Philippians 4:14-23- It Might Not Be Worth It

I’m currently reading this book Everybody Always. It’s a book about learning to love difficult people. I wish I could say I’m learning a lot, but to be honest, it’s only reverberating everything the Lord has already revealed to me over the last few weeks just with less scripture and more words.

If I’ve never taught you anything else.. listen to this because this is certifiably true.

When God wants you to learn something- He is absolutely going to make it His business to show you. This is both cool and frustrating because there’s no fooling God- in case you didn’t know.

I bet I’ve told Jesus a million times, maybe two million, okay God I’ve got it.

I understand that whatever I lay down at Your feet, I should leave there.

Gosh God, I know you know better than I do so I’m just going to let you fix this.

Could you please move on, Lord, I get it. I promise that I am going to do my best to just let it all go because you are sovereign.

….. just in case you needed a few examples….

And you know what? No matter how many times I’ve told Him these things… until I truly move on from one “I’ve got it” He is going to pull me back. Because He loves me.

I’ve started asking myself.. is your pride really worth having to learn this over and over? I’m getting better at reminding myself that it is not.

“What we’ve spent our time collecting might not be worth it.” That’s the title of tonight’s chapter.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve collected things. Conversations, behaviors, personalities. Some people would call these memories but I pocketed them differently.

When I heard women talk about someone and then turn to the subject of that conversation with the biggest, most friendly smile… I pocketed that.

When I had an argument with my significant other over something he did wrong, I pocketed that.

And when I did something I shouldn’t have, I pocketed that too.

Here’s the scripture: Philippians 4:14-23

“And my God will supply ever need according to his riches and glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

Only a few weeks back a good friend of mine was sharing some of her heart with me, and to illustrate what she was trying to get across she said, “and I used you as an example, all of your every day people will only see you for what they think you did. They will never know who you really are because their minds are already made up.”

She was right- She still is.

People pocket the things they’ve heard; they pocket the past. People form opinions and they pocket those too and that’s it.

And what do I do? I pocket my opinions and then carry theirs too because now I’ve got something to prove.

We see another woman in swim suit and she’s got it together (you know abs- together- because none of mine touch)- y’all, she’s busting her tail- and we pocket that, not to compliment her on her hard work- to tell her how great she looks but to resent her for the time she sets aside because “we don’t have time, we’re too busy” or to have something to compare ourselves to right before we slip into the shower.

You’ve had an awful day at work and you’ve pocketed all those feelings because you can’t spill them out there… and when you get home your kids are fighting over a bag of cheeto puffs and the entire bag splits open onto your fresh swept white tile. Not only do you have to pocket those puffs into a new sack (because who wastes Cheetos) that one mess is what splits the seam and your entire day pours out onto your kids or maybe your husband.

Anybody else as guilty as me?

“What we’ve spent our time collecting might not be worth it.”

Now this guy in the book was talking about hoarding arcade tickets for the purpose of illustration and Paul is talking about the way his ministry was financially supplied and how God will also supply our every need too but guys, I’m talking about life.

We cannot call ourselves Christians by way of forgiveness through Jesus Christ all the while stuffing our pockets with everyone else’s shortcomings to pull out for comparison when you’re feeling bad about your own.

We cannot call ourselves loved and God honoring when we use another woman’s success to discount our own. I promise Jesus didn’t just bless her with abs; with the right work you could have some too.

And you absolutely cannot claim redemption over your life if you’re living in yesterday while God is pushing you to tomorrow.

Growth and comfortability cannot co-exist.

You don’t need your past and you don’t need hers (or mine either for what it’s worth)

God offers you so much more. All that stuff we’re holding on to, because who knows when you might need the ammunition to blast that girl that stole your third grade boyfriend (because I haven’t forgotten), and it’s just weighing us down. Internalizing these things are crowding your heart, leaving no room for what God wants to supply you with.

You think that size two girl is out to get you? She’s not. Compliment her.

You think that other girl is a straight up mess? Okay, maybe. Pray for her.

Your kids throw Cheetos on your clean floor? You just got y’all a picnic without all that extra work. The floor is clean, sit down with them, laugh, and turn your day around.

God grants us forgiveness and gives us the ability to forgive (Colossians 3:13), shares with us an unconditional love with the expectation that we also distribute that (John 13:34), and anything else we could ever ask for so long as it aligns with His will and His way. (Matthew 21:22)

We need nothing else- the things you’ve been saving are a waste of space.

He will supply our every need.

Pocket that. He will not move on until you do because He loves you too.

And so do I,

Philippians 4:11-13: You can’t wash out Regret

I sat in the passenger seat of my husband’s truck and just cried as he and I talked the other day.

I revealed to him that I had let my heart get twisted up and sideways- like he didn’t already know I had let my priorities slip- and just how disappointed I was.. in me.

Work has been busy, summer has had me tired, and I have been absent. Absent like not on vacation.. just skating around the house doing what “needed” to be done with little investment elsewhere.

I read once that if Satan can’t beat you, he will at least try and keep you busy.

And he did… keep me busy…

Do you know what I get asked probably more than anything by my followers?

How do find time to study the Bible?”

