Friday, February 24, 2017

From Bond-Servant to Beloved Brother

Jesus' Account Transforms Believers from Bond-Servant to Beloved Brother.
Read Philemon 1-25

Redemption is a beautiful word.  The idea that someone would compensate for my defect is mind-blowing.  I often spend the majority of my day trying to cover up my defects.  I don't want anyone to see the piles of laundry left undone, the tumbleweeds of dog hair that are blowing on my wood floors, the stretch marks on the back of my arms, or the ________.  You see, the list could go on and on.

The truth of the matter is: I had a much greater defect than I even realized.  A defect that I was born with.  A defect that cannot be seen on the outside; an internal defect.  The defect was called sin and that sin kept me from Jesus.

Whenever Jesus laid down His life on the cross, He placed my sin defect on His account.  It is Jesus Christ who compensated for my defect. The moment I believed in Jesus I was transformed from bond-servant to beloved brother.

In Philemon we read about a man named Onesimus.  He was a bond-servant; a run-a-way.  He fled from Philemon's house and ended up in Rome.  He heard Paul preach (while in chains) about freedom in Christ Jesus.  Paul led Onesimus to Jesus and Onesimus ended up returning to Philemon's house as a beloved brother!  The redemptive story is beautiful.  It reminds me of my own story and prompts me to pray for your story.  If you've never moved from bond-servant to beloved brother:  please, please, contact me.  I would love to tell you how Jesus will compensate for your defect.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Woman Who Fears The Lord Will Be Praised

Webster’s defines fear as: to have a reverential awe of God.  To show honor or respect.

Nothing fosters respect like getting to know a person… I mean really, really know them.  I’ve spent the last few months praying once a week with my two closest friends.  One is my sister, Angie and the other our lifelong friend, Becky.  

We don’t have fancy coffee meetings, we don’t even pray face to face.  We spend this precious time on a 3-way call that gets straight to the point:
  • What are you most stressed about?
  • What attribute of Jesus do you need most in your life?
  • What do you want – that would take a miracle of God to happen?
  • How are you struggling?  What specific goal do you have, this week, to help with this struggle?

These are the opening lines to our phone call that quickly moves into prayer and then an “I’ll catch ya’ later.”

Just as I know these two women intimately, God longs for me to know Him in this way.  This is not a trait that comes naturally to me – it is a work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  It is the way that God designed intimacy from the beginning of time.  It is through the reading and studying of God’s word that I begin to know the Lord.  His word transforms my life and makes me capable of honoring and respecting Him. 

Read John 15:5-8, 11

5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relationship is intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.
Ladies - As you get to know Jesus, He will cut out the things in your life that aren’t working.  He will prune the branches that bear fruit so you can explode with more fruit.  He will live with you in intimacy and produce in you, an abundant harvest of maturity.
The pruning will hurt and it might not make sense to your peers.  It might take a bond of prayer with a few friends to help you make it out alive.  But He does all of this so that you will have His joy – a joy wholly mature.
I was bound by Sugar + He gave me Freedom.
I didn’t think anyone could ever love me + He showed me the most excessive love through Jeremiah.
I thought I wasn’t good enough + He showed me that my faith is just enough.
I didn’t think that I mattered + He showed me that I was worth dying for.

I thought I needed to prove my love + He showed me that it is by His love.

I thought I had to make everyone else happy + He showed me that I make Him happy.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the Lord – She shall be praised.”

Monday, February 13, 2017

Beauty Is Vain

Webster’s defines vain as: having or showing undue or excessive pride in one's appearance or achievements.

I was 12 years old whenever I started my first diet.  Ugh!  The word diet. It wasn’t until 2015 that God prompted me to make a list of all the diets I have ever been on. I simply started jotting down one diet after another and before I knew it, I had a list greater than 50.  This list was shocking! WHAT?  50+ diets?  I am only 38 years old!  How can this even be possible?  

God was showing me how messed up I really was.  He used this exercise to show my vanity; but He truly showed me so much more.  God showed me that I had an improper placement of hope.  I was placing my hope in my next diet.  I was jumping from diet to diet in hopes of becoming accepted by this world.  But what I truly needed was to be “set free” from the sin that gripped my heart.
I was also in junior high whenever I began to run to sugar as a response to my emotions.  Whenever the boys would tease me, I would go home after school and get a dessert.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was nurturing my addiction to sugar. 

I craved it.  When I wasn’t eating it, I was dreaming about it.  Maybe I would choose a big serving of ice cream with hot fudge after Sunday’s lunch…  Who knows what I would choose, but whatever it was, was never enough. 

If I had a stressful meeting with a client, I would get a fix.  If I had a great day with a friend, I would treat myself to a fix.  If I was bored, I would get a fix.  If I thought about the pain associated with infertility and miscarriage, I would get a fix. If I… as you can see – the list could go on and on. 

