I am Held by the Father….No Longer a Disappointment

so that in him we might become the righteousness of God…. (2 Cor 5:21).

Jesus presents me to His Father as pure and spotless. The sin that I struggle with does not define me in light of who I am in Christ.
 
Yes, I am His child, fully loved, fully forgiven and fully clothed in His righteousness. Wow, what a wonderful truth and someday, when I shall see Him face to face I shall be glorified and given a brand new body. A body that is free from the entrapments of the sinful nature. A body to eternally praise God and love my fellow man.
 
This day Jesus carries me to His Father, not as a wounded animal, dirty and broken, but as a beloved child. Yes, a child who has been washed clean by His love, whose heart bursts with the love and purity of her Father. Jesus carries me to His Father as if to say, “Lord, this one belongs to me, she is filled with my generosity, love, and grace. She is our beautiful creation.”
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I’ll admit it, sometimes I feel like the problem child of God. Like maybe He looks at me and sees only my flaws, insecurities and fears and that I’m just a giant disappointment to Him.
 
Yet, He is a loving Father who sees His children and their potential through Christ. I think what saddens God more is not that we struggle against sin, but that we don’t see our value and worth in Christ. We don’t see and proclaim that we have been redeemed. Thus, leading us to sin more because we are not walking forwarding in our new identity.
 
If you ever feel like a disappointment to God and trust me, I do from time to time, be reminded that you are not a disappointment. You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God has prepared in advance for you to do. You are a co-laborer with Christ. You have the mind of Christ. You are a child of God.
 
No parent who loves their child would ever continually shame, belittle or punish their child because they make mistakes. Every parent seeks to pull out the potential they see within their child. Know that your Heavenly Father is doing the same for you.
 
Lord, you see me and you love me. You want what’s best for me. You have good things in store for me. You hold me in your love. I am your child. May I allow you, Jesus, to hold me in your embrace. I fully receive your love and your grace for my life today, in Jesus name, Amen.
 

I Used To Think The Biggest Sinner Was Always Someone Else…..Now I See…It’s Me

he who increases knowledge increases sorrow….. (Ec 1:18).

I am immensely thankful that God is patient with a sinner like me. Yes, me. Truth is, the more I have grown closer to God the less I focus on the sin of others. Not to say that I’m fully there yet, trust me, sometimes I spend far too much time dwelling on the sin struggles of others.
 
However, I now see more than ever before, the depth of depravity within my own heart. The insecurities, pride, and fear that often resides within my own heart and mind, seeking to steal my affection towards the Lord Jesus Christ. As I see these issues within my own heart this keeps me from focusing so much on the struggles of others. I have noticed, now that I see my own sin more, I am compelled to pray for those around me with issues and struggles against sin. Yes, people who struggle against sin, just like me.
 
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You see, this is the game the devil plays with us. The comparison game, where we start to focus on the sins of others, believing our own selves to be a saint because we have not hurt others like so and so. I’m just saying it because I’ve thought it and if I’ve thought it in my own pride, I know someone else probably has too.
 
I have listened to sermons thinking, I hope my husband heard what the pastor said. He really needed to hear that message. Yet, I was not humble enough to search the depths of my own heart to see what I might need to apply to my life. In my own immaturity, years ago, I remember going on a walk thinking my sin wasn’t that bad because I hadn’t committed such sins as _________________(fill in the blank).
 
It is true that the closer we increase in the wisdom and knowledge of God the more we see the need for our own hearts restoration. I’ll be honest, at first, I wanted to ignore what God was showing me. The pride, fear, insecurity, and issues with control. Something inside of me tried to convince me that embracing these realities, being open and honest about them meant that I was a disappointment to God and others.
 
Yet, there is no sinner to great for the grace of God and there is no sin too far from God’s love. But you see, my problem wasn’t so much receiving grace from God as it was letting go of my need to “look good to other people.”
 
Allow God to go somewhere deep in your heart. Seek wisdom from God and as you do, be prepared to have your sin exposed. This is for your good. Truly, it has been for mine. Do not hide from it, embrace it so that you might find your freedom in Christ.
Lord Jesus, you love me, Yes, you love me and sometimes I love myself too much. Oh Lord, please forgive me for my pride. Thank you, God, that you are working on my behalf. That I can have joy in you. Jesus, fill my heart with your love and truth. Help me, to be honest, and open as I battle against the sin in my own heart and focus less on the sin in others. Jesus, change me I pray, Amen.

