REVIVAL

Life happened…and continues to happen.  I always thought when I truly surrendered my life to Christ that Jesus would always be #1 in my life.  I wouldn’t allow life to get in the way and detour me from my calling until Satan started to use the very blessings that God gave me over this last year to bring Jesus down to #2. 

This last 2 years have been the best years of my life.  I met my now husband on Eharmony and quickly fell in love.  After waiting for several years for the right man to come along, God blessed me with my husband today.  Since then, we have married and are soon expecting our first child.  We have also found our dream home and moved.  It’s been a whirlwind of blessings from God and I couldn’t be happier, or could I be?

Over the last couple of months I have slowly started to feel an emptiness inside me; a void that I haven’t felt in quite some time and I couldn’t quite pinpoint it, until today.  At first I thought it was just me being sick from my first trimester of pregnancy, but it wasn’t.  I have been so consumed with being happy and so full of joy that I forgot to have a real relationship with Christ.  Relationships take effort and I was not putting in my effort at all.  I got wrapped up in trying to be a good wife, working full-time and continuing my relationships outside my marriage all while forgetting the one thing that I needed to have 1st on my list.  I still praised and thanked God for every blessing, went to church, and even went to bible study, but I was just going through the motions because my real priority and desire in my life was my husband and maintaining a household.  Well at least trying to maintain a household, still working on that one…

It was easy maintaining God as my #1 priority when I was single, but it was much harder when I got married and tried to find that balance.  Life happened to me in the best way possible, and I let my relationship with Jesus fall through the cracks.  For the first time in a long time I sat down and did my devotionals and dove into the word.  There is where I found my heart to be filled to the top erasing the feeling of emptiness that I was starting to have.  It goes to show that you can have everything you want in this life and can still be empty when you don’t have Jesus.

As I sit here writing this my heart is genuine with praise and thanks to Jesus for continuing to be there even when I said thank you for the blessings and then left Him behind.  So as I start to ask myself and Jesus what he wants to call me to next, I hear Him whispering in my ear a verse that I have always loved. 

Be Still and know that I am God. – Psalms 46:10

It’s time for me to get back on my schedule of making Jesus # 1, spending time in the word daily, and praying fervently.  It’s time for me to do a 180 degree turn towards Christ and ask him to REVIVE my heart.  It’s time for a revival and I can’t wait for God to lead me and you in the right direction.

How are you doing today?  It’s the beginning of 2017 and everyone has their goals that they are trying to reach.  Are you trying to fill the void with things of this world, or are you trying to fill it with Jesus?  It’s not just time for a revival in my heart, but a REVIVAL in everyone’s hearts.  Let’s pray for God to return a burning desire in our hearts to follow Him and for our relationship with Him to grow deeper.  My word for 2017 is REVIVAL.  What is yours?

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? – Psalm 85:6

Courtney Kacer

Courtney.Kacer@women180.org

Forgive(ness)

Forgive(ness)

Can I just be totally honest with you here?  I have written and re-written this blog probably 3 times. I even had a complete draft done that just needed to be spell checked and proofed and when I came back to my computer, it was gone.   At this point I questioned whether or not I should even attempt this subject.  Then our very own Courtney Kacer reminded me that this was surely Satan trying to stop me.  So here I am, writing this again, praying for some peace with this draft and hopefully finalizing something that can be posted. 

Lord, I pray for Your guidance in this series that I cannot shake to write.  I pray for Your wisdom and peace as You lead me in this writing.  Amen.

Forgive(ness).  Is this hard for anyone else besides me?  When I first became a Christian I put this on the backburner for quite some time. 

The Webster Dictionary simply defines this as

“to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) ; to stop blaming (someone) ; to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong) ; to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed).”

Sounds simple enough right? 

Shortly after I truly started following Christ my church had a women’s treat. I had no idea what I was walking into, but was excited to have a “mini vacation”.  I expected some bible reading, speakers who would speak about God, and maybe even meet some other women who were in the same set of mind as me.  I had no idea that God would reveal himself to me in a way that changed my life forever. 

