as though they were not heard. They are left to grieve.
Folks offer their opinions.
“It wasn’t God’s will…”
“He has something else in mind…”
“There’s a lesson here…”
As I sat with my friend over tepid, half drunk cups of English Breakfast, I listened to her lament her devastation. Not just loss, but the loss and the unanswered pleas for help to her Father in Heaven.
“Good Father?” She is left to wonder.
The conundrum of the unanswered prayer is the mystery of why we stay Believers. Why stay in love with a mysterious Higher Power who sometimes fails to use that power to dig us out… to save?
Furthermore, surely there is a human explanation? A method to the madness, a reason for this season where it seemed like such a simple request? A request that would have increased faith, instead of shattering it. Still, I sat. I listened to my friend. Her voice cracked with grief, heartbreak shattered her disputes.
She had been faithful.
She did not know how to regain what she had lost in the midst of the catastrophe – in this season of unanswered prayer.
This is the dark space. This is the place where we want to offer encouragement, but often our words seem empty, and even we, who still believe, do not understand.
Let Jesus be Jesus.
This is a new mantra of mine. For so long I have wanted someone to be able to explain Jesus to me. The last shall be first, the first shall be last. Take out your eye, cut off your hand, go and sin no more. We could go round and round. But honestly, sometimes the best answer is simply, “I just don’t know.”
Is this when the greatest wisdom is the wisdom that comes from Him fully revealing Himself as good?
I know who I think I know Him to be.
I know Him. I love Him. But I can’t make you know Him or understand Him through my simple explanations. Nor, can I fully explain the depth of Him, although I often feel protective and I feel I must defend Him.
Well, yes maybe. Maybe when a prayer goes unanswered we are just as desperate to explain the “why not” to comfort ourselves too?
And this is where especially as a wordsmith who set out to write about unanswered prayer, the challenge erupts.
A place of quiet and wait. A gap, a searching – a longing for answers that can only come in waves of revelation from the One who died so that we might live and experience a peace that surpasses all understanding.
Jesus be Jesus… show up, and be Jesus.
Show up and show us how to make sense out of the senseless. Show up and be Jesus, because no one else will do.
The best answer.
The hardest belief.
The easiest yes.
I don’t know why some prayers are not answered. I refuse to try and reveal something about Him – for my explanation would fall short. But the Word promises if we ask… if we seek, if we knock… and I still believe.
The way, the Truth, and the Life.
Is there any possibility He won’t reveal Himself?
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
A boat is what you float around in so you don’t get wet. It is what takes you safely from one place to another. It is what feels comfortable. It is the go-to way to get where you want to go when you’re not on land. It is what brings you to where you want to go by your own driving efforts.
It’s an easy way. A man-driven way. Walking on water is a hard way. It requires God.
What would it look like to get out of your boat? To give God a chance to do the miraculous? To answer Jesus’ call to, “Come,” by putting yourself out there in ways that look risky?
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (Mt. 14:28-29)
Notice, before you can ever walk on water, you have to get out of your boat. You have to get out of your boat, despite the high waves, the strong winds and the boat that’s tossing to-and-fro.
You have to do what Peter did and say, “So what? God is bigger than this stuff around me.”
What is your boat? Is it reactionary tactics that keep your heart safe from people who may hurt you? Is it manipulative words? Is it compulsive tendencies? Is it rote prayers? Is it going to church on Sunday but staying far from God on the weekdays? Is it a heart shut down to your husband?
We all have our boats. Mine is the fear I’ll go the wrong way and somehow not do right by God.
So what? Even if I fear I might not do right by Him, does that mean I stop writing? Or, do I get out of my boat and trust he will, “rescue those who love me and protect those who trust in my name.” (Ps. 91:14) Indeed, I don’t shut down. I hop out da’ boat. I write and trust Him to take care of my soul.
To hop off the boat is powerful. Because it makes us see Jesus right before us. It puts us in a place of reliance, where all our soul needs — is Him. He is our only hope. I believe this type of walk is beautiful to God. It removes the waste on the left and the right and teaches our mind to need Him, Jesus.
How is God calling you, right now, to hop out of your boat and to need Him? Do it. It just might turn into the greatest miracle of your life.
Catastrophe hit my family, and while I can’t go into the details here, I can assure you it shredded my heart. It scared me silly and caused me to release tirades on people I love. I am not as good as you think I am. Nor am I as good as I thought I was. I’m a whole lot worse.
Yet, through this there’s a hidden blessing: I see how much I need Jesus. His light. Because apart from Him, my thoughts are dark.
Getting to this thought is freedom.
Jesus came “to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” (Jo. 9:39)
Apart from the nature of Jesus (love, kindness, goodness, truth, nobility, purity, loveliness, excellence, wisdom, humility or gratefulness) all I see is darkness. Worthlessness. Vanity. Diversions. Fear. Voids. Schemes. Faking. Swirling tornadoes of emotions that lead to an inward focus, plus a generalized sense God won’t come through.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” Mt. 6:22
The choice is ours. . .
Light or dark?
Dark or light?
Reliant on the Living Water?
Departing from Him?
All Jesus, all the time?
Or me, myself, and I, all the time?
While our world hates calling things one way or another and we tend to desire shades of safety, sometimes one-way-or-the-other choices are exactly what God ordered.
What will you choose to be:
Or on fire?
All things hope, all things faith, all the time…not done with perfection, but certainly done from a heart of dedication?
What if we were to choose to see faith, hope and love activated by the grace of God, as we. . .
Pick our kids up from school.
Respond to annoying people.
Grab the bills from the mailbox.
Go to that doctor’s appointment.
Contemplate our yeses and nos.
Let go of our defenses.
Seek His guidance.
Deal with unanswered prayers.
Confront our emotions.
Go to sleep.
What if we chose to really believe?
“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses.” Heb. 11:1 AMP