“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

This Is War

For me, it’s funny to listen to my boys play together (that is, when they’re not arguing) because they play such different things than I did as a young child. Most recently, they have converted one of the closets in their shared bedroom into a “Secret Hideout”. Sure I made “forts” out of blankets and my Nana’s dining room chairs, but my forts were nothing more than a hangout—not a staging ground for waging war. C2 like to “fight the bad guys” and they have a gun case filled with noise-making, dart shooting, light flashing guns (and don’t forget the light sabers!) and a lock on their hideout. They are staged and ready for full out battle! Is it because I was a girl, or because their parents are in the Army? God only knows...

Thinking about Americans in war, what was the most deadly – most costly war in our history?

Deaths                         War
116,516                       World War I
405,399                       World War II
625,000                       Civil War

Over 33% more deadly than the next on the list, the Civil War cost the most in American lives… 2% of the entire population during that time! Why is civil war, in any country or capacity so costly? Because it’s always lose-lose. The most effective (or ineffective) campaign by either side inevitably adds to the numbers of casualties for the whole.

Have you ever thought of our Spiritual War (meaning Heaven vs Hell) as a civil war? Our Enemy was once a resident of Heaven, a faithful worker in the Lord’s legion, but there was a rebellion, and it was extensive. Heaven lost 1/3 of its population of Angels! I think all too often we conveniently (for the Enemy) forget about this powerful foe. I say “conveniently” because if we don’t think he is there, or we pretend his power isn’t something to be concerned with, then we actually fuel the flame with which he burns us.

I see this civil war most evidently active within ourselves. We want others to see us as competent, confident, beautiful, successful, capable… you fill in the adjective, but it’s as though we are engaged in self-sabotage with our negative thoughts and projections of ourselves. We think thoughts: “I can’t”, “I’m not”, “they think”, “I’ll never be able…”  Believer STOP!!! Stop It! You Can! You Are! You can't know what they think, and you ARE able!

Look here double agent, infiltrator, mole, spy… it’s time to pick a side! Swear your allegiance to the side of Victory—and follow the battle plan. Renounce the Devil- our enemy, from any stronghold within your mind. You can say for certain that you are in enemy territory, but you are never alone—and you’re not just some “private first class”… you are a part of the plan!

Okay—so here’s what I know so far:
1. Victory is Guaranteed with Christ.(1Cor 15:57)
2. Apart from Christ, victory is Impossible.(John 15:5)
3. The Enemy is REAL, powerful, and cunning.(Rev 12:9; 2 Cor 11:14)

Reflection Question: Will you join with me to stop being a self-defeating double agent? Today choose to affirm the promises of Christ to be victorious, capture Enemy thoughts and destroy them!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Taking on a 4 Letter Word

I really love when I ponder and thus learn an important lesson through my children. I find it to be most humbling and awesome that they have the ability to teach me as much, if not more, than I teach them. I have had a rough week with Caleb, he has been acting out in anger… and sure I could have explained it away as unresolved feelings from Daddy being deployed, but in guilt I began doing research about child anger and discipline. God at this point very kindly gave me my own swat across my bottom with a firm voice saying, what happened to nightly Bible reading? What happened to the kind of discipline that ensures your children obey you and therefore will obey me? Well, Helllloooo God, that stung, but maybe this behavior by my son is just what I needed to be reminded of my calling to teach my children in your ways.The 4 letter word we are taking on here is OBEY...

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Prov 22:6) 

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Eph 6:1) 

So I might be slow, but I’m not completely senseless.  We picked back up the nightly Bible reading… and on night two Caleb decided he wanted to read Noah out of his “big boy Bible” aka NIV, so I obliged. To be honest, I hadn’t read in the Old Testament—other than Psalms or Proverbs, for a long time. If you take a gander at Genesis 6 (which also half caught me off guard; can you believe humans were able to become so perverse in just 6 chapters of the Bible that God had to wipe us out?!?) you’ll find the story of Noah and God’s call for him. 

“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” (Gen 6:11) Awe inspiring that my son had requested the story that told of God’s wrath on people full of violence—and he has been struggling to keep his temper! I mean really God—show off ;) And that gave me a perfect way to talk about obeying God’s rules and therefore obeying his teachers and parents. Wow! And it seemed like he was really taking it all in. He had started to get down and thinking that he had really messed it all up when… in comes God’s SUPER ERASER! That’s why Jesus’ birth was so important (tying in Christmas!) that He came to erase our sins… and as soon as we repent (agree with God that what we’ve done was bad and don’t try to blame someone else for it; taking responsibility) and ask for forgiveness, then the eraser takes it away and God says it never happened anymore. Bright eyed and excited I can see him picturing one of those pink school erasers… but Giant… scrubbing away and then whoa… it’s Gone!

