I Have Discovered The Remedy To Grow in Christ

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…(1 Peter 2:2).

I have encountered many people over the years who feel stuck in their faith journey. They aren’t growing closer to God and are unsure of how to change that. I’ve lived there too, feeling as though my faith was on cruise control, not really growing, but just existing.
 
I have since then found the simple remedy to grow and mature as a Christian.
 
Peter encourages his readers to be like newborn babies and to crave pure, spiritual milk so that they might grow up in their salvation. Peter understood something that’s vitally important for us to apply as Christians if we want to grow and change. He understood, as I have found, that without a dependency upon God like a newborn child has to their mother, we cannot grow into mature Christian adults.
 
Maybe this remedy seems to simple- too elementary, but can I be completely honest? God doesn’t over complicate things. He understands how stubborn we can be, so in instances like this, He makes it really simple. He only asks us to abide in Him like a newborn baby.
 
As I prepare to welcome my own newborn into the world I am blown away by just how dependent she’s going to be on me. Literally, without me, or someone feeding and caring for her, she cannot survive. Our issue is that we don’t understand that without God, we’re good as dead. Truly, I need Him just as much as any newborn needs the love, care, and concern of someone caring for them. I have to stay just as close to God, with just as much frequency and desperation as any newborn infant.
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When I understand this, I find that there is rest for my weary soul, joy at my fingertips and sustenance to keep pressing forward with God into maturity. So if you really want your faith to take off, press into your Heavenly Father like never before. Come before Him, not with an attitude of self-sufficiency, but one of total and complete dependence upon Him for your very life.
 
Drink in His word like any newborn infant drinks in her mother’s milk and fall into His grace like a newborn needs the loving touch and embrace of her mother or father’s touch. Then, simply sit with God there, in His promises, knowing that truly, He wants nothing from you in those moments, except to simply drink in His deep love that dances over you.
 
Lord, it is such a trite thing for me to say that I need you. Truly, I am desperate for you. You know how much I struggle and how much I wrestle. Yet, you keep pursuing me. You keep loving me and providing for me. Truly, God, I want to live desperate for you, in Jesus name, Amen.

When My Faith is in Others But Not God

so your faith and hope are in God…. (1 Pe 1:21).

We’ve got to stop resting our faith in people. Does this mean we should never have faith in people? No, of course not, but we should never rest our faith upon them as if they somehow hold the key to all the answers for our lives.
 
There is a sweet seduction within Christendom to put our faith in pastors, high profile Christian leaders and even those closest to us like a spouse, child or friend. All of these people at the end of the day are just that- people. To rest our faith in them puts them in an unhealthy position in our hearts and minds because when they fail we are crushed, devastated and our faith becomes shaken. For some reason, we’re surprised when these people fail us, but since we often look to them to find our identity it’s hard for us not to be surprised by it or take it personally.
 
Maybe it’s just been me, but sometimes I recognize that I’m resting my faith in them because I want to be them. I want their power and prestige. I want their influence. I want them to fill a need in me that I lack. I want them to somehow validate me and tell me that I’m OK. But, sometimes, I’m not OK and neither are they and when my faith is resting upon them, my identity starts to crumble right along with them.
 
I can recall a friend I had a number of years ago who I started to idolize. I desperately wanted her approval so I obsessed about it. If, in my mind, she wasn’t reciprocating back to me the importance of our friendship I was crushed. Looking back, I needed her because I didn’t fully know and understand my worth as a child of God.
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I’ve also been so insecure that I haven’t sought the Lord for answers, but instead, I’ve turned those people that I’ve rested my faith upon into the spiritually elite of my life. If they say it, then it must be done, because in my mind they are somehow spiritually above the rest. Instead of fostering a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit, I have sought them to take His place in m life, hoping that they will somehow speak into me the words of life that God wants to pour into me through time alone with Him.
 
Therefore, dear friend, put your hope in God and watch Him work in you as you learn how to rest not your faith in people, but God alone who stirs our hearts and draws us daily closer to Him.
 
Father, today I want to rest my faith in you. Not on others, my job, finances or position. Truly, I want all of me to be immersed in all of you. Pour into me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Group Prayer Often Reveals Just How Selfish I Can Be

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective…. (James 5:16).

