50 Shades of Honesty


thLA1T6KWERecently I posted a personal opinion on Facebook about the movie “50 Shades of Grey”. I got the usual comments of support from my church friends but it was the unspoken comments that spoke the loudest. It made me think about why I felt the need to post my reasons that other people should not see this movie.

I realized very quickly that my reasons had everything to do with me and nothing to do with other people. I began to think about myself and the labels (some chosen and others placed on me by others) that impact how people see me. One of the biggest labels I place on myself is “Christian.” And I know that with that label comes the understanding that people are watching. If you are going to call yourself a Christian, your actions better live up to the label.

Then there are the other labels – wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. These are labels that matter a lot to me and that many people can relate to. Then there are the labels I wouldn’t necessarily place on myself but when I asked others they responded with these – leader, teacher, mentor, encourager. Whether we realize it or not we all carry labels that mark who we are.

mask2But what about the labels you don’t necessarily see on the surface. The ones that I keep hidden from most people. Some, that until now, have been just between me and God – weak, bent toward negativity, insecure, afraid of disappointing others, desire to please others no matter the costs, easily influenced, prone to give in and give up. These are the labels that influenced my thoughts on “50 Shades of Grey.”

I know myself and my weaknesses and aside from the grace of God, I am one mistake away from being all those negative labels I place on myself.  When Jesus became my Lord and Savior, I was made new. The old me was gone and I became a new creation in Christ. But I’m not naïve enough to think that many of my old tendencies aren’t lurking just below the surface.  That the enemy would love to ensnare the new me by dredging up the old me.

I know that if I saw that movie then there would be things that I would hear and see that would influence my thoughts. I know that if I allowed the darkness represented in that movie into my mind, it would impact my soul. I know the kind of things that I need to avoid in order to guard myself from the negative tendencies in my personality. I know that the reason that  I don’t want to see the movie is not because I think I’m better than other people. It’s because I know I’m worse so I can’t see it.

If I want to be the best of the positive labels, I have to avoid the things that I know will  corrupt those areas of my life. I’m not trying to claim that if you are Christian you should not see this movie. I’m claiming that I am a Christian and I can’t see this movie. I know myself too well to think that I would not be impacted by a movie like that. I believe people see Christians and label us – judgmental, holier than thou, boring, out of touch, unrealistic, bible thumping, pushy, intolerant. And I certainly see plenty of that in Christians and  non-Christians alike. I see it in myself at times and it’s ugly. So when we comment publically as Christians about something like “50 Shades of Grey”, we are thought to be finger-pointing. Which in this case, couldn’t be further from the truth.

thU8P2W1RSThe honest truth is that I am not “that Christian” who’s pointing fingers. I am simply a mix of all of the labels above and someone who is painfully aware of how desperate I am for Jesus. I see myself in the people I encounter and I want nothing more than for them to be brought out of the darkness of their situations and their sins and into the Glorious Light as I have been. I want them to know that God loves us even when we’re at our darkest. I want them to know that the truth is, that kind of love changes you forever. I want them to know that there is a very real enemy of their soul that wants to keep them separated from that love. Does that make me think that I’m better than others? No. It’s just means I know how unworthy I am of the labels God has placed on me forgiven, redeemed, Child of God, set free, accepted, worthy, chosen, more than a conqueror, overcomer, joy-filled, made righteous and holy, full of faith, healed, blessed, blameless, LOVED.

 

 

Filtered


thR6RG5FG5Have you noticed how everything, and I mean everything, is filtered these days? Rarely do we take a picture any more without adding a filter to make it look better. And if I ever saw a celebrity in person I’d probably not recognize them because they’re all photo-shopped in the pictures I see of them.

So it makes me wonder, why we feel the need to filter our lives? Why do we want to try to improve on what God created us to be? Why do we need to change the appearance of our original selves? Are we really that unhappy with who we are? Don’t get wrong. I’m certainly not judging or saying I never use filters. You will not see a picture of me that doesn’t have a black & white filter! So, I am guilty of doing it too.

But back to my thought. People struggle with letting their real selves be seen and heard. People even filter what they say instead of just saying what they mean. Why is that?! I have some thoughts on why we feel the need to filter.

