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. 

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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.
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Overcome Failure Book Review

I’m one of those people who has regularly lived in fear of failure. Are you?

I’ve made too many decisions based on what I know I can do, not what I believe I should do. All too often, I shrink back from the ideas that excite me, even when I know the Lord is offering them. I refuse because I doubt I can succeed in fulfilling them.

My list of “almosts” but “might fail, better nots” is long.

What a blessing it has been in a recent season of growing in boldness to discover Ifeoma Samuel’s new book Overcome Failure.

Unique in style and informal, Overcome Failure has been to me like a series of pep-talks or letters from this lovely woman of God. Nearly every time I dive into the book I’m met with a God-timed phrase or passage from Scripture speaking directly to the fear of failure I’ve needed to face.

For example, on page 35, Ifeoma outlines one of the first reasons fear of failure triumphs over us: we hate to wait without a guarantee of the risk (or of anything!) being worthwhile.

“Only patient people can fully surrender. Are you one?” she says.

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My immediate answer is no. But isn’t she right?

We often surrender something to God only to find ourselves snatching it back when He takes longer than expected. If we don’t take it back, we often head right away from the foot of the cross to another thing we can pick up and cling to instead of simply being patient in waiting for what He desires to fill us with.

Picking up our lesser, safer options, we bypass God’s best for us because waiting to see if we might succeed is scary. But that’s where faith can swoop in and spare us.

As Ifeoma explains on page 7 and throughout the book:

Failure is not a monster to be afraid of. It only becomes a giant when we see it as such; however, when we embrace the hope God offers us, it becomes just another challenge that is brought down.

When God says He can work all things together for good, He even means our failures or potential failures. As He explains in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “His power is made perfect in weakness.”

God doesn’t need us to succeed for Him to succeed in His purposes for us and through us.

I hope that simple, essential lesson from Overcome Failure helps you grow in boldness, trust, and obedience in Christ the way it has me.

Thank you, Ifeoma, for the wise, personal, God-grounded talk on this touchy topic!

To learn more about Overcome Failure, click here.

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.

Book Review: Unashamed by Heather Davis Nelson

“Fear sets in, and you relationally freeze up, locked in shame.

What now?

You need to be rescued. How about a perfect love that drives out fear (1 John 4:18)?”

–pg52

Many of us are familiar with social fears, along with fear of failure, rejection, and unworthiness. We often read about relationship challenges and there are tons of books focused on better communication or finding contentment with ourselves. But these issues and solutions highlight evidences of a deeper issue.

Shame.

As Heather Davis Nelson shares in her new book Unashamed, shame is “not a topic of conversation at a party, although it is an unwelcome guest in every gathering” (pg18.)

Shame has been around since the garden of Eden. A result of sin, shame isn’t something we can avoid altogether.

With that truth in mind, Nelson pointedly walks readers through several aspects of life in this world to expose how shame is at the heart of so many of human struggles.

Meanwhile, she offers a practical guide for recognizing, facing, and living Biblically with shame. As a Biblical counselor, it’s no surprise that Nelson’s thorough workup of shame is absolutely loaded with Scriptural references and examples.

Nelson explains the different types of shame people experience. Next, she offers guidance for responding to shame in a healthy way. Several chapters then focus on specific areas of shame, such as shame in marriage or in the church.

For me, Nelson’s chapter on performance-shame hit close to home. In it, she addresses one of my favorite excuses for….everything. Perfectionism. Nelson relates perfectionism to shame in such a way that my excuses can’t stand.

But, as in the whole of this book, she didn’t leave me reeling from the recognition of shame as is. Instead, she offered practical advice for changing my audience and, consequently, my need for perfection. Then, she went on to make this freeing point:

“So what are we waiting for? Permission? Approval? Recognition?

We already have it in Christ…” (pg96.)

Amen, Heather Davis Nelson!

