Buried Alive

Buried Alive

Dark.

Dirty.

Overwhelming.

Suffocating.

Paralyzing.

Dead.

I’ve never been buried alive, but I’ve seen enough horror movies to vividly picture myself in that position. And I’ve experienced enough challenging times to know firsthand how life becomes survival when you feel buried.

If that’s you today – if you feel like a member of the walking dead – this is for you.

Maybe a fresh perspective is what God wants to give you today. It’s easy to look at the soil and the mud around you and see yourself as buried. But what if you aren’t buried at all? 

What if you’ve been planted?

Picture yourself as a seed. Seeds are covered with the same soil as what’s been buried. They feel the same crushing weight of the world pressing in. But seeds do something that dead things can’t do:  they grow. 

The sun warms the earth and supplies the seed with nutrients. The rains come and quench the seed, reviving and restoring. The Word of God pours nourishment into your soul. Your friends and loved ones – those who know you best and care about you most – speak into your heart. Sometimes their words fall like gentle showers and other times they crash their way in like a thunderstorm. 

If you’re the seed, you must soak up as much sun and rain as you can! 

God notices. 

He cares. 

He pursues you in your darkest days. 

If you’ve been there, you know how much you needed friends to speak truth and love into your season of pain. So now it’s your turn…who needs your sun and rain today?  

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When seeds receive enough sunlight and hydration, something amazing begins to happen. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, roots start to peek out. They begin to branch off and multiply, solidly anchoring the seed. 

Truth takes root in the darkness of our struggle. 

When I look back at my life and I remember those times I felt buried alive, I’m reminded of the big truths that God placed in the core of my being even in the midst of my despair. Truths that I would have missed otherwise. Truths like:

I am complete in Christ. 

My Heavenly Father is full of GRACE and mercy. 

God is faithful. 

My enemies are not people. My enemy is Satan. 

We need roots. Roots provide stability and security. That battle you’re in? The one that seems never-ending? I promise you, God is at work, planting, pulling weeds, feeding your soul. Roots will grow if you allow His truth to permeate and settle. 

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” – Colossians 2:6-7

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You know what’s coming next if you remember anything about third grade science class.  Once a seed is rooted and grounded, there’s really nowhere to go but up. It’s the way God orchestrated life. Spring comes, the frozen harshness of winter melts away, and new life breaks through the surface!  

For some of you this will be a gradual blooming, slow and steady as you unfold and blossom. Beautiful to watch. 

For others, it’s more of a desperate clawing your way through the dirt. Think Stephen King’s movie, Carrie. Final scene. Raw and scary. 

Either way, you’re going to get there!  Finally, you will experience fresh air, blue skies, and warm breezes. You’re going to be resurrected. If you feel buried, God wants to bring you back from the dead. If you are His, He loves you too much to let you stay underground forever.

There is purpose in your pain. God might be allowing you to experience a season of depression, betrayal, sorrow, or loss because He wants you to know the power of His resurrection in your own life. 

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:8-11

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The end goal is Christ, in other words. When you break through the surface of what’s keeping you buried, you are raised to walk in a new, deeper, closer way with Jesus. You begin to bear fruit. You tell others of what God has done for you. You love Him more. You love people better. 

Wherever you’re at in this cycle, believe that the next phase is coming. And this IS a cycle – you may not be in the depths of darkness right now, but you probably know someone who is. And the day is coming when you may begin to feel the dirt piling up and the light dissipating yet again. This is life. But if you choose to see your position as a seed that’s been planted rather than a dead thing that’s buried, the way you walk through it will begin to change. Trust in Jesus. Cling to Him. Allow the ones who love you to bless you. Keep your eyes open to someone who might need the Truth. 

 

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” – Psalm 1:3

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How can I pray for you in your season of darkness?  Let’s be that gentle rain for each other today!!

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No Longer Slaves

No Longer Slaves

What comes to mind when you hear the word “slaves”? Do you know that all of us can become enslaved?
We become enslaved to ideals that we can never achieve. We become enslaved to pressures that deteriorate our health. We lose our identity.

Whose are you? To whom do you belong? When you cease to carry all your titles and simply “are”…who are you?

“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.”

