No Way, No How

Standing on the edge of my own big, wild, crazy nightmares or dreams, I remember the wise words I’ve seen shared around the internet “When there isn’t a way out, go through.”

It’s true. But, sometimes, looking around, there isn’t a way through.

Sometimes the door is slammed shut in your face and all the others are locked tight too. Sometimes the news isn’t hopeful, but terminal. Sometimes you hear “health management” when you were hoping for “treatment.” Sometimes all the encouragement in the world can’t convince the people in authority to say yes.

Sometimes…you know the Lord has called you, led you, brought you…but you have no idea how to continue.

The path has run out. Still, He says press on.

No way-no how, is God’s specialty.

no-way-no-how-is-gods-specialty

The Israelites on the edge of the sea knew it. They didn’t devise a plot using floaties or rafts to make the voyage across. Three friends didn’t perfect the first Nascar firesuit before being thrown into the blazing furnace. Daniel didn’t come out of the pit buck-naked, having used his clothes to muzzle the lions.

The people told getting into heaven was like pushing a camel through the eye of a needle didn’t find their answer on Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Paul didn’t regain his eye sight and a whole new perspective on everything using a special form of Lasik.

Each of these no way-no how impossibilities was met with a God possibility.

In each of these scenarios, there was no way through. No plot to devise. No option left. Not for people with their natural limits.

But God.

He makes the way and is the how when we face our no ways, no hows.

A friend of mine recently shared about the Lord answering her family with miracles they didn’t even know how to pray for. That is so often the case in our lives.

Sometimes our best prayer when we’re teetering on a precipice and the path has run out is “Lord, you know. I don’t. You do.” Aaaand wait. Aaaaand believe.

The Lord doesn’t just come through, He makes the “through.”

Take a look at your no way, no how. Stare it down while you balance on your tip-toes.

Your God, Our Lord, is the maker of possible. And He’s still making possibility anew.

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Maybe God Doesn’t Want Your Best

We’re an ambitious bunch.

Reach for the stars. Be all you can be. Unlock your potential.

This fits with Scripture right? Let’s see…

Noah’s greatest aspiration…probably not building an ark against all reason to survive a deadly flood.

Job. Job was successful. He did great things. And He was a Godly man. Then God let Satan mess up His life and take away His earthly possessions, loved ones, and health.

But that’s the Old Testament.

In the New Testament we meet Peter. Expert fishermen. Based on His devotion to Jesus and his faith, we can be pretty sure Peter was seeking to live a good, godly life. He ended up persecuted, jailed, and using his fishing talents on people who largely didn’t want what he was offering.

Paul was kind of a big deal. He even wrote up a whole list of why he had every reason to brag and was all set up for major success in life- as a God-fearing man. Then He met Jesus. All appearances of success and Paul reaching his earthly potential went out the window. God even gave him a thorn in the side, keeping Him weak.

About those aspirations….

Maybe God doesn’t want your best because He wants His best for you.

aspirations

The Lord we serve can use anyone and any circumstance for good. He can be glorified by teachers, celebrities, CEOs, and housewives. He can also be glorified by failures, criminals, the bed-ridden, and the crippled.

Your ability to earn top dollar and desire to use the money for good doesn’t make being CEO God’s goal for you. Your inability to read well doesn’t mean God’s plans for you don’t involve using words to share His Word.

So often we try to reason through God’s plans for us instead of submitting to and following His.

We miss out when be doubt what He prepares for us to do is even better than what we are prepared to do.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:10

What that means for you and I is this: focus less on what you believe you can be successful in and more on who He’s made you to be.

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

The Nature of Knowing

Do you know your husband’s face? Your mother’s hands? Your grandfather’s voice?

This adorable video shows how children memorize their mother’s features:

What about your loved ones’ preferences? Do you know what they are allergic too, what they colors they like, the phrases they say often? If you think about it, do you know what’s important to your best friends?

Chances are, you do.

When you love someone, you want to know them inside and out.

when-we-love-someone-we-want-to-know-them-inside-and-out

 

We can get to know God so well as we know our loved ones. We can see and hear from God through His Word.

If ever you’ve needed a reason, though you know you love God, to get into His Word, remember what His Word is to us:

His face full of features to memorize. His hand to hold. His voice to recognize and cherish. A sharing of His preferences, dislikes, and values.  The chance to learn about what He loves and what matters to Him.

Do you want to know Him better?

In Abide in Christ, Andrew Murray explains: “man seeks the knowledge first, and often, alas, never gets beyond it” (pg 62.) He goes on further, describing in essence that we like to know about God, but we often miss out on getting to know God Himself.

