Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Glory Days

Glory Days is about living your "Promised Land life" - in Canaan, not the wilderness. This deep desire has permeated my ladies Bible study group recently, so I thought it appropriate to read this book now (it collected dust on my shelf for way too long!). We all want more. We all want things to just be right in our lives. While perfection cannot be achieved on this side of heaven, Max Lucado explains that you still can have a better existence now. One with favor, provision and peace from the Lord. How? Let's see...


In Canaan you do not fight for victory. You fight from victory. In the wilderness you strive. In Canaan you trust. In the wilderness you seek God's attention. In Canaan you already have God's favor. In the wilderness you doubt your salvation. In Canaan you know you are saved. You move from wanting-to-have to believing you already do.

Don't measure your life by your ability; measure it by God's.

You can't control your tongue, temper, or sexual urges, but God can.

Promised Land people say, "I'm a victor in spite of my surroundings."

Glory Days require an ongoing trust in God's word.

With God the smallest step of faith can activate the mightiest of miracles.

The real conflict...was with Satan and his demons.

He's [Satan's] ticked off at you. All this talk about Glory Days and Promised Land living has him in a foul mood. Your wilderness days did not trouble him. But now you are stepping into your Promised Land life. Daring to walk in faith, not fear; leaning on grace, not guilt; hearing Go'd voice more, the devil's voice less.

The secret of survival in enemy territory? Remember what God has done.

Don't face Satan by facing Satan. Face Satan by facing God.

All God's children can be sure of God's angels.

Turn your gaze away from Jericho. You've looked at it long enough...Healing happens when we look to our Commander.

These words [negative thoughts/words] create alliances with the devil. They grant him access to your spirit.

Live out of your inheritance, not your circumstance.

March like a Promised Land conqueror. Blast your ram's horn. Sing songs of redemption, and declare scriptures of triumph. Marinate your mind with the declaration of Jesus, "It is finished!" (John 19:30), and the announcement of the angels, "He is not here; for He is risen" (Matt. 28:6). Personalize the proclamations of Paul: "We are more than conquerors through [Christ]" (Rom. 8:37), and "I can do all things through Christ" (Phil. 4:13). As you do, the demons will begin to scatter. They have no choice but to leave.

Defeat your strongholds with the spiritual weapons of worship, Scripture, and prayer.

Everything begins with faith, The absence of it results in wilderness years.

Press your ear against the curtain of eternity and listen.

This is no guarantee of an easy life. It is the assurance of God's help.

How bold are your prayers?

You are heaven's first and final attempt at you.

This is your destiny. This is you at your best. When you stand at the intersection of your skill and God's call, you are standing at the corner of Promised Land Avenue and Glory Days Boulevard. This is Canaan.

What do you do well? What do people ask you to do again? What task comes easily? What topic keeps your attention? Your skill set is your road map. It leads you to your territory. Take note of your strengths.

Do you really want to meditate on your misery? Will reciting your problems turn you into a better person? No. But changing your mind-set will...Immerse your mind in God-thoughts.

Faith is a choice.

God fights for you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

#struggles

How appropriate that I read this book during a social media fast! It's been quite wonderful to avoid Facebook and Instagram (at least personally - I have to use them for work!). In fact, here's what happened during my social media-free week:

•I read three books that had been sitting on my shelf for nearly a year
•I went outside more
•I watched less tv
•I became more aware of God working in my life
•I felt less anxious
•I noticed several instances when I had the urge to share something, but because I couldn't, I stayed present in the moment
•I talked to friends on the phone
•I read the Bible more
•I went online for productive reasons, not mindless scrolling
•I prayed more
•I wasn't tempted to check my phone while out with friends
•I felt happier
•I felt more peace
•I decided to purge my social media accounts and curate my news feeds to be minimal and positive

Pretty amazing! My experience definitely relates to themes Craig Groeschel discusses in his book. Here are the excepts I marked:


We were created not to be Liked but to show love. We were created not to draw attention to our selves but to give glory to God. We were created not to collect followers but to follow Christ.

Never before have so many people had so much and felt so dissatisfied.

We are the first people in the history of the world who are able to see inside the lives of others in real time.

We aren't designed by God to seek the image of others; we are designed to seek him. When we spend time on social media focusing on how well others present their lives, we are, to use one of my father's baseball analogies, taking our eyes off the ball.

