Untangled in Love

I never thought I’d be one for mushy stuff. Anyone who’s heard my commentary during chick flicks knows I’m not a romantic.

But there’s this guy.

The one I moved seats to be near the first day of class. The one whose shenanigans had my head and finger wagging from the start. The one who asked me to date him after I spent hours telling him every reason not to love me. The one who led me to my Savior.

His eyes were fixed on Christ even as he took my hand in his. I thank the Lord he has little regard for any other sight.

During more than 6 years of knowing each other now, I’ve witnessed a faith-skill of his I pray the Lord helps me hone as my own.

He’s an expert disentangler.

Ironically, this only applies spiritually. When it comes to being entangled physically, he’s got a knack for being wound up in cords, having limbs stuck in furniture, nearly strangling himself with ties, and being unable to remove himself from places he climbs into (AKA…dryers.) Some evidence:

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Spiritually, though, my husband is quick and nimble to:

“throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” –Hebrews 12:1

What I’ve noticed most in his way of staying free and ready to obey the Lord is an attention to who He is serving. 2 Timothy 2:26 warns of being enticed into entanglement in the enemy’s snare. The verse says our enemy captures us for the purpose of having us do his will.

We are never entangled in sin for the purpose of serving God.

So, when we are entangled, we’re serving the will of the enemy.  It might be through self-serving or through people-pleasing. We may be money-driven or fear-abiding. Whatever the case, when we’re entangled, we’re not fixed on the purposes of Christ.

This is one of the ways my husband’s “black and white” thinking helps.

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He isn’t easily entangled because His eyes are fixed on Christ intently. He notices when he is looking at someone else. He notices when what he’s doing isn’t serving the Lord.

And when he notices, he turns from the dark to the light. He shifts his eyes to Christ. He throws off whatever is bidding him to pay attention to or serve anything else. Whatever it is, it’s not worth missing out on beholding the Lord.

I’m blessed when he helps with my writing because I know he won’t fail to point out words that hinder instead of help the gospel. As I analyze, assess, and plan in life I am grateful to have by my side someone with foresight and discretion regarding the Lord’s will.

Among the most precious aspects of our marriage is my husband’s habit of getting my attention to direct me to Our Lord -who has his attention.

He hates to be entangled, and he hates to see me tied in knots too.

Praying this Valentine’s Day you and your loved ones can help each other disentangle to fix your eyes on the One who matters most.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope, #DreamTogetherLinkup, #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #LiveFreeThursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

How Facebook Made Me a Secret Admirer

Do you remember the middle school concept?

When someone left notes in our friend’s locker signed “your secret admirer,” there were usually lines about wanting to know her more or how great she was. We would all embark on a quest to discover the identity of her secret admirer. It was somewhere between inspiringly sweet and super awkward; some unknown person out there really appreciated her.

That’s where I’m at. Somewhere between inspiringly sweet and super awkward.

My Facebook feed features friends, acquaintances, and followers. Over time, I learn about these virtual connections’ lives and character. I promise I don’t go stalking- this stuff shows up on my timeline!

There’s the girl I barely knew, whose friends were friends of my friends. She took a big leap of faith years ago. I am regularly encouraged watching God honor her choice as the story slowly unfolds on my Facebook timeline.

Or there’s the fellow student I loosely associated with as friends overlapped, who I never thought much about at the time. I regularly wish we were closer because as her story slowly unfolds on my Facebook timeline, I so identify with and admire her approach to the challenges and joys she faces.

When I stumble across posts by another friend of a friend I met twice for a few minutes, I sometimes want to leave comments as if we’re good friends ourselves. We’re not. I just love her sweet personality and how she radiates Christ’s love online through everyday life stuff.

I could keep going.

My list of “admireds” is long.

It makes me wonder, on my bravest days, if I should drop a note in their virtual box. If I should walk through the awkward of flattering-creepy and let these people know that the Lord uses their ordinary, everyday Facebook sharing to encourage my heart.

I haven’t decided yet.

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God..png

But I’ll leave this here for all of us admirers and admireds:

When you share online, people notice. Maybe not the people you expect. Maybe without ever commenting or liking. But people notice how you’re living your life. When you’re living it for Him, it’s so obvious. I am awed by our Lord through much of what people share about Him in their daily lives. It’s so powerful…

…Enough to make this shy, awkward, introvert a secret admirer who “thanks the Lord every time I think of you,” courtesy of my Facebook feed.

