Category Archives: Devotional

Doctor’s Offices, Drive Thru’s and Dating

Standard

What do you think of when you hear the word “waiting“? Personally, I think of a torturous activity that includes doctor’s offices, check out lines and the like that causes impatience to flare up. This girl has grown to cringe at the concept in waiting especially in her dating life. I will own the fact that I am a product of our instant gratification culture where most things are only a drive thru or click away. Believe me, if there could be a drive thru for dating I am pretty sure every single person would be there and the line would be miles long. So there we are, back to the whole waiting thing again.

You see, maybe you are like me and struggle with what to do with waiting. I mean really, who thinks “oh today I am going to do some waiting. Yup, that waiting was the highlight of my day.” Take that into the dating realm. The first picture that pops into my head is a woman sitting at home knitting socks and sewing buttons waiting for a man to court her. (Okay so maybe I read Little Women one to many times). Regardless, I highly doubt that any of us are overly excited at the idea of waiting. In fact, when God impressed upon my heart back in November that I would be single for a year, I cried and wailed and attempted to persuade him that a FedEx box on my door step with my husband in it was a better alternative. Unfortunately here we are about five months later and still no box on my porch. Looks like God has bigger plans.

But God has been teaching me something in the past few months. I have learned waiting in singleness is not a passive activity. Far from it actually. When I sit down with a girlfriend over coffee and discuss my situation of singleness, I have begun to realize that there is far more I can be doing than pining away for my God appointed helpmate. God has opened my eyes up to the importance of intension during singleness that actively prepares me for my future relationship with my spouse. This time of my life is not meant to be idle. Nor is this is the time to be throwing a pity party. In no way is eating ice cream watching chick flicks, reading love stories or planning our future wedding, helping our cause. Even if everyone in our life is getting married or dating someone does not mean we don’t have things we can be intentionally doing to prepare for the things God has for us.

Above all else we need to fully surrender ourselves to Christ. Fully. Not partially, not selectively. Fully. The most important thing I can do for my spouse is fall head over heals in love with my Savior.  My relationship with Christ directly affects every area of my life and will affect my ability to be a good wife to my husband. Do I trust the One who created me? If not, how can I trust a flawed human being?  The biggest gift I can give my husband is being firmly planted in Him. Our relationship with Christ directly affects our ability to love another person. When we withhold ourself from Him, taking control, we cut off the supply of life to that area of our life and death is bound to follow.

It is important to identify that only Christ can fix the broken places of my heart. Christ alone sets me free. No man can give me my identity, but Christ can because He created me. Security does not come from a man or possession, but through Christ who is my Provider. As much as we want to believe that our significant other will provide a solution to pain or complete a process of healing or make us whole in some way that is far from the case. Jesus completes us, heals us and is the Perfecter of our faith. Attaching ourself to another equally broken person without knowing who we are in Christ is a recipe for disaster. Take it from the girl who used to be a leach, sucking a man dry in desperation to figure out who she was all the while he didn’t know who he was. When we know who we are in Christ, we are whole and confident in Him prepared to sustain a relationship with another broken human being. No longer are we looking to them as an answer, we already know the answer.

In understanding each of these things and more through pursuing God whole heartedly, I am establishing discipline in my life that will carry over into my future marriage. By reaching out to Him to receive all I need, I am practicing identifying the proper source of where those needs are filled. I am building a foundation in my life that will join with my husband who I believe is doing the same to build a life on the cornerstone of Christ. But we each have to own our faith first and walk it out alone before we can to it together. Without the opportunity to exercise our faith muscles we risk being unequally yoked, depending upon the other person in the relationship to carry our weight. Another person cannot walk out a relationship with Christ for you.

Finally we can pray. We can be prayer warriors for our spouse and future marriage as we wait. Just because we don’t know their name or details doesn’t mean that prayer isn’t effective. God knows all. He knows your spouse better than you ever will. I think sometimes we think of prayer as a passive activity because we don’t always see the fruit right away. But actually prayer is biggest thing we can do. I know I hope my husband is already praying for me, it’s likely he has been for years. Truth be told I very well could be the woman I am today because the power of some prayerful people who lifted me up to the only One who could reach me. Never ever ever underestimate the power of prayer. If you don’t pray for your marriage, who will? I know I want to actively sow into my marriage now through prayer even though I don’t get to see the harvest for a while. Prayer has become an active act of submission of my plans in exchange for God’s plans. As I pray for my husband, our hearts are being knit together. I want a unified marriage through Christ where my husband and I’s heart beats as one. The only way I know how to have that happen is kneel before the Author of my love story and pray. I am learning to love that man already through prayer. Prayer purifies our motives and exchanges our natural selfish lust for selfless Christ filled love.