One reason is that we are fearful. We don’t want to say what we’re really feeling or show our real selves because we fear we will be rejected. I believe this is the greatest fear people face today. We are so afraid to show who we really are because we think people won’t accept the real us. That if they knew the truth about who we really are (our thoughts, feelings, struggles), then they would judge us and want nothing to do with us. So we use a filter.

thPNRJ9V7OSam Smith even said it when he accepted his Grammy Award the other night – he said “Before I made this record I was doing everything to try and get my music heard,” Smith said. “I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music. It was only until I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen.” Wow, why did he feel such pressure to be someone he wasn’t? Was it fear of rejection? Insecurities? And look at the outcomes when he simply decided to be who he was. No filters.

Another reason is control. We get a false sense of being in control when we can hide our true self. We long to be our own boss of our lives. To surrender seems weak. But the truth is there is power in surrendering to God and allowing Him to be in control. There is safety and security in His arms. We let ourselves believe that we’re in control of situations when we keep our real selves hidden. We convince ourselves that people can’t hurt us or control us as long as we remain in control. We keep a wall up and never let them into the inner sanctuary of our hearts where our real feelings and thoughts live. But it’s all a façade. It may appear on the outside that we’re in control but inside it leaves us feeling completely out of control. It’s just another filter that hides what is real.

thVC85JMWZThe final reason we filter our lives is because we think that if we can be someone else, we will be happy. We think that if we can be the person we are pretending to be then our lives will be happy. We believe that if we hide our real self long enough that eventually all the hurts, wounds, insecurities and mistakes will just go away. We think that who we really are will just disappear and people will believe we’re really the person we’re pretending to be. We’re deceived into thinking that if we can just make our real self disappear then all our problems will disappear too.

God sent Jesus to die on the cross and to set us free from everything that makes us not want to be the real us. He never intended for us to feel the need to hide from who He created us to be. We are not a mistake that needs to be filtered because God doesn’t make mistakes. He loves us and accepts us. Without filters. He may be the only person you can trust will your real self but you CAN trust Him. He will never reject you if you let down your guard and trust Him to see the real you. He longs for you to share your true feelings and thoughts with Him. There is nothing about you that He doesn’t already know. So why not just open up and be free to share the real you. No filter. There is peace and joy that comes with being who you were created to be. We need to stop hiding behind a filter. It just may be distorting what God meant for the world to see.

What Would Jesus Do?


thMTNFT8A1I would like to consider myself a “good Christian”. Why do I think of myself as a good Christian? Well, I go to church every Sunday. I give my time and resources to the church and other ministries. I read my bible. I pray. I participate in Bible studies. I have gone on mission trips. Man, I really AM a good Christian. If God were passing out special rewards, surely I would get one!

Now before you start thinking “who does this chick think she is?!”, please know that I am truly just kidding. I’ve been following Jesus long enough to know that my “good works” do not earn me any special rewards or get me extra brownie points with God.

He loves us because He loves us. Period. The truth is that right now I’m NOT doing many of the things I listed. But whatever I do, it’s in response to what God has already done for me through His forgiveness and the gift of salvation. However I choose to honor God is simply a reasonable response of worship to my Lord and Savior.

thN0QHBRQN (2)I also know that anything I do is like filthy rags if my motive is wrong, according to scripture (Isaiah 64:6), because my Christian activities do not help me earn my righteousness.

I need Jesus more and more every day and I became painfully aware of that fact the other day when God revealed to me my own selfishness.

Let me ask you this before I share what happened. This is a  quick little test to see if you are being like Christ – how do you respond when asked to give of yourself (time, energy, resources) to something of which you have nothing to gain and no interest in. Do you act selflessly when someone asks you for help for something that’s important to them but means nothing to you?

Are you willing to give when you have nothing to gain? Or do you try to make excuses as to why you can’t help? If you do decide to help, is it with reluctance? Do you only help because you feel like you have to or you’d feel guilty if you didn’t?

This was my test God threw my way the other day. I was put into a situation where the condition of my heart was tested. I had to decide in the moment if I was going to do something that I didn’t “feel” like doing. I had nothing to gain by giving of my time and it was something that meant nothing to me. But it was important to the person who asked for my help. I said no. I selfishly chose to decline the opportunity to be all that I say I want to be as a Christ follower. I failed.

thUABT9KZCI find myself spending time thinking I’m doing pretty good but then it only takes a moment to see how desperately I need my Savior. My lesson learned is to never get comfortable. Never begin to think that it’s enough. Nothing I do will ever be enough in return for what Christ has done for me. And anything I do means nothing if in the moment I choose myself over others simply because I have nothing to gain from them.

