A Rebellious Heart

We will eat our own food

and provide our own clothes;

only let us be called by your name…. (Is 4:1).

We cannot have God in the way that we want Him on our terms. We don’t have the right to call the shots and run the show. We can try, but we will only further divide ourselves from biblical truth. Whenever we try to manipulate God into being who we want Him to be, we will always sell ourselves short from growing into the person God desires for us to be in Christ.
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Sometimes God asks us to walk through difficult and painful valleys. We need not fear the journey, but instead embrace it with joy because we know that even in the darkness, our Father leads us. Truly, he is with us in those painful, desert seasons.
Have you ever tried to run from God’s healing when all He wanted to do was love you through something hard and painful? I have. I’ve been fearful of what might happen if I truly trusted God, so I just didn’t trust Him and kept trying to pave my own way.
A rebel’s heart is not what God desires, but I have seen this rebel heart at work in me because I have been terribly selfish and focused not on others, but on whats best for me. In doing so, I’ve hurt not just my walk with God and my pursuit of truth, but my relationships with those I love the most. You see, when you’re living in places of manipulation with God, you’ll excuse your behavior if it means that you get to behave how you want and somehow call it “God’s will.”
Until we listen, with ears and hearts ready to receive grace by walking in humility, we will only hear our own voice and believe that it is somehow God’s voice. If God says, x, y or z, but our fear, insecurity, and pride convince us to believe otherwise, then in our places of unhealthiness and manipulation, we will try to put God in our own little box. But you see, in our little boxes, people can’t fit in there, so in order to protect ourselves we’ll keep people out and at the end of the day, we’ll shut God out too.
The only way to be free is to let go and go with God into the valley. Yes, the only way to walk in God’s healing is to lean into God’s truth. Truly, He is for us. If we believe that and embrace His truth without fear then we can rest assured that the Father’s heart is for us. He walks with us and He leads us beside quiet waters.
Lord, help us. We need your grace. Forgive us for manipulating our relationship with you. Help me to walk in the light of your truth, even when it’s hard and requires humility, in Jesus name, Amen.

When My Life Stinks

Instead of fragrance there will be a stench… (Is 3:24).
 
Has your life ever stunk? Mine has and I’m not just talking about body odor coming after a good workout. I’m talking about the stench of a prideful heart, a critical spirit and a selfish pursuit of my own gain.
 
This morning, as I was praying, I asked the Lord to instill in me a different kind of heart. Sometimes, looking back on conversations or interactions I start to hear the tone of my voice and I don’t like it. I don’t like how I can come across as critical and condemning, so I’m asking Jesus for a new heart. I don’t want to be the stench of death to those I encounter, but instead, I want to be the aroma of Christ.
 
When we are walking in light of our Father’s promises, giving glory unto Him and living for the purpose of praising Him and dying to self, we can rest assured that our Father will fill us with His good nature. I can take steps of faith, knowing that my Father in Heaven sees me and He is using my life to draw others unto Him. That’s just what He does. Instead of a life that repels people from grace. We become world changers who draw others into the grace of the Lord Jesus by the way that we selflessly love one another.
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I have seen too many hearts grow cold and bitter after dealing with hurt, pain, and rejection. I have seen many hearts continue to puff up with pride. I’ve seen many hearts, including my own, continually grasp for control. Until we come to God with open hands, letting go of every pain, every insecurity and proclaim our deep need for Him we will keep spreading the stench of death to those around us. But as I cry out, in my confession, He hears me, heals me, and fills me the aroma of His love.
 
Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me. Thank you that you make me new. Fill me now with the power of your presence. I long to be the aroma of Christ to everyone that I meet. Make me like you, I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

When Generosity Reveals The Deep Idols Controlling My Heart

Of the land that we took over at that time, I gave the Reubenites and the Gadites the territory north of Aroer by the Arnon Gorge…(Dt 3:12).