Envy is not from heaven. It's earthly. It's unspiritual. It's demonic.

We need to kill our comparisons.

Suffocate the flames of envy with a blanket of gratitude.

Perhaps the reason God is not blessing you with something you want is because you're not celebrating God's blessings in someone else's life.

People with a happy heart are looking for God's goodness - and they find it!

Have you considered looking for the good?

It's hard to wash someone's feet with a phone in your hand.

It's just something more, something special, something powerful happens when we come together with other believers to seek God.

Make sure that the person you're with is the most important person in the world when you're together.

We actually connect with people through our weaknesses. We may impress them with our strengths, but we connect through our weaknesses.

When we misuse technology, we robbing ourselves of the peace we so desperately crave, because even the momentary escape is followed by waves of intense guilt.

While it's never going to be fun or easy to kick an online addiction, you'll be surprised how quickly your peace will be restored once you surrender the problem to God.

As followers of Jesus, we want everything we say to build up others.

What you permit, you promote.

It's often what you do right that will draw criticism. But when people persecute you, you should consider it a blessing.

Be careful not to react out of emotion; respond only in love.

When critics flail at you, you aren't under any obligation to answer.

It's also helpful to remember that sometimes people are simply hurting,

Becoming obsessed with what people think about you in the quickest way to forget what God thinks about you.

Idolatry is taking something - anything - and making it more important than it should be in our lives.

"As long as you want anything very much, especially more than you want God, it is an idol." -A.B. Simpson

Our culture says show yourself. Jesus says deny yourself.

Our hearts are restless until they rest in him.

What choice should I make that will bring honor to you?

When you get close to Jesus, he will do things you don't even ask him to do. He's just that good.

Jesus essentially said, "I don't want to hear your excuses. I want to see your faith."

Do not use social media to fuel temptations.

Before saying anything online (or in person), ask yourself whether you are truly representing and reflecting the love and goodness of God.

Do life up close.

The moment you realize you're starting to put something above God, tear that idol down. As soon as you realize that you don't have control, that you click and click again without knowing how to stop, acknowledge the problem. Don't rationalize it.

When in doubt, wait it out. Post only out of love.

If you spot an open door to online temptation, ask Jesus to help you close it.

If you're wondering what he says about you, here's a short list. You are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). You are forgiven, and your sins are washed away (Eph. 1:7). You are more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37). You are God's masterpiece (Eph. 2:10 NLT).

I could go on. "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14). You are filled with the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead (Rom. 8:11). You are a joint heir with Christ (Rom 8:17). You are Christ's divine representative to this world (2 Cor. 5:20). You are the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). You are greatly loved by God (John 14:20-23).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Kingdom Woman

It took me almost a year to finish this book. I'd pick it up, read a few chapters, then put it down again for months. Why? I think because I was scared. I want to be a Kingdom Woman, and I don't feel like I am one. I didn't want to wallow in guilt while reading - "I'll never live up to this!" Finally, a few days ago, I started reading the book all over again from the beginning, my trusty pencil in hand, ready to mark passages. As expected, I marked a lot. Because I really, truly want to be this woman. I want to have a heart after God that is undeniable. I want people to meet me and know that I know Jesus, just by who I am and how I act and speak. I pray that the Holy Spirit will cause me to grow in all of these areas:


The body of Christ, in general, focuses on more on the concept of the church than on the kingdom. So many lives don't visibly demonstrate the significance God has given them. They don't advertise God's kingdom well.
One reason for that is the church has settled for buildings and programs instead of reaching men and women how to access the authority of the kingdom.
We've had church, but we haven't experienced the kingdom. Without our churches functioning in a kingdom-minded manner, believes are not be discipled to be the kingdom church that Christ came to build. In fact, Jesus only mentioned church three times in His earthly ministry, and all three times are recorded in the kingdom-focused book of Matthew. The word kingdom, however, is found fifty-four times in the same book.
We usually hear more about the church than the kingdom. We "plant churches" rather than promote the kingdom. Our seminaries teach our future leaders how to do church rather than how to be about the kingdom.

God's kingdom transcends time, space, politics, denominations, cultures, and the realms of society. It is both now (Mark 1:15) and not yet (Matthew 16:28), close by (Luke 17:21) and removed (Matthew 7:21). The kingdom's realms include the individual, family, church, and civil government. God has given guidelines for the operation of all four, and neglecting these guidelines results in disorder and loss.

