When we think about things that God entrusts us with, we almost always think of blessings. In the parable of the talents, we look at the fact that the man entrusted his servants with money (Matthew 25:14-30), and in our minds that translates to things. Physical things we can hold in our hands. But what about spiritual things? What about things we don’t think of as having a value, or a physical shape.
I have been going through a season of intense discouragement. These seasons come into my life, and usually they follow this pattern: physical health problems, logistical issues regarding residency, and financial issues. This season hasn’t been any different. After watching my husband struggle through another difficult flare up of his Ulcerative Colitis, we experienced visa difficulties, and then had our major church tell us they couldn’t afford to financially support us after May. At this point, I have watched as God provided solutions to the first two problems, at least for a time, but the third one is still open ended. If I’m being honest, having a church, the main church that sent you out, tell you that you are one of the missionaries they will no longer be supporting is painful. It feels like a break up. You know that they are continuing to support other missionaries, but for some reason, you were expendable. That is what it feels like. I’m not saying it is that way. We trust that God is leading this church and their choices are purposeful, but it still feels lousy knowing you didn’t make the cut. When this church first came into our lives as missionaries, it felt like they were adopting us. It is strange, but in a way this has felt like anti-adoption.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:2-4
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:2
Lately, there has been an extreme temptation for me to indulge in self pity over this entire situation, but then I realized something… well, actually the Holy Spirit helped me to realize something. This is a disappointment that came into my life, but it wasn’t random. There was a specific reason that God allowed this to happen. God is entrusting us with a disappointment. Over many little disappointments and discouragements in life, I have seen that God has been there, and that when I was finally willing to pass over my burdens to Him, He was more than willing to carry them for me. In Romans 12:2 we see that by testing (and the renewal of our mind) that we may discern the will of God, to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect. At one point I was praying for help to fight against the temptation to become angry and bitter about this anti-adoption process, and this thought came into my head, “He has entrusted you with this disappointment, now do what you know you should do.” Maybe my husband and I are better able to deal with this discouragement than others were, and if that is the reason God allowed it, I’m glad. I know that there have been plenty of points in my life when I wouldn’t have been ready to deal righteously with a situation like this, and God’s grace was there for me. If going through this pain means that God’s grace is available to someone else who needs it more desperately than I do right this moment, then it is worth it. Or perhaps this is a time of testing from God, to prepare us for things we can’t anticipate later on down the road. Whatever future struggles that come as a result of these events, they will be worth the knowledge of knowing that God Himself has entrusted this disappointment to our family.
The holiday season is here, and that means that many of us will be spending time with our parents (or in-laws). My father-in-law will be joining us for Christmas, and I am seriously excited. But I know not everyone experiences that excitement when they are going to be around their parents. I was talking to a good friend and asked how her Thanksgiving was and she said something along the lines of, “Really hard because of my parent.” That just broke my heart. It can be exhausting and discouraging on the holidays when you find yourself dealing with difficult parents. I believe that God has a specific plan for dealing with tense parental situations. It can be difficult for adults to know how to interact with their parents, and vice versa. I have no idea what it will be like to interact with my children once they are all grown up, but I imagine the emotions I will feel will be complicated. I wanted to share this excerpt from my book, “The Truth About Godly Confidence.” I feel like this is one of the most important parts of the book, because so many people struggle to accept the fact that their parents are sinful and make mistakes. At the same time, that isn’t how God is, since He is sinless, and we need to remember that.
I pray that you would have a blessed Christmas with your family members, and that this post will help.
