Author Lauren Jacobs Interviews BG Christy

Author Lauren Jacobs Interviews BG Christy

Author Aliyah Lauren Jacobs of South Africa interviews BG Christy about what we’re doing at BraveGirl Community. Listen to the audio podcast by clicking the link below.

Special thanks to Aliyah for highlighting BraveGirl Community!

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Aliyah Lauren Jacobs is passionate about story telling. She loves to challenge and breathe new love and life into the hearts of those listening as she shares the forgotten stories about the women in the Bible and on the peripheral of history. God has called her to tell these stories and encourage women to stand up and pursue their birthright in the King of Kings. Aliyah also teaches, preaches, is a woman abuse therapist, abuse researcher, gender equality advocate and performance poet. Learn more about Aliyah by visiting her website: http://laurenjacobs.co.za  and her blog: http://setapartwarrior.blogspot.co.za.

Sometimes I’m a Bad Driver

Sometimes I’m a Bad Driver

Wow. This wasn’t the post I wanted to write. I wanted to encourage and inspire and share something that would bless other women from my own comfort zone.

Instead, I’m going to tell you something real and exercise the bravery that we try to encourage here at BraveGirl.

I grew up in a Christian home. I was involved in Christian groups at my public college. I even worked at a Christian bookstore (and am currently employed as a schoolteacher at a Christian school).
Honestly, I have really embraced Jesus as my Savior on my own since the year 2000, as a college freshman.

But when it comes to my vehicle, I’m incognito…I don’t claim my Christianity.
I don’t have a window sticker of any of the ministries I support displayed on the back. No artistic rendition of the one cross, or the three crosses. No fish emblem. No Bible verses.
I only have stickers from my local chain coffee shop that I’m very supportive of (they give out really great window stickers btw!)
I have a generic white minivan. The lack of window stickers have helped me avoid awkward moments in the parking lot more than once.

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Why am I telling you this? Because there’s a reason I don’t have any Christian representation on my car.
I’m afraid.
I know that once in a while, I have been going too fast to stop and it’s questionable if I was all the way through when the light was green or yellow.
I know that sometimes I have changed lanes and cut somebody off.
I am afraid that if I drive poorly, and I am supposed to be representing Jesus, then I will turn people away from Him.

So instead? I hide my faith behind my tinted windows and sunglasses.
There are two solutions to this problem. The first? Become perfect.

Perfect. Driving. Every. Time.

And though I may have good reason to reconsider some of my habits, I don’t think that this is the real answer.

How many of us are waiting to share our faith until we’re perfect examples of Jesus?

Thinking that way means I won’t be sharing Jesus with anyone. EVER. The truth is…our imperfections highlight the NEED for a Savior. Hiding my imperfections says ‘once I needed Him and now I don’t.’ When we claim Him, in spite of our failings, others realize they can also come to Him now. They don’t have to wait until they stop making mistakes.

Plus, it denies them the opportunity to see how Jesus changes us. By letting others see us as the imperfect humans that we are, they will also get to witness Him As He changes us. THAT’S how people see Him most.

So, if I cut you off accidentally or don’t keep my speed in check approaching a traffic light, I apologize in advance. Just know I’m a work in progress. All of us are.

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TammyIf you want more mini van stories…check out clean on the outside and acci”dents” . It seems this van is one of God’s tools for helping me grow.

 

 

5 Ways to Lose Weight and Feel Better

5 Ways to Lose Weight and Feel Better

The internet is full of weight-loss tips and tricks. 
Since my three girls have been born, my body has gone through that thirties metabolism loss and yo-yo weight fluctuation that I was warned about in my twenties.
Truth…my girls don’t see my soft middle the way I do. They love to put their head on me when I’m sitting down or laying down. If I were rock-hard, I’d be pretty uncomfortable. 😉

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Teaching my girls to do a “bridge”. Walking down the door is much easier than pushing up from the floor!

There is weight though…that we all need to lose, weight that affects our health and causes a greater heaviness than our physical weight could ever cause.

#1: Worry.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  Matthew 6:27-29 NIV

It’s so easy to worry. The amount of bad news available on our smartphones or desktops is growing. Sunburn versus Sunscreen versus Sunlight Deficiency—no matter what you’re doing, you are probably doing it wrong.

