Can God Forsake Me?

Do you ever feel like God has totally forgotten you and your problems, needs, and deepest desires? I do. Do you ever feel rejected by Him? Maybe you’re holier than I am, but I sometimes make the mistake of taking the actions of people, human beings incapable of the perfect love of our Heavenly Father, and assuming these reactions represent the attitude of God. After a summer of literally 20 rejection letters I sometimes entertain the very destructive and heretical thought that God has forgotten about me. Somehow, even after every proof of His sure and steady love, I doubt His promises. “But Kristin,” you might say, “It’s normal for an author like you to receive so many rejections… it’s part of the deal, isn’t it? Like, aren’t there lists of authors that were rejected over and over again before they finally got their big break?” Yeah, actually. And I do expect constant rejection as an author. But the thing that had me really down, and depressed if I’m being honest, is that the rejections I mentioned earlier were about missions support.

Photo by Alex Jones

You see, my husband and I also happen to be full time missionaries living in a country where it is illegal for us to work. So this summer we traveled all over the U.S. (and even to Canada) to pitch our ministry and our family to other Christians in an effort to raise our monthly support to a level that will pay for our most basic needs in addition to language school, visa fees, and ministry costs. In Christian circles we like to call this process ‘support raising.’

Not Your Job

This summer started out with a class about support raising and in it, a really cool and super knowledgable guy told us a significant truth, “You can only present the opportunity for other people to co-labor in the work you are doing to further God’s kingdom. The important thing to realize in order to guard against bitterness is that you have no control over the outcome. Your job isn’t to convince someone to support you. Do your best and leave God with the rest.” That was such a liberating idea, at first, before the rejection letters, texts, messages, phone calls, and emails piled up. I’m actually not bitter about all the rejection. But at some point in this process, and I can’t say exactly when, I started to align these rejections with God’s feelings about me. That is a very dangerous place to be. Can you relate? I hope not, but understand if you do.

Can God Forsake Me?

So, I did what I usually do when I realize my thoughts have formed into a unbiblical pattern. I made a plan of action to remind my battered spirit what the truth is. Yay for the Bible, right? I had to answer the question, “Is God even able to forsake me?” In light of the following verse we must conclude that the answer to that question is a resounding and final ‘no’ remembering that when God makes a promise He always, always, always keeps it.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” -Hebrews 13:5-6

I read ‘My Utmost For His Highest,’ a collection of teachings and writings from Oswald Chambers, every single day. I love the way Chambers talks about this verse:

What line of thinking do my thoughts take? Do I turn to what God says or to my own fears? Am I simply repeating what God says, or am I learning to truly hear Him and then to respond after I have heard what He says? “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

“I will never leave you…”— not for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness. Have I really let God say to me that He will never leave me? If I have not truly heard this assurance of God, then let me listen again.

-Excerpt taken from Utmost.org, June 4th Entry ‘The Never-forsaking God’

Hebrews 13:5-6 Break Down

Step 1: Don’t covet. (Coveting is sin, and sin is always a poor choice that leads to other bad decisions.)

Step 2: Be satisfied with what you have. (Okay, yeah this is hard, but necessary.)

Step 3: Embrace and believe in God’s promise never to leave nor forsake you.

Step 4: Remember the Lord is my helper. He will help. (We may not agree that His help is always the best approach at the time, but we need to choose to trust Him. He’s got this.)

Step 5: Don’t fear! (Another difficult choice.)

Step 6: Answer this question, “What can man do to me?” And realize that nothing a man can do to me will have eternal consequences.

Wrong Thinking On My Part

When I decide to let the behaviors and choices of men cancel out the truths that God so strongly emphasizes in His Word, I am making a grave error. I am sinning. I am giving myself over to heretical thinking. Just because man has rejected me does not mean that God will. If brothers and sisters in the faith forsake me, that does not mean that God will. The truth that I need to remember, recite, and allow to reverberate throughout my being is that God has promised NEVER to leave me nor forsake me. As Chambers points out, this is not a conditional promise, “I will never leave nor forsake you as long as…” or “I will never leave nor forsake you if you do these things…” It is not a conditional statement. It is a declarative. Then in verse 6 it gets even better because we see that God is our helper. God! The same One that created the entire universe. The same Father that sent His Son to die on the cross—such a heavy price—so that I could be with Him forever. And this verse ends with this important reminder which I clearly need, “What can man do to me?”

This humbling reminder emphasizes that if God is going to do it, man can’t undo it. Does God want to provide for the needs of my family? Yes, of course! Does God need men to accomplish that provision? No. Would it be nice and validating if people would support our mission and ministry? Yes, but I don’t need that validation as long as I am sure that our family is acting in obedience to God.

