Who gets the Victory in your Life?

One of the first things I remember being a preacher’s daughter was my mom telling me, I couldn’t bring my baby doll to church with me on Sunday nights anymore. I was probably in kindergarten or first grade and being that services typically went long on Sunday nights. I always enjoyed  bringing my baby doll with me. I am sure it kept me occupied during the long night and I probably ended up cuddling with it and falling asleep at some point. I really don’t remember, but one thing I do remember is sitting next to the daughter of the deacon that night who had told my daddy I couldn’t bring my baby doll anymore to church. I sat there and watched as she played with her doll, wondering why the rules were different for her than me.

 

That would not be the last time I would be singled out as the preachers daughter and be expected to keep a standard higher than others around me,  but it will forever be embedded in my memory. I still deal with fighting bitterness and anger from that incident. Especially since I still have contact with the daughter and see how she now gets to care for her parents. I am not going to lie, I have wondered, why would God allow someone that was so mean to my father,  still get to live and why would a God that loves me take my daddy instead, and at such a young age. My daddy has been gone since I was 23 years old. He hasn’t gotten to be a part of my kids lives nor see his great grandchildren or see what kind of a woman I have grown into. My husband has missed the mentoring that my father could of provided to his ministry that would of been so useful especially in the early years.

 

But one thing is not different about me, I am still expected by God to forgive. Just like anyone else in this world. You may ask “Well what is expected of us”.  The bible says If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” (1 John 4:20) Then Matthew reminds us “But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15

 

Oh! That isn’t the only hurt in the church that has happened to me, in fact I am pretty certain satan has instigated many opportunities for me to be bitter and angry at God’s people. It’s not important I share all the details of the opportunities for offence I have had. See,  I am not alone in this. Satan has been using these tricks to discourage believers since the beginning of time. Just look at the story of Job in the bible. We are told that satan and God are having a conversation. When God says “Have you considered my friend Job” In the conversation God basically tells satan, you can do anything you want to Job except take his life, and he will not turn his back on me”. So satan goes after Job, he ends up taking everything Job has expect his complaining and nagging wife, which if you read the story you realize, she was probably working for satan. Even in all that Job lost, his children, his home, Job refused to turn away from God. Job tells us that even if he dies, he will not stop trusting in God. I guess that is what I would have to say too.

 

See, my family has failed me, my friends has failed me, my church has failed me, my denomination has failed me, but one thing I can say is my God has never failed me. Oh! I lived in a season of my life in bitterness and anger and all it did was hurt me and the people around me.  And you know what? The people that hurt me so much and who I was so angry at continued on with their lives as if, nothing had happened. I was the only one hurt. I was letting my bitterness and anger hold me captive while the one that I wanted so badly to hurt went on with their lives.

 

I was a prisoner in my own world, a world I had created of bitterness, isolation and anger. I didn’t realize that I was angry at the wrong people. I, like all of us, needs to focus on the real enemy and that is satan. I,  like all of us also, needs to realize that with every opportunity for bitterness,unforgiveness and anger that comes my way, I need to remember that this also, like Job, maybe a test, Perhaps God has put so much faith and trust in me, He has told satan, “Go ahead, see what you can do to her”. Like a coach who puts his best player out in the time of the game that is critical to the team, he is depending on you to make that finial point for the team to win the game.

 

When we come to look at every opportunity for offence as an opportunity to rise above and be the shining star on God’s team. We will then let Christ’s love in us shine through and overshadow any root of bitterness. When we realize every opportunity of unforgiveness is just a trick from the enemy. We will begin to see a whole lot less opportunities for unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment. Because satan soon leaves stops using tricks that don’t work. It is important that we realize we are not a war against people but satan, its just that satan often uses people as his ploys. We can see from the beginning of time, satan as only used those things to slip us up and keep us from the life that God has called us. But Jesus died for us to live.

