Category Archives: Studying Scripture

“Come to His Table”- Theme 2018!

By | Be Brave Series, Bible, Missions, Personal, Studying Scripture, Suffering, Testimonies | No Comments

Remember the Alamo!” It was the statement that was shouted in the middle of the iconic battle in San Antonio, Texas. Those words gave a reason to fight. A focus-point when all around them was crumbling. Battle cries are important. They become fuel for the fight.

Every January (since 2014) God has given me a theme to live by. A mantra for the year. A focus-point for the next twelve months. Some of them I’ve loved…and most have stretched me beyond myself.

In 2014: Do Hard Things

In 2015: Reflect the Son

In 2016: God Writes my Story

In 2017: Be Brave

Each year has perfectly mirrored what might go through your head when you read the above statements. I did hard some things in 2014. I learned that it wasn’t all about me in 2015…that I was only to be mirroring Jesus. In 2016 I had to learn to surrender my life story to Him and that He would write it better (not easier, but BETTER) than me.

This past year was a game-changer for me. I literally emerged from the other side of 2017 a completely different gal than the one who started it. It was truly, my year to BE BRAVE. For the record, it seemed like everything I did in 2017 was out of my comfort zone. My friend once commented that last year was like being inside a violent clothes dryer. You get out feeling sore, disoriented and a little out of sorts. Sometimes God calls us to seasons of “being in a dryer” for His glory and our good.

Which brings me to the year 2018. Anybody else wincing? Signal the drumroll, please…because my new battle cry is about to debut!

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I have felt the finger of God on my heart for the year 2018. His heart for broken and needy people has suddenly come to life for me. It’s His will that none would perish. That all would gather at His table. I’ve seen hungry women. I’ve been desperate for His living water myself. Time and again. So it only made sense when I felt Him drop this year’s theme for me…

COME TO HIS TABLE.

Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift. (Revelation 22:17 HCSB)

Come to His table. This means a variety of things for me. The table is a place of bonding and discussion. It’s a place to be filled…both your stomach and your heart. Mentoring happens at the table. Homework questions are answered. Family conversation is plentiful. Even more so at the Table of the Lord.

Come to His Table.

First, coming myself to receive nourishment from Him. I cannot persuade others to come to His table if I haven’t been there myself. I’ve seen women (and men) who are so FILLED with Jesus that you feel like talking with them is touching the hem of His garment. You know what I mean? You KNOW that she/he has been at His Table. They have been fed by His Word. They have received freely of Him and His truth. Somehow, every conversation points you to His Table…because their life is inviting you to go there.

Next, I need to be running to the dark and dying world and bringing others to His table. If I’m being fed at His table, I will naturally want to share His saving nourishment with others. I want to be a woman who invites others to His Table.

Saving a seat for my neighbor. For the gal in the grocery check-out line. For the girls I lead home Bible study with. For the little people at church I have in the nursery. For the women I minister to in prison.

Come to His Table.

His Table means healing. His Table means wholeness. His Table means restoration and redemption. Thirst quenched. Hunger filled. Worry erased. Fear melted and replaced with FAITH. Perspectives are radically changed. At the table, weariness is replaced with strength…HIS strength. I don’t know about you, but His Table is where I want to be.

My battle cry for the year 2018? COME TO HIS TABLE!

You’re invited, friend. Come to His Table.

 

(This post was originally published on Faith’s blog Living Brave and Courageous on January 1st, 2018. PCM will be adopting the same theme this year: “Come to HIs Table”.)

A Book on Singleness?

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Hello friends! Wanted to share a little snippet of what’s been on my heart lately and ask YOU for your help. If you’re single and graduated…I need your questions and testimonies. If you’re married or still in school…would you pray for me? This is one of the most scary and exciting times in my life and I’d be grateful for your prayers on this journey.

