The Author of Our Story

Who is telling your story? What is the voice that you are listening to every day? Is it a condemning voice; is it the voice of the accuser? Or is it the voice of the Advocate, the Author and Perfecter of our faith?

My friend preached a powerful message on the life of Abraham on Sunday and I can’t get away from something he said, “Our story is better told by the Author.” Abraham did not lead a perfect life by any means. His story is filled with failure, unbelief and fear. On his way to Canaan he grew afraid of the kings in the land. And not once, but twice, he lied by saying Sarah was his sister to protect his own life. He allowed his wife to be taken into the kings’ harem. He got impatient with God’s promise of a son (wouldn’t you after 25 years?!). He and Sarah took it into their own hands which resulted in Ishmael and a host of other problems that accompanied his birth. So far his story isn’t looking too great. But how does the Author write his story?

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Romans 4:18-21 NIV

Jesus is so kind. His perspective on our lives is so much better than our own. If we are honest, I’m willing to bet that our story looks a lot like Abraham’s. There are plenty of moments of unbelief, fear and failure. We can be so hard on ourselves; I know that I am. But this morning, I asked the Lord how he writes my story. One word was all it took to bring me to a puddle of tears. ONE WORD from the Author. ONE WORD to retell my story. ONE WORD!!! I just sat there in His love and let His words wash over my heart and mind. It was so good!

I encourage you to ask the Lord that question today. How do you tell my story? Allow Him to minister to you and rewrite the tape in your mind. Allow Him to give you a heavenly perspective because it is so much better.

Here is a link to my friend’s sermon if you want to give it a listen. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-faith-of-abraham/id1451330678?i=1000457086616

Let Him

Awhile back, someone encouraged me to dig into the Song of Solomon. He believed that the Lord wanted to release a deeper understanding of His love for me. I was eager to receive the revelation but also a bit intimidated by the book. I’d previously gone through studies and listened to sermons but still hadn’t really connected with Song of Solomon.

The next morning in the prayer room, I opened up my Bible to the first chapter. The opening words stopped me in my tracks and for weeks I couldn’t get past the second verse.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; your annointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore the virgins love you.

Song of Solomon 1:2-3

Let him…I underlined those words in my Bible. Even now they still strike my heart. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty good at staying busy, getting the to do list checked off and living at the mercy of the calendar. If you were to ask how I am doing, I’ll answer that I’m good and proceed to talk about the busyness. It usually takes some pressing with pointed questions to get me to open up my heart. I think that’s why those words in particular spoke to me. I needed to slow down and let Holy Spirit speak to me.

“You say you want to know My love, but do you actually let me love you?”

I don’t think I had ever really thought about it like that before. To be honest, I’d been more focused on my ability to receive than God’s willingness to give. That darn self-centeredness rearing it’s ugly head again. To drink more deeply of God’s love, I needed to put my guard down and allow Him into my heart.

When I approach God on the basis of who He is, instead of what I am or am not, it always produces good fruit. God is love. God is a good father. God gives good gifts to his children. Coming to Him in agreement with those truths positions me to receive. It is my way of putting “Let him kiss me…” into practice.

Here is a practical exercise I like to do occasionally and hopefully it can be an encouragement for anyone reading this blog (thank you, by the way).

Take a passage of Scripture like 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 or Phillipians 4:8 and ask God, What are your loving thoughts towards me? (Fill in the blank with words from the Scriptures) Then journal for 10-15 minutes writing down whatever comes to mind. Don’t stop, argue or question, just write. Once you finish, read and re-read. Allow the words of love to penetrate your defenses. Let the kisses of His word wash over you. Let them silence every argument that says you are unloved, inadequate or failing.

May you be encouraged and strengthened in love as you “let Him” kiss you.

Self Love vs. Self Denial

My insta feed continues to be filled with “self-love” quotes and memes. As much as I want to scroll on by, I can’t ignore the message that is being fed to us by the world. It is a lie and so many well-meaning friends are falling under it’s spell. And as someone who has struggled to accept my God-given personality and gifts for a lot of my life, I have found myself in the grip of it at times.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)

I feel it is necessary to stand for truth in the midst of the rising tide of self-love sweeping the nation that is specifically targeting women. The above Bible passage tells us that a sign of the end of the age is that people will be lovers of themselves. Another way to say it is “too intent on one’s self interest.” That sounds a lot like the message being spread across social media.