All that to say (and yes I realize it is ironic for a writer to use such a phrase) I realize that it’s my wrong thinking that gets me into trouble. Whether or not I feel rejected by people, I know that I will not be rejected by God. Because Jesus.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin N. Spencer

The Basics: Two Types of Hope

As I grow and mature in my walk with Jesus, I learn new things. Over the last two years I came to the realization that there are two different types of hope. Let’s look at each one in depth.

hope-sincerely-adorned

Hope Born of Desperation

Have you ever been in what seemed to be an impossible situation? Maybe that is where you are now. This theme must be set on repeat in my life. There are usually three things that happen at once to create a horrible stress bubble that only God can fix: we run out of money, we are on the verge of getting kicked out of the country we serve in, and some health crisis surfaces. When all three of these unfortunate events take place concurrently, desperation takes hold of my heart. Over the last seven years, the three difficulties have made their appearance four times. Though they have appeared more frequently as individuals. In my heart, I have grasped on tight to the truths found in God’s word, but there is a certain desperation to that hope. Instead of peace, I find anxiety. Instead of trusting God, I find that I question His motives and abilities. This type of hope is hard won, and lacks the consistency which should be evidence of my faith. These seasons often leave me exhausted and useless. What do I do when this kind of desperation invades my sanity? I remember these verses:

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.” -Psalm 34:18

“Many are they who say of me, ‘There is no help for him in God.’ Selah. But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah. I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” -Psalm 3:2-6 

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” -1 Corinthians 16:13

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials.” -1 Peter 1:3-6

“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” -Psalm 147:11

Isn’t it wonderful to hope in the mercy of the Lord? The truth is I don’t deserve to be free from difficulties in life, and the price I should pay for my sins is eternal separation from God. But because of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, I can find hope in the fact that God shows me mercy. He doesn’t give me the eternal consequences I deserve.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 5:3

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed.” -Luke 4:18

Hope Resurrected

When we go through the hope born of desperation, and things don’t come to a tidy conclusion, we often find that our hope has died. Is it possible for a Christian to experience the death of hope? Well, if we are talking about the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ, no… that hope cannot die. But what about other hopes we have? It is very possible that hope regarding specific desires that go unmet will die. Circumstances may be that God has said, “No,” to our intercession. It is natural that hope for that desire or need would die. There is no reason to keep hoping for something that God has clearly said “no” to. But then there are those prayers that don’t have a distinct no, but they also haven’t been answered with a yes. What then? I believe it is possible for those hopes to all but die. Is there a hope that you have that’s buried deep in the recesses of your heart? Has God promised you something that doesn’t seem possible, and still hasn’t come true? What is the point of this type of suffering?

“Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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 5:2-5

When you have been through seasons of hopelessness, one of the results is (ironically) hope. When you go through the process mentioned in Romans 5:3-4, it starts with tribulations which produces perseverance, a better personal character, and finally, hope. In my relationship with God, I can see this finish line. No, not all of my tribulations have been solved (not even close!), but instead of the hope of desperation that I tried to grasp with all my might in the past, I have developed a quiet trust in the Lord which produces a confident hope; I now experience hope resurrected. My hopes have become a sanctum I can retreat to when the weight of my impossible circumstances press my spirit to the ground. And even though common sense tells me that what we face now is by far the biggest and scariest reality we have ever faced, I don’t feel desperate. And when the panic of common sense pursues and taunts me with the infinite uncertainties in my life, I choose to retreat to that sanctum, where I can remember all of the times when God provided a solution. In those moments I can face common sense and proclaim, “I have hope, and this time, it brings me peace in the midsts of this dark storm. I will stand, brave and strong, no longer desperate in my attempt to grasp hope as if it was something distant or evasive.”

This is the journey you are on, and if you persevere, you will also level up to a hope that is resurrected where it was once desperate.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

Eric Metaxas, You Broke My Heart

Today’s post was born of out of my daily habit of looking at various Christian book blogs, and seeing that Eric Metaxas wrote a review for a book I was interested in. Interest gone, I decided to publicly air my grievances with the way Christian Americans are handling politics at present.

Christians and The Presidential Race

This year’s presidential race can be described in one word: terrifying. As a young girl growing up in Southern California I can remember watching in a school assembly as President Bill Clinton was sworn in for his first term in office as the President of the United States. Rocking frizzy blonde hair and a dental appliance, I never dreamed that one day we would be choosing between a compulsive liar that happens to be sexist and racist, and a hypocrite that used to get men off for sexual abuse and at the very least committed a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material while performing her duties as Secretary of State. If you had a friend of family member that worked for any American Embassy around the world during the Benghazi attack, you witnessed the wave of grief, shock, and terror that tore through those communities.