This world we live in teaches us to look out for number one, to take what you can get and that everyone else is out to get you. Don’t do for others because they’ll just end up using you and expecting more. We have become cynical and desensitized to doing things for those who can never repay us. We are unwilling to give of ourselves unless there’s something in it for us, and that’s in direct contrast to God’s word.

So  what did I do after I realized I had failed? First, I repented of my attitude and my selfishness. And now, I just keep on keeping on. I try each day to be more like Christ by spending time in His word and in prayer. I keep in mind how desperate I am for more of Him. And I wait. Because I know it won’t be long before the opportunity comes again to do something for someone who can do nothing for me in return.

And in the meantime, I pray that in that moment, I will seek God’s strength to overcome my weaknesses so I can be sure not to fail again.

 

Nobody Likes a Bad Ending


IMG_1951I recently read the book Gone Girl. I could not put the book down no matter how hard I tried. I was consumed with the fast paced drama and the unexpected twists and turns. It was a page turner like no other until the LAST FOUR PAGES! I finished the book and then just sat there in disbelief. How could a book so good end so bad? I don’t think I’ve ever been angry over how a book ended. Disappointed maybe, but angry? I was so mad I vowed never to watch the movie. Ever. It’s been weeks since I finished that book and I’m still not over it. Why? Because I don’t like a bad ending.

The truth is that I am not alone. Nobody likes bad endings – unresolved conflicts, unforgiveness in relationships, broken marriages, failed pregnancies, unhealed hurts, heartbreaks and unanswered questions. We don’t like any of it. We long for everything to be wrapped up nice and tidy with a bow on it. We want everything to end on high note but all too often things just don’t end the way we want them to. So why is it that bad endings seem to bother us so very much?

We were never meant to be comfortable with a bad ending. God created us to long for the happy ending. We were designed to be dissatisfied with the undesirable, the unfinished and the unhappy endings of our lives. We are wired to yearn for all to be right in the world. That’s why people cheer when the underdog wins. That’s why we love to see the guy get the girl at the end of the movie – the one that he didn’t stand a chance with. That’s why we cry when we read stories of redemption, forgiveness and restoration. That’s why ‘Unbroken’ is a box office smash at the movies right now. We want to see others and ourselves overcome the seemingly impossible obstacles we face in life. We crave the happy ending.

159764a32101a639cb65dd81b01fe02fSo what does this mean for those of us in the midst of struggles. Those whose happy ending is nowhere in sight? We are to put our trust in the One who is the author of happy endings. God did not create us to suffer. However, we are sinners living in a sin-filled world where suffering exists. But our endings do not have go according to the enemy’s plan. Our endings can go according to God’s plan when we put our trust in Him. Does that mean that everything will turn out A-ok? Sometimes. But sometimes it simply means that we can have peace even when it all doesn’t turn out according to our plan. So how can we have peace when we’re in the middle of a bad ending? When we have faith that we haven’t reached the end of our story yet.

I love this quote from Rick Warren: “Not everything in life has a happy ending. But this life is not the end of the story.” The peace we find in the middle of our bad ending is knowing that it’s not the end. No matter how our story in this life ends, it’s not the final ending to our story. As Christians going through impossible circumstances, that is the best news we can hear right now. Our story doesn’t end with whatever hand we are dealt this side of heaven. Our story ends when we are called home to be with our Lord and Savior. And friends, our story ends well.

If Happiness Is Not a Destination Then Why Am I Still Trying To Get There?


happinessMaybe it’s the time of year. No, I’m sure it has to do with the time of year. I’m at that point where I increasingly find myself trying to understand why I’m not happy.  Why is it that after all I am blessed with that I still feel unhappy and unfulfilled? Why am I still trying to reach a place that I know in my mind doesn’t exist?

The question may be a difficult one but the answer is quite simple. The reason I keep looking is because I forget. I forget that happiness isn’t a destination and I easily find myself back in the search for that which cannot be found. Like most people, I’m just simply looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place.

We hear things like “do what makes you happy” and “choose to be happy” but it’s never quite that simple. You can’t choose what you don’t know. I don’t know what makes me happy. Over time I’ve figured out what doesn’t make me happy.