There is nothing that a small child desires more than the knowledge that they are loved. Over fifty years ago, in any town in any state in the United States, Satan thought he had won a very important battle. He made it a cultural stigma for fathers to tell their children that they loved them. Even the most loving men gave into the lie that it was shameful to verbally admit their parental love. Can you imagine what it would be like to grow up never hearing your father tell you that he loved you? I know that some of you experienced this horrible cultural phenomena, and I’m sorry. That was never God’s plan. Why would Satan wage such a battle? Damaged men and women, on their quest to feel some type of love and acceptance, embraced drugs, sex, and empty solutions to their soul problems. When parents, especially fathers, do not tell their children that they love and accept them, bad things happen. I don’t think Satan, with all his worldly knowledge, saw the Jesus movement coming in the 1970’s, but it did. The weapon God used to destroy Satan’s tactic was the love of Jesus Christ. This is was an interesting time in Christian history for the United States, and I think that it brings to light an interesting concept. We have already established in earlier chapters that God created us with the desire to feel loved. When individuals do not feel loved, broken hearts lead to bitter souls. Read more
“Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout, ‘It’s all a lie’? When you are on the mountaintop, it’s easy to say, ‘Oh yes, I believe God can do it,’ but you have to come down from the mountain to the demon-possessed valley and face the realities that scoff at your Mount-of-Transfiguration belief.” -Oswald Chambers
The last few months have been really rough for me spiritually. If we’re being honest, I think we can all agree that seasons of prolonged waiting are no fun. The product is amazing (read James 1), but these seasons create plenty of growing pains, don’t they? Sometimes God tells us something, and it doesn’t happen in the timeline of when we assume it will happen, and it’s hard. It’s just hard to wait. I don’t know what else to say. There were so many verses that God gave me about waiting and trusting Him through this period, and while they made the waiting more bearable, I have still been struggling.
This weekend every member of my family had a nasty cold. I am still dealing with a cough and sinus headaches, but I’ve been able to function today, which I appreciate. When I get sick, I spend a lot of time praying. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because when you’re sick, you just need your parents. Yes, even as an adult. But my parents are thousands of miles away, so I spend a lot of time talking to my Heavenly Father. I actually think God caused the sickness on purpose to draw my husband and I closer to Him over the last few days. Our weekend had been jam packed, and slowly we canceled a few things and some other things got canceled until there was nothing to do but hang out as a sick family, and spend a lot of time praying once the kids were in bed. We also watched Star Trek TNG and Fixer Upper on Netflix, but there was definitely a lot of prayer mixed in.
I still don’t feel like going into all of the details about why we’re waiting and what we’re waiting for, and I don’t know if I ever will be, but I finally had this realization this morning. I trust God implicitly with the most important things in my life, my family. That was a lesson God taught me early in my marriage when my daughter had to have skull reconstruction surgery as a 3-month-old, but the things I learned back then still stick with me. If I can trust God with something so important, then why can’t I trust Him to take care of something I care about less? It doesn’t make sense. I know I can trust Him, and I just need to do it. Am I tired of waiting? Yes, I’m exhausted. I’m weary. I have no more strength. But God is the only One that never grows weary, so I know I can turn to Him to carry this for me until He gives us our answer. I have hope in Him. Here are a few verse chunks that God has used to encourage me lately. I pray they are an encouragement to you as well.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” -Isaiah 40:28-31
“Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.” -Psalm 25:3
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” -Romans 5:5
“Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.” -Isaiah 30:18
“Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” -Psalm 27:14
I have been on kind of a hiatus from this blog lately but I wanted to let you know that Cheryl Brodersen is giving away a free devotional plan on the book of mark through her website, “Gracious Words.” Here is the link to the PDF —> The Mark Challenge
I have been dealing with a lot personally and family wise, but I am working on a few new podcasts that will probably appear sometime in December. I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month for November and am going to be writing parts 2 and 3 of All About Olive: Newfangled. If you are looking for a writing buddy, my user name is “knspence.”
Let me leave you with this, one of the many verses God has been using to encourage me to continue to trust in His plan for my life:
“For He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: ‘Do not harder your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, when you fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work.'” -Psalm 95:7-9
Do you see that reminder not to be rebellious in there? Yeah, I need that warning right about now. I have seen God do amazing and miraculous things, and I don’t want to test Him. I’m praying that He will keep me until that day when I see His face.
This article has been co-authored by my husband, Travis, and I.