I’ve Been Hesistant to Ask People to Pray for Me Because I Thought it Meant I Was a Failure

join me in my struggle….(Romans 15:30)

There have been seasons in my life where I have struggled and have neglected to reach out to others for prayer. Mostly, because of my own pride or the voice that tries to convince me that people don’t want to pray for me. Yet, there is so much power in prayer. Praying really does change things. It can change our hearts and give us a new perspective. Prayer brings people together as we fight with God for victory.
 
Paul asks for prayer in Romans 15. Let’s be honest, Paul had a hard job, and I’m sure he would have faced much opposition. Therefore, he continually asked for prayer. You and I must be humble enough to do the same.
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The problem is, sometimes we wear our prayer requests like a shroud of shame. We think that because we are hurting, struggling or afflicted we must wear the banner of guilt and self-condemnation. We convince ourselves that because of this, we cannot ask for prayer because others will look down on us because we’re struggling. Oh, how foolish we have been! All of us are a work in progress. There is no shame in reaching out, in fact, there is victory.
 
Consider reaching out to someone you trust for prayer. Trust me, they will be blessed by it. I know I am each time someone asks me to pray for them. It gives us an opportunity to go before the throne room of God on behalf of someone else. What a joyous opportunity. Do not neglect giving others the chance to do that for you.
 
Lord, I recognize my deep need for you. I know that I am stubborn and sometimes I keep my struggles from others and neglect to ask for prayer because I feel like a failure because of them. I release all lies the enemy tries to whisper into my heart and mind and I thank you that you have given us the body of Christ who wants to pray. God helps us all to be transparent before others so that we can better. love, encourage and support one another, in Jesus name, Amen.

I Didn’t​ Respond Well When Something Spoke a Hard Truth into My Life

Stop listening to instruction, my son,

and you will stray from the words of knowledge….. (Proverbs 19:27).

Last night I asked some veteran officials to come and critique me. Why? Because I knew I needed their feedback. I understand as a newer official I need the wisdom of those with years of experience in front of me, critiquing me to help me grow.
 
Without this, I know I’ll be quick to repeat the same patterns in my life. Patterns of wrong behavior, some due to my own ignorance and others due in part to my own blind spots.
 
Years ago, another person in my life tried to speak a hard truth into it. It was something I wasn’t ready to hear. Quite frankly, it made me angry. I dismissed what they said, even though, looking back, it was true because I was too prideful to accept their words.
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For a long time, I feared criticism, because I feared the thought of not being perfect. Truth is until we learn to accept hard truths from others, we will more than likely stay stuck in own sinful patterns. These patterns only hurt the people we love the most. Growth requires humility. The ability to be given honest feedback about our lives so that we can grow and change into different people. People not so selfish, prideful and impulsive. People not so driven by money, anger, and fear.
 
What I have found in life is that people are not looking for one more individual who has their life all put together, but instead, a person who is willing to admit that they don’t. An individual who accepts correction with humility. There have been moments for me on the court when I’ve received correction and felt the need to defend myself. I have learned that value of keeping my mouth shut and saying, “You’re right, thank you.”
 
You and I have a journey in front of us. We need wise counsel to help us traverse the journey ahead. Don’t hide from wise people, surround yourself with them. Grow, change and grow some more as you admit that you are not perfect. Trust me, there’s so much freedom in letting go and embracing your own weaknesses. That’s when Christ’s transformative power enters in.
 
Lord, I am weak, but you are strong. I need the wisdom of others around me who can speak hard truths into my life. Father, I am stubborn, sometimes I struggle with wanting others to think I have it all together. Please forgive me. I want to walk in transparency, for your glory and for my growth as a Christian, in Jesus name, Amen.

Stop Trying to Control Your Life

the people of Judah were victorious because they relied on the LORD, the God of their ancestors…. (2 Ch 13:18).

Ever taken matters into your own hands? I have. Probably more often than I care to admit. I’ve been quick to conjure up ways to make this thing or that thing happen and quite honestly, I’ve been fairly successful through the years because of it. My own grit and determination have plowed a lot of ground for myself. Now, God has taken the plow from my hand and made me sit and wait. He’s making things difficult in my life and it’s because He loves me. He’s trying to give me a gift so great I wouldn’t believe it and He’s asking me to practice patience.
 
I hate practicing patience, but I must. I must release control and walk the path of surrender with God.
 
