May 31, 2011

Teen Dating: Teaching Rules or the Gospel?

I was asked to write a blog defining certain terms related to teenage dating. I am a little nervous to address this topic because I am pretty sure that my perspective is going to be very different than most. But, I was asked and this is my blog, so here goes! J

First, the hair stands up on the back of my neck whenever I am asked to “define terms”, because usually the only reason why we want a clear definition is so we can slap it down on someone as a rule. Rules are much easier to delineate to students. Why? Because rules are black and white and safe. However, rules are the reasons our students are flocking away from the church in epidemic numbers. They are sick of being told what to do, especially when what they are told flies in the face of culture and doesn’t make sense.

Now, a little caveat here: If we are living lives according to Scripture, we will be counter-cultural. However, it won’t be because we are following a list of rules. Culture follows rules. Think about it: rules of dress, rules of interaction, rules of business, marriage, buying and selling. Rules are not the answer. An intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is the answer. But we don’t teach that. Why? Because grace is dangerous. If we are more concerned about teaching our students the implications of the fact that Jesus Christ lives inside of them and is their life, then they will make the right decisions in their dating lives, and in every other aspect of their lives for that matter.

However, if you teach grace, your teens may slip up. What do we do? What Jesus did…remind them of the Prodigal Son…God still wants an intimate relationship with them.  God still pursues them. God still accepts them. They are still forgiven, cleansed, and in fellowship with God.

Our students don’t need rules or definitions. They need the Gospel. What is the Gospel? Jesus Christ took our sin and God’s wrath upon Himself. All of our sin: past, present, future. All of God’s wrath. Everything. Jesus Christ paid it all. When I accepted His payment for my sin, the Bible says Christ comes to live inside of me. When God looks at me, He sees Jesus. He sees righteousness, perfection, wholeness. Therefore, it would be unjust of God to be angry with me or to punish me for something that was taken care of 2000 years ago by His Son. More than that, He cannot disown or be out of fellowship with His Son. So, He does not disown or shun me when I sin. He runs to me. He wants me to see that what I chose over Him can never satisfy or love me the way He does. My sin makes Him more attractive.

That is your job as a youth leader: Make Jesus attractive. I can go ahead and tell you right now that as a whole, we are doing a poor job of this. Our rules and lists are suffocating our students. Jesus never suffocated His followers. He loved them. He patiently taught them truth, yes. However, He was gracious when they failed. We need to allow Him to express His life through us so our students get the Gospel.

One more thing: I am not saying not to give guidelines. But, ask yourself this: Am I glorifying rules or Jesus? The answer to that question will tell you everything you need to know.

May 26, 2011

Crowd Participation

So I need some crowd participation...Read the following two question "Quiz" (I would've called it "Questionnaire", but I am a teacher..."Quiz" is much more up my alley) and then leave your answers and thoughts in the "Comments" box. FYI...I am not looking for the "right" answers. I am looking for honest answers. How you answer the next two questions will tell you everything you need to know about your relationship with God. I never knew the power of these questions until I was forced to face and to answer them myself. Humble vulnerable...and then watch God work.

Ready? Okay...

What do you believe God thinks about you?
a. I am simply a sinner saved by grace.
b. He loves me because He has to, but I am more of a disappointment to Him than anything else.
c. He is constantly frustrated with me because I can't get it right.
d. He loves me unconditionally, accepts me, and views me as He views His Son, Jesus.
e. Other (you tell me).

The following would describe my relationship with God:
a. I am working really hard to make Him proud of me.
b. I am constantly searching my heart looking for anything that could interrupt fellowship with God and cause Him to need to punish me.
c. I am resting in His grace.
d. I am trying to prove to Him that I am good enough for Him to love.
e. I am working really hard to be godly, because after all, isn't that the way I thank Him for sending His Son to die for me?

Go ahead...leave me a comment. Let me know. Don't give me the "This is what the Bible says but I don't believe it" answer. Give me your honest, gut level thoughts.

I'll go first...

The answer to the first question would have been "a" and "c". Answer to the second question: "b", "d", and "e".