Bench Talk

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“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22 (HCSB)

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Guest post by Charity Walker

I had already bought my things. I don’t drive yet, so I sat and waited on a bench near the checkout. I’m not really a talk-to-everybody kind of person so I put my head down “looking” in my bag (this shows my lack of knowledge…I bought that stuff, I should know what’s in it!). Out of the corner of my eye I see him. He’s in his seventies, hunched over his walker and slowly making his way over. I take my bag off the seat making room for him. It’s not that I wanted to, but I was always taught manners and respect for older people. He asked to sit, I nodded and smiled. His face was rough and lined with wrinkles. As he sat hunched and breathing hard, I saw it. It was on his face and in his eyes…loneliness. He started a conversion, telling me this and that…”oh, he’s lonely, no doubt”,  I thought as he chatted away. I thought about how this looked in the eyes of other people in the store. A picture of an old man and a fourteen year old sitting side by side on a bench startled me.  So I pushed myself and my timid ways away and engaged him in conversion. As I walked away I felt guilty…not for talking to him…but for NOT talking to all those people that are lonely and lost. It doesn’t HAVE to be a person in Wal-Mart…OR a homeless person, even though that’s a good thing. It could be that girl in school by herself in the corner…or an older person that’s struggling with their bags…or that little kid, swinging by themselves. These all have the same problem…God is waiting for YOU to make that out-of-the-box step. He wants you to be brave and help those people see Jesus through you. So to make this cool and exciting, I’m challenging you to do the “12 days of Christmas” challenge. Do Things that make other people feel the love of Jesus. And to help I’ve put together a list of ideas:

  • Make a Christmas card for an older person.
  • Buy coffee for a co-worker.
  • Make a point to write to your Aunt that you don’t see.
  • Ring bells for Salvation Army.
  • Work the soup kitchen this Christmas.
  • Comment on how wonderful someone’s kids are in the store.
  • Visit a nursing home. (Joyfully PLEASE!)
  • Ask a young mom to help with her kids sometime.
  • Sweep and mop a room your mom hates to do.
  • Make cookies (or buy) for someone who is not-so-festive.
  • Ask to help backstage for the children’s play.
  • Help a little one with “that super hard” math problem.

But of course please make your own list…these are just ideas. The main thing is to show JOY and JESUS when you do them. 1 John 4:7 says “Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. The person who loves has become God’s child and knows God.” If you have a relationship with Christ…YOU SHOULD SHOW IT!  When you help someone you are helping further the kingdom of God. Share this with your friends and ask them to do the challenge with you!

Are You Coexisting?

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     Last spring, my husband and I were both shocked to find out that we had a snake infestation at our house. Now to some it would just be a little problem, but both of us hate snakes and are deathly afraid of them. I cannot stand to see pictures of them, think of them, see them, and for sure be tourchered by them being right outside my door. When I see them, I try to chop their heads off as soon as I can so they will never be back (I’m sorry if anyone really loves snakes). What is it for you? Spiders, mice, bugs? I consider these things to be vermin. When I see them, I want to get rid of them. Not in a year, or a month, or a day; now!

 

     Here’s the thing though, if we are so ready to clean the filth out of our physical lives, why do we take our sweet time with clearing out the filth in our spiritual lives. Instead, we find ways to partially get rid of the filth. Then, when God is done convicting us about it, we let it slide right back into our house with us. Eventually, it becomes our “secret best friend.” God sees our sin as disgusting, abhorring, much worse than vermin. So why do we not see it like this? What is holding us back from reality? We look at gossip, envy, lying, strife, hatred, you fill in what fits for your life __________ and say, “It’s okay, it’s not really that bad.” If we stop ourselves and search the scriptures, we will come away wanting to chop the head right off those sins. James 1:26 says, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” Wow! Does that hit close to home? That does not make it sound like it is just okay and it’s not too bad. Galatians 5: 16-21 says, “16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (My emphasis added in bold) Let that last part of the passage sink into your heart. I know you do not fit that whole list! You are probably similar to me and struggle with what we call the “church sins” or “Christian sins.” But when I stop myself and really let that passage sink in, God’s Word tears at my heart. I want to inherit the Kingdom of God! I want to live my life to serve Him as best as I can! I know that I cannot do it with those huge, ugly, sickening “Christian sins” holding me back!


