I was leading a Bible study group through Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer when this “tidbit” rocked my world. I hope you are encouraged. In this study, at the end of each study day, she asks us to write down our “Actionable Intel”(a personal take a way). This particular day we were studying the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace. Priscilla asked us with each piece of armor, we studied, to step back from our life circumstances and ask the Lord to reveal the spiritual realities influencing our daily interactions and experiences. That day we focused on how the enemy seeks to demolish the peace that God gives us in life. One way he does this is to keep us off balance and distract us from close relationship with God, the people of God, and the other people in our life.
WP-Bible plugin – 18 tells us “he (Christ) himself is our peace, who has made the two groups (Israel and Gentile) one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility (verse 14 parentheses added). Christ reconciled both Israel and Gentile to God through the cross. The cross is the bridge he built to bring the peace of God to mankind for all mankind to have peace with him and one another.
My “actionable intel” for that study day was the following:
“Christ builds bridges of peace~unity~strength~love. Our enemy builds walls of deception to separate~isolate~weaken~spawn hatred. Which architect will you hire?”
This “actionable intel” is a challenge to be alert and ready to stand strong with our “Shoes of the Gospel of Peace” strapped on securely. Living as peacemakers who build bridges in the power of Christ through love, forgiveness, gentleness, and unifying strength.
Reflect on your relationships. Which are they more characterized by tension or peace? The answer to this question will reveal if your life is full of bridges or walls?
Lord we come to you asking you to strengthen us in your love and peace. Help us to recognize the areas where we have worked with the enemy to build walls in our heart, our relationships, and our lifestyle. Soften our hearts with your love, forgive us of our sins, and restore us to our peaceful relationship with you. Guide and teach us how to build bridges and walk on those bridges with you. Thank you for the bridge of your cross, which secures for those who believe in you, Jesus, that nothing can separate us from you— no wall, no sin, nothing! In Jesus name— Amen
What walls need bridges in your heart? I’d love to hear……
Welcome to the fourth post in the ADORE Series: Rejoicing in Hope—
Happy Christmas Eve from my family to yours! I’m looking forward to tonight’s traditional celebration of homemade Christmas Eve pizza and precious time with family and friends! We have so much to rejoice for in this season of adoration!
Christmas Eve is a special time of year. Let’s seize this opportunity to rejoice in the anticipation of celebrating the hope of the world that came to dwell with us on earth. The birth of Jesus was foretold centuries before the angel, Gabriel visited Mary with the message of her virgin pregnancy and the birth of Jesus to be called the Most High (Isaiah 7:14Isaiah 7:14 English: World English Bible - WEB 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. “Immanuel” means “God with us.”
WP-Bible plugin; Isaiah 9:6-7Isaiah 9:6-7 English: World English Bible - WEB 6 For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from that time on, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Armies will perform this.
WP-Bible plugin–38). Jesus is the hope of the nations who will reign in peace and justice. He is the hope that brought salvation to all people and our blessed hope of eternity in heaven! How can we not rejoice in Him!!
Rejoice in the hope that is reflected in the following scripture:
WP-Bible plugin “We wait in hopefor the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”(Bold and italics added)
WP-Bible plugin–5 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Bold and italics added)
WP-Bible plugin “Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.” (Bold and italics added)
Do you have this hope in your heart this Christmas?
Does it cause you to rejoice?
Prayer of adoration: Lord, we enter your courts with thanksgiving in our hearts, and we draw close to lift up your praises. You are the one true God in whom our hope is secure. We rejoice in the hope you give us that fills our hearts with joy and peace, for our trust is in you. We seek to overflow with your hope by the power of the Holy Spirit that you have given as a deposit for our salvation inheritance. Help us to rejoice in you daily as we persevere for your kingdom’s glory. May the hope of your return enrich our lives as we reflect on your glorious gift of Jesus our Savior.