May 24, 2011

Scripture vs. Intimacy

So I was reading in Grace Walk this morning and I was just blown away. I read this statement: “A grace perspective lets us see the commands not as obligations, but as opportunities for the life of Christ to be revealed through us…Set free by grace, we don’t face the commandments with self-condemnation, but with spiritual anticipation that Jesus Christ will reveal His life in us.” The author goes on to say that when Jesus was asked by a religious leader (and I never stopped to fully think that through…a religious leader, who was concerned with making sure he did everything right spiritually, was the one who asked Jesus) what the greatest commandment was (or what his main focus should be in order to be “successful”), Jesus answered with Mark 12:30-31. Jesus didn’t say to “be holy as I am holy” or “to meditate on Scripture day and night”. No, He said to fall more in love with Him. Wow.

Then the author discussed the role of the Bible in the “grace walk”. He said we are taught that the way to fight temptation is by quoting Scripture. However, he said as a young man, Scripture alone was not enough to empower him to say no to lust. He would memorize, recite, and carry around verse cards to no avail. He explains, “The Bible is a weapon against the powers of darkness. However, it isn’t possible to recite verses to the devil and expect him to run in fear…As you abide in Christ moment by moment, your love for Him will enable you to resist temptation by the power of His life within you.”

I started thinking through Scripture…and I thought of James 4. James explains that the way to resist Satan is to “draw near to God”. James doesn’t say anything about memorizing Scripture. He writes about pursuing an intimate relationship with Jesus. Satan is intimidated by intimacy with Jesus because Jesus is the only person Satan is not able to conquer. Don't forget...Satan can quote Scripture. He uses Scripture. Interesting.

Secondly, I thought of 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 where Paul is writing about the “messenger of Satan” sent to torment him. He didn’t get rid of the demon through Scripture memorization or recitation. Jesus didn’t even tell him to handle the situation that way. What is the answer? God’s grace. Intimacy with Jesus. Wow.

I am just marinating in that right now because it is blowing up everything I have held to for a while. The way I deal with my struggles and failures is not by “doing” anything. I can’t memorize enough, read enough, serve enough, or say no enough. If I could, that would fly in the face of the Gospel. Why? Because doing something means I am relying on myself, not my Savior.

I have made a tool an idol. God's Word is a tool, a weapon. Intimacy with Jesus, allowing Him to express His life through me, brings the power.

I am learning to come to Him in honest surrender, instead of doing more Bible studies and projects for victory and healing, I am praying prayers like, “Jesus, I am getting defeated time and time again. I am struggling to give up this particular sin. I want You, but in honesty, I want this thing too. You live inside of me. You deal with it. I am trusting You for victory.”

I want to dare you to pray that way. It is revolutionizing.

May 19, 2011

Dear Moms and Daughters...

My mom and I :)
Chapter 10 of the book Captivating deals with mother/daughter relationships. Stasi Eldredge explains the conflict between mothers and daughters in the first few pages of the chapter.

Mothers tend to believe (even sub-consciously) that their daughters are extensions of themselves. So, if the daughter strays from or does something different than what she has been taught by her mother, the mother experiences confusion, pain, disappointment. Ironically, daughters desperately want to please their mothers, but they also want to develop into their own persons. So, tension develops.

Satan is really clever. He plays on mothers’ insecurities and baggage. He convinces them that if their daughters don’t turn out a particular way, the mom is to blame. Consequently, mothers tend to be very controlling. They ultimately want what is best for their daughters, which they believe is different than what their moms gave them. They are terrified of feeling like a failure with their daughters.

Daughters react to this control. They want to be seen and invited. They want to be seen for who they are as individuals and invited to be themselves. However, remember, moms, out of fear, tend to be controlling because if the daughter is left to be herself, what if she does something stupid? Does that mean the mom failed? So, I repeat: Tension develops.

We cannot forget that we are all born with a sin nature and this sin nature gets passed down from generation to generation. Our parents are prone to certain sins due to their parents’ sin natures. So, it is safe and logical to say that a daughter will inherent some baggage from her mother’s sin nature. Please realize I am not blaming the mother. Honestly, some of you moms should breathe a sigh of relief. You put so much pressure on yourself to be the “perfect mother” and beat yourself up now that your daughter is grown and you see some of your sinful tendencies in her life. You feel as though you have failed. You haven’t. In case you have forgotten, you are human, so you have a sin nature, as does your daughter. She will fail, not because you failed, but because she is a sinner. The fact that she is a sinner makes her in desperate need of the Savior. This is the Gospel 101.