     Go, search the scriptures. Whatever it is that you are holding over Christ and giving Him full control of your life, go see what His Word has to say about that. Let Him speak to your heart and life. Stop looking at sin as okay or not that bad! It is why God the Father sent His precious and only Son to die on the cross! He went to pay the punishment for my sin and yours! Let’s do all that we can to rid our lives of the vermin. Chop their heads off as soon as possible. Think of your (physical-snakes) vermin. Would you want it to stay around and get bigger or would you want to get rid of it as soon as you possibly could? “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection…” (Phil. 3:10) He is not dead. There is power in His resurrection and it’s there for you to use. He did not defeat death and the grave in vain. Call on Him now and ask Him for His power in your life in ridding yourself of the vermin that wants to destroy.

Beautifully Different

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“But do not be conformed to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that you may be prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2, NKJV (emphasis mine)

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Let’s face it girls. We all like to be “in the club”. No one likes to be the odd ball…to stick out or be different than the crowd. We are a culture of sameness. People don’t want to stand out. We all want to blend into our favorite click and be like everybody else. We want to look like, talk like, and be like whatever person is currently the image. We enjoy our clicks.

It’s sad really. We feel like if we can hide in the sea of normality that it’s better for us. It’s safer. Less dangerous.

Now I’m not a Bible scholar…but I do love the Word of God. It is hope and healing and redemption when our world is painfully short of these things. I’ve found my only solace in the pages of Scripture and in this amazing JESUS I’ve come to know and love…but…nowhere in the Bible can I find where God tells us to fit in. Actually I find the complete opposite.

Now before you click off this page and start looking for something else to read, let me give you some clarification here. I’m NOT saying that you need to purposely go in every opposite direction that the crowd is going. I’m NOT saying you need to dress wild and weird just because you want to be different. I’m NOT encouraging you to be rebellious or to act strange and justify it according to Scripture. What I am talking about here is the heart…and that will affect every area of your life.

You see, being a Christian is more than going to church and having John 3:16 memorized…and those are wonderful things. Being a Christian means you are a “Christ-follower” and that means you are to be set apart for His purposes. Jesus repeatedly tells you and I in Scripture to “take up your cross and follow Me”. Crosses are heavy. They are abnormal. If you carry a cross you are definitely different from the average Joe. Who wants to be uncomfortable, right? We’re all about being cozy…and carrying a cross is everything BUT cozy.

I was thinking about this whole concept of fitting in one day as I was driving to a meeting. The topic of standing up, standing alone and standing out was rolling around in my mind. It’s something that I deal with on a personal level but also as I talk to young ladies everywhere. It’s a common thread in all circles…fitting in is just the thing to do, or at least try to do.

I take the back roads when I’m going places because I Iove this beautiful time of year. As I turned one corner on this particular morning, I noticed that a corn field had recently been harvested and a fence row of trees now stood in full view. My jaw dropped open. I stopped my car.

There in front of me was a huge row of brown, crusty trees, dead from the autumn wind and mostly barren of leaves. Directly in the center was a big, beautiful tree in full color. It stared at me. It was so different from the others. So beautiful. It seemed to beckon me.

Sitting there on the side of the road, it was as if God spoke to my heart as I stared in disbelief at the beautiful sight.

Being different for the right reasons can be incredibly beautiful.

I sat there and thanked God for a word picture. (I really need those sometimes!) Suddenly, being different didn’t look so scary or weird…it looked beautifully alive and strangely wonderful. You see, our lives are to be so radically different that it beckons our dying world to take a look at our JESUS! We should look different so that those we come in contact with cannot help but hunger for the Bread of Life. We should make people thirst for the Living Water as we live purposely set apart.