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No Longer Slaves” is a song we have been singing a lot lately, and I wanted to share the lyrics with you.
V1.
You unravel me, with a melody

You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone

Chorus
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

V2.
From my Mothers womb

You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again, into your family
Your blood flows through my veins

Chorus
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

Bridge: You split the sea, so I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me, so I could stand and sing
I am a child of God

Perhaps today you are weary. Perhaps today you are tired of fighting. You aren’t even sure what you’re fighting, but you are tired.
Psalm 54:4 is the answer.
“But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive!”

Another translation states, “the Lord is the one who sustains me.

He will carry us, if we allow Him. If we will no longer be enslaved to fear, but simply choose to be a servant in His kingdom. We are sons and daughters of God.
How do we do this??

“So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.” 1 Peter 1:13

Our pastor challenged us with this verse yesterday, stating that we partially hope in ourselves, our skills, our gifts, our roles, our retirement account, and we partially hope in Jesus Christ.
The only way that God can be our helper is if we are putting ALL our hope in Him. If we are placing our security in other places, we will be slaves to fear when those places begin to crumble.

Friends, be encouraged today. You have a Maker. He knows your name. You have a purpose. You have a promise. Your life matters.
I’m facing _______________________”But God is my helper. The Lord will keep me alive.” Psalm 54:4
(And here’s a YouTube link if you can’t see the embedded video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8TkUMJtK5k )

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When God Hits Pause…

When God Hits Pause…

We hate to wait, don’t we?

Whether it’s rush-hour traffic, the doctor’s office, or the next major life event on our horizon, waiting tests our patience, our character, and often times our faith. In our daily lives, waiting is usually nothing more than a minor inconvenience, and our response is soon forgotten when the time of waiting is over. It’s when we feel those minutes begin to stretch into days, weeks, and years that our response becomes vital to the health of our soul.

If you’re in a season of waiting and you feel like God has pushed the pause button on your life, you’re probably asking questions like these:

“I’m all alone in this. When is it my turn?”
“Has God forgotten me? Does He even care?”
“How do I survive this when I can’t seem to function?”

At least those are the questions I asked myself in the past when it felt like I was stuck in never-ending cycles of waiting. As time passed and God chiseled away behind the scenes, I eventually learned to ask a new set of questions that helped redirect my heart:

“Who am I becoming in this season of my life?”
“What do I have to be thankful for in this very moment?”
“How is my view of God affecting my attitude?”
“How do I feel joy instead of bitterness?”

The questions you entertain and the way you respond while waiting are litmus tests for how you’ll most likely come through on the other side. Because there is that other side. There is a place where waiting ends. That light at the end of the tunnel is not a myth. There is hope. There is joy. There is peace. The best part is you don’t have to wait until you’re “unpaused” to experience victory and live a fulfilled life.

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God is faithful. And not because of what He gives us or how quickly he answers our prayers. God is faithful because He is faithful. It’s his character, His DNA. If you’re in a place where you keep finding yourself watching the clock and wondering WHEN, try this:  try praising your Heavenly Father for who He is and for His perfect timing. Ask for joy, patience, and peace if they seem to be eluding you. And remember, as much as you may feel like you’ve been placed on hold, your life is progressing with every breath you take.

You see, in reality, God doesn’t press the pause button on your life or mine. If He has called you to wait, He won’t leave you hanging. He will wait patiently with you, hand outstretched, beckoning you to sit with Him and learn from the stillness. And who better to wait with than the One who already knows where your path leads and when you’ll get there?

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The Wall

The Wall

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© Peter Szucs | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Today I came face to face with the invisible wall that holds me back from true surrender to God.

That wall. I’ve felt it for a while now. No matter how much I learn or grow in my relationship with Christ, I still feel the wall’s presence. It keeps me from ever truly overcoming. It keeps me bound by anxiety. I find even in the midst of serving Him in ways I never have before, I can still feel the weight and pressure of the wall. Victories, though worthy of praise, are only partial, as I’ve never been able to fully scale the wall.

I recently began co-leading a small group in my women’s bible study. That sentence alone speaks volumes as to how God has moved in the heart of and life of this social-anxiety-ridden, people-pleasing, introverted, non-risk-taking, confrontation-fearing, timid Daughter. Victory has been achieved in that I am able to push through the anxiety of leading and speaking, able to push through the fear of what others are secretly thinking about me. I am free enough to push through and serve.