Here’s the thing: Mothers and daughters have baggage. Couple that to the tension that already exists between mothers wanting their daughters to succeed and daughters wanting to be their own persons. Is it any wonder, then, why we need healing in our relationships? We are all in the same boat. I don’t care how amazing you or your mom is (and I am sure you both are…my mom is awesome), but you have to work through stuff…in both of your lives.

How do you go about doing this? First, you stop blaming your mom for your sin (because this is where the healing starts: looking into your past, discovering your baggage, and dealing with it). You have a sin nature. Even if your mom would have been the “world’s best”, you would still have crap to deal with in your own life. However, you realize that as a woman, you have “life” to offer. If you are a believer, you have Christ’s life to offer. Because Christ lives in you, you have the victory over sin. Instead of focusing on your baggage, which will only lead to self-medication and death (Romans 8), focus on Christ by abiding in Him, obeying His commandments, and acting in faith (taken from Grace Walk). Notice what comes first though: abiding in Him. What does abiding mean?

Abiding means that you realize that you don’t have to do anything at all to convince God to love you. If you never read your Bible or prayed again, if you never lead another Bible study or discipled another person, God would still love you, accept you, and yearn for intimacy with you. He is not surprised or disappointed by your failures. He forgave you and your shortcomings 2000 years ago (refer to my “Don’t Ask for Forgiveness” blog). You are righteous and worth Jesus Christ to God. Just enjoy Him and His presence. When you do this, you will obey automatically. But obedience divorced from love is religion and detestable to God (a.k.a. Pharisaical).

So when you are abiding in Christ, you have the life of Christ to offer to other people…specifically your mom. You may not realize this, but if you are feeling unloved, unaccepted, or hurt, then your mom probably is too. Wow. That’s tough. Again, Satan is clever and pits mothers and daughters against each other, deceiving them into believing that their particular sin is the others’ fault. We have sin because of our sin natures, and we inherited our sin nature ultimately from Adam and Eve.

Praise Jesus the Second Adam offers grace, peace, and restoration.

Mom, I love you and respect you with all of my heart. Thank you for modeling how to be an incredible, creative, loving, gentle, faithful mother and a supportive, adoring, constant, stable wife. You are an inspiration and an example to me. I love you for who you are, not what you do. I thank you for how you have raised me and protected me. You are the woman!!! J

May 18, 2011

Don't Ask for Forgiveness

I am reading Grace Walk by Steve McVey and it is tearing me an awesome way! Today, he was explaining the story of the Prodigal Son and he says this: "I used to believe that this parable was a lesson on forgiveness; but studying it from a grace perspective makes its meaning clear. It's not about forgiveness, but about acceptance."

McVey goes on to explain that the Prodigal felt unworthy because of his rebellious, sinful behavior. He figured his father would only be interested in having his son back as a servant. However, "the story clearly demonstrates that the father had already forgiven him and was ready to fully accept him when he returned home."

We have misrepresented God's forgiveness. When Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins 2000 years ago, all of my sins were future...right? Let me help you out here...YES! I am only 26. "God didn't deposit forgiveness into an account with my name on it so that I can make forgiveness withdrawals when I need it. When I was born again, He emptied the entire forgiveness account on me! My debt was paid in full!"

And the same is true for you!

1 John 1:9 has been misinterpreted. The word that we have translated as "forgiveness" was "confession" in the original Greek, which means "to agree with". Let me boil this down for you: When you sin, you don't need to ask for forgiveness. Biblically, God has already forgiven you (Jesus died for your sins: past, present, future). Confession means that you "acknowledge the foolishness of disobedience to the Father and then praise Him that you are already forgiven and accepted by Him."

