Too Cool for School

I flipped a tire,.

Actually I flipped a tire THREE TIMES!

I’ll pause for you applause.

Here’s how it went down.

I was at the gym, the trainer and I were talking about different exercises and here’s what I tell him, “look I don’t want to tell you how to do your job or anything, but I want to flip a tire.”

He pointed at me, “You want to flip a tire?!?”

“Yeah, I want to flip a tire!”

So he rolled out one of those giant tractor tires that had been mocking me for the past several months and I proceeded to flip that sucker like a pancake (if the pancake were a giant tire and it took every ounce of my strength to flip it).

Would you like to know what possessed me to flip said tire?

I thought it would be cool.

I had seen all these super hip athletes flipping tires on commercials, and they just seemed so invincibly cool.  I wanted to feel that way.  Clearly the only way to get that feeling was to flip a tire.

This is how I felt when I decided to try fasting.

Several years ago, when I was much younger (and dumber), I thought that fasting would be cool to try.  In fact the exchange that I had with myself about fasting sort of sounded like the conversation the trainer and I had.

“Look, I’m ready to try this fasting thing.”

My stomach growled at me, “You want to try fasting?!?”

“Yeah, I want to fast.”

And Jesus face palmed…

See the source image

Guess how successful that was?  Oh it was an abysmal failure.  I decided to work out that day at noon, no food, no nourishment.  My trainer at the time was an older gentleman that I feel pretty confident knew the Lord, and I will never forget the look he gave me when he found out I was fasting.  I was laying on the ground, unable to move, and this was only after like 5 minutes of the workout.  He asked me what was wrong with me and I told him I was fasting; he just shook his head.

Sort of like those darn Pharisees.

Those guys did lots of things because they were trying to appear cool.  In fact, the Pharisees also fasted BUT they only fasted on Market days, so everyone could see how cool and pious they were.

They didn’t fast because they wanted to draw closer to God, they fasted because they thought fasting made them cool.

And they wanted everyone else to know how cool they were.

Jesus wasn’t impressed though; in fact, he had some pretty strong words for those guys.

Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogue and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.  Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without even knowing.”

Luke 11: 43-44

Jesus, delivering the truth like a straight up BOSS.

Here’s the thing, following Jesus, being a Christian, isn’t about appearing cool…

Or appearing holy…

Or appearing righteous.

God isn’t interested in what your outwardly appearance looks like.

You dressing up for church on Sunday doesn’t make God happy.

You carrying around a fancy Bible in a fancy Bible cover doesn’t make Jesus smile.

You being able to sing all of Chris Tomlin songs won’t make the Holy Spirit dance.

It’s the ‘why’ that matters.

Why are you going to church?  Are you going because you are seeking God’s word among God’s people?

Why are you carrying around your Bible?  Are you going to open it up and read it?  Are you going to share a scripture with one of your friends?

Do you just like they way your voice sounds when you sing Good, Good Father, or do you sing it because it magnifies the love you have for your Abba Father in Heaven?

The ‘why’ matters.

And sometimes the ‘why’ takes time.

Take my fasting for instance.  I had been a Christian for a couple of years, just a baby really.  I understood ‘what’ fasting was, we had done a couple of teachings on it, but I wasn’t ready for the ‘why’ yet.  That’s why it failed.  I was focused on changing my behavior- not my heart.

The ‘why’ is heart changing.

I can manipulate my behaviors for a little while.  But if I haven’t had a heart change, if I don’t understand the ‘why’– there’s a very good chance those changes won’t stick.

So the next time you decide you want to do something super Christian because it seems impressive.  Take a step back and figure out why doing that is important to your faith.  Spend some time on your knees asking God for the ‘why’ and get that settled in your heart before you start working on the behavior.

Unless of course, it’s flipping a tire to feel cool.

In that instance, for me, the tire did not disappoint.

 

 

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Don’t You Dare Die On Me!

I decided to try straw bale gardening this year.

I fantasize every year about growing my own vegetables, and, after obsessively researching gardening on Pintrest, I decided to try growing my vegetables in straw bales.

Because Pintrest convinces me that I can do anything…

It was almost a Pinterest fail..

The first 3 days were going great.  They hadn’t died, I hadn’t forgotten them, and I even had the cutest little baby tomato growing.

Yesterday, I checked on them after we came back from the pool…

And…

they all looked dead.

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I freaked out, ran and got the hose, and began to water them as if their lives depended on it.

BECAUSE IT DID!!!

