Saturday, March 29, 2014

True Love Conquers All {With a Frozen Twist}

Love...

The most powerful force there is.   I love Disney movies and princess analogies.  : )

The evil villain places a spell on the princess that can only be broken with... true love's kiss.  The prince comes in to rescue his love by giving her true love's kiss.  She awakens. Evil is defeated.  And true love conquers all.

However, the most recent Disney movie, Frozen, places a new twist on true love breaking a curse, a more accurate depiction of true love.

"Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends."  John 15:13

I don't want to spoil the movie in case you haven't seen it, but in it there is a selfless act of true love that saves the princess.  She lays down her life in love for another.

Where fear had once dominated and controlled, love set the curse free and true love overcame fear.

Love conquered fear and broke the curse.

Jesus defeated fear and every other scheme of the enemy on the cross.  He demonstrated His perfect love for us by laying down His life for us.  His act of true love conquered fear and redeemed us from the curse of the law. (Galations 3:13)

The enemy wants to hold us in bondage to fear. Faith and love work together to conquer fear.  Galations 5:6 says "Faith works through love."

Perfect love casts out fear, and it takes faith to operate in that love.

 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment.
But he who fears has not been made perfect in love."   1 John 5:10 

We have Jesus' conquering kind of love inside of us!  (1 John 4:12)  Fear flees when we choose love.

Rest in His love today, His love abides in you.  Give it away.  Love will drive fear away.

True love conquers all.  






  







Friday, March 28, 2014

Bowling with the Guardrails Up


Last week, while my kids were on Spring Break, we ventured to the bowling alley.  My 11 year old son, Joe, wanted to bowl with the guardrails up.  However, I wanted to see how he would do with them down. Without the guardrails, he bowled a total score of 16 (or was it 9?).  Any rate, it was far below par (or is that just a golf term?  I know nothing about bowling other than you try to hit the pins and I rarely do that!).

For the second game, I gave in to his request for the guardrails.  Wouldn't you know it?!  He got two strikes right off the bat (wrong sport again-sorry) and he DIDN'T even use the guardrails!  I thought it was so interesting that with the guardrails down, he repeatedly threw the ball in the gutter, but when the guardrails were up, he did not even come close to hitting them!

For the first 6 frames, his ball stayed clear of the guardrails and he had a score of over 60! What was the difference?

The only conclusion I could make was that it was all mental.  Having the guardrails up boosted his confidence.

We also need guardrails in our lives.  The Word of God is our Guardrail.  Without our Guardrail, we end up in the gutter over and over again.  When the guardrails are up and we are in God's Word, we have confidence to move forward with the Lord.  We know He is protecting us and keeping us in the center of His will.  We can know He is there as our shield and ever-present help so we can be victorious rather than roll along the edges of life never reaching our goals (or pins).

Knowing what a confidence booster guardrails are, I may never bowl without the guardrails again!

I am thankful for the Word of God being my Guardrail!

Power Verses and Reflection Question: 

"Our soul waits for the Lord;  He is our help and our shield."  Psalm 33:20   

"For the Lord will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught."  Proverbs 3:26

1.  How does the Word of God, as a guardrail in your life, give you confidence?

I'd love to hear from you in the comment section!  :)




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Flower Pot Pens {and Other Hidden Talents}


Five years ago, my daughter, Sarah, made a beautiful craft for me in Mother's Day Out.  It was a flower pot with 2 silk flowers in it.  I love it and have had it on my windowsill in the kitchen for all these years.



Well, the other day I was at the doctor's office and there was a flower pot on the counter.  Inside of it were   flowers that were actually pens.  I thought it was the niftiest idea!  When they weren't being used, the incognito pens could double as flowers in the pot and add a touch of beauty!  Amazing!

I left the office and didn't think much else of these miraculous pens.

A day later I was standing in my kitchen and my flower pot with the silk flowers caught my eye.  Hmmm.  I thought, "I wonder if those flowers are pens."

I walked over to the pot and took out one of the flowers.  They were pens!! All these years I had pens in that flower pot and didn't even know it!  I thought it was just a pretty decoration.  I had no idea of its practical use!  (Please don't judge me)  {Smile}

We are all flower pot pens. We all have talents that are hidden beneath the surface, however, may not realize our full potential and usefulness.

