Last Resort

“He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your disease.”

Mark 5:34

Desperation leads to Despair.

What things have to happen before we finally find ourselves turning to Jesus?

When Jesus walked the earth, we saw countless stories about those who turned to Him with their struggles. Most often, they had exhausted all other resources and He became the last resort. They had heard His name and word had spread that He performed miracles, so it was worth a shot to find Him.

The story of the women who bled for 12 years is one on my most favorite stories in the bible.  It is an incredibly short story, but it is packed full of so much goodness and promise.

This woman, who found herself at the feet of Jesus, had tried everything to heal her condition of bleeding that had lasted for twelve long years. Twelve years of balancing the tight rope of hope that this next medicine or treatment would work to heal her condition which would only lead to having her hope shattered. But now she finds herself pushing her way through the crowd of people gathered to get to Jesus. With hope of being healed, she finds herself at the feet of Jesus where she touches his robe, and she’s instantly healed.

But her healing does not go unnoticed by Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, Who touched my garments?” And in that moment, the woman “came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.”

This woman did not know that on that day she would have this powerful encounter with the living Son of God. She knew she wanted physical healing of this affliction, but she did not know that with this healing would also come a spiritual healing and salvation. But Jesus. 

In that moment, He wanted her to own her actions and to share the news with those around her of what had taken place within her body and so He asks, in a crowd of people, “who touch my garment?”. Though she was afraid and most likely expected punishment, she fell before Him and she spoke the whole truth. And in that moment, without judgment, Jesus looked her in the eyes and called her “Daughter.” No condemnation. No punishment. No mistreatment of her with unkindness. Instead, Jesus calls her daughter and tells her that her faith in Him has made her well.

This woman came for healing and though she received it, she also found peace in the security of Jesus. God’s power of love and mercy took away her illness and that illness was replaced with God’s love, His mercy, His compassion, and His peace.

Where in your life do you find yourself exhausted from all that has gone wrong, looking for relief in all the wrong places?  How many times has Jesus been your last resort?

Today, I want to encourage you to take a moment to think through the times He has been your last resort.  Ask yourself why and then throw yourself at His feet. Reach out and grab his robe. Trust that He is loving and merciful and will turn to you with compassion and love. Be confident in knowing that He will look you in the eye and call you daughter and that He will take away the pain and heal your broken heart in more ways than you could ever dream or imagine.

2 Week Notice

One of the hardest concepts for me as a spouse and parent is fighting the temptations of this world to do life (marriage and parenting) the world’s way. I struggle to embrace truth at times because the world is often offended by God’s design and the people pleaser in me wants to make those around me happy. Sadly, I oftentimes do go the way of pleasing others at the expense of being obedient to what I know Truth to be.

Between movies, tv programs and books, the world spends countless amounts of time attempting to paint a picture for us as to what marriage, parenting and family should look like. A portrait that most of the time is far from the way in which God designed any of it to be. The Bible paints a much different picture than the world and throughout my 27 years of married life and 24 years of parenting, I have learned that following God’s design instead of my own or the world’s leads to blessings and joy that this world has yet to offer me.

A few years ago, I listened to a sermon titled Time’s Up (The Summit Church, JD Greear, 11/10/19). I decided I needed the reminder and listened to it again. As the sermon began, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but it hit the nail on the head for me and where God is trying to take me as a spouse and parent.

I have spent years praying and asking God to reveal Himself to my children the way in which He has revealed Himself to me throughout the years. I want them to know Him the way I do. To experience the joy of walking in His way and living life by His design instead of what the world would offer. To live the “best life”, a life experiencing the goodness and faithfulness of God and not the life (plan) I want or think they should live. God has purposely designed each of them for a part of His story and I desperately want them to know the joy that comes from walking with Him.

As we listened to the sermon yesterday the pastor talked about a conversation that took place between himself and his mom when he decided to have a conversation with her about what God was doing in his life when he was in college. It was a conversation he was nervous to have because he was afraid she would be disappointed in him.

He began by saying, “Mom, I know this is probably really disappointing. I know you must have had this vision of me living close, making a comfortable living, and raising your grandkids in a place where you could see them every day. But I feel like God wants me to go live overseas where people don’t know about Jesus.”