Welcome to the third post in the ADORE Series: Outrageous Joy—
What comes to mind when you hear “Outrageous Joy”? Is it a loud memory or a quiet gentle one? Is it a memory of a time experienced with others or a personal moment? I have experienced joy in so many ways it is hard explain the source of my joy at times. Especially when tears accompany it. This week let’s take a moment to reflect on the “outrageous joy” that Mary carried within her as the mother of our Savior. She gives a brief glimpse of it in her song found in Luke 1: 46-56Luke 1: 46-56 English: World English Bible - WEB 46 Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord.
47 My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior,
48 For he has looked at the humble state of his handmaid.
For behold, from now on, all generations will call me blessed.
49 For he who is mighty has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for generations of generations on those who fear him.
51 He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart.
52 He has put down princes from their thrones.
And has exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things.
He has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has given help to Israel, his servant, that he might remember mercy,
55 As he spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his seed forever.”
56 Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her house.
WP-Bible plugin. I wonder what it was like for her knowing she was blessed to carry the Savior of the world but unable to share her miraculous experience outside of a very small circle of relatives for fear of ridicule and a possible sentence of death. Her life was marked by suffering, persecution, separation, and danger. She experienced brief highlights of honor, acceptance, delight, and peace which she pondered and treasured in her heart. What gave her the strength to continue? I suggest that, like Jesus, she endured all the circumstances of her life for the joy set beforeher (Hebrews 12:2:3Hebrews 12:2:3 English: World English Bible - WEB
WP-Bible plugin)– the fulfillment of the prophecy of the prophet Isaiah and the message given by the angel, Gabriel. Her strength was born out of the presence of the Holy Spirit that released the power to create Jesus, God made man, and burst forth as “outrageous joy” that would sustain her and point her time and time again to “the joy set beforeher”. That same Holy Spirit that sustained Mary and Jesus while they walked the earth is alive in us. So no matter what we are facing now or in the future we need to tap into the strength of the “Outrageous Joy” only He can provide. I hope you will experience the “Outrageous Joy” of Christ this Christmas!
May I suggest starting with this Chris Tomlin song “Joy to the World(Unspeakable Joy)”? I personally think Mary’s joy is expressed well by the chorus lyrics—- “Joy, unspeakable joy. An overflowing well, no tongue can tell. Joy, unspeakable joy. Rises in my soul, never lets me go.” (check out the whole song on YouTube @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC3SwhJsLqU&sns=em ) Be careful I have had this chorus in my head for about two weeks now it is very catchy!!!
As you read the joyful Psalm below reflect on the birth of our Savior and the “outrageous joy” His birth brought into our world for us each to experience.
“ Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyfulsongs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
How will you keep his “outrageous joy” alive in your heart this week and all yearlong?
Who can you tell about the “outrageous joy” of Christ’s birth?
Leave a comment to let me know what brings you “outrageous joy”!
Prayer of Adoration: We come to you, Lord, with thanksgiving in our hearts and your “unspeakable joy” in our souls for all the ways that you love us. Your expression of love is deep and never ending. Your outrageous gift of salvation through your Son our Savior leaves us in awe of you. We ask that you the God of hope will fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in you so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit(Romans 15:13Romans 15:13 English: World English Bible - WEB 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
WP-Bible plugin). We love you, Lord, even though we have not seen you. We believe in you and know that you are the one who fills us with an inexpressible and glorious joy-— the goal of our faith, the salvation of our souls(1Peter 1: 8-9). Just as you filled Mary’s heart and soul with “unspeakable joy” as she carried our Savior and released Him for your glory. May you be glorified this Christmas season as we seek to live joyful lives in reflection of your gift of eternal life! Please strengthen us as we fix our eyes on you, Jesus, and run the race you have set before us. We want to live like you did enduring the things of this life for the joy set before us. Help us to not grow weary and lose heart(Hebrews 12: 1-3Hebrews 12: 1-3 English: World English Bible - WEB 12
1 Therefore let us also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don’t grow weary, fainting in your souls.
WP-Bible plugin) but to consider it all joy that we will be made complete in you.(James 1:2-8James 1:2-8 English: World English Bible - WEB 2 Count it all joy, my brothers The word for “brothers” here and where context allows may also be correctly translated “brothers and sisters” or “siblings.”, when you fall into various temptations,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
4 Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach; and it will be given to him.
