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.
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Lie 6: Some Sin Doesn’t Count

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the whole series here.)

We like to restrict God’s definition of sin to make it more manageable.

God doesn’t define sin manageable as just “doing bad stuff,” or “making mistakes.” God says sin is a condition we’re born into. Scripture uses words like infection and impurity to describe how sin permeates not only us, but the world we live in (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 8:22.)

We minimize sin when we act like it’s a condition we can keep under control.

The lie goes like this:

This particular sin isn’t that bad, it doesn’t count.

But in truth, all sin is an offense to God, which damages, if nothing else, our walk with Him.

Often the sins we don’t really “count” are those with subtle or unseen consequences. We figure sin is only really bad if someone gets hurt.

On the flipside of that logic, we believe avoiding the temptation to sin should be profitable for us.

We end up repeating the words Elihu warns against in Job 35:3:

“You ask him, ‘What profit is it to me,

and what do I gain by not sinning?’”

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When we think like this about sin and what counts as sin, we put a price on righteousness. We value honoring God based on the scales of self.

Case Study: Little White Lies

God says we never have to sin and never ought to.

Yet we are all tempted to tell white lies. They smooth things over, make people feel good, and prevent discomfort.

Essentially, telling a little white lie tends to gain us a whole lot more than being honest appears to.  So we value the self-benefit over the God-honoring truth.

Along the way, we often figure white lies hardly count. After all, we’ve appraised them as such.

Honoring God isn’t about our gain, but His. His appraisal of sin is more important than our valuation of the benefits of doing right or wrong. 

Imagine if Jesus acted as we do! It’s sobering to imagine Jesus diminishing “little sins” and “not counting them” because their consequences aren’t “that bad.”

1 John 1:9 shows us Jesus did not have an attitude of belittling sin.

Rather, Jesus addressed sin head on and with complete assurance:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…

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Would we want Jesus to “miss a spot” when He cleanses us? Would we want to settle for “only” the important parts being redeemed?

Jesus takes stock of our every sin, even the ones we wish didn’t count. He appraises them with just a glance: sin = needs cleansing. Then He turns them all white as snow.

Jesus isn’t satisfied to get us mostly clean. He isn’t one to “miss a spot.”

We have no reason to think He ought to. His cleansing is more than enough, and His grace is sufficient.

Even the “little” sins that hardly seem to count are important enough to Christ for Him to save us from them. He transforms the worst and the “not so bad” into the best for God’s glory.

Let your sin, glaring and subtle, be seen by the One eager to forgive and redeem.

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.

 

Confession: I’m Not a Fan of Devotions

Soul H2O Launch Team

My love-hate relationship with devotions started in college. It was my first time immersed in a Christianese culture. I didn’t know much about Jesus, and I didn’t care about the Gospel. I just wanted to be a good person and prove myself worthy to the God I didn’t understand.

In waltzed a dorm-mate one day, announcing she was about to do her “devos.” The word weirded me out.

Since those early days and eventually getting to know Jesus as my Savior, devotions still aren’t my thing.

For me, many devotionals are frustrating because they: 

  • Preach Christian psychology or self-help instead of the Scripture I need
  • Tackle huge topics that get me thinking, but offer no resolution or practical application
  • Are super wordy, in which case just give me a whole book
  • Build day by day, and I’m not that regimented
  • Are bulky, funky, hard covers that I’m too lazy to haul around with me for daily time
  • Tempt me to worship the devotional habit instead of worshipping God

My list says a lot about me and my shortcomings.

But it also speaks volumes about one of the rare devotionals I enjoy!

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I love this devotional book- it’s the exception to most of my “anti-devotional” issues.

Soul H2O, by Sherry Stahl, is a Biblical, digestible, concise companion for straight-up Bible studying and for ordinary life.

Each devotion is 1-2 short pages. The book is soft cover, and it fits in purses, backpacks, and my car’s glovebox. You don’t have to read it every day to keep up.

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Best of all, each devotion is simple. Instead of overwhelming me, Sherry’s words just refresh. They function like the title suggests: to quench thirst for good news from the Lord.

For example, devotional #4 refers to taking “every thought captive” to Christ.

Sherry then goes on to exhort: “Choose today which thoughts you’ll play on the record player of your mind.” The devotion centers on how our thoughts repeat. The thought is simple, Biblical, and gave me practical encouragement to walk with the Lord that day.

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Each of the devotions begins with a Bible verse. Short paragraphs with brief relatable anecdotes and simple life-applicable points about the verse follow. Sherry concludes with a brief prayer and references for additional verses if you’d like to study the Word yourself.

What I appreciate most about Soul H2O is its focus:

Instead of being about big life changes and heavy topics, Soul H2O offers basic life sustenance.

Such a simple blessing, but so important. That’s why this devotion has so blessed me. It’s a cool drink to refresh my Spirit and remind me of the simple vitality the Lord offers us day by day.

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All that to say, I’m grateful to have been part of Sherry’s launch team. It is a joy to recommend Soul H2O to you. Whether you love devotionals or can’t stand them, this one is for you. Soul H2O will refresh your spirit, make you smile, and bring you to praise.