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.

Really, the bravest thing we will ever do?! What about slaying giants, conquering kingdoms, enforcing justice, stopping the mouths of lions, quenching the power of fire, receiving back the dead, being made strong out of weakness, becoming mighty in battle and putting foreign armies to flight? And the list in Hebrews 11 goes on. Does it take courage to own our stories, yes. But the bravest thing we will ever do, I think not. Living a life of FAITH is much more brave.

Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place.

The Bible begs to differ again on this one. We are to seek first the kingdom of God and all will be added (Matthew 6:33). God’s kingdom is opposite of the world’s. We serve and become great, we die and yet live, we give away and then receive. As we prefer others above ourselves, we begin to look like our precious Savior, Jesus.

Self-love is not selfish; you cannot truly love another until you know how to love yourself.

Well…wrong again. We are able to love because of the love we have received from the Father (1 John 4:19). Agape, or unconditional love, is supernatural. It doesn’t originate with us. In order for us to express that love to another, we must first be touched by it ourselves. The perfect love of God will drive away all of our doubts and fears about who we are. As we come into agreement with the truth of God’s love, we are able to love others and think more rightly about ourselves.

The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself.

It is difficult to overcome our false self perceptions, believe me, I know. It has been a battle I’ve been fighting for many years. But you want to know what the real difficulty is? It’s SIN. We all have a sin problem. Sin is so much more destructive than we realize. It was powerful enough for the Darling of Heaven to leave His place of glory at the right hand of God to walk this earth as a man, die on a cross and raise again. All so that we could be delivered from the problem of sin. To have victory in how we see ourselves, we must first address the sin in our lives: Repent, receive forgiveness, rebuke the enemy and replace with the truth.

The opposite of self hate is not self love. It is self-denial. The Bible says that one must deny themselves by taking up their cross daily to follow Christ. We need to take our eyes off of our “self” and look to Jesus.

I believe the way forward is recognizing that we have put off the old self. It has been crucified with Christ. (Gal 2:20) We must walk in the truth that we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). By receiving our heavenly identity, declaring that truth over our lives and seeking Jesus first, we will find the peace we are looking for.

Heavy but Hopeful

“Sex trafficking–especially when it comes to the buying and selling of young girls–has become big business in America, the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drug and guns.”

As I read those words from an article published this week my heart sank. I am aware of the sex trade and as a mom of young girls, I think about it more than I’d like to. But something struck me to the core as the author continued with staggering statistics to support his claim. Here is a link to the article.

IT.IS.HEARTBREAKING.

Honestly, it is hard to put into words how I feel: shocked, enraged, grieved and scared. Part of me wants to lock my daughters in the house and never let them out of my sight. One of my worst fears as a parent is that something like that would happen to them. And if I let it, that fear could consume me. I could so easily turn into the most controlling mom you’ve ever known. However, I know that fear cannot be what drives me.  I don’t want to live in the realm of fear and control. So, what then?

Over the last few days I’ve been asking a lot of questions. How can this be the world we live in? Why is sex with young children, girls especially, so enticing? If law enforcement knows so much about the sex trade, why don’t they shut it down?

Sex trafficking is a daunting issue and yet I’ve felt compelled to do something. But where do I even start?

If you know me, you know where this is leading…PRAYER is the starting point.

E.M. Bounds writes, “The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil everywhere. Prayer, in one phase of its operation, is a disinfectant and a preventative. It purifies the air; it destroys the contagion of evil. Prayer is no fitful, short-lived thing. It is no voice crying unheard and unheeded in the silence. It is a voice which goes into God’s ear, and it lives as long as God’s ear is open to holy pleas, as long as God’s heart is alive to holy things. God shapes the world by prayer.”

The Bible says that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, authorities, powers and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12). We’ve been given weapons that have divine power to tear down strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

You see, prayer is the battlefield. Before we can battle on earth, we must battle in the heavens.

