Battlefield Ready

I cannot deal with any more of these posts where the gospel is trampled and Truth is shuffled around so as to fit someone’s agenda. Each time I see another post I get knots in my stomach and become physically sick. I understand that we are living in a time that the Bible clearly talks about (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 2 Peter 3:3-7, Matthew 24:12). When people will call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20). I get that we are living in a time where people have walked so far away from God that they have become blinded to the Truth that has been placed before them (2 Corinthians 4:4). I know this is what is supposed to be happening but it is still heartbreaking.

It is so difficult to watch people being led astray. It is even more difficult to watch people who profess to follow Jesus speak against the Bible, against Truth and speak it as if their words are truth which then leads people astray (2 Corinthians 11:13-15). It is so hard to know that the hearts of people are becoming hardened and that an eternity spent in a devastating place will be a real destination.

I know that there are those who will disagree with me. Who do not believe what I believe. And that’s okay. I’m not here to argue with anyone. But instead, I’m speaking up and speaking out the same way those who believe opposite of what I believe do on a daily basis and instead calling out those of us who profess to follow Jesus yet choose to sit back and stay silent. It is time we got called out because we are failing miserably at the mission.

Scripture tells us that none of us are good. Not one (Romans 3:10-12). That we all are sinful (Romans 3:23). But not just that that pretty much every single thing we do is sinful. Our lying, jealousy, foul language, selfishness, abuse, gossip, slander, pride, gluttony, divorces, homosexuality, abortion, adultery, infidelity, hatred, murder, discrimination, racism…all of it is sin! And all of it goes back to pride and the selfish desires of our own flesh and followed by the unwillingness to acknowledge sin (1 John 2:15-17).

The truth is that sin causes us to “miss the mark.” What is the mark? The mark is the standard of perfection which God has established which was lived out by Jesus. Our inability or unwillingness to acknowledge our sin then becomes the issue.  God wants us to recognize and confront our sin because that sin is what distances us/separates us from Him.  He loves us too much for that and so He sent Jesus (John 3:16).

How do we combat all this? Jesus told us that we are to love God with all of our heart, mind and soul (Matthew 22:37).  In addition we are told that if we love then God we will keep His Commandments (John 14:15). The simplest summary of the Commandments were given by Jesus and said that we are to love God and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:38-39). But it all begins by loving God first and above all other things. Most importantly, loving God and others more than oneself or one’s (selfish and sinful) desires. Following God’s commands leaves us better prepared for battling and recognizing our sin.

Because God is holy, we must be pure/clean/holy to be in His presence.  Unfortunately because of Adam and Eve and the sin that entered the world through them…we are incapable of holiness/righteousness on our own and this leaves us unable to be in the presence of God. This means that we need Jesus. This means that only Jesus and His blood can make us acceptable and righteous to God who is holy and who is our Creator. Our Heavenly Daddy. Once we have placed our faith in Jesus and recognized ourselves as sinners and then repent of those sins, we are forgiven.  It doesn’t mean that suddenly we are perfect and will never fall into sin again but instead that we will now become aware of our sin and our need for Jesus.

There are moments when the fear of the future for my grandchildren can overwhelm me when I read about the things taking place in the world but I know God is greater and His plan is beautiful! Though it is incredibly difficult to watch as people continually reject Him and spit in His face knowing the love He has for us all and the sacrifice He made to bring us into right standing with Him,  breaks my heart. To see people mock the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. The death that He died for every person so that all might know Him (if they choose to believe) and spend eternity with Him often leaves me speechless. I ache for what this world has become but I believe that God has raised up a generation of people who will reflect His glory and not just their own. A group of people who will walk in His character and be vessels who bear His image.

For those who follow Jesus, we need to stand up and speak out. It is time for Truth to be spoken with both love and grace. It is time to stop being afraid of who may hate us or call us intolerant. It’s time to stop allowing darkness to keep us cowered in the shadows. A spiritual battle is taking place every single day in front of us and we are expected to be soldiers on that battlefield (Ephesians 6:12). We are fighting for the very souls of those people we work with, those we call family, those we call friends, those who live next door to us and for some, spouses and children. We can’t afford to be passive any longer. We’re talking about the difference between an eternity spent with a loving Father or an eternity spent in a place of eternal damnation. How much do you really love those people around you? Lack of action and complacency speaks to our true loyalties and beliefs. And I’m just as guilty. It’s time I check myself and start seeing the battlefield around me as one where I should be fighting. What about you?

As the occasion, so the behavior.

Society has become so gifted at confusing evil with good. It all started in the garden with Adam and Eve and it continues today.