I had an opportunity to speak with one of the speakers.  Her name was Sue.  I had never met her, but she had been going to our church for a long time and was highly respected. When she came to my table and asked if she could sit with me I immediately got nervous.  I couldn’t understand why this women – who had just spoke to all these women – wanted to sit with me.  I know now that God totally ordained that whole situation.  She immediately asked me if I understood what it meant to forgive others.  I was taken aback for sure.  Who was this lady?  And how dare she ask such a personal question? My quick response to her was “yes – of course”, hoping she’d go away and I could continue my mini vacation.  Seeing that my bible was on the table she asked me to look up Matthew 6:14-15 and read it out loud. 

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Matthew 6:14-15

As we picked apart this verse I asked so many questions.  The more she answered, the more questions I had.  The more I understood one thing the more I got convicted about another.  We sat at that table for almost 3 hours – talking, crying, and laughing. It was at this table I truly understood what it meant to forgive and to be forgiven. My take away from this conversation was who had I not forgiven that would prevent me from being forgiven?  Thus began this journey I was on for some time.  It has been almost 10 years since this retreat and to be honest, I’m still on this journey of forgive(ness). 

I found out later, because Sue and I became very close friends, that God nudged her big time to speak to me all weekend.  She said she fought it because after she spoke she was exhausted and truly wanted to rest, but God wouldn’t let it go.  I’m thankful she was obedient and came to sit with me. 

So here I am – about to share a piece of myself about forgiving others and being forgiven.  I pray you join me as we venture into why this is so important to God and why it should be so important to us.

I leave you with this last thought before I sign off this week. 

“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves.  Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.” – Letters of C.S. Lewis (19 April 1951), p. 230

Until next time my friends, Be Blessed – INDEED!!

Debbie L. Wayns

Arm Yourself: Equipping Ourselves with the Armor of God

My dear sweet sister in Christ, Michelle Moore wrote a book to help equip ourselves with the Armor of God.  Once I opened the book I couldn’t put it down.  Michelle takes experiences in her life and intertwines it with the lessons we need to learn to fully equip ourselves for battle.  The battle of spiritual warfare.  Some of you may know exactly what I am talking about, and some of you may experience this every day but not know exactly what to call it.

Spiritual warfare is so prevalent in today’s society.  As the world spirals downward into pure darkness, the bright shining lights that have a heart for God become the ones for Satan to bring down.  Satan attacks us left and right, trying to throw us off our game, trying to destroy the good we are trying to do for God’s kingdom.  We need to arm ourselves with the best armor we can so that we may continue to live a life that glorifies God.

Michelle goes on to talk about the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the helmet of salvation, the shoes of peace, the breastplate of Righteousness, the sword of the Spirit, the robe of love, and the power of prayer.  One of her most important pieces of truth is learning who we are in Christ.  We can’t apply these pieces of armor unless we know that we have the authority to use them. 

Michelle states, “No one can take any of our pieces of armor without our permission first.  So let’s resolve from this day forward that no one will take from us our true identity, which is found in Christ.”

The best part of reading this book was reminding myself that as a child of God, I have power in the name of Jesus.  I think we often forget that.  We get so busy in our day to day lives that when a slew of things go wrong, we chop it up to just having a bad day.  We need to be in close fellowship with Christ everyday so that we can draw near to Him and live on His strength.  This book reminded me of the different pieces of armor we can put on.

Arm yourself is a great reminder for women like me who have been a Christian for a while, but it is extremely valuable to readers who may have just accepted Christ into their lives, or maybe you are seeking the truth of Christ and haven’t quite committed yet.  There is a war going on for our souls, and the longer we stay in the dark to who we really are, the easier it is going to be for Satan to win.

Satan can’t keep knocking us down if we know how to put our armor on.  I highly recommend this book and hope that when you are looking for your next book to read, you think of Arm Yourself:  Equipping Ourselves with the Armor of God by Michelle Moore.

Please check out Michelle’s website.  The book is available on Amazon.  Click the links below.

http://www.michellemoore.org/

http://www.amazon.com/Arm-Yourself-Equipping-Ourselves-Armor/dp/1490848878

 

About the Author:

“Wife. Mother. Blogger. Author. Worship Leader. Bible study leader. These are just a few of the many hats I put on every day. If you were to take a closer look you would see hats I put on that I have had to hand over to God through the years…Depressed, insecure, hopeless, anxious, fearful, angry, heartbroken, wounded, ashamed.