But is partial freedom the only freedom I’ll ever know?

The wall.

The wall that fifteen minutes ago, I prayed about. As I read Jennie Allen’s book, Anything, in preparation for this week’s bible study meeting, I prayed:

God, I know I’m on the cusp of full surrender. I don’t think my heart is fully ready to sincerely say, ‘God, I’ll do anything for you.’ I’m still so held back and bound by something. I feel like I’m teeter-tottering on top of the wall that keeps me running full-speed to You. What is holding me back? What can I not let go of?

Then I continued reading. Jennie (in her book) told me that the thing I most fear is the thing that is most controlling in my life. She asked me: What are you most afraid of losing?

I stopped and I thought because I wanted to answer it right and honestly.

The thing I fear the most is losing everyone I love around me…having no support system…being alone.

Jennie told me to stare it in the face, to picture my life alone. I did, and I cried. It hurt and it scared me.

Snot and tears pouring down my face, and heart beating through my chest, I was finally able to identify THE WALL. The wall keeping me from full surrender:

God isn’t real enough to me for me to have true comfort.

I don’t fully believe that I am never alone. I don’t know how to feel His Presence. My relationship with Him isn’t real enough to me.

I have been His for 27 years, but today I asked him to become REAL to my beating heart. To become real to the heart he’s inhabited for so long. How many of us live with someone for decades and never put the effort in to really getting to know them?

This life isn’t about having a safe routine, BGCliffphotoMarthaGuestPostdoing the same thing every day. It’s not about desiring a baby and asking my genie God to make all my dreams come true.

This life is about knowing God.
Who is He? Is He truly my first & foremost, my all-in-all? Who am I in His eyes?

This life is about experiencing God.
Playing it safe has kept me from needing to see God come through for me. I am learning that it is through risk that God becomes more real.

In order to demolish the wall, I will take more risks. I will intentionally put myself in situations where His Power alone will carry me through. When I recognize fear and anxiety creeping in, feeding me with doubt, I will recognize that as a cue from God, telling me to do it anyway.

He and I are in this together. This relationship. I’ve always been pursued. It’s time for me to scale the wall and run fast and full of freedom, in pursuit of Him.

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Martha

Click Here to visit Martha’s blog “the simple things”.

 

Three To Six Months To Live

Three To Six Months To Live

July 31st, 2014 was a day to celebrate! It was my husband’s birthday. We had gone out to celebrate with our whole family. All the girls in our family were also planning and preparing to go to the Coast the next day to celebrate my Grandma’s 80th birthday! We were making more summer plans to go camping and enjoying the summer life that so many love here in Bend. But that never happened.

That night we had relatives staying with us and I had said good night to them. I fell asleep snuggling next to my husband, Sonny, and my seven year old daughter, Rhynn. At about 1:00am Sonny was awakened by a loud thump. He felt Rhynn next to him but couldn’t feel me. When he got up to try to see what had caused the thump he saw me slumped over, wedged between the bed and the dresser, and I was having a Grand mal seizure. He immediately noticed I wasn’t breathing. He ran to get my Aunt and Uncle and asked them for help. They thought maybe a tree had fallen because of how loud the thump was. They called 911.

The paramedics showed up and rushed me to the hospital (Rhynn never woke up in the midst of all of this. I believe an Angel was in the room protecting her). My sister followed close behind. I don’t really remember much of this. I just remember being scared and confused. I was paralyzed on the left side immediately. I couldn’t move my arm or my leg and half of my face was paralyzed. I do remember, however, having an MRI and then being told I had tumors in my brain. I had Melanoma for the second time in my life.

Over the next four days of my stay in the ICU it was a blur from the drugs I was on. I went home and waited for the swelling to go down so they could do surgery. What I thought was one night was actually four nights before they could perform surgery on me. In those four days, friends and family came in and out of my house, one after another, encouraging me, praying for me, loving me and my family.

My diagnosis was three to six months to live, three months with no treatment and six months with aggressive treatment. The Doctors didn’t think they’d be able to remove all three tumors (I didn’t know this at the time). Two nights before surgery my long time friends, Joe and Katherine, came to my house to pray over me. Immediately afterwards I lifted my left arm up, something I had not been able to do, then I got up and started walking. My brother-in-law later commented he wouldn’t have believed it had he not seen it with his own eyes! That was one of the many miracles that I’ve experienced since then.