My poor vegetables, that I loved as much as someone can love plants that they’ve only known for 4 days, were all wilted and droopy.  I was just sure that I was going to lose them all and that my husband was going to get to do the ‘I told you so dance.’  He had zero faith in my straw bale garden.

I was beginning to sense why…

I just kept watering them though, begging them not to die, and also plotting my trip to the nursery so I could replace them (and yes, before my husband found out, I can’t set the precedence in our marriage that he’s right).

Then something magical happened.

My cucumbers started to stand up.

My tomatoes started to straighten out.

I was seeing a gardening miracle right before my eyes, and it was incredible!

Except for the peppers.  Those stubborn plants still looked like death warmed over.

As I put up the hose, thankful and sad all at the same time, I resigned myself to buying more peppers and went about my evening.

Before bed, I decided to go out and check on my plants, and was astounded to find that I had resurrection peppers!

There they were, standing straight up, looking like the perfect little pepper plants that they are.

See I thought, because I didn’t see the immediate effect of the water on my plants, that all hope was gone.

I expected the water to act like a switch and automatically revive my plants.

We treat the Word of God like that.  We expect the Word of God to work immediately in our lives or in our loved ones lives; and when it doesn’t, we give up all hope, assuming that it isn’t effective.

The Word of God is like the water.

Sometimes we hear the Word and pop right up, like my cucumbers, immediately receptive to, and willing to absorb, the Word.

Other times we perk up a little bit, like my tomatoes, but it takes a little bit longer to fully absorb the Word.

And then there are times we can be watered and watered and watered, but no matter how much Word we receive, we still remain droopy for awhile.  It’s like we have to give the Word time to really soak in before it can impact our lives.

Regardless though, the result is the same, the Word of God revives us.

The Word of God straightens us out.

The Word of God helps us grow.

But we have to take it off the shelf,

Or out of our bag,

And start reading it.

The water wouldn’t have done my plants any good if I hadn’t pulled out my hose and drenched them with it.  The water being close to the plants wasn’t enough, I had to apply the water to the plants in order for the plants to be benefited by the water.

The same is true of the Word, if we don’t pull out the Bible and read it, it can’t do it’s work.  You can’t absorb the Word by being in the same room as the Bible.  And you can’t expect the Word of God to benefit us, if we don’t apply it to our lives.

OH!

And!

I can’t just water my plants at the first of the year and hope that they’ll produce vegetables.  I have to water my plants daily in order for them to remain happy, veggie-producing, plants.

Guess what guys- the Word of God works the same way.

If you want to be a happy, love-producing, human; you have to absorb the Word of God…

DAILY…

Reading the Bible once a week isn’t good enough.

Scanning a scripture of the day won’t do the trick either.

You have to be soaked in the Word of God daily for it to impact your life.

And hey, if my peppers can be revived, you can be too.

At least, that’s what Pinterest tells me.

 

 

Peter is My BFF

I dig Peter, like really dig him.

Pretty sure if Peter were alive today, we would totally be besties.

We’d probably giggle inappropriately during church over words like pew.  I’m sure we’d be poking each other to keep from falling asleep during ridiculously long alter calls.  And I would absolutely send him a Snapchat of a lake and dare him to race me across.  In short, if Peter were here now, we’d be homies.

Why?  Because I’m just like him.

I am Peter.  In fact, I think a lot of us are.  And sometimes that’s a good thing.  Take his encounter with Jesus in the storm.  Everyone remembers him taking a dip in the lake; but let’s not forget that before Peter fell in, he walked on water.  He, out of all the other disciples, at least had enough faith to step out of the boat.  John talks a good game, but he sure didn’t seem in a hurry to climb overboard.

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But I want to jump forward to the night in the Garden; because this is the Peter that I see in me that I really want to work on.

When the guards showed up to take Jesus, Peter was the picture of passion.  He snatches up the sword and slices and dices; he’s 100% committed, in that moment, to lay down his life to protect his Lord.  There is no doubt where Peter’s allegiance lies.

And I do the same thing.  When I’m sitting in church, surrounded by my fellow Christians, I am confident in my Christian walk.  I say things like “greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world,” and “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”  I make declarations of walking in faith, that God is first in my life.  My prayers feel triumphant, my faith feels as big as a mountain.  I wear my Christian faith like a Hollywood starlet wears a designer gown on the red carpet…

when I’m in church…

Here’s the thing, Peter grabs the sword, but he grabs it with a couple of things in mind.  First of all, he’s not alone in the garden.  He was there with Jesus and the other disciples.  He was ready to be a part of the movement, not go on a solo mission.  He also knew that he was there with the King of Kings.  He’d watch Jesus perform miracle after miracle.  I’m sure that as Peter was reaching for the sword, he was thinking that this would probably be pretty quick work, it’s not like anything was going to happen to the Messiah, right?