A Christian can be defined as a follower or disciple of Jesus; someone who believes Jesus is the Christ or Messiah.
“Only God is able to judge righteously therefore His yardstick, the Bible kept in context, is the measure we use to judge with righteous judgement (John 7:24). The same is true when mature Christians point out false teachings in the church; it isn’t the Christian who’s passing judgement, but God’s Word which exposes false doctrine. The mature Christian is really just the messenger who unfortunately often gets an ear bashing from immature Christians who haven’t studied God’s Word sufficiently to understand right from wrong doctrine.” -‘From Fiery Trials to Freedom’ by Marisa De More
Over the past few months, we have seen all different kinds of Christians (including pastors) doing something that deeply grieves Jesus Christ. If you are really a Christian and believe and follow Jesus out of love for Him, then you need to walk as He did (1 John 2:6). Nowhere does the Bible say that it is ok to hate a group of people, or stir up hatred towards them, because they are different. That phenomena is called “xenophobia” (fear of strangers/foreigners), and Jesus never said that kind of behavior was acceptable. In fact, He taught the opposite. He said that we would be hated, but that we were not to hate.
“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant about his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the mast of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” -Matthew 10:22-28
Do you see? You shouldn’t fear people, you should fear God. What does God tell us to do regarding those that are lost? Should we expel them, exclude them, and hate them? Absolutely not!
Love Not Hatred
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.” -Matthew 28:16-20
I want to emphasize two parts of this verse. The first is that we are to “make disciples of all the nations”. Not the nations we think deserve Jesus Christ. That is pure blasphemy and we see that God dealt with Jonah harshly when he refused to share God’s word in Ninevah. The second part that needs to be emphasized is that we are to teach them to observe all things that Jesus has commanded. That means we ought to be observing the commands of Jesus ourselves. But what did Jesus command?
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love another; as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34-35
You may be thinking, “but this verse is in regards to other Christians.” However, if we look at the other teachings of Jesus, we will see that it simply isn’t that exclusive. In several other places we see that Jesus calls us to love our enemies, and not just love them, but care for them.
“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” -Luke 6:35
Whatever justifications you have been giving for spreading hate, you need to stop now. First of all, you are grieving your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit by doing so.
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth [Keyboard], but that which is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:29-32
Second you are misrepresenting God to everyone around you!
If you are a gentile (non-jew) then you are a foreigner who God has graciously extended the good news of Jesus Christ to.
“Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” -Isaiah 49:6
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” -Ephesians 2:13
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.” -Romans 10:12
Paul – Former Terrorist
Another common fear is that some of these refugees are actually terrorists. Fortunately for us, God loves terrorists. Paul the Apostle literally terrorized the church. He beat up and dragged people in chains because he thought that he was doing God’s will. He stood by and held the coats of his fellow terrorists as they murdered Stephen (Acts 7:58, 8:3). “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against disciples of the Lord…” -Acts 9:1
When you read the Bible, the change in Paul is apparent, and God wants to work that same transformation in others as well.
“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” -Jeremiah 32:27 (see also Gen. 18:14).
Single, Young Men
Does the Bible say anywhere that God only wants to save women and children? No, God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (John 3:16). By deciding who we should hate or love based on gender or age, we are going against this verse. “…who is the Savior of all men, especially to those who believe.” -1 Timothy 4:10
We are playing god, determining for ourselves whom we should reach out to. It is idolatry, and it is wrong. We must follow Jesus and God’s Word if we are going to identify ourselves as Christians. Of course, there is also the issue of reunification rights, which many people don’t understand.
No More of a Miracle
Do you realize that it is a miracle that God forgave your sins? “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
According to the principles of justice and holiness there is no reason God should have allowed that to happen, but in His infinite grace and mercy He provided a way through the Sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. He created a way for us to be reconciled to Him and spend eternity in heaven. It is no more a miracle that God could forgive the sins of a terrorist than it is for God to forgive us of our sins. Every person on this planet is God’s creation and God wills for them to be reached with His gospel. When you declare that certain groups of people are not worthy of being helped, you are saying that God’s creation is not worth your time. Do you really want to go against God?
