Saturday, April 29, 2017

You Have Worth Because He is Worthy

"and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority." Colossians 2:10

One of the enemy's favorite spots for punching is that soft place where you question your value. He likes to put on his spiked brass knuckles and continually pummel you with thoughts like, "You are not good enough, and you never will be," or "However bad anyone else is, you're worse." Maybe you've heard, "If anybody knew the real you, they'd reject you."

He throws your past in your face to darken your present and to blind you to any hope for your future.

To make it worse, you and I respond by covering up and pretending to be someone else. That's not the right way to fight, My Friend, because you are agreeing with those lies. No, you must dig out this poisonous core or your spirit will remain sick and weak and hinder you from flying. Yes, I said flying. What better way to combat a fist than to fly above it?

How do you dig out the core? With a sword--the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God! How does this work? All three of those lies I mentioned can be knocked out by today's verse. People often quote the first part but miss the second. You are complete in Christ, yes, but it's because of Who He is: the head over all rule and authority. His most powerful position makes whatever He says the final word on your worth, My Friend. You don't have to makeshift your worth through your bank account, your bra size, your zip code, career, comparison, or credentials. If Christ says you have value, you can't add anything else to that to make it more true. Know this! Believe this!

When the enemy corners you with those self-defeating thoughts, fight like a girl--a girl who knows who she is because her Daddy told her. This means that, um, you gotta know what your Daddy told you. You won't know if Facebook gets more of your time than His book. Am I right? Invest the time each day getting in His Word because it informs you of your worth, and because of Who He is. He. Is. Worthy!!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Are You Afraid of Failure?

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Are you afraid of failure? Do you find yourself hedging on stepping out because you think you might fall?

There is an element of risk in every venture, but may I suggest that fear of failure needs to be defanged so you can move forward? See, when you know Someone Who will love you even if you fail, you can have courage to try in spite of your fear. Relax, My Friend, His opinion of you is not riding on whether you get this next  thing "right"or not. 

Maybe how God will view you is not why you fear failure. Maybe it's that you have so much to lose if you fail. Your finances, your health, the faith others have invested in you may be what's at stake. I understand. You want to do the right thing, and you have every good intention, but still, what if you slip? How do you fail-proof your life? Can you?

 I think your focus has to change. 

See, in the life of faith, failure is measured differently than in the world. Failure with God is measured in how we respond to Him in our hearts. Failure to God looks like disobedience or unbelief. Failure to the world is about performance and how close to perfection you can get. Have you noticed that if and when you reach that standard, they erect a new one that's even higher? How exhausting! 

God offers a better way, My Friend. If you are in Christ, perfection was already achieved for you. Now you get to aim for something far better: holiness. You're not even doing it by yourself, you have a Guide Who lives in you, speaks to you, loves you, and grows you. He is called the Holy Spirit and holiness is what He does with your cooperation. 

Now, back to our original question: Are you afraid of failure? Have you caught on that it's possible to not get it right, but still succeed where it counts?  Is it clicking that failure has to be more intentional when God's Spirit lives in you to keep you from falling? I am not suggesting you can reach perfection this side of Heaven. I am suggesting the Spirit can make your life fertile because failures become opportunities to learn more of Jesus. They are not permanent marks that flog your spirit and brand ugly names on your identity. Failure is a pencil mark that can be erased by the grace of God and the residue is recycled as learning and progress. That even feels good to think about, doesn't it? 
Breathe it in. It's the fragrance of the abundant life and it relaxes all those tense and harsh "should's", turning them into, sweet "by the power of Christ, I can's."

Fear of failure? No need. Freedom to try? Yes! If you fall down while trying, His grace will pick you up and strengthen you for the next try. Smile, Daughter of God. You are His Girl, and your Daddy is inviting you to step out and try new things for His glory! Now go slay it and tell me about it so we can victory dance together! 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

When You're Facing A New Normal

We all have an idea of what life should be like. Sometimes reality agrees with that idea, sometimes not. Most of us know better than to expect everything to go our way. We are not in control. We get that. Along the way, God allows the bitterness of the bad times to heighten the sweetness of the good ones.

Then, there are the times when life plows into your blind spot with such an impact that it twists your normal into a shape that can never be undone. At first, there is the cocoon of shock God gives to allow time to accept what's happened. Next may be a period of denial. Then the feeling starts to return and the newness is more than you think you can bear. You try any number of coping mechanisms, and you try to avoid the ones that will only create more problems. At some point, you run out of alternatives and realize that what is is what will always be. The circumstance is never going to change so either you have to change or lose your mind.

 How do you live in your new normal? Is it even possible, you wonder? Does it feel  like emotionally you're permanently going to have to do those horrible pull-ups you did in elementary school? You know, the ones where your tooth-pick arms lift your entire body weight over and over again?

There is hope for you, My Friend.

This normal may be new to you, but it's never new to God. Today's passage is a reminder He is everywhere; this includes where you are now. He's been ready for this day long before it's shadow came across your calendar. He's the Timeless One, remember? Allow Him to be what only He can be in a situation like yours. This is too much for you to handle by yourself; besides, you want to do more than survive this. Am I right? Your God, our God wants to forge a new you to match this new normal. It's called Transformation, and God specializes in it.

You don't have to have all the answers about why this happened or how you're going to make it. All you need to know is that He knows and that through Him, you'll get through this.  He Who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it if you don't call it off. It's a daily trusting even when you struggle to trust that trusting will work. Ask Him to help your unbelief.