Singleness is not this holding place meant to torture us. It is a period of time to prepare for all the beauty God has for us. Personally through seeking Him and praying for my husband my heart has been filled with purpose and a hope of a future beyond my wildest imagination. My motives have been purified. I no longer seek to be married because of a deep need that  aches to be filled. Instead I desire to journey through life with my husband spurring him on to be the man God has called him to be and as a couple seek to glorify His Name. My singleness transformed from a time of idleness to a time of intension because God opened my eyes to the responsibility I have in preparation for my groom. But most of all I no longer worry about this area of my life. Dating and marriage used to consume me, but I realize now that He has always been penning my love story.

“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, 
   for I have put my trust in you. 
Show me the way I should go, 
   for to you I entrust my life. ” –Psalm 143:8

Advertisements

A Small Sparkly Reminder

Standard

I am laughing as I sit down to write this blog post. It’s not something I ever planned to write about. So brace yourself.

I have a nose piercing.

A seemingly insignificant speck in my right nostril. Meaningless to the passerby and possibly overlooked by people who know me well. I never change it to something flashy and am not personally into the “nose ring”. I got the piercing when I turned twenty-two and honestly was slightly terrified of the reaction I believed my Mother would have when she saw it. (I must add she wasn’t phased and reacted opposite of my expectation).  I did not get the piercing because of the fad that seems to have invaded my generation, although I would imagine that would be the typical assumption.

Several months before my birthday that year I came across this passage that touched a deep place in my heart. I must confess that it had meaning out of context for this weary girls heart. A biblical scholar may not have this particular interpretation, but God’s Word is alive and active and it spoke very clearly to me that day. What I saw was my own story.  Ezekiel 16: 5-13 became alive through the lens of my own life:

5 No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.

6 “‘Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, “Live!”[a]7 I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew and developed and entered puberty. Your breasts had formed and your hair had grown, yet you were stark naked.

8 “‘Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your naked body. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.

9 “‘I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. 10I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. 11 I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, 12 and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. 

There were years of my life where I felt as though I was kicking about in my own blood in the middle of a field, discarded and alone. Blood from life decisions that caused my soul to run dry. The combination of sin and running from the plans God had for me, had pooled around me and caused isolation. This blood was a symbol of shame I rolled about in. Other times it was self-pity, self loathing and pure disgust. In certain moments it was hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness and rage. There certainly were times it was pride, insecurity and a desperate need to be in control. Sometimes it was distress and awareness of my captivity. I did not know how to get up out of the blood, there were moments where it was comfortable and familiar and yet I loathed the condition I was in.

I seemed to live simply because I was born. I went through the motions, developing and using tools to cope, limping along and refusing to relinquish control. My identity remained in the pools of blood at my feet and caked on my naked body. Ashamed of the condition I was in, deception swirled in the depths of my soul. Often I felt that the command to “live” was a cruel trick and I pled with the Giver of Life to take me and to end my suffering. I wanted a way out.

Truly it was not until I understood fully the covenant the King had made with me that I began to see myself for who I really was. One day I realized He took notice of me in my blood and nakedness and called me His. It was while I was in the field He came and delivered me from that barren place and carefully washed me of my blood and sin. He tended to each wound and clothed me. My King dressed me in the finest garments and saw something in me I never did. He took me and made me a queen.

The day I read this passage the description of clothing, jewelry and then being crowned struck a place in my heart. The value He gave me began to be exposed. I did not want to forget this identity. I never wanted to forget the process from the field to Him calling me his own. But I struggled with how to remember. The little girl in me wanted to wear a crown but when my eyes rested on “and I put a ring on your nose” I knew. A nose piercing was the perfect way for me to remember.