Praise God He is a miracle maker, prince of peace, counselor, redeemer, healer, and He fought for me! Now I can say with confidence I am restored, set free, victorious, loved, chosen, set apart, a true daughter of the king!

God has inspired me to inspire you. I want every woman to know there is freedom and healing in the awesome power of Jesus! My book, Arm Yourself, starts off with my personal testimony and the struggle I’ve had with depression and anxiety. I go on to explore how the study of the armor of God saved my life and in each chapter I explore what each piece of armor is, how to use it and what it protects. I want women to not just learn to cope, but to learn how to arm yourself!

BroomTree International

Women180 likes to highlight certain Christian organizations that are doing unbelievable work in God’s Kingdom.  This month we would like to highlight an organization that is moving mountains to bring God’s truth and word to the “unreached” population.  

Who are the unreached? An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance. Can you imagine living in the darkness of extreme, war, poverty and brokenness WITHOUT a flickering light of hope in your surroundings? Never having heard of Jesus- His grace, hope, joy and redemption? Maybe you intimately know or have known this darkness.  Can you remember how your life changed when your senses experienced God’s light?

One of the greatest commandments Jesus made to his disciples, was to“Go, and make disciples of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:10)  Literally, “GO.” 

That can be intimidating for most of us. For centuries brave missionaries have shed their comfortable lives to go live among the unreached across the globe. We’ve entered an era where reaching these groups has gotten easier and easier, yet nearly 3,000 people groups (about 2.8 billion people) still live in this spiritual darkness. Why is this? Despite grand efforts from the global Christian church:

  • 99.7% of missional resources are directed toward where the church ALREADY IS.
  • only .3% goes where the church IS NOT. *

BroomTree International is a ministry that is bridging the gap from simply “giving” to faithful servant missionaries, to “investing” in His faithful servants of the African church who have the culture, proximity and understanding to reach the unreached in places we cannot go. 

“Our process is to Gather, Explore, and Facilitate both ministry and strategic partners who work together to fulfill the Great Commission.  Working together will multiply talents that make greater impact in reaching unreached people groups of the world today.” – BroomTree International

BroomTree’s mission statement is simple.  Serve faithful servants who make disciples for Jesus Christ.  They assist by directing resources for short term needs that advance long term strategies. They work together to make disciples through His church who advance His kingdom on earth to glorify His name.  

It’s not just about sending people over for a few weeks to help out where needed.  It is about equipping indigenous churches with the knowledge of God and the tools and resources to then go out and make more disciples. To bear fruit that REMAINS and transform communities to walk daily in the word.

Ladies, our main purpose in life is to bring people to Christ and grow not only our relationships, but to help others grow as well, yet I sometimes feel that we stay in our own little bubble.  We often don’t think about how we can help those in faraway lands, but we can ALWAYS help.

You may be thinking how can I help? There are a couple different ways.  The number one way to help reach the “unreached” is by fervent prayer.  We may not be able to travel around the world, but we can pray for God to open up the hearts of the people who don’t know Him.  We can also pray for the people who are on the ground, traveling to dangerous places.  We can pray to give them strength, wisdom, courage, and the resources to be able to do God’s work where we cannot.

Secondly, we can help by donating to organizations like BroomTree so that they can help equip the African Church with the tools needed to spread God’s word and change lives. We may not be called to do missions in the sense of traveling to unknown lands, but we are ALL called to be missionaries in spreading the Gospel.  There are so many ways to do that- and BroomTree is demonstrating how we can really focus on discipleship as a tool to transform lives.  Please take time to pray for BroomTree International and to pray on whether or not God is calling you to donate to help spread God’s great news.

Please take a look at BroomTree’s home page to learn how they are assisting local African church networks employ a disciple-making strategy. They started in Kenya in 2012. This year they have local servants traveling into South and North Sudan, Egypt, Chad and Uganda to train other churches in this strategy that will empower an entire continent to GO and make disciples of ALL the Nations.