"If you love me, you will obey what I command." John 14:16

"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." John 15:10 

What an important lesson to remind ourselves of this Christmas season...  the Best answer is of course to obey God because that will give us the best life. When "life" happens and our not so Godly instincts get us into sin, we need to agree that we have chosen something less than the best, and ask for forgiveness-- Thank you for Jesus and Christmas! Then let Him erase it-- like magic! Christmas always has been a magic time of year, and rightly so, Jesus is amazing! He takes something ugly and dying and turns it into new life!

Merry Christmas!!

Reflection Question: Where are you still not obeying God and letting Him give you your BEST life? 

by the way... thank you to everyone who reads my blog for pushing it past 3,000 views this month! What an honor to be able to reach people with Christ's message through me! Thanks!! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Down by the River

We spend a lot of time worried about whether or not we are saved. What about when we know that we are saved What then?  

If we cannot earn our salvation or earn even an ounce more of God's love, then what are we striving for? If there's no purpose for our life, then God would just snatch us up to heaven the second we earnestly devoted ourselves to Christ. Obviously THAT didn't happen... so now what? 

If you have a job where you cannot get fired as long as you show up, what are you going to do? Well the simple answer is that you will show up. If we change the stakes slightly and you still only must show up not to get fired, but you also have a chance to earn some favor with the boss by performing well. You don't know what exactly your bonus will be, but you respect your boss and she says that it is certain to be worth your while. Why bother with just showing up? Why not see what the bonus is?!? 

What would you do? Show up or go for more? As a matter of fact, what Are you doing? Jesus gives you this offer. You show up, put your trust in Him and just keep trusting. No problem. You never get fired. But, on the flip side, He offers us eternal blessings based on what we do after we show up. 

Think of it like this: for survival we need shelter, food and water. So I could put up a tent by the river and eat whatever wanders my way and drink the scummy river water.  I would survive. But if I put in a little effort, I can have a house, nutritious food that will give me energy and vitality and treated drinking water without toxins and with fluoride so I can have healthy teeth. Which do you prefer? If you're reading this, my guess is that you have Internet so you don't live in a tent by the river ;) 
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 1:20, 21 NKJV) 

Truth is, neither answer is inherently wrong. But indecision is a decision in and of itself. God is clear about what he expects from us, but he also gives us a picture of what a "good and faithful servant" looks like; it's not the guy who just shows up! Each of us who is saved will have to account not for our sins-- that price has been paid, not by us, but through uncompromising love by our Savior Jesus,  but we will be judged by what did with the gifts we have been given. Jesus gives us a story about some servants who are given some money "mina" to invest while their master is away in order for us to better understand how we too will be judged according to how we invest...

Jesus Parable of the Ten Minas (or Talents)

While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.  He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.  So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
  “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’ “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
 “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
 “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
 “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
 “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth.  I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
 “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow?  Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
 “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
“‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
 “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’” (Luke 19:11-27) 
There is no doubt in My Mind that God is fair and full of justice. The price for our sins HAD to be paid, that is why the Son came to receive the due payment. But also, because He is just, he will repay the Good we do when we get to Heaven. Either he will say "Well done good and faithful son/daughter" OR He will say "Take his away and give it to the one who already has 10". This is my choice and yours to make.

Refection Question: Are you storing up treasures in Heaven or are you wasting your talents? 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bondage or Heaven Bound?

I heard a story this week about a mother who went to talk to her pastor about her son. She was concerned because he was not living a "Christian" life. He wasn't attending church... but "she was certain that her son knew Jesus." At that point the pastor stopped the woman, and in the most loving way he could deliver this harsh truth, he informed her that her son could not know Jesus. There is no way for someone to truly Know Christ and not be radically changed by His amazing love. 

"For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." (Romans 8:13-14)

That point really resonated with me. Don't we all want to think that OUR loved ones will be in heaven... or even that WE will be with Jesus forever. Are we fooling ourselves? 

"But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves." (James 1:22) 

During my Church's Bible Study our pastor was talking about the book of Jeremiah. Sometime during the discussion he mentioned that when his grandfather was dying, his grandmother said to her husband, well I hope I see you on the other side. She really didn't know if she would, and she wasn't about to fool herself into thinking that although his life showed no fruit of the Christian life, that he would go to heaven just because he was family.

I have found that when I hear a theme repeated to me, it's time to write. God must know I have a hearing problem because when He wants to get my attention He doesn't just say something once, it becomes evident in multiple aspects of my life. After hearing this idea of fooling ourselves into thinking we are going to heaven twice within a week, I guess the Holy Spirit was urging to write about this...