When we follow Jesus fully, our lives are different…but they are beautifully so.

What does that look like…to be set apart from the world. We want to be in the world, but not of it….so (practically speaking) what does that look like?

Let me ask you- does your facebook look any different than your non Christian friends? Is it selfie-focused or others-oriented? No…I’m not saying you can only post Bible verses and sermon videos! I’m saying…does it speak of your different-ness? What about presenting an accurate picture of who you are…not always making your life seem like a fairy tale and stretching the truth to seem more glamorous. Everybody knows it’s not girls, you live in a broken world like the rest of us…so just be honest. If you don’t have something nice to say on there…don’t say anything! Do you partake in gossip and slanderous talk or do you speak with kindness and make them wonder about your JESUS?

What about your speech? Do you talk with the same language that everyone else uses? Do you refrain from profanity, or do you struggle to not fit in…so maybe you curse sometimes to be cool?

Do you do things and go places that you know you shouldn’t, but it just feels awkward to go against the flow so you do it anyway?

Do you only choose to befriend people who are like you or do you have lots of age groups and personalities in your circles? Look at people through Jesus’s eyes…It’s different, but it’s beautiful.

What about the way you look…the way you carry yourself…your attitude…how you treat your parents and siblings…what activities you spend your free time on? Being different is our call to bring others to the Cross…because let’s get real…who wants to follow Jesus when there’s nothing different about His followers?

I think about that big, bold and beautiful autumn tree a lot. That’s what I want to look like. I’m a tree…a person like everyone else…but what’s inside of me is what changes how I look, act and speak. I do stick out from some of my fellow trees…but I hope and pray it’s the kind of difference that makes people long for my JESUS. I want my life to beckon others to look toward the God of the universe and be willing to follow Him as well. I want to be Beautifully Different.

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What about you? I’d love to hear from you, friend. What are some ways you can be Beautifully Different and reflect JESUS in your daily life? Leave your comments below or shoot me an email!

Climb for Perspective!

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“Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Perspective is everything…and I tend to lose proper perspective easily. Often. I am a cronic perspective-loser. (If that’s even a word.) Two weeks ago was one of those times.

I was away from home on a work trip with my family and trying to juggle the normal responsibilities from my perch in the South. It was one of those times when the to do list in my brain was overwhelming me and making me a bit crazy. My fuse was getting smaller and smaller and my attitude was challenging me hourly. With an upcoming conference and other ministry opportunities, I was trying to get some work done, despite my being away from home. All of this and more were piling up in my mind. One of those times where you mark off two things on your to do lists and add four. At night my brain wouldn’t shut off. I was tired emotionally. I was discouraged.

Then I climbed a mountain.

Ok…it was more like a high hill with lots of rocks, but none the less, they call it a mountain. Pinnacle Mountain in Arkansas. I was told it was a “hike”, and if I had been in shape, it would have been just that…but it was more like a humbling stop-and-go climb for me. Three quarters of a mile seems like an easy hike until you put it 1,011 feet in the air. That changes things tremendously. The terrain was very rocky and thankfully, I am told we were on the “easier side”. That’s a very good thing. Otherwise…I’m not sure if I would have made it in one piece.

It was a hike. Took me an hour to summit, being 26 and sorely out of shape. I kept hearing my heart pounding out of my chest and my heavy breathing. It’s a very effective way to shut me up since I couldn’t talk and huff and puff simultaniously.

Every 10 minutes I stopped for a breather. Every bench had my name on it. My two teenage siblings were ruthless in their fun ribbing. “The old lady” was climbing a mountain! I waved them off…they were right, I was older than them AND out of shape. I reminded them that they didn’t have to run ahead and prove themselves! “Let’s enjoy the trip” really translated to “I am dying, can you slow down?”