This testimony from Naghmeh Abedini (whose husband, Saeed Abedini a Christian pastor, is in prison in Iran due to his Christian faith) should be enough to encourage us to love Muslims in order to win them to Jesus Christ:
“I remembered coming to the United States 30 years ago with my family in order to escape the war between Iran and Iraq. We were Muslim. But here in the United States we were given the opportunity to hear about Jesus and to accept Him as our Lord and Savior. May we be the Hands and Feet of Jesus to these precious Muslims. That they would know that their Maker LOVES THEM and HE gave His life for them on the cross so that they can be reconciled with God. Oh how I pray for the Muslim nations. I know that Saeed is praying for them as well. May we embrace them instead of rejecting them. May we act in love instead of fear.”
Please stop. Stop sharing hate inducing misinformation on social media. Stop participating in hateful discussions about refugees and Muslims. You are wrong. You are in sin, and you need to repent.
Please use the internet to research and verify facts from reputable outlets, not fascist and racist blogs or Social Media posts. Use Tineye to search images to see where they came from originally. Above all we should be using God’s Word to determine our world view.
Please make sure that after you read this article, you check out Part 2.
I know that cutting, or self mutilation, has become a common way of dealing with anger an pain in many societies in different parts of the world. Over the past few months, this topic has come up over and over again, and I thought it was time to talk about it.
The Rush Of Control
I have never cut myself. I just want to be straight forward. I do know though, that there are some similarities between the feeling that someone who cuts feels when they cut, and the feeling that you get when you have hunger pains and you have disordered eating. If you don’t already know, I have a past of disordered eating, so that is why I am making this comparison. Hunger pains gave me a sense of being in control of something in my life, and they made me feel a release from stress. But it was always temporary, and it was destructive to my body. Not only that, but it was destructive to my spiritual self because I was feeding my flesh by taking control of my situation rather than trusting God to help me through whatever the situation was.
You Are Not Your Own
I’m not going to go into the Old Testament verses about marking your body and all that. I don’t think that most people cutting today are doing it as a sign of worship to another person or false god like they were in the Old Testament, but when you cut, you are taking part in an activity that is against God’s will. Here is the verse that anyone who has a disorder where they harm their body in one way or another should memorize:
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a prince; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” -1 Corinthians 6:19-20
God loves you, and when He made you, it wasn’t part of His plan for you to hurt yourself. In fact, He doesn’t want you to try to deal with life’s difficulties on your own. I think that is a trap we often fall into. We don’t know how to get through hard times on our own, and so we set up coping methods. But what does the Bible say about getting through life’s difficulties?
Jesus Gives Rest To The Weary
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28
Go to Jesus. Does that sound too simple to you? Well it isn’t as simple as it sounds, because in order to go to Jesus and give Him our problems, it means we are giving up our right to be in control. If you want to receive rest from Jesus, you have to let Him take control. That is what it is talking about in this verse when it refers to the yoke. This was a tool that you could use to harness ox power to plow your field. Jesus is saying, “Strap in with Me, and I’ll drive.” The question is, do you really want to be given rest? If so, you need to make the decision to let Jesus drive, give Him control of your life. He won’t take it from you. You have to be willing to let Him give you rest.
The Flip Side
We can see clearly that God wants to deliver us from our burdens, but what does the opposite side look like?
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” -1 Peter 5:6-8
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” -John 10:10
One one side of this battle is God. He wants to give you life more abundantly. God wants you to cast your cares on Him because He cares for you. On the other side we have Satan, aka the thief, who wants to devour you. He wants to steal every good thing from you. He wants to kill you. He wants to destroy you. This is why he uses things like cutting and eating disorders to give us false and temporary comfort while he is slowly convincing us that these destructive behaviors somehow empower us. We have to remember that Satan is a liar. God loves us and shares the truth with us so we can be set free. He cares for us. He gave His only Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we could be with Him for all of eternity. What good thing has Satan ever done for us? Not a thing! Not one thing.