It's truly a strange paradox that we spend our lives and literally spend our livelihood on worrying about every tiny detail, except about how that relates to our eternity. We assume the worst, "he doesn't like me" "I'll never find a job" "I'm not smart enough" "will my kids go to college" ...but when it comes to heaven, we all think "yeah, I'm going to heaven". 

We want control over the things we have no control over, but negate the responsibility that we DO have control over. The circumstances of our lives, the opinions of others, the disasters and other issues are God's realm. Give Him control and stop worrying! On the other hand, we have control of our hearts and our decision to turn our hearts and plans toward Him. He gives us that freedom, that freewill, but we just say "God willing". Ohhhh how the Devil is the same today as he always was. The same sin, the same prideful thoughts clouded Adam and Eve's decision. They too had the ability to decide to live life hand-in-hand with the Lord, but the Enemy seduced them into thinking they should have MORE say, more "understanding". 

"That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?" (Matt 6:25)

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt 6:34) 

"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne." (Hebrews 12:2) 

As always, our amazing God has given us the solution! Oh how blessed we are to always have an escape from the bondage that we have tied ourselves in! Ask him to free you from worry and then focus your life on eternity; give your life's issues to the Holy Spirit daily. Make your decisions the way Jesus did and remind yourself that each day matters. Each day has an effect on your eternity and live with the end in mind. Surrender to Him and you shall be Free! ....But Beware... the world will fight you on this! It will tell you that you should have control, that surrender is a dirty word and that this "plan" doesn't make sense... but that's just it, it Doesn't make worldly sense, it makes eternal sense. So anyone focused on the world will never understand the plans of someone focused on eternity.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:12-14) 

Reflection Question: Are you in Bondage to this world or are you focused on being Heaven Bound?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

10 Year Old Girl

On September 12, 2001 a girl was born. Her eyes opened to a country in pain and a world in shock following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York. The relatively peaceful world that existed just days earlier had been rocked and shaken. People questioned God's existence on that day. How could He be a loving God and allow something like that to happen? Others spoke of repentance, salvation and the realization that None of us are guaranteed we will live tomorrow. 

In a world of chaos, hate, war, and sin, that girl would have to grow up deciding whether she was in the world or of it. Whether she too would succumb to the hate, the constant state of anger everyone is in, or if she would love the unlovables. 

Even a 10 year old struggles with perception, wondering if she is pretty enough if she is smart enough, if people like her. When she hears people laughing after she's walked by, she wonders if they are laughing at her. This is a cold, unloving world we live in... and she struggles. She is anxious about what the future holds for her, her family and the world. Sometimes times are tense in her house. The money's not what it used to be, the fuses are short and she finds herself yelling back at her family when she knows she shouldn't. 

But she is one of the lucky ones... because she knows Jesus. She has hope for the future, hope for her struggles and even for the world. She knows that when the time is right, Jesus will return and scoop her up and take her away from all of this pain, anxiety, anger, hate, and sin. She can rely on Him daily for strength and love. She knows that He will never ever ever leave her side, no matter what happens. So she smiles, the way a 10 year old does, with enough wisdom from lessons learned to be dangerous, but with enough curiosity left to be Really dangerous. 

The danger she posses will cause the enemy to lay repeated traps, roadblocks and temptations in her way. And who would blame him? No one ever said the devil was stupid. He knows where the danger lies, but so does she. The roadblocks might slow her down in her race toward the prize. The traps might catch her foot and make her fall. She might even be injured for awhile. The temptations might catch her eye and pause her progress, but nothing will bind her up because the Son has set her free.

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free....So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:32,36) 

And I am free indeed...

"Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." (John 3:3)
I was "born again" of the Spirit, and this week I turned 10 years old.  I was at the University of Kentucky I had just joined the Army ROTC, when the World Trade Center Towers fell. I knew my world of joining a peace-time Army and just doing a few push ups and running a few miles would no longer be a simple future. I had struggled for many years looking for answers on how to cope with the issues of my life. Knowing that I couldn't do it on my own and that there Had to be something more powerful out there to make the oceans and the mountains. I had been going to church for probably about a year and attending Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings for a couple months with my new friends. What had I been waiting for? To get the "party girl" out of me? Who knows, but the idea that I could have been on a plane or working in a tower... or going to class or crossing the street and my world could end at any moment. I wanted to know that I was saved from eternal hell. I wanted to start living my life for and with my creator. I wanted to live with joy and hope for a beautiful future. So I did. I made my decision then and there. It hasn't all been rainbows and butterflies... ask me about it if you dare ;) but it is my beautiful life and I am working to live one day at a time and enjoy one moment at a time, accepting hardships as a pathway to peace... taking, as Christ did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it and trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will and let go of mine. Knowing that I can be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Reflection Question: Have you begun living your life for and with God? Have you asked Him to come into your heart, to dwell there, forgive your sins (past, present and future), and to make His will your hope for the future? ...the Good news is, you can do that right now if you want :) Please let me or someone else who is a Christ Follower know if you have made that decision!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Life Sentence