We take the seed of discontentment offered by the devil and inform our souls of our dissatisfaction, unhappiness, or displeasure.

There is nothing like a kingdom woman who success in conquering the enemy's attempts to mess with her life and the lives of people she loves. There is nothing like a kingdom woman who succeeds in finding and fulfilling the purpose for which God has fashioned her.

When a kingdom woman begins her day, heaven, earth, and hell take notice. When she nurtures and advises the man she loves, he can do little to resist her. When she offers care, comfort, and encouragement to her friends and relatives, they are able to go farther, faster, and in confidence because of her inspiration and reassurance. "Her children rise up and call her blessed" (Proverbs 31:28 ESV). Other women turn to her for wise counsel and a compassionate ear. Her church relies on her faithful service. She is a vital contributor to culture and a gatekeeper at her home to keep out the negative and promote the positive.

If her priorities are rooted in anything else [than God's kingdom], they will lead to weariness and busyness rather than fruitfulness and abundance.

His voice is the loudest. He is the One she seeks to please. Her reverence of Him determines her choices.

A wise mentor once shared this thought with me: "Each morning before you allow your feet to hit the floor, lie in bed for one purposeful moment longer than you normally would, stretch your arms toward the ceiling and in effect toward heaven, and offer yourself to the Lord, inviting Him to show you what the most important thing is on His list for you to get done today. If you do not stop to ask Him what His priorities are for you, your "good" will always get in the way of God's "best." Let Him know that you are willing to be interrupted, willing to be derailed, and willing to be surprised if He sees fit. Then get up and walk in the knowledge that your day belongs to the Lord."

Jesus knows right where you are, and He knows how long you've been there. He has a way out of any hopelessness you may feel.

He wants to take you out of bondage and let you live in the freedom of His presence and provision. He wants to show you your new position and your new glory. He wants to get out out of a spirit of slavery. He wants to give you hope.

We serve a God who knows that we get tired.

He died so that you might have life and have it abundantly.

When you carry yesterday further than you ought to, you ruin today.

They [the Israelites] lived a yesterday life. In fact, they discussed yesterday so long and so often that God gave them another forty years in the wilderness so they could discuss it some more.

He does some of His best work when you don't think He's doing a thing.

Your commitment in the dark is your path to victory in the light.

You are only going to take this step of faith to give to other what you yourself need if you truly believe that God is your source. Because if God is your source, then the question is not whether you have enough to keep giving to others, but whether you have the faith to believe that He will replenish what you give away in His name.

God has given kingdom women the direction and path that He wants you to follow. And if He has not revealed each and every step at this very moment, my advice is to just continue walking until He reveals the next step.

God is passionate for His own reputation.

Sometimes the greatest faith is found in the most surprising places.

God will let you try everything you think you need to try to fix your own issues. He will let you spend all of your money, waste all of your time, and simply become worn out and weary. He allows this because often it isn't until someone has come to the end of herself and her own options that she looks to the only true option for lasting healing - God.

You know that you have faith by what you do, not merely by what you say or feel.

If you are where God says you are to remain, stay there. I want you to know that you can trust God in spite of what is happening all around you.

Prayer involves exercising our authority for heavenly intervention in our earthly affairs.

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

Since it was Satan who had messed up her [woman who was bent over] life, then her covenantal right as a daughter of Abraham entitled her to spiritual healing and release from bondage.

The more we know about somebody, the more we have to talk about that person.

Praise Him when you have food on the table. Praise Him when He opens the Red Sea. Praise Him when you have clothes on your back. Praise Him when He brings water out of the stone and manna from on high. Praise Him when you have gas in your tank. Praise Him when the doctor says your illness is cured. Praise Him for that, but also praise Him because nothing went wrong today. Praise Him because He provides for your basic needs. Praise Him for the "fish" and the "bread." Praise Him for the ordinary. And guess what! He'll be there for the extraordinary.

If you are single, you are free.

If you delight yourself in the Lord, then He will give you the desires of your heart. If you abide in Him, then ask whatever you wish.

It's as though God is saying, "If you want My blessings so you can build a kingdom of your own, don't expect much. I'm only interested in answering the prayers of women who are serious about being fruitful for Me."

If you lack obedience, you might as well stop praying.

"I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it." -Chuck Swindoll

Nothing we do can improve on God.

Your career is not to come at the cost of caring for your home and family.