Share what you have with others. I get that and in some ways its easy for me to do, but in areas where I hold things much to close to my heart, it just isn’t.
 
The other day, as I was talking with my husband, I shared with him about a current struggle I was dealing with. The Lord had prompted me the day before to be generous to someone and at first, I responded with glad and happy obedience. But, once it got down to the wire and I had to literally put my money where my mouth is something inside of me wanted to reach for control. As I described it to my husband I told him, it felt like my hand wanted to reach for that money, close my fist around it tightly and get it back.
 
It was weird. I kept asking the Lord for a “good feeling” so that I would know what I did was right, but honestly, good feelings didn’t follow. It almost felt more like a bit of regret mixed with doubt. I started doubting if I heard right from the Lord. I started to regret being generous, because what if I let all that money go and I didn’t have to?
 
Eeesh….my heart is so in need of God’s daily grace. As I reflect on that moment, I see now that God wasn’t making me feel good about it, because obedience doesn’t always feel good. Sometimes doing the right thing is more about standing in agreement with God’s truth even when good feelings don’t accompany it.
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I’m not sure where life brings you today, but if you’re anything like me, there’s somewhere in your life that you struggle to be a generous person. I find it in the areas of my life where there are idols I battle up against. Those are the areas I wrestle with being generous the most. But, rest assured that when you take steps of obedience, it might not feel good, but that’s because God is chipping something away in you that needs to die. That process can be painful, but oh, it is so very purposeful.
 
Father, I long to be a generous person. I know I’m not always this way. I hold things too closely. Help me to live in a way where I go about my life with open hands before you. Ready to give with a glad and joyful heart. Lord, continue to chip away at my selfishness, in Jesus name, Amen.

Sometimes I Let My Husband Have It…Then, I Realize I’ve Crossed The Line

They will beat their swords into plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks….(Isaiah 2:4).

Have you ever come to someone with guns blazing? Ready to put them in their place? Feeling as though God has given you a “special word” they need to hear to set them straight? Maybe that’s just been me. Unfortunately, the person I’ve done this the most with is my husband. In my pride, I would often think, “He needs to hear this, because I know I’m right on this. After all, what I’m saying is biblical and he needs to hear it.”
 
YUCK….
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Now, there’s nothing wrong with speaking truth, but a woman speaking truth with guns blazing is NEVER well received. What man wants that woman in his midst? I’m not sure I know any men who would welcome that kind of woman into their world.
 
The really cool thing about God is that just as He did for the nation of Israel taking their weapons and transforming them into agents of peace, He can do the same for us. You see, all of us have areas where we’re strong. I think an area of growing strength in my life is wisdom. However, instead of using that gift like a plowshare, bring peace to those around me, I can often use it as a sword, cutting through the hearts and souls of those around me.
 
Thankfully, God can take our swords and spears, our cutting tongues and prideful hearts and transform them through His love. Now, I can speak wisdom in love and its well-received because it isn’t tethered with my anger or an air of self-righteousness.
 
Father, I want to be an agent of peace to the world. Help me to stop my tongue when it just wants to speak rebuke after rebuke. Make my tongue a tree of life, always building others up and bring you constant glory. Glorify your name in me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Know Your Role and Play Your Part

You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army…. (Numbers 1:3).
 
All of us have a specific role to play in God’s kingdom. Sometimes that role seems small and pointless. Sometimes our role shrinks in the eyes of man as God gives us a different part to play. Sometimes we feel like we never quite play the role the right way, so instead of playing it, we bow down to fear and never fulfill what God is asking of us.
 
It’s so easy to allow things like pride, fear of failure, exhaustion or jealousy to keep us from playing our part in God’s Kingdom. I know for many years I kept aspiring to play someone else’s part. I used to daydream about being a good singer or having a stage like Beth Moore to preach from. In my pride, I’d sit back and watch others serve, but think in that back of my mind that I could do better than them.
 