 

Christ doesn’t desire for us to just have life here on this earth but He desires for us to live an abundant life John 10:10 tells us that satan comes to steal our joy, kill our hope  and destroy our faith in God. But Christ came that we would have that abundant life, not just an ordinary life but an abundant life that is full of joy and peace, that is a comfort for those who are in need and a peace to those who are troubled. One of the ways we can receive that abundant life is the choice we make when we are tempted to refuse to forgive and live in unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment.

 

Make no mistake we always have a choice how we respond and that choice either glorifies God, or glorifies satan. So the question is, who are you living for? Who do you want your life to glorify? It isn’t the people that hurt us or our families we need to be angry out, it is satan himself and the sooner we realize that,  the best defense to his skeem is to not play in his hand. Because as long as we live in unforgiveness and bitterness satan wins and I for one refuse to allow him to have any victory in my life. What about you?

 

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It Just Jumped Out of My Pocket!~

It Just Jumped Out of My Pocket!~

Last week we celebrated my youngest 20th Birthday. It’s time like these that always have me reminiscing.

One of my favorite stories I remember about Chad as a little boy is, the time when we were eating dinner at Pizza Hut in De Soto KS , I don’t think we had lived there very long so Chad could not of been more than 3 or 4 yrs old, The restaurant was fairly empty and so we allowed Chad out of his seat to play one table over, in a children’s section they had available, well within our view. As he played, we looked on. If I remember correctly I think we were entertaining some prospects for our potential church we were preparing to pioneer, so we were hoping everyone would be on their best behavior.

Chad came to the table and requested a quarter for the little ball machine over by the door. Chad has always loved taking the chance of putting some denomination of money in a machine only to see what comes out. He is much like his father in that way, they both love to take chances. I on the other hand, am the play it safe kinda person who likes to know what’s ahead.

Jeff agreed, and gave Chad the quarter since he also loves the idea of the mystery of what will come out of the machine or maybe it was so Chad would leave us alone to visit with our guest, whatever the reason it doesn’t really matter now. Because when Jeff said yes to that simple little quarter he failed to think ahead of the outcome that would come from his decision. Once Chad had the ball in his hand he wanted to bounce it all over the restaurant, in between the tables and booths following the ball all over and the more he bounced it the higher it went. Which doesn’t bode well when you are trying to impress someone. So Jeff  immediately tells Chad ” Put that ball in your pocket and I don’t want to see it out again!” Chad obeyed and carefully squeezed it away in his front pocket of his little jeans then went back to playing in the children section, it was only a few minutes later we suddenly saw the ball fly through the air  over the table where we were sitting with our guests. The whole table turned to look at Chad,when he looked up at us with a straight face and eyes as wide as saucers and said,

“It just jumped out of my pocket!”. The table roared in laughter!

To this day Chad loves what we call at our house “bouncy balls” we will never be able to look at one again and not think of that story.

All that got me thinking………

Jeff and Chad rarely ever hesitate to take a chance to put a quarter in a machine so they can see what surprise will come out. It must be the anticipation of what is to come.  I admire their since of adventure. I guess that is one reason why it is so easy for them to step out in faith.

The bible says that,  Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Heb 11:1) Jeff and Chad don’t hesitate to put a quarter in one of those machines, in fact they look forward to it. They look forward to it because they believe something good will come out of it.

Shouldn’t we have that same kind of faith in God? I mean His word promises us so much, if we say we believe in Him, why wouldn’t we believe what He says? One of those things God tells us in His word is that He is working all things together for our good. (Rom 8:28)

Now that doesn’t mean we may always like His decision, or we can use Him like a vending machine. If we think at any time, we can just pray hard enough or if we work hard enough to do everything to please Him then we will get what we want, we will be sadly mistaken.

What Christ does for us is simply from the pure grace that we receive from Him. We don’t have to work or earn our salvation or anything else we pray for. God is our Heavenly Father who loves us with an every lasting love. (Jer 31:3)We don’t have to earn His unconditional love.  But it should be because of that unconditional love that He shows to us, that we out of our pure gratification for that unconditional love,  in return does what His word tells us.