Stuff does not bring happiness. More stuff means more work, more expenses and more upkeep. Possessions can be enjoyed but even the temporary happiness you experience upon getting something new will quickly fade because material things will never truly make you happy.

Relationships do not make me happy.  Don’t get me wrong – I have experienced great happiness in relationships and moments with friends and family that I will forever cherish but sooner or later you will find reason to be disappointed in every relationship you have because people cannot bring you happiness. You may have relationships with family members, your spouse, your children or friends that are a great source of happiness much of the time but overall happiness cannot be found in them because people can and will let you down at some point. We may have some extremely positive and meaningful relationships but for many, they can also be a source of extreme highs and lows.

thQ4E9WCBRPlaces do not make me happy. I use the term “my happy place” when referring to the beach, naps, or reading a good book but those are all temporary. And I’ve lived in many different physical locations and each one had its positives and negatives. So I’ve also learned over time that places can be nice to visit and some are great to live but no place will ever bring me complete happiness because no one place “has it all”.

I asked my friends on Facebook what makes them happy and the answers were as varied as my friendships – they ranged from the simple to the extravagant, from the tangible to the philosophical, from the selfish to the selfless. We all have “ideas” about what makes us happy but at the end of the day happiness is not something to be obtained, not permanently any way. So why do we keep searching for a destination that doesn’t exist? Why do we spend so much time in search of something we’ll never find?

Because we are made to do so. We were born to seek that which fulfills us. We are designed to search for what brings us joy. We end up making wrong turns and heading down wrong paths toward a destination that doesn’t exist when we confuse happiness with joy. There are many things that will bring us temporary and worldly happiness in this life but only one thing that can bring us joy. A relationship with our Creator and Father in heaven is the only thing that will ever completely and fully meet all our needs and fill all the empty places in our hearts. And He created us to seek Him because it is His greatest desire to be in a relationship with us. But when we seek happiness elsewhere, we simply find momentary fulfillment in temporary things like possessions, relationships and places.

thKTQKPTLTThis season when happiness is highly sought after but hard to find, seek joy. Joy is not based upon your possessions, your circumstances, the people in your life or where you find yourself at this moment in time. Joy is found in Christ. He alone is the destination we all seek but not all will find. Seek God and you will find what you’re looking for. When I catch myself in my unhappy place and searching for happiness in the things of this world, it is in my desperation that I’m reminded that He alone is my happy place.

 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  (Luke 2:10-11)

 

You’re Not Entitled


thCCETYUECToday there seems to be an overbearing sense of entitlement in our country. Many people believe they are entitled to various things such as being treated a certain way, certain benefits and earnings or certain material items. Some even believe they are entitled to happiness. Many of those who have these expectations have put forth very little effort to earn the very things they believe they are entitled to.

Even those who don’t think they have this attitude can quickly find themselves harboring feelings of entitlement that they may be completely unaware of. Take my husband for example. There is a gentleman he works with that brings my husband a Dr. Pepper to work every day. Not some days, not occasionally, but every day. My husband never asked for him to bring the Dr. Pepper. He just did so because he noticed Dave would sometimes buy one from the vending machine and he began bringing one in for Dave because he’s a kind and thoughtful person. Dave looked forward to the drink every day and knew he could rely on his friend to bring him one.

Then one day his friend failed to bring him a Dr. Pepper. He had run out and hadn’t had a chance to go to the store. Dave confessed to me when he got home from work that he actually felt deprived that he didn’t get his daily dose of Dr. Pepper. Although his friend didn’t owe him the drink, had never asked if Dave  wanted the drink or forced it upon him but simply offered him the drink each day out of the goodness of his heart – Dave felt he was entitled to it. And when he didn’t get what he felt was owed to him, he felt disappointed.

th (2)

It happens sometimes without our even realizing it. We begin to believe we deserve more than we do. We take on the attitude that we are owed something. And most of the time it’s something we know we haven’t earned. We just want it and we want it now.

There is one thing and one thing only that we are entitled to. And ironically, it’s the one thing we deserve the least. We are entitled to the free gift of salvation. What we really deserve is the punishment Jesus Christ endured on the cross for us. But His love for us is incomparable. Instead of allowing us to receive what we deserve, He gave His life so that we can be forgiven and set free from the power that sin holds over our lives. He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should have died. And by doing so He ensured our entitlement to an eternity with Him in heaven if only we’ll  believe (Romans 10:9).