You Aren’t Alone
If you are struggling with cutting or any other kind of self mutilation or destructive disorder, you are not alone. Remember this from 1 Peter 5:8 from the previous paragraph, “knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” Satan wants you to feel alone in this behavior, but like we established before, he’s a liar. Reach out and get help. There are people in your church that would love to walk with you through this trial. Go see a Christian counselor for help. They may refer you to a Psychiatrist to help you with underlying physiological problems that are contributing to your spiritual problems. There is nothing wrong with taking drugs. Pharmaceuticals will not solve all of your problems, but they can be used as a tool to help in certain cases as determined by your team of counselors and doctors. Just remember that at the same time you should also be addressing your spiritual needs by seeking out someone to work with you, discipling you and giving you biblical counsel.
Thank You for Your love for us. That You care for us, and that You desire to help us through any difficulties that come into our lives. Please help us to resist the devil and his destructive nature? Help us to trust You, and to allow You to have control over everything we do? Thank you that we are not alone in our struggles, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen
I hope that this post has encouraged you. I’m praying for you, that God would give you victory over these destructive coping mechanisms as you learn to trust more and more in Him.
Let me preface this post by saying that today has been rough. My faith wavered for a moment and I had to remember that God is greater. My kids yelled at each other. My amazing husband and I had an argument (which we later resolved). In general it was a depressing day for me. But this post is not about today. This post is about yesterday, when God made sure that I know without a doubt that He loves me.
There are some things I enjoy in life, that I simply cannot afford. One of those things is a batch of fresh green figs. They cost around 7 euros per pack at the grocery store, and those ones are not even that great. The good stuff comes from the village. Last year my neighbor brought me fresh figs and fig jam when she came back from her village. It was my first time tasting fresh figs from the village, and I was elated. I cannot begin to explain how amazing these things taste, but it is a sweet, fresh, and unique flavor that makes my mouth water. Plus they are healthy, an added bonus. I have to keep running back to the fridge to get more figs as I type this. Seriously, yum!
A Random Prayer
Earlier this summer I faced the sad fact that my neighbor would be gone until early September, and that meant no figs would be pleasuring my palate. I knew I was not going to pay over 7 euros for a six pack at the store. These figs are seasonal, and if you don’t get any in August, you won’t get any fresh for the rest of the year. So I prayed. I said, “God, if you could somehow send some village figs my way, I would love it.” I prayed it once, and stopped drooling over the idea of figs, until yesterday.
Our other neighbor, Sophia, an adorable and very active γιαγιά (grandmother), stopped by randomly yesterday to drop off 10 figs she brought me from her daughter’s village, two hours away! Travis answered the front door, and as soon as I heard the word “σύκα” (Greek for “figs”), I did a fist pump and said, “Yeesssss!” My daughter asked me what I was so excited about.
You need to understand that this blessing was specifically for me. No one else in my family likes figs. My kids could not understand why mommy was so excited and hopping around like a bunny in the living room. I even heard a, “Ew, I don’t like those!” from one of my little darlings.
So when you ask, “Does God really care about the little things in my life?” I respond with an emphatic, “Yes!” He really does. He sent figs from two hours away to my front door, just to bless me. God loves me, and yesterday He made sure I had a tasty reminder of that amazing and unfailing love.
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” -Psalm 103:6 (ESV)
He sent me a love note, if you will. He listens when I pray, and He cares about the little things that other people would forget. This is just one of many examples of these “love notes” in my life. Another time I prayed for God to heal the leather on my Dad’s old Bible that I use, because it was cracked and falling apart. That love note required the help from several other individuals, but God made it happen (and not the way I thought). But that’s a story for another post. For now, I’m going to go eat my figs. Thank You, Lord, for this delicious reminder of Your love for me personally.
Hi friend! Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while. I was writing a book (more news about that later), and having many wonderful guests that blessed me beyond anything I could put into words.