Facebook might not seem like a place for testimony, but let me tell you, I see God using it for His glory everyday. 

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

I’d love for you to guest post on First and Second! Especially for an upcoming series…more here.

Is Christmas Biblical?

“Celebrate annually the coming of Christ. Make it a time of beauty, family, and tradition. Put up lights and a tree. Watch many movies. Gorge yourself on treats. Be happy every day of the season. In so doing, you will glorify the Lord.”

– 1 Snickerdoodle 3 (AKA not in the Bible!)

The Bible never tells us to celebrate Christmas. In fact, Scripture warns us about traditions like celebrating holidays. “For the sake of your tradition (you have) made void the word of God” (Matthew 15:6). In another verse, the Bible references “hollow traditions.”

How many of those do we have?

Christmas is full of traditions that have very little to do with God. Few of us can connect Christmas trees to Christ. Fewer the concept of decorating gingerbread houses or dressing up in fancy outfits to attend parties blaring music about Rudolph and Santa.

Does that mean celebrating Christmas is unbiblical?

Probably not.

God offers plenty of examples of commanding, embracing, and rejoicing over celebrations.

Whether or not the celebration of Christmas is biblical has a lot to do with how and why we celebrate –and even more to do with what’s in our hearts.

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Some of the main hallmarks of traditional Christmases are Biblical, but we must be careful.

  1. The Spirit of Giving

God loves a cheerful giver” –2 Corinthians 9:7

Gifts are one of the first things that most people think of when they think of Christmas. In Scripture, we find the ultimate example of giving. Christ, in coming to save us, gave Himself up for us. God, in sending Christ, gave His only son to save us.

All throughout Scripture we find examples of giving. God gives good gifts. Christ gives peace and joy. We are encouraged to give with the understanding that all that we are and all that we have is Christ’s. It’s a joy to give of His plenty and in His love!

The Risk: For many, Christmas gifts are about getting. For many others, gifts are stressful, accompanied by the frustration of selection and people-pleasing. Over-spending also undermines the “cheerful” part of what makes this part of Christmas at all Biblical.

  1. The Celebration of Christ’s Coming

“Celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” –Psalm 145:7

Christmas, when it comes down to it, is a celebration of Christ’s coming! This whole time of festivity and adornment and gathering is in His name. It is to be a time of praising Him and beholding in wonder all that He has done, is doing, and will do.

Some of us praise Him with lights that shine like He does. Others by baking cookies as sweet as His kindness while enjoying the company of people He’s given them. Make the connection between these joyful traditions and the joy of our Savior.

The Risk: Christ often gets only an “honorable mention” around the massive celebration of His birth. Much of the celebrating- many decorations, traditions, songs, etc., have nothing to do with Him. That’s fine. Not everything we do needs to be deeply impactful. But we must be careful not to miss the point. That means prioritizing accordingly and not focusing on the world’s offerings above our awe of the Lord.

  1. The Gathering of Loved Ones

“Love one another with brotherly affection” Romans 12:10

The true Gospel of Scripture is as personal as it is corporate. We are all loved by Christ, and we are all precious to Christ. There is no division in the body of Christ, but the unity of love. Christmas is a time of gathering with loved ones to praise Him with those in the body and point those who are not to the One eager to welcome them with open arms and make them new.

The Risk: All too many a Christmas gathering is obligatory and exclusive. Many of us take the social aspect of Christmas for granted, settling for fun, comfortable, and casual. We neglect to realize the significance of sharing His love with those who are familiar and unfamiliar. We must not turn from God’s desire for us to make the most of every opportunity and to build one another up.


Of all times of the year to be living for Christ’s glory, Christmas offers a special opportunity to rejoice in and serve the Lord.

Celebrating Christmas Biblically means celebrating it as those sustained, filled, and loved by the One we celebrate. Watch out for the easy pitfalls that turn the celebration into less than it truly is.

Lord- let us mind our hearts while we celebrate yours! 

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

 

Waiting Isn’t Passive

Our days and lives are filled with waiting. For good, for bad, for new, for people, for change. Waiting is a God-designed practice.

However, as the worn, torn magazines in waiting rooms around the world can attest, patience in the waiting isn’t a natural virtue.

Waiting makes some of us crazy.