TheIMG_7058 night before surgery we had about 100 friends and family come over to pray over me, sing worship songs and they took turns telling me how much they loved me. Afterwards Sonny made a video of me for my kids. I wanted my kids to hear what I thought was most important, in case I didn’t make it through the surgery. I told them I loved them, that Jesus loves them. I told them through many, many tears how much I love them, that when we belong to Jesus He will pursue you and that they always belong to Him. I said the things I never thought I’d have to say to my kids for them to watch when I was gone.

When I went to bed that night my son, Randon, who was 18 at the time, came into my room and told me he didn’t want me to do treatment because he didn’t want me to be sick the last three to six months of my life. That was the first time I had heard that diagnosis. I was shocked and confused. We cried together, talked about how it would be one day at a time, fighting all the way. I told him I needed him to pray for me and believe that God would heal me.

My pastor, Steve, came the next morning before surgery to pray for me. I don’t remember it but I’m so thankful for him and the church family that we love so much. They have been such a big part of my journey with their generosity. I was told the entire waiting room was filled with our church family and family members, standing room only. The Doctors ended up removing all three tumors! I stayed in the hospital for about a month, or maybe longer. I don’t remember exactly how long. I don’t remember a lot of it. It was still being said that I would probably only live for six months with aggressive treatment. There is no treatment for Melanoma cancer. Today it’s been over a year since my surgery. They were wrong. God is good. I have continued to say “You’re talking Science, I’m talking God. My God is bigger than Science”.

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Joy  

click here to visit Joy’s blog

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Joy and her husband, Sonny, live in Bend Oregon with
their four children ranging from six to twenty-one years of age. You can learn more about Joy’s journey through her blog where she inspires many with her transparency, strength, and hope in Christ.

She and her family repeat a daily mantra together:

“I am powerful and what I believe changes the world! So today I declare: God is in a good mood. He loves me all the time. Nothing can separate me from His love. Jesus’ blood paid for everything. I will tell nations of what He has done. I am important. How He made me is amazing. I was designed for worship. My mouth establishes praise to silence the enemy. Everywhere I go becomes a perfect health zone. And with God…Nothing is impossible.”

Power. Love. Sound Mind.

Power. Love. Sound Mind.

Fear is not my friend.
It never has been.
It never will be.

Fear has done nothing but reek havoc on my life, paralyzing me in a web of lies and confusion. It has gripped me in believing the worst instead of focusing on truth. Many times it has kept me from stepping out into God’s best and hindered my passion to pursue and love the way Christ has commanded. It has caused me to fear the unknown and what is to come. It is NOT MY FRIEND or YOURS. It is, however, a friend to the biggest deceiver, satan himself.

If we choose to “be-friend” this lie, it can ruin us. So why do we continually welcome this unfaithful, lying, deceitful so called “friend” into our lives? Horrific circumstances happen. Sin happens. Tragedy happens. It can shake us to our core causing crippling effects both physically and emotionally.

I have learned that when I am entangled in this web, it’s because I forget who my God is…I doubt His ability. I question His sovereignty. I waiver on His unfailing love for me. And sometimes, I shamefully choose to sit and stay in the comfort of it all because it has become EASY. Battling fear can be draining. And when we try to battle on our own strength, we fall, we crumble. We become slaves to “our friend” fear.

IMG_4382God’s word says, “For God has NOT given us a spirit of fear, but of POWER and of LOVE and of a SOUND MIND” -2 Timothy 1:7.
These three things- power, love and sound mind, are a recipe for defeating the enemy when it comes to a spirit of fear.
Know the POWER of the living God that lives in you!
Know the LOVE of Christ that cast out ALL fear!
Know the peace of a SOUND MIND -His peace that will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Fear cannot dwell in a heart who’s mind is focused on the things of God. We have the freedom to choose…Fear…OR…Faith.

Our God is so much BIGGER! And our FAITH in Him has to be Greater than our fear.
Jesus tells us, ” In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have OVERCOME the world.”-John 16:33
Our faith can rest in that…He has OVERCOME!!!

I want to leave you with this absolute truth bathed in a promise that God will be with you NO MATTER the trial, no matter the tragedy, no matter the sorrow, no matter the pain, no matter the fear….

