Power in Weakness

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Those of you joining me on the Made To Crave journey, this is when it begins to get difficult. We are a little over halfway into the study and the excitement and “newness” has worn off. We have learned that our worth and identity isn’t tied to any type of number. However, many on the study blog are feeling defeated and discouraged. I would like to encourage you today.

Many times in our lives God is going to ask us to give up or let go of something we hold dear. For some it may be that bag of chips you can’t put down, the afternoon bottle of pop, late-night snacking or even a dream you’ve been holding on to so tightly. You see, in order for us to realize God’s power in our lives we have to be willing to let go. These things, though not inherently bad on their own, have clouded our vision. We are craving these and running to them before God.

For me, the mere thought of giving up on a specific goal in my life makes me weak in the knees. I ask myself, why? Why would God want me to give this up? It would reach out and help others, right? I just don’t understand. But then, God doesn’t need to clear His plans with me. He sees the big picture because He painted it, whereas I only see a little sliver.

In the past, I would stress about needing to figure everything out. I have woken up with anxiety attacks and been so deep in despair, I couldn’t see my way out. However, it was at one of those lowest times that I discovered I was going about it all wrong. I am not supposed to figure everything out or fix things and neither are you. The truth is found in this week’s verse.

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The apostle Paul had asked repeatedly for God to restore his health and that is not how God answered those prayers. Paul began to realize the power of God through his physical weakness. God tells us that in our weakness He is our strength. We can’t ever realize God’s strength if we are solely relying on our own. You and I can become so wrapped up in our own lives that we don’t even realize it. Therefore, God has to bring us to the point of weakness so that we will desire His strength, His way and His power, which is complete. But it can only be complete when we turn over everything that we are putting before Him.

You and I may have vastly different weaknesses in our lives, but one thing is evident, we both must chose to trust completely in God and let His power be our strength.

 

Your Turn:

How are you dealings with cravings and weaknesses this week? I encourage you to let go of whatever you are holding on to and allow God’s power alone to be your strength.

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It’s Not All In The Numbers

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Before you close this window thinking it is just another blog about losing weight and it doesn’t apply to you, please stop and read on.

Whether you agree with it or not, numbers are all around us. They describe our friends on Facebook. Followers on twitter, pinterest or instagram. For writers and speakers, numbers encapsulate the dreaded “platform”. Numbers also describe the number of people attending a party you are hosting or Christmas and birthday cards you receive each year. It is all around us, you cannot escape it, but do not let that trip you up because your identity and worth are not tied to any or even all of those numbers and statistics. You see we have been looking at all these numbers, including those on the scale, in all the wrong way.

God, not a number of any kind, defines who we are. Never forget just how much He loves and values you, but don’t just stop where you are because in essence you are limiting God – limiting what He can do in and through your life when you don’t obey.

In my current book proposal, Escape Clause, I examine how we put limits on what God can do in our lives through limiting Him in our prayers. I have seen this and know it to be true. Yet, I didn’t even realize that our obedience, or lack there of, is doing the exact same thing.

You see when we choose to obey God it unleashes the power that it holds. Just like there is no limit to His love; there is no limit to what He can do in our lives. When we choose to obey, we are opening a door for God to reveal Himself. It also gives each one of us the opportunity to get one step closer to fulfilling the calling God has on our lives.

Up to this point, I never really thought of my lack of obedience as limiting God and the calling on my life. This whole idea has put an entirely different spin on things. It has given me a new perspective.

I do not want to limit how God can work in and through my life. I want to be used by Him and therefore, I need to serve and obey where God has me at this point in my life instead of sitting and pouting because it is not how I had it planned out. It is not about you or me – it is all about Him. I need to step out of the way, lay my plans down, give Him a willing and obedient heart and see what He will do.

I no longer want to limit God’s best for my life because of my failure to obey. I’m thanking God for these new “glasses” today to see this all from a different perspective. And I am choosing today to surrender to His will and plan for my life. What about you?

Who Am I? Discovering the “Me” I’m Meant To Be

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We fall victim to societal pressure to believe that our appearance, status and possessions will make our lives better. When we give into this notion, we are letting society construct our identity. The real question we need to ask ourselves is where does our identity come from?