So at first glance it is a tiny jewel in my nose. But in my heart it is a crown I wear on my head to remember just how far He has brought me. I no longer lie in the field caked in my own destruction left to die. I do not want to forget what Christ did to deliver me.

Yes I got my nose pierced  as a reminder of how far He has brought me and the sacrifice He made to set me free. A small sparkly reminder of Him and His glory. And incase you didn’t know, He has done the same for you. You, my sweet sister are a queen, chosen by Him. He wants nothing more than to cleanse you from all that weighs you down and bring you out of your field of waste into the identity you have always had. He died to set you free. Friend, if you have never heard about the freedom Christ can offer I’d love to pray for you. Pray this with me:

Jesus, I am aware of the blood and waste that I am laying in. I am tired of trying to make this work on my own. I recognize my need for a savior and I accept that You want to make me your own. Thank you for dying on the cross, conquering death and suffering for my sin. Through acceptance of You I am cleansed and forgiven, forever a new creation in You and made new.   I believe that You are the Messiah that came to conquer death so that I can live eternal life with You as your accepted, chosen, adopted, redeemed and forgiven child. Thank you for this gift and opening my eyes to see who I am in You and what You have done for me. Today I accept you as my King and enter into the divine covenant that will radically change my life. I pray this in Jesus Christ’s Name- Amen

If you prayed this leave a comment or please find a local church this weekend and I promise He will meet you there. If you still aren’t sure or have questions or are just curious about all of this, please find a church in Your area and go. There is no better time than this sunday.

Also I’d love to hear if you have something in your life that reminds you of how far you have come and price He paid for you. Leave a comment 🙂

Keeping Company with Shame

Standard

Shame is something I struggle with. This emotion is a complex mixture of past and present mistakes, perceived failures and  reality that I have missed the mark. Despite the reassurance that we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), this lingering feeling can wash over me when I least expect it like a tidal wave threatening to drown me.

The most frustrating thing about shame is that I know in my head that I should not feel shame in who I am, or where I have been or in who I will become because Christ has died to set me free. On good days I rest in the truth that I am a new creation, and that Christ’s blood is more than enough for the likes of me, no matter how badly I screw up. But nevertheless, I still find myself keeping company with shame. Hand in hand, skipping like school girls, shame and condemnation embrace me. We sit around in a circle replaying and revisiting the lies. Condemnation spews venom into my heart until there is hardly an ounce of truth left. This nasty enemy befriends me while abusing me with the very things I despise. Condemnation keeps me looking backwards, wondering and wishing that I was someone different. Shame wraps its arms around me like an old familiar friend, promising not to leave.

The emotion of shame lies to me every time. It whispers that I am less than others and that God has lied to me when he says that I am an accepted, chosen, adopted and redeemed daughter of The Most High. It tries to persuade me that I deserve to be treated with disrespect and to remain in a state that demands I hide my face and divert my eyes from those who I have shamed. Shame tries to rob me of my identity in Christ tethering me to the old.

About a week ago, in the midst of worshiping my King, the world faded away and I found myself dancing with Him. As the words of a song rang from my mouth, I was far from the place I stood. There in the presence of the Lord, He showed me something.

He had dressed me in the most magnificent gown. The detail and the beauty of this dress go unmatched. The dress was white, billowing material with a full skirt surrounding me, fitting me like a glove. From head to toe, I was ready for what looked like a wedding. The tiny jewels on the dress glimmered in the light, reflecting Him. I was radiant, but something was wrong. I looked around me and grabbed from the ground a dirty dingy sack cloth. This cloth was filthy. Almost black with dirt and soot, stained and torn apart in places. The aroma coming from it was foul.  It was worn with holes as if it had been chewed on by some animal.  And I put it over my head covering the dress I was wearing. I then turned to Christ as if I had just placed a crown on my head.

In that moment He showed me that every time I cling to shame I am pulling on that sack cloth covering my true identity in Him. I continually place the grimy sack cloth over the gorgeous gown He made for me. In this sack cloth I am unable to see who I really am. I am blinded by my shame. Despite the fact that He tries to take it off me, as long as I put it back on nothing will change. I have to stop reaching for the sack cloth and slipping it on.

Upon seeing that vision my heart sank. I was choosing a ragged garment over the truth. I was settling and believing the lies and wearing them before my King when He has already dressed me in perfection. I felt more comfortable in the dirty, old rags then in the gown and beauty that He created me for. Shame and condemnation kept handing me the rags in hopes that I would never notice the dress I was wearing.