And, once Jesus had been taken, Peter completely changed his tune.  You know the story, Peter denied Christ three times before the rooster cock-a-doodle-dooed.  He doesn’t just casually deny him or ignore the question, Peter gets angry and shouts his declaration denial.  One minute, he’s ready to die for Jesus, and the next, he acts like he totally doesn’t know him.

I do that too.  It’s easy when I’m around other Christians to display my faith.  I feel comfortable reading my bible in church, but reading my bible at work feels weird.  I can lay hands on the sick in church and pray for their healing, but I can’t reach across the table at a restaurant to hold my husband’s hands to pray over our meal.  I can talk about the salvation message boldly during Sunday school, but I wince when asked by a friend what I believe.

Sure part of it is society’s meaningless grasp of relevancy in the pointless pursuit of political correctness.  But that’s not what’s really going on.  Again, let’s turn back to Peter.  Peter ended up being the rock that Christ’s church was found on.  What this says to me is that there had to have been a moment when the truth of Jesus became so real to Peter that he had to tell everyone he met regardless of where he was or who he was with.  It didn’t matter that he faced jail, ostracism, or death; Peter had to spread the good news.  At some point Peter grasped the absolute truth of Jesus as the Messiah; and when it he had done so, it then became no longer about Peter, but about the world.

This is where Peter and I part ways, for the moment.  I love God.  I believe that Jesus is my savior, I believe He died on the cross to take away my sins.  But at this moment, with my faith, it’s still largely about me and where I’m at in my walk.  Oh I pray for other people, but I find that when I’m searching God’s word, I’m still searching it for me.  I’m Peter in the garden, I believe and I know; but somewhere in my knowing, I find a lack of confidence that I can only assume comes from some doubt or question.

I believe that Jesus is my Savior, I’m just not sure if I have the right to believe He’s yours. 

There is hope, Peter got it.   I can too.  And while I may not be quite ready for the footrace across the water, I know that as my faith grows, so too will my need to go and tell the gospel outside the four walls of my church.  And, unlike Peter, I have social media to help spread the gospel message; think how quickly the church would have grown if Peter had been on twitter?  #donkeysbite #sandalspinch #andmytentleaks.

My Favorite Mama from the Bible

In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to talk about my favorite mom from the Bible.

Care to guess?

Bet you thought I was going to say Mary?

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I mean, Mary is cool and all, if you are into that whole, ‘mother of the Savior’ kinda thing.

She’s definitely in my top 10.

BUT my favorite Biblical mama is…

…wait for it…

…I mean I gotta build this up a little…

Okay, are you ready?

…it’s the…

Shunammite Mama.

I love the story of the Shunammite Mama.  It was one that my Pastor/Uncle (long story) would go over every year for Mothers Day- so she quickly rose to the first place spot.

You find her story in 2 Kings 4 and I’ll go over the April version so I can pull out of couple of key lessons.

Elisha the prophet was traveling through Shunem and he stopped at the Shunammite Mama’s house.  He stopped there every time he went through (must have been good food), so she built on a room for him.  Sort of like a spiritual guest house if you will.

This made Elisha want to do something for her, so he asked if he could put in a good word for her with the king or something.

Here comes the first lesson…

She tells him that she’s good- she asks for nothing.

Seriously?

If someone asks me if I want anything, I can just send them the link to my Amazon cart.  I’m like Johnny on the spot with my list of wants/needs.  Not the Shunammite Mama, she blessed the man of God, not because he could give her things, but because it was the right thing to do.

OUCH!

OUCH!

OUCH!

Well he decides to bless her anyway.  She didn’t have any kids (technically not a mama yet), so he told her that she would have a son by next year.

Fast forward a little bit, baby comes, it’s a boy, grows up a little, and dies.

Whoa, that escalated quickly.

And now for lesson number two.

She did not freak out.  She calmly took her son’s body into the prophet’s room.  She told her husband everything was fine, but that she was going on a little trip to find the man of God, no big deal.  Oh, and could he get a servant and a donkey ready, pretty please?