6 But let him ask in faith, without any doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed.
7 For let that man not think that he will receive anything from the Lord.
8 He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Welcome to the second post in the ADORE Series, Deep Love—
Through out the scriptures, God’s “deep love” for his people is described in many ways. When I think about his “deep love” a picture comes to mind of a precious stone that has many facets. It sparkles brilliantly as light shines on it. The reflection appears different for each of us depending on where we are standing to view the captivating sight.
Come let us ADORE our Savior this week reflecting on his deep love. Let’s take time to reflect on how we experience daily the Lord’s “deep love” in our life. Then, let’s take it a step further and seek how we can reflect His “deep love” through our life into the lives of those near to us in this season of giving.
Reflect on the following scriptures:
John 3:16 -17John 3:16 -17 English: World English Bible - WEB 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
17 For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.
WP-Bible plugin “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”(bold and italics added)
WP-Bible plugin –8a & 11-13 “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails.”( bold and italics added)
“ When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three things remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (bold and italics added)
Deep Love Reflection:
Throughout scripture the love of God is characterized in the following ways: Deep – Enduring – Everlasting – Great – Forever – Unfailing – Rich – Lavish – Faithful – Jealous – Abounding – Sacrificial -Commanding – Fearless – Gentle – Inseparable – Better than Life!!
What facet of his love for you do you most clearly identify with? —Thank him for his love!
How are you responding to his expression of “deep love”?
How is he calling you to express his love to those near to you this giving season?
Prayer of Adoration: Thank you, heavenly Father; for your deep and never ending love for us. A love that nothing we do and nothing in this world can ever separate us from. You are our source of love. You are the lover of our souls. You desire us to draw close to you to be loved deeply by you. The realization of your sacrificial love is so overwhelming. You gave your Son and He gave his life so we could become your sons and daughters. So that we could experience your love as you dwell in our hearts. Fill us each day with your love so our lives become an outpouring of your love into a world that is in desperate need of you and the hope that is found in your love. Open our eyes to see your sweet expressions of love for us in this season of giving. Thank you for your extravagant expression of love—- your Son, made man, born in a manger destined to be the Savior of the world. And that you for the greatest gift of all—- salvation!
With adoration in Jesus holy name– Amen
I’d love to hear how you will be expressing our Savior’s love this season!
We are in the season of anticipation and adoration— Christmas and New Years! What is your natural focus around these Holidays? For me, I naturally get caught up in the anticipation. I am easily drawn into the business of preparing and experiencing all the season has to offer– from yummy treats, beautiful displays and programs and lovely music, to decorating, preparing, and the entire gift gathering (making and exchanging)— in anticipation of Christmas. “The list” could go on for a mile. I’m sure just like me, you just remembered something else to add to your list. Amongst all the “Noise, Noise, Noise” as the Grinch calls it; I find my inner soul anticipating sweet moments spent adoring my Savior. But “the list” seems to shout and demand my full attention, creating an unseen struggle to follow through on my desire for sweet moments spent with Jesus. My intention is to stay focused on celebrating his birth and preparing for all the New Year has to offer, without getting distracted by the “Noise, Noise, Noise”!
Can you relate? Would you like help staying focused? I invite you to join me this season in setting aside time for the next five weeks to ADORE our Savior together. Each week we will focus on an aspect of adoring Jesus Christ our Lord for the gifts His birth brought to all mankind. Together we will reflect on scriptures that lead us through the acrostic ADORE.