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do NOT be afraid; do NOT be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”-Joshua 1:9

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Cheryl

 

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Cheryl is passionate about Jesus and making Him known. She serves as a leader in women’s ministry and on the worship team of her church. She believes that by His stripes we are healed and we are nothing without Jesus, but EVERYTHING with Him. She believes there is freedom that awaits all our brokenness, all our mess, all our shame, and all our past if we turn our lives over to Him. She is married to her college sweetheart and they are blessed with three beautiful children.

Getting What I Prayed For

Getting What I Prayed For

Sometimes God answers our prayers and we see right away what He has done. There are big crisis prayers and little tiny prayers, but His answers aren’t always what we expect.

In the journey of life, we have unexpected trips to the Emergency Room, moments where we look around for the adult, then discover “You are the adult”. God reminds us who is in control at the times we have no control. We were certainly aware of prayer in that experience. This year, my six year old had some fluke tummy-upsets on our 4th of July trip. No fever, just needed the tummy to empty itself. (too much sugar and fun at Grandma’s house?) In between the first and second round, we quietly sat in the bathroom at my parents’ house at 4:30am.

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After we prayed for her to be healed, we discussed that God made our bodies to throw up if something bad was in them. “God’s way of healing you may be to have you throw up again.” “It’s not the healing you would like, but you’ll feel better.
After I said that, the profound wisdom hit me.

How many times have I thought God didn’t answer my prayers because it wasn’t the answer I wanted or the answer I was looking for?

A year ago, God answered a prayer for healing. My friend had been battling cancer and was suffering greatly. Her health took a sharp turn in just two weeks. I was grieved and asked Him to either heal her completely or take her home, “but please don’t leave her like this!” She’d been battling osteosarcoma and had just turned 22. The next day, she passed away early in the morning.

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I wanted God to restore her to her pre-cancerous self. He chose to remove her pain for eternity. This was not the healing I had prayed for, was it? I wanted Him to answer the prayer my way.

But sometimes, “it’s not the healing you would like.” Maybe we are allowed to endure things for deeper healing. Maybe the healing is still coming. Maybe we are allowed to experience something sad so we can offer strength and comfort to others when they have a similar experience. We validate their pain with “me too.” “I know what you are feeling.” “I’ve been there.”

Don’t lose hope when God’s answer is not the one you asked for. We don’t see or know everything. At BraveGirl Community, we are committed to praying with you. We have seen prayers answered, and even when bad things happen, God can turn them around for His glory.
When we remain faithful to God in trials, it is a slap in the face to our enemy.
You are never alone.

The video below is Rachel’s testimony when she’d successfully battled cancer the first time. I believe it will bring hope and encouragement to you today! (And for you email subscribers, here’s the youtube link )

How can we pray for you today? Leave a comment and we’ll be sure to respond!

Tammy

You Make Me Brave

You Make Me Brave

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

BraveGirl Tammy ran her first triathlon this weekend.  I’m sure her family was there watching and cheering her on to the finish line.  I can picture it now, “Go Mommy, Go! You’ve got this! You can do it!” And then finally, “Congratulations! You did it!” at the end.

Each one of us has our own race to run.

In the heat of the race we all need encouragement.  We need endurance.  We need to hear our names and remember who we are.  We need the reminders, “Keep going!  Don’t give up! You’ve got this! You’re almost there!”

You are deeply loved.

God planned for you and loves you as a parent loves a child from the very idea of conception. He thinks about you all the time. He has been your cheerleader, advocate, and supporter since the beginning of time.

He loves you so much that He let His own Son die for you, so that you can live with Him forever.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)

He loves you right where you are. Yes, even in our mess, He loves us.

God is love.  1 John 4:8 (NIV)

His perfect love casts out fear. His love casts out jealously. His love casts out anger. His love forgives.

When His love fills your heart there is no room for past hurt or pain.

You are deeply loved.  When you love the One who loves you a champion is born within.

He calls out your name and says, “You’ve got this! Hang on! Don’t give up!”

Do not be afraid today.  By our faith we know who wins.

For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.  1 John 5:4

His love gives you courage.  Let the past go so that you may be healed and set free.  Let the present go if it is keeping you from Him.  You cannot move forward if you continue to hold onto the past.