His Word is for both: knowing about Him, and knowing Him.

My friend Michele describes how memorizing Scripture is about memorizing the mind of God. Yes, in His Word God reveals Himself to us. When we memorize His Word, we memorize much of God Himself. Just the way we do anyone we love.

Just think! How much closer are we to the Lord when we ask Him how He feels about things and what’s going on with His plans?

What a precious gift our God is so relatable and relational.

Find a plan, or just dive in a little each day.

Carry His Word with you.

Tuck verses into your pockets.

Delve into time with Him- letting Him speak through His Word- with your loved ones.

Read a book in the Bible you haven’t before.

Choose a study version with notes.

Pause and memorize a verse that strikes you.

Write it someplace you’ll see it again and again.

Turn to His Word before making decisions.

When questions arise, consult the Lord’s Word in prayer. Ask what God says.

Spend time getting to know Him.

This is the God we get to spend forever with. Our reward in heaven is first and foremost just that: being together with God!

Why wait to begin?

We have a God who, knowing us completely, also loves to be known by us.

Amazing!

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Fighting You, For You

Sometimes we turn on ourselves.

Sometimes our loved ones have to fight us for us.

It is, for example, for their own good that we scold and discipline children for running into the road. In a similar way, we fight loved ones when they choose self-harm because we know they need to be fought for.

There’s also a battle that the Lord fights on our behalf, against us.

Read about the battle over at God-sized Dreams, where I’m honored to be guest posting today. 

theres-a-battle-that-the-lord-fights-on-our-behalf-against-us

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

But I Feel…

I can’t seem to say the words without closing my eyes. “But I feel” …like there is no good option.

Then, eyes opened too wide, I grope for words to justify the way I feel. I explain all of the reasons I’m stuck. As if I have to be convinced that my own conclusions are correct, I address each possibility.

It’s not just when I feel stuck. The words have a way of blinding my eyes and hiding my hope when I feel angry, sad, jealous, hurt, and even stubborn.

You too?

Fact: “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jer 17:9 NIV.)

God created emotions, which means they are good. Yet the seat of our emotions lies to us. Scripture never tells us to follow our hearts, but to follow the Lord. He wants what’s best for us and has the ability to lead us in that best direction. Our feelings, persuasive as they are, are subject to sin.

Fact: Feelings fell with Adam and Eve.

Ever since the fall, feelings have fallen prone to the twisting of sin. That’s how verses like “be angry and do not sin” can exist (Eph 4:26 ESV.) It isn’t wrong to feel, but feelings often tempt us to sin. Our emotions often deceive us, which is what sin is all about.

Fact: Following feelings alone is like closing our eyes and wondering why it’s dark and we’re lost.

In the seriously beautiful, convicting words of Isaiah 59 (NIV,) God describes the darkness of separation from Him. He explains how sin hides His face from us and how “feeling our way” leaves us groping for guidance and security. He goes on to speak of us “uttering lies our hearts have conceived.”

Our emotions often deceive us, which is what sin is all about.

Fact: “But I feel,” followed by submission, is a wonderful way to surrender.

The Isaiah passage ends with God declaring His coming to redeem us; His salvation for those who repent. When we allow our feelings to shut our eyes to the truth and lead us into sin, we must repent. David, over and over again in the Psalms, exemplifies this.

How often David would go before the Lord lamenting, groaning, crying out, and even rejoicing. He came with all those emotions, and David confessed them to the maker of all. We find an example in the famous words of Psalm 139 (NIV):

“Search me, God, and know my heart…

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Would you submit to the Lord with me, asking Him to search your heart, even the “buts” and the “feels?” That He would open our eyes when our feelings want to shut them and lead us in His light, His way?

Fact: He knows our hearts even when our feelings hide our hope. He, our hope and peace, is with us still. Though our feelings might shake us, He does not move (Psalm 62:5 NIV.)

Praise Him!

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

#1 Way You’re Doing It Wrong

How does a Christian grow in their faith?

We like to start by building ourselves up in the Lord when we work our praying and ministering muscles.

Another strategy is to stretch ourselves by extending our hands out to others with the love of God. We often lift our Bibles higher and higher, making them heavier and heavier as we scribble in the margins and stuff them with notes.

But the first step in the growth of Spiritual muscle takes place when the inner stuff breaks down.

The first position of the believer being strengthened is bent low on humbled knees.

strengthonknees

Growth in the Lord doesn’t begin by doing more or carrying weightier virtues and ministries.

Rather, spiritual growth originates in becoming less.