“We are within range of penetrating every dark place on the planet with the light of the Gospel more than ever before in history. We pray that you will join with us.” - BroomTree

http://www.broomtree.net/

 

Courtney Smith

Women180.org

Courtney.Smith@women180.org

 

 

 

 

*(for more definitions and statistics visit http://www.thetravelingteam.org/stats/ or www.joshuaproject.net)   

A Beautiful Mess

I was sitting out on my parents patio with my legs out on the table and my laptop on my lap ready to write.  I have been trying to write my full story down in a book, but have been having writers block the last month or so.  Realizing that it is the hardest chapter I needed to write, it's no wonder I was struggling.  Having to go back into your past and re-live my drug days and coming to grips with all of the mistakes that I have made in past is hard enough, but to then be writing it down is even more of a daunting task.  I realized that Satan was trying to validate my fears of my story not being good enough, my writing not being captivating enough, and me really not wanting people to know the details of my past actions.  What would they think?  The feelings of embarrassment, shame, and guilt all came flooding back, but I remembered a verse in Romans.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

God opened my eyes to the fact that He already forgave me and He is the one that wants me to put my story on paper.  If my story can help just one person than it is worth me putting myself out there.  Then it got me to thinking of how many of us constantly put ourselves down or feel inadequate with what we are doing in life?  With what we think God is calling us to do?  That little voice that tells you, you are not good enough...you are not the right size...you need to lose 30 pounds...you need to do more with your kids...you are a bad friend...you need to do better...blah blah blah right?!

It is important to realize that we are all broken in some way, shape, or form and that improvement in the areas that God convicts us in is warranted.  But it is also important for us to realize that we are not perfect and we will make mistakes probably more than once if you are like me.   We will obsess about issues that are not that important, but in the midst of all of our brokenness and chaotic lives, that we are beautiful in God's eyes, and that He loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend.  God has His arms wide open for us waiting for us to run to Him every second of every day.  We may be a mess, but we are His beautiful mess and that gives me so much comfort.  It doesn't matter what I did in the past, it matters how I live my life today and knowing that God loves me even in my brokenness helps me get through each trial and tribulation just a little bit easier.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 

Psalm 34:18

I don't know where you are in your lives right now, but I pray that you will take these five words and say them with the joy that God has filled our hearts with and believe that we are beautiful even in all of our brokenness and that we matter.  That you matter.  You are important.  And you are loved.

I am a Beautiful Mess!  I am a Beautiful Mess!  I am a Beautiful Mess!

I pray for all of you out there right now that are feeling down, that God lifts your spirits and fills you with the knowledge of who you are through His eyes and not your own, and not the eyes of the world today, but our Heavenly Father's eyes.  I pray that you feel His love pouring through you.

 

 

Spider Web

There are 12 women sitting around a nicely decorated table sharing stories and our answers to our bible study Children of the Day by Beth Moore.  One minute we were intently listening to a friend who was answering, and the next minute it was complete chaos.  One lady jumps up and starts screaming and dancing in circles and starts taking off her sweater.  The chair goes flying as our fearless leader jumps as well, not really understanding what is going on, runs to the opposite end of the room and plasters herself against the wall with her eyes open wider than I thought humanly possible.  The rest of us laughing hysterically and wondering what was going on all at the same time.  A spider… a spider had lowered himself down and landed somewhere on our friend.  As she saw the spider approaching she jumped up and swung the spider away, but apparently no one knows where.  The spider had disappeared…

By this time I am laughing so hard tears are strolling down my face and the scene continues to play itself over and over in my mind.  After about 10 minutes of the group laughing, we start to settle down, but the thoughts keep lurching in the back of our friends' minds about where the spider was.  Our leader kept itching herself as she thought the spider was hiding somewhere on her as well, and this is how it went for the rest of the meeting.

One thing came to mind.  It can take one small event or thought that starts the downward spiral of our thinking and therefore our actions.  Just as a spider can take hold and start spinning his web trying to snatch his prey, Satan can try and take our thoughts that will lead us down a path of destruction that results in us separating ourselves from God.  So what do we do?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5

If you have crazy thought patterns like me you know that our thoughts can go all over the place.  One second you are sitting on a bench at the beach enjoying the sunshine, and the next minute you start thinking it might be earthquake weather, which leads into an earthquake centered in the middle of the ocean, which then triggers a tsunami that is coming your way, and then you are thinking you need to run to high ground, oh but you should probably help people, so maybe you should run down to the beach to help others who can’t move so quickly.  I know crazy right?!  But that is sometimes how our brain works, and Satan will try and expose that portion of us and try to bring us down.  So we must be aware of our surroundings, and our thoughts, and take those thoughts captive and give them to the Lord.