Let me tell you something. The Bible is food, y’all. A relationship and bedtime prayer is not good enough for Jesus. Even if you spend everyday, every thought, with the idea of Jesus… if you’re not spending time with Him in His word.. you’re going to be hungry. Hangry even, I know that’s a thing now and probably more appropriate to what I’m trying to illustrate.

This hunger is not that belly burning rumble, it’s subtle… until it’s poked. You don’t realize (I don’t guess you do, I didn’t) until it’s there.. that one thing that caused you to respond in a way you normally wouldn’t.

Hangry. Like devouring an entire deep dish pizza and then having to sit in that.. it’s misery. Tasted good at the time though didn’t it?

What about that argument with your husband about not taking out the trash?.. felt right didn’t it? Justified. He deserved it. Until he told you how awful his day was.. and then misery- you’re sitting in it.

What about fussing at your kids for ruining your new towels. I mean they should not even been messing with the laundry, they don’t do anything else? And then they say, “Mama, I’m sorry I messed this up- but I just knew you’ve been really tired and we just wanted to help you Mama.” Misery.

**Disclaimer: these examples are not based on real life events but provided for illustration as an opportunity to learn**

Subtle.. until poked, eliciting a greater than normal- or totally different than normal- response.

The Bible is food, and y’all were hungry. I mean I don’t know about you but I make time for lunch every day. Sometimes twice.

It takes less than five minutes to have a change in circumstance; less than that to have a change in your feelings.

Anybody else have that one child that can poke you faster than any of the others or is that just me?

…and we have to be ready for that.

When you leave for a four hour trip in the car with 3 under the age of 4- you get ready. You go potty and pack a snack or there will be at least one explosion.

….and you really think that a wet car seat makes for a bad day… until you have a wet face because you weren’t prepared.

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound.  in any and every circumstance, I have learned that secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

learned: having much knowledge acquired by study.

whatever: used to emphasize a lack of restriction in referring to anything,  no matter what

content: in a state of peace.

We will have good days, the best days… we will also have bad ones, the ones that feel like the worse… and the secret to survival that doesn’t lead to heartache and regret is the same… Jesus.

The way you feel on a day-to-day basis can change in a moment, several times a day if you’re like me… Situations.. circumstances… people… problems… changing.. all the time. Do not let your day dictate your demeanor and don’t let a temporary circumstance compromise your character.

I have.

I let my heart get twisted around because I let the life I have been given supersede what gives me life. I didn’t regularly feed my appetite for our Lord because I was too busy… or too tired… and because of that, what I have learned in all my studying became rusty, I said things I shouldn’t have even though I know that no matter what I am called to a different response, and because of those things… my soul was stirred and my peace robbed.

Satan stole my time, crippled my character, and destroyed my peace. (John 10:10)

Busy is what he does; it’s what he waits on; this is what he plans. (Luke 4:13)

Satan cannot defeat you, but he can disarm you.

You will absolutely be tested (1st Peter 4:12), but Jesus will not test you beyond what you can bear, and for every chance Satan tempts you, Jesus also gives you an opportunity of escape. (1st Corinthians 10:13)

but it’s our choice.

It’s not that difficult to clean up a soiled carseat… but regret? that’s hard to wash out.

Obedience is our job; outcome is His

God rewards those faithful to Him, and He only wants what’s best for us. Not what feels best. Even if it hurts, we have not missed God’s protection over our lives. He has a much greater purpose than helping us avoid pain- it’s to make us better servants for Him. God guides us through circumstances- not helps us escape them.

Make the time before you make the mistake.

Hugs,

Philippians 4: 8-9: “Don’t start it, but Finish it”

When my dad was still living, he told me… Katie never throw the first punch, but if someone comes at you… you finish it. Don’t let anyone ever push you around. You won’t be in trouble, I promise.

I grew up with this mindset.

Katie, no one else is going to take care of you so you take care of you. Sad enough, it was true and when someone pushed me, well… i pushed back. I was respectful as long as I was respected… and when I wasn’t… I wasn’t.

So…

Last week, I watched my kids fight over two legos and a plastic kitten. Two legos and a plastic kitten.

Probably not a big ordeal, right? But in that moment… it was to them.

It began with my daughter scooting, with her kitten, closer and closer to Haisten. With absolutely no interest in legos at all, she waited until he sat down one lego on top of the other and she snatched them. He pushed her; she pushed him back, and he ran to me crying while she paraded around the kitchen with two legos, a plastic kitten, and her own rendition of a victory song and a complimentary smile.

Haisten, you shouldn’t have pushed your sister.

“But mama, she took my legos.”

Gracie you shouldn’t have took your brothers legos and you shouldn’t have hit him either.

“Mama you saw him hit me first. I hit him back; I didn’t hit him; i just hit him back. and mama, he is bigger so he knows better mama and I don’t”

In that moment, my heart sank. Don’t our children teach us so much about life?

God uses the smallest, most ordinary things to send great messages.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put into practice.   And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

I’ve shared with you guys how selfish I was before I came to know, really know, Jesus.

I guess I would have made daddy proud because I certainly didn’t let anyone run over me.

Katie took care of Katie because Katie felt like she always had to.

I knew nothing of a gentle spirit; some days it brings me to tears because I still don’t.

