Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Be Still

I feel like I'm continually fighting so many battles. Unfortunately, I feel like I'm also losing all of these battles but for some reason, I don't change my tactics.

Do y'all ever have those days when it's like you against the world? It's a lot less glamorous than standing in front of a giant globe, hands on hips, cape blowing in the wind, sparkly combat boots glinting in the sun. In Marvel movies, the slim odds are exciting, invigorating, and even encouraging, but in my own life, they are crushing.

Yet I continue to drag myself through the battle field, hands covering my face and slamming into everything. My heart feels like a rag doll lately, tossed continually about by a child far too enamored by an imaginary world. I feel sabotaged by attacks, both surprise and not.

And I do not change my tactics.

Thank the Lord I was not in charge of military strategy during World War II or any big wars because, folks, there would no longer be any great US of A to call home.

I came across this verse the other day: The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. (Ex 14:14)

Be still. That sounds nice. But there's just too much to do. And that's a lot of control there that I'd be relinquishing, a lot of trust requiring...I don't know. How refreshing does that sound though? In a world where we're continually thrashing about, both by our own accord and others', be still.

So I don't need to fight? How exactly does one just...be still?

I feel like a repetitive point in my writing (due, no doubt, to the fact that it's a repetitive point in my life) is not only is God in control, but we are not. Whether or not we realize it. We're simply not designed to be in control.

I brought this verse to prayer, asking Jesus to fill me with awareness that He is fighting for me, and asking Him to still me.

His response? Ephesians 6:12-19.

For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And that is all the fighting I can do. I need to realize that I am not struggling against anyone or anything besides Satan.

Clothing myself in truth; realizing, despite what is being pushed at me, that I am a daughter of God, I am a bride of Christ, I am made in the Image and Likeness of the Creator of the Universe. Consequently, I need to realize that this is the truth and destiny of all; children of the King.

I need to cling to virtue, not vice, that I maybe righteous; embracing the gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord) in the face of the attacks of Satan. I must be eager to spread the Gospel and to let it be powerful, to let it change my life and the lives of those around me; I cannot be afraid of the peace that it brings.

Despite how things look around me, I want faith to influence my every move. I want to be filled with the knowledge that God is working. I want to believe with every part of my heart, mind, and soul that God knows what He's doing and He is doing...for my good and for His glory.

Jesus Christ died for my salvation....I am washed in His blood. The lies of Satan are meaningless against His sacrifice. How I need to remember this! And I need to be drenched in the beauty of Sacred Scripture...allowing it to come alive and penetrate my heart and my life.

Friends, God wants to give us these things...they're not things we have to convince, connive, and beg for. All that we need to do is surrender, give up our lives, and be still.

These are all truths that take self denial to accept. That is found in prayer. I challenge you to pray every day, for at least thirty minutes...let God fight for you. Let Him be God. How refreshing, how relieving that we don't need to be in control, that we don't need to be God! Let Him be Father and let Him hold you. You need only be still.

I'm praying for you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Yesterday, it looked like March. April, even.

Today, it's snowing.

Out of control flurries taunt the ground, about to fall and then flying away instead. The sky is spitting out huge white flakes so fast for a couple of seconds, letting up, and then hurling the majestic fluff towards the earth at an alarming speed once more.

Falling, falling, falling. And I can't stop it. I couldn't even begin to be able to control it. I wouldn't even be able to sort it, to protect the grass from its icy take over.

That's kind of how my life feels right now.

A million swirling emotions, like a tornado ripping out my heart. A million words, a million memories, a million reasons vying for my time and attention and tears. In all of this chaos...I am still. The pressure is coming at me from all sides that I suppose it just balances out.

Everything outside is so white. So cold. The snow covers everything, making us confused as to what is beneath.

My mind feels like that. Just a shocking, bright white. I can't grasp on to any one thing because there are too many. The cold numbs my heart and there's only one feeling I can clamp onto.


Today is a sad day.

And you know what? There is nothing wrong with sadness. For some reason, a lot of people have it in their minds that it's not okay to be anything but happy. But guess what? Jesus wept. (John 11:35)

It's okay to cry.

But what is not okay is to let sadness harden our hearts. Instead, sadness has the power to cleanse...to tenderize our hearts.

I need Jesus to enter into my sadness, just like every other emotion. In my sadness, just like everything else, He is with me. Not only is He with me, He cries with me. In my sadness, He stills me.

We have to entrust not only whatever is making us sad to God, but also the sadness itself. We have to turn to God to comfort us, because nothing else ultimately will.

Sometimes, things don't make sense. Actually, a lot of times things don't make sense (at least in my life). But in sadness, in happiness, whatever-- we have to trust that God has a plan. We have to trust that He allows everything for a reason.

It's okay to be out of control.

Honestly, that is how we are supposed to be. Out of control. We're out of control whether we realize it or not. Rather than this truth inciting fear, let's pray that it brings us to a deeper trust. We simply have to trust that not only does God have a will for our lives, but that it will be done.

The snow has stopped. It's actually extremely beautiful outside. How fast everything changes.

"You changed my mourning into dancing; you took off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness." -Psalm 30:12

God is bigger than all emotion. He is eternal, everlasting, all powerful, and all loving. He will heal and He will restore. In sadness, joy can be found in His love and hope can be found in His plan.