Say It Ain’t So, Eric

What does this have to do with Eric Metaxas? When other Christian leaders started to give Donald Trump their undeserving support, I became concerned. I talked to friends and family back home about the race to gain some perspective. As an expat, it seems clear to me that voting for someone who uses hate to motivate fear and panic is not a responsible choice for Christians to make. “How could Christians possibly vote for a man with such deplorable character?” became a common question from European friends. The days rolled by on my digital calendar, and I started to see and hear family members support Donald Trump as their candidate. It was like a living nightmare. I don’t know how else to describe it. How can people that exhort others to love as Jesus Christ loved reconcile their beliefs with supporting the human embodiment of selfish ambition? Hashtags like #neverhillary started appearing as more Christian leaders jumped on the Trump Bandwagon. These bandwagoners were men and women I used to respect, like Franklin Graham and David Barton. My writing group was over at my flat for a write-in (Camp NaNoWriMo stuff) when one of them said, “Who is David Barton, and why does it matter that he’s supporting Donald Trump?” My immediate reaction was to choke down the vomit that crept up my throat. Say it ain’t so David Barton! My husband and I have been unsure about him because of a few weird things here and there, but this was too much. I have heard him speak countless times at various churches, and he understands the complex political history of our country and claims to love Jesus Christ. According to Right Wing Watch,

“The listener asked Barton if there is anything that delegates can do to stop the nomination of Trump, to which Barton replied that Christians should simply accept that Trump is ‘God’s guy’ in this election.”

What?! Am I the only one who appalled by this? God’s guy? Really? No, David Barton, I do not simply accept that.

Ironically, this was the banner that greeted me when I went to read about David Barton's recommendation for Christians to vote for Donald Trump as president.
Ironically, this was the banner that greeted me when I went to read about David Barton’s recommendation for Christians to vote for Donald Trump as president. LGBT is the one minority community Trump tries to avoid insulting, though he often fails.

*Insert sorrow filled sigh* As bad as that was, things got worse. Eric Metaxas is was one of my heroes. He is an acclaimed author that has written biographies for human rights frontrunners like abolitionist William Wilberforce and spy against the Nazi’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer. My husband doesn’t like to read. It’s ok, I still love him. But my husband reads Metaxas’s books. He finds them inspirational and full of difficult truths. Eric Metaxas is also Greek American, which inclines me toward him, since many of the important people in my life are Greek. Eric Metaxas is now campaigning hard for Donald Trump, stating in a TheDCFN interview that “Donald Trump is not some great man of virtue, but this much I’ll say for him,” Metaxas told TheDCNF. “I think he loves America and I don’t think he wants to line his own pockets. At this point, that is the kind of virtue that we are talking about.”

According to an article interviewing Donald Trump’s former Ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Donald Trump’s main goal is to line his pockets, and the only person or thing he is capable of loving is Donald Trump.

In his journal, Schwartz wrote, “Trump stands for many of the things I abhor: his willingness to run over people, the gaudy, tacky, gigantic obsessions, the absolute lack of interest in anything beyond power and money.”

“I don’t do it for the money,” Trump declares. “I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.” Schwartz now laughs at this depiction of Trump as a devoted artisan. “Of course he’s in it for the money,” he said. “One of the most deep and basic needs he has is to prove that ‘I’m richer than you.’ ”

Whenever “the thin veneer of Trump’s vanity is challenged,” Schwartz says, he overreacts—not an ideal quality in a head of state.

The other problem is that Trump not only lies, but becomes convinced that his lies are true. In The New Yorker article, Schwartz reveals:

“Lying is second nature to him,” Schwartz said.

And

“More than anyone else I have ever met, Trump has the ability to convince himself that whatever he is saying at any given moment is true, or sort of true, or at least ought to be true.”

Schwartz’s Warning

There are many important points in the mentioned article, and I am inclined to believe Schwartz. He has nothing to gain from speaking against Trump. It is clear that this tell-all is an attempt to appease his aching conscious. Schwartz states his regrets over connecting his life with Trumps in any way, and I wonder how similar American voters will feel after having voted for someone who displays all the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Christians in the US seemed to willfully ignore the presence of decent human beings during the primaries like attorney and politician Ted Cruz. Libertarian Candidate Governor Gary Johnson seems much more ethical than a vote for Trump, but as I’ve seen over and over people I love and admire are saying things like, “A vote for Johnson is a vote for Hillary Clinton.” This type of thinking goes against the attitude our founding fathers attempted to establish when they created the Republic.