For years I believed that when I sinned, I had to ask forgiveness from God, otherwise a breach would remain in our relationship because He was not happy with me and wouldn't be happy until I realized my sin and cleansed myself of my sin. Do you see how opposed to grace this belief system is? "If Satan can cause you to feel that God doesn't accept you because of bad behavior, he can keep you [far away from God] for a longer time." And this happened to me. I got Galatians 5:16 reversed. I thought I had to clean myself up before I could walk in the Spirit. So, I would stay focused on my sin...doing deep personal analyzation, trying to cleanse myself of my sin by staring it in the face. Only years later did I realize that I was "setting my mind on the flesh, which is death" (Romans 8:6). Freedom from sin does not happen by obsessively thinking and willing myself comes from choosing to believe I am accepted, forgiven, and righteous before God. He loves me, wants me, and pursues me. I can enjoy Him. I can walk in the Spirit and as I do, He will do His work in me. I do nothing. How awesome!

With God, my behavior does not determine my identity. He has already declared my identity is Jesus Christ. I will choose to believe that and as a result, live in victory. Or, I will choose to continue to believe I am just a sinner saved by grace and destined to struggle with sin the rest of my life. The only problem is, "God never intended for the Christian life to be a struggle."

Jason Gray has an amazing song entitled, "I am New". I will leave you with the lyrics.

Now I won't deny
The worst you could say about me
But I'm not defined
By mistakes that I've made
Because God says of me

I am not who I was
I am being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy
And I'm dearly loved
I am new

Who I thought I was
And who I thought I had to be
I had to give them both up
Cause neither were willing
To ever believe

I am not who I was
Too long I have lived
In the shadows of shame
Believing that there
Was no way I could change
But the one who is making everything new
Doesn't see me the way that I do
He doesn't see me the way that I do
I am new
Dead to the old man
I'm coming alive
I am new

Forgiven beloved
Hidden in Christ
Made in the image of the Giver of Life
Righteous and holy
Reborn and remade
Accepted and worthy this is our new name

This is who we are now...

May 16, 2011

Perverting Grace

So I am going to get up on a soap box here for a second and rant and rave J. Nothing new.

I am frustrated with the fact that so many times we, as believers, expect unbelievers to follow the Bible. What? No!

We are shocked when they buy into our cause, but not our creed. We are disappointed when their morals diverge from ours. We are worried when they disagree with our perspective.

But I guess I am not sure why that surprises us? I mean, why would they follow a belief system that they don’t believe in? Seems kinda illogical.

So here’s my thing. Instead of being overwhelmed with unbelievers' choices and instead of being shocked over their lack of submission to the Bible, be concerned for their souls. We are wasting so much energy being anxious about behavior, we are missing the point of the Gospel: Grace. Jesus never went after people's conducts until He dealt with their destinies. Think of the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the Rich Young Ruler (RYR). At first glance, you may think Jesus is dealing with their behavior. But He’s not. Read John 4 and 8 and Luke 18 again. They bring up their lifestyles. So, Jesus hears them out, highlights their need for God, and offers them grace. After they accept His grace, He says, “Go and sin no more”. However, when the RYR refuses His grace, Jesus sadly watches him walk away. He doesn’t yell after him: “Well, keep following the commandments buddy. You got that going for ya!” No way. Why not? Because to highlight behavior, or following a code of rules, is completely contrary to the Gospel and to grace. We tend to forget that…even in our own lives. Grace means I don’t follow a list of do’s and don’ts…it means I develop a relationship with Jesus. That's what Jesus was after: Relationships. Guilt and condemnation don't build healthy relationships (Romans 7). Grace does.

We have perverted grace and have pushed people further from Jesus, instead of drawing them to Him.

Jesus Loves Judas 2

This comment was left under my “Jesus Loves Judas” blog and so I wanted to address it:

I'd love to hear your thoughts on a slightly broader or perhaps different context as to how we should biblically interact with those who seek to do damage to the gospel without purposefully shunning them. Considering the parenthetical statements above and adding in some of the language and actions the apostles used against the likes of the Judaizers and Gnostics.
Honestly, my answer is pretty simple. The only people that Jesus and the Apostles vehemently opposed and called out were religious hypocrites who were taking open advantage of those around them. They never “shunned” them, however. That would have been cowardly.