To find a copy of Soul H2O, visit Sherry’s website here.

** I received this book free from the publisher, Word Alive Press, when I joined Sherry’s launch team. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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 5: Your Sin Isn’t Your Fault

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Read the rest here.)

We like to dismiss our sins as being someone else’s fault.

After all, so many sins are committed against every one of us. Every marriage between two sinners has hurts due to sin. Children suffer the natural consequences of their parents’ sins. It’s not hard to accurately blame others for hurting us, misleading us, and tempting us to our own sins.

But we must be careful.

To keep us from facing our own sin, evil deceitfully redirects us to others’ sins.

Yet each of us will give a personal account to God (Romans 14:12.)

We will not be held accountable for the sins committed against us, but we are responsible for the sins we commit in response. It’s important to spot the difference.

The issues we face when we fail to recognize our own responsibility for sin include:

  • A lack of knowing who to or how to forgive
  • Refusing to change though Christ has made the way
  • Excusing our sins instead of asking forgiveness
  • Maintaining only a narrow view of God’s grace
  • Resisting transformation by our Lord

Not only do we tend to remain in the bonds of sin when we cast the blame on others’ issues and ignore our own, but we also perpetuate our own sin.

Case Study: Anxiety

A parent constantly belittling a child can do great harm. It’s not surprising when children who are mistreated like this grow up to be anxious as they question their worth and abilities.

God will hold parents who mistreat their children accountable.

Likewise, believers whose anxieties direct their steps, even if their anxiety is rooted in childhood maltreatment, will also be held accountable. We are not on the hook for a parent’s mistreatment, nor for reacting as a human does. But we are responsible for sinning against God ourselves by letting anxiety be a master.

Understanding what we are accountable for is essential for dealing with sin effectively.

To excuse sin on the basis of victimization is to make too little of God -and too much of the power of sins committed against us.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness-2 Corinthians 12:9

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Sins we commit because of sins committed against us are a picture of the weakness Paul refers to.

It wasn’t Paul who put the thorn in his own side. But it was Paul who had the choice to lean, aching, into the sufficiency of the grace of God instead of choosing to act out of his hurt.

That’s what we’re accountable for regarding sin- our thoughts, our attitudes, our choices. What we begin, and what we perpetuate.

Scripture tells us God holds us accountable for our hidden faults, the sins we have trouble discerning in ourselves (Psalm 19:12.)

God divides soul and spirit, He alone “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12.)

The truth is intimidating. We truly are without excuse.

Sin really is a choice we each make,

not something we can pass off as someone else’s fault.

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Praise the Lord we aren’t stuck in judgement. We know the verdict.

Taking responsibility for our sin gives us the ownership needed to bring it before Christ and be forgiven. Taking responsibility for what we can control -us- is a sure way to the grace of God.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence,” Hebrews 4:16 continues.

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We don’t approach with confidence because we are faultless, victimized, or progressing well in the sanctification process.

No, we approach God’s throne with confidence because of who He is, knowing that He who holds us perfectly accountable through Christ also intends for us to: “receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

When the temptation is tied to things that aren’t our fault, it’s hard to step up and say “no.” Sin tempts us at our weakest.

Praise the Lord- He breaks the chains that tell us someone else decided for us. Because of Christ, it’s never too late to be free to live assured in Him!

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.

 

Lie 3: Sin Defines You

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Join me in exposing sin’s lies to God’s Word in this 8 part series.)

We more or less have a Sunday School answer memorized to counteract this lie: Christ defines who I am.

But when it comes it to living it- predisposition often wins.

Predisposition is a subtle form of deceit. It preys on our tendencies, including the tendency to believe that what is is all that will be. Not only do we fear change, we reject the notion it’s really possible.

So the lie forms and we believe it: my sin defines me.

Meanwhile, God says we have the option to be transformed.

Take back the truth.

We are born into sin, but through Christ we can be born again- out of sin.

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There’s no need to keep reliving old sins as if they are more powerful than the salvation Christ has given you.

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Case Study: Shame

The consequences David faced for His sin were dire-a beloved son died. A nation saw their king’s shame.  His circumstances were (publicly!) defined by a sinful choice he had made.

But David knew he still had a choice. He took control over what he still had control: his next choice. To sin or not to sin. To continue in his shame, allowing it to define Him, or turn to God for renewal and restoration.

Choosing to turn to God, David responded with the words of Psalm 51:10:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
     and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

You and I can’t get clean on our own. We can’t redefine ourselves using our own sin-stained hands. 

Sin will continue to follow us around, slinging mud, calling us dirty, claiming us as its own. When we make a mess trying to “redefine” ourselves, sin only seems all the more irremovable.

But God.

Who can cleanse us from our sin?

Who can make us whole again?

Who can clothe us, dressing us in white?

None but Christ.

Asking God to define our identities for us means telling sin it doesn’t have the authority to make our next choices for us. Exposing the lie that sin defines us requires immovable faith in a Sunday School answer:

Christ alone has the power to not only wash our hearts clean, but give us new hearts. Christ alone redefines us, predisposing us to stainlessness instead of sin.   