Our present-day social righteousness is a complete contradiction from the righteousness talked about in the Bible. It has been said, “A wrong deed is right if the majority of people declare it not to be wrong.”  This very principal has set in motion the shifting of our standards over the generations. The Bible says, “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light, and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter (Isaiah 5:20). The standard God sets for us has not changed and the Bible tells us that one day we will be held accountable for our sins (Romans 14:12).

Evil makes its way into our lives each day. It presents itself as harmless.  We often wrap it up in a pretty little bow, but sin is divisive and dirty. And it often leaves us to lie to ourselves as we call it tolerance and confuse it with love.

We have to step back and ask ourselves how we have become so deceived. How have we fallen into the trap set for us by the enemy?  A lot of it boils down to our sinful desires and an immediate need for pleasure instead of God‘s desires. This leads us to believe that evil is good.

It is so easy to make excuses for what God blatantly calls sin. A lot of that comes from people choosing to say that morals are relative. It has been said, “As the occasion, so the behavior.” We’ve reached a place where our morality has been modified to fit our sinful behaviors instead of our sinful behaviors being determined by our morality. Today nothing is solid. People will shift from one extreme to the other because they lack Truth. The present-day ideology is twisted and distorted so badly that it is near impossible to separate Truth from lies.

Self-centeredness is also a factor in this idea that evil is good. It makes us more prone to call evil good because we tend to think that if sin or immorality brings a profit or gives pleasure it has to be good. Even if we know it’s wrong.

However, if we were really listening to the voice of Jesus, we would hear him say, “Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously (Matthew 6:33).  And what does living righteously look like? Second Timothy says, “To run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts” (2 Timothy 2:22).  And in James we read, “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly except the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God‘s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves” (James 1:19-22).

Sadly, we look at Christianity like we look at everything else in the world…by asking what’s in it for me? We think that God wants to do what we want of Him and that His plan is to give us the desires of our heart. We have basically turned God into a genie. We also rationalize. We make excuses for the sin in our life, or we try to blame it on other people or other things. Even Adam, in the garden, tried to blame Eve for the choice he made. So, this issue has been around for a long time.

The question becomes how do we correct our warped sense of thinking?  How do we remove the blinders that the enemy has so cleverly placed upon our eyes? The only answer out there is the Bible and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Bible speaks to us those things God considers good while the Holy Spirit directs and convicts.

Evil exists within every one of us, yet it disguises itself as good while controlling and deceiving us (Romans 3:10). But it is only by the death of Jesus on the cross that we are good.  That we are made righteous. His death was necessary because man without God is a contradiction and an atrocity.  This very thing is why some people love evil and then hate what is good because they are still so attached to their own sin.

It can be difficult to make our way back to Truth when the enemy has placed such blinders over our eyes. However, Scripture is very clear to those things that God hates. You don’t have to look too hard in the Bible to find them.  God hates pride, He hates a lying tongue, He hates hands that shed innocent blood, He hates hearts that devise evil plans, He hates evil thoughts that eventually lead to sinful actions, and He hates those who create discord among their community. (Proverbs 6:16-19).

I think we would each do well to sit down and carefully think about the things that God hates. The hypocrisy we create by believing that it is always someone else that is evil will get us into this whole vicious cycle of calling evil good.   Because at the end of the day it begins with pride and our own sinful desires to be right and to do as we please.

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”


2 Corinthians 13:5

His Ways Before My Own

If you know me at all you know that one of my greatest fears is to not be where God would have me. To be walking the path of my own choosing instead of walking out His will for my life. Twenty-three years ago I made that choice to do my own thing and I am painstakingly still living out the consequences of what came from doing what I wanted to do instead of being where God wanted me to be. You can say I’ve learned from those choices and because I have felt the pain of the consequences of those choices, I am constantly looking for God’s direction in my life.

Right now I am entering into a new season of life. I graduated in May and was ready to take on a full-time job. I just knew that’s what was next for me. So I applied for positions thinking that doors would open because that was what God wanted for me. But I think that’s what I wanted for me.

Twenty years as a stay at home mom can sometimes take a toll on the way you see yourself. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing I love more than being a mom. Especially one who got to stay home with her kids. I poured myself into to my kids and soaked up every minute but now I’ve entered a new season and it’s a season where I want to work outside of my home. But it’s also a season of trying to figure out exactly what that looks like.

Right now I have one of the greatest jobs in the world for me. I am doing something I am passionate about by working at a domestic violence organization and loving on women every day. It was like God hand-picked this position for me because I get up every day wanting to go to work and excited to see how God will use me that day. However, it’s only a part-time job. And so there are days when I don’t feel like that’s enough. And I’ve beat myself up over it. Because I feel like I should be doing more.