Along the way, I was met by many athletic folks jumping and skipping rock to rock…as I hoisted myself slowly from one to the other. They exhausted me even more just watching them. We saw one man, probably in his late sixties or older, who was jogging downhill at a much younger speed. Our friend who took us on the hike said that same gentleman is there all the time. That knowledge wore me out too. People take this mountain climbing serious…like it’s a favorite pastime, or something. I mused at my very different ideas of a favorite hobby. None of which were rock climbing.

After an hour, and several bench breaks, we arrived at the top. I was windless and tired. My mind rolled over my to do list back home and the emails I needed to reply to…and I really needed to finish that blog! My shirt was wet from sweat and my legs felt remarkably similar to noodles. As I crested the ridge, I appreciated the breeze…especially in a damp shirt.

Then I looked down into the valley below and smiled. I wanted to congratulate myself for not fainting on the way up, but the view took my breath away (at least what was left of it). There was my Creator’s handiwork in full view. The sun was starting to set and the river below snaked around the mountain. In the far distance, I saw a sailboat…like a pin head on the horizon. The sky was exploding into color and the breeze was perfect. Below, I saw the city…this city I had just came grumbling from. The same place that seemed so big, and scary, and overwhelming. Now it looked ridiculously small. I put my hand against the spot where I had previously been and it all fit in the palm of my hand.

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How my perspective had changed. Quickly. In an hour of climbing. Suddenly…my to do list vanished. My swimming brain stilled. My heart was in awe. I couldn’t get over the sail boat. It was so tiny. Then, as if in a whisper, I felt a truth drop into my heart. “There’s my to do list,” I thought. When I am right up on it, it’s HUGE. But when I am with the Father, it’s a speck of nothing on the horizon.

As a child I always wondered what Christ meant when He said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) The way I saw it, with Christ came a rough road ahead. Worth it? Absolutely! It’s just that the promise of a lighter burden didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I didn’t see lighter loads. Since fully surrendering my life to Christ, I had a whole lot more on my plate. So what did Jesus mean by a “light burden” and an “easy yoke”?

It seemed, standing there on top of that mountain, I understood what He meant. He didn’t mean the problems would disappear. He meant that your perspective would be changed. On that mountain, I was lighter. My load seemed like nothing. Weightless. Was my to do list erased? No. In fact, I knew it was getting longer at home while I stood on Pinnacle Mountain. My perspective had changed. All those details that I had been stressing over? They were all a pin-head sailboat on the horizon compared to the wealth of God’s abilities. He doesn’t need me to run around with my head cut off. He doesn’t need me to complete His tasks…He chooses me and uses me for His glory. Big difference.

So there I was 1,011 feet up in the air and all the dots were connecting for me. My problems aren’t big. My to do list isn’t impossible. My opportunities aren’t overwhelming. I make them that way. I blow them up into monsterous proportions and then God has to come along and deflate them when I am at my wits end. He calls me to climb a mountain…and then He points to my sailboat of a problem. Its really not that big from up there. Its actually very achievable. It fits under my pinky finger.

I know I stared for a long time into the valley that day, overwhelmed in a different way. This shrinking feeling washed over me. Freedom feels very light. In fact, it’s weightless. And for the first time in a long time, I felt weightless. It wasn’t my job to be frantic and coordinate perfection. It’s my job to climb the mountain and be obedient. He does the rest. Roll up my sleeves in diligence? YES. But not get in God’s way of planning and making all things beautiful IN HIS TIME.

The sun was setting and we had to leave the mountain top. To be honest, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stamp this image deep into my heart. Every river bend, every church steeple, every road and every sail boat. I wanted it etched in my memory. I wanted this new perspective never to fade. I wanted this mountain to change me.

How often do we allow the circumstances of life to rob us of our joy and sap us of energy? We blow up our problems and create bigger ones. However real they are, we must not let them rule our lives and steal our zest for living. That relationship that is crumbling…it IS painful, but it must not keep you in the valley. Climb up, dear friend! That test final that seems impossible? One rock at a time, sister…move steadily to the top and your perspective will change. Stay on the mountain top as long as you can and carve the things you see there in your heart forever. Dwell on His power. His majesty. HIM.