That is the danger of the enemy. He wants so desperately to convince us that we are not really something of great worth. The devil goes to great lengths to get us to forget who we really are and focus on the sack cloth and not on the beautiful women of God that we really are.

So today I am taking notice of the gown He has clothed me in. I am rejoicing in the work that He has done in me. I refuse to put on the garment of shame any longer. Shame is not a part of the glory that Christ has clothed me in. Let our eyes be open to the ways that He delights and rejoices in us. After all He is our Husband and He loves us so.

“As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5

What are You Worshipping?

Standard

Fear.

It grabs onto our souls and digs its claws in deep. It wraps itself around the inner workings of our heart like a vine, slowly strangling and suffocating until we are captive. Fear can start out small and insignificant, but with every small conformation that it possibly could be legitimate its roots grow deeper and the vine wraps tighter.

Some fears are stronger than others. Sometimes fear quakes like a small tremor in our heart. It is a skipped heartbeat, or a held breath. Other times it is paralyzing. It grabs hold like a monster squeezing and tormenting the one in its grasp rendering her ineffective. Fear lays us out on the floor trembling, unable to move. We cower in the corner, hiding, shaking in fears shadow unable to move.

Fear. What are you afraid of? Maybe you are afraid of…

-Your past.

-A secret source of shame. Exposed.

-Disappointing people.

-What people think of you.

-Losing someone you love.

-Feeling hurt and pain.

-Abandonment by those you let close or deep into your heart.

-Vulnerability

Fears come packaged in all shapes and sizes. Your fears may be different than mine, but I imagine they still have the same effect to paralyze and bring you to your knees. Why is it that we fear things when we have a God who is all powerful? The very God that commanded the stars in their place and can calm the seas, loves us and holds us in His righteous right hand. And yet we fear. When we fear, in our mind we take His power away and place it somewhere else. Our fears are a displacement of power.

God is bigger than our biggest fears. The only thing we should fear is Him. We are to revere God for how powerful and mighty He is. When we fear something other than God, we are bowing down and worshiping it, giving it power that only God deserves. Nothing but God should bring us to our knees.

There is not a single thing that is too big for God to handle. He says:

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

 Our God is our helpmate. The One who is strong in our weakness (Isa 40:29). He will fight our battles (Ex 14:14). We need only to reach out and hold fast to Him (Joshua 23:8).

Will we reach out and hold fast to our God and King who will conquer all our fears? Will we die to ourselves and stop worshiping our fears and allow only God to have power and authority over us?

Today, let’s get a conversation going about the power of God and the promises He makes to us when we are afraid. What verses do you cling to in times of fear?

 

Dancing in the Arms of Idols

Standard

Yesterday l talked about my deep seeded issue of control. Honestly, when dealing with this issue I do not think I can avoid facing some of the idols in my life. Ugh. Idols. Idols is one of those words I dance around. It is something that I do not want to acknowledge or really admit that I deal with. But the truth of the matter is every time I do not trust God I am turning away from Him and trusting something else. Ironically I find myself dancing in the arms of idols. Talk about denial.

An idol according to the Strong’s NIV Exhaustive Concordance is worthless, idolatries, or images (Strongs 496). As I pondered this I realized that my idols are all images that I have perceived to have found my worth in or can affirm my value. Often I perceive them to be safe and secure because many of them are comfortable.  Yet idols are really worthless. Habakkuk 2: 18 says:

Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.”

We are asked of what value is an idol? They teach lies. Each idol we have creates a false security, a false identity. We create them with our own hands, or with our minds and believe that these things are going to save us or validate us. We trust in our own creation more than the One who created us. Does that make any one else shudder?

So here is the fun part, (okay so not really) but here are some of the idols in my life. Maybe you can relate? Anyone?

Idolatry of Men- I often believe that men alone have the power to determine my value. Their words determine how and what I believe about myself. If they say that I am beautiful for a fleeting moment I believe that I am beautiful. There was a day that I would pine after their attention and if there was not a man knocking at my door I suddenly had no worth. But as you can imagine placing my identity in the hands of another person also had dire consequences. I won’t go there.