You should be your husband's biggest cheerleader.

God is a master at bringing life from what appears to be barren.

Stop looking at human solutions to solve a spiritual issue.

The goal of the church is to transmit a biblical worldview so that women begin to think and function like Jesus Christ.

In the church, every older woman ought to be a teacher, and every younger woman ought to be a student.

As long as you remain the center of your universe, love will always be a struggle.

Leave margin - make room for the activities and people whom God wants in your life.

She [a kingdom woman] is a woman who recognizes her own depravity, either because she has been on the edge of a pit, fallen into a pit, or wallowed in the mud. She is amazed that Jesus has gone out of His way to know her by name. And because she is astonished that Jesus did not think her too low or too unworthy of salvation, she is grateful.

A kingdom woman is not a perfect woman. She is a forgiven woman.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Thoughts on a Snow Day

The best kiss I ever had was unexpected. I literally didn't see it coming.

We had been watching a movie in my dorm room. The first time we hung out just he and I, without a flurry of friends around us. We were awkward, as college kids can be, not really sure if the other person actually liked us.

The movie ended, and I was genuinely tired, so we said our goodbyes. I don't know why I didn't walk him to the door. I just snuggled up in bed and let him go, disappearing into the darkness, the room pitch black without the tv on. I heard the door open, but I didn't hear it close.

He walked back in quietly, bent down, brought his lips close to mine, and kissed me. It was soft, gentle, and sweet. Our first and only kiss. He left without saying a word, and I thought it was the most romantic thing to ever happen to me.

-

Today is my first snow day in Georgia. A light dusting would be an overstatement, yet our town has advised us to stay off the roads, so here I am.

In the stillness of the morning, I found myself conversing with God.

"It used to be easy. Now, it's hard. It's harder because of You. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change anything. It's just harder. I need Your help."

-

From ages 18 to 25, I dated a lot of guys.

If I was bored, there was always one to call. If I was lonely, I could find another. My self-esteem was tragically low, but all these boys wanted to be around me, for one reason or another.

I gave myself away again and again. Because they wanted to take, and I wanted to feel loved.

-

I haven't kissed anyone in nearly 6 years. I haven't dated anyone either. From one extreme to another, I suppose.

It's not because I don't want to. It's because my value has changed and my desires along with it.

The guys don't come around anymore.

-

There have to be people in the Church like me. People who lived a very different life before knowing Christ. People who feel, despite past experiences, like they're starting at square one.

Like they've never been kissed.



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Baja Bug

Phil and I weren't super close friends, but I always admired his calm spirit. And DIY punk vegan ethos. We went to college together and co-worked at the campus Women's Center. Both native New Jersians, we also had opportunities to hang out while we were home on breaks, so I visited Phil one autumn night in Toms River.

I didn't have any particular plans in mind. Just wanted to spend time with a friend. That's me through and through - I don't care what we do. I just appreciate being around you.

After helping Phil deliver Chinese food for a few hours (and much to my heart's delight, play games with the owner's son while we waited for orders), we went to his band practice in a friend's basement. I sat silently on a fold-out chair in the corner, earplugs in (it was REALLY LOUD), and pretended to read Lolita, though I was secretly enjoying every moment of just being there. Again - that's me. Experiences. People. Life.

Band practice wrapped up, and for us early 20-somethings, the night was still young. It was 11:30pm, which is way past my now 30-nothing bedtime. Phil told me his friend Jesse had recently finished working on a Baja Bug and was wondering if we wanted to go for a ride.

A whosawhatnow? Can't say I had any idea what a Baja Bug was, but sure, why not? Being a classic Type A crazy girl, it was exciting to be spontaneous for an evening.

We arrived at Jesse's house where two others, Drew and Danielle, were patiently waiting for us. I grabbed shotgun, as I tend to get car sick in the back. And Jesse was quite handsome, so I naturally wanted to sit up front with him. Phil, Drew and Danielle scrunched in the back, and off we went, bouncing around the streets rather slowly and loudly. I wondered where we would actually go at such an hour of the night.

Where we went was a dark, magical place in South Jersey - the Pine Barrens.

Despite living in New Jersey my entire life, I had never actually been to the pines, let alone in pitch black conditions. This was either going to be completely terrifying, wonderfully fun, or both.