Satan loves to get us all stirred up and bothered and consumed as he takes our peace one worry at a time! His job is to take away from what we know to be true. So fight him with truth.
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he came back with scripture every time.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV
#2: Envy.
“Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless–like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT
How many times do we see those Fabletics ads on our Pandora? Kate Hudson—defying gravity, defying nature, defying age, defying spandex yoga pants?!
Perhaps it’s more subtle. We see the social media pictures that are at just the right angle, or taken moments before the children began to brawl. We don’t see everything. We are often envious of something we don’t really understand.
How do we defeat envy? With thanksgiving.
To quote a VeggieTales video, “a thankful heart is a happy heart.”
“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” Proverbs 14:30 NIV
#3: Insecurity.
That feeling of inadequacy—somehow you fail to measure up? That is insecurity. It’s an identity crisis that breeds some pretty ugly heart conditions too. So for heart health, for lack of burden, we need to find our security and our identity in Christ.
Who does HE say we are? (BraveGirl Mindy did a series on this that I recommend. Here’s the first one: BELOVED. )
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT
You were created by God for His Glory and His Goodness. He planned your purpose long ago, and your “mistakes” and “flaws” were part of the equation. If He wants to demonstrate His saving power in a human, who is better qualified than you? If you were perfect, you wouldn’t need Jesus.
#4: Guilt.
“I could have done that better.” “I wish I wouldn’t have…” “I wish I would have…”
“…but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:12-14 NLT
Paul didn’t focus on what he hadn’t done, but what he had yet to do. Our perfection is in Christ. So, accept His forgiveness. He forgave ALL our sin when He died and rose again. There is no sin you have committed that He has not already paid for.
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman,
“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11 NLT

#5: Harmful Thoughts
Our thought life will most certainly dictate our health.
Are you lugging around unmet expectations? Resentment and bitterness? Those times you were let down once again? Perhaps you were looking for a different savior than Jesus?
Satan loves opportunities to breed resentment, jealousy and bitterness.
Jesus warns us about our heart and thought life.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23 NIV
James reminds us “in your anger, do not sin.” It is a natural reaction to feel anger, but if we do not attempt to resolve conflict and take a look at our hearts, it only leads to self-destruction.
Breaking it down…WEIGHT we all need to lose:
Worry
Envy
Insecurity
Guilt
Harmful/Hateful
Thoughts
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NLT
Jesus came to set us free. Imagine how much lighter you will feel once you lay these things down at His feet and allow yourself to be refreshed!
Praying for you to lose the “weight” and to embrace the Joy of the Lord this week!
Love,
BraveGirl Tammy
Tammy

 

 Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Losing_Weight_the_Healthy_Way.jpg
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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Failers Aren’t Failures

Failers Aren’t Failures

When you at first do not succeed, what do you do? “Try, try again?”
Or, do you slip into a self-loathing monologue?

Early in my marriage, I made a financial decision that was unwise. And, it affected us both. My husband and I worked through it, but I did not speak to him immediately when the problem arose. I wanted to solve the problem by myself. This led to lies of omission—which break down trust. Recently I was reconciling our account and discovered a missed transaction. Since it had been a month, we’d thought there was a surplus in our budget and the money had already been spent. When I caught my error, I made like Eve and grabbed my leaves. The fear and shame of making mistakes crippled me—I want to be dependable and never let people down. (but, I’m not capable of perfection. Only God is.) I was internally upset for a few days before telling my husband. When I mustered the courage to tell him (shame from the last time), he was gentle in his response.
I was sobbing and he soothingly said, “We’re on the same team.” “I’m “for” you, Tammy.” “I just want you to tell me right away.” “I love you.” “When you wait to tell me, it separates us.”