In fact, I’m pretty sure if God wanted to test us before we entered heaven to see how much we learned on earth, my exam would be “Sit right here. He’ll call you when He’s ready.”

I’d be pacing the clouds, trying to get through to the Lord via the prayer line: “Hello God. You brought me here. This is the appointment you set. How is it you are not on time?!”

What maddens me most about waiting is the helpless feeling of having no control over what’s going on. Waiting seems passive, and I am not passive.

Truthfully though, waiting isn’t a passive process.

Much like active listening, active waiting is a participatory activity.

Active waiting looks like this:

  • Preparing
  • Anticipating
  • Hoping
  • Being brave and courageous
  • Watching

These are words God features in His Word. They are spoken by God in reference to His call to wait.

With a brief look at what God says about waiting, I’m finding the idea “godly waiting” means sitting quietly doing nothing while completely at peace is just plain wrong.

We shouldn’t wait on the Lord feigning patience.

We can actively wait, participating as God does with a patience that anticipates.

His example of waiting isn’t glamorous or easy, but it’s clear:

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” –2 Peter 3:9

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Waiting isn’t about speed or suffering, but being purposeful.

God’s waiting is done with the perfect, purposeful patience of One who knows the wait is worth it.

God believes you and I are worth waiting for- that all people still coming to repentance are worth the wait.

In waiting, He does not sit idly by. He exposes our need for repentance and brings us to it. He offers forgiveness. He enjoys transforming every person up until the last one He is waiting on.

With God, waiting isn’t about the end, but about the beginning.

We wait as those preparing, anticipating, hoping, being brave, and watching carefully because there are new beginnings brought about by the Lord Himself.

It doesn’t matter if you’re waiting on good news or bad. Whether you’re waiting for dreams to be realized or simply for something to change. Maybe you feel all that’s left to wait for is an end of some sort.

Wait assured: God has a beginning ready for you and your “not yet” time is not a wasted time. Instead, your waiting is participation in God’s plan for your life. No sitting on hands required- they have a big job to do praying. No self-muttering needed- you have Someone waiting with you.

He’s demonstrated it for all of time to know: waiting is a purposeful place of peace, joy, and growth for the faithful.

This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Marital Spats and God’s Plan (Giveaway)

**Giveaway details at the end of the post!**

The day our premarital counseling workbook began addressing arguments, my husband and I were relieved. We have always been really good at arguing. It’s one of our unexpected spiritual gifts (ha!) We even told the pastor counseling us.

He was surprised.

Apparently, most couples get married believing they’ll always just get along or are caught up in love to the point that arguing has yet to cross their minds.

Not us. The Lord uniquely blessed us with plenty of practice disagreeing early on.

I mean it. The Lord gifted us with arguments.

My husband and I learned from the Lord Himself to argue well and to resolve issues to His glory. We have been taught to fight- for each other. The Lord has allowed us to experience strife- teaching us to strive to discern the Lord’s will despite our own propensities for sin.

Arguing can be to God’s glory too.

When we learn to disagree in a godly way, we learn to work in unity with the Lord to live according to His will. 

That’s what The Blessings of Unity by Richard Case is about. I really enjoyed the book’s no-nonsense approach to the topic.

Married to Linda for more than 45 years, Case offers Biblical insight into one of God’s primary commands for husbands and wives: to cleave to one another. Case puts the command in context: not only is cleaving in marriage important, but it is also part of the unity of the body of Christ.

As Case says on page 35, “unity is brought about by our desire to pursue God.” We ought to seek this sort of unity in Christ’s body as the church and as couples.

The Blessings of Unity provides comprehensive Bible study examining several angles and forms of unity. I’ve never encountered a topical marriage book so structured around passages of Scripture.

Each chapter addresses challenges and strategies for unity in the context of living by God’s Word.

Being aligned with the Holy Spirit is another main theme throughout The Blessings of Unity. Case explains: “The same one Holy Spirit in me is also in my spouse…our decisions can always go to unity with the Spirit when we are willing to hear what the Spirit has to say” (pg 42.)

Insightful points like these are packed in tightly.

If there is a criticism of this book, it is also a warning: The book is dense to the point of disorganization. You will find extensive, helpful, Biblical truth throughout, but you will have to work to put it all together in a memorable format for yourself.