When Jesus came into the world, He disrupted hundreds of years of Judaism. He is the fulfillment of the Law, but for the majority of the religious leaders, He was the competition. They didn’t want to lose the control that the Law enabled them to have over the people. Jesus was never about control, He was always about grace.

Think about it. When Jesus interacted with Nicodemus and the Rich Young Ruler, he was meek because he knew they were genuinely searching. When Paul was at Mars Hill and interacting with the philosophers, he debated with them, but he did not call them out like he did the Judaizers (fancy term for religious leaders) in his Epistles. What’s the difference? The Mars Hills guys were searching (see a theme emerging?); the religious leaders were out to make money, gain a following, and disrupt whatever stood in their way. Did Jesus and Paul shun either group? Nope. Did they call out the religious leaders? Yep. They never avoided the religious leaders. Jesus and Paul weren’t cowards. They preached grace to those who were searching and defended grace from those who were manipulating.

Paul was a little more aggressive in his letters towards the Judaizers. I think he was for a couple of reasons:

1.   He wasn’t around to shepherd the new converts and many of the Elders of the churches were new believers too. They were still so young in the faith and easily swayed that I think he wanted to make a point to the believers to be on guard. Additionally, he wanted to warn those who were teaching false doctrine that they would be under strict condemnation (Jesus did this too: “The Woes”).

2.   We have to be careful here though…Paul was not confronting the Judaizers because they had differing preferences, they had a different gospel. And the Judaizers didn’t just agree to disagree; they actively went after the baby believers because they were bitter at Jesus and the Apostles for stealing “their crowd”. So, yes, Paul had to be more aggressive. Rightfully so. But he didn’t shun. He boldly confronted the group with the Gospel.

What do we do? We are wise as serpents but gentle as doves. To shun someone who is openly attacking the Gospel is to give them permission and the leeway to sway someone from the Truth. We need to defend the Gospel; but we ask God for discernment as to when and how. When we interact with people who are searching, we are gentle, understanding. When we realize that someone is openly doing harm to the Gospel for their own benefit (this is not hard to spot most of the time), we call them out like Jesus and Paul did. But again, we have to be careful. An unbeliever is obviously not going to agree with us and is not going to buy into the Gospel right away. I am not sure why “Gnostics” is in the above question…honestly, I only see Jesus and the Apostles calling out the “religious” people…I don’t see them going after those who just don’t believe. We have so turned the world off to the Gospel because for some reason, we expect unbelievers to act like believers and to support everything the Bible says. Unsaved people aren’t going to do that…why would they (that’s for another blog)? So, yes…call out someone who is doing harm to the Gospel. However, your methods will differ depending on the situation. What should you do? Look to Jesus. He had differing methods for handling each person and each situation and was yet was the most consistent Man Who ever walked the face of the Earth.

May 13, 2011

The Secret to Weight Loss

Alright, so I am frequently asked how I managed to lose 30 pounds in just a couple of months. Before I can even answer, people are ready to give me their assumptions:

1.      I don’t eat.
2.      I joined a gym and work out for hours.
3.      I am doing the “Body by Vi” shakes.
4.      Weight Watchers.
5.      All of the other absurd ways you can lose weight.

(I’m sorry, my sarcasm bleeds even into a blog on diet and exercise…I just can’t help myself).

I have stumbled upon the secret to diet and exercise. I want to share it with you so that we can actually make some progress with this great mystery that seems to be eluding everyone, including me for so many years. I can answer the “How do I lose weight quickly and healthily?” with one word. Are you ready for this? Drum roll please.


Yeah, I said it. Get over it.

Listen, if you want to lose weight, there is no other way around it (get the pun? Haha…sorry) then through sheer will power. You have to make the commitment to exercise and to eat right. Bottom line. If you are willing to make that commitment, the hardest part is over, I promise. I will give you a couple of guidelines for losing weight, but you have to make the decision to change your lifestyle, because losing weight and getting healthy are lifestyle choices.