Not getting what I want has been good for my growth in Christ. It’s teaching me that there is joy in waiting. It’s showing me that waiting for God’s best is better than plowing my own way. I’d be lying though if I didn’t say that it was extremely hard to do. Yet with each moment of surrender comes another splash of God’s grace.
 
I’m not sure where life meets you today but set your heart upon the greatness and goodness of God. His plan for you is good.
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Yes, life can be painful. I get that. I really do, but there is a purpose in our pain as we release it to God and partner with Him in His work. He’ll redeem it. Rely on His strength to make it happen. Don’t feel the need to do it yourself. You’ll never see God do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine if you keep trying to step in front of God.
 
Lord, I need your hand to move. Be at work and shower your grace upon me and my husband. Lord, make a way in the wilderness. Show us what your steps are for us. Lead us by your grace, in Jesus name, Amen.

Strike a Blow

I do not fight like a boxer beating the air….(1 Cor 9:26).

Boxing in the Isthmian games (that Paul refers to here) was brutal. Some matches lasted for hours as each individual fought hard to the end, giving their very best to win the prize. Paul challenges his readers to think of their life as a Christian like a boxer who is not beating the air, but instead acts as one who will, “strike a blow to my body and make it my slave.” (vs. 27)
 
Paul understood that the flesh is strong. Our propensity to sin and follow the waywardness of our own foolish hearts is very alluring. It requires a daily dying to ourselves as we strike blow after blow to the old person of sin in us so that righteousness might win out.
 
MLB baseball player, Josh Hamilton, told a story in his autobiography of a recurring dream he kept having. In this dream, he was fighting the devil, but he kept losing. Until one day he looked beside him and saw Jesus. He and Jesus started fighting the devil together and as they fought him, the devil was defeated.
 
Many of us are swinging at the wrong things in our lives. We see our circumstances or people who have hurt us and we start directing our blows towards them. Yet, this is not the direction we should be swinging our punches. God will avenge whatever wrong was done to us. Our duty as Christians is to die daily to ourselves, taking captive every thought by making it obedient to Christ and learning to live surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. The only way we can do this is by striking a blow, not at others, but at the old person of sin inside of us who tries to rise up daily to steal our joy and victory in Christ. That person must die and together, with Jesus, as we fight against the devil’s schemes, we will come out the victor!
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Abba, you are so good. Why would I ever believe anything different? You are so faithful. Jesus, be my joy, hope, and peace. Today, I strike a blow against the sinful part of me that wants to steal my joy in Christ. I make it my slave, so that I may win as many as possible for the cause of Christ. Lord Jesus, use my life, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Training For Life…..Get Ready for the Race

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize… (1 Cor 9:24).

Years ago, I was working out at the gym and I was pushing myself as I was going from one exercise to the next. An older gentleman comes up to me and says, “What are you training for?” Since I had no special event I was preparing for I said, with a smirk on my face, “I’m training for life.”
 
Paul uses athletic imagery in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 to help his reader see what living the Christian life should look like. It is a life of training, discipline, and preparation. We are, in essence, “training for life.” A life of Godliness and growth. A life of dying to sin. A life of living in grace, so that God’s love may abound in us more and more.
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Yes, this is the life we must live as Christians. A life devoted to our Lord. Where we train our bodies and our minds to submit, grow and change. As we do, the Holy Spirit births within us more and more of the love and grace of God.
 
Every athlete gives up something to dedicate themselves to their sport. They forgo the second piece of chocolate cake, or go for a run instead of vegging out on the couch. Every Christian must learn to discipline themselves in a similar manner. Instead of looking at social media for just a “few more minutes” we must lay that aside to get into God’s word. Instead of indulging in our comforts we must become people of prayer. Instead of allowing our minds to become lazy, we must train and discipline them for spiritual warfare by memorizing scripture.
 
All of this is easier said than done, but you see every athlete gives up something because they love their sport. Do we love God so much that the thought of giving something up is greater than the alternative? Does the thought of disciplining ourselves to prepare for the work of God overwhelm our hearts and minds as we think about joining God in His work?
 
Its time to start training your hands for war. Do it because you love what you have committed yourself to. Not out of obligation or duty. Let the love you have for God be what drives you forward as you discipline yourself to grow and mature in the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
Lord, I’m ready. I’m ready to do Kingdom work for you. Although sometimes I’m afraid, I’m ready to give things up so that I can grow and mature. Lord, use my life to further your Kingdom. Let my life be an offering to you. I long to live in your grace. I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.