And here was his mom’s response, “J.D., your father and I have been praying for God’s will for you your whole life. And if this is how God wants to use your life, we won’t stand in your way. There’s nothing that would make us prouder than knowing you gave your life back to God for his service. We’ll have all eternity to enjoy the blessings of our family,” she said. “So, if we miss out on some of them down here, that’s ok. We’ll have all eternity for that. We’ve only got a few years to ensure that people’s sons and daughters around the world have a chance to be included in our family.”

Only one life to live… That’s the legacy JD Greear was given by his parents. And he said it was greater than anything else they could have given to him. THAT is the legacy that I want to give to my children! That is who I want to be for them. I want them to know that the eternal destination of those around them are far more important than anything else. That following Jesus and sharing Him with the world is by far, more significant than a full table on Thanksgiving.

JD Greear followed up his story with this: “So, one simple question for you: What legacy are you leaving? What kingdom are you leveraging your resources for?” He said, “You see, there is one thing we CAN’T do there (eternity in heaven) that we can do here: tell people about Jesus.”

That is the message I want my children and the children I love as my own to hear. That is my heart for them. I LOVE being a wife. I LOVE being a mom. But both for me are completely worthless if both of these titles are all about me and my happiness. I want to leave this earth knowing that my husband and children know/knew that following Jesus and leading others to follow Him were the MOST important things.

As JD Greear said in his message, we have all been given a two weeks notice. The death rate is 100%. We never know when our last day will be so we must live as if that day is today.

Our notice has been given. What are we going to do with it? “In that last day, when Jesus returns, the ONLY thing that will matter is whether we were a faithful steward and used our resources for His purpose.”


How Long?

How many times have I asked God, “how much longer?”  Truthfully, I have lost count. There are days when I just wish I could get a tiny glimpse of His eternal perspective. I keep telling myself that if only I could see just a little bit of where all of this is going then maybe it would help me better understand why He has allowed some really hard things to happen in our family.

Perhaps, like me, you have prayed for God to turn a situation around in your life but instead of things getting better, your greatest fears have become your reality. You feel forgotten by God and totally alone. You find yourself on a journey you never wanted to take and the constant question that plays over in your head is “why has He allowed this in my life?”

A few months ago, I was reading through Psalms 13 and was struck with the question asked by David:

Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
    How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
    with sorrow in my heart every day?
    How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Those words resonated so deeply in my soul but at the same time offered a comfort and peace.  In that moment, I realized that we can take our questions to God. We can be honest with Him about our emotions and hurts.  We don’t have to hold back or be afraid that He might be offended by our outburst or tears.  Instead, we can be confident that He knows our hurt but even more so, He sees our hearts.  Instead of venting to someone else or turning to social media to distract us once again, we can bring our broken hearts straight to the throne of God.

David goes on to say:

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.

Don’t be afraid to pour out your heart and to ask God for His supernatural help. There is no relief when we attempt to undo the pain or correct the struggle on our own. Trying to work in our strength only leads to deeper pain. God alone is the source of our strength and the only one who holds the answers. He is the restorer of our souls and the one who can and will lift us from the pits of despair. We must reach the place where we acknowledge that we cannot fix things ourselves or our damaged situation, and instead find ourselves at His feet in surrender asking the Almighty to stand in the gap on our behalf.

David ends with:

But I trust in your unfailing love.
    I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
 I will sing to the Lord
    because he is good to me.

Focus on what is true. Everything around us may change but God is our constant. He is in control.  He is good and He is faithful.  In every season, no matter how painful the circumstances, we have reason to rejoice because He is a God who delivers. He fights for us and in the end, He will have the victory! When we are facing things we cannot control, and choose to believe He is who He says, even when things do not make sense, our faith is strengthened.

Remember that you do not need to hide your feelings from God. He knows each of us. We can pour out our hearts to Him and trust that He hears us and He sees us.  His character never changes and the love He has for His children runs deep. When you are going through a season of injustice, pain and suffering don’t avoid your time with God because of fear in not knowing how to voice your frustrations and hurt. Pray to Him in confidence and freedom, knowing that He IS your loving Father that you can share your unspeakable pain with and trust Him for all He is and all that He has done. God will keep us standing and He WILL give us a new song to sing!!