Trump’s Message to America’s Daughters

Just for the sake of irony, I want to mention the fact that American Christian’s were so against Romney for being Mormon, but they accept all of Donald Trump’s anti-human rights rhetoric. Do we really want someone running our country that shames people for their physical appearance? Stop lying and saying that Trump is a good person when ALL of the evidence is to the contrary. Tell me one good thing he has done. If you think I’m being fanatical, click here for a list of seven respected Christian leaders who agree with me including Max Lucado who wrote that

“Trump would not make it through the “decency interview” he requires for those who date his daughters.”

Speaking of daughters, would you feel ok with anyone teaching your daughter that

“It doesn’t really matter what the media writes as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass?”

Or that

“You’re disgusting!”

…if you choose to breastfeed your child? Check out this article for more gems of wisdom Trump wants to instill in our nation’s daughters. And don’t forget about Trump’s public shaming of Ted Cruz for having a “less attractive” wife. That is the kind of man you are choosing to vote for as President.

I encourage you to read “Trump’s Boswell Speaks,” in The New Yorker and form your own opinions.

In Conclusion

To say that my heart is grieved that people teaching this

“And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:44-45

support someone who says something like this

“The point is, you can never be too greedy.” – Donald Trump

would be an understatement of epic proportions.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

Aggie’s Inheritance Series – My Favorite Christian Fiction

Aggie's Inheritance Series by Chautona Havig

I don’t normally promote fictional books on this website, but I decided to make an exception for my favorite fiction series, as a fourth book is coming out in several weeks. I adore this series by author Chautona Havig. The main character, Aggie, inherits 8 children after her sister and brother-in-law die in an accident. This faith filled adventure shows that God is constantly with us in our struggles, although He doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we expect Him to. These books have ministered to me in such an intense way. You will laugh, cheer, and cry as Aggie makes progress daily, and the children grieve and realize that their Aunt really does have their best interest at heart. I also love the supporting characters in this book. It definitely takes an army, and Aggie knows and meets plenty of people that are willing to help. Although, some of them cause more complications for Aggie than she can handle. Before the fourth book comes out, I encourage you to catch up on the first three (You can get all three together for Kindle for only $9.97). Here are the links, and descriptions for each.

Ready or Not (Aggie’s Inheritance Book 1)

Fresh out of college, Aggie Milliken thinks she’s prepared for anything life can throw her way. Think again, Aggie!

After the abrupt loss of her sister and brother-in-law, Aggie is stunned to find herself the sole guardian of their eight lively children. If learning basic parenting skills wasn’t complicated enough, she must also battle the children’s half-crazed grandmother, survive a massive remodeling project, and navigate the waters of new friendships-alone.

She has little experience with children and none with housekeeping, and it shows. What she has going for her is grit, a double dose of determination, and the confidence that this is exactly where the Lord wants her to be. With an unlimited P-mail account and enough hymns to keep her spirits bolstered, she tackles one catastrophe after another.

It seems like nothing Aggie does is right, but ready or not, here she comes!

For Keeps (Aggie’s Inheritance Book 2)

Her first six months of “motherhood” included an ant infestation, a major move, house renovation, and lessons in how to be a mom to eight lively children. Now that the house is nearly complete, her children are headed back to school, and she has a few tantrums under her hymn-singing belt, Aggie is certain life will settle down. Poor Aggie… William makes his intentions known, Luke and his mother are always there for her, and between a new kitten, a box full of puppies, and chicken pox, Aggie’s home begins to resemble the local zoo! Her children keep testing the waters, the unrealistic budgets she makes refuse to balance, and she learns that life with children means that nothing stays done and perfect for long. Add Geraldine and her histrionics to the mix and it’s no wonder she’s ready to run away from home. When a surprise letter arrives, everything could turn upside down. Relief is in sight, but can she bring herself to jump to plan B? Has this just been a practice game, or is she playing for keeps? Will her household shrink drastically, or will it expand?

Here We Come (Aggie’s Inheritance Book 3)

In the hubbub of wedding preparations, Christmas celebrations, and a house full of lively children, Aggie is feeling overwhelmed and unappreciated. Add to that two puppies who are growing faster than she can replace chewed shoes and fix dug fences, it seems like things just can’t get any worse. Then, as she should be enjoying the most exciting time of her life, she’s faced with her worst nightmare.

Ante Up (Aggie’s Inheritance Book 4) is coming in just a few short weeks! I can’t wait to read it, and I hope you are just as excited.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

The Basics: I Can’t Please Everyone

This post is part of The Basics series, where we talk about the basics of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Last night I woke up after having one long, extended nightmare, full of all the difficult relationships I have been through in the last several years. It felt like in the dream, I was being pulled apart. I wanted the freedom to choose things for myself, but several people kept demanding that I do what they said I should do with my life. The dream bothered me so much because it was based on real conflict I have had, some of it recent, some not so recent. It’s embarrassing to admit that I am finally beginning to understand that I can’t please everyone. But that’s what grace is for.

can't please everyone

Compliance

I’m what you would call compliant. That was my coping mechanism for growing up in a verbally abusive environment. What does compliant mean? Let’s look it up:

compliant: adj. complying; obeying, obliging, or yielding, especially in a submissive way.