Let us seek Him, in everything we feel, and everything we do, and everything that happens to us. He's got it. He's got us.

Friday, February 5, 2016

I Worship False Gods

The Old Testament is wrought with stories about idolatry.

So many hundreds of people who worship things, giving powerless things power over their lives. In some cases, people even gave of themselves to worship, whether that meant physically or financially. It's actually pretty heartbreaking. Take the Israelites, for example. God led them out of their bondage and then, ba da bing ba da boom, they turn right around and melt all their gold, turning it into an idol. Into an idol that has never done anything for them, will never do anything for them.

But idols aren't all gold. And they don't all live in the Old Testament.

Actually, there's quite a few present in my life. I have a confession to make. I worship idols. Here are some of their names:

Fear and worry. I let fear literally run my life sometimes. I sacrifice so much thought and feeling to worrying about the future. I make room in my heart for fear and push everything out. Sometimes, the majority of what I think are "what if's". I bow to fear and worry and accept them into my life.

People's opinions. There are times that I let people's opinions of me dictate how I act, how I speak. I have centered my actions around people, figuring as long as I'm accepted and well thought of, nothing else matters.

Anger. I have clung to unrighteous anger. I have let it guide my thoughts and actions. Instead of having a forgiving spirit, I sacrifice so much of my time and energy to just being angry.

Distrust. Because of past hurt, I have let distrust uproot love in my life. I have been suspicious, sure people are out to get me.

Despair. Rather than trusting, I have let go of hope so often in my life.

I am a sinner. I am just as heartbreaking as the Israelites...God has done (and is doing!) so much for me, and I continually bow to these other gods. I turn to these idols because they're easy. It's so easy to fall into these temptations, to worship fear and worry, to believe that people's words are the be-all-end-all, to cling to anger, worship distrust, and be one with despair.And here's the thing: these gods that I'm giving so much of myself to? They're not giving me anything. They destroy my heart, making me weak and tired.

"Since the Lord, your God, is a merciful God, He will not abandon or destroy you..." -Deut 4:31

Again, these things can't do anything for me. They are empty. They are lies and they are not of Jesus. Why should I open my heart to them when the God of the universe longs to give me His peaceful love that washes away all hurt...fear...worry...

Why do we worship things that hate us? That are so bad for us? Why would we not run to the arms of an all loving Father?

THAT is where the power is. In Jesus Christ, who died and rose from the dead. I am not a slave to fear, I am a child of God. I can believe, I can be free.

This year, let's give up our control-- we don't have it anyway. Let's give up our false worships, whether that be in the name of fear, anger, distrust, sex, money, whatever. Every day, let's surrender. Let's proclaim God as the one and only Lord of this world, the one and only King of our hearts. And then let's watch the glory unfold.

"...you must know acknowledge and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below and there is no other." -Deut 4:39

Monday, February 1, 2016

When God Wants You To Wait

This is the time of year when I'm always in a funk.

Christmas seems forever ago and summer is light years away. I feel stuck in the middle, lost in a torrent of blandness and school work. There is so much to do before the school year ends. Things seem kind of pointless, and I wonder why I'm doing certain things. Laziness and procrastination tempt me to fall into their clutches. The weather doesn't help either, promising spring but clinging to winter.

Everything is just blegh. From the brown grass, the ever-sinking sun, the abundance of boring papers. Everyone is on edge and cold and just ready for some warmth.

Waiting. Waiting for summer, waiting for things to get done. Waiting to shake off the gloominess that holds us down.

Most people seem to think of waiting as a bad thing. In our culture, immediacy and instant gratification are our favorite words. The motto "all good things to those who wait" has been turned into "if you have to wait, it's not good". Instant internet access, instant texts back, instant feedback. When we don't get it, we get cranky.

We like our lives like we like our movies-- exciting, fast paced, surprising, and dramatic (even if we won't always admit it). When none of these adjectives apply to our lives, we sometimes wonder what we're doing wrong.

God does not subscribe to the world's negative view. In fact, sometimes God does His greatest work in us and with us in the waiting periods of our lives.

It is in the waiting that God changes our hearts. In the mundane, He wants to fill us. He wants to strengthen us, to prepare us. There is so much He longs to teach us in these waiting periods! He wants to refine our hearts, to direct us towards Him.

In our faith, are we clinging to God only when we feel high emotions? When things in our lives are crazy, either crazy good or crazy bad? When we reach interim periods, do we continue to trust Him, to turn to Him?

What about when we're waiting on Him? When we're waiting for an answer, for a sign...do our praises and gratitude turn to grumbling and complaints? When we don't feel anything, do we "not even bother" with prayer?

We do not follow God because of what He does for us, because of how He makes us feel. We follow Him because of who He is.

God is mighty to save. He is Love. He is all powerful. He is in control.

Right now, I'm waiting on a lot of things. I don't know where I'll be or what I'll be doing even four months from now. But I do know that my God is faithful. I know that He is working in this time, that He has a plan that He will execute perfectly, for my good. So, meanwhile, I will worship Him.

Is God asking you to wait on Him? Never believe for a moment that He is not active. Find Him in the waiting. Surrender more fully. Be faithful to Him. Try to outdo Him in faithfulness, and watch the splendor that unfolds.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." -Romans 8:28