Becoming strong in the Lord requires the laying down of our bulky burdens at the cross to be free to train as our trainer leads.

“Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” never calls us to be more or greater. In fact, “be strong” can be misleading. The words translate more directly to “be strengthened” or “be empowered.” The rest of verse makes this clear.

We have to be strengthened by the the source of our strength.

To be strengthened by the Lord, kneel before Him. Heave off the weights you aren’t meant to carry. Let your Spiritual muscles be broken down by the Lord, examined, and made stronger as true muscle, earned by submission to the trainer.

Sweet relief for the weak (all of us!):

We are strong in the Lord when we grow in His mighty power, not when we’re mustering up our own.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Facing the Big “What If”

I recently had the privilege of sharing a brief devotion with a bunch of teenage girls. Weeks in advance, when I asked the Lord what He might have me say, His answer was clear: “tell them they can pour it all out to me, they can always come to me.”

The Lord never gives you a lesson to share He isn’t also going to teach you through.

I kinda forgot that.

See, I talk to God all the time. But I don’t always talk to Him like He is who He says He is.

A few hours before I shared with the girls, He got my attention. Listening to those same girls, I began listening to the Lord about what I know goes on in their lives…and what I know will go on because they are humans living in the same fallen world I am.

They (and we) are going to face a lot of “what ifs” that plunder their prayers:

What if God never has me get married?

What if God never gives me or shows me my dream job?

What if God never makes me healthy again when I get sick?

What if God never heals the broken relationships I can’t fix myself?

What if I fail?

These are valid questions, and it’s alright to ask them. There is wisdom in preparing for many “what ifs.”

But the question of “what if” can also be a positive one.

What if God actually has plans for my life?

What if God is waiting to comfort me in my struggle?

What if God loves me more than the people in my life can and wants time with me too?

What if God is a confidant and an advisor?

What if God can lean in, listen, and embolden me like (or more than!) my best friends?

 What if we believe, when we speak to God, He is listening as lovingly, patiently, kindly, perfectly, gently, and honestly as He says is in His Word?

What if we believe

In Ephesians 6, Paul encourages believers to put on the armor of God. Then He goes on to say “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Prayer is included right there in the battle plan. But notice it fits in, bound to, other pieces of armor like salvation, righteousness, and faith. Notice how God speaks elsewhere about praying with a right heart, not for our own selfish ambitions (James 4:3.)

In other passages, God tells us we must ask and believe (Matt 21:22.)

What I’ve been convicted of is this: our prayers are plundered when we don’t believe or don’t recognize exactly who it is we’re talking to.

The best place for “what if” in prayer is “what if God is really listening, really cares, and has a perfect plan?” Because He is, and it changes things when we believe Him.

At very least, praying while believing God is who He is changes our perspective from desperately attempting to persuade God to resting in the blessed assurance of Christ.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

God’s Reliability: Updating to 5.0

{This post originally appeared on My Faith Radio}

We know all too well the adrenaline rush of a beloved phone fizzling out or breaking. Updates to social media page layouts and software give us pause.

We get used to doing things a certain way and using particular tools. It’s normal to feel vulnerable, tired, lost, and frustrated when the things we have come to rely on change.

What a blessing the Lord we rely on does not change.

Just like we find to be the case with cell phones and media layouts, we know the more we rely on something, the harder it is to be apart from it.

This is tenfold with God. More than a schedule or a tool, the Lord is the ultimate helper. Relying on Him makes us more reliant on Him- and that’s a wonderful thing.

relyonthelordquote

There is nowhere like His presence. We can find no peace, no joy, nor comfort or certainty comparable to that provided by our Lord.

So it’s especially difficult and disorienting when we reach “spiritual highs”…and then wander away.

We’re prone to it. It’s in our nature. Paul laments in Romans 7:19 that “I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

Paul’s words are about more than getting convicted about the sins we clearly commit, like lying or gossiping.  Sin is also what we don’t do –like when we don’t rely on the Lord.

Jesus tells us, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

Remember when you last laid down your burdens and gratefully stepped into the freedom He gives? Do you remember the rest that you felt when you relied on the yoke of the Lord?