"For we are all His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them"  Ephesian 2:10

When God made you, He made you with a specific plan in mind.  He designed you thoughtfully and purposefully.  Whether you see it or not doesn't matter, it is there, hidden temporarily until you are ready to discover it.

"For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should  come to light."  Mark 4:22

I want to encourage you today to ask the Lord if anything is hidden in you that needs to be brought to light. Ask if there are any hidden talents or gifts that He would like you to discover to reveal your true purpose.

Perhaps God has called you to be a "pen" for Him and write for His glory.

For years I was like that flower pen and didn't even know I could write.  Don't be like me and have a perfectly good pen not fulfilling its writing destiny.  If you are a pen, write!

Whatever is hidden, God will reveal in His timing.  One thing is certain, there are hidden talents in every one of God's flowers.




Monday, March 24, 2014

Being Shelved

Sometimes God speaks to me through Disney movies.

Just recently, He reminded me of Toy Story 2.

In Toy Story 2, Woody's (the cowboy doll) arm gets torn and he is placed up on the top shelf instead of getting to go with his owner, Andy, to cowboy camp.  Woody had been "shelved".  He wondered what his owner was doing.  He wondered why Andy didn't take him to camp.



Didn't Andy love him anymore?  
Didn't Andy want him to go with him?  
Why did Andy leave him seemingly abandoned on the top shelf?
Does he think I am unworthy to play with because I am broken? 

All of these questions possibly filled Woody's mind.  However, the truth was that Andy lovingly left Woody on the shelf because he was in need of repair.  It was because Andy loved Woody that he left him on the shelf until the proper mending could be completed.

God brought this to my mind because there have been seasons in my life where I have felt like God put me on a shelf.  During these seasons, I didn't feel like I was being used by God or going anywhere with my "Owner".  I felt like I was just collecting dust and waiting.  During the times I was "shelved", I wondered what God was doing.

Like Woody, I thought that perhaps I was unworthy to be used by God.  I questioned if God wanted to use me.  I mean, after all, He has plenty of other people He can use for His glory.  Perhaps I was just too broken and too much of a mess to be useful.

None of the above were true.  However, God knew I needed repair.  He knew that if I came down from the shelf too soon that it wouldn't be good for me.  He had some mending He needed to do first.

God does use the broken.  Otherwise, no one would be used by God.  We all are broken vessels held firmly together only by the bonds of His love and grace.  However, sometimes we have to get to a certain place of healing.  God keeps us safely placed in His loving care preparing us for His purpose, mending us stitch by stitch until we are ready.  He doesn't want our arm to fall off!

If you have been feeling like God has put you on a shelf and has forgotten about you, I want to encourage you today.  He knows exactly where you are.  He is waiting.  He is healing.  He is preparing you for His good purpose.  Let Him mend.  Let Him sew.  Let Him perfect everything that concerns you.  He won't keep you on the shelf for long.  He needs you.  Your Owner desperately desires to take you where He is going.  He knows you are broken and He loves you anyway.  You are irreplaceable to Him.  You are His treasure and He will hold you and care for you and never let you go.

Power Verses:

"The Lord will perfect all things concerning me."  Psalm 138:8

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."  Phil 1:6 

Reflection Questions (I'd love to hear your comments below!) :)  

1.  Do you feel like you have been "shelved"?

2.  Have you ever felt like God put you on a shelf for a season?  Looking back, can you see His purpose in it?

3.  Do you feel too broken to be used by God?  How does this post encourage you today?





Friday, March 21, 2014

So Long Fear...Moving Forward Towards Jericho





This week in the In the Gap Online Bible Studies as we are studying "Kicking Fear to the Curb" we looked at three heroes of faith--David, Joshua, and Jesus.  All three were triumphant in the face of fear.

Joshua stood out for me this past week and he is an excellent model to emulate in our faith over fear walk!  In Joshua 1, God tells Joshua 3 times in the first 9 chapters to be of “good courage”.   Each of the three verses coincides with a reminder from the Lord of what is needed to help his people “be of good courage” to face their fears.   