Another way to put this is: What types of things define a person? Say, for example, you were to introduce yourself to someone you do not know: How would you define yourself? Would you define yourself by your family relationships, by a professional title, or lack of one, or by where you live or go to church? People generally define themselves by age, intelligence, education, marital status, material things, and family.

Satan, the Enemy, knows exactly how and where to attack each one of us. He knows where we are vulnerable. As Christians, we need to learn to recognize the lies and replace them with God’s truth. Satan wants us to focus on our flaws and feelings of inadequacy, and then exhaust ourselves trying to hide them. God, on the other hand, wants us to focus on His acceptance, security and significance and thank Him for His promises that remind us of who we are in Him. We need to remember that God is well pleased with us before we do anything simply because we are His children.

God was there from the very beginning. He spoke each one of us into our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), at just the right time to be here now. It was not by accident, nor was it a surprise to God. We need to get rid of any image of ourselves that is not from God. We have to stop believing what others have said or how we have been labeled in the past, and stop accepting how others define us.

This is a concept that I have struggled with for some time. Honestly, it is so much easier for me to believe the negative than the positive about myself. My insecurities about myself and falling victim to the lies started back in the first grade. My teacher’s negative comments stuck with me. Throughout school, I became more swayed by what others thought about me. Before long, I could not even begin to answer the question, Who am I? Because I had no idea. I had lost all sense of “me” and who I really was. It took quite a while to break free from those lies. In fact if I let my defenses down, the lies and insecurities start to infiltrate my mind and try to take over even to this day.

When we let these lies take hold in our mind, we begin to feel as if we have to hide behind a mask. That way, we can present to the world what we think they want to see. In actuality, by listening to others instead of God to frame our identity, we are building a wall that masks who we truly are. With the empowering of the Holy Spirit and prayer, we can start taking down this wall that has been built by others piece by piece to pave the path to victory — our identity in Christ.

When you start comparing others’ outside with your inside, you need to stop and be reminded what God says about you. (identities from Made To Crave – Lysa TerKeurst, 52)

  • Forgiven child of God (Romans 3:24)
  • Set-free child of God (Romans 8:1-2)
  • Accepted child of God (1 Corinthians 1:2)
  • Holy child of God (1 Corinthians 1:30)
  • Made-new child of God (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Loved child of God (Ephesians 1:4)
  • Close child of God (Ephesians 2:13)
  • Confident child of God (Ephesians 3:12)
  • Victorious child of God (Romans 8:37)

When the comparisons start flooding your mind, let the words of this song, More Beautiful You, wash over you. You are loved, special and beautiful – just as you are.

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you today loaded down with the burden of trying to be what others want me to be. I ask that you take this from me and remind me that my identity comes from you alone. You formed me for a specific purpose and plan. You do not make mistakes. Therefore, help me to daily let my true identity in You shine forth. In Your Precious Name, Amen.

The Mended Heart – Book Review

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I had the privilege of reading an excerpt of The Mended Heart by Suzanne Eller this weekend before its release on February 4th and I just had to tell you about it.

I would daresay that we have all experienced some kind of hurt or brokenness in our lives. This is a reality we cannot escape. Many have tried countless times and failed to “fix” the hurt. If you are masking the hurt and brokenness in your life then The Mended Heart is the book you have been searching for.

Suzanne shines the light on God’s truth that Jesus came to set us free and heal our brokenness. This is not something we were meant to do on our own. The Mended Heart gives you the courage you need to take that first step to healing – trusting God.

I highly recommend you take a look at the first chapter of this book and then preorder it today. Words can’t begin to express how deeply Suzanne’s words touched me. She is willingly sharing the message God has given her. Don’t live in hurt and brokenness anymore; trust God and let Him mend your heart.

Psalm 84:2

My-soul-years-Psalm-842Each one of us was create to crave, that yearning, longing was knit into our being by our Creator. God also gave us free will. Therefore, it is our choice where we place our focus. Our focus leads to a craving.

As I enter this first week of the Made to Crave online Bible study, I am amazed at what God is already bringing to light in my life. This study is not designed strictly for people who desire to lose weight. No, this study is for anyone who craves anything above God. Let that sink in. If that applies to you, I encourage you to take that first step and sign up for the study.

The key verse for this week really speaks to the desire to crave God above all else.