For so long, I’ve had that ‘don’t start it but finish it’ attitude and despite how hard I’ve tried to suppress that old piece of me… at the most inconvenient of times, it will bubble up and out before I’ve reconciled my heart to what it most important.

There has to be a time in your life as a faithful follower of Jesus that you quit standing up for yourself and start standing down for Jesus.

The Bible doesn’t say if they break your leg; break their neck. It says turn the other cheek. See Matthew 5:39

The Bible doesn’t say that if a person fights you, fight back. It says that in this world we do not battle things of the flesh and people but are engaged in spiritual warfare and that war isn’t won with army artillery; it’s won with spiritual armor. See Ephesians 6:12

The Bible doesn’t say if someone hurts your feelings with words, hurt them back. It says that so long as it depends on you, live peaceably with everybody for vengeance is for the Lord. See Romans 12:17-19

The Bible doesn’t even say that once you are saved you are safe from all of these things, but it does say that we should suffer for what is right even at our own expense. See Hebrews 11:25-26

I’m not sure which hurts worse, the punch to our person or the punch to our pride.

My dad promised that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I didn’t start it, but my Father says different.

Two wrongs do not make a right: “Make sure that nobody pay back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and everyone else.” 1st Thessalonian 5:15

We all have “those” days and “those” people that sometimes make it hard to be kingdom focused and character conscious.

In this scripture Paul says if there is ANY thing that is praise worthy, think about that… and do good things, right things.

Isn’t it so easy to be obedient in life when it aligns with something we want to do?

When I felt called to a new career, I was excited for what the Lord was doing, and with nervous obedience I jumped into that calling and gosh it has poured blessings on myself and my family.

Obedience pours blessings. Always.

But starting my day with a slap across my right cheek, and Jesus giving the instruction to just smile humbly and instead of giving someone a piece of my mind, just give them a piece of my other cheek instead..

where’s the blessing in that? Blessed that the Lord said don’t worry about applying my blush that day?

I mean maybe but humility keeps us obedient, and obedience always gives us greater access to the promise.

Paul said think about that one thing and the peace of God be with you. It will be hard sometimes, and while Satan will pour all of those should have said/ could have dones on you, as believers we’ve got to learn to stand down.

“If anyone chooses to follow me, he must deny himself daily, take up his cross, and follow me.” Luke 9:23

In my studying scripture I came across some biblical commentary that quoted it like this:

“obedience is your job; outcome is His.”

Wow, right?

Whatever our circumstance, God is either doing it or He is allowing it to happen.

And the outcome to either is His.

Satan lets us believe that we have a say in how things end for us, like our lives and decisions are not already known and knitted. If we said this or acted like that then difficult people and difficult things will automatically come to their senses and the situation just dissolves allll because you did (insert here).

Hind sight is 20/20 but in that moment we are justifiably sure that what we do matters.

I wonder if God sits up there in the clouds and laughs at us?

You know… When we think we know better than God or can better control and manipulate a situation better than God. God Almighty, the One that sets the sun and moves mountains? yeah. okay.

Sometimes we get so caught up in how a certain place in our lives feels that we completely forget about God’s promises in those places and that is what Paul is urging us to remember here.

God is faithful and God will do whatever it takes to keep His promise to those that are faithful to Him.

“A faithful man will abound in blessings” Proverbs 28:20

“And his master replied Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master’s happiness” Matthew 25:21

“Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is GOD; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep in His commandments” Deuteronomy 7:9

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” Hebrews 10: 35-36

The way you live your life is the greatest ministry you can provide to a public people and may be the only way a lost soul comes to know Jesus. As Christians we must carry this  duty heavily on our shoulders and with a sincere urgency.

Our human-ness fails our faith sometimes. We are and never will be, by no standard, perfect; however, it is indispensably important that we will ourselves to mirror ourselves in the image of Christ as close as humanly possible.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Collosians 3:15-17

Never let a momentary dispute place you in a permanent disposition.

Nasty people and bad times are temporary and so are hurt feelings.

set aside the difference for the destiny.

Biggest Hugs,

img_0999-2

 

 

When we feel vindicated in our actions and lost in our prayers

God never fails to provide me an opportunity to learn, even in the mundane.

Today, like any other day, my kids and I got home and the first thing they want is something to drink immediately followed by snack. My youngest will ask for a brownie every single time (literally every time, y’all), and every time I tell her the same thing.

“Not a brownie until after supper, Gracie; what else do you want?”

She knows  that brownie is waiting for her behind those big sliding barn doors in our kitchen; she also knows she is not getting it right then, but she has to try it anyway.

Do you every find yourself repetitively  asking God for the same things over and over? Mayyybbee not the same things, but You know, the ‘something’s gotta give’ type things, the ‘aren’t you God, don’t you know I need this’ kind of things.

I’ve given Jesus a lot of tears, y’all. Tears shed for much the same purpose or principle.

over. and. over.

You see, I know God. I know that He is true to His promises; and I know that His promises are reserved for those who earnestly seek Him.