I imagine spouses would benefit from reading the book individually and discussing it informally, as it’s not clearly organized for shared study. Retreat or study leaders are also likely to find essential truth in The Blessings of Unity, but should expect to create their own more organized materials for teaching and discussion.

Certainly useful and supported by substantial Bible lessons, The Blessings of Unity is an important reference guide for those involved personally or professionally in the work of more faithfully pursuing God through marital relationships.

Find a copy here.


GIVEAWAY of THE BLESSINGS OF UNITY:

  1. Leave a comment on this blog post
  2. Be sure to include your email address in the private form for commenting
  3. Comment by 11pm EST Monday, November 21st.
  4. I’ll randomly select a winner on Tuesday, November 22nd and notify you by email if you won! You will then receive a free copy in the mail. 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”


BONUS GIVEAWAY: All For Jesus eBook

If you’d like a practical 6-page eBook on living an unshakable life, you can grab it here.


This post may also be shared on: #MomentsofHope #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #Heart Ecnouragement, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Lie 4: Sin Can Be Conquered by Effort

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Submit by October 30th if you want to be featured in a guest post exposing sin’s lies to God’s Word in this 8 part series)

We’d like to believe sin can be conquered by our efforts. The enemy of our souls takes advantage of our desire to be victors, presenting us with the lie:

You can defeat sin if you try hard enough.

Wrong. Christ already defeated sin.

We are just responsible for resisting the sore loser roaming the battlefield, picking the lesser fights he can still win.

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The sore loser tries to win his little games by tempting us to use just our own weaponry. He challenges us about our own skills, distracting us from reliance on the One who has already beat him.

Case Study: Insecurity

Insecurity can be a sin when it dismisses God’s handiwork. Insecurity also seems like something we ought to tackle on our own. We think if we change our outlook, we’ll stop sinning against God wit hour insecurity.

Changing our outlook by effort alone is futile. How can we overcome insecurity if all the methods we go through use our own insecurities? Self-help books and compliments from other people only do so much.

Our behavior might shift, but our hearts need something more. Eventually, forcing ourselves to “feel” secure wears us out and makes us paranoid. Trying to change by our own strength is exhausting and ineffective.

To defeat the sin of insecurity we need a source of security. We need one with the power to defeat sin as it cripples us.

We need Christ’s strength, the Spirit’s leadership, and God’s armor to fully conquer anything.

Paul explains, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23.) Sin’s effect on human nature ensures our efforts to be good and defeat sin fall short. It ensures our insecurities exist for a reason- we don’t have absolute security in ourselves.

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“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus said of human effort’s sufficiency.

“There is only One who is good,” He explained, pointing out that God alone does not fall short (Matthew 19:17.)

Only God measures up to the glory of God.

Only God’s security is completely secure.

The solution, the bridge from “fallen short” to “all fullness of God,” is always Christ.

He is the only One whose efforts are enough to defeat sin.

God never suggests we enter battle armed with behavior change, healthier outlooks, or improved ideologies. But all throughout Scripture, God does calls us to the One who defeats sin.

Don’t skip ignorantly past the “only One who is good”, don’t bypass God’s “through.”

Through Christ we are transformed. Through Him we can do all things. Through Him we can boast in God. Through Him we are cleansed. Through the Spirit living in us….

Greater is He who is living in us than he who is living in the world.

It’s isn’t by effort we are changed into conquerors, but by surrender to Christ that we are transformed into those who can stand firm through the fight of faith. We stand firm because the war is won.

As G. Campbell Morgan phrased it,

We are not fighting the central battle, we are simply doing the skirmishing of administration. Armageddon was won on Calvary. Think of it, dear heart, and remember it sometimes.”*

The pressure is off. Your sin, even as a believer, will be defeated by resisting the temptation of life by your own effort and surrendering instead to the efforts of the Holy Spirit in you.

Surrender. Rely. Go through.

Thank the Lord…

We don’t have to fall short of the glory of God. By falling on Christ in the battle with sin, we fall on the glory of God Himself.

*The Simple Things of the Christian Life. Pg 45.

Submissions for this series’ conglomerate guest post are due October 30th! Excited!

Click HERE…old posts on sin are welcome too : )

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.

Word of the Week: Direct

Earlier this week, Carly shared about trusting in plans. She realized her “planning was not enough” and that she “needed God to…make it come together.”