Hidden Treasure

Matthew and I love to wander through the used bookstore.  There used to be one minutes from our house, but it shut down a few years ago and now the only other location is about thirty minutes away which we visit occasionally.  We can always find some kind of hidden treasure within the shelves whenever we go and this last visit was no exception. I’m quite certain we might have just found a real treasure 😊

I have read through a lot of little devotional books over the years. You know those daily ones that take about 3 minutes to read and give you a bit of encouragement to get through the day. They are delightful but typically do have a lot of meat to them.  I haven’t bought one in a really long time for that reason. But on this last visit to our little bookstore, I stumbled across two books: 40 Days of Faith and 40 Days of Grace by Paul David Tripp.  There were two brand new copies of both on the shelf so I grabbed them both and thought why not. 

Last week, I started reading. The daily reading is simple and short but the depth of what is found inside has been truly profound.  I started with the 40 Days of Faith. Mainly because I know that is where my heart is most troubled and needs the most work.  My prayer for the last few years has been, “I believe. Help my unbelief” and it has been a process to say the least.

Day 1 in this little book didn’t hold back and packed a punch right to the gut. One I really needed and it started with these simple words:

It is vital to know that faith is not just an action of your brain; it’s an investment of your life. Faith is not just something you think: it’s something you live.

Here’s the thing. That isn’t some profound truth/statement that I’ve never heard before. However, it is a truth/statement made in a way that I haven’t thought about before.  And each day since has been filled with the same great insight, just like the first. I’m left convicted, encouraged and excited each day about what could be ahead.  The possibilities that could be in front of me. The movement that could take place if I would just trust and have the faith I once held to so dearly to let go and believe. 

I am still a work in progress.  A person with a lot of trust issues still working through all those issues. But I don’t believe for a second that this random little book fell in my lap. I DO believe that God cares enough about me and loves me more than I realize to put that book in just the right place so that He can do that work of answering my prayer of helping my unbelief 😉

Beautiful Scars

Instead, credit God with your new situation: you are united with Jesus the Anointed.  He is God’s wisdom for us and more. He is our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

1 Corinthians 1:30

The look of concern that formed across the delicate face of my six year old as she looked at me sent my heart racing. Clearly something she saw she found disturbing. What had me perplexed was why it was she was looking at me. Suddenly her tiny thin lips began to form the words, asking, “mommy who stabbed you there?”  WHAT?  I was dumbfounded.  What did her eyes see that I did not? Immediately it hit me, my C-section scar.  

Funny the scars we carry each representing different stories in life.  Some of my scars remind me of happy and beautiful times while others stir emotions of extreme pain. But what about those scars that reside deep within us?  The ones that are not visible to anyone else and pierce deep within our hearts.  Those are the scars that we carry from broken and extremely painful pasts.  Each of these scars either comes from the self inflicted wounds that we created by our own choices or mistakes while the others were delivered by the hand of someone else.  No matter how these scars were received they each still serve as a painful reminder of tremendous hurt. Each one we carry represents a story, a story that we should embrace and not something we hide.  They are our opportunity to share the transformation of healing that took place within us.  

My scars are my reminder of healing.  They are old wounds that have been mended and healed by the power of Christ in my life, serving as a message of hope.  Over the years I have learned to be thankful for the scars I have received, reminding me of the work God has done in my life, the struggles He has carried me through and the way in which He has healed the deep wounds of my life. My scars have become my treasures, my testimony to share with others in great hopes that their scars may find healing too!

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

In heavenly armor we’ll enter the land,
The battle belongs to the Lord.
No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand,
The battle belongs to the Lord.

And we sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord,
We sing glory, honor, power and strength to the Lord.

When the power of darkness comes in like a flood,
The battle belongs to the Lord.
He’ll raise up a standard, the power of His blood,
The battle belongs to the Lord.

When Your enemy presses in hard, do not fear,
The battle belongs to the Lord.
Take courage, my friend, your redemption is near,
The battle belongs to the Lord.