On this Memorial Day I want to share with you a wonderful saying I saw posted online. It said “Today I give thanks for the two defining forces who have offered to die for me and you – Jesus Christ and the American soldier. One died for our souls and the other died for our freedom.”

Please join me in giving thanks not only to those serving our country who sacrificed all but to the One who sacrificed to give you what He thinks you deserve.

Battle On


th (6)At the time of Jesus’ death, it appeared to His followers that all hope was lost. Everything that they had banked on was now gone. What they had believed would be the answer to all their problems was now hanging on a cross. I’m sure they gathered in disbelief as all their expectations were laid to rest in a cavernous grave.

Many times we think all our hope is lost when we experience the death of what we thought was the answer to all our problems. We put our trust in how we think things should be. We know what God’s Word promises, but we make our own plans as to how and when those promises should be fulfilled. And when that doesn’t happen the way we think it should, we begin to believe that things will never change. Our answer when that feeling comes is to cling to the message of Easter. He is Risen and He will arise in the midst of our circumstances as He promised.

crossThe believers at the time of His death thought that Jesus was going to rule over all and that He would set up His kingdom on earth within their lifetime. When He died on the cross they could not possibly understand why everything that they had put their trust in had left them. I’m sure they questioned everything they had believed and had trusted in. I have no doubt that they felt that Jesus had failed them.

But then He arose when they least expected it. Their hope was renewed, their strength was restored and His grace was poured out upon them to finish the race He had set before them. It was not what they had anticipated and looked nothing like they had imagined. But there He was. The answer to their circumstances and the solution to their problems was standing before them. Their faith and their hope was resurrected. For some their victory was immediate when their eyes were opened to His love for them through His sacrifice on the cross for their sins. For some it may have taken time. And still for others, their victory over their circumstance, the end to their problem, the healing they sought was never seen in their lifetime. But for those still waiting, they never lost hope again because He had risen from the grave. Their eyes were opened to see the power of the Resurrection. He had not only risen from the grave, He had resurrected life in them to continue the fight until their day of victory.

thCAE831UPDon’t ever lose sight of the fact that your answer is hanging on the cross. What looked like all hope was lost to the followers of Jesus, was in fact the moment all hope was found. It was the only solution to the problem of sin. It was the sacrifice that saved them from an eternity separated from the One they loved and trusted in. In the moment they couldn’t see it. In this moment you may not see it. But He is your answer.

My prayer today is that the message of Easter will resurrect your hope and restore your strength to continue the fight. I pray that His grace will be sufficient to see you through to victory. And I pray that your eyes will be opened to the power of the Resurrection.

Now battle on Kingdom Warriors – the victory is ours!

Out of Focus


IMG_2933Have you ever gone back years later to visit a place where you played as a child? Did you notice that it wasn’t quite like you remembered it? Or worse, it was nothing like you remembered it as a child. Have you ever told your children stories of the enormous hill you went sledding on or the tree that you climbed that was bigger than any tree your child has ever seen? And then you take them to see the hill or the tree and suddenly you look like the biggest liar EVER. Well, it happened to me.

In that moment I wondered what in the world happened. How could the hill and the tree have gotten so much smaller? I looked at the hill with disbelief because the hill that I went sledding down at 10 years old was so much bigger than the hill that now stood before me. And the tree. I thought the tree that I used to climb with my friends was the biggest tree ever known to exist. And then there was the wall I used to walk on. My dad would hold my hand and walk alongside me. I felt so high up in the air and it was so scary. Yet when I drove by that wall many years later it was only 3 feet tall. Seriously?! It couldn’t be the same wall – the wall I walked on was towering up to the sky. But it was in fact the same wall, on the same street, in front of the same house my grandparents used to live in.

IMG_2930

It’s funny how when you look back sometimes, the things that you thought were so huge are not really as big as you thought they were. You have a picture in your mind that has been there for years but in that moment, they just don’t seem the same as you remember them.  The thing is, the size of the hill and the tree or the height of the wall didn’t change over time. What changed over the years was my perspective. I had changed. I had grown. The way I saw things and the perspective from which I saw them had changed. They had not changed, I was just seeing them with a different set of eyes.