The verse she wrote about is a challenging one:

Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ” –Proverbs 3:5-6

To not lean on our own understanding is to not depend on manmade schemes and rationalizations over what the Lord teaches. This involves leaving space for His leading and work when we’d rather do it all on our own.

Likewise, to acknowledge Him in all our ways is to recognize, glorify, and seek Him with all our lives and being.

God directing our paths?

This is where I start to beam and where I recognize that the plans I make for my path make a mess.

In this context, the word direct refers to the work of the Lord as He is….

  • Smoothing out
  • Straightening up
  • Setting aright
  • Making agreeable

…our paths.

There’s One Way folks, and we know Him. The path is narrow and it does not change. He has one plan for each of our lives, and He planned it a long time ago.

When we read that He will direct our paths, God isn’t coaching us through a course still being conceived. He’s going ahead of us. Straightening up the messes we spread ahead for ourselves. He’s smoothing out the bumps we trip over when we’re caught up in plotting our own steps. His work evening out the surface keeps us from slipping.

He makes the road we walk more agreeable.

He does go on ahead of us, just as Deuteronomy 31:8 says.

When we acknowledge God and follow the Lord, we walk in the way He prepared for us. We set aside our plans, messy as they are, to enjoy what He has planned out for us.

His plans, despite our mess, He has straightened up, smoothed out, righted, and made pleasing according to the plans He has also prepared for us. His good, perfect plans.

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

In Planning We Trust

{The tenth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

For open words on life, faith, and the unfailing love of the Lord, visit Carly over at Life In The Spacious Place. So grateful for Carly's honesty and simple, plain truth-telling way. 
carlypro

All my life I have been a planner.  I was always the child who had their homework done on time, who had everything they needed with them, who saw all the detail in a situation and kept others organised.

As a teenager, before a family holiday to Disney World, I even read a guidebook and created a detailed plan of exactly which order to go on the rides and attractions in order to minimize queuing and make the most of the day!

I didn’t like the feeling when things were out of control, and planning became a way to combat that.

As I got older I learned to relax a bit and accept that life doesn’t always go according to plan, but sometimes the desire to find control through planning can still kick in.

Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

I have learned to trust God, but I struggle to trust him with all my heart.  It is easy to divide my trust between God and my own planning.

I realised last year that this was an issue.  Part of my work is organising camps and events for young people and it was becoming increasingly stressful.  The week leading up to an event would be filled with sleepless nights, while the days would be a frantic flurry of photocopying, of thinking up wet weather alternatives and creating back-up plans for every eventuality in case other people didn’t do what they were meant to do.

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I’d have said I was trusting God, but really I was relying far too much on my own planning and that was the root of the stress.  The worst thing was that other people were beginning to rely on me for everything too, which only added to the pressure.

Fortunately God had a plan to address this.

Part 1 of the plan was that I forgot something for an event, which I realise is not as earth-shattering as it seemed at the time.  I couldn’t understand how it had happened but I’m convinced that God was behind it.  I had written a list of everything we needed and triple-checked it.  It seemed impossible that I could have forgotten something, especially something obvious and important.

It was embarrassing and it was an inconvenience to sort out, but God definitely worked it for good.  It showed me, and others, that I was not invincible, I learned that others would show me grace, and I realised that we could deal with the situation and it wasn’t the end of the world.

Part 2 of God’s plan was thrusting me into leadership in a situation so completely chaotic that I hadn’t a hope of being in control.  There were too many unknowns, too many factors that depended on other people, too many difficulties that could never have been foreseen.  Every time I felt I was making progress something else would go wrong.  There was no way my planning was going to fix it and I had to accept that from the start.

It made me look to God: to seek him, to truly learn to rely on prayer rather than planning, to let my first response be turning to God instead of finding my own solution.

It forced me to admit that I couldn’t deal with it myself- that my planning was not enough but I needed God to bring order from the chaos and make it come together.

It allowed me to see God’s power and faithfulness as he did just that (at the last possible moment, which really exercised my faith!) and I knew that in the end, the successful result was all down to him and not to me.

Planning is still something that comes naturally to me, but I don’t want it to be an idol, or the place I put my trust.  These verses from Proverbs remind me that my trust has to be firmly in God and that it is his plan I should be seeking and trusting him to lead me.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.  (Proverbs 16:9)

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.(Proverbs 19:21)

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.  (Proverbs 16:3)

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

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

Word of the Week: Works

Solomon declared that all of his works brought only vanity and vexation. He drew for us the conclusion that none of our works are meaningful under the sun. Later, He encourages us to enjoy what we do for God approves of those who fear Him and keep His commandments.