Ouch, all of that now, looking back feels so gross, but that’s just where my heart was at the time. You see, what we need more is not people who fight for the bigger role, but people who are willing to play their part even if that simply means that you’re doing things that do not get you any recognition from the outside.
 
My life currently consists of round the clock breastfeeding, diaper changing and soothing a crying baby. This is extremely non-glamorous work. It is work that is done behind the scenes. Tiny little drops of grace that I’m placing into a bucket only seen by my Heavenly Father. There’s no stage for me to shine from, no messages to preach or programs to facilitate. There’s simply one little life that I’ve been given to pour into.
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Friends, embrace the place God has put you. Trust me, at the end of the day no pat on the back from those around you will be of much significance, because when you’re doing your Father’s work, He is eternally pleased with you. For that, we can rejoice and be glad.
 
Father, thank you for this place that you have put me. Thank you for the small stage I have right now. It is one little life and I want to be faithful in how I live in this season to love, honor and cherish the place which you have called me, in Jesus name, Amen.

When Your Button of Insecurity Gets Pressed

They will stumble over one another as though fleeing from the sword, even though no one is pursuing them… (Lev 26:37).

Have you ever had your button of insecurity stepped on by someone? The Lord is showing me just how often I allow others’ opinions, words and things left unsaid affect how I act, and respond to certain situations.
 
If someone says what I’m currently feeling insecure about, I’ll internally panic and think, “What I’ve thought about myself is TRUE!” I am a bad mom, daughter, employee, sibling, friend or whatever else I’ve allowed my fear and insecurity to try and make me believe.
 
When that comment by someone it’s like the dam of my life breaks and the waters of insecurity come rushing in.
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All of this is because I’ve somehow, somewhere along the line misplaced my identity in things that I never should have found my worth in. If I hang my hat on my role as a mother, daughter, wife or friend, then when I feel like I’m failing in one of those areas, my whole identity will feel like it’s falling apart.
 
But you see, the one who trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Safe from the opinions of others. Safe from the fears of the enemy. Safe from an insecure life that hangs its hat on things that should never give us a sense of who we are as people.
 
When I look into the eyes of my daughter, I love her, not because she’s a good daughter or whatever else, but because she’s mine to cherish, to love and delight in.
 
You see when we start to see ourselves like this, as God’s beloved children, we begin to understand that the grace we need for today is really wrapped up in the grand story that our identity is found in being a child of God. This is my greatest purpose in life and when I rest in that reality no dam breaks, no waters of fear come rushing in and I’m not running after some misplaced identity because my heart is fully satisfied in being a child of God.
 
Abba, you are a good father. You love me, thank you for loving me. Thank you that my identity is simply found in being your child. Sometimes I forget that. Help me now to walk in your truth, in Jesus name, Amen.

In Busy Season’s Offer Up Your Best to God

as a wave offering of firstfruits to the LORD…(Lev 23:17).

Life has been a bit chaotic, and unpredictable as of recently. Sure, it’s a similar rhythm throughout the day, but it’s a very different rhythm then I have ever experienced before. That’s taking all the grace and energy that I don’t have, but that God, in His mercy offers me.
 
I am being reminded during this busy, changing season of life that my offering to God, with the very best of my time and energy, still belongs to Him. As a sort of first-fruits of my life and my day.
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I want more than anything for my daughter to see a relationship with God lived out in me, but I cannot do that well if I am not still offering up the very best of myself to the Lord. It would be easy to slide into a rushed time with God where He gets secondary parts of me and a scattered and busy heart. Yet, I know, in the depth of me that what He deserves is not my leftovers, but my first fruits.
 
Lord, help us all to balance our lives in a way that brings you glory. We want our lives to be centered upon you. Help us to always make time for you. Not in scattered, busy, parceled up ways, but with the best of ourselves. Give us your grace in seasons of busyness and help us to lean into your rest. Jesus, be our joy and our delight in every season, especially in the busy ones. May my daughter see you in me, I ask, in Jesus name, Amen.