Freaking out is my go to move!  I am most comfortable when I’m freaking out.  So I can ONLY IMAGINE the freak out session that I would have here.  It would be the freak out to end all freak outs.

But WHY?

What does it gain me?

Nothing, a headache maybe.

And worry is a sin- it’s just not trusting God, which is the whole reason for the freak out session.  The Shunammite Mama didn’t freak out because she trusted in the man of God to make it right.

Yep, my toes are bruised.

Finally she gets to the man of God, and she does something that really speaks to my heart.

Let me start out by telling you what she DOESN’T do.

She doesn’t sob hysterically.

She doesn’t yell that her son is dead.

She doesn’t demand that Elisha go and fix it.

She simply reminds Elisha of his promise to her.

See we spend WAY too much time and energy on our problems when we should be spending it on God’s promises.

Man we could stay here and preach for awhile- as my Pastor/Uncle used to say.

Just listen to people praying, most of the prayer is tied up in the problem and in how awful it is.  Then we slap a little ‘please God fix this’ as the bow on top.

We’re standing on our problems…

…NOT…

On God’s promises.

Not the Shunammite Mama, she gets to Elisha, falls at his feet and says, “Did I ask my lord for a son?  Did I say, ‘Do not deceive me?'”

That was all she needed to say.

She didn’t need to recount his headache that he had before he died.  She didn’t need to tell what time he passed.  Or how stiff his body was when she left it.  No details were necessary, she just needed to remind Elisha of his promise to her.

Which is exactly what we need to do.

One of my favorite scriptures, it provides me with so much comfort, is Psalm 37:25.

I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

I am the righteous.

And I will never be forsaken.

That’s one of the promises that God gives to me.

I can choose to believe my problems, or I can choose to believe God.

It’s a choice that I personally need to be better at making.

These lessons are just a few of the reasons why the Shunammite Mama will always be my favorite mom from the Bible.  She’s basically who I’d like to be when I grow up.

Although judging from how I handled a problem I had last week, I’ve got a long way to go.  Guess I need to start memorizing a few more promises…

 

 

 

 

Next Level Obedience

Our ladies group is doing another Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God…

and…

the first chapter is literally the worst chapter ever.

It’s on…wait for it…obedience.

I just felt a chill, did you just feel a chill?

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I was incredibly excited when we picked this book for group.  I was bouncing up and down when it came in the mail.  And I immediately regretted suggesting it when I read the first chapter.

Obedience is right up there with patience.  They’re both awful.

First example is good old Abraham when he’s told to sacrifice Isaac…

…Best/worst example of obedience in the Bible.

Does anyone read this story and think, way to go Abraham, way to make us ALL look bad.

I mean, Abraham is basically like the kid in class that reminds the teacher about the test they were supposed to take.

I bet Abraham got wedgies.

That being said (or whined about rather) it is a pretty great story about obedience (saying this very grudgingly).  And I do want to be more obedient…most of the time…

So let’s dive in a little deeper to pull some key lessons out.

Lesson 1: Being obedient requires planning.  Spoiler alert, this was actually the point that Priscilla was making in this chapter, and it was one I had NEVER considered.

I thought that Abraham just took a casual stroll up the hill, but no, this was a THREE DAY JOURNEY!!!

Let that sink in…

This means he had to pack, plan, organize for a trip that was ultimately going to end in the death of his son.

He had to keep the embers alive that were going to light the sacrificial pyre.

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See when I think about obedience, I generally think it’s just not sinning, or trying not to sin.  But there are loads of other ways we’re required, as Christians, to be obedient, and those things do require (or could be greatly improved by) some planning.

For instance, I’m supposed to be nice to my husband, that can require a lot of planning for me at times, and a large amount of coffee.

Lesson 2: He didn’t ask a bunch of people what they thought.

This one really steps on my toes because I practice what I’ve affectionately dubbed as polling obedience.  I like to check with my friends, colleagues, Twitter followers before really committing to what I believe God is wanting me to do.  Sort of like, okay God, I hear you, let me just set up a quick Facebook survey and I’ll get back to you.

Not Abraham, he was about to do something that I feel fairly certain people would have a strong feeling about; but he didn’t phone a friend, he just executed the plans that God gave him.

I probably should worry less about pleasing people, and more about pleasing God.

But I bet he didn’t get one ‘like’.

Lesson 3: He didn’t complain.

Oh look, here’s the one I really need to work on.

To say I complain a lot, is a gross understatement.  I have, at times, made complaining an art.  I can complain about complaining.  It’s a gift.

