Category Archives: scripture

self preservation and faith.

There is a beautiful metaphor in Anita Johnston’s book that describes letting go of the very thing that has saved your life. She describes a drowning woman thrust into the water and faced with intense rapids who is able to grasp at a passing log to hold on to, to save her life. However, when faced with the task of swimming towards those who would save her, those who are shouting, “let go of the log!” – those who would pull her out of the water, she can’t let go. She cannot let go of what has become her lifeline – she cannot let go and so she remains in the water.

There are many versions of this metaphor floating around, but this one really got under my skin and opened up so many questions on self-preservation. My little brother once looked me in the eye and said, “the thing you are resisting, the thing you are fighting against, is the very best thing for you. You are fighting what God has to offer.” How often have I relied on my own strength to pull myself through a struggle? How often has God provided me strength for a season, something good, that I refused to let go of when He asked? Like the women in the story was given a log, God often gives us what we need in the moment to prepare us for something bigger, but how often in my stubbornness and limited view do I choose to hang onto the log.

Why do I consistently return to the bondage of self-preservation? I call it bondage because any form of attempting to save or preserve myself is ultimately sinful behavior and keeps me from Christ. It is ultimately something keeping me from seeing God, a type of sin that easily gives way into doubt and anger. When I’m relying on myself there can be no real growth, no real change, and often what seems good is really rather fleeting.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

When it seems like I know best, like I can make choices and choose a path for my life better than God can, I am reminded of this verse. I am reminded that it is ok to admit my own weakness, that it is ok to be humble before God, because He is enough. I do not have to save myself from whatever hard things are coming at me because He is enough and He will provide. Again I am reminded of the metaphor above, my trust should be in God, not in the log. Yes, the log is good, with the log God saves us from drowning, but real trust is letting go and having the faith that as He continues to move us forward to the next thing He is still good, He is still enough. Hebrews 11 tells us over and over what faith can do, and that it is through faith that God fulfills His promises to us, it is through our faith that we are able to keep moving forward in Him.

“God you are so good to us. You continually save us from our selves. Father, help me to rely on you alone, strengthen my faith so that my pride and my desire to have everything figured out would not keep me from letting go and trusting you. You alone are my protection, my source of security, and my provider. Father, forgive for the times I try and take things into my own hands, forgive me for trying to save myself. Help me to rely on You always, and not simply that gifts that You gives. I pray I will look past my circumstances and keep my eyes and my heart focused on you, Lord.”

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thinking on happiness.

Hello Dear Friends! I’m so happy you are here. You may remember a while back I wrote about the spirit and its need for nourishment in our lives, and our daily walk with the Lord. This is so key to our happiness. Blessing your God given spirit, allowing it to be blessed by God and enjoying God’s blessing and provision in your life is happiness.

Life so easily tempts us to walk away from those things that would bring nourishment to our souls and spirits and instead offers us countless things that waste our time and suck the joy – the true rest and relief – from us. Perhaps these things that steal away from our true joy and the true nourishment of our spiritual side are not inherently bad, but they are not beneficial either. They are the things that distract us and keep us from being truly at rest, truly at peace, or truly in touch with the joy Christ has for us. They are the things that keep us preoccupied or keep us from being completely in the moment, completely aware of what God is doing around us. This joy is complete peace and rest in Christ. This joy comes when Christ is the center of our lives and shaping who we are.

But what is happiness? With all the things surrounding us and attempting to impersonate happiness, will we know true happiness when we see it? It scares me that I often do not recognize true happiness. I know that far too often I settle for less than joy, less than what God is offering. I so badly want us, as believers, to change our expectations and begin to seek the spirit refreshing, soul awakening happiness that we have access to in Christ.  So again I encourage you to think on those things that are RIGHT and LOVELY and TRUE. To seek out those things that are of God and to live in a way that connects you to the blessings God has in store. This is an adventure and a task. Happiness is too easily missed and too easily counterfeited. Yet it is so necessary for our survival in this world. So necessary to become who are we are meant to be. We need this joy, this happiness, and we are so blessed to have a God who lovingly provides it.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. Ecclesiastes 3:12

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the evil one.

You may have read in my last post that I have recently been enthralled by the concept of knowing and being known by God, and through this journey something else has come to my attention. In knowing Him better and studying scripture to find out what He’s like, I realize I better understand what He’s not.