Amazing Grace Deep Love Outrageous Joy Rejoicing in Hope Eternal Peace
This week’s focus is Amazing Grace: Read and reflect on the following verses:
WP-Bible plugin – 10(NIV) “ But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (bold and italics added by me)
WP-Bible plugin(NIV) “ For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope— the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (bold and italics added by me)
Amazing Grace Reflection:
What do these verses reveal about God’s amazing grace?
What are the purposes of God giving us His amazing grace?
How will you express your adoration to your Savior for His gift of amazing grace?
Prayer of Adoration:
Amazing Savior, We come to you with adoration for the amazing grace you have given to us. Your gift–the intentional atoning sacrifice that brought with it your grace to give our redemption and salvation. At Christmas time we are reminded that your birth was the gift that fulfilled your desire to dwell with your people.
This week we invite you to reign in our hearts and minds as we seek to adore you for the incomparable gift of your amazing grace—given to make us alive and raised up and seated in the heavenly realms with Christ. Your grace—was born out of your love for us, expressed in kindness, and given as a gift through faith in you our given Savior. Thank you for creating each of us for your purposes and supplying your grace that teaches us to live self-controlled lives and fills us with eagerness to do the good that you have destined for us to do. We praise you for your amazing grace extended to all people that none might boast of their righteous acts for only you our Savior and Lord are righteous.
In Jesus Holy name we pray— Amen
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Have you ever started preparing a meal and discover you have had your pan on the wrong burner? Once again I found myself wondering how in the world I didn’t notice sooner that nothing was happening in my pot that should be boiling any moment. As I reached for the handle it was very hot to the touch but the rest was not. That’s when I realized I had turned on the wrong burner and proceeded to increase the temperature as required only to succeed in heating the handle not the contents. After rectifying the problem I moved on the next item of importance. But as I looked back at the stove with my hand still stinging from grabbing the piping hot handle, I thought “isn’t that just like life.” I wake up each morning with a basic plan and focus to spend my time and energy according to what I think is most important. Then I’m off and running. The next thing I know I’ve turned on the wrong burner! My energy is not directed where it is required to accomplish the necessary tasks for the day. Can you relate? I also thought of how quickly these “wrong burner days” can easily become weeks, months and sometimes years if I don’t seek daily guidance from the Lord on how to spend my time and energy He has given to me. His word tells me that he has “created me for good works” that He has prepared for me (Ephesians 2:10Ephesians 2:10 English: World English Bible - WEB 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.
WP-Bible plugin). I don’t want to focus my time and energy into a burner that isn’t warming His prepared task for me. In order to put the right amount of energy and focus into each burner I have to seek Him first.
I remember that Sunday morning well. The summer sun peaked through the bedroom blinds before my eyes were ready to greet the day. Sounds of a squirmy infant and toddler encouraged one more attempt at squeeze just 5 more minutes of sleep before I faced the activities of the day. Then it happened– the whimpers of a hungry little guy. Before I knew I was awake I found myself settled in the rocker with a nursing bundle in my arm and my snuggly brown eyed girl in my lap. After the morning snuggle we were off to the races to get everyone, Dad, Mom, and three kiddos under 4, ready and in the van for church.
At some point, I called out “Where is Erika?” Our brown eyed, 19month old was not under foot and too quiet for my comfort. After an unsuccessful, thorough search of the three story home, panic set in Brian’s and I’s heart. Then came the knock at the door. Brian opened the door to find little Erika standing there, hand in hand, with a woman he did not recognize. She proceeded to ask in a sweet voice “Is this your little girl? I found her wandering along the road.” He immediately lifted Erika into his arms and held her tightly while answering “Yes, thank you so much!” When he turned to follow-up with the kind woman, she was nowhere to be found. It was like she had vanished. He and Erika looked down the street and around the corner, but it was like she was gone without a trace. Brian was puzzled and smiled as Erika announced, “Bye-bye, all gone, bye-bye” in her sweet little voice.