This means I know that my brownie is back there somewhere. Somewhere, behind this door or that one, awaits my deliverance, my promise from God as one of His children and even though I know I will not have it until it is the right time, until God is ready to give it to me, I’m going to ask anyway. Like that little blonde beauty seeking what appeals her senses, I too, am seeking what I believe will fill my soul.

and here I am rolling my eyes at my daughter; It’s  like an ‘I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I’ type things. I just had to smile to myself today when she said “but mamaaaaa, when” because God whispered me a spiritual nah-nah-na-boo-boo in my ear.

Let me pause to tell you this spiritual stirring occurred Tuesday of this week… I knew then that there was more so I jotted what’s above down and I’ve been just waiting for the rest.

Not exactly where I thought He was taking it but nonetheless here it is:

what I believe will fill me.

Raise your hand if you already know what’s wrong! (Eye roll here)

This morning my husband and I were laying in bed discussing (him listening to me discuss with me) an ongoing situation that has been just building building building problem- you know- those things that won’t go away. He smiles and tells me it’s going to be okay, and I leave the house thinking HA! Dang right it is. Because we’re gonna… And Facebook tells me I’ve got some memories today.

Oooohhh do I.

March 1st of last year, Jesus was revealing to me that I didn’t have to be anybody but His. The rest didn’t matter. The past didn’t matter. What people thought didn’t matter. He had a promise for me and it is good. Just follow me.

In this passage, God has changed Jacobs name from he grabs his heel to Israel, and honorable name and man of God.

Jesus had changed my name too.

Fast forward to March this year, a year later, and He has shown me something entirely different on these very same pages. Look up to the top left corner to the text that is half cut out.

“The safest place is God’s will”

In the story of Rachel and Leah, when Rachel finally got what she had been asking for, she found nothing but sorrow.

She and her sister Leah were in a constant competition- so much that Rachel named her last son Ben-On meaning son of trouble.

Do you ever feel like you are in a constant battle with something? With someone?

Do you pray over and over for something particular and just silence?

You are fighting… against God and with Satan.

No matter the circumstance, the safest place to be is still in the center of Gods will. If it’s not His character, it’s also not His plan.

In this story, these sisters were offering their servants to Jacob in a contest to who could have the most babies. They were trying to beat God to the blessings and Jacob, well he just did what he was told.

Poor Jacob, even though that was a custom for that time does not make it right. Even if some things are socially acceptable in our time… doesn’t mean it’s right.

Then those girls. They just couldn’t wait. Trusting God when nothing seems to be happening is so hard isn’t it? Not as difficult as some of the consequences we create for ourselves trying to rush it all.

God has a plan. And God is God. Our disobedience will never derail His plan for our lives, but it can greatly affect how we end up experiencing it.

When you just feel like you need something right now, you can’t wait- that’s Satan. Would God rush it?

When you know you can tell that person just how you feel because they sure didn’t mind telling you- that’s Satan. Would Jesus be ugly?

When someone else has made you feel less than, made you feel hurt, made you feel well just flat out mad- and you just need to tell them how wrong they are.. you know, pick up and throw some stones of your own- that’s Satan. Would Jesus bring up all of our wrongs to hurt our feelings?

When you feel.

What I felt.

Y’all, your feelings will never give you full and accurate information. There’s always more to the story than how it made you feel.

It’s Satan. Anything not of the character of God is a characteristic of Satan. period.

And anything you feel outside of what scripture says is acceptable.. that’s Satan too.

I’ll say it again- anything that is outside of Gods character is also outside his plan…

What’s that mean? For me it meant girl just Hush and wait.

Patience is the hardest to have when you need it the most.

Always, always resist the temptation to think that God has forgotten about you.

“The lord is on my side; I will not fear for what can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6

“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that by test you may discern what is the will of God: what is true, honorable, and right” Romans 12:2

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you” Exodus 14:13

“You are my portion, Lord; I have promised to obey your words.” Psalms 119:57

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” Hebrews 10:23

We are not here to point fingers, we are not here to point fingers back. We weren’t placed here to be wonderful wives or bad ones; good mothers or bad ones, to be successful or not, to have nice homes or not, or perfect jobs or not.

We were created for two things- to ask God for forgiveness and spend the rest of our lives listening to Him.

It’s the little things- the things we think we can do on our own strength- that get us down- not the big things we know only God can do.

He’s in control of the brownie y’all- not us.

Be still in your feelings, be confident in your prayers. Despair will cast you down, keeping you from standing. Fear will tell you to retreat, and impatience will tell you to do something now.

We don’t have to be anything but His, and He grows the rest. In his time you are the good wife. In his time you are the good mother. In his time you have the perfect job. In His time you have your cozy home. I know this because God makes no mistake and if we wait for His time and His plan it’s the absolute perfect plan because he’s given us the perfect Son delivering to us a flawless promise.

Be two things- sorry and saved- then let God be God because well it’s right there.

“Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” 2 Peter 1:4

He has given us a promise so that we can act right and escape this awful place causing us to feel awful things.

Father,

We know you have planned all things, the best possible things for us, God. Let us know that you are with us, even on the days that it feels like you’re not. We are not forgotten and we are heard. Give us the strength God to wait on your time in a way that represents your nature, Father, and the patience to fight our feelings and that need of a surface response to protect them and instead produce an internal sense of security from the promise you’ve given that says it’s already taken care of. Let us let you be You God.