What the Israelites did to prepare their hearts for belief is an example we can follow to prepare our own hearts to believe God and conquer fear. Below are the verses God spoke to Joshua and how God spoke to my heart regarding how to apply this to my life. 

“Be strong and of good courage for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. “  Joshua 1:6

1.       Remember God’s promises.   God said He swore to their fathers to give them the land.  Anytime God makes a promise, I can expect Him to deliver on that promise.  I do not need to be afraid.  He will do what He said He will do. 

      Before Joshua led the Israelites to Jericho, he reminded them of God’s promise.  “The Lord your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.”(Joshua 1:13)  I  must also remember and remind myself of God's Word when I am afraid and speak His Word to overcome my fear. 


“ Be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses, My servant, commanded you; do not turn form it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:7

2.       Obey His commands.  Living pure and holy lives is important in overcoming fear and walking in boldness and confidence.   In Joshua 3:5, Joshua exhorts the Israelites the day before the Lord opened the waters for them to cross over the River Jordan.  Joshua said, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”   When I am living in the truth of God’s Word, I can have confidence to do what God has called me to do and believe that the Lord will do wonders!  

 “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 9

3.       Remember God is always with me.  Throughout Joshua 3 and 4 there is an emphasis on the Ark of the Covenant being with His people and going before them as they crossed over the River Jordan on dry land.  The Ark is mentioned in in Joshua 3:3,6,8,11,13,14,15 and Joshua 4: 5,6,7,9,10,11,16,18. Of course, the Ark of the Covenant is symbolic of the Lord being with them. 

When facing difficult circumstances and overcoming fear, it is important to remember my God is with me, for me, and goes before me (Psalm 139:5).  I must keep my eyes on Him.  They had a physical symbol of the Ark.  I don’t have an Ark, but I have something better, the living Word of God and the Holy Spirit.  

4.  Remember what God has done for me in the past.  In Joshua Chapter 4,  I love how the Lord asks Joshua to put 12 stones up in the midst of the Jordan River (Joshua 4:3-9)as a reminder to the Israelites and their generations to follow of how the Lord parted the waters so they could cross over the river on dry ground.  God is always faithful.  He has always been faithful in the past and He will always be faithful in the future.  He will come through to save, deliver and rescue no matter what the situation.  (I think I might just go get some stones to set up!!)

5.       Watch my words.  God had the Israelites remain silent until they shouted for the walls of Jericho to come down. “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth until the day I say to you, “Shout!” (Joshua 6: 10) 

My words affect my faith.  Words of unbelief and doubt reap actions of unbelief and doubt.  Words of belief and faith, reap actions of belief and faith.  Words of doubt feed fear.  Words of faith feed courage. 

Joshua used the the train of thought--belief-faith-courage-action-success.  He believed God’s promise, encouraged himself and others in that faith through God’s Word, and he took action on what God said to do.  In the end, the walls of Jericho came tumbling down and Joshua entered into his promise land.    

As we follow the same train of thought, we build up our belief in God which feeds our faith, inspires courage, which in turn empowers action and our walls of Jericho will come down so we can enter our promise land as well!! 

So long fear!!!  We are leaving him behind as we move forward into our promise lands!!! 

                                                                                                   











Friday, March 14, 2014

Bye-Bye Fear...You've Been a Bad Friend

This week in the In the Gap Online Bible Study, I wrote about some victims of fear in the Bible.  Our top contestants included Adam and Eve, Cain, and the Israelites.  Even though they are in many ways the poster children for fear, I am quick to realize how my picture could have nicely fit in that poster as well.

I was a victim of fear for over 30 years of my life.  On Monday this week, I shared how I have struggled with the fear of rejection and how God has helped me and continues to help me overcome.

God doesn't want us living with fear.  In fact, He commands us over and over again in His Word, "Do not fear!"  Our God does not want us to live as victims, but rather as victors in Christ.  With Him, we can overcome our fears, kick them to the curb and live in faith.

In Deuteronomy 31:6, God says:

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you." 

I looked up the words "good courage" using Blue Letter Bible and found it came from the Hebrew word 'amats and it means "strong, alert, courageous, brave, bold, secure."