Idolatry of Self- This one is wrapped up with pride and a nice bow to boot. Many times I believe that I have it more figured out than God. Or other people. This one for me also has a lot to do with “how far I have come”. I forget that He is the one redeeming me a day at a time. No book, bible study or amount of knowledge is the reason I am the woman I am today. But I forget that.

Idolatry of Image- I bow down to this idol more often than I realize. This one for me deals with all things beauty products, gym equipment,  and clothing size. Even this morning I ran to grab lunch with a friend and found myself apologizing for not wearing make-up or changing out of work out clothes. I was embarrassed. What? Later I realized in that very instance I was placing my worth right in the hands of my image and how I appeared to others. Yuck.

Idolatry of Success- This one has been right there in the front and center lately. I won’t lie graduating and not having a clue what comes next creates a big ol’ hole in the success area. So I find myself creating all types of reasons for the delay of finding a career.

These are just some of the area’s that demand my attention and often dictate my value. Maybe you struggle with similar ones. The truth is each of these things shifts like shadows. When I am busy tending to my idols I am nothing shy of a crazed mess. It is really hard to have a man constantly affirming you while having a perfect hair day, flawless make-up, the perfect pant size, reading enough spiritual growth books, attending enough bible studies and having a fabulous career. I’m exhausted just typing that. That perfect day has yet to happen in this girls life and likely won’t ever. Not to mention that is no longer my idea of a perfect day. But notice there is no room for God in this list when I am thinking about these things.

Thankfully, God is slowly bringing me to a place where these things have less of an impact on what I believe about myself. As these idol’s are exposed I realize how they are so incapable of providing for my needs and deepest desires. These idols do not speak and they never can satisfy. Thankfully that is where Christ steps in. As I learn to trust Him in all things I begin to see more and more that He is the only One that will ever fill me up. John 7: 38 says:

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them”. 

Whoever believes. My soul is thirsty for the Living Water that will satisfy my every need. I want that river of living water to flow within me. Truth be told my biggest hang up is belief. Sure I believe in the Living God, but do I really believe that if I come to Him and lay myself down at His feet that He is all I need? Do I really believe that He is who He says He is? Or that God can do what He says He can do? Better yet, do I believe that I am who He says I am?

Maybe you are right where I am. As we shed our idols and turn towards the One who will fill us with rivers of living water, what is getting in the way? I’d love to pray and journey with you.

 

Spiritual Desert

Standard

I have to be honest, I have been in a spiritual drought. Or maybe wandering out in the desert without an ounce of water. This is a place where I don’t really feel connected to God. I wonder at times if He is even there. Things that normally would move the Holy Spirit within me would leave me feeling abandoned. It took everything within me to sit down and read my bible and even go to church. At times I found excuses not to go just because I couldn’t feel anything. Even music that once moved me to tears or praise left me with nothing. I felt like I was emotionless and hardened.
You see I just had a season where God was so present all the time. I am realizing now that was a gift and it honestly was what I needed or I would have never made it. I was in a place of desperation. And God carried me through literally. The Word would spring off the page- I couldn’t get enough of it. I reveled in the revelation of who He truly was and who I was in Him. I had such a constant connection with Him. The world was colored in Him. Everything pointed me back to His glorious presence. One I really believe He desires for us all. But what I am struggling to figure out is what caused this current drought?
Was it because I moved away from Him? Did I become distracted and try to fill my life with something else? Did He move away from me?
Maybe it wasn’t anything of the sort. Maybe I had reached a place where God decided to allow me not to feel His presence for a period of time. Why would He do that? To refine my faith. It is easy to believe in something when you are aware of it. But it is not easy when you aren’t. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” So I have to be assured that I have confidence in what I do not see. Confident even when I feel like He isn’t there. James 1:2-4 says “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Trials come in all shapes and sizes. Perhaps my feelings of God being absent from my life is a trial that He is using to test my faith so that I can become mature in my faith lacking nothing. In a strange way that is exciting to me when I look at it like that. I desire to lack nothing in my faith and to be continually refined by Him.
But it took some time to get to place where I even wanted to discover what caused this spiritual drought. God used a bible study and a revelation that gave me an “ah ha” moment. But I’ll share that another day.
Happy Saturday 🙂