Though helpful as a whole, each chapter could stand on its own for counseling or study purposes. Other conveniences of Nelson’s Unashamed are the very practical, down to earth tips for addressing shame and reducing the influence shame has on one’s life. The book can at times feel bulky and heavy. However, this topic is so relevant and Nelson’s writing is encouraging.

Through Unashamed, I think many will find themselves freer and more able to walk in confidence just as God made them.

If you would like to learn more about this book, click here.

To enter the drawing to win a free copy, just comment below on or before July 6th! I will randomly pick the winner on the evening of the 6th.

“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.”

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.

WordoftheWeek: Fulfill

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.

Lord, Your love is eternal; do not abandon the work of your hands.”

(Psalm 138:8)

A buzzword in the secular world and the Christian circle, “fulfill” is often used with the connotation of giving meaning. We enter certain tasks and ministries to feel fulfilled. We seek jobs that are fulfilling. In our eyes, tasks and relationships that feel fulfilling are the ones that matter.

For many of us, feelings of fulfillment are a measure of meaningfulness.

That’s not what Scripture says. Meaning and fulfillment are in fact very different. Meaning is about worth, fulfilling is about purpose.

The difference matters. We let our view be skewed when our motivational words and inspirational sentiments usher truth off of the stage and into the front row. Truth shouldn’t approve of what we believe, it should determine it.

  1. Fulfill Means “Will Perfect”

Bear with me as we break this down, it’s really cool!

A Hebrew verb, “fulfill” in Psalm 138:8 is also translated “will perfect.” The Lord will be at work on us, bringing us to perfection- to the best that He has for us. To be fulfilled is to be perfected by Christ.

The verse reads in more directly translated Hebrew “The Lord will perfect what concerns me.”

“Concerns me” is a preposition. It isn’t a verb or a noun like worry. Nor is it an adjective describing a feeling. This prepositional term is also translated “through.”

What?

“The Lord will perfect me through…Lord, do not abandon the work of your hands.

This fulfilling of our purpose in the Lord is carried out through the work of His hands. It is through His working that we are perfected.

  1. Fulfill Means “To Accomplish”

God’s work in our lives is productive. So much of what we accomplish in our daily lives seems unfulfilling when it comes to meaningfulness or value. Laundry, menial tasks like driving from place to place, even routine conversations fail to infuse our lives with a sense of meaning. But they aren’t designed to give meaning in the first place. (Though meaning can be brought to them in prayer and in doing all unto the Lord.)

In the meantime, God accomplishes much in us even in the menial. The Spirit, working through us, can even accomplish much with such unfulfilling things as our failures, weaknesses, and disappointments. Because in those things, His will can still be accomplished. The great achievement- His glory- can still be had.

  1. Fulfill Means “To Bring to An End”

In her post earlier this week, Lois wrote about a dream ending- her book, out of print. She described decrease and disappearing from being known and from the sort of achievement-place that many of us work to be in. But Lois found that meaningfulness did not cease when one “purposed project” came to an end.

That’s what fulfill is about. The bringing to an end, to completion, of what the Lord has purposed. Full-fill. Filled full. And intended to be!

When the Lord fulfills something in us, He brings to capacity a purpose He has had from the beginning.

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We’re made by God for a purpose. He doesn’t start out with a slab of wood and take chunks out here and there until finally a shape emerges, something worthwhile. In putting His hands on us and getting to work, He sets out with a purpose and He won’t stop until it is finished. Even when we fail, He finds worth in us because of Christ, and He continues until His purpose is accomplished.

Our lives have meaning. What we do has meaning- eternally! Not because of our effort or our purposes, but because He is. He is right now in the process of fulfilling all He has set out to do, working all for good and for His glory.

As we look for fulfillment in our lives, let’s look no further than Christ.

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He died and three days later rose again. This was not to fulfill a dream of taking over the world. His triumph over death was not to fulfill a goal of giving long philosophical treatises on the meaning of life. He rose again just to give us eternal life itself, along with hope and purpose.

Truly these verses agree:

We must decrease, that He might increase. He doesn’t not abandon the work of His hands- decreased as He whittles away and His glory fills the space. Rather, He fulfills. He fills until full the purposes He has for us, that He might increase all the more. That- His glory- is where meaning is found.