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…looking for your thoughts to add to the Sin Lies Series!

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.

Lie 2: Your Sin is Special

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Join me in exposing sin’s lies to God’s Word in this 8 part series.)

We don’t like to talk about our sin because we think people will judge us.

So we believe a lie that keeps us isolated and alone, one that falsely inflates our egos.

We believe our sin is special.

Convinced people won’t understand why we sin, we hide it. After all, they don’t know what leads us to make our choices. Despite what the old adage suggests, nobody, by walking a mile in another person’s shoes, knows the feel of the fit on the shoe owner’s feet.

It’s true- we are all individual people, with individual accounts to give before God. But when our individualized sin appears to be what’s special about us, we have a problem.

The inflation makes it seem as though our sins and our identities are one in the same. This lie makes a mess of our relationships, our concept of honesty, and our sense of shame. It makes a mess of us, melding us into people who hold sin in high regard.

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When we believe our sins are special, then:

  • Talking about them is risky
  • Our excuses seem valid
  • Others can’t get close to our real, imperfect selves
  • Sin’s isolating effect is falsely normalized
  • Sin looks way bigger than it is
  • We compare our sins
  • The forgiver of our sins seems under-equipped
Case Study: Comparison

Comparison suggests our sins are "special" because they are too little or too much.

We hesitate to tackle our sins when they seem so much worse than those around us face. At the same time, we sometimes excuse our sins when we compare our failings to the “bigger” sins of people we know.

Comparing our sins’ to others can entice us to blame others for our errors, minimize or exaggerate our own sins, and judge other people for theirs’.

Comparison is just another way sin deceives us about the special and personal quality of forgiveness by Christ. 

God is a knower of hearts. He knows more about our hearts than even we do. As He forms our hearts, He calls them special, good, and precious in His sight.

God believes we’re special.

Notice: it is not our sin He calls special. It’s us.

His proclamation of our value is demonstrated in this: Jesus sent His son to die for us, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life- freely (John 3:16.) It is for freedom Christ has set us free (John 8:36.)

Our freedom to be especially who He made us to be is humbling and precious.

We are uniquely created by Him and for Him- sin is a condition He didn’t choose for us and will remove for us.

Because we are special to Him, He takes special care to deal with our unique sin, forgiving these hearts He knows so well.

Call out the lie that seeks to enslave: sin isn’t unique. God is.

We are His, and He calls us special too.

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Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…looking for your thoughts to add to the Sin Lies Series!

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.

 

Lie 1: Sin Doesn’t Matter That Much

(A series on lies sin tells us to tempt us and trick us. Join me in exposing sin’s lies to God’s Word in this 8 part series.)

If we’re honest, we’d like to pretend sin doesn’t exist.

One of the greatest obstacles people face when considering salvation is admitting they are sinners.

As believers, we often avoid owning up to this fact. Having dealt with sin once and for all at the point of salvation, we’re glad it’s over with. Saved, we go on our merry way, regularly ignoring our sinfulness because we believe we’re good people.

Scripture refers to sin as “deceitful” for good reason (Heb 3:13.) It twists the truth, hardening our hearts towards the One who is true. This is how sin appeals to the unbeliever and believer alike. Sin twists the reality of consequences, purposes, identity, and value.

First and foremost among sin’s lies is that sin doesn’t matter that much.

Wrong. Sin matters for the unsaved and the saved alike.

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Sin matters because its consequences stretch all the way from eternity to right now.

For the unbeliever, sin is a pair of shackles – chains called “I’m doing my best” and “this is just the way it is.” The shackles guarantee death and separation from Christ.

Believers wear shackles with the key attached. Ignorantly we tell each other – “the shackles fit you so well!” Meanwhile, Christ has all sorts of gifts and blessings for us to carry – things we employ better when our hands aren’t tethered.

Even with a key, shackles unopened still constrain.

Willfully ignored sin is a pair of unopened shackles.

How rarely we choose this perspective.

God’s best isn’t what we’re thinking of when we give into temptation. Often, our idea of “best for me” is first and foremost.

Case Study: Gossip

We don’t think our gossip matters or even count it as sin.

Those friendly bits of information serve a purpose: enlightening someone about goings-on, helping us ease our emotional burdens, or just sharing what we heard. Our efforts even seem productive.

After all, what’s a little gossip hurt when it serves a purpose?

But gossip, even the “Christian version”, shackles us to sin. Because it’s not God’s way.

Living life God’s way is the best way. That’s why sin matters, for the Christian and nonbeliever. Sin means not embracing God’s way.

When we live as if sin matters, we prioritize what does matter: God’s way.

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…looking for your thoughts to add to the Sin Lies Series!

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.

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.

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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.

What Is Love

We know about many characteristics of love, traits like those listed in 1 Cor 13; patience, kindness, humility, etc.

We certainly are aware of examples of Biblical love, like that provided in John 3:16. The Bible teaches us much about the actions and consequences of love, as in Romans 13 or John 15, which describe doing no wrong to a neighbor or laying down one’s life for a friend as loving.

But…what is love?

Read the rest of this guest post over at Uniquely Yours Ministries

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.

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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.