Amen

Why Does This Keep Happening? The Answer.

“I do not understand. Why are things still just the way they have been? Why do we have to do this over and over?”

I know I have asked myself these same two questions an infinate amount of times. Even with the answers before me, I will likely ask them again.

I have to believe that I am not the only one that fights these same said battles over and over. Things you’ve dealt with, prayed over, laid at the feet of Jesus, forgiven, and even prayed over again that just keep. coming. back. up.

Psalm chapter 12:

“save, oh lord, for the godly one is gone, for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor, with flattering lips, and a double heart they speak……. because the poor are plundered, because the needy cry, I will now arise, says the Lord.  I will place him in the safety for which he longs.  The words of the lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times. You, O lord will keep them; you will guard us from this generation forever.  On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

If I were to ask you who is the single most ruler of this world you would say?

Growing up in the bible belt, most all of us would presume the answer is Jesus, but that is not so.

The Godly one is gone; Jesus has left this Earth, and the faithful have vanished from the children of man. Man is Adam and Adam equates sin to which we are all born unto. Satan is the ruler of Earth. He even tempts Jesus in Matthew 4- Jesus come on over here, you see all of this on top of this mountain. I will give all of this to you if only you will bow and worship me.

David goes on to describe this people, those that only say what people want to hear. Even in the church, or maybe especially, there are those who always have just the right answer for any occasion but speak with no truth or transparency of heart- a double heart at that. Two hearts; one for Sundays and another for all the other days of the week.

And so what’s wrong with these people? These recurring things in our lives that show up time after time after time?

2 Corinthians 4:4 says it perfectly. “In their case the god of this world (satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.

The scripture in this psalm lays it out, but maybe you just need some help dissecting it to fully understand its principality.

“On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted amongst the children of man.”

On every side– completely surrounding not only every circumstance but also every corner.

vileness– nasty, offensive, awful, and unsavory

exalted-  placed at a high or powerful level.

Yall, even as Godly people, we must never forget we live in an evil world. A world that exalts or gives power to all of these awful, potentially destructive, things. We, even believers, make the mistake of subconsciously giving such things POWER over our lives.

We have, maybe not as Christians but as a people, have a created a world that seeks pleasure in sinful entertainment that we find so enticing… until it directly affects our own personal lives.

sex. gossip. addiction. infidelity. betrayal. fatality. tragedy.

These are all topics that we enjoy sharing with our friends or find even sanctifying to be the first one to “get the news” and why Y’all? for what? I don’t know when we saw fit to enjoy in the failure of someone else, to make of a catastrophe some type of commodity in the midst of some of the most vulnerable and unavoidably transparent aspects of peoples lives.

but we have.

it is absolutely imperative that we realized that even though our spirits are safe in heaven, our very alive bodies are here. in this place. that has made these things acceptable.

wicked reigns, guys. Here evil, reigns.

All of these little tests. The walls that you run into over and over, that’s not God y’all. That’s Satan. God desires nothing but the best for His people.

Colossians 1 verse 13 says that God has rescued us from the darkness of this world and has assigned us a seat in heaven.

Praise Jesus, We have saved seats, but y’all not until we get there.

It says that His word is pure- refined, grounded. that means that it has been tested, studied, criticized. it is without impurity or flaw even after it has been sifted through and it remains standing.

yet we give evil the authority over our lives?

sounds crazy doesnt it?

Even to choose exalt Christ in our lives, does not mean the elimination of evil.

Even with a word precious and pure, people will still prefer those same things that will bury them.

but God says that because, indicating when, those are plundered, when the needy cry Then I will rise.

plundered. laid flat and bare. needy. crying. and I’m coming.

It wasn’t until I suffered without Christ, that I realized just how much joy there was to suffering with Him.

The next time you want to question the reappearing wall in front of you, ask yourself which god would set it before you- the one of this world, or The One.

You see, Satan may in fact rule this world, as the scripture says, but Jesus… He won it.

God, as much as I would like my actions to matter, on the days that I am full of doubt, I’m so glad they don’t. Thank you for an unfailing victory over all evil, even my own. Thank you, God, for you.

Amen.

The valleys and asking God why

A year ago today, I was saved.

I have never been brave enough to tell the story of my salvation; I have just always stressed how life changing it was. Life saving, really.

Sometimes we find ourselves in these places in life where not so much makes sense. You can’t see how anything in front of you can be fixed and how nothing behind could ever bring good.

Why did God take my father?

Why did God not help my mom quit drinking?

Why did my house burn down?

Why did all of this happen so close together?

I asked this God guy a million questions growing up.

Faith is a funny thing for those that do not understand it. We live in a tangible world so naturally we only believe the things we see, the things we can touch, what is directly in front of us.

This very day a year ago, I sat in a valley of my life that could have very easily been detrimental to the lives of my husband, my children, and even my eternity. I sat there broken hearted because I only saw what sat in front of me that one particular day.

I didn’t understand why God had allowed all of these things to happen. The problem was, though, that I didn’t understand God.