©1985, Fairhill Music
Words and Music by Jamie Owens-Collins

When I was younger, I had the great privilege of attending a non-denominational church for a couple of years. They were some of the greatest moments of my pre-teen years as it was during those years that I understood and felt the presence of God for the first time.

One of my favorite songs was “The Battle Belongs to the Lord”. Whenever I was down or scared, I would find myself singing it over and over for comfort. Even today, I find myself doing the same thing and it brings me great strength and comfort.

As I read the story of David and Goliath I am reminded of how when God is on our side, it does not matter how big the giant may be because the battle ultimately belongs to Him.
The following is such a powerful passage and speaks volumes to the trust that we can have in God when we are going through hard times.

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
1 Samuel 17:45-47

Whenever I read this passage, I get goose bumps. There is such power and conviction behind that statement. How awesome did David feel to stand against such a giant and not be afraid? To know that he could stand strong in his faith in God and know that he would prevail? God does not expect us to stand around, do nothing, and think that He will do all the work but He does want us to know that His will and truth will always prevail because the battle is His.

Giving not getting

So I began posting last week the importance of wives submitting to our husbands.  It is always interesting to see how people respond to that topic.  Typically is not a pretty discussion because most women want to argue their way out of having to do it. However, the Bible is very clear as to our responsibility in regards to being wives but it also addresses the responsibility of the husband as well.

So let’s take a look at what Ephesians says about the role of our husbands.
Husbands go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church-a love marked by giving not getting.  Christ’s love makes the church whole.  His words evoke her beauty.  Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.  And that is how husbands ought to love their wives.

Ephesians 5:22-28, The Message

God has a perfect plan for marriage. His perfect design presents to the world a beautiful picture of Christ’s love and sets the ultimate example for us to follow.  When lived out according to His design, it works.  However we as humans can really screw it up.  Marriages constantly fail but not because God’s design doesn’t work.  Instead because we choose to follow our own path which typically does not turn out well.

So let’s look at biblical headship according to God’s truth.  First and foremost I want to say that in my understanding of scripture these things do not work for those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Biblical submission and headship work and are lived out because of the work the Holy Spirit does within us.

Quick recap from Ephesians where wives are first instructed to submit to our husbands. Ladies when we hear the word submission we sometimes hear weak and powerless.  That word does not mean our husbands are to be the dictators of our home. It does not mean that he is to impose his will upon our lives.  Instead it means trusting our husbands to lead our homes as they walk in step with God’s will for their lives and family.  Submission is an attitude of being responsive, receptive and agreeable toward our husbands which demonstrates what is fitting and appropriate in God’s created order for us as wives. (Colossians 3:18)  It is not always easy because we may not always agree with their choices but it relieves the burden in our lives to provide and protect allowing us to care for our families. As we grant our husbands room to lead, it allows their faith in Christ to grow.

What does it mean for our husbands to lead?  Scripture says that our husbands are to love us as Christ loves His church (Ephesians 5:25).  Let’s start there.  What does the love of Christ look like to us?  Jesus was a servant. He was full of grace and mercy.  He put the needs of others before Himself.  He was a living sacrifice.  He gave up His own life for ours.  The love of Jesus is a selfless love.  It is unconditional and full of sacrifice.  Jesus came to this world to serve, not to be served. (Luke 22:26)

Headship is not a husband’s right to command and control his wife but instead it is a responsibility to love his wife like Christ.  It is about being willing to lay down one’s life for the good of others.  Headship is not given to enlarge a man’s ego but instead build up his family. It becomes his responsibility to sacrificially love his wife.  It is like the verse says, “a love marked by giving not getting.”

So the next question becomes what does this look like when your spouse is an unbeliever or does not have a solid walk with Christ?  This can get tricky but it is important to know that first and foremost, we wives are to submit to Christ.  We ultimately allow the Holy Spirit to lead and we submit to His righteous ways.  We as wives are not called to submit to sin, abuse or mistreatment of any kind.  We have been given a brain to discern truth and the strength to stand for what we know to be right.  Ladies, God did not create us to be our husband’s doormat and so if you find yourself in a situation where abuse or mistreatment of any kind is taking place, that is not God’s plan and should be addressed so that proper counsel can be attained for the family. Again, it is not in God’s plan for any man to abuse his wife or his children and a wife should not submit to this kind of behavior.

