Our Constant

I only have time to pop in for a second to ask for your prayers as I travel to Pigeon Forge for the ‘So Long, Self’ conference I’ve been preparing for. My heart is so full this morning and I want you to know that I carry each one of you with me who responded to that survey here on this blog. I read through your comments again last night and was just amazed at the work of the Holy Spirit in your responses. One of the places we’ll be spending some time in scripture is with Satan and Eve’s encounter in The Garden and it blew me away so many of you to commented and emailed with insights from that same passage. I always feel God is confirming His direction when others double-affirm what I’m already thinking. Again, I thank you for your vulnerable, honest responses. Please know I’ve continued to pray for each one.

And though it wouldn’t seem appropriate to follow by talking about Lost, I just have to tell you that though last night’s episode was mind-blowing, the sub-theme through the whole thing of Desmond and Daniel having ‘constants’ in their lives wasn’t lost on me. All I could think of is that no matter where we go, what situations we find ourselves in, what depths we plunge or the heights we reach, there is a Constant for those who are in Christ. Jesus breaks through sin and confusion and reminds us that we are never left without hope. I could preach but just don’t have the time. If you didn’t watch last night, no worries. You can still Amen the application. :)))

Okay, I really gotta go. Much love to each of you…hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Psalm 139:7-12:
‘Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. ‘

No Condemnation

Hello Girls!

I don’t know quite how to describe the state of my heart as I write to you in response to your your comments on the ‘So Long, Self’ post.

It grieves me to know many of you are in pain, that you feel defeated, and that perhaps it seems there is no way out of your situation. For my sister who shared being a victim of verbal abuse, I implore you to seek godly counsel. I pray you are not in physical danger though whoever said ‘sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me’ was a fool. Words do hurt and change who we are. Gratefully, there is a Word that trumps any that a person can speak over you. The only way to survive what you are experiencing is by filling your mind with the Voice of Truth to such an overflowing measure that the one who speaks lies can barely be heard. I realize this seems the simplistic answer but God is the only answer I know. He hasn’t forgotten you. He is El Roi – the God who sees’. He saw Hagar as she ran from the abuse she suffered at Sarai’s hand. (Genesis 16) God did not deliver Hagar from the situation but blessed her through it. It’s my belief that from the day Hagar saw God, any degradation or insult simply paled in comparison to God’s tender care over her. May this be for you as well.

Though this situation is one in which our sister may not have any fault, there are many things we are suffering that are a direct result of our own decisions in following after the flesh. For many, we know our choices are sin, but doggone it the sin feels so great, tastes so good, and/or looks really cute on. Then, the husband finds out, the scale tips, and/or the bill comes and self-condemnation sets in. Notice I said self-condemnation because even when we have blown it in a huge way, God promises He will not condemn those who are in Christ Jesus. THAT, girls, has got to be the best promise in Scripture.

So why do we feel condemned? 2 Cor. 4:16 reads, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day”. This scripture leads us to ask ourselves, “Is my flesh indeed wasting?”

There is a concept at work here. As Paul’s flesh wasted both physically and spiritually, his inner man was being renewed. Energized. Expanded. His Spirit was enlarged to the point of bursting forth from the thin shell of flesh that found it had little strength to contain the Power inside.

Obviously, this is a concept I want to see manifested in my life. God is continuing a work in me even now through this study. I can’t count the number of times I’ve lost heart. Times that instead of my flesh being wasted, I’ve fed it instead with stress, control, and yes, especially eating. I shared with you about my joining First Place at church because I very much recognized I was medicating my stress with food. I wasn’t greatly overweight but heading there quickly because I’d found myself in a rut from which I was having a hard time getting out of. I read a great quote today that said, “The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.” (E. Glasglow)

Enter condemnation. It feels like God is trying to destroy us sometimes, doesn’t it? However, we know the truth is that God promised no condemnation for our Spirit – only the flesh. So, if we are operating day-to-day primarily in the flesh, how else are we to feel but condemned, forgotten, and angry? It is our spirit on which God’s favor rests so if we are neglecting its growth, we will naturally experience the sense that God has left us. THAT, girls, is the exact place where Satan wants us because once there, he’s sold the lie that God does not love us nor is He interested in what’s best for us. What’s more is that when we feel we aren’t getting our fair shake, we begin to lash out in anger and bitterness to condemn those around us. I’m ashamed to say my children, as many of you have shared about your own, have born the brunt of my short fuse when I’m exhausted after a long day of meeting everyone’s needs but my own.

And what do we need, exactly? Funny how we all have our own ideas about this one. I love the comment the sister left about the grass looking greener on the other side of the fence. The better husband, the bigger house, the perfect lives our friends seem to be living are all just an illusion designed by the enemy to distract us from what God’s Word says is best. This is perhaps the biggest reason women are drawn into extra-marital affairs – the idea that somewhere there is a knight in shining armour waiting to whisk us away from this life we never meant to live. Thing is, that knight isn’t so romantic anymore once you start picking up his dirty clothes. And girl, if he will cheat WITH you, what makes you think he won’t cheat ON you? What am I trying to say? KEEP IT IN THE FENCE.