As he said these things, I had a revelation that God is also speaking this to me—and to you. He is “for” us. When we avoid Him, it separates us. Not because He is stern or upset, but because we are trying to hide something from Him. It eats us up and robs our peace and steals our joy. We don’t trust Him, and fear an unloving response.
1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (NKJV)

God knew us in our mother’s womb. He knew what we would need help with, and He’s cheering us on as we try to take steps, even if we totter and tumble. We’re trying and He’s cheering.
Confession frees us from the burden of our sin. We are not free from consequence, but the weight of shame and guilt will not be there. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Jesus told the woman, “neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Grace is not a license to keep doing wrong, but a key to the locks on our chains. We do not have to be locked in to the cycle of sin any longer!
Take heart, friends, we are being perfected and transformed to look more like our Maker every day. As long as He is our strength and perfection, then we can rest in the fact that He created us to do His good works. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

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Recently, I failed to run the entire 5k portion of my “try”athlon, but I was not a failure. I still finished. You and I are here to glorify God’s name. We may be failers, but we’re not failures, and we’re not going to give up. 

Tammy

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

How to Win Every Fight

How to Win Every Fight

Would you believe me if I told you I have learned in the past year how to win every fight? Especially if it’s not my fault? All I have to do is picture a traffic light.

I’m sure that you have had somebody close fight with you. You don’t know where it came from, or the magnitude surprises you. Your knee-jerk reaction is one of pain and perhaps retaliation.

This is when you need to visualize a traffic light. Big time!

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Green! (Quick to LISTEN)
Stop all noise. Virtual and otherwise. Turn off your phone, get away from people, find some solitude and quiet. Especially if you are reading a comment on Facebook or a text message. Take time to come down from your initial emotional reaction. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you. Maybe go for a walk. Pray. Remove yourself from the situation for a minute. Perhaps you are just an unfortunate recipient of somebody’s pain and hurt, and it has nothing to do with you at all. Are they under a lot of stress? Have there been recent changes or losses in their life? What may have caused them to lash out?

Yellow. (Slow to SPEAK)
We want to answer immediately. Often, though, our emotional response is less than gracious. Giving yourself a day or two (if possible) before responding can also open an opportunity for explanation. Maybe their intent did not come through in their words. What they meant to say and what they actually said could be two different things. You can ask questions to clarify, giving the benefit of the doubt, and possibly receive a resolution immediately.

If you are genuinely upset, a vague “rant” on Facebook will stir up curiosity from many not involved. Leave them out of it. Instead, if you must talk to someone—choose only one. Speak to them directly if you can. The digital age often results in misinterpretations with lack of facial expression. Emojiis just don’t cut it compared to tone of voice.

Red. (Slow to become ANGRY)
Assume the best about this person. If you’ve had a great relationship until now, a fight is upsetting. Why? You are afraid of losing this friendship. You clearly value this person and what they think of you—which is why you feel so wounded.
Don’t throw away what you have in a moment of pain. Remember why you like them. Pray for them. Ask for reconciliation. Will this matter a month from now? A year from now?
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” ~Proverbs 17:9 (NLT)

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If you didn’t immediately recognize our traffic light, it’s found in James 1:19. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
This, my friends, is how we win the fight. We choose love.
Sometimes, we will have to love from far away, but often “hurting people hurt people.” There is a hurt inside that person that is spreading like a wildfire. You can choose to respond in love and stop the cycle of hurt.
How can we pray for you?

Tammy

10 Ways to Live Like Jesus (Romans 12:9-21)

10 Ways to Live Like Jesus (Romans 12:9-21)

Dear Daughter,

You’re going to have many role models as you grow up. From your parents, teachers, family members, and friends, life will give you many examples to follow. You might even look up to musicians, pastors, or celebrities one of these days. Whoever you choose to hold in high esteem, I hope those people point you to Jesus. Above all, I hope you pattern your life after His because there is no greater person to value than the Son of God.

Besides the four Gospels, there are numerous passages in the Bible that shed light on Jesus’ example. The twelfth chapter of Romans finishes strong, offering a clear picture of how Christ followers should strive to interact with and respond to others this side of Heaven.

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Here are ten ways to live like Jesus:

1. Love genuinely. (v 9)

It’s easy to love my own. I love my people, the ones I most relate to, naturally and genuinely. Love becomes a challenge, and often near-impossible, when I’m faced with those who look, believe, or sin differently than I do. It’s easier to write someone off or label them than it is to love them. So how do I demonstrate true affection when it becomes a struggle? The answer is Jesus. He loves each one of us with a deep, authentic, unfathomable kind of devotion. If I am to show this love to the ones I find hard to accept, I have to tap into His supernatural resources. I have to dip my cup into His stream of mercy until it overflows and naturally pours out of me. Walking in genuine love is possible with Christ.