I feel more familiar with the Lord’s voice and His promptings, and almost alarmingly aware of what is not from Him. Satan can sound seductively kind, caring, and helpful, as he tries to pull us away from the plan God has for us. I have a professor who refers to Satan only as “the evil one”. I like this, as it makes it impossible for us to forget that all Satan is, is true evil. The name Satan often conjures up images of a man in a red outfit with a pitch fork, I’m pretty sure he loves that this happens as it take our eyes away from the evil. There is nothing Satan is that is not evil. In Hebrew Satan can be translated as adversary or oppressor, this often interpreted as a struggle against evil.* All that is evil is the being we think of as Satan. The evil one encompasses the depth of the depravity in our world, everything that is fallen, everything that would obstruct our path as we seek to follow God. The evil one is absolutely our adversary, it is an evil that is against us at every step and every turn, and so we need God. We desperately need God to help us.

The depth of the evil that seeks our destruction should show us how great our need for God truly is. The pure evil that would attempt to turn us from Christ is not something that we can handle on our own, oh how we need our God to save us, and help us.

Again, for me, part of this battle is truly being known by my Father. Knowing Him, so that I know His voice above all others. Being honest enough to voice my struggles and failings with Him. I need to know His voice and His guidance so that I am not misled by the evil that would seductively trap me. I think the evil one has many tactics, and one of those appears to be to often approach us under the disguise of something sweet, or not so harmful.

Last night I found myself in one of these situations where Satan comes across as trying to take care of me. “It’s ok you don’t really need to do this, it is fall break after all.” “It’s ok you are tired and you worked so hard on homework all afternoon.” “Look your tire light is on and you shouldn’t drive across town in the dark with the tire light on! You could get hurt!” The last one is what got me. My tire light comes on at any subtle change in the weather (and actually been on for about a week), and so when I felt that lie, it was really almost laughable. The problem is that I actually thought something like “Oh man that’s so true, my dad would not want me driving right now.” Oh my gosh, really?? No thank you, Satan. And so I kept driving to my church to worship and find community and was so blessed by those moments with my God. The evil one was trying to mislead me and his attack was obvious, but it is not always so clear and not always so easy to choose Christ and His power in those moments.

In this the need to know God, really know Him, so that we can respond to Him and Him alone seems so imperative.

*Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary ; Neff, D. D. (1991). A dozen Greek and Hebrew words you ought to know. Christianity Today, 35(12), 30. and; Satan: The Early Christian Tradition By Jeffrey Burton Russell

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knowing Him.

Hello! I’m so happy you’ve stopped by my little blog today! I was planning on writing and telling you all about the conference I attended last weekend…but instead I’m posting something I wrote right before I left. I think many of you know that life has recently been pretty hard, many unexpected twists and turns have occurred and through it all God has constantly reminded me that He is God and in all things He is good. “God is good” just keeps playing over and over in my head, and this post is a little snippet of one of the ways He has been so good to me lately.

 

Seeking Him.

In the last month I felt God constantly and rather sweetly reminding me to seek Him first. I’ve been reminded of Mathew 6:33 in many different and sometimes unexpected ways.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”

For me seeking Him has been getting to know Him better, to know and be known by Him. This concept hit me in really beautiful way that in seeking Him and knowing Him, my creator can more intimately know me as well.

I have the knowledge that He created me, that He knows my thoughts, my actions, and every hair on my head, but there is something really wonderful about being made more aware of the intimacy He offers in relationship. In knowing Him and seeking His wisdom, learning about his character and grace, I find myself becoming more honest in my prayers and petitions to Him, more inclined to share my heart. Far too often my thoughts have been, “well He’s God, so He already knows my heart, my pain, my ideas, my wants…” but He offers something so much greater as we seek Him and He seeks us.  Seeking to really know my God has been an eye-opening experience, not because I’d never thought of this concept before, but because at this time in my life, in these moments, knowing Him through His word and learning about His character and many attributes has inspired deeper faith through greater honesty and vulnerability within me. It is truly a gift to be known and heard and cared for by The One who thought me up from very the beginning.

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a work of his hands

I have recently felt so overwhelmed and comforted by the fact that I am a work of His hands.  How blessed we are to be created by God, and to continually be shaped by Him everyday of our lives. He created us intentionally for a specific purpose with specific gifts, strengths, and weaknesses. I am finding comfort in the fact that He is so intimately aware of my weakness.

There is something so sweet about the idea that He knows me in my weakness. After all, it is through our weakness that His strength and power are seen; it is when I am weak that He is made strong. He does not rely on me to accomplish His work, but I am so lucky that God created me with specific strengths and weaknesses so that I can better serve Him. It seems to me that in my weakness I have an opportunity to let Him be God in my life. In my weakness I can choose to obey and honor God.