As I started down into the valley again, I thought a lot about what I had experienced on the mountain. I carried with me the realization that sometimes…amid the struggles in life…I just need to push the pause button and climb. I needed to MAKE time to climb. To be with Him and rest in His perspective.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I fully expect in my humanness to need another mountain climb again one day. Maybe even soon. We all need a visual reminder. When that moment comes again…I will climb. But for today…I am remembering that little pin head of a sail boat and praising God for His power over my problems, however big they may seem at the moment.

What is your perspective today? Climb a mountain. Climb a tree. Climb for perspective. Live in the Presence of the Father and remember that “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Climb, sister, climb!

 

What is Adequate?

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“For God so LOVED the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, emphasis mine)

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Kids have a way of bringing new life and vantage points to everyday things. Their questions spur in us the desire to search for answers. Answers that we perhaps didn’t even know we needed. I have been pushed to dig deep into God’s Word…simply because a younger sibling asked me a curious question.

“What is adequate?” The question came from my 7 year old sister. I was cleaning the kitchen and her question caught me off guard. Where did that come from? I thought. I mean, seriously, ADEQUATE isn’t normally a word that a seven year old spits out fluently….and it had rolled off her tongue like CAT. I stopped washing the counter and turned my head to her. She was sitting at the table doing some school work with her pencil and seemed unaffected by her strange curiosity.

I sighed a bit. Explaining the meaning of simple words has never been easy for me. My brain churned, trying to pull small words from my vocabulary that would satisfy a seven-year-old’s curiosity. “Well…Adequate means like…you’ve got what it takes.” She looked at me and then went back to her work, but I could tell that my answer wasn’t enough for her. “It means…enough…it means you’re enough. If you’re adequate, you’re enough. You have what it takes. Does that make sense?” She nodded and then went back to her math problems. This time, I felt like she understood, and like I would be hearing the word fall from her mouth in a sentence in the near future. I know her…when she learns what a word means and how to use it, she will use it.

But then a nagging question hung in my mind. What IS adequate? I realized my little sister had over heard me asking for prayer in conjunction with the statement that I felt INADEQUATE for the task ahead of me. What is adequate? It struck me that this seven year old had not said, “What does adequate mean?” She said, “What is adequate?” That was an entirely a different matter.

What is adequate? The question spun around in my brain bringing a thousand other questions to my mind. My heart resonated with the truths I slowly discovered. What is enough? Am I enough? Do I have what it takes? Am I adequate for the job? Am I worthy? Am I enough…adequate?

We all face these questions in life…more than once. They probe into our souls when our schedule is crammed and we are overwhelmed. They creep up when someone in our family says hurtful things. They stand at our doorstep when we are about to take a leap of faith into ministry. Sometimes…they stare at us when we look in the mirror in the morning. Am I enough? Am I smart enough? Am I beautiful enough? Am I talented enough? Am I strong enough? Am I spiritual enough?

The questions wrap their greedy fingers around our souls and sap the joy of life from us. Instead of living fully…we live wondering. Questioning our worth. Asking questions that block our effectiveness for God and leech the life out of our beings.

Then the breath of God…”Ye are a CHOSEN generation, a ROYAL priesthood, a HOLY nation…”(1 Pet. 2:9, emphasis mine). He came and “gave Himself for us, that He might REDEEM us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:14, emphasis mine) “Ye have not chosen me, but I have CHOSEN you, and ORDAINED you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit.” (John 15:16, emphasis mine) “I have LOVED thee with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3, emphasis mine) “My grace is SUFFICIENT for thee, for my STRENGTH is made perfect in weakness.” (1 Corinthians 12:9, emphasis mine). HE is enough. HE is adequate. HE is worthy. HE is sufficient.