He rounded the corner of the stairs to share the mystery of Erika’s morning adventure outside. After hearing the story of the disappearing lady, Sara, our 4 year old, declared, “She’s an angel! She brought her back!” Brian responded “Your right Sara. She must be an angel, because I’ve never seen her before and she disappeared so quickly.” We took a moment to say a prayer, thanking the Lord for protecting Erika and a blessing be given to the angel that returned Erika safely. Then off to church we went with full hearts.
Has your desire ever taken you on a dangerous adventure like Erika that summer morning? She had a strong desire to go outside that morning, and she was inspired by the sunshine to go explore. All she needed for her adventure to begin was the courage to open the door and take that step out. In my previous post, The Journey, I talked about having the “courage to take the first step”, following through on the desires and inspirations the Lord places in your heart. Today I want to follow up with having the courage to challenge your hearts desire. Proverbs 4:23Proverbs 4:23 English: World English Bible - WEB 23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it is the wellspring of life.
WP-Bible plugin instructs: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Have you ever let your guard down? Have you ever regretted doing or saying something? My answer is a resounding “Yes!” I have reduced the regularity of such regrets and moments of a lax guard over my heart and mind with the practice of self-reflection and others to help keep me accountable in my walk with Christ. It takes courage to be honest with yourself and listen with an open heart when you ask the Lord to search your heart and reveal any wickedness or pride that lingers. It takes courage to align your thought life to Philippians 4:8Philippians 4:8 English: World English Bible - WEB 8 Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things.
WP-Bible plugin. Are my thoughts focused on whatever is true, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy? When I’m on a short time line and my family is on their own time line, my thoughts are not very lovely. Or when I’m driving and the drivers around me seem to have forgotten what it means to merge, yield, or go at a green light; I struggle to turn my thoughts to admirable truth. The natural human tendency is to pridefully elevate my needs above the needs of others. It takes courage to be selfless and keep my selfish desires in check.
I struggled with my desire to elevate myself above my husband in the situation of Erika escaping on her adventure that summer morning. After all “He was responsible for her…she never would have got out if it was my responsiblity.” I’m thankful I had the courage to catch myself in the unloving thought pattern and to change it to one of praiseworthy thoughts before my thoughts became my words.
Luke 6:42Luke 6:42 English: World English Bible - WEB 42 Or how can you tell your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck of chaff that is in your eye,’ when you yourself don’t see the beam that is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck of chaff that is in your brother’s eye.
Everywhere we turn from social media, TV, to magazines, and ads we find headlines aimed at self-improvement: “try the latest…”, “how to…”, “you just need ….”. I’m sure you can add more to the list. We live in a world that bombards us with messages that speak to our desire for more. Do you think we would be constantly exposed to all these suggestions if there weren’t the need to satisfy a craving? Are you familiar with it- The unexplainable desire to search for “the answer” that fills the void within your soul?
The answers the world gives are appealing. They soothe the desperate heart cry for meaningful life.
Felt in response to this need and the underlying message sent that we just aren’t good enough yet. One experiences oneself being drawn to each new captivating solution in search of their own “answer” for them. I have caught myself entranced in the endless search for fulfillment. How about you? When will this longing and quest be satisfied? What would happen if women were awakened from the trance of the world’s enchantment and recognize that the “answer” lies in our identity in Christ?
Yes I’m guilty. I’ve been known to get caught up in the trance. But thankfully I was awakened to who I am meant to be in Christ- his Warrior-Princess. Not just his daughter or princess but his Warrior-Princess because I’m in a daily battle to walk in the power and truth of whose I am (God’s) and who he has made me to be (his Warrior-Princess). Maybe, like me, you wrestle with questions about God and his plan for you. Some of you might even be asking: “How do I measure up in this world? Or “ Does God really want me?” Or even “Would he ever use me?” Whatever your questions might be let me just say that it is okay to question because that is the beginning of naming “the need” and finding “the answer” to fill the void within.