So I can only imagine what would have come out of my mouth if God had sent this test of obedience to me.

Again, Abraham didn’t say a word.  He just executed.  He got up early the next morning, and hit the road.

I can’t sit through a meeting sometimes without rolling my eyes, and yet Abraham can prepare to kill his son without so much as a grimace?

Now, I’m not saying he was cheerful about it.  But he remained calm and continued to trust in God.  Which is why he didn’t need to gripe about it, he trusted that God was in control.

Oh, how quickly I forget that.

If I could just convince myself that God is in control of the outcomes, and that God is always for me- I wouldn’t need to complain.

I might need a new hobby though…

So, those are just a couple of the lessons I got from the Abraham story, courtesy of Mrs. Shirer making me look deeper at obedience.  Now let’s just hope that the next chapter in this study isn’t on patience.

I might get an eye twitch…

 

 

 

 

Not Enough

Today, I am going to be doing something I never, in a million years, imagined that I would do in a Christian blog…

I’m going to reference an Amy Schumer movie.

I know, no one is more shocked than I.

BUT…

It’s kind of perfect.

So without further ado and with a spoiler alert warning, I will proceed to compare an Amy Schumer movie with the Bible…buckle up.

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So I went with a couple of girlfriends to watch the movie “I feel Pretty” and was shocked at the relevance of this movie.

Basically, the premise is that Amy Schumer’s character, Renee Barrett, is a woman that doesn’t feel like she’s enough…

Pretty enough…

Thin enough…

Smart enough…

…just not enough…

Anyone else struggle with this?

Then, she get’s a blow to the noodle and suddenly she’s convinced she’s super model gorgeous.

Before, she was very reserved, didn’t like taking risks; for instance, she didn’t go out for her dream job because she didn’t think she was attractive enough to be hired for it.  After, she was a dynamic force to be reckoned with.  She had this insane level of confidence that propelled her forward and drew people to her.

Literally nothing changed…she was the same person (and wore the same clothes, why that wasn’t a clue)… BUT… she was just able to be her authentic self because she now had the confidence to support her authentic self.

This is why it’s so mind blowing to me.

I too struggle with the ‘not enough’ mentality.

I don’t think I’m…

pretty enough…

thin enough…

smart enough…

… just not enough.

And it ABSOLUTELY impacts my life.

Swimming suit season is coming up and I am DREADING IT.  We always get a pool pass, and I would rather get a root canal than spend an afternoon in my bathing suit.

I second guess my writing, assuming that it’s not good enough and people are just being kind; I procrastinate on my videos because I am convinced no one will watch them; I wear long sleeve in the summer because I don’t like my arms.  I am rarely in pictures with my kids, certainly NEVER a full body picture.  And, just recently, I asked my husband to delete a picture from social media that he took of me on my birthday because I hated the way it looked.

So I went to this movie because, like the character, I wonder what it would be like, for just a moment, to be undeniably enough.

This may come as a shock to some of you, but this is an example of how Satan attacks us.

I know what you’re thinking.

Really April, that’s a little far fetched. He uses my self esteem issues to torment me?

Ummmm….yeah… 100%.

And he gets away with it because we don’t recognize it as an attack, therefore we don’t fight it properly.

It’s perfectly diabolical and, more importantly, it’s insanely effective.

So what do we do? What’s our battle strategy?

Step 1: Be nice to yourself

Women are the absolute worst at this. We are constantly putting ourselves down. Don’t believe me? The next time you’re in a group of females, complement one, the insults will fly.

So, next time you’re in front of the mirror, instead of focusing on your flaws, say something nice about yourself.

Maybe you have a stunning smile,

Or dazzling eyes,

Maybe your outfit is on point.

Just take a moment and appreciate yourself, and do it without dwelling on your flaws.

Step 2: Look up some scriptures about how God feels about you and start reading and meditating on them. Maybe even memorize one or two. The best way to combat the lies from our enemy is with the truth of God. So open up the Word and adopt God’s opinion about His creation (that’s you).

Step 3: Full disclosure, I’m shamelessly stealing this from the Tomlin concert I just attended. Don’t worry about not being enough, worship your creator and give Him praise for all the gifts He’s given you. Stop worrying about what people think and start worshipping God.

When those doubts and fears start creeping in, just turn on some Jesus tunes and get your praise on.

I challenge you this week to work on these steps. Do these things and you won’t be worrying about being good enough, because you’ll be convinced you’re more than enough.