Beautiful daughter of God…do you want to know why you are enough? You are enough, because Jesus is and He said you are! If you weren’t worth it…there would have been no cross. No redemption. No sacrificial love. Ahh, but you were enough! You were enough that He said YES to the cross for you! He went to that rugged cross on Calvary because He deemed you worthy of His love and forgiveness and outpouring of blood.

His choice made you worthy. His love made you beautiful. His redemption made you enough.

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I stood in the kitchen with a dish rag in my hand and marveled at this mystery. That I, an unworthy daughter should have the favor of God rest upon my head. My past is forgiven. My scars are beautiful. I am enough, because He is enough. I am worthy, because He is worthy to be praised.

My mind went to a song that I love. It’s called, “My worth is not in what I own.”

“My worth is not in what I own, not in the strength of flesh and bone. But in the costly wounds of love at the cross. My worth is not in skill or name, in win or lose, in pride or shame. But in the blood of Christ that flowed at the cross.

“As summer flowers we fade and die; Fame, youth, and beauty hurry by. But life eternal calls to us at the cross. I will not boast in wealth or might, or human wisdom’s fleeting light. But I will boast in knowing Christ at the cross.

“Two wonders here that I confess, My worth and my unworthiness. My value fixed, my ransom paid at the cross.” (Keith and Kristyn Getty and Graham Kendrick)

Dear Sister…your worth is summed up in the cross. Your beauty is a reflection of your Father Who calls you ransomed, chosen, and loved. Don’t let the voices of the world tell you that you have to achieve to win His favor. He has made you beautiful and worthy and loved. His work on the cross has made you adequate to stand before God. His blood has made you enough!

So next time those ugly questions of self-worth probe your soul…remember your answer. Your answer stands on a hill called Calvary. Your answer reigns in heaven and in your heart! He has made you HIS…and because of that, you are beautiful, worthy. Girl, you are enough….because of His sacrifice.

Live fully…laugh long…remember that we have the glorious truth. We can live beautifully and purposefully knowing that our worth is in HIM, not in ourselves. That kind of promise inserted into our souls can create a radiance that only Jesus can get the glory for.

What is adequate? What is enough? You are friend…because HE is.

 

From Wimp to Warrior

By | Bible, Studying Scripture | One Comment

Often, I am guilty of looking at people in Scripture as some kind of out-of-this-world picture of perfection. I look at the folks in the Bible as heroes. Super-human. Yet, when I take the time to really read their stories, I see something different…I see genuine people like you and me. They struggled. They failed. They were human…flesh and blood folks with emotions and skin and feelings. In those moments of truth, I am encouraged. It doesn’t matter how much my life seems like a disaster, or that my struggles in this world are giant-sized…He is able to use me in my weakness. And He can use you in yours too.

Take Gideon for instance. This guy had real fear issues! In all practical senses of the word, Gideon was a wimp! Chicken-hearted. The kids on the playground probably called him a sissy. He was a coward. He buckled to the pressure of the day.

Somehow I viewed him differently…like a war hero or something. Or was he?

When I read Scripture, I like to paraphase and imagine what it would be like to be there…in the middle of the story. I love to pretend that I am watching it all unfold. You can read the story of Gideon in Judges 6-7. But for a minute, imagine with me.

The stage for Gideon’s story is sad and depressing. The Children of Israel were being oppressed by the Midianites because of their disobedience to God. (They were doing wicked things that were against His laws…so He used a foreign country to discipline them and bring them back to Himself.) The Midianites were ruthless. They would go behind the Israelites when they planted their crops and destroy everything. They killed their animals. The Israelites were so afraid of the Midianites that they hid in caves. They were completely impoverished and frightened out of their wits.

This is where we find Gideon…threshing his wheat in hiding. He is afraid to do it in the open lest the Midianites take it or destroy it. I just imagine him…jumping at the slightest noise and totally freaked out at the smallest twig snap. He’s trying to make a living and put food in his family’s mouths…and he is completely scared to death in the process. I imagine him there, looking this way and that…trying to be quiet and calm his shaking hands.