One such question unexpectedly emerged during a heart to heart. I was listening intently when it came gushing out through sobs that were ushered from the depths of her precious heart- “God doesn’t want me, He doesn’t, He can’t. How could I be good enough for him?” My precious daughter struggled to speak in the early morning hours. Her words bursting through her apprehension of the reception they might receive from her teary eyed momma. But she was unable to hold her questioning back any longer. She released the hurt that was tearing at her soul. She collapsed into a tender embrace, reassured that it is okay to question-even question God. She rediscovered his love and peace in her honest questions. I encourage you like I did her, to have the courage to believe that nothing can separate us from him or remove his love for us (Romans 8:38-39Romans 8:38-39 English: World English Bible - WEB 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I invite you to join me in my Warrior-Princess journey. A journey I hope will be one of discovery, inspiration, and empowerment. Together we will find strength to live the life we were created to live. I say “together” because my prayer is that we will journey along side one another connecting through our stories. I believe we were created for relationship and need each other for encouragement, growth, and confidence along the way. We might not all be at the same intersection of our journey, or facing the same temptations or trials, but we are able to encourage each other with where we are and where we have been. Together that is what will enrich our life journey. Let’s journey together!
Life has a way for surprising me so to find myself launching a ministry website and on the edge of publishing a Bible study is uncharted territory for me and incredibly unexpected. I am truly humbled with this opportunity just as I was over 15 years ago when I began to serve in women’s ministry leadership roles. These service opportunities have directed my path to this unique threshold. The courage to take the first step into this uncharted territory comes through experiencing the Lord’s direction in my life. He has orchestrated sweet relationships with people who are strong in my areas of weakness and need for growth. It has been a true faith building experience. I’m very thankful for each person’s encouragement and sharing of their gifts and talents to further the Lord’s purposes in my life.
I posed the question in the beginning:“What would happen if women are awakened from the trance of the world’s enchantment and recognize the answer is our identity in Christ?” I believe the answer is -we will live in a brighter world because we will become a brilliant
reflection of God’s love in this dim world. In my ministry and military experience I have witnessed first-hand how women strongly influence the spiritual and relational connections within community. “That is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”(Ephesians 5:14Ephesians 5:14 English: World English Bible - WEB 14 Therefore he says, “Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
WP-Bible plugin) As the Apostle Paul said we must wake up and live for Christ. When he shines on us he radiates into the world and awakens his people. Arise from your slumber warrior-princess and shine his light! Our world is desperately searching and in need of “the answer”- Jesus!
Are you ready to live out your identity in Christ: Warrior-Princess?
I’d love to get to know more about you! Will you quickly share a meaningful verse with me?
Is anyone else tired of the walls and distance between who a person is and who others believe they are? Can we please just be REAL? Life is tough no matter at what stage you find yourself. When we chose to build walls and keep others at a distance it hinders the growth of authentic relationships. The extent to which barriers are built can even lead to losing the ability to know how to be “you”. Leaving the builder, you, with the question to answer: “Who am I?” Have you ever experienced a struggle within to identify and express your personal opinions and beliefs? You strain to acknowledge them. But they are blurred by the mask you’ve worn for the world. Emotions try to emerge but they are blocked. All you can feel is fear, numbness and confusion. Reinforcements come to the rescue. “What will they think of me if I’m really me?”… “No one will like me anymore.”… “No one has to know I’m struggling…I can just keep hiding.” The questions and rationalizations are indicators that your chameleon walls are thick and the reinforcements are strong.
How do I know? I was a chameleon for most of my life. Growing up I struggled with who I was, so I lived in safety of my camouflage skills, like a chameleon. My natural instinct was to keep harmony, make others happy, and stay out of trouble. The expectations of others ruled my world. I adapted and changed based on who I was with and what their expectations were so I would be accepted and keep the peace. I thought I was in control.
Do I have any chameleon friends out there? It might not be easy at first glance to recognize it in yourself. Why? Because to an extent that is just part of surviving in our world of ever changing norms and expectations. I realize it is safer to live with walls. I’m an expert builder myself. But I have been challenged to tear my walls down and build REAL relationships: Relational through Encouragement, Authenticity, and Love! That means sharing the struggles of life and letting the light of Jesus shine through my weaknesses as my source of strength.