Bonus step, since we’re all in this together, and since most women struggle with this. Let’s start building each other up, start straightening each other’s tiaras.

And please, ladies, if someone pays you a compliment, just say ‘thank you.’

…But She Lied!

Today we are going to talk about my favorite prostitute from the Bible (that is not an odd sentence at all)…

…RAHAB!

I just love her story.  If you aren’t familiar with it, head over to Joshua 2 and check it out.  In the meantime though, I’ll give the April cliff-note version.

Israelites sent spies into to Jericho.

Spies blew their cover.

Spies hid at Rahab’s house.

Rahab lied to the guards, telling the guard the spies had already left.

The spies sneak away, promising to save Rahab and her family when they attack Jericho.

So YAH!  Rahab saved the spies thus saving Israel, and thus saving her family!

BUT…

SHE LIED!

I know what you’re thinking, she lied for the greater good, so it’s totally fine.

Nope, not buying that.  There are lots and lots of times in the Bible that a small lie could have saved someone a heap of trouble.

And look, she didn’t just save the spies and move on.  She makes the Faith Hall of Fame in the book of Hebrews.  Two girls make it, Rahab and Sarah- not Mary the mother of Jesus, not Ruth, not Esther…Rahab the prostitute.  She is counted as being a hero of her faith before all the many, many other righteous women in the Bible.  And her faith wasn’t even strong enough to be honest with the guards.  It’s a big deal.

She gets there by lying.  That bothers me.

Because…

…our faith is not an ‘ends justify the means’ kinda faith.  That would be a dangerous precedence to start.

The key to this lie, lies in Rahab’s speech in Joshua 2: 9-13.  Here’s a little snipet:

“And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.”- Joshua 2:11

See Rahab just knew OF God- she didn’t know God.

Rahab knew enough of God to know that He was the one true God.  But she didn’t know  Him enough to have a personal relationship with Him.  The kind that you need in order to put your faith in Him, regardless of what the situation looks like.

And here’s why I love Rahab- because I’m just like her.

I’m so worried about controlling the outcome of any and every situation that I bench the LITERAL CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE!!!

I’m all like, it’s cool God, I’ll take care of it.

So Rahab lying to keep the spies safe is a total April move.  Not because I think lying is okay, but because I feel like I have to control the outcome.

Here is the deal, God controls the outcome.  I believe that, had Rahab been honest (which is what the Bible tells us we need to be), God would have intervened to save the spies.  His will was that the spies be saved, so that was going to happen regardless of how Rahab handled the situation.

Don’t believe that?  Can I introduce you to the dudes that were thrown into the furnace?  Their outcome seemed pretty sure (they were about to become BBQ) but God had other plans.  God controlled their outcome and turned it around for His glory.  Sure, those guys could have lied (they could have bowed to the golden image); but they trusted enough in God and in His will, that they were willing to submit to the outcome, whatever it may have been.

So really what our challenge is, we aren’t sure we can trust God’s will.

Because, we don’t know what God’s will is…

Good news, it’s not a secret.  God’s will for my life and your life is found all throughout the Word of God.  All you have to do is look.

And!

Even better news!

Rahab, even though she didn’t have enough trust in God to give Him control of the outcome, still made the Faith Hall of Fame.

That means there’s hope for me yet.

Oh, and she’s also the great, great, great, great, great, great grandma of Jesus… so there’s that…

See?!?  Now you know what she’s my favorite prostitute!

No Surprises Here

I was talking with one of my sweet friends the other day, she was needing some encouragement in an area in her life, and I like to talk…

As we were visiting, I asked how another area was going, one that she had been having some trouble with 6 months prior.

She reported that it was going great.  So I made the observation that she was able to kick the enemy out of one area in her life, and now he was attacking another.

She looked at me, dumbfounded, and said in exasperation, “Doesn’t it ever stop?!?”

Nope…

The Bible is VERY clear.  We have an enemy, Satan, and he is RELENTLESS in his pursuit for our destruction.

He doesn’t have a part-time job to distract him.

He doesn’t have a hobby.

And he’s not keeping up with the Kardashians.

Image result for image of a shocked Kardashian

His only goal, his sole purpose, is to steal, kill and destroy- your happiness, your peace, your marriage, your rest, whatever he can.  He wants you so bound up and chained that you cannot move.

There are three things we need to know about him.

He will never stop- it’s his sole mission.