The last word stood out for me because for most of my life, I have been the opposite of secure.  Insecurity defined me and defeated me.  Insecurity would tag along wherever I went, uninvited (how rude--right?!), and whisper constant lies, shrinking my heart and binding my boldness.  However rude I may think him of being, I didn't stop him from coming along nor did I keep him from tearing me down.  I allowed him to be my companion and I listened to his deception instead of drowning out his voice with God's truth.

I believed what the enemy said over what God said.  As painful as that is to admit, it is the reason I wallowed in insecurity instead of walking in freedom.

God commands us to "Be strong and of good courage" or to "Be strong and alert, courageous, brave, bold and secure (in Him and His love)." He follows it with, "do not fear nor be afraid of them".  He then encourages us, "for ( I ) go with you.  ( I ) never leave you nor forsake you."

What comfort in those words!!  He never leaves us and He goes with us wherever we go.  I love how God connects being strong and of good courage with His reminder that He is with us!!  He does this often in His Word!!  He knows we cannot be strong and of good courage without Him, He never intended us to be.

When the Lord was speaking to Joshua and the Israelites in Deuteronomy 31, He was preparing them for their future and purpose in Him.

Too many times, our destiny and purpose in Christ is plundered by fear.  God needs us to be strong and of good courage to cross over our Jordan, and into our promise land. And our lives aren't the only ones affected by us overcoming our fear and trusting God.

In Deuteronomy 31:23, God told Joshua, "Be strong and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to them and I will be with you."  Joshua's obedience was tied to the outcome of the children of Israel.  Our obedience impacts others.

What will you do when God wants you to reach out to that neighbor down the street?
What about when you are asked to share your testimony at church or Bible study?
What will you do when you are out with your friends they are talking about something inappropriate or gossiping?
At work, when a co-worker is going through a difficult time?
Of if God prompts you to ask your waiter to go to church with you? (Like what happened last night! And yes, I asked him! I hope he comes!)

There is courage in every yes.

I know there are many of you who struggle with fear and I understand how discouraging and disabling it is. Sweet friends, are we really going to let fear reign and rob us of all God has for us?  Or will we allow God's strength to prevail? He will empower us when we step out in faith.

Fear, you have been a bad friend and you are no longer welcome in our lives!!!

Girls, what do you say we kick this bully, fear, to the curb?!!













Monday, March 10, 2014

Grasping for Affirmation

I don't know if you believe God speaks through dreams.  He did it in the Bible so there is no reason in my mind to question if He would speak to His children in this day through dreams.  I cannot say it has happened to me often, but it has happened and I believe it happened again a couple weeks ago.

I thought I was fine.  I thought I had overcome a fear I had for 30 years of my life, the fear of rejection.  I felt secure...well, in certain situations and around certain people.  The truth was that my security was founded on shaky ground.  I had begun to find my security, not on the Rock of my Lord Jesus, but in leadership, position and works.  At church, I was respected and had influence.  However, what would happen if that position was stripped away and the influence I thought I had was unveiled as a shallow wispy foundation of security.

Jesus revealed the truth.  My position was gone and those who I thought loved me and respected me were vapors of affirmation who could not longer be grasped.  In fact, the more I reached out to obtain any kind of affirmation from these ghosts, the more futile the effort. It was like reaching for air that could not be held.   I had to come to terms with the fact that I had been rejected, perhaps not because of myself, but because of other reasons I am not able to understand.  However, the reason does not matter as much as the result.

For months I mourned the loss:  the loss of relationships;  the loss of influence;  the loss of position;  the loss of security; and the loss of affirmation.

The foundation of my flimsy security had been uncovered, and I was falling.

Fear gripped me.  Anxiety over the need for affirmation from others seemed unbearable at times.  I had done nothing wrong, yet I felt like a dog rejected, desperate for a friend, anxious to be affirmed and shown love and care.

In reality, I had friends who loved me.  I also had a wonderful husband who would hang the moon for me and three children who adore their Mommy.

But, the accuser highlights what is lacking and echoes our conscience with lies. When we are low, it is easy to forget all the good and become consumed with the negative if we are not wise to his tactics.  We are emotional beings, which is God ordained, but the enemy also uses those emotions against us.