That sounds right. Compliant people often approach uncomfortable situations out of fear, because in the past their honest feelings have been met with anger or rejection. These three quotes from “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend do a great job of explaining why compliant people, like me, avoid setting healthy boundaries in their lives.

“Because of these fears, we try to have secret boundaries. We withdraw passively and quietly, instead of communicating an honest no to someone we love. We secretly resent instead of telling someone that we are angry about how they have hurt us.”

“Jesus refers to it as the ‘narrow gate.’ It is always easier to go through the ‘broad gate of destruction’ and continue to not set boundaries where we need to. But, the result is always the same: destruction. Only the honest, purposeful life leads to good fruit. Deciding to set boundaries is difficult because it requires decision making and confrontation, which, in turn, may cause pain to someone you love.”

“We can’t manipulate people into swallowing our boundaries by sugarcoating them. Boundaries are a ‘litmus test’ for the quality of our relationships. Those people in our lives who can respect our boundaries will love our wills, our opinions, our separateness. Those who can’t respect our boundaries are telling us that they don’t love our no. They only love our yes, our compliance.”

Boundaries and Rejection

That last quote describes me exactly. I have let other people cross every boundary in my life because I didn’t want to say no. I didn’t want to risk more confrontation. I wanted to please everyone else, and left my family open to abuse because of that. A lack of setting healthy boundaries has proved to be a destructive pattern in my life that I don’t want to continue. But setting boundaries is really, really hard. Once you set the boundary, you have no control over how the other person will react. Here are two more quotes that illustrate why it is difficult to establish boundaries with others, but why it is extremely important.

“Setting limits has to do with telling the truth. The Bible clearly distinguishes between those who love truth and those who don’t. First, there is the person who welcomes your boundaries. Who accepts them. Who listens to them. Who says, ‘I’m glad you have a separate opinion. It makes me a better person.’ This person is called wise, or righteous. The second type hates limits. Resents your difference. Tries to manipulate you into giving up your treasures. Try our ‘litmus test’ experiment with your significant relationships. Tell them no in some area. You’ll either come out with increased intimacy—or learn that there was very little to begin with.”

“A common scenario is this: one spouse doesn’t have good emotional boundaries with the family he grew up in—his family of origin. Then when he has contact with them by phone or in person, he becomes depressed, argumentative, self-critical, perfectionistic, angry, combative, or withdrawn. It is as though he ‘catches’ something from his family of origin and passes it on to his immediate family. His family of origin has the power to affect his new family in a trickle-down effect. One sure sign of boundary problems is when your relationship with one person has the power to affect your relationships with others. You are giving one person way too much power in your life.”

It is depressing to find out that relationships you treasure are not as intimate as you hoped. The feelings of rejection associated with having your boundaries rejected hurts. The pain can be almost unbearable. Thankfully we have Jesus, and He can relate to us in our feelings of rejection because He also was rejected by the very people He was sent to minister to. People He loved dearly. When He went to Nazareth to share that He had come to fulfill the promises in Isaiah 61, their response was rejection.

“So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.” -Luke 4:28-30

I Can’t Please Everyone

Jesus accepted the fact that He couldn’t please everyone. For me, that is a difficult thing to accept, especially if the other person is a Christian. My thought process goes something like this: Well, they read the same Bible I do, they love the same God I love, that means they will be able to respect that I am trying to please God, not them, doesn’t it? But it isn’t that simple. I have to decide right now, who am I more interested in pleasing? Is it others? Is it my own flesh? Or is it actually God? And if it’s God, then what boundaries do I need to establish in my relationships with others so that I can communicate clearly what it is that God wants me to do? That doesn’t mean I impose my convictions on others, but that I expect them not to constantly argue to change what my convictions or non-sinful choices are. If I am in sin, I want to be rebuked, but if one person in my life constantly rebukes me for every choice I make (whether those choices are sinful or not) it is very unlikely that I will actually be able to feel conviction if they are warning me about a specific sin I have committed. My friend Joy (she’s amazing!) described it to me this way, “The best thing to do whenever you are accused of something is to take it straight to the Lord and ask Him if it is true. Always respond in humility. The second thing you need to do after praying is evaluate who it is that has rebuked you. Is this person regularly involved in your life? Do they know what is going on day to day with you? Has anyone else (or several people) talked to you about the same sinful behavior? These are important things to consider when you are trying to figure out what is true when people accuse you of sin. If we start with the assumption that it is very possible we have committed that sin, and then take it to the Lord, it saves so much time and heartache.” I told you she’s amazing. God has really gifted her with helping people understand what is righteous, and what is not.