He is VERY good at it.  So good, we don’t even realize it’s him.  He’s the king of the thieves, sneaking into our lives, causing destruction, and we don’t even know he’s there.

And…

He’s not fancy.  He doesn’t care HOW he makes us miserable.  He’ll use ANY and WHATEVER means he has available.  He’ll use our relationships, our jobs, our church, the weather, a pair of shoes our dog tore up, an empty coffee pot (this one always seems to get me a lot)- anything.  And when one area of attack stops working, he’ll go for another angle.

His attacks shouldn’t come as a surprise us.

But it does.

We aren’t even capable of recognizing Satan’s attacks because we don’t even acknowledge his existence…

Or purpose…

Which is exactly where he wants us.

Because…

(warning, your mind may be blown)…

Satan can’t actually steal your joy…

…but you can give it to him.

And you hand it over because you don’t realize that that’s what you’re doing.

And…

You’re shocked that you no longer have it.

We walk around miserable, asking why.  Why am I so unhappy?  Why am I always so miserable?  Why doesn’t God love me enough to fix this?

Why, why, why?

Meanwhile, you handed your joy to the enemy through the unwitting accomplices, your feelings.

 

So, how do we do take back control?

First, we need to realize that we CAN control our thoughts and emotions.

Check out 2 Corinthians 10:5, I love the Amplified version, “We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the (true) knowledge of God, and WE ARE TAKING EVERY THOUGHT AND PURPOSE CAPTIVE to the obedience of Christ.”

 

Step two, we have to figure out what God says about that situation.  The goal is to replace that negative thought, with the Word of God.  But you can’t replace the negative thought with God’s Word, if you don’t know what God’s Word says about that situation.

Step Three, pray, ask for guidance, ask for wisdom, ask for peace… actually this is probably Step 1 and Step 2- this should be done constantly throughout the process.

I know that just it’s three steps, but this is hard!  That’s why most people aren’t doing it.  It is hard to bring your thoughts under submission.  AND it takes time and lots and lots of practice.

Start with one area, maybe you have an anxiety problem.  Figure out what God says about worry and anxiety.  And then, when you start to feel that emotion bubble up, push it aside with the scriptures that address it.  And bath that whole process in prayer.

Here’s how it looks.

You hit a deer…

Worry starts to enter the scene.  Oh no, how are you going to get home?  Oh geez, now you have a deductible, how are you going to pay for that?  Is your husband going to be upset?  How are you going to get…

STOP!

Take a deep breath.

Pray.

Check God’s word:

Philippians 4: 6-7- Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 55:22- Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.

1 Peter 5:7- Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Pray.

Repeat as needed.

Spoiler Alert- be prepared to repeat this process often.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alright Stop… Manna Time

First of all, I would like to say that I’m sorry for referencing MC Hammer in a Christian blog; but I checked, and I’m not.

I think it’s hilarious.

#sorrynotsorry

Okay, let’s be serious here.  We’re going to talk about the Israelites and God providing them with manna.

For two reasons…

One, there is just something about God raining down bread that speaks to my carb lovin’ soul.  That’s a weather experience that I could really get behind.

And also because I love talking about the Israelites.  Reading about them makes me feel better about my spiritual walk.  Sort of like watching an episode of Hoarders makes me feel much better about my house.  So whenever I feel like I’ve got my spiritual head up my spiritual tush, I read a couple of stories about the Israelites.  I immediately feel better.  I mean, I’m a mess, but I’m not a wonder-around-in-the-wilderness-for-40-years mess.

Let me set the scene.  Israelites are wondering, and cue the complaining.  They’re so hungry, why did God take them out of Egypt to die of hunger.  It would have been better if God had just left them in Egypt to die because at least they were well fed.  Blah, blah, blah, whine, whine whine.

And God hears them, and He has plan.  He’s going to rain down bread from heaven.

BUT

There’s always a but…

God gave them two rules.

The manna would fall over night, and in the morning, the Israelites could gather the manna to be made into these thin honey-flavored wafers (yum-o).

Rule number 1: They could not keep any extra manna to try to use the next day.

Rule number 2: Except on Saturday, on Saturday they would gather 1 extra portion to be used on the Sabbath.

Guess how long it took for the Israelites to break the first rule?

If you guessed one day, go get yourself a cookie, because you are right.

Some Israelites decided that they needed to keep some, just in case God didn’t come through and provide for them the next day.

They woke up with maggots, not manna…

I would like to say that this is just an Israelite problem, but it’s not.  It’s a problem that I see in today’s church.