I know for myself I am constantly giving my thoughts to the Lord because if they stay in my head who knows what destruction will come.   Believing lies of different truths can also cause destruction with your thoughts.  There are so many different lies, but one of the lies that comes to mind for us women is who our identity is in this world versus who we are in Christ.  We so often believe the lies of this world, such as our identity is based on our sexuality.  We see so many different commercials and actions today that tell women that they should be a size 2, and they should wear revealing clothes, and they should be the perfect model.  That leads our thoughts to destroy our identity and make us insecure, when we should be realizing that it doesn’t matter what size we are, what clothes we wear, or how we have our hair or makeup.  It matters that we are a child of God and that God loves us unconditionally and that we are secure in him.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

Colossians 2:8

So let’s figure out which spider web we are caught up in and start to be aware of our thoughts and giving them to the Lord.  Let’s stay in the word and build our relationship with Christ even stronger with our obedience and live out a faith filled life!

Cravings

I woke up in the middle of the night, rolled over and checked my phone to see what time it was.  It was 1:00 in the morning.  The first thought that went through my head was oh good, I get to sleep for 4 more hours, but the very next thought in my head craved chocolate and a nice cold Pepsi to wash it down.  What?!  It’s 1:00 in the morning and I’m not only craving food, but craving nothing but pure sugar.  I wish I could tell you that I went back to sleep, but in my half-awake – half asleep state of mind, I got myself out of bed and walked myself over to the fridge, grabbed some Pepsi, and continued to the cupboard where I had a Reeses heart from Valentine’s Day.    The distressing part?  I know this isn’t the first time.  My  sister experienced this with me just a few months ago.  We were both watching TV and I had fallen asleep.  I woke up during a commercial and stated out loud, I want some Oreos.  I proceeded to get up and walk into the kitchen to grab some cookies.  My sister was amazed and didn’t let me hear the end of it the next morning.  Does this sound familiar to anyone?  How about the excuse, like I have used for a long time, that I wasn’t really fully awake, or I must not have eaten enough at dinner.

I wish I could blame it on the hormones in my body, or maybe I really didn’t eat enough for dinner.  But the truth of the matter? it is my responsibility in how I react to different cravings.  If I have a hard time controlling them, then I should be praying to God for His strength to get me through it. 

The fact is I know how my body reacts to eating healthy. When I do, after a certain period of time I don't really crave the sugar.  So when I look at the overall picture, the end result of giving into my cravings and temptations is  my own choice.  I have been choosing to eat unhealthy and worse…over-eating especially when I am feeling down or stressed.  Not good…

So, besides not treating my body as God’s temple,  I am not fully turning to God when my emotional state is…let’s just say…not up to par.  Double whammy!!

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I try to rationalize my eating habits as me just liking food.  I work out just so that I can enjoy eating, but I think there is a deeper problem here.  Yes, I enjoy food.  I would imagine about 99% of the population enjoys food, but I can’t keep stuffing my body with cheeseburger after cheeseburger and piles of junk food.  Yes, in moderation, but I need to start thinking of treating my body as a temple that carries the Holy Spirit and eating to glorify the Lord and not to take my feelings away.  

So today, I am going to take one day at a time and focus on the Lord. I am going to try to make those healthy decisions that will honor God with my body not only with food, but in every area. And when I am feeling upset, depressed, stressed, or full of anxiety, I am going to turn to God and not my cupboards.  And to limit my temptations, I am going to remove ALL of the unhealthy foods in my house.  If the sugar isn’t there, then I can’t have my weak moments...especially at 1:00 in the morning.