When you dwell on injustice or on a situation that has wronged you, you only give it power. It steals your productivity, your creativity… actually, more accurately, you GIVE away your productivity and creativity and energy because no one can take something from you that is not physical. You are the manager of your life. Your life belongs to the creator, but He has given you the “signature authority”. No, we cannot say that we will still have it tomorrow b/c you never know when there might be a natural disaster, car wreck or freak illness that could take our lives, but today, right now, you get to make a choice. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it. It seems like our emotions and feelings have control. That is a LIE; a boldface lie of the enemy. Our enemy wants us to think that we don’t have control, but the FACT is, the TRUTH is, we have been given the gift of freewill from our creator. 
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) 
The author and perfecter of our lives gave us the ability to make a choice, to make millions of choices. The reality is that if we are imprisoned by our feelings and emotions, then we have chosen to be there. To escape it is not always as easy as making the decision not to believe the lies, oh how I wish it were. I would be able to free so many of the enemy’s prisoners. We must band together and work to become free of the lies, because it’s Worth it! Because WE are Worth it!
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matt 18:20)
If Jesus decided that YOU are worth dying a horrific death by crucifixion, then you are worth fighting for. Your happiness, your joy your HOPE are worth the time and effort it takes to break free. As I was talking to God this very morning, my brain has been swirling. I feel very fortunate that I get to hear words from God, but today He, very poignantly pointed me back to the Bible. He said, “Your mind is too full of lies for me to speak to you. You need to seek the truth in My word”. And that was it. So… I started in Matthew b/c I have to admit I’ve been bouncing all around the Bible in my readings lately so I thought I should probably refocus and start at the beginning of the New Testament. 
When I came to the end of chapter 6, I stopped and began writing. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt 6:34) I am so busy worrying about the future that I am not living right now. So what can I do today? What does God call me to do today? I know it’s not entirely possible, but if I didn’t have to plan for the future at all, what would I do with myself today? 
I was recently talking to friend of mine, Vickie, who has been struggling. She has struggled with inner turmoil, the kind that makes you feel inadequate and that you’ll never amount to anything worthwhile. She has dealt with garbage within her Church family, the one place that she is supposed to feel safe and loved. Luckily for her (and us) our God is greater than all of our struggles and she recently got a beautiful revelation: “You are sentenced to live with the person you become, however, you have the ability to choose who that person is.” And she CHOSE to be Amazing! Each day is a new day, a new choice, a new opportunity to learn from our past and to be who we want to be in the Present! I too am choosing to BE today and not worry about tomorrow.
Reflection Question: What are you worrying about? Pray to Jesus to lift your burden. How can you be the person you want to be TODAY? 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Devil Went Down...

No matter how depressed I get or riled with anxiety, the enemy has lost the war. He might win a battle here or there; I'm sure you too have lived to tell about being temporarily defeated on some occasion or another, but the war has been won. We don't know when or how Jesus will return to triumphantly lay claim to His followers, but we know He will. 

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." (John 14:1-4 NIV) 

I have had a rough couple of weeks struggling with doubt and anxiety. The fear of the unknown future always turns me inside out and this has been a tough one. My best friend is deployed. No matter any struggles we have had, my husband has always, since we've been together, been right there with me through my personal internal battles. Between the lost connections, limited time and time difference, I have had to rely on outside sources to help me through this bout. 

As my pastor quoted a wise women he once knew, "He is a good devil." For certain, the enemy is good at his job. He knows just where to lie in waiting to ambush us. Right where to hit to be affective. I personally seem to be addicted to affirmation. On the surface it doesn't seem so bad; it makes me driven and "good" at what I aspire to. But leave myself open to the "father of lies" and my "strength" can also be my biggest downfall. Pride. 

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." (Proverbs 11:2 NIV)

I am addicted to affirmation. I seek it out and without it I become something I do not know. Without being able to pour myself into the Army full time, I am having a hard time placing my identity. 

"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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

The great thing about investing in other people's spiritual lives is that when you're down, they can always recite your words right back to you. And well, if "I" said them, they must be true.  ;)

I was venting to my mom this week about what I'm struggling with and the most wonderful thing happened. My words of Gods affirmation that have breathed new life into her, came full circle and gave me hope for the future. My mom is no theologian, but in the end, truth is truth. The Bible does not lie and if we turn there, we will always find what we need. 

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

So too bad for you enemy. I might have lost a battle and believed your lies about my unworthiness for a moment, but not for long. 

"The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1 NIV)

Reflection Question: What lies are you believing? Ask God to open the eyes of your heart to His truth.