His love gives you the courage to do the right thing.  Make the right choice.  Christ will draw you away from the shore into His embrace and His love will crash over you, fill you, and make you brave.

God is for you.  God is not against you.  God created you and He loves you.

When you know you are completely loved you show love to others.

May your hearts be encouraged and your souls nourished by the depth of His love today…

In Christ,

Mindy

 

 

 

 

Three Things to Remember When Facing a Battle

Three Things to Remember When Facing a Battle

Dear Daughter,

The world you’re growing up in is drastically different than the world of my youth. Society is ever-changing, and cultural norms are constantly shifting. For those of us who have put our trust in Jesus and consecrated our lives to Him, it can feel as if we’re losing ground. Our faith is ridiculed, our Bible is tossed aside, and our Savior is misunderstood and rejected. Turns out, the Enemy is a formidable opponent, skilled in the art of war against Christianity and adept at recruiting both non-believers and believers to his cause. Satan’s ultimate goal is to deceive and distract as many of us as he can, and he never takes a day off.

As mere mortals, we are severely ill-equipped to triumph against such an adversary.  Thankfully, as believers, we have an immortal advocate who stands in front of us, shielding danger with one hand while He fights our battles with the other.  This Jesus I speak of embodies all the wisdom, strength, and love inherent to Almighty God. He left a Heavenly throne, lived sinless among humanity, challenged cultural and religious conventions, and offered Himself as the ultimate sacrifice, receiving punishment that was meant for us in order to bridge the gap between a Holy God and a sinful people.  Regardless of what’s trending or who’s in charge, we can live victorious because He has already vanquished Satan’s evil plan.  

In the meantime, there are three things to remember when we face spiritual battles here on earth.  Here’s my take on how I am striving to respond as a follower of Christ when faced with vehement opposition to my faith and my beliefs.

  1. I am not a victim.  I am victorious.

Romans 8:37 – Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Some of the recent comments I’ve seen from believers on social media have had a fearful and self-pitying tone.  Many followers of Jesus seem to be surprised and offended when they are rejected by those with opposing points of view.  At times it does feel like Christianity is in the minority, especially when it comes to Biblical truth vs. popular opinion.  It’s hard to hold a viewpoint that most people around you think is hateful, even when you don’t feel hate in your heart.  Being a believer in the Word of God doesn’t always win you popularity points; often your convictions place you at odds with the majority.  When you feel like you’re repeatedly fighting the same battle with no relief in sight, it is a natural reaction to feel sorry for yourself and want to throw in the towel.  What’s the point?  It’s discouraging when strangers take your words or your beliefs and twist them into something you never intended to say.  Being misunderstood is no fun.

Remember this truth:  For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities , against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Your fight is not with the stranger on Facebook who insults you and your perspective.  God isn’t expecting you to go to war with a friend who believes differently than you or the sinner who defies God with their speech and actions.  Your battle is spiritual.  Your fight is against the evil one:  he who ensnares souls in his bottomless net of sin, despair, and hopelessness; he who tempts you to engage in the name-calling, mocking, and hatefulness that are hallmarks of those unfamiliar with the grace of God.

Not only do we need to remember who our enemy is, but we must remember who our Warrior is!  God is ALWAYS working and fighting for us.  He has already conquered Death and Hell, and He isn’t worried in the least about the destiny of His children.  No matter what the future holds for the faithful in this life, we can rest assured that our Lord will win in the end.  He cannot be beaten.  Satan is doing as much to damage the name of Christ as he can, and we add fuel to his fire when we respond to lost and broken people with self-righteous, pious, and judgmental attitudes.  Approaching someone with a combative spirit is only going to push that person farther away from a God who is trying to use YOU to reach them in their need.

We lead victorious lives as Christians when we allow God to fight for us and instead focus on humbly reaching out with genuine love towards others.  And if we happen to be mistreated or misunderstood, we can have victory over our emotions if we remember that God knows us completely and understands us inside out.

  1. I am not powerless.  I have prayer. 

James 5:6 – Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

So, maybe instead of publicly engaging others in arguments with the intention of humiliating them or demonstrating our own intelligence, perhaps we should turn to God and pour our hearts out to Him when we are facing a fight.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and when we pray for those who disagree with us, miracles can occur! Our hard hearts begin to soften, and we see our opponents for who they are:  created and loved by the same Heavenly Father who made us.  God can then use us to speak truth and grace into their lives.