Job chapter 37 says “listen to this, stop and consider God’s wonders.  Do you know how God controls the clouds and makes his lightening flash? Do you know how the clouds hand poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge?” v.14-16

The chapter goes on to say, “We cannot imagine the power of The Almighty; but even though he is just and righteous, He does not destroy us.  No wonder people everywhere fear Him. All who are wise show Him reverence.” v. 23-24

There are things that we do not know. There are things we aren’t supposed to and only one thing we are.

Salvation is free. It is the one decision we can make in our lives and know the ultimate outcome.

but what about all of our other choices?

What about our Time. Mistakes. Life. Those things aren’t ours to know.

Do you think the drunk driver would have drove knowing in 30 minutes he or she would have been pulled over and taken to jail for DUI?

What about the teen mom? Would she have had unprotected sex knowing it would result in a child sophomore year?

What if i has know that on my wedding day that the picture me and my ex-husband posed for would only hold sentiment to my children one day because that marriage would fail?

I mean what if?

We know drinking and driving is illegal. We know that premarital sex sometimes causes a premarital pregnancy, and that unfortunately some marriages end in divorce. That does not mean that we believe it will happen to us.

Valleys.

Often we do not understand them until were standing on the peak of it’s mountain, until we’ve finally made it back to the top. Oh THIS is why I had to go through that. I get it now.

Good things come from bad times. The drunk driver was arrested this time so the next time doesn’t end in a wreck killing all of those involved. The teen mom grows up faster- learns early how to be an adult that makes decisions based on consequence- learns how to put others before herself. It makes her a stronger person, an even stronger mother. And divorce? it usually teaches man and woman how to be better spouses in their next relationship, about compromise and service.

What the devil intended for evil, God intended for good Genesis 50:20 teaches us.

Ezekiel tells a story of a man being lead through water. First to water that was ankle-deep, then knee deep, then waist deep, and finally to a river that could not be crossed alone.

“Then He asked, “Son of man, do you see this? and then he led him back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me This water flows toward the eastern regions and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the dead sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. there will be large numbers of fish because this water flows there and makes the salty water fresh. so where the river flows everything will live. … fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. every month they will bear fruit because water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.” chapter 47

Like these waters, when Jesus melts us even in the most bitter and salty areas of our lives, we are made fresh. Sometimes it takes Him leading us into currents that we cannot conquer to trust in something greater than ourselves. It’s where the water is highest that love and comfort overflows. Every person that chooses to drown in the waters of sanctuary will live on the river of eternity.

If you every find yourself in a place like I did, just stop. Consider Gods wonders, the scripture says. Let the water rush over you, correct you, cleanse you, and know that no, you just don’t know and find rest in the fact that you don’t have to. Be thankful that even when you can’t see through the clouds there is a perfector, the Almighty, piecing together a promise, a rainbow, on the other side of your storm, on the top of your mountain.

Had I given up on my mountain, I would have missed out on the view at the top. Looking back over the last year, it has certainly been one of the hardest climbs of my life. It has also been one of the best. There has been nothing greater than the cleansing correction of my Father and the promise that came when I did not die with this world, but only died to myself.

My pastor said it best last night when he said in this life God doesn’t want our success, He only wants our surrender. Had my life gone just as I had planned, I may not have ever known a life on the other side. I would have lived in the sun and never known how free it felt to dance in the rain.

Let us all see that this world operates with remarkable order and wisdom. If He has planned the perfect path of every cloud, He has also prepared the perfect one for you. Just because we are not in the perfect place does not mean we are not in the middle of a perfect plan. Wade the waters and simply trust God, and when they get too deep, know that our God walks on water and He has the entire world in the palm of His hands. He does all these other things marvelously well and know that you, too- this, too, is already worked out ahead of time- all according to perfect time and order.

Father,

I do not always understand, and the things that I feel I do, I do not always like. Sometimes the water feels too deep and this life, too much, but i know that in this life my tears are counted and so are the hairs of my head. For every one detail I can see ahead of me, there are infinite reasons there that I cannot. I’ll never ask again that you take anything from me, instead please give me the faith to know it is good, strength to climb over it, and wisdom to learn the lessons on my way up. Thank you God for these opportunities. Thank you, God, for You. -Amen

Hugs sweet friends,

Philippians 3:1-6: The Real Christian

“Furthermore, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.  Watch out for those dogs, those evil-doers, those mutilators of the flesh.  For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by His spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh- though I myself have reasons for such confidence.  If someone else has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more. circumcised on the eight day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, A Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee, as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” Philippians 3:1-6

Trying not too get to historical, I want to quickly explain some history before we get to the meat of this. Paul is saying look, I’m reminding you because this is important. “Dogs” is a word the Jews would use for the gentiles.. Paul says be careful around these people..these evil doers. They think heaven is for the law abiding citizens and to get there.. if you’re not Jewish.. you first have to become a Jew before you can become a Christian. You have to be circumcised. Paul says this is mutilation. Skipping some words we will revisit, Paul said I’ll tell you why it’s wrong. If anybody has the right to think who they are and what they do will get you to heaven, it’s me guys. I am the circumcised stock of Israel. I’m family with the first king of Israel and I’m Hebrew. I was a Pharisee, the very best sect of people devoted to the law, an active fighter against Judaism, and by the law- I’m perfect. Now back to the middle.. even though who I am and what I do looks good by the books.. it means nothing.