Then the Angel of the Lord comes to him. Now this is just speculation…but if a guy is hiding to work, an angel is probably going to scare you worse than a man! What do you think his response is? Does he think about running away? What goes through Gideon’s wimpy heart?

Check this out…the Angel’s greeting cracks me up! He says, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Ok. I’m not a rocket scientist, but I’m pretty sure this message was given to the wrong guy! Gideon is hiding, for goodness sake. It’s not like he’s picketing for better rights or bucking against the system. What does Gideon say to this? Does he laugh? Does he look behind him and wonder if the Angel is talking to someone else?

Listen to Gideon’s response…again, not a tough-guy type of answer. I imagine a quiver in his voice as he says… “Oh, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ but now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Even Gideon’s response is full-to-the-brim with fear. Somehow, the Angel completely ignores Gideon’s knocking-knees and says, “Go in this might of yours” (exuse me, what might?) “and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have not I sent you?”

Whenever I read this story, I find myself laughing at this point. What on earth does God see in Gideon? He stands there…white as a ghost, trembling, and making exuses and God says…”Yep, he’s the one.” Why Gideon? Why a wimp?

Gideon is still not convinced. He starts making excuses about his family tree and his weaknesses. He tells all his mess-ups and bad traits. Gideon tries to convince God that He chose the wrong guy! To be honest, I’m with Gideon…he’s not a mighty man of valor. He’s a fear-filled wimp. Weak. Afraid.

Aren’t we glad we don’t write the story of life? God sees past the fear, the knocking-knees, the quivering chin…and He notices strength that no one else can see. He sees a man with potiential. A man, who with the right tools and the right God can be a warrior. I think God saw Gideon as an opportunity to show the world His power…because Gideon was nothing special. He was an ordinary man with wimpy fears. He was the littlest, the last, the least.

So, God promises to be with Gideon and to defeat the Midianites through him. Gideon sacrifices to the Lord there. He’s willing at this point…but he’s not all in. Watch this…God tells him to destroy the false gods of Midian, tear down their altars, and to build an altar to the Lord and sacrifice to Him there. We can imagine Gideon wrestling at this point. He wants to obey God, but his faith and fear are colliding. So Gideon does what he knows how to do well…he hides. He does what God says…but under the cover of darkness. The men of the city wake up and come storming to Gideon’s family’s house to kill him.

You got to love this next part. Gideon’s dad comes out to meet the men and pleads for his son. I don’t know where Gideon was…maybe hiding?

Then it happens. A change of direction. A strengthening of his heart. Judges 6:34 says “the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.” Big difference! Welcome to the new Gideon! This warrior-Gideon is the one we all seem to remember. We are but empty vessels without the power and might of God’s Spirit. Here is Gideon…trying to obey in his own flesh and God fills him up. Holy Spirit-living equals powerful living. Gideon begins to change. Instantly. On the spot.

He still has his fearful moments. Times he wants to test God…like with the fleeces in the next chapter. Twice. But God isn’t intimidated by Gideon’s fears or concerns or worry-level. He’s concerned with his heart. Gideon’s heart is pure. Gideon had a warrior heart…he just needed backing. He needed a General worthy of his devotion. He needed a Captain who could handle the outcome. This is where Gideon is ready to give it his all. This is where he turns from wimp to warrior.

I sit sometimes and think about Gideon. What would it be like to sit and talk with him about the battles he fought? Defeating the entire Midian army with 300 men? Wonder what that was like. With clay pots, swords, and torches, no less! I find it interesting to note that when they did defeat them, the battle cry was this… “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” Wow.

I wonder…could I be a warrior? Are my wimpy fears holding me back from winning victories that will be spoke of for centuries? I love the story of Gideon, because it speaks to me…that normal, fearful, human, weak people can be used of God to be warriors. The change? His Spirit. And where His Spirit is there is victory and peace. Where His Spirit is there are wimps turned warriors.

Which one are you?