I was most challenged with tearing down my walls while living in Germany. Our family was preparing for Daddy to deploy for 15 months and suddenly I found myself facing a medical diagnosis that required emergency surgery with an extended recovery time. Many decisions needed to be made. One decision was “will this be a private walk or a public walk?”
Public was what the Lord required. In 2 Corinthians 1: 4-52 Corinthians 1: 4-5 English: World English Bible - WEB 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound to us, even so our comfort also abounds through Christ.
WP-Bible plugin the Apostle Paul encourages us that we go through challenges to prepare us and give us opportunity to edify and relate to others through our experience. So there I was on the receiving end of much encouragement and support from newly made friends and strangers. I was learning to live out Proverbs 27:10Proverbs 27:10 English: World English Bible - WEB 10 Don’t forsake your friend and your father’s friend.
Don’t go to your brother’s house in the day of your disaster:
Better is a neighbor who is near than a distant brother.
WP-Bible plugin where it tells us that when we are in need of assistance we should get our help from those nearby rather than distant family. Living in Germany didn’t leave much choice. It was out of my control
Through that experience I gained friendships I never would have had the opportunity for and my witness for Christ grew. At that time I was also a leader in the community so for those who were watching my family and I handle this challenge it strengthened the message that we need each other in the good times and the challenging ones too. As I let the Lord tear down some of my walls and trust him to be in control I grew in amazing ways. It became clear that I was telling women through my actions that a “strong woman is one who knows when she needs help and seeks it out”. I have witnessed so many women, especially military wives, struggle in their own strength. They chose to stay behind their walls and fake that they were in control and just fine. In reality, inside their walls at home, they were falling apart. I had a front row seat to my own struggle. When I let go of my control to the Lord. He broke me free! I chose to be REAL first with Jesus and began doing life in his strength. Then I found the freedom to be REAL with the people he placed in my life.
Can you relate to being a wall builder? Do you struggle to appear to have it “all together” when the world looks at you? Are you ready to live in REAL community? Where do you want do go in your freedom of being REAL?
Can you walk in a straight line? How about with your eyes closed? With our eyes open and something to focus on, yes, most of us are able to walk in a straight line. But when the ability to see and focus on our destination is removed or interrupted we will end up off course. Is your life still on course? Has your focus been interrupted? When is the last time you purposefully carved out time to quietly self-reflect with the Lord? The most common time for us to pause to contemplate where our life is going and consider changing direction is when the year draws to a close. I am learning the value of taking this time more often than once a year. For me, self-reflection is an effective tool the Lord uses to help keep my life on track and arrive at my destination without too many detours.
Recently, in an almost forced pause for reflection, I was faced with a question: Does the way I live reveal that my identity and self worth are established in Christ? The honest answer was that I’m not sure it is as recognizable as I would
like it to be-which meant it was time to get to work. In my heart I knew that my identity and value are in Christ. However, when I was honest with myself my outward behavior showed that I believe differently. I was seeking acceptance from this world. In some areas of my life I had put greater value on other’s opinions of success (as measured by this world) than over my unmatchable worth in Christ. The source of my true identity and self-worth were in conflict. My heart was reminding me that I am secure in who God says I am; his child, enough for him, loved, and the list goes on. My mind was measuring differently and offering its own list “You are lacking compared to….”; “You are out of style compared to…”, “You don’t have enough education to…”, People don’t really like you.”, and that list went as well. Do you ever experience this conflict?
What does the world require of you to achieve its standard of worthiness? By what standard do you measure and align your identity and your worth? The world’s or Christ’s?