Times like these are what faith in God is for. Go against your human reasoning and come close to Him. Yes, you may even be mad at Him for letting this happen; you can come to His throne mad. He can take it. Whatever you do, don't shut down.

This new normal may not have been where you intended to be, but you can make a home there as long as Jesus is with you-and He is! May the Lord strengthen you in this season of change as you settle in with Him Whose love for you never does.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Blessing of Easter

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory by our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

Resurrection. At first glance, it seems the stuff of fantasies and fairytales. It's one of the tenets of the faith that makes unbelievers chide us as fools.

Resurrection. If it's true, then it changes e. ver. y. thing! If resurrection can happen, it opens the door to all kinds of other mind-blowing possibilities. It means the Author of resurrection has more power than we can stretch our brains to imagine. Why, it--it means everything else He says is true too! For some, this is scary because that kind of power means they are powerless against it. For us who believe, it's not a cause to close the heart for fear of losing control. No, it's cause to gape the heart and invite Him to invade every crevice of fear, to ride on every wave of praise, and to stretch our faith till it fits  the fullness of all He reveals of Himself.

Resurrection blows a hole in hopelessness and rebuilds God-sized dreams in its place. It blueprints and lays a foundation on top of ground the devil once resided as a squatter.

Because Jesus got up from that grave, any heartache we have is only temporary. Bless His Name!

What's more, resurrection, THE Resurrection, not only guarantees Heaven for us who trust  in Him in a forever way, it also vouches for the promise of that-more-abundant-life that works in us to will and to do, and that makes our joy full in the here and now.

No other faith offers this!

No other name packs that kind of power!

No other grave was ever borrowed and then returned.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Happy Easter, My Friends!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Let's Reflect on Easter Together

Just like at Christmas, we can be so busy celebrating the Easter season that we neglect reflecting on it. At least I fall into this category sometimes. So, how about we reflect together?

I came across 1 John 2:2 which says, "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."

Atoning sacrifice? What does it mean? To atone is to satisfy an offense. For example if you got a speeding ticket, you offended, if you will, the law to drive only up to a certain speed. The price of the ticket satisfies the offense; atoning for what you did wrong. Make sense?

So, atonement is huge for you and me and every body else, because we have majorly offended a flawless God Who demands flawlessness. We had no perfection in inventory, not even a little bit. We needed a perfect sacrifice to cover all of that sin and offense.

Enter Jesus Christ.

Can you see Him? Full of grace and truth and not a lick of offense in Him! God robed in human skin so it can be punctured and practically ripped off Him for our sake.  Doesn't it make you want to fall at those nail-pierced feet and kiss them in worship? How can there not be tears of gratitude for what He has done? Doesn't your heart make your lips say, "Thank You, Jesus," before your brain even has time to catch up? What a glorious, generous, loving, and holy Savior He is! What can He ask of us that is too much to give after such a sacrifice? What sin can we cherish more than we cherish Him after what He has done?

 The cross was never meant to be something we can get over. Easter, like the Lord's Supper, was meant to be a reminder of what's been given and of what we ought to be willing to give in return. Let's purpose never to forget Gethsemane nor be cavalier about Calvary.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Are You Afraid to Leave Where You Are?

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James 4:8 

Afraid to leave where you are?

We humans are funny the way we think, aren't we? We get stuck (be it in a relationship, a job, or a way of thinking) and we cry to God for help. He provides a way out , but it nearly always requires something risky on our part. So we spin our wheels hoping the eight hundredth time will be a charm. We get sick and tired of being sick and tired, but never sick enough to take the step God instructed us to take. Am I right?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we're scared, that's why! What if the new life is worse than where we are now? What if we end up so far outside our comfort zone we forget why we left what was familiar? What if we can't come back to what's familiar? Burning bridges is scary stuff!

How do you find the courage to move to a new land? What is the key to getting unstuck? I believe it's hidden under the rock called Obedience. See, obedience recognizes the authority of God and doesn't care what our fears say. We have this idea that we cannot move when God says because we subconsciously believe that fear is an excuse God will accept. He will not. We must realize that in His great wisdom, God has supplied obedience as a shield that is overlaid with courage which will give His followers enough power to trudge through the fire of fear and doubt and get to the place to which He has called us.

Believe me, you do not want Him to push you or drag you! This will bring about pain that you simply could do without.

Allow obedience to be a holy distraction that muffles the noise of the what-ifs. Be so focused on pleasing God no matter what, and watch what happens! It's what we do when we love Him; we speak His love language, and it mobilizes us with supernatural energy. God responds to obedience: It starts as an act of the will--a first step--but then He responds to that obedience, and He causes us to fly!

We're not going to get through this life successfully without stepping through the fog of the unknown. Sometimes the will to obey will be the only way we will leave our stuck places. Obedience has a conjoined twin---faith. You can't have one without the other. Trust God that these two are all you need to move forward.

May I just say that uncertainty is the stuff of wild adventures with the Almighty? Your familiar place with all of its uncomfortable comfort is a sorry substitute for what awaits you on the other side of obedience. Know that He holds your hand every second, but He won't do the stepping out for you.

Trust Him, My Friend. Go forward in obedience and send me a postcard from the land of, "I-Made-It!-He-Really-Is-Faithful-Just-Like-He-Said!