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2. Honor others. (v 10)

It’s been said before, Your life is not about you.” When I get wrapped up in my to-do list, I forget to really see others around me. And if I don’t notice people, I can’t reach them for Christ. Honoring others means I put my own agenda on the back burner so that God’s plan might be furthered through me. What does it mean to honor others? Maybe I go out of my way to do something unexpected and unrequested for someone, whether they’re a friend or a stranger. Perhaps I put somebody’s needs before my own. Any time I sacrifice joyfully, not for recognition or reward but because I want the light of Christ to shine, I’m magnifying my Savior. Jesus himself modeled honoring behaviors by healing, forgiving, and serving. He won many to His cause through this radical, loving actions.

3. Serve your Heavenly Father with passion. (v 11)

The passion I need in order to serve God comes from nurturing an honest personal relationship with Him. I think about my best friends and how none of them started out that way. It took time, back and forth communication, and a deep understanding of a person’s character before a deep friendship based on trust could develop. It’s no different with Jesus. When He walked the earth He got real, eating meals, forging friendships, and making memories with the disciples and other followers around Him. I have to be as intentional in cultivating a relationship with Christ as I am with my favorite people. The passion I feel for serving Jesus is a direct correlation to the amount of time I spend with Him.

4. Rejoice in hope, have patience in tribulation, and pray continually . (v 12)

Jesus set the bar high on this one. He relied on the Father’s plan, trusting that as His purpose was carried out in human form, Almighty God would raise Him back up to immortality. Christ rejoiced in knowing mankind would have fresh hope to be reconciled to God because of the cross. He stayed in close communion with his dad, often retreating to pray. Because He talked to God so much, He had the ability to display remarkable patience in the face of persecution and accusations. He willingly suffered. He possessed true joy. He did it all for me. For you. For all of creation. And because He lives in me, I claim these characteristics in the midst of my circumstances. Whatever darkness I’m confronted with, if I respond with joy, patience, and prayerful meditation, people around me will take note. They’ll see something different – they’ll see Jesus.

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5. Help those in need and be hospitable. (v 13)

I’m extremely blessed to live in relative opulence. I have a roof over my head, some cash in the bank, a cozy bed to sleep in, a pantry full of food, and a little family to dote on. I haven’t been given these amenities because I deserve them or so that I can kick back and luxuriate my way through life. I know that “to whom much is given much is required.” I’m in a wonderful position to take my money, time, talents, and material wealth and pass them along to those who are lacking. I gravely sin when I hoard these blessings and refuse to open my house, wallet, food, and heart to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the orphan. Jesus walked the path of charity. He’s calling you and me to join Him – so I’m slipping on my shoes and rushing to catch up!

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6. Bless your enemies. (v 14)

“Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” If ever there was an acceptable time to curse an enemy, I’d say the moment that they’re nailing your wrists and feet to a cross, piercing you with a sword, and mocking you as you die ranks pretty high on the list . I don’t get mad about a lot, but if you disrespect my Lord, I’m ready to throw down. I get angry when I read about the suffering Jesus endured at His crucifixion. Then He goes and speaks a blessing over the ones who are murdering Him, and I’m chagrined, much like Peter after he cut off the centurion’s ear in defense of Jesus. My only real enemy is Satan. My existence is reduced to petulant dramatics when I spend it dwelling on revenge. I want to live the way Jesus died – offering forgiveness even as I’m being wronged. Blessing those who may never feel anything but contempt for me and what I stand for.

7. Share in the joys and sorrows of those around you. (v 15)

Jesus wept when he heard the news of a friend’s death. He celebrated weddings and feasts with family. He had compassion. He delighted in local children. He immersed Himself in the joys and sorrows of those He loved. He’s equally invested in me. One way I want to follow Him is to entangle my life with the lives of my companions, however messy it might get. I can show up. I can laugh, cry, hug, and listen. I can encourage and even talk some sense into them when need be. I can share my junk because they’ve shared theirs too. I can link arms with these kindred spirits I’ve claimed as my own and forge through the muck towards Jesus.