So there you go, that’s where I am right now in my journey to establishing healthy boundaries in my relationships. It’s not fun, but I know it’s necessary. And now when I encourage other people to create healthy boundaries in their own lives, I understand how difficult it is, and I can be a better support person for them. God is good, and He is so patient with me as I learn how to better glorify Him with my life.

What are some ways that you can establish healthy boundaries in your relationships? Need some ideas? Check out this book for yourself. There is a reason “Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No” is a best seller, and it’s not because it is full of unhelpful fluff that makes people feel good to read (like so many other books on the market right now). The principles in this book are life-changing because they are based on the Bible.

Let’s pray.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for Your Word. Thank you for people that write books to help us understand Your Word better. Thank you that You have a plan for each of our lives, and that those plans are not dependent on us making others happy. Please help us to be righteous, and to please You above anyone else (including us). Thank You that Jesus understands us when we feel rejected, and that You always love us.

Amen.

I’m praying for you, dear reader! May the Lord strengthen you and encourage you as you seek to do His will.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin

Can God Trust Me With Disappointment?

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.

entrusted with disappointment

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.

Sincerely,

Kristin

My Personal Struggle With Masturbation

Yes, you read the title right. Some of you are frequently saying, “Kristin, why do you even need a personal journal? You already tell us everything! You are so transparent!” Well, I don’t tell you everything. But over the last few months, I have felt God stirring me to share my struggle in this specific area, because I am finally far enough a way from it that I can talk about it. I can’t tell you how many years it has been since I’ve lapsed into this destructive and damaging behavior, because I haven’t been keeping track, but it has been a while. Am I mortified to share about this publicly? Of course, but God told me to, so I’m pushing through that.

my personal struggle with masturbation

But The Bible Doesn’t Say…

I will be the first one to admit that the Bible doesn’t specifically say that masturbation (aka self-gratification) is a sin. It doesn’t, and if you see people using the verse below to say that, you should humbly challenge them.

“And Judah said to Onan, ‘God in to your brother’s wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother.’ But Onan knew that the heir would not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in to his brother’s wife, that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD; therefore He killed him also.” Genesis 38:8-10

The point of this verse isn’t that “emitting” on the ground will get you killed. That is lazy Bible teaching. In this situation Onan’s heart was against God’s will from the very beginning, and his defiance against the Lord shows how rebellious his heart was. This post isn’t about an open act of rebellion against God (although sin is rebellion against God in nature). This post is about an addictive behavior that causes guilt, shame, and can damage our relationship with God.

A “Natural” Curiosity

My husband and I have been talking about this topic a lot because we have kids, and we are trying to decide what age is appropriate to introduce more in depth facts about human physiology to them. My husband was shocked when I told him I wasn’t even aware I had a vagina until my mom told me when she was explaining God’s plan for reproduction. Listen, girl parts are not self activating like boy parts are. I just didn’t know. But once I found out I kept hearing things like, “It is natural to explore your body,” from peers, teachers in my health class, magazines, and television. If you think your kids won’t pick up on these clues from the world, you’re probably wrong. I wish someone had taken me aside and said, “This behavior is going to follow you into your marriage and cause you guilt for years.” But my parents didn’t know about it, and I sure wasn’t going to tell them! Read more

A Heart Without A Home

Lately I have been discouraged. Many of my frustrations have revolved around Facebook. The online thought board is reflection of deeper issues. I have no home. Two things happened to me this week. First, there was a single event with a popular news personality. Yes, I got into a debate with someone that has the masses behind them, and they insulted me, repeatedly. That was fun. Secondly, there have been a series of events running through my newsfeed about racism. The anger and hatred have finally pierced my normally thick, peach skin.

a heart without a home

I Don’t Fit

As I look on the posts and news articles that flow over the ocean via the internet into my computer from my home country, I feel lost. My argument with the news personality really highlighted this, because normally I can somewhat relate to Christian culture in the US. But this news personality went on a sensationalist rant about an article that a university student had written. He called her article stupid, over and over. I rarely follow his links, but I thought I should read the original article to see what could possibly warrant that kind of attack on such a young person. I didn’t agree with the proposition of her article, which was that the government should pay for feminine products in pursuit of gender equality. However, in the article she raised an interesting point about homeless women not being able to afford tampons and pads, and I thought, that is interesting. Something that is interesting should not be called stupid, no matter how much you disagree with the rest of it. My comment said as much, and that the blogger had become a sensationalist after signing on with a popular news network. His response was dismissive and sensational (which is ironic) and his fans attacked me and called me stupid and unintelligent. They called me a hater. Normally I wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t bother me. But most of these people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Christians should not gather so quickly on a bandwagon in the name of politics to publicly shame a college girl, or a random online commenter (me in this case). Because I refuse to polarize people, there is no place for me in supposed Christian communities like these. I’m a misfit.