Thank goodness Jesse had some idea of what he was doing. Once we were far enough in the trees that any nearby civilization wouldn't be able to detect us, Jesse stomped on the gas pedal, and we went flying through the pines at warp speed, seeing only what the bug's headlights illuminated a few feet in front of us. It was so thrilling that I figured if we died, it would have been totally worth it.

I had read The Perks of Being a Wallflower when I was a freshman in high school, and this was the most infinite I had ever felt. Jesse didn't hold back, making quick turns through clearings and spinning donuts in open fields. There is much folklore about the pines (Jersey Devil, anyone?), so when we came across a small dwelling quite literally in the middle of nowhere, Jesse was sure to tell a scary KKK story that had all of us nearly leaping out of our skin. Though the fear just added to the excitement of the journey.

We finally stopped at "Thin Lake" and stepped out to feel the cool air rush across our faces. I knew in my heart of hearts that I would remember all of this as clearly as the moon's reflection over the water. This night, unplanned and unexpected, would become etched in my memory forever.

That was 8 years ago, and in a way, I've been chasing that night ever since. Chasing the feeling it gave me - the realization that we have the capacity to feel so much joy. Where is it? Does it only live deep in the pines, among one friend and three strangers, racing the autumn wind?

I often wonder why Jesus blessed me so much before I knew Him, before I even gave Him an ounce of my attention. And why I have incredible memories like this one and truthfully feel like I'll never have experiences again that could even compare. How can that be? I now have the Spirit of the Living God inside of me, finally and wholly, yet I struggle to find joy.

I pray that 2017 will yield a new Baja Bug for me (not literally, though that could be nice). A fresh perspective like I had that fall night in 2008 - one of spontaneity, cheerful surrender and wonder at everything around me. It doesn't matter if I didn't "have" Jesus then. Because I really did. He was there, and He knows that girl so well. That girl still longing, ready for the next adventure.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Insert Morrissey Lyrics Here

I've been depressed lately.

The excitement of "New life, new everything!" has transitioned to "Wait, this kinda sucks." I'm struggling with a bunch of stuff right now.

Missing home is a big one. I cried uncontrollably on Thanksgiving. It was my first time not being with family, and I didn't expect the emotions to hit so hard. I visited home for 10 days earlier in November, and it was everything I could have wanted and more. Awesome, quality family and friend time, cat time (SO NEEDED - seriously, my life would be greatly enhanced if I was allowed to have a cat at the trailer), beautiful weather, outdoor adventures - just a wonderful mix of relaxation and fun with people I really care about. I didn't want to come back to Georgia. At all. So, things have been difficult since then. I'm holding on to the fact that I'll be back home for Christmas, but after that, who knows. I probably won't be home again for at least another six months, and that's a scary/upsetting thought.

I'm also experiencing some challenges with work and church, which are obviously huge pieces of my life. I'm desperate for community that I don't feel like I've found yet. I do have some friends I would consider close or moving toward close, but they're spread out and all go to different churches. I'm used to having a core group of friends that meet each week and get super involved in each other's lives. I desire to know and be known on a deep level. Surface stuff isn't really my jam. I kinda wish people here knew everything about me like my friends do in NJ, so they could call me out on my crap and push me closer to Christ. Speaking of, an older mentor/pastor relationship would be amazing, too. Especially as I tend to slip away from Him when I get in funks like this. And make poor decisions, like I have over the past few days.

Basically, I'm questioning why I'm here. Meaning here in Georgia and here on Earth in general. I used to think I had a calling once, and I rode that wave for a while. Now, I'm not really sure what it is. And I feel very much alone in Georgia, missing everyone I love, missing the places I love, missing nature - what I wouldn't give for the luxury of walking out my door to the mountains or beach again. I live in a horribly boring, horribly congested, no pretty places to go town. And I'm learning that's not exactly the best fit for this nature-loving, hippy at heart girl.

I'm trying to find little bits of peace and happiness where ever I can - in the new boot camp gym I've been going to (even though it will severely affect my already dismal finances if I keep going there), in my box set of The Office (really though, Jim makes everything better) and in the Christmas lights my neighbors and I put up on the trailer to bring some kind of light to my dumpy dwelling.

I write all of this to confess where I'm at and ask for your prayers. Things are just really hard for me right now, and the holidays and impending darkness/cold of winter certainly don't help. Encouragement is very much appreciated, especially if you've experienced the exact situation I'm in. A lonely, confusion situation.