1.   Calculate your BMR. Find my blog on “My New Best Friend”. I give you the formula in there. This calculation allows you to figure out how many calories you can eat to maintain your current weight. If you want to lose some pounds, you have to eat about 500 less calories. What does this mean? Well, for me it meant printing out a blank calendar and literally keeping track of everything I ate. It meant that when we went out to eat (which is often mind you), I looked up the menu on my Smart Phone and found the calorie count for each meal. This process is tedious at first, but soon you memorize how many calories are in certain foods and you just know what to eat when and where. After you have lost quite a bit of weight, you need to recalculate your BMR.

2.   Find an exercise program that is not time consuming and that will push you. We are all busy. We do not have time or money to spend at the gym (well, some of us don’t). And let’s be honest…a gym is fun at first. You get cool work out outfits, a new gym bag, and enjoy being a part of the elite for about a week. Then, the dressing up to work out and the drive and the embarrassment from not knowing the names of the weights and the exercises get a little much. So, you stop going.

I tried to do P90x for a couple of weeks. I don’t have time to devote an hour to an hour and a half to a crazy man who expects me to do an hour of pull ups and pushups. No thank you. Can’t physically do it. The time consumption and lack of ability discouraged me. For those of you who pushed through, props to you.

I am a diehard Jillian Michaels fan. Why? She knows her stuff (Biggest Loser trainer). She has made several DVD workouts that are about 20 minutes and that get results (I am your proof). She will kick your butt, but she will get you in the best shape of your life if you stick with it.

3.   Here is the clincher: I worked out with Jillian for about two months, without changing my eating patterns. I didn’t lose any weight. In January, I decided to try counting my calories. I made healthier decisions on what I ate. And guess what? The pounds came melting off. Do I eat only fruits and veggies? No way! Who could ever do that? Here is a simple meal plan…

Meal Plan:

Eat about 100-150 calories for breakfast:
-          Cereal and skim milk.
-          Fat free cottage cheese and fruit.
-          Low calorie bread for toast (I buy bread with 40 calories per slice).
-          Low sugar oatmeal.

Eat about 50-75 calories for lunch:
-          Lettuce (15 calories) and zero calorie salad dressing (yes, some does exist and it tastes good!!!).
-          Fruit.

Spend the rest of your calories (700-900) on dinner:
-          Chicken, turkey, flank steak are great choices for meat.
-          Google some low-fat recipes.
-          If you are married and/or have a family, make regular meals, just be mindful of the calories and ways that you can cut corners or just cut corners for yourself. For instance, you can load up on the veggies and taker smaller helpings of everything else. Or, have a piece of fruit before dinner so you aren’t as hungry.

-          Sugar free pudding has about 70 calories.
-          Pickles are virtually calorie free.
-          Granola bars have about 100 calories.

Black coffee and diet soda are also okay to drink. Don’t cut out everything you love or you will go mad. I chew gum constantly to keep something tasty in my mouth. Get creative!!!

Just constantly be counting. Work out. Be disciplined. As Jillian Michaels says, “This is not just about exercise. This is about your entire life and you know that.” Yes, if you build discipline in this area, it will affect every other area of your life. I dare you to find out!

May 11, 2011

Submission Means Security

"You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear."
-1 Peter 3:6

I love how realistic the NIV is: “Do not give way to fear”. In other words, we as women are going to fear. What was Eve’s first sin? The sin of mistrust…the fear that God was holding out on her. She even stepped over her husband and took matters into her own hands. Sound familiar? We are predestined to be fearful and anxious and I love that God knows that. I think that is why this phrasing in 1 Peter 3 is so precise: “Don’t give in to the feeling…cause after all, that’s all it is…a feeling.” And feelings distort reality.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing…” God knew we would be bent toward anxiety, so He very clearly says to just stop it and to not even go there. Matthew 6:34 explains that we are not to be anxious about tomorrow. Stop for a second and think about how much of your anxiety is about what could happen in the future…the “what if’s”. I am so guilty of this! All of my anxiety and fear is about potential, terrible circumstances that could happen in the future. I am commanded by Scripture not to do this, but to think about what is real right now. I am commanded by Jesus to live in the moment. We are to come before God and leave our anxiety about the future with Him…choosing to be thankful about the past and present. Then, His peace comes and comforts us. You have eradicated the anxiety. All that is left is God’s presence and peace. Pretty cool.