I Must Be A Liar

Then there is the issue of race. I’m white. Apparently that means I am racist. I did not have any control over where my ancestors were born, just like you did not. The amount of hatred aimed at white people by others is not helping the racist situation in the United States. It is only making it worse. Trying to shame people for being white is just as racist as trying to shame them for being any other race. This approach will never have a positive outcome. It was Martin Luther Kind Jr. that said, “Darkness can never drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It is so true, but I’m not allowed to quote a black preacher because I’m white. However, it is also a principle that we see repeated in the Bible.

“If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” -1 John 4:20

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.” -Proverbs 10:12

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a hard word stirs up anger.” -Proverbs 15:1

So what do I suggest as an alternative to shaming every white person in the United States as a racist? I would say that we should follow the example of Jesus Christ. We love, and pray for those, yes even those that despise and hate us.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34-35

I am an immigrant living in another country and culture where I have no advantages and I struggle to communicate in a language that is not my own. I don’t consider myself to be racist, but that doesn’t matter. My children are white, and that does not inherently make them racist. But maybe they will be counted as the rare exception because they have not grown up in the US. Regardless of if they are considered racist or not, I teach them to love others and that other cultures are not wrong because their choices differ from ours. When they are mean or hateful to anyone, I teach them it is wrong, and there are consequences.

You may be a cynic and assume I am a liar. Or perhaps you and optimist and think that I deceive my own heart. In this situation even the optimist must condemn me of racism simply because I was born a white person in the United States. Either way I am an enigma that cannot exist.

Then there is the issue of nationalistic pride that exists in every other country, but let’s pretend that the United States is the only country that exists, just like we always do.

A Heart Without A Home

It has become clear to me over the lasts few years that I no longer have any place in the States, where I was born. I’m too defensive of other cultures for the nominal Christians, and too Christian and white for everyone else. Well, you may say, at least you have Europe, where you live. But I don’t fit here either. The truth is that I will never fit anywhere on this planet again.

Heaven is the only home I claim, and one day my heart will be home there as well, when I am gone from this world.

Sincerely adorned,

Kristin Spencer

The Basics: I’m a Selfish Sociopath that needs Self-Control

sociopath: noun 1. a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense or moral responsibility or social conscience.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22-23

I hope that you are starting to notice a pattern emerging from this series. I talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit an awful lot, and there is a good reason for that. A few months ago I wrote a post about love, the most important fruit we have, but today I want to focus on the key to being able to use the gifts of the Spirit at all times, even when we don’t feel like it. Today we are going to talk about self-control.

self control

The Makings of a Selfish Sociopath

If selfish ambitions have been the prison in my life, self-control has been the key that opened the door for my release. What does that mean? Well, if you look at the works of the flesh (found in Galatians 5:19-21), you will notice that self ambition is on the list. Self ambition, which means that you care more about yourself and your desires than others, will cause us to fail at every single one of the fruits of the spirit. But why? Well in our flesh, we are selfish. That means that we are capable of doing whatever it takes to get whatever we want. It means that I am capable of becoming a sociopath. That is in direct contrast with loving, being peaceful, being kind, being gentle, and so on and so forth — you get the idea. Apart from the Holy Spirit, every single one of us is capable of murder, molestation, rape, and adultery, just to name a few. This may shock you. If you believe that you are above committing any of these sins, you are being deceived. According to the Bible, our hearts are deceitfully wicked, and the works of the flesh are evident. Look at these two verses with me:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” -Jeremiah 17:9

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” -Galatians 5:19-21 Read more

The Basics: To Hear God’s Voice

This post is part of “The Basics” series, a series all about the basics of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

The last post in this series was about praying. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. But what comes next? Well if you want to get to know God better, and start trusting Him, you need to give Him opportunities to talk to you, to teach you, to love you. This starts with the regular intake of God’s word, but we need the Holy Spirit to help us understand what God is trying to tell us.  We need to hear God’s still, small voice.

We need to hear God's voice

Nothing At All

One of the things that alluded me most when I was a baby Christian was hearing from God. I remember that I wanted to hear from Him so badly, but days would go by without anything. Not a verse, not a word, not an answered prayer. I read my bible every day, but some days I didn’t understand the connection between the words on paper, and my life.