When we pray, God eagerly steps in and lifts the heavy burdens off of our shoulders.  When we intercede on behalf of our city, state, nation, and world, He hears.  Prayer is a powerful thing. Prayer fosters a deeper understanding of God’s character.  Prayer restores shattered relationships. Prayer brings healing and forgiveness, allowing us to treat others with divine mercy.  When all else seems to fail, try praying!

  1. I will not lash out .  I will love others.

John 13:35 – By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another

John 15:12 – This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

1 John 4:12 – No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

I guess what saddens me the most about the comments I’ve read on social media  debating hot-button issues is the overwhelming lack of love.  I see post after post, from both sides, filled with hate and disrespect.  Now, I would expect someone who doesn’t know the love of Christ, who hasn’t been redeemed, to respond to a perceived attack in a less-than-graceful manner.  I truly believe, however, that God wants His people to take the high road when we face those who openly defy our faith.  The high road is paved with love.  Not a cheesy, mushy, naive kind of love, but a selfless, sacrificial, difficult kind of love.  If loving others were easy, I don’t think Jesus would have chosen to command it so many times.  God saw it necessary to remind us that He set the example for loving others by his life, death, and resurrection.

Loving others doesn’t mean I excuse their behavior or support sin.  Loving others means I take time to listen to, mentor, and respect those who may hold a different opinion than I do.  Loving others is not always easy, especially when dealing with people who are irritating, self-absorbed, and simply exhausting to be around.  Jesus loved us enough to die for us – knowing we might not ever receive Him or love Him back.  Follow that example and respond to those around you with honor, respect, and patience.

The next time you’re led to go to bat for the cause of Christ, remember these three truths found in God’s Word:  you are already victorious, your power comes from prayer, and you are called to love others. Before we turn our apologetics into personal attacks on those we consider our enemies, His desire is that we will let our fingers hover over the keyboard long enough to consider the ramifications our careless or self-serving words can have on those searching souls who desperately need the love of our Jesus!

You Make Me Brave

You Make Me Brave

I’ve been learning so much about grace lately. I never realized how hard I’d been on myself. I always thought if I worked hard enough, I could prove to God that I was worthy of His love and favor. I wanted to be the strong one, the dependable one. I hated my failures. You can read my post on “Finding Grace in Nebraska“.

If you have already learned this lesson, bear with me, because it’s so important to learn. God wants to be our strong one. He wants us to depend on Him—not ourselves. His ability, and not ours—to protect and provide for our families, or even ourselves.

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I had a dream recently. When I dream, it’s like an IMAX experience. You are really there—in vivid color! You hear, feel, sense every single part of it. In pleasant dreams, this is a blessing. In nightmares, well, you understand.

In my dream, I was inside my home and it was very stormy outside. There was an enemy raging outside, and I can tell you that the threat to my children was implied. When my children are threatened, there is a great protective mechanism that rises inside with a warrior’s cry!
I awoke with my mouth whispering, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”

My husband woke me, as he knows what is going on when he hears me whispering Jesus’ name in my sleep. I then got up because one of our girls began to cry in her sleep.
When I had finally gotten her back to sleep, I sang myself to sleep.
The song, “Let it Rain” came to my mind.
In the middle of the song (2:31 in this video I’ve embedded), Psalm 97, verses 1-6 are read aloud. I tried to recall the passage as I prayed.

Psalm 97

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
    let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him
    and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all peoples see his glory.

I prayed for God’s armies to be unleashed against these foes that came in my sleep. The perspective of “Our God is greater, Our God is stronger” is very powerful and can combat these fears.

The greatest comfort in this sleep experience was my devotional the next morning. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

It is not my own strength or power that I draw from, but God’s. And as I test the ability of God’s power to defeat my enemy—I find increasing courage and boldness to respond to those attacks firmly and standing tall.

That inner strength that God provides? It’s causing me to have more and more courage, even when I’m scared speechless. Bravery is not the absence of fear. It is a confidence, knowing our battles already have a victor.
Even though my feet may fail and fear surrounds me, I know who I trust. And He’s never failed. And He won’t start now.

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You make me brave, You make me brave, You call me out beyond the shore into the waves. You make me brave, You make me brave, no fear can hinder now the love that made a way.

 

Tammy