It is because of that trust  for Him, that we can accept that if we ask Him for something and it doesn’t happen the way we want or expect, we can trust Him that it is for our own good. Not because He is some mean Judge in heaven sitting behind his desk with a gavel ready to hit us over the head with it when we miss up.

We have to remember when things don’t happen the way we expect or plan, it isn’t a punishment for what we “didn’t do” or because we weren’t “good enough” more then likely it is for our own protection. Now don’t get me wrong there is consequences to our actions as we learned about in my previous story “Where there is a will there is a way”

What are you hoping for today? As easy as it is to believe if we put a quarter in a machine something is going to come out. It is with that same faith we can stand on the promises of God and believe that whatever He says will come true. Because true faith doesn’t “just jump out of your pocket” but it has to be put into action by our trust in Him.

Let them all Die and Go to Hell, I Don’t Care!! (but I should)

Let them all Die and Go to Hell, I Don’t Care!! (but I should)

girl-864392_1280Most people would never guess this about me, but I am shy. Oh, you don’t see it when I am in a crowd laughing, smiling, and cutting up with others!  But I am. No one feels the heart palpitations I feel before walking into a group of people. No one else knows the anxiety that rises up when I know I have to meet people. And, no one else but me can sense the fear I feel when I have to talk to someone. It often seems like the smaller the crowd the more anxiety! And, it has really risen since I have moved to a smaller town.  As soon as I walk out my front door, I feel all eyes are on me. No one, except for my immediate family, knows it takes everything within me to get out of my house and simply go shopping in this small town where I live.

 

Very few people know that the reason I have such big parties and invite so many people is not that I am such an amazing hostess; it is because my husband’s job calls for us to be sociable. However, it literally terrifies me to talk one-on-one to most people. So by entertaining several couples or large crowds, I just become the hostess; serving, while the group holds a conversation.

 

I have literally “gone blank” so many times, trying to think of what to ask people or say to someone in order to start a conversation, that, before I go to an event, I have begun to look questions up on the internet, so that I can be a good conversationalist. I have even gone to therapy for this problem!

 

I know most of you who know me will not believe a word of the above statements, but it is honestly something that I deal with on a regular basis and it happened again this weekend. You see, I am adopted and I have known my birth mother and siblings for only about 15 years now. In that time, I have had the opportunity – and pleasure – to attend about three reunions. Yesterday was one of these occasions, and as always my mind went whizzing with the same fears that hit me before any group event. What will I say? What will they think of me? How do I look? Will they like me? What if we have nothing to say to each other? On and on my mind will roll if I let it. There is no reason for this; I have NEVER felt anything but welcomed with open arms by this family that I was separated from for so many years, yet my fears continue.

 

When we look in the Bible, we find that God tells us fear is not from Him but is from the evil one, satan.  And, when I have looked back over my life, the biggest mistakes I have made have been when I was in fear. I have learned that if I allow myself to fear, if I allow fear to be the ruler of my heart, I can sabotage anything. But this isn’t news to God.  He knew this would be a number one tactic satan would use against believers! So God gave us a plan, a way out, and in His Word He tells us that we are to take every thought captive.

 

2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV “ We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

 

See, I have learned in this life, it is NOT about me. God has commissioned all of us to; first of all, “GO into all the world” . . . and, later on in His book, He says that people will know us by the love we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  So I am faced every day with the decision, “do I go…. do I show love”?? And every day I have to choose to either listen to the monkeys in my head and retreat into my own place, or to follow the commands that God has given us and do what I don’t want to do.

 

Christ’s crucifixion on the cross is a perfect example of what true sacrifice is. We read in the Bible that Jesus said, “If it be Your will , let this cup pass from me.”  See, Jesus didn’t want to have to do something His Father told Him to do either, but He did it. He gave the ultimate sacrifice, which was His life.