“But I am poor and needy; Yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God.” -Psalm 40:17
In My Living Room
Today I want to talk about my living room. I’m sitting here right now, and I spend a lot of time here. As far as ministry goes, I am behind the scenes. When my husband is out caring about others and spending time with them, I am sitting here. I could also be cooking, cleaning, helping one of my kids with homework, walking them to or from school, or changing a diaper. But I’m still here, and I’m praying. I pray for my husband and the guys he is discipling. I pray for people to realize that Jesus loves them and accept His free gift of Salvation. I pray for the other saints spread all of the place that mention they need prayer. Once my children go to sleep, there are many things I do, but the most important thing I do is spend time with my Lord. We talk, or He talks and I listen, or I talk and He listens. I’m at home while my husband is out being about God’s business and sometimes I get lonely.
From the Outside
The other day a friend said to me, “I really feel sorry for you. All you do is clean, do laundry, cook, take care of the kids, and deal with drama.” They were not trying to be condescending at all, and I was not offended, but after a few hours I thought, “I don’t feel sorry for me.” Listen, I understand that from the outside it may look like I’m a lonely wife and my husband doesn’t help me as much as he should. That’s just not true, though. Sometimes I do get lonely, and I always miss my husband, but he is a great help when he is home, and I am honored and privileged that I am able to take care of our home and children to make my husband more available to others. Maybe my ministry looks sad or depressing to others, but it isn’t depressing to me. I know that this is what God asked me to do. He didn’t force me; He asked me and I said yes. I am raising three children to know and love God, not just in the happy moments, but in the rough ones too. My kids understand that it is a privilege to have this opportunity to live our lives for Jesus. I am also being watched by everyone around me as Jesus guides me through this. “Why are you here?” is a question I hear every time I meet someone new. As for the drama aspect, what ministry is drama free? Jesus’ wasn’t.
From the Inside
I may spend a lot of time in my living room, seemingly alone, but I’m not alone. God is with me, and when I am in my living room, and my children are peacefully and adorably sleeping, I hang out with God. I hear from Him so clearly in these moments. I’m not saying that my life is easy; it is not. If we are completely honest with ourselves we will admit that no life worth living is easy. For me, a life worth living means that I obey and follow God. I know a lot of people think that being in ministry means that you have to be busy all of the time, but that simply is not true. Being successful in ministry means that you obey God’s instructions; for me right now that means being at home, guarding our children as they sleep, while my husband is out sharing the love of Christ with others through his actions.
So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.” -1 Samuel 15:22
God gives me opportunities to show others His love as well, but my main responsibility is to show His love to three little people that He entrusted to my husband and I.
One of the Lonelies
Last night was one of the lonely ones. I haven’t gotten to spend my time with my best friend lately (aka my hubby), and I was missing him. I cried and I thought about how the ache in my heart wouldn’t go away. Tonight, however, I didn’t feel that way at all. I felt overwhelmed by God’s presence. I thought, “Where were You last night, God?” and the reply came instantly, “I was right here.” No matter how I feel, God is with me; whether I am overwhelmed by His presence or not.
So if you are thinking about how I am sitting in my living room alone, night after night, I hope you won’t feel sorry me. I’m not sorry for me. I’m with God, I’m obeying His will for my life, and He is faithful to meet me in this place. I’m never alone.
Today I am struggling. There are so many distractions and temptations in my heart that I feel like I’ve been plunged deep into the ocean. I feel weighed down and alone. Have you ever felt that way? All morning I have been battling these thoughts that I know are not from the Lord. I have been praying for those that hate and despise me. I have been fighting against negative thoughts, attempting to bring my mind under control. I want to live Philippians 4:8 in my life every moment, but sometimes I fail.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are our, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of a good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.” -Philippians 4:8
Instead of taking this biblical wisdom and applying it to my situation, all morning I have been wavering between feeling like God doesn’t see the suffering I am enduring, and knowing that He is refining me by the fire. I have had moments when I wanted to yell, “God, this isn’t fair,” and throw a proper toddler tantrum. I have also had thoughts like this, “Lord, I know You won’t force people to do the right thing, and I wouldn’t want You to do that, but have you forgotten about me?”