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8. Esteem others higher than yourself in the name of peace. (v 16-18)

But for Christ, we would all look the same to God: black hearted and full of evil darkness. It’s the second I forget about the state I was in when He rescued me that I start to walk a precarious tightrope of self-righteousness. I begin to confuse His presence, the only good thing within me, with my own disposition. I put my opinions, viewpoints, and experiences on this pedestal of self-worship. I become judge, jury, and executioner of anyone who dares to cross me. And it’s like I’ve dressed myself in the finest royal garments shipped straight from the King – oblivious to the fact that I’m actually wearing filthy, soiled rags of my own making. I’m not fooling anyone except myself. I wreak havoc on those in my wake, bruising souls and crushing spirits in the name of truth and justice. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He traded a throne for a cross. His righteousness is all I can boast in. His peace is worth calling a truce for.

9. Leave your battles in God’s hands. (v 19-20)

I cringe when I think of times in my life when I’ve let anger get the best of me and then lashed out impulsively. My heart breaks when I think about how many non-believers are turned away from saving faith by witnessing Christians duke it out amongst ourselves. When I feel justified, filled with righteous indignation, or entitled to my anger, I’m more apt to storm the battlefield without a working weapon or an exit strategy. You don’t have to be in the military to know that’s a recipe for failure. Jesus was accused of things He was innocent of. He was interrogated, beaten, and killed by spiteful, smugly moralistic men. Not once did He defend Himself or argue. Christ knew and relied on a truth that’s sometimes hard for me to accept: God is fighting my battle on my behalf. He is a formidable, undefeated opponent. If He is for me, who can be against me?

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10. Overcome evil with good. (v 21)

In today’s society, evil seems to be gaining ground. At times it feels like darkness is choking out the light. I have to remind myself of one thing when I start to feel discouraged: Christ has overcome ALREADY. If I belong to Him, I’m on the winning side. Why should I live a defeated life when I share a being with His triumphant Spirit? On my own strength I can overcome little. Evil engulfs me if I try to fly solo. But I’m not alone. I’m sheltered under the umbrella of His protection. I am more than a conquerer! I have the ability through Jesus Christ to overcome the evil around me with good. I have love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control on my side. I defeat wickedness by DAILY stepping in Jesus’ footprints, letting Him guide me to loving others. It’s an arduous journey – He never said it would be easy – but it’s a trip with a greatly-desired destination…my home in Heaven.

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I’m praying you’ll join me in this layover-life as I attempt to humbly honor the Father, genuinely love others, and offer everything I am to the One who makes my brokenness beautiful.

BraveGirl Emily

 

Stronger Than Britney Spears

Stronger Than Britney Spears

I am currently training for a “sprint” triathlon. It’s a 1/2 mile swim, a 12 mile bike ride, and a 5K run (3.11 miles). In that order. The available swim times are difficult with three children 7 and under unless I want to pay for babysitting every time. So, I am waking at 4:45am, donning my triathlon suit (which can go straight to bike and run), and riding my bike to our pool.

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What I think I look like training…

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What I really look like. (Rode in a downpour. It was like swimming while biking)

Though early mornings are not my preference, it is in the stillness of the house that I am really able to listen to God. To let my heart rest and breathe in His Presence. To accept His strength for the day. In college I would read my Bible at night, before bed. Motherhood has caused my schedule to shift dramatically.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35 (NIV)

That verse has recently been a positive reminder that even Jesus needed time alone with God. In college, I strongly disliked that verse. What I have discovered about myself is that I am rather lazy—at least when it comes to getting up early. I would much rather sleep than bike 3 miles to a pool, swim 900 yards and bike home in time for my husband to go to work.

Even though I did a half-marathon without stopping two years ago, I haven’t exactly prepared for the running part. Still, with a goal in mind, I’m pressing on. Last night I jogged a mile without stopping! Never mind that it took 12 and a half minutes. Slow and steady wins the race.
While jogging and close to home, the pop song by Britney Spears called “Stronger” popped into my head. I came up with alternate lyrics. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a standard “we broke up and I’m doing fabulous” song with a cheesy music video.