The true circumcision is what we Christians are because we serve God by his spirit and not in our doings.

The real christian knows that external worship and good deeds that these people push in the church may be good things but they are not sanctifying things. Only through Jesus, because of Jesus, by Jesus in us, are we saved- not the things we do ourselves. As great as the law is, the new covenant says it’s nothing without faith.

The real christian rejoices in Christ, not in circumstances or situations but in the Lord. To abide in joy means you really believe God’s got this; He is in full control and that control is for your own good.. and we’re relieved that He’s in control because Lord knows we couldn’t do a good job on our own.

The real Christian has no confidence in the flesh. You don’t trust you to get you to heaven. Things aren’t good because you’ve been good. They’re good because JESUS is good and THAT’S a safe confidence to keep you warm at night.

Even after I was saved, after I had spent countless hours with Jesus, with His word, with Him in prayer, serving Him… there were times that I did not understand some things. Why am I having such a hard time? Why did you tell me to do this if you weren’t going to see it through? What happened to blessed is she who believed? Hello God, I believe… where’s my blessed. For a time I thought that kingdom work brought some kind of reward.. I was waiting and waiting and the package never showed up on my doorstep.

Blessings do not always come with bows.

The package did come… 2000 years ago.

God was testing my faith. Not for His knowledge, but for my own. I needed to see where I stood. Believing was the first step, but there was much more to do. I had to learn what it was like to be the real Christian, not the one that was dressed up in her new life with a mini ministry but the broken girl. The undressed, real, raw version.

There is boldness in broken. I had to learn confidence in Christ. I started looking for all of the things God was teaching me about myself as He pulled me through so many different seasons instead of asking Him why. I began to thank Him for new opportunities to trust Him differently as the color of those seasons changed. I learned to stand up in all my messy and just pour it all out there because even if it didn’t feel okay, it certainly was, because there is purpose in every single step, even those that throw you to the floor.

Y’all please please know that it is not who you are but what you are. It’s not what you’ve done or haven’t done, it’s what you do next, and it’s never what you do by yourself, but what He does with you that brings the bows.

Hugs and Tuesdays,

A Little Happy Just Because

Hey sweet friends!

Over the holiday I have been reflecting on all the things, wait for it, I’m thankful for. Around this time last year, I was in the deepest pit of, arguably, my life. I needed something more even though I had everything I had ever asked for. We had just moved into our beautiful home; I have a husband that adores me, that loves me even more for my very worst pieces, FIVE very beautiful, healthy babies that could not have blended easier to have been a mixed together family, and even a new puppy. All I was missing was a swing…

and something bigger.

I had always know of Jesus but it wasn’t until this dark season that He introduced himself in a way that was just undeniable.  This time last year on black Friday, I bought my oldest step-daughter and I a journaling bible. I enjoyed one-on-one time with this almost unrealistically sweet baby girl so much; I thought spending time coloring in our bibles together may one day do us both some good.

I colored four pages, and Jesus colored me.

I had not known Jesus at all, but suddenly I wanted to. More than anything did I want to know more.

As I sit here with literal tears and think about how that 20 dollar purchase changed my life I cant help but be overwhelmingly thankful. The absolute worst year of my life was preparing to kick off the best one because of four small pages.

img_1502

I have turned through every page this year, and cried over most of them.

I am so grateful for the constant encouragement and support of those that follow this little baby bite of Jesus. I want to share the love.

Here is a little download for y’all. It is all of my tips, tricks, and resources I’ve found over the last year and I hope that these adjustments in your quiet time with Jesus will bless your life as it has mine!

Digging Deeper

I love you all so big much!

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” Proverbs27:17

Happy Holidays,

img_0999-1

 

 

For the people who don’t deserve it

How many of you have that “ugh, just whatever” kind of person in your life? The overly-likeable, all-put together, fictitiously decorated with perfected smiles and great character- kind of person.

Yeah me, too.

Having one of my heart to hearts with a friend of  mine and I had to make a confession. I’m the literally the most un-judgemental, probably been there before, it’s fine, let’s fix this kind of person.. like ever… until I cross the path of someone that isn’t as good as they let on.. then I, admittingly, am judgemental to a fault.

How in God’s name does she have that many people fooled? 

How in the world is she one of the chosen ones in church on Sunday, and talking like that when the sun sets the same afternoon. 

You said who was going on a mission trip? Spits coffee, for what?

Whatever, sure they are. I’ve seen who she really is…

Y’all I’m so serious, I’ve done that. Don’t ask, yes, I’m embarrassed.

I’ve just finished reading the book of Jonah and Jesus was as on-time with this Old Testament prophecy in my life as that fish was in Jonah’s.

God taught Jonah a lesson about obeying Him and Jonah learned it, was passionate about it, couldn’t wait to share it with the people.

Me too.

Jonah sets out to do what God asked the first time, and He is successful. The people heard and understood; they came to God, was sorry, wanted to turn their lives around… and God said “great, okay. I changed my mind, I won’t destroy you after all.”

Jonah says wait? WHAT?

He’s mad at God. How can you do that. They don’t deserve those blessings. They don’t deserve Your mercy. What did they get ate by? Nothing. Forgive them, but for heavens sake make them sorry, make them earn it.