“But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

We are works of His hands. How beautiful. How freeing it is to know that He molds us and shapes us so that we can add to His glory, and bring glory to His name. Even in our weakness there is a chance to bring Him glory. I love that.

“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

He created us!! I am a product of His wisdom and His design. How awesome! How amazing that our God thought us out according to His purpose.

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb,
“I, the LORD, am the maker of all things,
Stretching out the heavens by Myself
And spreading out the earth all alone…

Isaiah 44:24

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good fruit.

We spend a lot of time stuffing emotions that they are ashamed of.  Whether it’s feelings of jealousy, resentment, hate, or anything under the sun that contradicts the teachings of Christ, we often try to deal with them the same way.  What I see is that people are trying to cover up these negative emotions, or try to pretend that’s not what they really feel.  We become ashamed of them, and try to pile good emotions on top of them.  It doesn’t matter how much good fruit you pile on top of the rot, its still there, and it still stinks.  Instead it becomes a constant internal battle of trying to cover up the feelings that we know are not of Christ.  It happens all the time, and I don’t know anyone, myself included, who has not tried this method of dealing with negative emotions and feelings.

It seems that the gut reaction is to stuff those feelings that make us feel embarrassed or ashamed when we should be dealing with them.  If there’s a person in your life that is triggering jealousy and you end up feeling resentment or anger towards that person, the reaction I see most often is to try to cover it up.  You know you shouldn’t feel that way so you begin forcing yourself to move past it by layering emotions that seem right or acceptable on top of it.  That may work for a while, but it doesn’t solve the problem.  You have to deal with what’s causing the negative emotions.  You have to deal with root of the problem.

When looking at myself, I find that I often don’t want to be that vulnerable, even with God.  I don’t want to look that closely and see those things about myself that aren’t so pretty.  I just don’t want to admit that all that negative stuff is there, but it’s the only way to get it out.  To admit that I’m jealous, resentful, or angry is the only way to start to get rid of it.  Those are not the things that I want to take root in my life, the fruit that those things produce is not pleasant, and is not constructive to the plans that God has for me, and so to move forward I have to address it and lay it down.  I must understand what’s causing it and how to move past it.  Luckily we are never alone in this process.

I really and truly believe that God wants us to be totally healed from the all past hurts and all negative emotions and fallout that have taken root in our lives.  He is right there beside as we deal with those difficult emotions, and He’s right there to take them from us as we roll them onto the cross.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26

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how’s your spirit?

Proverbs 18:14

The Message “A healthy spirit conquers adversity, 
but what can you do when the spirit is crushed?”

NIV “A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, 
but a crushed spirit who can bear?”

Romans 12:1 NIV “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Luke 1:46-47 NIV And Mary said: 
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”

2 Timothy 4:21 NIV “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”

We spend so much time making sure our bodies are healthy and place so much focus on fostering our soul’s longing for Christ, but lately I see that our sweet, God given spirits become neglected.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t take care of our mind, body, and soul; I’m just saying that I think we often forget to minister to our spirit, or we don’t realize how important a healthy spirit is.

I’ve had the privilege to spend this week with a group of wonderful pastors, counselors, and God-fearing people who are taking an active stance in spiritual warfare and kingdom living.  It’s been such a blessing.  One of the things we’ve been talking about is taking care of your spirit; blessing your spirit.  I think it becomes evident in scripture that your spirit is a precious entity that needs attention.  Often scripture alludes to both the soul and spirit; I don’t think it’s just flowery language but rather it’s two separate parts that both need nourishment.

What I’ve learned this week is that it’s as simple as asking your spirit if it’s ok, asking your spirit if it is being bound, or needs healing, and letting God show you how to heal it.  In my experience if God shows you what’s hurting He will show you the way back to joy.  I think that it’s a process, another part of the journey.  I’m still learning and letting the Father teach me. But for me, starting this journey of connecting with my God-given spirit and finding out what hurts it, what has “crushed” it (Proverbs 18:14); in one evening it has already made a difference.

A precious friend shared these books with my mother and I this week, and when it comes time to minister to your spirit these prayers and scriptures are uplifting and helpful; however I think that along the way many of our spirits need to be knit back together, to forgive what has “crushed” them, and allow God to heal them. From there we continue to nourish and strengthen our spirits through the truth, which is the Word.

Blessing Your Spirit by: Sylvia Gunter & Arthur Burk

You are blessed in the names of God by: Sylvia Gunter

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