“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord, my heart

and my flesh cry out for the living God.” Psalm 84:2

Let’s break this verse apart and see what it is saying to us. The phrase “my soul yearns, even faints” is describing a deep longing or craving, if you will, to be in God’s presence. This same idea is expressed by the Psalmist in Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for God.”

Take a moment; push the cold winter weather out of your mind and think of a hot summer day. You have been out in the garden working or laying on the beach (imagine your favorite summer activity) and you are hot and thirsty. You cannot think of doing anything until you get a big glass of ice water. That very desire is the type of longing we are to have for God – wanting to be in His presence more than anything else.

The last part of the verse, “my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” simply means that every part of our being – internal and external – is calling out to God.

Don’t let failures in the past keep you from coming to God. His mercies are new every morning.

This is a journey comprised of one decision and one step at a time. Let me assure you that though it may not be an easy road it is the only way to gain true and lasting peace.

Take a moment to watch this video and let the words wash over you today.

 

Your Turn:

  • Take a moment and rewrite Psalm 84:2, making it personal (insert your name where it says “my”). I encourage you to make that the desire of your heart
  • What is holding you back or getting in your way from craving God?
  • I would love to pray for you today, simply leave a request in the comment section.
  • If you are participating in the Made to Crave study, please let me know. I would like to connect with you.

Condemnation versus Conviction

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The reflection verse for Week 5 of the A Confident Heart Online Bible Study is one that I cling to.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” (Romans 8:1, NIV)

It is so easy to fall victim to condemnation, from our self, as well as, others. When condemnation comes against you, let me encourage you to quote this scripture as a word weapon. This verse is so powerful because no matter what you have done or will do, there is no condemnation in Christ. The Holy Spirit will convict us when we have sinned, so that we can repent. Condemnation, on the other hand, comes from ourselves and satan. Therefore we need to remind satan and yourself, that you do not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Walking after the flesh is depending on yourself; walking after the Spirit is depending upon God. When we fail, which we all will, that does not mean we are a failure. It simply means that you do not do everything right. We all have to accept the fact that we have strengths along with weaknesses. Let Christ be strong in your weaknesses. Let Him be your strength on your weak days.

Priceless

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I’m sure many of you are familiar with the credit card commercial that went something like this:

Pizza with everyone’s favorite toppings – $30

Board game everyone can agree upon – $20

Quality time with family – PRICELESS

I just love those. It really makes you stop and think about what is important and of value in your life.

I know that as a wife and mother, I couldn’t begin to quantify my love for my husband and children. That’s why this week’s key verse in A Confident Heart study really hit home with me.

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 36:7, NIV).

God’s unfailing love for each one of us is priceless. The Hebrew word for unfailing love is one of the most important in the Old Testament and central to God’s character. No matter what you and I do, He will always love us because His love does not depend upon our actions. It is everlasting.

Dear friend, not only does God love us, but He likes us and accepts us. You and I can truly be ourselves and not fear rejection.

This principle ties directly into the name of God used in this scripture – Elohim. It refers to God as the creator. Nothing exists by accident. We didn’t come into being by chance. Each and every one of us was fearfully and wonderfully made. God displayed His love and care for us by carefully crafting us, knitting us, together with His loving hands. Never doubt your love and importance to the creator of all.

The last part of the verse talks about taking “refuge in the shadow of your wings.” You and I need to solely put our trust in God because He is our only reliable source of refuge – our strong tower.

I truly believe that if we really grasp the depths of God’s love for each one of us we would live differently. I encourage you to discover by reading, studying and spending time with God a glimpse of how much He truly loves and accepts you this week.

Speaking of priceless, I want to leave you with this song.

When the kids were younger, I can remember hearing their voices sing out this song whenever it came on the radio. Let us curl up and take refuge in the shadow of our Heavenly Father and not lose that child-like faith and love.

A Heart at Rest

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Saying yes to God is not something that you do once and simply move on, like an item on a checklist. One yes to God will take you on a journey that will have additional forks in the road where you will have to choose to say yes and follow God’s leading or go your own way.

Many times I have thoughts I knew best. I knew what I should be doing, the goal in mind and exactly the steps I needed to take to get there. However, I didn’t consult God first before setting out. I thought I had it all figured out.