But in all this, Solomon wasn’t just talking about occupation.

“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” –Ecclesiastes 2:11

In other translations, this verse is rendered without the word “works.” Some simply say “all that my hands had done.” Other translate “All of my activities.”

As Ashlee suggested in her guest post about trusting in a job, “works” can be defined as many things.

The definition of “works” in this context is a long list, including descriptors like:

  • Accomplishments
  • Achievements
  • Business
  • Arts
  • Activities
  • Actions
  • Labors
  • Practices
  • Yields
  • Things

Things is actually on there.

Our “works” are our “things.” They are what we do throughout our days.

Your “thing” of cleaning house?

Your “thing” of making others smile?

Your “thing” of mastering a lesson?

They all count.

Remember the famous, freeing words?

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

The definition of works here is very similar.

None of the things we carry out on earth earn us meaning, worth, or eternal profit under the sun. Can’t earn those. That’s all the free gift of God in Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful for that. Because if I’m honest, it gets tiresome trying to build myself up creating some great profit or meaning out of the cleaning, the smiling, and the learning. These all have their role under the sun and they all have a place in my life.

But all the “more” I seek is found in Him. All the gain comes in Christ alone. Fearing Him and enjoying what he provides is enough.

So my works can just be things. They don’t have to be more than that. I don’t have to work on my works being more meaningful. What a relief!

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

In Avoidance We Trust

{The eighth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Honored to welcome writer Elizabeth Giertz to the blog. A veteran turned army wife, Liz is a strong and courageous proclaimer of the Lord's goodness and truth. This post was originally featured on Liz’s blog and is shared in this series with her permission. Please join me in welcoming Liz and praying with her for those who serve to protect us and our freedom (and those who love them!)

liz profile pic

I laced up my boots and straightened my starched uniform every morning as I left for work before the sun rose above the horizon. I was a Soldier and a combat veteran.

Strong. Confident. Competent.

But I packed a MESSY secret deep in my cargo pockets.

I couldn’t shake the thought of a black sedan with government tags pulling up in front of my town house and dress uniform wearing Soldiers knocking on my door. My heart pounded and my stomach was tied in knots. For months on end, I did everything within my power to be anywhere but home during official notification hours.

If your spouse has been deployed in a combat zone, this scenario might sound familiar.

But for me, common fear crossed the line into unhealthy anxiety.

avoidancewetrust2

By the grace of God, my husband came home from that deployment unscathed, but my experience uncovered an uncomfortable truth in my heart.

My faith had been tested and found insufficient. I lacked confidence that God would take care of me if something should happen to my husband. I was consumed by fear because my the roots of my faith were shallow.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation?

A lack of trust often presents itself as worry, fear, anxiety, discouragement, or a constant desire to fix things our own way.

I believed in God and knew that His son was sacrificed for my salvation, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. Believing in God and trusting Him are not necessarily synonymous. To trust Him, we must know Him – like a Friend, Father, Protector, Sovereign Lord, and Redeemer. To establish a strong relationship with Him we must read His love letters and communicate with Him in prayer.

My faith had to be more than an entry on my dog tags.

To find peace in troubling times trust God.

Instead of being consumed by my earthly needs, I learned to seek God’s Kingdom and then trust Him to provide all that I require for righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

In place of fretting I began to pray and give thanks (Philippians 4:6-7) even for the smallest of blessings, acknowledging that all goodness comes from above.

Rather than agonizing over the possibility that I would suffer unspeakable pain, I trusted God would never leave nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) no matter what happened, because He is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

In lieu of allowing worry to consume me, I began to cast my cares on the Lord, knowing that He cares for me more than I can imagine (1 Peter 5:7).

Friends, it works.

Since instituting these practices into my life, I have not experienced a single moment of all-consuming anxiety during any of my husband’s more recent deployments. In fact, I have learned to look forward to deployments as periods of significant spiritual growth, but that is another post altogether.

I replaced worry with trust.

This I know, that God is for me.

In God, whose word I praise,

In the Lord, whose Word I praise,

In God I trust, I shall not be afraid.

Psalm 56:9-11

Will you join me? Together, let’s commit to trusting God so that the enemy cannot steal one more second of the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

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