Psalm 141:8 states that God will not leave us defenseless. I can rest in His sovereignty. He is my Protector and has given me my husband to be my protector with skin on. I have to trust God and submit to my husband for our  marriage to work the way it was designed by God. To step out from under my husband and to sin (my way of meeting my needs apart from God) is to bring chaos into my life. Yikes.

“Submission is the single-most precious place of safety and freedom that a woman could ever know. Deep belief and complete trust in Jesus to sustain a wife makes submission to even the most difficult man possible.”

Praise God I am not married to a "difficult man". I am married to an amazingly godly man. However, I am a difficult woman given to fear and anxiety. I need to practice living in the moment and submitting...submitting to God and to my husband. That is where the safety is.

Some resources for further study:
Matt Chandler’s “Marriage and Sanctification” podcast
Mark Driscoll’s “Marriage and Men” and “Marriage and Women” podcasts
“The Resurgence” blog (Mark Driscoll)
Chip Ingram’s podcasts

May 6, 2011

True Confessions

So this has been an interesting week. Bryant and I were talking after church on Sunday about how we can feel a heaviness on our people's hearts. Last night at Ladies Bible Study, the heaviness was prevalent...and this time, it was in my own heart. It's interesting to me how the body of Christ tends to face the same things at the same times...ironic or Supernatural? God knows we need each other. Just as Moses needed Aaron and the other leaders of the Israelites to hold up his arms during battle, we need our brothers and sisters in Christ to help us stand up in the face of Adversity.

However, last night, I was struggling with my own views of God, and then I was supposed to lead a Bible Study. Awesome. This morning as I was driving to school, I realized that I needed a good dose of the Truth. I am wondering if anyone else does. So here it goes.

Bryant told me the other day that if Satan can thwart our views of God, Satan can ultimately destroy us. Wow. That is a sobering thought. I have to be on guard with how I view God and am interacting with Him as a result. However, two really good questions were raised last night as to how we are to hash out our relationships with God.

1. Why would God allow Satan the chance to influence us negatively toward Him (God)?
2. Why does God ask for all of our trust and then sometimes disappoint us with His answers?

Two really good, tough, necessary questions to ask.

1. God has given us free will. Our free will is the ultimate gift and sign of His unconditional love for us. Why? Because He proves over and over again that He will love us and forgive us and cherish us regardless of whether or not we choose Him. We are also created in the image of God with intellect, will, and emotion. However, our emotions are flawed. Satan preys on these flawed emotions. While God does allow Satan to tempt us and while God doesn't demand certain responses from us, He does give us His Word full of Truth and His character that never changes. He has revealed Himself to us; we have the opportunity to get to know Him for Who He is and then to cling to that knowledge. So God ultimately does protect us from the onslaughts of Satan. We just too often believe our emotions are more powerful than God. 1 John 3:20 says that God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. 1 John 4:4 says that God is greater than Satan. So there you have it: Ultimately God is greater than Satan and our hearts...we just have to choose to believe that when we feel otherwise. He has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (1 Timothy 1:7). You can take that to the bank. 

2. God is the only One Who sees the end from the beginning. God is the only One Who knows absolutely everything. God is the only One. Why does He say no and sometimes perpetuate our pain? Cause He knows. He knows more than me. He knows more than I will ever want to know. He Knows. Again, I have to really ground myself to the Truth of His Word: He will never give me more than I can handle (1 Cor 10:13), He is my faithful and empathetic High Priest Who gets it (Hebrews 4), He will never forsake me or leave me defenseless (Psalm 141). Ultimately, I have to realize that Proverbs 3:5-8 is more than just a nice verse to hang on my wall at home. It is a lifeline. Trust in the Lord. Don't lean on my own understanding. Don't be wise in my own eyes. In all my ways, acknowledge Him...notice this doesn't say I "feel" Him...I acknowledge...acknowledge He is there, He is powerful, He is gracious, He is good, He is loving, He is present, He is safety. He will direct my paths and I will be healed. Where does healing come from? Trusting in Him.

I leave you with a question Stasi Eldredge asks in Captivating:

Is God worthy of our trust?

1 Peter 3:6: Don't give way to fear. Put your hope in God.

Yes, my friend, He is worthy. Cling to Him.