So I ask you, where are you with honoring God with your bodies?  Do you struggle with food like I do?  Maybe it’s not food, maybe it’s smoking, or drinking too much, or sexual impurity.  Whatever it is, let’s take that stronghold of weakness and turn it over to God in obedience...to honor and glorify him and not ourselves. And if we have trouble through our temptations, then we need to remember that God is right next to us holding our right hand.  What a comfort that is.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Isaiah 41:13

 

Stress Fracture

 

    I had trained for 3 months and the day was finally here.  Twenty thousand people gathered together to share both pain and glory.  Runners were all around me stretching, talking, and sharing the excitement.  It was competition time.  The race was about to begin.  I was excited to see how well I was going to do and I was going for a personal best.  In the back of my mind though, I remembered  that three weeks prior to the race I was going for a long run and I felt a pain on the outside of my left foot.  I didn’t want to push it so I stopped training all together until race day.  I was not in any pain today, so I thought whatever injury I had may have healed.  Think again.  About 3-4 miles into the race, my ankle started to hurt a little bit, but I pushed through.  There was no way I was going to stop now, not after all of this time and money spent training for the race.  I continued to push through.  I was in pain, but still running at my goal pace until mile 9.  Then...my body felt like it hit a wall.  My ankle was screaming at me and my legs and hips were crying and yelling at me to stop.  So being the smart woman I am, I decided to push through.  I know I know, my competitive side kicked in.  Just…4…more…miles.   You can do it...just breathe in and breathe out...ignore the pain...slow down...walk/jog until you make it.  You will be fine.  But I wasn’t fine.  My body was trying to tell me something, and I wasn’t listening.

    In the aftermath of my pain, I started thinking about being obedient to God.  How many times does he throw something in our way or pull something out from under us to get our attention?  But, our minds are so focused on what we want to do and what we think is right to do that we completely ignore the things that are going to be better for us in the future.  We sacrifice the very blessings that God wants to give us for the illusion of the blessings we think we are going to get if we do things our way.  We always want to be in control.  But if we are not careful, we can find ourselves in competition with God, thinking  that we know best. I don’t know about you, but for me...guilty as charged.  We start to put too much importance on things of this world creating a form of idolatry.  I was so focused on my race and finishing that I was not putting what was ultimately best for me as a priority - giving up the race and my finish line moment for my health.

Kyle Idleman says in Gods at War “God declines to sit atop an organizational flowchart.  He is the organization.  He is not interested in being president of the board.  He is the board.  And life doesn’t work until everyone else sitting around the table in the boardroom of your heart is fired.  He is God, and there are no other applicants for that position.  There are no partial gods, no honorary gods, no interim gods, no assistants to the regional gods.”

    This really caught my attention.  When we try to take control over situations we put ourselves in competition with God.  God is the Utmost High God and there will be no other gods before him.  There isn’t an organizational flowchart, yet we try to create one in our lives and I can tell you from my personal experience, he hasn’t always been at the top.  

“You shall have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:3

    So, listening to my own wants and desires during the race…I did finish. But, the outcome wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought it would be.  I ended up with a stress fracture and in great pain.  I am currently on crutches for a week and need to go back to the doctor next week.  My outcome was not worth the stress fracture.  Each time we choose our own path instead of God’s path we create a stress fracture, and if we are not careful, that stress fracture can turn into a full break that further separates us from God.  

     In reflection, how many stress fractures do you have in your life?  Are you currently trying to let them heal and turning back toward making God the #1 priority in your life, or are you continuing to put weight on the fracture?  Let’s each take a few moments to figure out where the stress fractures are in our life and make the choice to let them begin to heal.

Running in the Rain

run-in-the-rain.jpg

I had ten miles to run and I was dreading it, so I planned to run the full ten miles at the beach on a Sunday morning.  Little did I know that is was forecasted to rain.  My alarm goes off at 6 am and I hear a hard pitter patter on my window.  Oh no...it's raining.  That instant dread of having to run in the wet, cold rain.  My thoughts immediately went to maybe I should postpone it, but I knew I only had 3 weeks until the Surf City 1/2 Marathon and I couldn't get behind on my training.  So reluctantly I get up and I get dressed.  I get all my gear and I head to the beach.

I immediately was drenched from head to toe and wanting to run back inside where it was warm and I could curl up on the couch, but perseverance started to kick in.  It will only be miserable for a little while and then I can say that I did it.  Trying to keep my mind off of the cold and the wetness I started to talk to God about what He wanted me to write about next.  As I jumped over a puddle and then immediately ran to the right of another big puddle God spoke to me.  Temptations.  Yes that big ugly word.