And here I am sitting “amen, Jonah preach. Lessons learned are lessons lived. That’s what Mama say.”
 

And so Jonah had another lesson to learn in chapter four. 

So did I.

God told Jonah that he had put time into these people, invested in these people, loved these people and He was entitled to do whatever He pleases with them… but Jonah had done nothing and earned nothing and what he had, it was given to Him by the same grace it was given to the others he was so upset over.

As people we like to belong, we want to fit.. but we also like to decide who doesn’t fit. She deserves grace, but she doesn’t. She deserves forgiveness but not that girl. 

Right then, I recognized that very same anger in myself- on a personal level, in an intimate way. When I look at my “ugh whatever” people and I see the Lord giving them favor and Blessings, I’m like Jonah.. wait, what?

You’re wasting that on someone that doesn’t deserve God, someone that doesn’t even care…

And then I remembered all the times I didn’t deserve it.. all the times I won’t.. 

Jonah 4:2 says I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, changing your mind on disaster.

Grace– a favor that is free and so good that it can not be earned

Mercy- a god that does not give us what we deserve

Slow to anger– a god that is patient with us as we stumble around who we want to be into who we are

Steadfast love- because it takes a love that constantly pours over us who consistently fall short

Changing his mind from disaster- bc he beat wreckage for us. Paid it in full, because our lives will forever be, even unknowingly, littered with sin and He loves us enough to clean up our messes, to clean up our hearts.

Jesus says Love for everybody, not just you. While this gift is only accepted by few, it was meant for many.


Hugs,

Am I Saved? Is this enough?

When I feed all of my babies, it’s like an assembly line.

A friend of mine laughed at me once at her son’s birthday party because I laid out five plates to travel down the snack line.

A stack a little of this, some of that, maybe more of that for that someone and less for another- depending on who they are.

I know what should be enough for them to be satisfied and so I give just that. The amount i think is right- just enough.

I’ve had many conversations with people over the last year about my faith. One friend in particular asked me, “… but I mean, what’s enough? I say my prayers and I believe in Jesus. I do, but your like Christian-Christian. I couldn’t do what you do.”

And y’all my heart broke.

She didn’t know my life before Jesus, she only new me today. I has so much to share.

I remember asking myself if I was doing enough for the Lord. I thought I was, but it’s not until I knew what I know now that I actually had no idea.

If you’re wondering if you’re really saved you’re in the red zone. Did you make a decision to follow Christ based off of a powerful experience that one time? Or did that one time decision show your life power.

Salvation isn’t showmanship. And there’s no such thing as the really christian Christian. You are.. you pretend to be.. or your not but unfortunately, only two of those matter.

It comes down to saved or not saved.

I wish I had known when I didn’t. The feeling of salvation just cannot be explained. What it’s like to have a real relationship, not just religion, with Jesus can not be explained.

I do know, however what the Lord has laid on my heart over the last few weeks, and that I can explain.

Test these things in your life.

Not every one that says bedtime prayers every day is saved.

“Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but ONLY the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” Matthew 7:21

This passage goes on to say that when judgement day comes these people will cry out Lord, Lord… “and then I declare to them away, I never knew you.” Matthew 7:23

Not everyone that is in church every time the doors open is saved.

“He said to them, “the scriptures declare, my temple will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers” Matthew 21:13

“They claim to know God but their actions deny him. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for good things” Titus 10:26

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sin is left” Hebrews 10:26

There is a statistic that says 80% of the church is lost. 80%. This is only a few of many examples.

And the most scary one, because it was such a reality in my life, and I’m sure many others is this: Not everyone that stands before the church after having said “the prayer” (y’all know which one) is saved.

“The Lord says, “these people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught” Isaiah 29:13

Salvation is found only in Jesus Christ through true deep eternal repentance. Literally aching over your sin and shortcomings and so very badly wanting, NEEDING, to do better to please the Lord and demonstrate your love for Him in your life.

“Yet now I am happy, not because you are sorry, but because your sorrow led to you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in anyway” 2 Corinthians 7:9

Y’all, the kind of sorry you have to be..hurts. It is the best, worst hurt you will ever experience and that is the easiest way I can tell you. It is painful and liberating all in one sweep.

And you will never ask “I wonder if this is enough again.” You will know.

There are three things you will come to know: Jesus is not a spare tire, Jesus is more than what Blessings He can give, and Jesus is not convenience, He’s covenant.

You have to see Jesus, savor Him, and share Him and you will be so compelled to do all the above.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:39-39

see that.

“You and your promises are trustworthy and you have promised good things to your servants” 2 Samuel 7:28

Savor that.

“Faith by itself, if it’s not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17

Share it. Share Him at every opportunity. Make opportunity.

Jesus said whosoever may believe in me must deny himself daily, pick up his cross, and follow me.

If you’re only preparing a plate to satisfy what you think is enough, only providing certain doses of certain things on only a few plates in not enough places, it’s not enough.

He gave you just the right amount of blood you needed to cover every last wrong you’ve done, all the wrong you will do. Love Him enough to portion the plate properly so that others may begin to serve that plate too.

I love you all so very very much,