Over the last couple of weeks God has really been showing me the importance of being still.  To take the time to separate the noise of the world from His voice.  He’s been reminding me of how I came into this job in the first place. What to some would seem like a fluke to others would be evidence of His providential hand. He’s been reminding me this week that He gave me this opportunity to work this job in the morning which then allows me the afternoons to minister or serve or write or to invest in the lives of those around me. And what a reminder that has been as I recognize that for the past six months as I’ve wrestled with wanting to work more… I’ve wasted six months of missing out on the opportunities to do these things because my focus was on the wrong things.  I wasn’t content with what He had for me. I felt like I needed more but He has shown me that what I have is enough.

Being able to trust God‘s plan for your life means that you have to be content and find joy in Him and not your circumstances. So as He becomes your everything, and where your hope and happiness comes from then His will for your life becomes much more evident. Because instead of looking for things that make you happy, you’re seeking out things that bring Him glory. And ultimately that is the purpose of your life and what He has planned. What a revelation!

Once you finally wrap your head around that truth… His voice becomes much more clear. You certainly start to recognize when He is speaking and when He is leading. The nudging of the Spirit within you becomes much more recognizable and suddenly you find yourself taking steps that you were once afraid to take. It becomes all about trusting His plan all the time even when it might not make sense or might not exactly be what you think you need.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Dripping Faucet or a Crown

This is such a two-way street. It can’t be just one way. One of my favorite things to hear from my husband is “I can’t wait to get home to you because you make everything better.” To know that I provide a safe place for him to come home to and that he wants to come home to me motivates me to be the wife that I’m called to be. It doesn’t mean that I’m perfect by any stretch of the imagination but it means that I strive to love him and make him my priority. 

There’s nothing like knowing that in a world full of women, women who may be prettier than you or more personable than you or more fun than you…he chooses you. It’s you that he wants. That by loving him and putting him first I provide a safe place for him to land at the end of the day. And I love knowing that. Even more I love when he’ll text me and say “I’m so eager to get home to you. I can’t wait to spend the evening together.” To know that at the end of the day his happiness is found spending time with me whether that’s just sitting in front of the TV watching a movie or folding laundry together makes me a happy wife. 

So that leaves the question of how do we become wives that our husbands look forward to coming home to? 
I remember when I was much younger I was reading through Proverbs and ran across the verse talking about the wife being like a dripping faucet (Proverbs 27:15). I knew I didn’t want to be that wife. Instead I wanted to be the wife that Proverbs 12:24 describes…an excellent wife is the crown of her husband. That was my goal because I knew I didn’t want to be the wife who did my own thing and didn’t include my husband. I knew I didn’t want to be the wife who nagged him for not picking his underwear up off the floor or leaving his keys on the kitchen table. I knew that there were more important things to focus on as we lived life together. 
Through my years of being married…that verse has played quite frequently in my head. I don’t want my husband to look at me and be annoyed and afraid that every time I open my mouth I’m going to fuss at him for something he did or fuss because of something he didn’t do. Or add something else to his list of chores or projects. Instead, I knew I wanted to be a teammate with my spouse. I wanted to approach marriage from the perspective that I’m just as flawed as he is and that two heads are better than one. So if we put all of our energy into working together, and making decisions together, and living life together then he would see me as something more than the nagging wife.
Up to this point I think it’s worked pretty well. It doesn’t mean we don’t have hard days. It doesn’t mean we don’t have disagreements. But at the end of the day it does mean that we want to come home to each other. At the end of the day I eagerly await for him to walk through the front door. At the end of the day I can’t get over that I get to spend my life with somebody that I can’t get enough of.
So let’s stop being that dripping faucet and instead be his crown!

The Pursuit

I’ve always thought that was a powerful statement. That in order for any man to find a woman that he should have to seek out God before he can find her. It’s one of those things that I can’t express loud enough to my single friends and daughters. But as incredible as that statement is, it shouldn’t stop there.

It’s easy to see that statement and think about what it looks like before we get married. That in order  to find the man we’re supposed to marry that our walk with Jesus should be solid.  And it should be. But we married women need that reminder too because that statement should follow us throughout the entirety of our lives. Even once we are married. Because once we’re married we shouldn’t give up on our pursuit of God. He should still be our number one priority. We should be so in love with God that it draws our husbands to Him. We should be so in love with Jesus and spending time with Him that our husbands can’t find us unless they’re sitting with Him too.

It’s easy in marriage to become cynical. It’s even easier to become bitter and resentful after years of unmet expectations and disappointments. It’s easy to cling to hurt and focus on what we don’t have. We women are amazing at doing that! But when we focus on our Creator those things sort of wash away as we take our eyes off our circumstances and look at the One who gave us our spouse to begin with. We can’t go wrong when we’re focused on the right things. Our heart won’t grow cold when our heart is full of love for our Creator.