Are you afraid and intimidated by this issue (or any other for that matter)? PRAY

Are you angry and frustrated? PRAY

Are you feeling helpless? PRAY

Are you grieved for the victims? PRAY

Speaking from experience, I believe that you will come out of the place of prayer emboldened to take a stand for righteousness and justice. But you will do it from a place of faith and not fear, from a place of peace and not anger, from a place of victory and not defeat, from a place of love and not hate.

That’s what I plan to do and leave the rest up to God. He will show the way forward!

I’m back

This year I am on a mission to write more frequently. I have lots of ideas but just never seem to get around to develop the thoughts into writing. Well, I finally found some time and hope this challenges and encourages you.

“Self-care” is big right now. Well, at least it is in my mom corner of the world. Something about it kinda bugged me but I didn’t really know why until a few weeks ago. I was really hoping for some “Me” time at the end of a long Christmas break. When I talked to my husband, I realized that it wasn’t going to work with our schedule and I got upset. I went crying to my room and the Lord whispered to my heart, “I am your reward.” Immediately, one of my favorite passages of Scripture came to mind:

Psalms 16:5-6 “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed. I have a beautiful inheritance.”

In that moment I realized the reward I had been looking for was a break. The demands of motherhood are endless, emotionally exhausting and mundane a lot of the time. At times I felt like I was doing everything I could to just get through the day. I started to look at everything I was doing for my family and began to feel entitled to some time to myself.

A quick google search turns up the following (and so much more):

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. A healthier, stronger, happier you is better able to take care of those depending on you.

An empty lantern provides no light. Self care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.

You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.

At first glance all of those statements seem good and true, but let’s examine them in the light of Scripture.

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Philipians 2:3-7 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interest, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men…”

Where does our light come from? Who is supposed to come first? What fills us up?Suddenly, those self-care statements aren’t looking so good. There is a thread of truth in them, but it has been twisted just enough to lead us into deception if we aren’t careful. We can be seduced into thinking and looking more like the world than like Jesus.

Going back to that opening passage, Psalms 16:4 says, “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply.” Let’s be careful not to turn self-care into a god. It will only perpetuate cycles of self-pity, sadness, anxiety and defeat.

Now, I’m not saying self-care is all bad and we should just abandon it all together. We do need to take care of this temple we’ve been given. However, we need to turn to Jesus first to meet our needs. He alone satisfies. He alone can fill our cup. He alone is our source. Look to Him. One glance into His eyes will wipe away every bit of exhaustion. That is a much richer reward than some self-care indulgence can ever provide.

Thoughts and Prayers

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and finally have a few moments after the kids are down to put some thoughts together.  This summer is flying by and the pace has been hard to keep up with. However, the Lord has been doing some cool things that I’m excited to share and plan to write more consistently.

Back in February a friend on Facebook asked, “Why are schools the target of shootings?” Rather than scroll past, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to stop and wait on Him. The answer came quickly: There is a demonic assault on the next generation. It’s what the enemy does. He tries to destroy the deliverers, the bondage breakers, the voices of truth, the ones destined to advance the kingdom of God on the earth. But you know what? What the enemy intends for harm, the Lord will use for good. The thief has come to steal, kill and destroy, but HE has come to give LIFE.

In the wake of school shootings and other national tragedies, social media was flooded with so much contempt towards people saying, “thoughts and prayers are with you.” While I understand the frustration and see that people want action, which is needed, I think the enemy is using it to get the church to shrink back from it’s rightful place of authority in prayer. The Bible tells us…

Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of the evil in the heavenly places.

2 Cor 10:3-5 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

As believers who walk in the authority of Christ our weapon is prayer. The only offensive part of the armor listed in Ephesians 6 is the sword of the Spirit, which is the WORD of God. “Word” in the greek is rhema, the spoken word of God.  Look at the passage:

Ver 17-19 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword the spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, make supplication for all the saints…

Prayer is powerful. Prayer shifts the atmosphere. Prayer releases heaven to earth. Prayer is mighty! It’s not just a cliche!

I say the devil is over playing his hand. The watchmen are alert and will sound the alarm. PRAY! KNOCK! KEEP PRAYING! KEEP KNOCKING! Now is not the time to shrink back or respond in anger. Let’s pick up our swords and do battle where it really matters!