 

As for me, I know I have never been asked to give my life, in the literal sense, for anyone! But daily, in the spiritual sense of what I am to do, I AM asked to give up my life – my wants, my desires – especially when it comes to interacting with others. When I look back and see how Jesus was willing to be beaten and abused for me before He even knew me – the Bible says He died for me! – then how simple is it that I could give 20 minutes or an hour of my time to show the life that was given for me to others?

 

I hope you will accept my challenge today: step out of your comfort zone, your anxiety ridden situation, and fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. In Him and only Him is where we find perfect peace.

CRUSHED!

CRUSHED!

crushed pictureI silently prayed, I wished, I hoped, and I dreamed. It was so close! And, for about a week or two, I actually had the thought “I must be one of God’s most favored children if He has granted me this wish.”  I literally felt like I was walking around on air for a while. I was ecstatic with excitement! I thought my innermost desire that I had been praying for most of my life was actually going to come to pass. I thought God had heard my prayer and one of my greatest hopes and dreams was going to come true. I thought maybe, just maybe, it really would come true. I was scared to hope, but I allowed myself to do so anyway. I would shrink back and try to calm myself; then I would allow myself just a little more hope, afraid to believe but full of hope at the same time. And then, once I allowed myself to believe completely, it happened!

…………………. It all fell through at the last minute, and I was crushed. Crushed because I now wondered if it had been just a silly idea. Crushed because I had wanted it so bad; how could I have believed it would not come true? Crushed because I was crazy enough to believe.  Crushed because it didn’t happen. Crushed because, wasn’t I His favorite child??? Crushed with shame that I even believed. I knew I was silly to even think it was important enough for God to care about.

Have you ever been there????

Boy, I have! And, I have to tell you, it isn’t any fun! The mixed emotions can leave you speechless and somewhat in a state of shock. So what do we do at points like this in our lives???

Well, we have a choice, a cross roads per se. We can choose to be offended, and blame God, like a child who doesn’t get their way and stomps off and decides they never want to have anything to do with this God because, after all, “if He isn’t here to answer my prayers what is He here for?” Or, once all the dust settles and we come out of the shock we are in and pick ourselves up off the floor from fainting (Ok! so maybe that doesn’t happen literally, but it happens to us figuratively!), we can remember that God knows best; He knows our every thought, and He sees what lies ahead.

It all really comes down to, “Do I trust Him?” Or, are we looking for a God who will be our “genie in the bottle” and provide our three wishes? Do we want a God we can explain or do we want a God who is bigger than what we can comprehend?

Do we want a God we can explain or do we want a God who is bigger than what we can comprehend?

For me, I don’t want a God who jumps at my every command.  I want a God who I serve, not one who serves me, I want a God who watches out for me and keeps me from harm’s way.  I am thankful that I serve that kind of God. I am thankful that God cares for me enough to tell me “no” when what I want isn’t in my best interest; even when I have hoped and dreamed of it for years. Yes, it hurts and it is disappointing, but it comes down to the question: do I trust Him to know what is best for me, or do I want to hold on to control myself?  As long as I am in control, I will continue to make the same bad mistakes I always have! But when I have surrendered my will to His, sometimes (no, most of the time!) that means I will be disappointed, if I think things are going to work out the way “I” planned.
The Bible says in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

So how do we avoid disappointments of this magnitude? Ultimately, we have to know and trust that God is in control. I don’t think it was wrong of me to hope and dream. In fact, it was just the opposite. See, by hoping and dreaming, it showed the faith I have in God. The Bible says, in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see”.  If I didn’t have faith that my God is big enough to make my hopes and wishes come true, I wouldn’t have any faith. But I am wise enough to know that if something doesn’t happen, then God’s plan is better and I have to say, “I can’t wait to see what is better, because my dream is pretty awesome!” And yes, after I picked myself up off the floor and dusted myself off, I still think I am His favorite child. The truth is, He, like our youngest when he was three years old, when asked who he loved more, mommy or daddy, would respond, “I wuv you all the same!” Christ does love us all the same, and I am so glad that He calls me friend and I always trust my friends!

Won’t YOU trust Him today??