Looking back on those times has made me think about you, dear reader. I have spent a lot of time praying about this specific topic, asking God to show me what He would have me say to you about it.

The Practicing Stage

When I was praying about it God reminded of a common scene that took place in my life at that time. I can still see myself, sitting at my desk (under my lofted bed), resting my feet on the ledge while I reclined in my office chair, quiet. Not saying anything. Trying not to think. Practicing. Listening.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they know Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:27-28

I don’t mind being the dumb sheep in this equation as long as the brave, strong shepherd is Jesus Christ. Sheep know the specific voice of their shepherd, but why? Because they hear it over and over again. They spend time with the shepherd until one day they would be able to tell his voice apart from any other voice. That is the same thing we need to do when we are getting to know Jesus. We need to spend time listening to Him. That doesn’t always mean we will hear Him, but we need to practice so that day can come when we can tell His voice apart from all of the others. We need to invest time in trying to understand our Father in heaven. Do you ever pray and then just sit there waiting for an answer? I used to do just that. I would sit there and try to focus on hearing from God. Many times nothing would happen, but it was good practice, and these days I do hear from God a lot more often.

Sitting Still

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

I could take this verse very literally and say, “Sit still!” when you want to hear from God. But I don’t think that is what this verse means. On one level, sure, but there is so much more to it than that. For men maybe this verse means, “Stop trying to fix this!” For women I feel like this verse means, “Stop worrying and overthinking everything. Relax and trust me. I’m God. Stop letting your mind run scenarios like a hamster on a wheel, going nowhere. I’ve got this.” Notice that God has to use a few more words to get through to us women 😉 I don’t know about you, but I am very tempted not to sit still. I want to do something when I have a problem or something comes up. I always want to go talk to someone about everything. In fact I want to go talk to many someones. I think talking over everything in detail will make me feel better. Over the years, however, God has shown me that I need to take my worries and hurts to Him first. First of all, I may be overreacting, which He lovingly reminds me of once I calm down if that is the case. Secondly, I don’t want to involve anyone else in gossip, if the thing that is upsetting me has to do with someone else. Sometimes the best way for me to tell God about what is really bothering me is to think about what I would say to a close friend, and then say it to God instead. Being still means that you don’t react based on your emotions, but take a moment, talk to God, and try to deal with the situation based on God’s Word and God’s desires for your life. As a parent, I am constantly being tested in this area.

Am I Really Saying That God Speaks

I know that everyone has different experiences when it comes to hearing from God. I think we all know when He is speaking to us through a verse in the bible, when we hear the same phrase from several different people within a few days, or when someone prays for us about something that we never told them about. These are generally accepted ways of hearing from God in the Christian community. But then there are arguments about whether people actually hear from God individually. I can tell you that in my own life, I also experience God as a type of consciousness.

“Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

Sometimes I hear a voice in my head telling me to do something, or responding to a question during prayer. It sounds a lot like my inner voice (like when you read) but it is a lot quieter, gentler, and doesn’t get angry like I do. This voice also says things that are far too wise to come from myself. If you think I’m being crazy, I don’t care, that’s ok. But if you relate to what I am saying, then I wrote this for you.

That Other Voice

If you already thought I was being crazy when I talked about hearing a conscious form of God speaking to me, you are not going to like this next part. There have been a few times in my life when I have experienced hearing another voice, kind of like the voice I described earlier. However it actually sounded and felt different— it wasn’t wise, at all. It was condemning and challenged me to do stupid things that would put my family and I in danger in a quest for self righteousness. God would never do that. I don’t want to scare you, I just want you to know to be careful. We do know this about satan:

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” John 10:10a

This is Jesus talking about satan… whom he calls, “the thief.” If you don’t think that satan will try to imitate God’s methods of communications to make you an ineffective Christian, you are wrong. Use discretion and listen for the Holy Spirit warning you, telling you not to listen to this destructive force that seeks to manipulate, steal, kill, and destroy.

That is all I have for this week about hearing God’s voice. If you have any questions about this topic, please send them in and I would love to do my best to answer them.

Next time, I will be talking about my new book, “The Truth About Godly Confidence,” that will hit online retailers next week. I hope you will join me for that.

Let’s pray.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for this time. Lord, I pray that You would please help my sisters to know how to hear from you. I know that there is a specific way that you desire to speak to each one of them. I pray that they would learn to be still so that they can hear Your voice, which we all need so desperately. Thank You that You actually want to communicate with us, and that You love us so much that you sent Your Son to die on the cross so that we can be with You in heaven for all eternity. We love you Lord.

In Your Son’s precious name,

Amen

I hope you tune in next week!

Sincerely Adorned,

Kristin