Have you ever asked someone to pray for you, not really because you wanted them to come alongside you, but because you want them to feel bad for you? I have. I’ve even asked others for prayer hoping maybe they could fix my problems, or that maybe they would see me as deeply spiritual for my prayer request.
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It’s crazy how often I hear this little voice go off in my head after I ask for prayer. It’s this prideful voice that says, “Look at me.” It’s the voice of the enemy that’s trying to keep me from giving my whole self to God as I gather for prayer. The center of attention, too often, in my own heart, becomes me.
 
“How long is this prayer going to last?”
 
“Gosh, this person is still having those same problems? Can’t they get it together?”
 
“I wonder if people were impressed by my prayer?”
 
“Ugh, this person, they always pray for sooo long.”
 
“I wonder if this person feels bad for me and what I have had to endure.”
 
Sadly, all of these, at one time or another have run through my heart in mind while sitting in prayer circles with others. You see, my lack of love for prayer really just reveals a love for myself that is unhealthy and selfish. I wish that it wasn’t like that, but if I could be quite honest, it’s certainly something that I am still very much working on.
 
Lord, forgive me for my selfish heart. Make me more like you. Grow and change me. Grant me a deep love for prayer. I don’t want to love myself more than I love to seek you with others in prayer. So often, I can make things about me. Please forgive me, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.

Drawn Towards Fame….Humbled by Christ

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up…. (James 4:10).

Have you ever tried to exalt your own self? I have. Have you ever tried to look really good before other people with the hopes that you’ll be picked out from among the crowd? Yeah, that’s been me too.
 
All of us want to be noticed, but why? What’s at the root of our desperate need to be seen and esteemed by others? I know for me, whenever I’ve lived this way, it’s because I’m living out of a misunderstanding of my true identity. I’m trying to find my worth and value in other people and because of it, I’m forgetting that my true value is found in Christ alone.
 
My heart can so easily be drawn towards people of high position and fame. Even in the Chrisitan world I feel myself wanting to be like some of the big names others esteem and recognize. Yet, I am reminded of a humble servant, born of peasant parents, who laid down His life for mankind. This calls me to remember that life is not about the stage I hold, but my willingness to become a servant to all.
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Jesus says quite simply, “If you want to become great, you must become servant of all.” Not servant of self, making quite the name for yourself, but servant of all, caring little about what you can accomplish for yourself, so that others know that in your presence they are loved, valued and seen. This is the stage that God wants us to foster within our hearts, not one for us to climb, but one for us to fill with other people. Yes, this is the symphony of His grace into our hearts, that we are not individuals living in silos for God, but we are the body of Christ, a community of people who have been called to love one another.
 
As we live in this way, God lifts us up. Not with more praise from people, but with more opportunities to love someone else. He may give us more responsibility or more territory to shepherd for Him, but not so that we can receive more praise, but so that we continue to make ourself a servant of all.
 
Father, I want my stage to be filled with people. People to love and care for. People to encourage. People to journey together with in your Kingdom work. If the stage you give me ever becomes about me, please forgive me. I want to be like you, in Jesus name, Amen.

An Untamed Tongue is Always Tied to an Unhealthy Heart

no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison….(James 3:8).

My tongue has gotten me in trouble a number of times. If I could be quite honest, the connection that I see between my tongue and my heart is inseparable.  Sometimes my heart is not in a good place.
 
I have noticed that whenever I lack healthy communication with someone close to me and only store up thoughts of negativity towards them, eventually something leaks out from my heart and through my mouth that cuts them down and discourages their soul. Mainly because I was unwilling to either express myself to them or simply learn to take my thoughts to the Lord and not allow them to drown my heart in negativity.
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The people I do this with the most are those closest to me. The ones I’m supposed to love, honor and cherish the most often get the most venomous and poisonous stabs from my tongue. Truth be told, that poison has been there for quite some time. Since I’ve lived so unaware of my own struggle against storing up negative thoughts, I’ve allowed the devil to have a playdate with my heart. Eventually, that playdate plays itself in unhealthy ways and those closest to me become shot to the heart with my uncaring, prideful and disrespectful words.
 