If you’re struggling in your marriage today, if the love you once shared has run cold and you’re just ready to give up…don’t look in any other direction but up. Go to the source, the One who brought you together to begin with. Focus on God’s love for you and allow Him to place His hand upon your heart and as His love fills you up it will pour out of you and into your spouse. Because the more we pursue God, the more our love and affection for Him trumps all others and the more things in our life will start to make sense leaving us more fulfilled and content.

Those are big words and big steps to take if you haven’t already been living that way. Trust me. I know. It has taken a lot of painstakingly new habits and daily reminders to focus on the things above as a way to remind me to turn my eyes in the direction of the cross.  But on the days that I remember to do those things life is different. My day is different. My attitude is different. My heart is different. My reactions are different. The way I love is different.

When we pursue Jesus with all of our heart and allow the Spirit to move within us…everything changes. So be that woman. Be that woman that chases after God so hard that the only way her husband will ever find her is through his own pursuit of God.

Ignite a Fire

When the shadowy curtains of darkness have surrounded you, almost swallowed you whole where do you go? What do you do? I find myself there more times than I care to admit. The smothering sensation that leaves me gasping for breath and wishing for the day to end falls heavily and quickly but the strength needed to escape doesn’t come easily. In those moments,  I have two choices…I can fade into the background and allow the darkness to consume me or I can extend my hand and reach out for the One who extends His. 

Darkness is a funny thing…it can be scary and comforting all at the same time. Darkness can bring about the unknown. Leave us questioning what will we find lurking around the corner. Too scared to look under the bed? The unknown is a cold and lonely place. But then that same darkness can bring a sense of comfort as we bunker down and wallow in our doubts and fears. Staying resolute in a posture of defeat oftentimes feels easier. But it’s not. Because the longer we stay there, in that darkness, the longer it will take to find a way out.
The battle out is hard. Fighting takes a lot of strength, courage and stamina. But I’ve learned that we don’t fight alone. We haven’t been left alone to fight these battles. Jesus came, He conquered and He won the victory. Just because we have the victory though doesn’t mean that there won’t be pain or disappointment. But we have to weather through the hard in order to reach the victory. 
Oh the frustration that can come when the disappointments abound. The anger that grows when it feels like God isn’t hearing our prayers or doing something to remedy the pain. And it happens. We question His goodness. We question His presence. Sometimes we even find ourselves sitting in the middle of the bathroom floor crying out to Him in anger because we’re tired. Tired of feeling ignored. But He’s there and He’s listening.  He’s fully aware of what is happening and why. And if we’re paying attention and listening, He makes His presence known. Whether it’s through a friend or a book or a passage of scripture, in that moment, He speaks exactly what we need to hear but we have to be listening. With an open heart we have to be willing to listen. Willing to hear what’s not always easy to hear.  But when we’re feeling hurt or disappointed it’s easy to lose sight of Him. In the middle of the chaos and pain, it’s easy to miss the sound of His voice. But we have to be still.
So what can bring darkness? I have learned that the enemy will use our marriages to cover us in darkness. But though the enemy will use our marriages in an attempt to destroy us, God will use our marriages to mature and grow us. Now acknowledging those two things is not easy because it means we live in a constant war. An ongoing battle that is constantly taking place between good and evil. Around every corner an enemy exists with a mission to destroy a union that was meant to display the beautiful picture which is the gospel. 
Because of this ongoing war,  so many of us give up instead of fighting the battle. We don’t feel like waging war. In fact, most of the time we don’t feel like the person on the other side is worth fighting for. We get to a point where we want to throw our hands up in the air and say good riddance because this is too hard. 
Oh how the enemy wants that victory. But if we just hold on and fight then we begin to see the rewards that come from being faithful to the cause that we believe in. We begin to experience the victory that Jesus says we have. When we wage war in the valley we eventually hit those mountain tops where God reveals His splendor and faithfulness in ways that take our breath away. But the decision is ours. Is it worth it? What’s really important? 
Giving up will just leave us empty and searching for something else to fill the emptiness. But fighting…fighting ignites a fire within us that allows us to see a bigger purpose for ourselves, for our marriages and for our families. It allows God to shine through us. It offers people hope where they will find encouragement through our struggle and in our stories. Our battle can help others find victory and strength in their darkness.  So don’t be afraid of the battle. And most importantly…. don’t be afraid of your story! Use to inspire others to continue fighting! Because it’s worth it! Because victory is just around the corner!
“But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33