My chorus was:
“Now I’m stron-ger than yesterday,
finish line’s less than a mile away,
and my laziness ain’t killing me no more,
I, I’m stron-ger!”
(It took everything in me to refrain from correcting the word “ain’t”. It’s in the original song. Ugh.)

The difference between me and the girl in the original song, is that I don’t believe I’m better off alone. I do need to get in a quiet secluded place, but it’s to meet with God. And? He’s waiting. He’s delighted to see me.

Rather than leave you with Britney’s music that was rather hopeless, I’ll leave you with a Love Song written by Third Day. It’s alternately called “Just to be with you.”

God just wants our time, our attention, so He can use us for His glory. The pressure is off when we’re doing His work. He’s doing the work and we’re just a part of it. My daily prayer has recently become, “Lord, please show me how I can bring glory to Your Name today.”
The truth is, when God gets glory, and I see His hand working? It fulfills all the empty places that scrolling through Facebook and Instagram and Twitter never fill. I notice people, creation, all things that exist without technology.
Technology is useful-you are reading this post because of technology, but it is a poor substitute for the fullness of God.
Try to take five minutes to just breathe in Jesus and tune out the noise. He’s waiting. 🙂

Tammy

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Grace In The Eleventh Hour

Grace In The Eleventh Hour

Some things in life bear repeating. For over a month, I have been under the downspout of grace. So, this week I’m sharing what God has shown me. I’m not done with grace, and hope you can handle another dose!

“Justice is getting the bad we deserve.
Mercy is NOT getting the bad we deserve.
Grace is getting the good we don’t deserve.”
~Dr. Helen Fagan

I’ve been learning about grace. Grace is offered to everybody. You may know about it your entire life, or perhaps you don’t. Maybe you live a heavy life of imperfection—knowing you don’t measure up. Then, one day, you hear about grace and you are set free!

Matthew 20 begins with a parable about the kingdom of God. I’d always thought it was speaking about salvation, but am glad to know it is talking about GRACE!

In this parable, a vineyard owner hires workers for a denarius (a day’s wages). As the day wears on, he hires more workers at three or four different times. “In the eleventh hour, he went out and found still others standing around…’You also go and work in my vineyard.’

When it comes to the end of the day, he pays all the workers the same wage, regardless of when they began to work in the day. The all-day workers are upset that the eleventh-hour workers also received a denarius, and that there was no extra pay for themselves.

He answered one of them, Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous? So the last will be first and the first will be last.

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This doesn’t seem fair, but the truth is? Salvation is not fair. We sinned. Jesus never sinned. He died to pay for our sins. That’s the epitome of “not fair”. And? He did it because He loves us. He knew we could never be sinless, so He spent His own life-blood to pay our ransom.

An excellent example of eleventh-hour grace is given in Luke, chapter 23. Jesus is on the cross, between two criminals. One is taunting and mocking him, but the other defends Jesus. “But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:40-43)

Grace is given to all people, regardless of our stories. Maybe you’ve been a vineyard worker your entire life. You’re serving God with passion and purpose. Maybe you came to him in your childhood. Or maybe in your teens, twenties, fifties, eighties—the amount of grace offered is the same. We can’t earn grace. Our good deeds don’t outweigh our bad ones. Jesus is the one who gives us all that righteousness that we long for.

When you accept grace, it frees you to extend grace to others. We forgive others because all our sins are forgiven. I encourage you to start living in grace. Strive to do your best, but allow a do-over, a fresh start, for the days that are less than your best.

And remember, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

You will find that the more you live in forgiveness, the more peace you find within. You look behind the offense to the hurt that caused a lashing-out. You begin to look on others with love and compassion, and you transform into a vessel full of grace. It begins with one small act of forgiveness and grace at a time, but it becomes a habit and then a lifestyle.
We’re walking this road together, you and I. And don’t forget that grace is extended to you, so forgive yourself as well.

I’ll leave you with a song about Grace. It’s called “Broken Vessels” by Hillsong. It speaks so beautifully about how Jesus sees us. (If you read my posts through our email subscription, you don’t see the video links. The videos are embedded on the web page)
So, here’s the youtube link.

TammyHow about you? Are you longing for grace but unsure how to start? Leave a prayer request in the comments. We’d love to pray for you!

This post originally appeared at OneWord365.com

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