With that said, biblical headship is a beautiful reflection of Christ and His love for His bride, the church.  When lived out in our homes, the selflessness, sacrifice and servanthood of our husband’s love for us becomes a true picture of Christ’s love.

Same sad story

We all have a story to tell.  Everyone has experienced their fair share of hurt and struggles.  We’ve definitely all been there.  What separates us from it all is how we handle our experiences and how we choose to move on.  Question is…will we move on? Can we move on?
It is so easy when we have been hurt to hold on to that hurt.  We struggle to let go. We continue to tell the same sad story to ANYONE who will listen.  ANYONE who will tell us what we want to hear in order to feel better.  We wallow around in self-pity feeling sorry for ourselves and asking why it is that everyone else in the world seems happy.  We become resentful and bitter.  We are without hope.
Back in the day there was a song by R.E.M, Everybody Hurts that played on the radio.  I am not a particular fan of the song but the words play in my head a lot when I am feeling down.
               When your day is long
               And the night is yours alone
               When you’re sure you’ve had enough
               Of this life, we’ll hang on
               Don’t let yourself go       
               Cause everybody cries
               And everybody hurts sometimes
When the reality hits that you are not the only person in the history of the world to experience pain, life changes.  When you grab hold of the reality that trials and struggles happen not only for a reason but also to everyone…hope enters.
You see pain is pain.  The pain you experience is no different from the pain that I experience.  Whatever the situation we find ourselves in, at the moment, we think that no one else could ever understand our pain, but the truth is that we are not alone.  People all around us are in the middle of their own crisis dealing with their own pain.  So what do we do with that pain?  What do we do with the struggles and trials we are experiencing?
I believe that struggles and trials help to develop who we will become.  How we handle the worst moments in our life will mold us into whom we ultimately become.  I believe they help to shape our character. I believe they help to grow our faith. I believe we learn from our struggles so that we can help others. I believe we exist for a purpose other than ourselves. I believe we were created for Someone else. I believe we were created for God and I believe He created each of us with a purpose.
God created us for His glory.  We exist for Him alone.
               For through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see- such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him.
                                                                                                                      Colossians 1:16
The problem is that many do not know or understand this concept. We forget or do not know that this life is not about us.  We do not exist for our own story.  We exist for God’s story.  We are nothing but a bunch of sinful screw-ups who struggle to live a life worthy of bringing glory to a Holy God. We do not deserve to be a part of His story but because of His merciful grace, He allows us a small part.
As a part of His story, I am of the belief that God allows struggles into our lives so that we can come to a place where we acknowledge our need for Him.  A need that requires having faith in who He is and His promises. For me struggles have become the moments when I experience Him moving in my life the most.  It is when I experience His presence the greatest because it is when I lean on Him the most.  When I am hurting, when I am scared, when I am uncertain about life He is the One I turn to.  I have learned that He is the One who will lead me out of the struggle safely.  He gives us unlimited opportunities to choose Him over our own way and we often fail.  He knows that we are a work in progress but allows the bad in order to accomplish His good when we trust Him.  It is a testing of our faith in Him.  As we go through life and struggles and acknowledge Him in our life, we begin to trust Him more through the bad times. When we begin to trust Him and surrender to His plans for our life, we bring Him glory.
Life is difficult.  Life will never be perfect.  Life should not be traveled alone.  God created each of us with a purpose and a plan.  He does have a perfect plan for us all but because of sin we get it wrong. Constantly.  The good news is that no matter what is happening, whether good or bad, He is there.  He is there to lead if we are willing to acknowledge.  He is willing to comfort and heal if we are willing to let go.  It just becomes a matter of changing our perspective and seeing our trials as His way of drawing us closer to Him.  Acknowledge Him…it is a beautiful thing.

All Things New…: My Husband used to be a pastor- Part 2

All Things New…: My Husband used to be a pastor- Part 2: All of this is for your benefit.  And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will rec…