How different could our lives be if we changed the way we look at things? What if instead of looking at the challenges of life with childlike eyes that viewed everything as so much bigger than us, we looked at them through mature eyes that see them as not so big after all?  How much easier would life be if we were able to look at our problems and think “That’s it? Wow, that’s nothing!”

IMG_2932What if, instead of being fearful of the enormity of what we face, we could see that in reality it’s nothing like we imagine it to be? What if we could see things in the moment as they really are and it not take years later to see our situations and circumstances as a small bump in the road instead of a huge obstacle that seems impossible to overcome? What if we could see the good in a situation now instead of focusing on the bad? What if it didn’t take a really long time to see that what is happening now may actually be a good thing instead of bad like we think it is? What if we could pick out the positives and discard the negatives now instead of years from now when we look back on this season?

Does this sound impossible? Difficult, yes. Impossible, no.  The reality is already there, we just have to learn to see it. The hill, the tree and the wall didn’t change. There were always the size they are now. But the way they appeared to me changed because my perspective changed. The same can be true for our circumstances. They may not change. But the way we see them can definitely change. If we begin to refocus our eyes on God and how big He is, then our problems suddenly begin to look smaller. Instead of saying “God, I have a big problem!” we should be saying “Problem, I have a big God!”.

th (5)God never promised that our lives would be problem free but He did promise us that He will be right there with us as we face our problems. Many times we fail to recognize when our perspective is out of focus. We become fearful, worried and obsessed with our problems because we are seeing them through childlike eyes. But we have tools available to us that can help us to refocus. When we spend time reading the bible, in prayer and quieting our busy minds in order to seek God’s presence, we find that our perspective begins to change. The problems we face begin to diminish and we begin to grow in our faith in Him. Before long our focus is restored and our perspective is renewed. It’s not easy to refocus, but it is possible (Phil. 4:13).

Has the way you see things gotten out of focus? Do the problems you face seem impossible to overcome?  It’s time to refocus on the One who has overcome it all (John 16:33). Don’t wait until years from now to see the truth. It’s time to see your situation for what it really is and not what it seems to be. Refocus.

Leave It To A Professional


thQQATP0ODHave you ever tried to fix something on your own only to find that you made a bigger mess of it than before you started? I have. I have fully replaced my yard twice because I over fertilized and under watered. Then there was the time I almost ended up divorced over wallpaper removal and replacement. Oh, and there was the time I thought I could fix a borrowed chainsaw. If only I’d just left it alone I wouldn’t have had to replace it with a brand new one. Some things are better off left to a professional, especially when it comes to people.

I used to get frustrated at people who refuse to believe the promises of God’s Word and walk in victory over their past and present battles. I’m not talking about the unchurched, non-believers who don’t know what the promises of God are. Or even Christians who believe in God and go to church on occasion. I’m talking about the born-again believer who knows God, who reads their bible, prays, serves in the church and is surrounded by fellow believers. No matter how many times they’ve heard the message, attended the small group, been prayed over, and encouraged – they refuse to accept who God says they are and continue to walk in shame, condemnation and insecurity because they believe the lies of the enemy and who he says they are. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t want to believe who God says they are and to be free from the bondage that held them captive.

th3NQ7U036I could see that they were missing out on the peace and joy that God was waiting to pour out on them. The life they dreamed about and deserved was within reach if they’d just take hold of it. Why didn’t they simply trust God and His word? Maybe it was fear, feelings of unworthiness, too many lies in their head, too many deep rooted wrong beliefs that were too hard to overcome. My frustration came from the fact that no matter how hard I tried or how much encouragement I gave them – I couldn’t change them.

I came to realize it’s not that they didn’t want to believe it, they just hadn’t reached the point yet where they do believe. God showed me I needed to have a lot more grace with people. I also learned there is a fine line between wanting to be used by God and wanting to be God. Pride can prevent us from having grace and from allowing God the room in our lives to speak through us. I pray for God to use me as a vessel to speak hope to the hopeless yet when I have the opportunity to do so I battle against sharing my own thoughts and advice versus hearing from God what He wants to say to them. Knowing when to shut up and knowing when to let God speak up has long been my struggle. How can I be used by God to speak to those in need of direction without trying to be their Holy Spirit and trying to “fix” them?

thG2XYJKY5

The answer for them was the same for me. Instead of trying to fix our problems through our own strength and abilities, we need to trust Jesus. I need to trust Jesus. I need to always remember that God is God and I’m not. And even though I may have areas of my life that I’ve surrendered to Him and have victory over, I have other areas that I’m still struggling in. So, I’m no different from those who have yet to find their peace and victory. We’re all a work in progress. Who am I to gauge how far along someone should be on their journey or to get bothered because their roots run deeper and their battle rages stronger than mine?