  • There’s no need to stumble around in the dark, even in spaces you feel you know and can navigate yourself. His Word is the light unto our paths. (Psalm 119:105)

 

  • Feeling vulnerable, as if you are without your usual sense of kindness and compassion? We’re never left exposed. He gladly clothes us with His presence. (Romans 13:14)
  • When you’re weary at work and nothing seems refreshing or worthwhile, remember that all things are for His glory. Work can be exhausting –but He renews us day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
  • Our constantly changing gadgets are no replacement for the equipping Jesus does. How simple and strong are the lasting tools given by the Lord, like the armor of God and the Word that pierces the soul. (Ephesians 6; Hebrews 4:12)

Unlike our phones and the other things we’re dependent on, God doesn’t expect us to catch up on His latest model. We can wander on back to His presence, knowing He is who He is and He’ll love and work on us as we are.

He is ever patient, always faithful, and wonderfully reliable.  

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Just For Me

As the speaker in the video wraps up her lesson, she prays. All of us in the room grow quiet, listening in. The screen grows dark and before anyone launches the discussion questions, a friend speaks up.

“Sorry you all had to sit through that,” she grins, “because that was just for me.

I know what she means.

One of the amazing abilities of our Lord is reaching out to us individually while reaching out to us all.

His sweet love and unique relationship with each of His children involves personal gifts and private moments. There are inside jokes and memories that hold us warmly, tucked into his care.

One of the kindest, more precious things the Lord has taught me is this: He doesn’t just care for me, He cares about me.


Sometimes the sunrise’s streak of gold peeking over the trees is just for me.

The weather isn’t what everyone wanted, but He did it for me. I asked last night.

Whoever donated those exact boots to the thrift store didn’t know it, but they were just for me, an unexpected gift from the Lord.

My husband’s shoulder, though not his own selection, isn’t too large or too small. It’s just right- made, I believe, just for me and my heavy head.

As I speak to God on a matter, asking a specific question, He rephrases it back to me with an answer through the song on the radio proclaiming truth I need in that moment. The lyrics are familiar, but that time, He played it just for me.

At the end of one Saturday, I am tired of struggling to surrender something to Him and I’ve grown weary from the humbling that’s been happening. The reason I press on is the commitment I’ve made to obey Him in this matter. Settling into bed, I open a book I’ve been struggling to enjoy, one I’ve grown weary of plodding through. I’m reading it only because I committed to making it all the way through.

The chapter rubs salve on my soul. Words just for me, custom shaped from an author’s keyboard to my aching heart by the Lord’s own hands.

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I open the good book, the only one I’m known to actually hug goodnight, and open to the page I left off on. This is His word, active and alive, and it quickly enfolds those feelings of fear in the triumphant embrace of the one who died just for me. Words spoken a couple thousand years ago, spoken right now to me by the same Savior.

In the words of the Isaiah 25:1, “Lord, you are my God.”

And because of Christ, I’m more than your creation. I’m your child. Do you know if you’re His child, too? As His child, do you see God’s good gifts- the just for you kind?

It’s a precious thing, that He cares so much for just me and just you.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Holding and Held

Thinking of Christ as our anchor, we often picture storms raging. Tossed about in the chaos, we think of clinging to Him. Our hands burn, grasping, struggling, to hold on. But the wonderful truth: as we’re holding, we’re also held. Our anchor is bound inseparably to our soul.

Even when we let go, the anchor’s hold is still strong. We’re still in His grip when we lose our own.

anchor holds

Likewise, as lean into the hard and heavy, forging our way along a difficult path, we’re often reaching out to see if God is there with us.

But He, in fact, goes before us, with us, and behind us.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” –Deuteronomy 31:8

“For the LORD will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” -Isaiah 52:12

If the Lord will never leave us, then indeed we are not alone. We are not forsaken by our anchor or abandoned by our guide along the unknown path. Our light will not go out nor will our protector fail to have the victory in the end.

It’s so easy…so easy. To look upon the goodness and the kindness of the Lord in wonder, and miss that the things He kindly does for us are not dependent on us.

This isn’t an excuse to live flippantly or to believe that the Lord will reward us for taking advantage of His grace. But it certainly is a comfort, and a shift in perspective we often need.

“Here is a trustworthy saying:

If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

-2 Timothy 2:11-13

Amy Carmichael once described that when the going was rough, the trouble “was His burden not mine. It was He who was asking me to share it with Him, not I who was asking Him to share it with me.”

Sweet relief.

The nature of our God is compassionate. Loving. Hopeful. Gracious. Merciful. Kind. Stable. Steady.

In all that you and I grasp at and cling to, just trying to hold on, we can know that we will not be abandoned or put to shame. We can be certain that we will never be lost, even when we lose hold.

We are held by one who does not let go, even when we do.

Praise the Lord!

(This is a song I sing along to regularly. Laura Story’s lyrics remind of the truth, comfort me, and bring me to praise. I hope it will you, too!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAAsWj-thsY

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.