Heartbreakingly, there are some of you girls whose husbands who haven’t kept it in the fence – whether it be physically or in their imaginations. I can’t fathom the images Satan uses to fill your minds, dear ones, when all you want to do is forgive and hopefully someday, forget. Know I am in no way excusing what violations have taken place in your relationship, but what I do know is that God is not the one who dredges these sins from the ocean floor and replays them in your minds. My prayer for you will be to have the strength to forgive as Christ forgives – casting our sins as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12) If your husband has repented and is seeking reconciliation, Satan will use you, the person whose forgiveness he most needs (outside of God’s of course), to continue to accuse him. Resist, fragile one. God knows unfaithfulness and yet He loves. Beg Him for peace of heart and mind. I know He will give it.

I thank all of you for your insight as I continue to prepare for this teaching series. I have your comments printed and will pray for you each day as I continue to pour over them. If it is possible, I’m even crazier about you now than I was before. What you’ve shared with me has fed my desire to walk in the Spirit and to see you walking there, too.

Go with God, Girlfriends! Have a blessed, Spirit-filled weekend…

Feeling Like a Guinea Pig?

Do y’all get so tired of my asking you questions for my study benefit?

I hope not cause I’m about to ask you another one..

I’m working on a new series called, “So Long, Self……Saying Goodbye to the Flesh and Hello to the Spirit”. And yes, I borrowed the beginning of the title from Mercy Me because that song captures the theme of this teaching.

I have a retreat I’m leading at the end of the month and I really thought I had my subject matter decided upon. Thing is, everytime I would begin to study, my spirit became unsettled and I could get no insight whatsoever. After much prayer and second-guessing of my discernment skillz, God has led me to teach on the last half of Romans 7 and the first half of 8. To say I am intimidated is an understatement. Today I’ve been buried in Boice and MacArthur commentaries as well as my beloved Greek/Hebrew Key Word Bible. I’ll be robbing Luke’s library at church tonight for an armload of references so that hopefully, just hopefully, I won’t butcher this passage beyond any biblical recognition.

I have been so excited over my reading so far. I’ve always been fascinated with Paul’s simple yet complex description of the war in our bodies with sin. Scholars hotly debate whether Paul is referring to himself in his previous unregenerate state, his state after he was first born again but not yet mature, or in his matured faith. Boice makes an excellent case for the latter. I really don’t know why anyone would feel threatened in their Christianity by flat out admitting that we all experience spiritual inconsistency. Knowing the Apostle Paul, the greatest theologian of all times, struggled with feeling unholy before a perfect God encourages me. I need to know the same Spirit that rescued Him is the same one who will continue that perfecting work in me today.

So what I want to ask you today is this: Do you ever just get sick of yourself? Tired of making the same mistakes over and over? Feel defeated over an area of sin/temptation you just can’t seem to master? Or conversely, is there an area of your life where the Holy Spirit has brought a great victory? Has he given you the strength to overcome bad decision-making, bitterness, or that situation where you saw no way out?

Y’all may want to stay anonymous on this one. In fact, I would encourage it because I really would love for you to feel free to be completely honest. Something that I have found to be overwhelmingly true is that many women have a secret life and hidden pains that we could scarce imagine if we tried. I have been in settings where girls I’ve never met have whispered in my ears their need to be free from drug addiction, lesbianism, hidden debt from their spouse, and even knowledge of heinous crimes. These weren’t lost girls. These were church-going, choir-singing, Sunday-school-teaching women. I don’t say this to dishonor them but to encourage you – you are not the only one who can find herself in a mess that she never imagined she could get into. We get to these places by feeding our desires and using our own logic and before we know it, Satan has taken us down a path of seemingly no return.

Well thanks be to Jesus who is our rescue. In the beginning of what Boice calls ‘the greatest chapter in the Bible’ we are told, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1) We do not have to live under a dark cloud of dread fearing that we’ve disappointed God one too many times for Him to ever be able to make use of our lives. I’ve gotten myself into some doozies, girls, but this one thing I know: He’s only left me there long enough so I’ll never want to go back. And in the meantime, He’s helped me understand how others who may be walking the same road may be feeling so I can sympathize with them. It’s the exact same reason He chose humanity over heaven. He didn’t want to just know what we felt, He wanted to feel what we felt. We are not alone and Christ is not out to destroy us. His refining fire is simply a tool for burning down the sin-wall we place between us and Him which prevents us from looking Him in the eye and experiencing the full measure of His favor.

I know this post is a toughie but I’ve no doubt God will use your experiences for His glory if you’ll only let Him. Again, do not feel like you have to share your names. If you do, I can assure you it will never be shared with any group to whom I minister.

Thank you for all you do to help me. Your insight is worth more than gold to me as I seek to work out the calling I feel God has placed on my life.