After months of feeling rejected and living with fear, through much prayer, God intervened.  For all those months, He was always so sweet to me, but I couldn't get past what others had done or the rejection.

In the end of December/beginning of January, God reminded me of all I had.  He reminded me of the good friends I have and have had for quite a while.  He reminded me of all my blessings.  He spoke loud and precise through His actions. He hushed the negative voices of the enemy.

However, I still felt the need for affirmation from others.  There were times it would seem as if my breath was quenched and my chest would ache for the need of it.  Then God.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I had a dream.  Friends, I cannot know for certain that this dream was from God, but I will let you read it and decided for yourselves what you think.

 In this dream,  I was sitting next to a man.  He was talking to me about the need for affirmation.  He wasn't speaking to me as if I needed to hear it, but rather in general terms.  He said that when we look to others for affirmation, that we are placing them as idols above God.  I sat there next to the man and what he said gripped me and I pondered it.  It was as if I knew I was in a dream and wondering if this was a message for me.  I knew to pay attention to what this man said.

I woke up remembering the dream and what the man had said and wondered what it all meant.

"When we look to others for affirmation, we are placing them as idols above God." 

Wow, what a statement!  Was it true?  Was it accurate?

Well, after some thought, I have come to conclude that it is truth.  When we based our security and worth on what others say or think about us rather than what God says about us, we are in some ways saying that what others think or even our perception of what they think outweighs what God says about us.  Isn't that placing them above God?  Please hear me, I am not condemning you if you struggle with fear of rejection or insecurity.  I am only pointing out what I think God has revealed to me because of my struggle with it.  I am right there with you and I need this as much as anyone!

Oh my sweet friends, God doesn't condemn us.  He reveals His truth to us to draw us closer to Him so we can live free in His power and grace.

Maybe it is just me, but if you struggle with this, I want to invite you to pray this prayer with me (and if you don't struggle with it...awesome!  Maybe you can just pray for those of us who do.) : )

Father, we first ask for forgiveness for the ways we have put what others think above Your Truth.  We ask for forgiveness for placing others in a position of idols. Help us overcome all fear.  We pray for the Truth of Your love and acceptance to outweigh any fear of rejection or need for affirmation.  May our affirmation and security rest solely on You, Your love, and Your Word.  We pray that You would grant us according to the riches of Your glory, that we would be strengthened with might by Your Spirit  in our inner man, that we would be rooted and grounded in love, that we may know the breadth, length, depth and height of the love of Christ which passes knowledge and fill us with the fullness of You.  In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Power Verses:  

"For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ." Galations 1:10

"There was no end of all the people over whom he was made king;
Yet those who come afterward will not rejoice in him.
Surely this also is vanity and grasping for the wind." Ecclesiastes 4:16


"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:3-6 (emphasis added)

Related Posts:  Rejection {Part 1}

                           Rejection {Part 2}


















Monday, March 3, 2014

Heart Surgery


"Come to Me, all all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matt 11:28

Rest. This one word brings such comfort and peace. Doesn't just saying the word bring relief?

Rest can be defined as: peace of mind or spirit, freedom from activity or labor, sleep, free of anxieties, something used for support.  

I love all these definitions.  Mmmm... "Something used for support."  We might equate this to a "foot rest" or "arm rest" on a chair.  Jesus is our "rest".  He is our support and strength.  Not only does He give us rest.  He is our rest.

Today, I want to focus on entering His rest.

Recently, I was attending a prayer meeting for the Deeper Still ministry.  In these prayer meetings, there is much focus on worship (which I love!).  During the worship time, I caught myself falling asleep.  When I realized I was falling asleep, I attempted to wake myself up.  However, I felt the Lord say in my spirit,

"Rest. Rest in my presence. As a physician puts a patient to sleep for heart surgery, so I will do heart surgery while you sleep."

If you have followed my blog for very long, you probably realized that last year was a trying year.  My heart is still recovering, although God has already done much healing.  God needed to do some heart surgery that day while I rested in Him.  He is our rest.  He is our support.  He is our healer.  He is the great Physician.

Is your heart hurting today?  If so, I want to invite you to click on the link below, worship and rest in His presence.  Rest and let our great Physician do heart surgery.








 
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