I want to see God to heal the brokenhearted, restore the broken, bring hope to the hopeless and victory to the defeated. The peace I have when my frustrations rear their ugly head is that He is more than able. He did it in my life and He can do it in theirs. It’s not up to me to make someone believe that the promises of God are for them. But it is up to me to believe it for them when they can’t believe it for themselves. They may have given up for now but God hasn’t given up on them so neither am I. So until they believe it, I can stand in the gap and believe for them. Who in your life needs your grace and needs for you to believe for them until they believe for themselves?

Behind the Scenes


thQZS2XXA1I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve told others “don’t focus on your situation. Keep your focus on God and trust Him to take care of everything even when you can’t see any changes occurring. He’s working behind the scenes in ways we can’t imagine. Just trust Him.”

Simple, right? Well, as they say, it’s easier said than done.

Recently we had our home for sale. We felt certain it would sell quickly  and the activity when we first listed the home confirmed to us that we’d have it sold in no time. The initial excitement quickly faded. People quit coming to look and no one was taking flyers from the “for sale” sign. And so it began. I started to doubt that it would ever sale even though I knew that we had prayed about it and we were certain that God had put in our hearts the desire to move. When there was activity I trusted God to work it all out. But as soon as the activity ceased, I began to doubt. I began to focus on what I could see (which wasn’t much at that point) and took my focus off of God.

thXZQCDBURHave you ever worked the curtains for a theater production? My son is an actor so as a stage mom, I’ve done my share of opening and closing the stage curtain. The job itself gives you an interesting vantage point. As you stand just offstage you have a unique view of what’s happening on both sides of the curtain. On one side you can see all the stagehands running around quickly and quietly backstage setting up the next scene and the actors hurriedly taking their places before the curtain begins to open. It’s ordered chaos as everyone works as fast as possible to make sure that everything is perfect when you begin to pull the rope.

th6UXI3G2COn the other side you can see the audience. They sit patiently and quietly waiting for the next scene to begin. They can’t see anything happening and they really have no idea everything that’s going on just beyond the curtain. But they trust that when that curtain opens, everything will happen just as the program they hold in their hand has promised it will. They can’t see what’s going on behind the scenes but they don’t sit in their seats thinking “we might as well go home because the play isn’t going to happen.” They know that even though they can’t see it, it will happen but only when everything that is going on behind the scenes has been perfectly set into its place.

Oh how I could have used that reminder when we were selling our house. When I couldn’t see anything happening I failed to remember that God had everything under control. That He was working behind the scenes, setting everything into place so that when the right moment came, the curtain would open and His perfect plan would be revealed.

thSOZHDE4YOne Sunday after church we were fixing lunch when someone rang the doorbell. I went to the door and there was a couple there. They asked if we would be willing to show them the house. The lady began to tell me that she had been looking at our house online for weeks. She had seen it as soon as it was listed and it was exactly what they’d been looking for. They hadn’t had a chance yet to come by in person because they lived out of town. She said she had looked at it online every day until that day and couldn’t wait to see it in person. Within three days of the showing, we had come to an agreement and they bought our house.

God was working behind the scenes. Even when I couldn’t see anything, He was at work orchestrating the sell of our home. I couldn’t see what was happening so I wrongly assumed that meant nothing was happening. I was focused on the lack of activity and my very limited ideas for a solution. I should have been focused on trusting God and believing that He can work things out in ways I could never imagine. It was a reminder (one of many in my life) that God is in control. Our job is not to figure out how things should happen or when. Our job is to trust Him and believe Him when He reveals a promise to us.

What has God promised you that, from your vantage point, doesn’t look like it’s going to happen? What is it that you have lost hope in? The problem may simply be that you lost focus – you’re eyes are focused on the situation and not on the One who is in control of it. Refocus and trust that there are things going on behind the scenes and when everything is in place, the curtain will open to reveal God’s perfect plan for you.