More specifically, it’s a problem I see in my life.

God told the Isrealites not to keep the manna, and He told them this for a very important reason.  He wanted to make sure that they fully trusted and relied on Him.  If they kept the manna, what they were basically saying is, ‘thanks God, I’ll take it from here.’

I’m a manna keeper.

I know that God is my provider.  I have read those scriptures more times than I can count.  I have seen and experienced God providing in my life and in the life of my family.

AND YET!

I can’t seem to help myself, I save the manna.

God isn’t my plan A.

He isn’t my plan B.

Sometimes, in desperation, He becomes my plan C.

Why?

Because I can’t help but wonder if God is going to come through and provide for me this time.

It’s a faith issue, it’s always a faith issue.

I’ve got GREAT NEWS though.  As Christians, we are on a faith journey, not a faith teleportation.  And, sort of like the Israelites, as we journey with God, we’re going to increase our faith- that’s the purpose of the journey.  As we keep experiencing God’s grace in our lives, we’ll eventually start trusting Him more.  Take me for example, I started this with God as my plan Z- He’s moved up to a plan C (most of the time)- that’s progress folks (even if it’s slower than a turtle in peanut butter).

Our job isn’t to automatically get it, our job is simply to study God’s word, pray, and allow the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us.  Sure, we might gather a little manna from time to time; but it’s in those manna keeping moments that we need to take a step back and assess where our faith is, and then start stepping forward.  Maybe you’ll be able to throw away the ‘manna’, and start relying on God in that area.  And then you’ll be able to throw it away in the next area, and the next area… do you see the journey?

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the second rule, don’t worry, these are the Israelites after all; they broke that one too…

Best Parenting Advice Ever

I have an 11 year old son.  And for all the moms that have an 11 year old son, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.  He only wears sweatpants.  Period.  Except when we make him wear jeans to church on Sunday, but once he’s home, those suckers come right off.

We’re also going through a little transition at home.  My husband has been a stay-at-home parent, but with his business growing, he doesn’t have time to do the house stuff.  This means the laundry is piling dangerously high.

Which leads us to my son coming into my bedroom before school in an absolute panic.

“Mom, I don’t have any clean pants to wear!”

I find this insanely hard to believe because he owns exactly 87 pairs of pants, so I counter, “you don’t have any clean pants?”

“No, I don’t have any clean pants, except for jeans, WHAT DO I DO?”  Nate asks me this, and the panic in his voice can not be overstated.

This was it, I was about to deliver the most mind-blowing advice I’d ever given as a parent.  This is what I’ve been training for.

“Wear jeans,” I reply, as I finish applying my mascara.

And all the moms of 11 year old sons are currently nodding their heads.

Now this exchange reminded me of something that Moses tells the Israelites right before they enter into the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 30: 15-18: See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.  For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees, and laws: then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.  But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed.  You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

Okay lets pause here for a moment.  Moses is giving a sermon to the Israelites.  In fact, the whole book of Deuteronomy is a sermon to them- (and to us; wink, wink).  Moses knows he will not be following them into the Promised Land and this is the last opportunity he’ll have to impart any wisdom on them.  You have to remember, Moses has been leading these people for awhile now, and he probably cares about them and feels responsible for their well-being.  Sort of like a parent.

And this is such important advice.  Our choices, which are ALWAYS in our control, have consequences to them.  This is what Moses is telling the Israelites.  Look, you can choose life or you can choose death- here’s how you make that choice.  If you choose to walk with God, keep his commands, and His law, congratulations because you’ve chosen life.  HOWEVER, if you choose instead to turn away from God, be disobedient to His commands, and follow other gods, bad news, you’ve chosen death.

This probably wasn’t a popular sermon.

I know it’s not a popular sermon today.

We don’t want to hear that our choices have consequences.

We want to hear that God is loving and merciful, do whatever you want and He’ll take care of you.

Moses had a different message didn’t he?

He follows that up with this, Deuteronomy 30:19: This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.  Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

I love that.  He doesn’t just tell them that they have a choice, Moses gives them the answer.

CHOOSE LIFE

It seems so simple, it seems so obvious, and yet how often is that the choice that we make?

As Nate was waiting for me to answer his question, a question that seemed so easy to me and yet so hard for him; I’m reminded of how I feel when facing what appears to me to be a difficult situation, but I’m sure seems to simple to God.

Choose jeans

Choose life

In true Israelite fashion, my son choose to dig out less dirty sweatpants instead.

What would you choose?