I was addicted to treats but even deeper than that, I ran to them for comfort.  The Reese cup would console me J and make me feel as if life is okay.  It numbed my pain. 

  • I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening at school, my “friends” might get in trouble. 
  • I couldn’t say no to all the demands, because people need me. 
  • I couldn’t let people see the deep sorrow that gripped my heart through infertility.  It might make them question God’s goodness. 
  • I would keep this all a secret and comfort myself with these little indulgences.  These little treats.  They were harmless and legal and good. 
The solution was not a diet.  The solution could only be found in Jesus.  I spent the first 2 months of Celebrate Recovery confronting my sugar addiction and wrestling with God.  I knew He wanted me to surrender my sugar to Him, but I wasn’t sure I could do it.  I had tried to give up sugar years ago, and failed!  I had tried countless diets and failed!  I grieved the thought of never having a Reese’s cup again.  I wrestled with God for two months and then finally…  On Sunday, October 4, 2015 I surrendered my sugar and my dieting to my almighty God.  I was finished.  I couldn’t do it anymore.  I was tired.  I was done.  I gave my sugary treats to God and I can honestly say, “God took the craving away from me.”  I haven’t had a treat since that day, and I do not want one.  I know what it is to be set free and I never want to be bound by these treats again. 

God’s true word says, in Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

What attribute of Jesus will help “set you free” from your yoke of slavery?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Charm Is Deceitful

Webster’s dictionary defines charm as: a trait that fascinates, allures or delights.  A physical grace.  A compelling attractiveness. 

I attended a small, private Christian school in Rogers.  The boys in my 8th grade class were brutal.  Whenever I wasn’t getting pushed into bushes or publicly humiliated, I would spend my days being told how ugly, worthless and fat I was.  I was teased for not having a boyfriend and told that I never would.  After all, no one in their right mind would ever want me…  It is these same boys that would call me in secret – and thank me for being so nice.  Thank me for believing in them.  Thank me for being a loyal friend. 

I ended up spending 8th – 12th grade, day in and day out, hearing and believing their lies.  I never told an adult.  I chose to turn the other cheek.   I chose to be charming.  I became the girl that everyone could count on.  The one that would be with them through everything.  After all, I wanted to point them to Jesus.   

This charm began to grow into a burden.  I volunteered for everything available.  I became the “yes” girl.  If someone had a problem - I listened.  If someone needed help with an activity – I was there.  If there was a Bible Study that needed to be taught - I taught it.  If the church needed volunteers in the nursery – I volunteered.  

I was burning my candle at both ends in hopes of feeling worthy to live on this glorious earth. 

In college, this constant state of “going and doing” landed me in the emergency room where doctors thought I had Spinal Meningitis, only to reveal that I was exhausted.  I was tired; but I continued and perfected this behavior with each passing year.  I brought this charming skill into my Interior Designer practice.  

I was overwhelmed... This was not God’s best for me.  Satan had deceived me.  This was not an honest assessment of who Christ had created me to be.  I had believed a lie.  A lie that my life didn’t matter unless I was serving [everyone] and being involved [in everything] around me.  

In the Summer of 2016 I decided to walk away from the interior design industry that had formed my identity and been my source of livelihood.  This was one of the most difficult things I had ever done.  I felt as if I had failed my clients.  After all, I had a hard time telling one person “No” and now I just told 150 people, “I will no longer be here for you!” 

I began to ask myself, "Am I crazy?  What am I doing? What is wrong with me?  No one if their right mind would ever do this!" 

If I were to sit down and answer these questions from the world's point of view, I would have to say, 'Yes!  Absolutely I Am Crazy!"  But, if I search the secret corners of my heart and listen to that still, small voice that speaks to me through God's word, then I don't feel crazy at all.  I don't feel scared at all.  I am learning to find my value and my worth in my creator.  

Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

What skill have you perfected in hopes of being loved and accepted by this world? 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Little Girl

The 12-year-old little girl stretched across her daybed to turn on the white, milk glass lamp that adorned her nightstand.  She grabbed her favorite pen while she was there, so she could journal the thoughts that were transpiring in her mind.   Laying open her Bible and new spiral bound journal (across her lap) she read the words from Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised.”  This is it, she thought.  This must do, after all, I am the chubbiest girl I know, none of the boys like me, and I will never be beautiful…

I remember that evening as if it were yesterday.  Even though 26 years have come and gone, that day is memorialized in my mind.  It was, after all, the night that Jesus led me to my life verse.  The verse that would begin to shape and make me into the girl that Jesus wanted me to become.  I never knew that I would spend the next 26 years struggling with my body image, people pleasing, yo-yo dieting, and weight issues.

It was also around this age that God had given me a deep abiding love for Jesus.  He had stirred my heart to spend hours in His word.  I would find myself reading my Bible every second I could.  He later brought a wonderful woman of God into my life to teach me and to show me how to grow.  I wanted to be used by God and I knew God wanted to use me. 

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