This post is being shared on:
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He Must Increase- The Word Works Series!

Formerly a journalist, Lois approaches her blog, Waxing Gibbous, with facts. Facts about life, the facts of a story she is living, and the facts of who our Lord is and how He is working right now. She lives and writes truth, and I’m blessed to share this space with her today.
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When I was in my early 30s, I wrote a book about infertility. I worked on it during the long months after my husband and I ended our three-year effort to conceive and before we adopted our first daughter from China.

I believed then—as I still believe now—God’s promise to work all things for the good of those who love him, those who are called according to his purpose. So every chapter, which mostly focused on the spiritual and emotional aspects of infertility, flowed out of my desire not to let our struggles go to waste.

My book was published by a traditional Christian publisher in 2003. The business was different back then; huge numbers of social media followers were not necessary to secure a book contract because social media barely even existed.

I had no blog, no platform, no speaking career. I was simply a former journalist, wife and mom-to-be with some deeply held beliefs about how God uses our pain for his glory.

In the months after the book’s release, the publisher arranged for me to promote it on several national Christian television and radio programs. I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed this process—it was fun to be on the other side of the interview after so many years of working as a reporter.

After about a year, though, I received the phone call no author ever wants to receive.

The editor was very sorry, but the book hadn’t lived up to sales projections. As a result, the company was going to sell off the remaining inventory at a deeply discounted price and put the book out of print.

I was angry and embarrassed, but what I felt most at the time was bitter disappointment. I couldn’t believe that the project I had poured my heart and soul into would be snuffed out so soon.

For a while, I held on to an irrational hope that the editor would call me back and say the company had made a mistake—that the decision makers had changed their minds about putting my book out of print.

That call never came.

What did come, though, was a message from the Holy Spirit. A familiar scripture that made a new impression on me—shared as part of a Bible study I started on the very day the publisher called.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

(John 3:30)

These seven words were spoken by John the Baptist near the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, but in my heart, I knew they also were what one of my mentors would call a “right now word from God.”

In those disappointing days after my book went out of print, I sensed that my current season of influence—however small and short-lived it might have been—was over.

God wasn’t just ushering me off the stage,

He was guiding me out of the building completely.

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And somehow, John 3:30 helped me be OK with that.

I had no way of knowing that, in the years ahead, I would decrease so much I almost disappeared completely.

Soon thereafter, we moved to a new state where nobody knew about my writing background. Life was good in many ways, but the wilderness stretched long ahead of me. For several years, my words simply went away.

Years later, once the fog dissipated and the desert was mostly a memory, I started writing again. I took it slowly at first—with an article here and there, then a blog. Another book is in the works, but my past disappointment often hangs like a dark cloud over my current efforts.

One morning not too long ago, I read an article by a literary agent about the kind of platform that publishers require these days. It was discouraging, to say the least.

Forget being in the ballpark. I’m not even in the same universe.

Later that day, as I was thinking about what to write for this series, John 3:30 came to mind again.

He must increase, but I must decrease.

In God’s economy, it’s not about numbers, platform or audience.

It’s not about the logical, most obvious way that God can use our trials for his glory.

It’s not about us at all.

Is there a message in there for you today? There is for me, though I confess it doesn’t make much sense right now.

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As I look to the future—to what I sense God is calling me to do, writing wise—the way forward is a bit murky. How it all fits in with God increasing and me decreasing, I’m not sure.

One thing is certain: While I need to do my part—even in the face of near-insurmountable odds—God will be the one who gives the increase.

At this point, only He knows what that might look like. But I do know it won’t happen unless I get to work.

So a promise and a prayer from scripture that I ran across several months after my editor called is giving me faith to take the next step, even when the next step is just to write another sentence.

“The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.

Lord, Your love is eternal;

do not abandon the work of your hands.”

(Psalm 138:8)

This post is being shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup and #LifeGivingLinkup.