When I was running I was constantly trying to dodge the big puddles because I didn't want my feet to get soaked.  Yes I know I was already wet, but there is that awful feeling you get when you run or jump into a puddle and everything becomes wet and cold.  That is what temptation is like for us ladies.  Satan throws it at us trying to block our way so we will run and jump right through it eventually making us feel guilty and miserable, but we try to dodge the temptations by running to the right or left of it and sometimes we try to jump right over it.  As I was running and trying to dodge these puddles, I accidentally ran right through a big, deep puddle that I didn't see.  It was masked by the unevenness of the pavement.  We try to run from these temptations, but sometimes we run right into temptations without even seeing it leaving us wet, cold, and miserable.  It also reminded me of the times where I wanted to give in to my temptations so much that I didn't care what the consequences were and I would jump right into that puddle making a big splash.  So how do we try to stay out of the puddles, warm and dry?

We stay in God's word on a daily basis and pray.  Ephesians 6:11 says Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.  The more we read the bible and study it the closer our relationship gets to God and the more we want to glorify Him every day.  We are not perfect by any means, but the closer we are to God the easier it is to fight the temptations that come our way.

Luke 22:46 says "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them.  "Get up and pray so that you may not fall into temptation.

Mark 14:38 says "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

It is just like my puddles.  At the beginning of my run I was awake and full of energy.  I was on watch veering off to the right and to the left of each puddle successfully avoiding the puddles, but as I got to miles 7 and 8, my legs started to get tired and instead of going out of my way exerting more energy I found myself running right through the puddles, and for the rest of my run my shoes and socks were soaked and cold.  I was not a happy camper.  My point is if we let ourselves get tired and drift away from God then we won't have the energy or the desire to fight off the temptations that Satan throws our way.  My pastor once said in a sermon that in order for you to notice a difference with your relationship with God you should be in the word at least 4 times a week.  So I am throwing this challenge out to myself and everyone reading this.  Let's stay in the word at least 4 times this week and schedule some quiet time with God.  Let's grow our relationship with Him and be blessed by it.

 

 


 

Fearing the Lord

IMG_0825.PNG

Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!

Psalm 112:1

My friends and I went skeet shooting today.  I have shot a few different shotguns, but I have never shot the M4 Benelli.  This was the second time it laid against the shot gun rack so enticingly beautiful and intimidating.  I have always wanted to shoot it, but fear would always win.  I finally decided to give it a shot.  As I walked up to the line my heart was beating out of my chest.  What if I looked stupid, or what if the kickback was too much for me to handle?  So many thoughts going through my mind.  Part of me wanted to take the easy way out and go back and exchange the M4 for a shotgun I was used to, but something told me to overcome my fear and push forward.  My hands were sweating and I could have thought that people could hear my heartbeat from the opposite side of the range. I loaded the gun I took up my stance and breathed out slowly.   I yelled pull and pulled the trigger missing the first bright orange skeet shooting out of the center of the trap shoot.  I looked up and although disappointed I missed, excited that I got through the first shot and my fear was gone.  I continued to try over and over again and finally after four shots I hit one.  Pure joy, I did it!!

As I was driving home and thinking over the day's events I felt God convicting me on my obedience to Him and Him asking me the question, why do you not fear me as you should?  I feared the M4, but do I lovingly fear God in the right way? I have to admit that there are certain things that God has been asking me to tweak in my life to be more Christ-like, but I keep brushing Him off because to be honest I just don't want to change those things quite yet.  I do not like change.  I haven't feared Him like I should, and by fear I don't mean that paralyzing fear of wanting to run away in the opposite direction.  I mean the respectable fear where I am afraid of disappointing Him.  The fear that wants me to be obedient to Him, to glorify Him.  

I was reading a prayer that Lysa TerKeurst put up today on her website www.LysaTerkeurst.com about praying for God to unsettle her.  She said this:

"Unearth that remnant of justification. Shake loose that pull toward compromise. Reveal that broken shard of secrecy. Expose that tendency to give up. Unsettle me in the best kind of way. For when I allow Your touch to reach the deepest parts of me — dark and dingy and hidden away too long — suddenly, a fresh wind of life twists and twirls and dances through my soul."