Having traveled this way more times than I care to recall, I can attest to the fact that I was carrying a lot of baggage on my trip. I am not referring to my clothes and cute shoes; no I mean fears, anxiety, doubt and stress. You see, going out on your own we have to carry the load. This generally leads to discouragement, frustration and being overwhelmed.

Through the course of the What Happens When Women Say Yes to God study, I have turned in my excess baggage for peace and rest. This is not to say that my journey is smooth sailing. It just means that I no longer need to let doubts and fears dictate what I will do. By saying yes to God and trusting His leading, I can let go of fears strangling grip and truly find rest in Him.

God has a specific purpose and plan for each one of us. However, we must decide whether we will say yes to His path and leading in our lives.

By giving God command of our lives, we can realize what it feels like to have a heart at rest.

What path will you choose? What will you say yes to?

Lower Your Nets

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It amazes me how God can take something so small and turn it into something amazing and beyond anything I could ever hope or imagine.

About a year ago, I was assisting Melissa Taylor with email correspondence. During this time, I was noticing a number of prayer requests on the blog comments as well as via email. So, one day I asked Melissa if anyone ever followed up with these ladies and if not would she mind if I took that on. I had such a heart for these ladies that were hurting and I wanted to reach out to them in the only way I knew how. Melissa gave me the go ahead, so I dove in.

At that time, I simply went through the blog comments and made note of any prayer requests. I took those requests and prayed over them and then followed up about a week later through an email. To see how things were going and if there was any additional way I could pray for them.

I really didn’t know what to expect from sending out these emails. The responses from these ladies were simply amazing. It was overwhelming to see how touched they were that someone cared enough to follow up with them. I had no idea that something so small could make such a huge impact on someone’s life.

As the online Bible studies continued to grow, I knew that I was going to need help. Therefore, I had three wonderful ladies decide to assist me during the Stressed-Less Living study. They were able to help me go through all the comments on the blog and make note of the requests. This was such a tremendous help.

When preparing for the What Happens When Women Say Yes to God study, I knew that I was going to need additional team members. With my limited vision, I was thinking that doubling the team to six would be wonderful. Well, God had much bigger plans in mind. I am now director of the Real Hope Prayer Warrior Team that consists of 18 ladies with a heart for prayer.

I never imagined that God would take that small nudge I had for these hurting women who were leaving prayer requests, that simply yes, and turn it in to what it is now.

I truly believe that at this point in my life, this is exactly where God wants me and I am so honored to serve in such a way. To reach out to these ladies, a lot of who do not have another outlet. I love that the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies provides that safe environment for women around the world. Not just an environment, but also a community. Connection. The ability to be seen. To be heard. To be prayed for and let the love of God shine through the leaders to the world.

I am truly amazed at how God is working in and through this study. He will take our small yes’s, our little notes, our encouraging words, those little steps of faith and turn them into something amazing. But dear friend, you have got to say Yes to Him and you have got to give Him those small things, and trust in His leading and God will turn them into something beyond anything you could ever imagine.

Hello…Discerning the Voice You Hear

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I love talking to my family and friends on the phone. It is so much more personal than a text message or email. Last night, I called my oldest daughter, Taylor, who is away for the first time at school. When she answered the phone neither one of us had to ask whom we were talking to. After almost 16 years, I immediately recognize her voice and she recognizes mine.

This phenomenon is the same with any relationship. In order to recognize someone’s voice, we have to spend time getting to know him or her.

I have had people ask me, but what about with God? How can you be certain what you are hearing is actually from God? Since, I have never heard His voice audibly, I have to ask myself a series of questions to see if what I am hearing is from God or not.

The following list of questions is from Lysa TerKeurst’s book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. (A special thanks to my dear friend, Kristy Aiken, for making this beautiful picture incorporating the five key questions).

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By filtering everything through these five questions, I can quickly determine whether something is from God or not. He will never contradict Himself and His Word.

At this point in my life, I do not want to simply push my own agenda. I long to live a life saying Yes to God and therefore, I must make certain it is God’s voice I am following.

The next time you hear a still small voice, I encourage you to examine it to see who is on the other end.

What about you, how do you discern God’s voice? What steps have you taken to make certain you can recognize His voice?