James says that no human being can tame the tongue. It is true that I cannot try harder to have a better heart. Instead, I must become fully aware of my humanness, confessing my deep need for grace so that Christ can take full control of not just my words, but my heart.
 
Fixing our words doesn’t solve our issues long term. We must allow the master gardener to dig deep into our hearts. Yes, we must let Him go to the hard places of our hearts and walk with us there, so that we may live transformed as we surrender ourselves fully to Him. So, stop praying, “God, help me to speak more encouraging words to people.” Instead, start praying, “Lord, change my heart.”
 
Father, glorify your name. Be the joy and delight of my heart and change my heart. I know that I need the love of Jesus to penetrate every part of me. I need your grace to live differently and to believe better and greater things about the people I love, in Jesus name, Amen.

Just Keep Going

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial… (James 1:12).

I’m going to say this again, “You can do this.”
 
I know what you’re thinking though. The circumstances you’re walking through right now seem too bleak, too difficult and too discouraging.
 
Just don’t give up.
 
That’s what the enemy wants you to do. He wants to paralyze you with fear and unbelief. He wants to make you like the Israelites who cried out before Moses in their despair as they stood before the Red Sea. Their fear kept them from seeing what God could do. They only believed in what they saw right in front of them.
 
Have you ever felt that way? That God wasn’t going to pull through for you because you kept limiting Him to only what your eyes could see? Maybe that’s just been me. I have been so foolish to limit Him and not trust Him. In my own insecurity, I’ve made Him so small. Yet, I want to make Him the champion of my life. I want to see with the eyes of faith.
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God will often take us down roads that require us to see with eyes of faith. He’ll keep taking us down the same journey. Because He’s lovingly trying to impress the same lesson upon us that our stubborn hearts have yet to receive and embrace with belief.
 
Perseverance has very little to do with our circumstances. Our circumstances simply reveal our need for a growing character. They show us just how much our faith still needs to grow. Therefore, it’s not the circumstances so much that matter, but our faith journey with God that matters most.
 
I’m not sure where God has you in this present season, but no matter how fiery the furnace- He has you. Please here me when I say that, “He has you.” Truly, this truth can comfort our souls and help us rest firmly and secure in His mighty love as we grow our faith in Him to do the impossible for us.
 
Lord, I trust you. Let your peace like a river flood and overwhelm my soul. You are so good to me. Forgive me when I give way to fear. Grow me up in you, as I persevere, in Jesus name, Amen.

“Lord, I Don’t Know What to Do”

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault…(James 1:5).

My Senior Pastor often says to me, “Heather, there’s not a week that goes by when things don’t happen that are way above my pay grade.” It reminds him of how much he needs the Lord and how closely he has to abide in Jesus to find the grace of God in the midst of circumstances that require a tremendous amount of wisdom and grace.
 
I’m starting to find myself in those situations too, where I feel like things are happening that are way above my pay grade. I’m saying often to the Lord, “I don’t know what to do, but I long to hear your voice. I need your wisdom.” I’m sure this will be even truer when I step into motherhood in a couple of months and my whole world gets turned upsidedown as I spend the rest of my life feeling like nearly every moment is far above my pay grade.
 
That’s life though, isn’t it? One big opportunity to press into the Lord and abide deeply in Him. In our humanness, we forget that in order to abide, we must first learn how to rest. When our hearts are at rest in the Lord we can hear His voice and abide deeply in His love.
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When we are running, worrying and striving we will make self-centered decisions. We’ll believe we’re hearing the voice of God when we are not. We’ll operate out of our insecurities instead of our faith. Truly, faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see and no person can find their way out of a dark, slimy pit, injury-free, without someone helping them.
 
If you want to go through life unscathed by the fire, not swallowed up by the lions and free from the consequences of sinful rebellion than abide deeply in your Lord. Learn to rest in His love. Truly, without it, you’ll run around anxious and ragged. But as you learn to lay your head upon His chest, holding fast to Him, you’ll find peace for a weary heart, in Jesus name.
 
Father, thank you for your great love. I long to hear from you and sit in your grace for my life today. Fill me with your love. Anoint me with your grace. Be the joy and delight of my heart, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.