When I go through these seasons I think of the song, “Ba55” by Switchfoot. The chorus is, “I believe You’re the fire that could burn me clean.” It sounds painful, doesn’t it? No one likes getting burned. But through the burning away of our old man (Colossians 3:9-10), we are made clean. It is such an excruciating process. We also see this in the Bible (which is where I’m sure Switchfoot got the idea).
“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap.” -Malachi 3:2
This verse is talking about Jesus’ coming in the future, when He sits on His throne in Jerusalem and judges the people on the Earth as our righteous King.
Going through the process of being refined is painful, but that is the only way to get the gross stuff out. And being refined doesn’t always mean that you sin and are going through some type of discipline. Sometimes it is an obstacle that God sets before us. One of my favorite authors and past missionaries put it this way.
“If this obstacle is from Thee, Lord, I accept it; but if it is from Satan, I refuse him and all his works in the name of Calvary.” -Isobel Kuhn
Then other times this purification process means being unjustly accused, reviled, and persecuted, just like Jesus was. I can’t imagine a more powerful process to help us conform more to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).
There are also satanic forces, as Isobel mentioned. Something that keeps happening to me recently is Satan attacking me about my physical appearance. I’m currently writing a book about godly confidence where I dispel common psychological ideas that Christians have wrongfully adopted, so this makes perfect sense. I’ve painted a target on my back. The other day I was getting ready and when I looked in the mirror I heard, “Look at you (insert tones of disgust), can you really say you are confident in the way God made you?” It was so demonic!! Thankfully, I have been hiding verses about this topic in my heart and was quickly able to argue against this satanic insinuation. “Yes, I am.” I thought, “God cannot lie. God does not make mistakes. I am not a mistake. The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 1:9)
I hope my openness encourages you that we all struggle at different points in our lives. We are all going through a refining process in Christ Jesus. We all experience spiritual warfare. With that in mind let me share these verses with you,
“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” -Galatians 6:8-9
Doing good, sowing to the Spirit, is exhausting. Sometimes I just want to quit. I want to give into my flesh and throw myself a pity party. I’m tempted to write a nasty letter to the person that has been persecuting me. I’m tempted to yell at my kids and husband and crawl into some cave into the distance. I’m tempted to complain against God and give up. But I can’t afford to grow weary in doing good. That isn’t God’s will for me, and I know that He alone will help me persevere. I want to reap!! I want to reap so badly, because my Heavenly Father first loved me, and I want to do everything I can to be close to Him and please Him. I pray that your loving relationship with God would also keep you pressing toward the goal (Philippians 3:14), determined not to grow weary in doing good.
And if you think about it, I humbly ask you to please say a prayer for me. I need prayer right now in all the different refining processes I’m going through.
It has been one of those days. You know the kind I am talking about. There is bad news, you get in an argument with your spouse, you don’t feel well, your five year old daughter decides to give herself bangs. These are just a few of the unhappy things that happened to me today. Things have been piling up and no matter how many good things also happen, they just don’t seem to balance out the bad. There is only one place in my life I can go for balance, the word of God.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the might hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” -1 Peter 5:6-8
When I get like this, there is only one thing that can settle me, Jesus. I need Jesus today. I need Him every day actually, but I REALLY need Him today. Don’t you just love that no matter what happens, Jesus is there? Jesus is always reliable. He is always going to be around. He will always give you good advice. He cares for you. He will settle you. These are all things I find extremely comforting.
As for my five year old’s hair… well it is going to take time to grow back. At least we took Christmas photos a few weeks ago. The last time something like this happened it was on Christmas morning, and my oldest daughter was four. It was literally just as we were getting ready to take pictures. Go figure.
Today, give me Jesus (and 5 minutes of quiet, please!).