I want that to be my prayer today, tomorrow, and the days after that.  I want the Lord to give me that fear of Him so I long to be obedient to my Lord and Savior.  I want Him to unsettle me so that I strive to live for Him and not of this world.  I know it's going to be a hard road, but I want God to show me the behaviors that are stuck in the deepest parts of me that I need to get rid of.  

Not only do I want to work on the behaviors that I need to change, but I don't want to be intimidated anymore for things that I know God wants me to do.  Things that I feel are so beyond me, that I have no idea how to accomplish.  I want to trust Him to the point where I just answer "Yes Lord" without hesitation.

I hope that you will join me in prayer to live a God fearing life and to live with a bold faith.

Lord,

I ask that you unsettle me Lord.  Please show me the loving fear that you so deserve to have.  I pray that you will give me the strength and wisdom to have a bold faith of no hesitation when it comes to  living according to your will.  Thank you for the love, mercy, and grace that you have given to me.

In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

 

 

But...He Stole My Parking Spot

Many are the Plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.  

Proverbs 19:21

Christmas can be a very chaotic and busy time for all of us.  I was really excited for the month of December as I had recently resigned from my overwhelming job and was going to take a couple of months off to decompress and re-prioritize my life.  It was a couple of weeks before Christmas and the malls were packed.  I had just enjoyed a great lunch with a friend and I was going to enjoy doing some shopping.  As I was on walking to my car to drive to the mall I was on the phone with a friend giving her some advice on how to deal with a situation at work, telling her to do what she thought God would want her to do.  Was her actions going to shine God’s light and give him the glory?  Even though the situation may not be fair to us we as christians are responsible for how we respond to those situations.  Philip Yancey said in his book Vanishing Grace, “the issue is not whether I agree with someone but rather how I treat someone with whom I profoundly disagree.  We Christians are called to use the “weapons of grace,” which means treating even our opponents with love and respect.”

I hung up the phone and proceeded to drive over to the mall.  People were waiting for others to walk to their cars so they could take their parking spot.  I was patiently waiting for a parking spot and just as the people pulled out a truck zoomed around me and took it.  I was furious and proceeded to be not so nice to the person who just stole my spot through my windshield.  My heart was pounding.  I was so angry and I then sped off to go find another parking spot.  Ten minutes after I had just given advice to my friend on how we need to show God’s love, here I was screaming at this man who stole my spot.  I did not show God’s love in that moment, but God wanted to teach me a lesson.  

Out of all the stores in the mall this person ended up in the same store as me, and not only in the same store, but the same section of the store.  So I circled the store a few times and got all of the items that I needed except the toaster.  I needed a special toaster and he was still there.  I knew that if I went over into that section I would open up my mouth again and the things that would come out would still not be so pretty, so I decided I would just come back to the store another day.  I go to get in line and who do you think comes strolling in line right after me?  That’s right, the man who stole my parking spot.  Out of the six lines that were open he chose my line.  Why couldn’t he just leave me alone?  I eventually go to my car and start to make my way out of the parking lot and I keep replaying this whole situation through my head.  I knew I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did to him, but HE STOLE MY PARKING SPOT!!  As I am trying to rationalize my behavior and trying to make it ok, I am waiting to turn out of the parking lot, but there is a truck waiting for someone to let him in.  I get up closer and it’s the same man?!  At this point I am talking very loudly to God out loud in my car and asking Him the purpose of all of this, and I quietly hear Him whisper to me, show my love and grace to him as I have shown to you.  Ouch, that hurt.  My heart softened immediately and I waved him in.  He said thank you and we went our own way.

I had my own plan that day.  I wanted to enjoy the day shopping, and I wanted to remain angry and justified with how I dealt with the situation, but God wanted to teach me something.  He wanted to show me that I needed to treat people with the same grace that he has shown me.  So I got to thinking, how often do we not show the grace of God to others?  How often do we get inpatient with employees at stores and servers at restaurants?  Do we give attitude when we have to do something we don’t want to do or do we serve others with a gracious heart? I know I am guilty of not living a gracious life. I want to take this year and work on showing God’s grace and love through my actions.  Will you join me?  Let’s pour out God’s love and spread his good news through changing our hearts and attitudes as we go out into this world day in and day out.