Here are some verses to remind you of your identity in Christ:
WP-Bible plugin ; Ephesians 1:3-13Ephesians 1:3-13 English: World English Bible - WEB 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ;
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and without blemish before him in love;
5 having predestined us for adoption as children through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his desire,
6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, by which he freely bestowed favor on us in the Beloved,
7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
8 which he made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he purposed in him
10 to an administration of the fullness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, in him;
11 in whom also we were assigned an inheritance, having been foreordained according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his will;
12 to the end that we should be to the praise of his glory, we who had before hoped in Christ:
13 in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Gospel of your salvation,—in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
WP-Bible plugin; Ephesians 2:2-13Ephesians 2:2-13 English: World English Bible - WEB 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience;
3 among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,
5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ ,
6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus;
8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, that no one would boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.
11 Therefore remember that once you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “uncircumcision” by that which is called “circumcision,” ;
12 that you were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off are made near in the blood of Christ.
Do you ever struggle to be truly honest with yourself and minimize your choices? During my forced reflection time I wrestled with being honest with myself. I had to admit that trying harder was not the answer. I had to finally surrender to the Holy Spirit’s transforming power and fight the urge to rationalize my thoughts and behavior. Opening my hands and releasing control, I chose to trust that he would gently show me the source of my weakening witness for Christ. And he did. The honest truth was I had experienced a pretty painful rejection. Until that time of stillness, I had never named it, but that is what it was. Rejection.
Did you know that the fear of rejection is one of the greatest human fears?? Once I openly assessed my behavior and thought process it became clear, to me I had been rejected. Naming it allowed me to recognize how my thought life shifted from focusing on Christ’s best to my “best” according to the world. The transition blurred my unquestioned security in Christ. This lead to a search for reassurance of my value in this world. When the fog of selfish thinking was removed from my eyes, I could see clearly how pride had crept into a corner of my heart. Living in the haze of pride it gave me permission to behave and make choices that I never thought I would. Thank God nothing earth shattering occurred, but enough happened to leave me embarrassed and regretful as I look back. I find assurance and comfort in 2 Corinthians 7:102 Corinthians 7:10 English: World English Bible - WEB 10 For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation, which brings no regret. But the sorrow of the world works death.
WP-Bible plugin “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
I sought after and put more value on the acceptance and approval of people around me that at the end of the day, wouldn’t even remember we had crossed paths. (John12: 43 “for they loved human praise more than praise from God.”; Proverbs 29:25Proverbs 29:25 English: World English Bible - WEB 25 The fear of man proves to be a snare,
But whoever puts his trust in Yahweh is kept safe.
WP-Bible plugin), and accepts me just as I am. I took my eyes off Jesus and put them on myself. Faced with this truth I was left to stumble through the questions: How did I not see this happening? Why didn’t anyone say anything to me?
My answer: I couldn’t see because I was living out of a place of hurt. It was easier to choose to justify myself and blame the people who were causing my pain for my poor choices. This included making sure other people in my life knew I was being wrongly treated. I responded pridefully, rather than trust God to heal my hurt heart and ego. I rationalized that my feelings were justified, and I ended up stuck in a cycle of rejection, hurt, looking for assurance. Around and around it went. The situation didn’t change, but I became more effective in dealing with my response. Many months later when I finally gave the situation fully to the Lord I had the strength to put change in action. The most perplexing factor was that during this whole situation I had not drifted from my involvement with my daily devotions or Bible study. I was living in a false security and blindly choosing not to fully lay that corner of my hurt heart and wounded identity in His arms for restoration. I was going through the motions in that area of my heart.
Have you ever caught yourself in a similar heart situation? If yes, then you can attest to the sense of peace that comes as you practice the process of surrender. I had to surrender my hurt and release my hesitation for future interactions. I had to forgive and release my need for restitution. I had to repent of pridefuly seeking approval of man and live for the approval of only my Savior.
The enemy is so subtle in his ways. This is just another reminder that we need to live our life as the Warrior-Princess we are and stand fully armed for battle everyday. “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against he powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12Ephesians 6:12 English: World English Bible - WEB 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.